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11 Things To Consider Before Buying A Motherboard

Whether you're upgrading your current PC or building one from scratch, this guide will help you make an informed decision and ensure that your system runs smoothly for years to come.

Building a PC is like putting together a bunch of costly components, and there is no doubt that every component is quite important. However, the motherboard comes out on top among all the essential components. It is so crucial that it can make or break your entire system.

Key Takeaways

  1. Figure out which platform your PC will be built on: AMD or Intel.
  2. Review your selected processor’s socket support and chipset, and look for motherboards that support that.
  3. Select which form factor is suitable for your needs.
  4. Choose which RAM you want, whether DDR4 or DDR5.
  5. If you need high-speed SSD support, ensure the motherboard offers plenty of powerful storage options.
  6. Always consider the price and your budget. Never overspend on any component.
  7. Consider the motherboard’s VRM, PCB layers, and cooling capabilities if you plan to overclock.
  8. Consider the RGB lighting and the motherboard’s color if you’re a fan of aesthetics.
  9. Review the port options to determine whether the board offers enough ports for your needs.
  10. Ensure that the motherboard offers adequate expansion slots for your needs.
  11. Audiophile? Choose the board with a high-quality audio codec with 5.2 or 7.1 channel support.

Buying the right motherboard should be your top priority when building a PC. The perfect motherboard will ensure your PC is stable, reliable, fast, and compatible with other components. 

Things To Know Before Buying a Motherboard

There are 11 crucial factors you must always consider before buying a motherboard.


AMD Ryzen or Intel Core

Before you search for the perfect motherboard, you need to keep one thing in mind: you shouldn’t buy the motherboard first and then pick the compatible components later. Instead, you need to buy the processor first and buy the perfect motherboard for that processor.

This way, you will have a platform in mind. Also, remember that your processor choice should sit well with your budget while offering the performance you need.

So, first and foremost, you need to decide which platform your PC will be built upon, and by platform, we mean you need to determine if you want an AMD rig or an Intel one. Selecting the platform first will narrow your search for the perfect motherboard by half.

Once you decide whether to go with Team Red or Blue, you can begin to factor in the other things discussed below.

Socket And Chipset


ASRock Z790 PG Riptide - CPU Socket 2
ASRock Z790 PG Riptide – CPU Socket (Image By Tech4Gamers)

Just like the platform narrows the search for the perfect motherboard, figuring out which socket your processor supports can also remove irrelevant options from the choice pool. 

But, the motherboard socket is where the processor will be installed. The socket is a connector that connects the processor to the motherboard.[1] So, when it comes to processor sockets, there are many options depending on the manufacturer and the generation of the processor you selected.

For instance, the 12th and 13th-generation Intel processors use the LGA 1700 socket. So, any LGA 1700 motherboard is compatible with both of these generations. However, the AMD Ryzen 6000-series and 7000-series processors use different sockets. The Ryzen 6000 uses an AM4 socket, while the latter uses AM5. This means you can’t use the same motherboard for both generations.

Therefore, once you have settled on a processor, you will know which socket it uses, and hence, you will know which socket motherboard to look for.

There are also two significant CPU sockets: LGA Sockets and PGA Sockets.[1] We have covered an in-depth guide on LGA vs. PGA Sockets, so if you want to learn more about sockets, be sure to check that out.


GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS ELITE AX - Motherboard Chipset
GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS ELITE AX – Z790 Chipset (Image By Tech4Gamers)

Along with the socket, the motherboard chipset makes all the difference in the world. While a socket is a connection point for the processor to communicate with the motherboard, the chipset, as the name suggests, is a chip on which the motherboard is based.

The chipset manages the data transfer flow and communication between all the PC components, including the CPU, GPU, RAM, SSD, and everything else.[1] The chipset support can also vary depending on the processor.

For instance, the 12th-generation Intel processors use Intel 600-series chipset motherboards. However, since 13th-generation CPUs use the same socket, they can also work with Intel 600-series chipset boards.

