Motherboards Are Getting Too Expensive

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Hey does anybody else remember when "budget" motherboards were actually affordable?

Story Highlight
  • Motherboards seem to be getting more expensive all across the board, regardless of their pricing tier.
  • It is getting more and more difficult to find new motherboard options under $100.
  • The trend of “upselling” seems to be getting more apparent in the mid-range.

I can’t help but notice the steady increase in motherboard prices over the past few generations. It seems like there is a collective effort in the industry to raise the threshold of a “budget” motherboard, while simultaneously introducing new “premium” motherboard tiers that are simply out of the reach of the average user.

Let’s analyze this trend a bit deeper.

Motherboards – Unreasonably Expensive

Over the past few years, we have seen a rather uncomfortable trend in the motherboard market. Manufacturers across the board have slowly but surely increased the pricing of their motherboard products, regardless of the different tiers.

This has happened steadily across multiple years, but it is apparent once you do a comparative analysis with the previous generations of motherboards.

For instance, take the latest AMD AM5 motherboards. If we consider the prices of the X670E chipset, you would be hard-pressed to find a motherboard listed for less than $250 on the market. This is even before you consider some of the best X670E motherboards, such as the ASUS ROG Strix and ASRock Taichi options, which are listed at well over $400 at the time of writing.

GIGABYTE X670E AORUS MASTER
GIGABYTE X670 AORUS MASTER Motherboard – Image From Our Review.

This trend is also apparent in mid-range and budget-oriented chipsets. Even the most affordable full ATX B650 motherboard would run you about $150, and the prices go up to around $230 to blend into the X670 product stack. The same pricing spread can be seen with Intel’s Z-series, B-series, and H-series motherboards.

We haven’t even talked about the “premium” category of motherboards which is truly bizarre. If you are an enthusiast and you want the best power delivery for overclocking, you can be paying well over $500 for a decent candidate. The ROG Maximus Z790 Hero is priced at around $530, while the X670E AORUS Xtreme can be yours for just $650.

MSI MEG Z790 ACE MAX
MSI MEG Z790 ACE MAX (Image by Tech4Gamers)

Side note, I can never understand why MSI charges $1200 for its GODLIKE motherboards.

Cheap Motherboards Still Exist… Right?

Seeing some of these prices, you might be convinced that yes, although SOME motherboards are quite expensive, there still exist a lot of motherboards that appear to be affordable. However, that is not entirely true once you analyze the market.

Sure, all the major motherboard manufacturers have some entry-level SKU that they advertise for, say under $100. If you closely follow these products on the market, however, you will notice that not a lot of these motherboards are actually on sale. In fact, many “budget” motherboards for the popular chipsets don’t arrive on the market till months or even a year after the launch of the chipset.

Newegg – Some of these prices are way too high!

Let’s take the B760 chipset as an example, a mid-range chipset that does not support overclocking. As of the time of writing, there are only a couple of B760 motherboards listed for $100 on Amazon, and both of them are using micro-ATX form factors and are completely barebones. You cannot find many of the other “advertised” motherboards that were supposed to be sold under the $100 price mark.

ASUS ROG Strix B760-I Gaming WiFi 6E
ASUS ROG Strix B760-I Gaming WiFi 6E

In years past, you could find an abundance of motherboards in the $50-100 price bracket. In fact, you could buy B450 motherboards for 60 bucks that even supported CPU overclocking. Perhaps understandably, there seems to be an active effort from the motherboard manufacturers to eliminate the budget end of the market under the $100 mark.

Why Motherboards Are Getting Pricey

There’s a whole cocktail of reasons behind the rising prices of motherboards. Here are a few.

Our Old Friend

First off, there’s the good old culprit: inflation. Prices are naturally creeping up thanks to the ever-increasing bill of materials (BOM) and production costs.

Sneaky Marketing

There’s a suspicious marketing game that is worth noting as well. Manufacturers are cleverly nudging us towards those pricier, high-end options by setting the prices of the budget motherboards right under them on the pricing spectrum. It’s like they’re saying, “Why settle for less when you could have more?”

Notice the different AM5 motherboards blending into each other’s price bracket.

Unsuspecting buyers are subconsciously compelled to jump up to the next tier and pay more. A good quality B760 board would run you about $180-$200, and then you get really close to that $220-$230 starting price of the Z790 motherboards.

More Gimmicks, Less Features

Let’s not forget the extra frills they’re packing into these boards. Sure, those flashy LEDs and overbuilt PCBs might look cool, but does a budget user really need them? They’re just adding more weight to the price tag without necessarily boosting performance.

MSI B650M Project Zero – Image By Tech4Gamers

Avoid falling for motherboard gimmicks like “GAMING” branding, “VR Ready” branding, or random “AI” features that don’t provide any real value.

Final Word

While some affordable motherboards definitely still exist, the industry as a whole is moving towards more and more expensive motherboards in all categories. Perhaps the era of the $50 motherboard has just been lost to Father Time.

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