Purchasing the right motherboard for your gaming rig is essential to the long-term stability and longevity of your PC’s components. If you buy a cheap board and a really expensive CPU and GPU, then you are affecting the overall performance of your machine. That being said there are those on the other side who spend far too much for a motherboard which has features that they don’t even use.
In this post we’ll give an update on the latest technology and then review some of our favorite motherboards for gaming in all price ranges to give you a good indication of what you should purchase for your rig.
What’s Happening with Motherboards in 2013?
P67 vs. Z68 and GEN3
The P67 chipset was released in early 2011 and was designed for use with dedicated graphics cards only. For most gamers this is good enough but there are a few features with the Z68 chipset that are desirable for your PC. One that comes to mind is Intel Smart Response Technology which allows you to dedicate up to a 64GB solid state drive to cache in order to give you solid state drive-like performance for your entire system. P67 motherboards also can’t take advantage of LucidLogix Virtu Technology which gives you automatic switching between your integrated and dedicated graphics card.
Gen3 Z68 motherboards are forward compatible with Intel’s Ivy Bridge 22nm CPU. This means that they will be able to take advantage of true PCIe 3.0.
New X79 Chipset Motherboards for socket 2011 CPU
The X79 chipset was designed for use with Intel’s all new socket 2011 Sandy Bridge-e or enthusiast motherboards. Another useful piece of information is that this particular chipset, like the 1155 socket motherboards, will be compatible with Ivy Bridge-e processors slated to release in Q4 2012. Like GEN3 Z68 motherboards these will take advantage of true PCIe 3.0.
Up to 128GB Ram What?
Yes, that’s right some X79 motherboards are compatible with up to 128GB of ram. While you can’t find 16GB DIMM sticks at this point, it’s certainly another interesting tidbit of information. That being said most gamers will only be interested in adding 4-8GB DIMM sticks at this point.
The layout of the X79 chipset motherboards is substantially different than what you’re probably used to. This is to take advantage of Integrated Four Channel DDR3 Memory Controller on the Intel’s socket 2011 CPU. This chipset also includes benefits like Intel® Rapid Storage Technology enterprise 3.0 which with addition SSD or HDD gives you quicker access to your files and better data protection against drive failure with RAID 1, 5, and 10.
Best New Motherboards for Gaming in 2012
Here’s our list of the best motherboards for gaming in 2012. Our picks were based upon a number of factors including value, customer satisfaction and responses, and overall popularity among gamers.
1. ASUS LGA 1155 – Z68 – PCIe 3.0 and UEFI BIOS P8Z68-V PRO/GEN3 Motherboard
The PRO series has been a favorite among gamers because of its reliability and packed features. The first generation of this Z68 board was a bestseller last year and the GEN3 now takes its place.
Technical details for the P8Z68-V Pro/GEN3 include 2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (1×16 or dual x8), UEFI BIOS, BT GO!, 4 x USB 3.0, Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR, AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX and NVIDIA Quad-GPU SLI support, 1 x Gb LAN featuring the latest Intel chipset, and 16-Phase Power Digital power phase.
***For technical details on this and all other motherboards on our top ten list see our gaming motherboard table.
2. GIGABYTE GA-990FXA-UD3 AM3+ AMD 990FX Motherboard
Gigabyte offers affordable and reliable motherboards that gamers have counted on for years. If you’re wanting an inexpensive AMD Zambezi CPU build, then you should probably go with this model or the GA-X79-UD3.
3. ASRock MB-Z68X4G3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 Motherboard
ASRock has snuffed out any questions that hardware enthusiasts had about their reliability by producing high-quality motherboards at a low price that continue to win customer and professional acclamation.
4. Gigabyte Intel 1155 Motherboard GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3
5. GIGABYTE GA-X79-UD3 LGA 2011 Intel X79 Motherboard
6. ASUS SABERTOOTH P67 LGA 1155
The Asus’ Sabertooth series motherboards give you military grade materials. Also included is TUF Thermal Radar which allows you to increase fan speed where necessary and effectively dissipate unwanted heat away from your components in order to optimize performance and longevity. If you don’t need or want the extras that the Z68 chipset provides, then the Sabertooth offers an affordable but high-end solution.
7. GIGABYTE GA-970A-UD3 AM3+ AMD 970 Motherboard
8. ASUS LGA 1155 Z68 P8Z68 DELUXE/GEN3
9. ASUS Crosshair V Formula AM3+ AMD 990FX Republic of Gamers Series Motherboard
10. ASUS RAMPAGE IV EXTREME X79 – LGA2011
If you’re an overclocker and money is not an option the Rampage IV Extreme offers easy-to-use features like the OC key that make overclocking a breeze.
That’s our wrap-up of the top ten best gaming motherboards overall in 2012. Be sure to check back for tables of the top Z68, X79, AM3+, and P67 motherboards.