Not only that, but Intel also launched the Intel 700-series chipsets with the 13th-gen line-up, meaning that both 12th and 13th-gen processors can work with both Intel 600 and 700-series motherboards. It should be noted here that Intel 600-series motherboards need a BIOS update to support 13th-gen processors.

So, what’s the difference between each chipset generation? And each variant of each generation? Well, you might have noticed that in LGA 1700 socket alone, many different chipset motherboards are available, so it is understandable that this question is in your mind.

Intel 700 Series Chipsets

ASRock Z790 PG Riptide - Chipset Cover
ASRock Z790 PG Riptide – Chipset Cover (Image By Tech4Gamers)

To simplify things, let’s continue to discuss the Intel 700 series chipset released with the 13th-gen processors. You will be looking at three chipsets in the 700 series, namely, Z790, H770, and B760. There is also a W790 chipset, but that’s for workstations, so you can ignore that.

Here, each chipset has a specific target audience, which is very clear from the pricing and specification of the boards that use them. For instance, the motherboards with the Z790 chipset are the highest end. They come with the strongest VRMs, the most overclocking potential, a plethora of USB ports and connectivity, and, as you can guess, the highest price.[2]

However, if you want something more pocket-friendly that still offers good overclocking potential with strong VRM, RGB, and an adequate number of USB ports and PCIe lanes, then the B760 motherboards are your friend.[3]

Lastly, if you are on a tight budget and do not want a gaming-oriented motherboard that offers enough functionality to support a home PC or a basic work machine, you should go with H770 motherboards. They are nowhere near as powerful as the other two but very affordable.

Just like Intel released the Intel 700 Series Chipsets with their Raptor Lake processors, AMD released the AMD 600 Series Chipsets with their Zen 4 processors. 4 chipsets fall in this generation, namely, X670E, X670, B650E, and B650.

Fundamentally, you can say that there are two AMD 600-series chipsets and two Extreme variants of those chipsets. Their differences are quite straightforward; the Extreme variants offer PCIe 5.0 support for the graphics cards and more usable PCIe 5.0 lanes.

Of course, all four have a price difference, with the X670E being the highest-end and most expensive and the B650 being the least costly. While the X670E, X670, and B650E support PCIe 5.0 storage, the B650 only supports PCIe 4.0 storage, with PCIe 5.0 being an option.

You should choose whichever chipset board you can afford for these AMD chipsets. They are all quite similar fundamentally, and everything comes down to your budget.

So, this is all the difference that a chipset can make, and knowing what you want out of your PC can significantly help you figure out which chipset motherboard you need to go for.

Motherboard Form Factors

Motherboard Form Factors
Motherboard Form Factors

Once you have settled on a chipset, you will notice that motherboards are available in various form factors, denoted by names like ATX and Mini-ITX. So, what does it all mean? And which form factor is perfect for you?

There are many motherboard form factors, but the most common ones are Mini-ITX, MicroATX, ATX, and E-ATX.[4] Every form factor has a specific size, which defines its capability to offer various RAM modules and PCIe lane configurations.

Let’s briefly review these form factors to determine which suits you best.

Mini-ITX Motherboards

ASRock B650E PG-ITX WiFi - Motherboard - Main
ASRock B650E PG-ITX WiFi (Image By Tech4Gamers)

As the name suggests, these motherboards are the smallest, with a square size of 6.7″ by 6.7″. You can already guess that these motherboards are aimed at those users who don’t have a ton of space for their PC.[5]

So, if you’re tight on space and want to build a PC that can fit, then you need to go for Mini-ITX boards. While the small size is a blessing for such users, there are a few disadvantages to this form factor, the most prominent being just 2 RAM slots and one PCIe lane.[6]

The lack of multi-GPUs won’t affect you much. However, if you plan to equip some enthusiast-grade memory into your PC, you will face issues. Additionally, Mini-ITX boards generally aren’t capable of extreme overclocking. So, you shouldn’t expect additional performance from them on your PC either.

