The motherboard is the foundation of any gaming rig, and it brings all the components together on a single interface. Top-of-the-range gaming motherboards offer outstanding performance, but they are expensive and add a significant cost to the build.
Gamers who don’t want to spend a fortune on a high-end motherboard can look at a budget option. Many budget gaming motherboards are available on the market, with many supporting the latest Intel and AMD processors. Buyers looking to save money might also consider previous generation motherboards because they are often cheaper than the latest versions.
These are the best budget gaming motherboards.
Best budget Z490 motherboard
Gigabyte’s Z490 Gaming X AX is a budget-friendly motherboard that supports the latest Intel processors. This motherboard uses the LGA 1200 socket interface, so it’s compatible with Intel’s 10th and 11th generation processors.
For a budget motherboard, the Z490 Gaming X AX has adequate performance with an 11+1 phase voltage regulator module (VRM). The VRM distributes power efficiently to the processor and other components. When measuring the capacity of the VRM, the numbers before the plus sign indicates the number of phases reserved for the processor, and the number after the plus sign refers to the phases powering the other components on the motherboard.
This motherboard has ample slots for memory and other components. The four memory slots support a maximum of 128GB RAM and two M.2 slots for NVMe SSDs.
Gigabyte keeps the price of the Z490 Gaming X AX by cutting out certain features. There’s no built-in Wi-Fi or USB-C ports. Despite these minor drawbacks, the Z490 Gaming X AX is a solid choice as a budget motherboard with current-generation processor compatibility.
Best budget Z390 motherboard
Buyers who don’t mind using older Intel 8th or 9th generation processors might consider the MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Plus. This motherboard is substantially cheaper than the Z490 Gaming X AX because it supports the older LGA 1151 socket interface instead of the latest LGA 1200 socket.
Since the MPG Z390 Gaming Plus is part of an older generation budget line, it can’t match the Z490 Gaming X AX. It only has a 4+2 phase VRM, reducing the number of phases supporting the processor. The MPG Z390 Gaming Plus matches the four RAM slots of the Z490 Gaming X AX, but it has a lower 64GB capacity.
One of the areas where the MPG Z390 Gaming Plus beats the Z490 Gaming X AX is its USB ports. Unlike the Z490 Gaming X AX, it has a single USB-C port, a USB 3.1 Type-A port, two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, and two USB 2.0 Type-A ports.
While the MPG Z390 Gaming Plus doesn’t win prizes for performance, it shines in other areas. The main advantages of this motherboard are its USB ports and affordable price, which should be within reach of most buyers. One thing to keep in mind when buying a previous-gen motherboard is upgradeability. Older motherboards are incompatible with current processors, so they have limited upgrade options.
Best budget small form factor Intel motherboard
Buyers looking for a budget Intel motherboard to fit their Micro-ATX build might consider the Asus Prime Z590M-PLUS. This motherboard uses Intel’s LGA 1200 socket and is compatible with the latest Intel 11th generation processors and the older 10th generation processors.
As a Micro-ATX motherboard, the Prime Z590M-PLUS is a direct competitor to the MAG B550M Mortar. It has fewer VRM power phases at 8+1 but matches the four RAM slots with a 128GB capacity. Another area where the two motherboards are similar is the two full-length PCIe slots and two smaller PCIe x1 slots. Surprisingly, there are three M.2 slots instead of two, like on most motherboards listed here. The Prime Z590M-PLUS also matches the MAG B550M Mortar by including a USB-C port and a DisplayPort.
Like the MAG B550M, certain features were cut out because of the small form factor and to keep the price down. There’s no RGB lighting, but users can add their own with the pair of Aura-compatible headers. Compared to the MAG B550M, it’s disappointing that the Prime Z590M-PLUS only has a gigabit LAN port instead of a 2.5Gbps port.
While the Prime Z590M-PLUS isn’t a highly-specced motherboard, it still has enough features to make it appealing. It’s reasonably priced and easy to upgrade because it’s compatible with the latest Intel processors. Like the MAG B550M, it can work in an ATX case or as part of a dual-system PC.