They rarely ever have RGB, which makes sense because, in a compact PC, you won’t have any place left to look for RGB, either.

Overall, Mini-ITX motherboards are perfect if you need to build a small form-factor PC. Pair it with the Best Low Profile CPU Cooler, and you have a compact but powerful machine.

MicroATX Motherboards

Gigabyte RTX 4090 Gaming OC on ASRock B650E PG-ITX WIFI
Gigabyte RTX 4090 Gaming OC on ASRock B650E PG-ITX WIFI (Image By Tech4Gamers)

If ATX motherboards and Mini-ITX motherboards had a child, it would be called a MicroATX. Measuring 9.6″ by 9.6″, these boards are bigger than Mini-ITX but smaller than ATX. Hence, you can still build a compact PC with them while getting more connectivity and features than Mini-ITX.[5]

Depending on the motherboard, you can find between 2 to 4 RAM and multiple expansion slots. So, if you’re building a budget gaming rig or don’t have space, then MicroATX motherboards are your friends.

ATX Motherboards

GIGABYTE B650 AORUS ELITE AX (Image By Tech4Gamers)

The most popular and commonly used form factor is ATX. It measures a solid 12″ by 9.6″ and is perfect for you if you don’t have any space constraints.[5] You get plenty of expansion options, four or more RAM slots, RGB, strong VRMs, and everything else required to build a beast gaming PC.

If you have the space for it, we highly recommend you go for ATX motherboards, as they are very flexible, and from budget to high-end, you can build any rig on them.

E-ATX Motherboards

As you can probably guess from the name, Extended ATX (E-ATX) motherboards are even bigger than ATX, 12″ by 13″.[5][7] They measure the same length as ATX motherboards but are 3.4″ wider.

Compared to ATX boards, the E-ATX form factor usually offers 4 to 6 more PCIe expansion slots. Not only that, but the RAM slots can also be anywhere between 6 to 8.

Generally, E-ATX motherboards are aimed at those users who plan on building powerful workstations or video editing machines. You can make a high-end gaming PC using such a form factor, but you can achieve the same with an ATX board.

Now, after selecting the form factor, your options for the right motherboard will shrink, making it easier to pick.


Re-insert RAM for power cycle PC
XPG Lancer RGB 6000MHz DDR5 RAM kit (Image By Tech4Gamers)

Once you have picked a processor, you will know which RAM it supports, that is, DDR4, DDR5, or both. If your processor is from the AMD Ryzen 7000 line-up, you can only select a DDR5 RAM-supported motherboard.[8]

However, if your processor is from the Intel 12th or 13th-gen line-up, you can choose between DDR4 and DDR5.

You must figure out how much RAM you need along with the generation. Generally, a DDR5 RAM of 32GB with a frequency of around 6000MHz is perfect for high-end gaming.

Hence, we recommend you use a motherboard that can support such a frequency and has enough DIMM slots. Of course, if you think you’ll require more RAM, you can always go for high-end motherboards that match your needs.

Storage Options

Kingston Fury Renegade 2TB NVMe SSD - Top View
Kingston Fury Renegade 2TB NVMe SSD (Image By Tech4Gamers)

Going over the storage options is very important when buying a motherboard; it depends on your preferences and needs. Will you need lots of storage or just enough to get you through the day? Similarly, will you buy high-end, fast SSDs, or are just the normal ones sufficient for you?

Most high-end ATX motherboards will give you 4 to 5 M.2 slots and 6 SATA slots, and as you move down the pricing, you will notice that the slots decrease to around 3 to 4 M.2 slots and 4 to 5 SATA slots.

You should use the motherboard with enough storage options to satisfy your needs. In addition, many high-end motherboards will also provide dedicated heat sinks and cooling solutions for the M.2 slots.

These thermal solutions must equip your motherboard with fast and high-end SSDs. Of course, this goes without saying; the more storage options and efficient thermal solutions you go after, the more you’ll pay.

Nevertheless, it would be best always to consider storage options when searching for the perfect motherboards.

Price Consideration

Price Consideration
Price Consideration

It should be no surprise that you must consider the price a lot when buying motherboards. This goes for every component you’re looking for.

You only need to look for motherboards that fall within your budget. Because if you overspend, then you will be short on other components, which might cause you to cheap out and ultimately regret it.

So, first, go over your budget and decide exactly how much you can spend on the motherboard. After that, look for motherboards you can afford and apply all the factors we discussed. We will discuss just those motherboards.

As you know, the chipset each motherboard is based on heavily influences its performance and overall features, which consequently affects its pricing as well. Therefore, if you build the ultimate gaming rig, you will use high-end motherboards with chipsets like Z790 or B670E.

Similarly, if you’re on a budget and want a gaming PC, you will probably settle on a motherboard with a B760 or B650E chipset.

Cutting down on motherboards you cannot afford will significantly reduce your options, which is perfect because you will only get the motherboard under your budget.

Overclocking: VRM & PCB Layers

VRM Motherboard
VRM On a Motherboard (Image By Tech4Gamers)

Overclocking is when you feed your CPU, GPU, RAM, or other components with additional power to get more than stock performance out of them.[9] So, if you plan to overclock your rig, you will need a strong motherboard capable of overclocking.

The overclocking potential of a motherboard relies heavily on its VRM structure, PCB layers, and overall cooling mechanism. The VRM structure delivers smooth and stable power to the CPU.[10] This way, if you feed additional power, then the VRM should be capable of handling the extra load and should not cause any stability issues.

Therefore, you need a high-end, durable VRM motherboard to overclock your rig. However, VRM alone cannot dictate the overclocking potential. Because you’re feeding extra power, you will also generate additional heat.

Hence, if your motherboard is not equipped with an adequate cooling solution, it will not perform up to the mark. To judge a motherboard’s cooling capabilities, you must go over its PCB layers because the more the layers are used, the higher the PCB’s temperatures can resist. 

For instance, an eight-layer PCB is great for overclocking. Furthermore, the motherboard should also use massive heatsinks, high-quality heat pipes, and thermal pads for the VRMs to keep them cool. This way, your motherboard’s VRMs will stay at optimal temperatures during overclocking.

In short, if you plan to overclock your PC, you must scrutinize the motherboards based on their VRM design, heatsinks, thermal pads, and PCB layers because these features directly affect the overclocking potential.


GIGABYTE Z690 AERO G (Image By Tech4Gamers)

This factor is subjective. Some people want gorgeous-looking PCs with lots of RGB and other flashy bells and whistles, while others don’t care about these features and want a PC that can do the job.

If you’re one of the first types, consider this factor. Many RGB options are available regarding motherboards; some have subtle RGB around the chipset, while some have lots of flashy RGB all over the heatsinks and rear IO cover. 

Not only that, but many people prefer to have an all-white aesthetic or an all-black aesthetic. You must look for motherboards that can go along with your overall theme.

It should be noted that the more flashy features you go after, the more the price tag will climb. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you consider your budget when looking for visually appealing motherboards.

Ports You Need

GIGABYTE Z690 AERO G Rear IO (Image By Tech4Gamers)

Another factor to remember when looking for motherboards is their selection of ports. There is a chance that your work might require you to have a couple of Type-C and/or Thunderbolt 4 ports. Similarly, you might also need a bunch of USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports.

Therefore, it is necessary to review the port selection of different motherboards and select the one that offers enough ports to cater to your needs. If you have bought a motherboard without adequate ports, read our guide on How To Add More USB Ports To A PC.

However, we highly recommend you check the port’s configuration before purchasing so you don’t have to look for third-party solutions later.

Expansion Slots

Expansion Z790
Z790 Expansion (Image By Tech4Gamers)

Next, we have the expansion slots, another specification you must review before selecting your perfect motherboard. If you think you’ll need a few expansion slots, then you can’t go with a Mini-ITX motherboard. That’s because those compact boards only offer a single expansion slot.