Best budget B550 motherboard
The ASUS ROG Strix B550-E uses the AMD AM4 Socket and is compatible with AMD Zen 2 and 3 processors. This motherboard is slightly more expensive than the rivals mentioned so far, but it has 14+2 power phases and additional features like built-in WiFi and RGB lighting.
When it comes to design, the ROG Strix B550-E beats the MPG Z390 Gaming Plus and the Z490 Gaming X AX. It has a built-in Wi-Fi 6 adapter, and it also supports the faster 2.5Gbps LAN speeds. The addition of two USB-C ports is also an improvement over the other motherboards mentioned so far.
There are ample slots to add more components to the motherboard. Asus includes two M.2 slots to add NVMe SSDs, and there are also four RAM slots with a maximum capacity of 128GB. Users can also add components to the two full-length PCIe slots.
Another area where the ROG Strix B550-E beats the other boards mentioned so far is RGB lighting. This motherboard has an RGB ROG logo, and it comes with two RGB headers. One is a four-pin RGB header, and the other is a three-pin addressable RGB header.
For a reasonably-priced motherboard, the ROG Strix B550-E has a surprisingly strong feature set. It has more USB-C ports than any of the motherboards mentioned so far, and it also has RGB lighting. The ROG Strix B550-E may cost a bit more than the alternatives, but the price is somewhat mitigated by including a Wi-Fi adapter.
Best budget X570 motherboard
MSI’s MPG X570 Gaming Pro Carbon is also compatible with AMD AM4 Socket processors, but there are more compatible processor options. Instead of only being compatible with Zen 2 and 3 processors like the ROG Strix B550-E, this motherboard is also compatible with the older Zen+ processors. Another difference between B550 and X570 motherboards is that the X570 motherboards support PCIe Gen 4 speeds, while the B550 versions only support PCIe Gen 3 speeds.
The X570 Gaming Pro Carbon has fewer VRM phases than the ROG Strix B550-E. Instead of 14+2 VRM phases, the X570 Gaming Pro Carbon has 10+2 phases, but it should still be enough to efficiently run the processor and other components.
Many features on the MPG X570 Gaming Pro Carbon match the ROG Strix B550-E. Both motherboards have built-in Wi-Fi 6 adapters and RGB lighting. They also have two M.2 slots and four RAM slots with a 128GB capacity. Instead of a 2.5Gbps LAN port, the MPG X570 Gaming Pro Carbon is limited to a gigabit port.
There’s a noticeable difference between the ROG Strix B550-E and the MPG X570 Gaming Pro Carbon when it comes to pricing. While both motherboards support the latest AMD processors, the MPG X570 Gaming Pro is cheaper because it has fewer power phases and a slower LAN port. It’s still a viable option for buyers looking for a budget platform for their AMD build.
Best budget small form factor AMD motherboard
Many buyers prefer smaller PCs because they take up less space. MSI’s MAG B550M Mortar is a Micro-ATX motherboard that uses the AMD AM4 Socket and is compatible with Zen 2 and 3 processors.
Most small form factor motherboards forgo certain features because of their smaller size. The MAG B550M Mortar has fewer power phases than any alternatives on this list with an 8+2+1 VRM. The number after the second plus sign refers to the phase dedicated to the graphics card.
Despite its smaller size and budget-friendly price, the MAG B550M Mortar can still compete with more expensive motherboards on this list in some areas. It has four RAM slots with a maximum capacity of 128GB. There are also two M.2 slots, two full-length PCIe x16 slots, and two of the shorter PCIe x1 slots. Other surprising features for a budget motherboard include a 2.5Gbps LAN port and built-in DisplayPort.
There’s no doubt that the MAG B550M Mortar punches above its weight with its features. It’s the most affordable motherboard on this list, but it still has a 2.5Gbps LAN port and can handle up to 128GB RAM. Another benefit of this motherboard is that it’s small enough to work in an ATX case or as part of a dual-system rig.