Similarly, the ATX form factor motherboards utilize the extra surface area and give you access to more than four expansion slots. However, it is also necessary to note which mode these slots work on, as some might work at x8. 

As a general rule, you should also skim through the expansion slots each motherboard is offering, and if you think the offering is plenty for you, then, and only then, you should go with that board.

On-board Audio

GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS ELITE AX – Audio Solution (Image By Tech4Gamers)

If you’re an audiophile or your work requires a solid audio solution, you also need to consider the motherboard’s onboard audio.

First of all, check which audio codec the board is using. If the chip is a high-end model of Intel or Realtek, then you’re good to go, as it will provide you with a crisp sound. Furthermore, channel support is also necessary to consider. 

If you have 5.2 or 7.1 audio set up, ensure your motherboard supports this channel. Other than that, audio frequency also plays a vital role in determining the overall audio quality of a motherboard; hence, always go for a motherboard that supports a decent frequency.

Other audio features like the availability of HDMI audio, 3.5mm audio jacks, and/or optical audio also play a role in the overall audio quality of the motherboard. Additionally, check if the motherboard comes with special software that can be used to enhance the audio quality through further customization.

Some Extras To Consider: Diagnostic LED, Power Button, Wi-Fi Module

GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS ELITE AX Wi-Fi Module (Image By Tech4Gamers

Apart from the above 11 factors, you must always consider that if you’re in the market for the perfect motherboard, you must also look for a few additional options to get the best product.

First, it’s a huge plus if the motherboard you’re going for has diagnostic LED lights. As the name suggests, the diagnostic LED is a handy feature that can help you figure out what’s malfunctioning in case of any fault. The LED might blink in a pattern or flash with a specific color to indicate what’s wrong.

Similarly, having a dedicated power button on the motherboard is also good. This power button will prove its worthiness when diagnosing an issue and powering up the motherboard without connecting it to the chassis.

In addition, the power button is also useful when using the motherboard as a test bench. However, the lack of the power button should not be a deal breaker, as you can always jump-start the motherboard.

Lastly, having an integrated Wi-Fi module gives you an easy option to connect to the Internet without using Ethernet. Of course, if you want the best performance, you might still go for LAN, but you can connect to Wi-Fi if your board supports it.

It should be noted here that motherboards with Wi-Fi support are generally more expensive than motherboards that don’t support Wi-FI.

Final Thoughts

How We Test Motherboard
How We Test Motherboards

The motherboard is one of the core components of your PC. Hence, it makes sense to do extensive research before buying one. Now, when you look at the variety of motherboard options available on the market, you might feel overwhelmed.

However, with proper guidance and research, buying the perfect motherboard is not tricky. If you follow our outlined points, you will make the right purchase. So, follow every point and consider your use case and preferences when buying the motherboard.

More Helpful Resources By Tech4Gamers:


  1. Computer Hardware and servicing. Motherboard Components. Retrieved from
  2. Tech4Gamers. BEST Z790 Motherboards [Hands-On Tested 2024]. Retrieved from.
  3. Tech4Gamers. Best B760 Motherboards: DDR4 And DDR5. Retrieved from
  4. Tech4Gamers. Motherboard Form Factors [All Types & Difference]. Retrieved from
  5. HCC Learning Web. Chapter 2: Form Factors, Power Supplies, and Working Inside a Computer. Retrieved from
  6. Personal Computer Systems. Motherboard. Retrieved from
  7. University of Massachusetts Amherst. Building Your Rig 101: Motherboards. Retrieved from
  8. Tech4Gamers. The BEST DDR5 RAM In 2024 [Hands-On Tested]. Retrieved from
  9. Tech4Gamers. What Is Overclocking? [The Definitive Guide]. Retrieved from
  10. Tech4gamers. What Is VRM? [Definition, Types & Importance]. Retrieved from
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