With the release of Intel’s latest 13th-generation processors comes a slew of new 700-series motherboard chipsets. Based on the same LGA 1700 socket as the 12th-generation CPUs, these new processors are backward compatible with the 600-series motherboards. This roundup includes the best gaming motherboards for 12th- and 13th-generation Intel processors.
1. Best High-End Z790: Asus ROG Maximus Z790 Hero
The Z790 is Intel’s current highest-specced chipset, and the Asus ROG Maximus Z790 Hero is our best pick to experience those high-end features. Asus carries over its ROG Maximus legacy to this premium board, offering top-notch build quality and unbeatable power and thermal solutions. Overclockers can push their systems to the limits, thanks to the 8-layer PC that doesn’t disappoint in the looks department either. Filled to the brim with up-to-date, high-speed connectivity and storage features, the ROG Maximus 790 Hero does nearly everything you see in other flagship boards but at half the price.
- Best-in-class design and build quality with impressive RGB
- Ultra-fast DDR5 memory speeds up to 7800 MT/s
- Ample high-speed storage with one PCIe 5.0 and four PCIe 4.0 sockets
- Flagship-grade VRMs with 20+1 phase design, rated for 90A
- Ideal for gamers, with triple M.2 heatsinks and an ROG water-cooling zone
- Latest Wi-Fi 6E for fast and low interference connectivity
- Premium audio codec
- Decked-out rear I/O, including 6 USB 3.2 Gen2 and 2 Thunderbolt 4 ports
- Three ARGB headers and a BIOS flashback button
- Pricier than some comparable boards from competitors
- Enthusiasts may feel the lack of multiple PCIe 5.0 M.2 slots
2. Best Value Z790: ASRock Z790 Steel Legend Wi-Fi
You don’t need to spend half of your PC’s budget to enjoy Z790’s modern feature set. Choosing the ASRock Z790 Steel Legend Wi-Fi will let you spend what you save on your processor and GPU for a robust and well-rounded build. ASRock is known for its value-for-money products and adopts the same philosophy for its mid-range Z790 board. With special but essential features, like a PCIe 5.0 M.2 slot, USB 3.2 Gen2 ports, and Wi-Fi 6E, the Z790 Steel Legend provides a healthy combination of next-gen features at an affordable price point. You’d be hard-pressed to find another board under$300 that offers more.
- Impressive black-and-white PCB with subtle RGB implementation
- Solid VRM solution with 16+1+1 phase design
- Supports DDR5 speeds of up to 6800 MT/s
- Includes a PCIe 5.0 M.2 port not found in even pricier boards
- Decent cooling with multiple heatsinks for M.2 slots
- Latest WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 support
- Three ARGB headers for flexible RGB setup
- Well-equipped rear I/O including USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A and Type-C
- Color scheme may conflict with some builds
- Fewer USB 3.2 Gen2 ports
Also helpful: if you’re gaming regularly, you may also want to invest in a quality gaming headset.
3. Best Mini-ITX Z790: Asus ROG Strix Z790-I Gaming Wi-Fi
The urge to sandwich every possible next-gen feature into a mini-ITX form factor will cost you a pretty penny, but we argue it’s worth it. The Asus ROG Strix Z790-I Gaming W-iFi represents what a no-compromise small-form-factor motherboard looks like. Sure, you can go with cheaper options from other brands, but you’ll miss out on additions like a PCIe 5.0 M.2 slot, Thunderbolt ports, and an “out-of-the-box” space-saving approach that allows for better-performing components on the board.
- Renowned build quality and aesthetics associated with ROG Strix products
- Above-average power solution for mini-ITX with 10+1 phase VRM solution
- Ultra-fast DDR5 speeds of up to 7600 MT/s
- Inclusion of PCIe 5.0 M.2, placed strategically with a PCIe 4.0 M.2 slot
- ROG Strix Hive moves OC and connectivity controls to a desktop device
- Plenty of connectivity with two Thunderbolt 4 ports and four USB 3.2 Gen2 ports
- Only 1 ARGB header
- More costly than competing options
4. Best Value Z690: MSI MPG Z690 Edge Wi-Fi DDR5
The Z690 chipset was Intel’s flagship platform for its 12th Gen processors, but with a simple BIOS update, it also supports the latest 13th Gen processors. And the MSI MPG Z690 Edge Wi-Fi DDR5 may convince you to go this route. The only overclocking-enabled chipset on the 600-series, Z690 shines like none other on MSI’s mid-range offering. The MPG Z690 Edge WiFi DDR5 includes all the next-gen gaming features you need, from DDR5 support and robust power and thermal solutions to a premium look and design. This motherboard can safely be termed an enthusiast’s board on a discount.
- High-performance gaming features, including DDR5 support up to 6400 MT/s and robust M.2 and VRM cooling
- Equally capable power design with 16+1+1 phase VRM solution
- Impressive looks for its price
- Four high-speed PCIe 4.0 M.2 ports, each with a heatsink
- No compromises on connectivity with Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3
- Seven USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, with one 20Gbps port
- Versatile RGB support with three ARGB headers
- Six-layer PCB instead of eight layers seen in comparable boards
- Fewer USB ports than comparable boards
5. Best Budget Z690: Asus TUF Gaming Z690-Plus Wi-Fi
The Asus TUF Gaming Z690-Plus Wi-Fi is Asus’s attempt to offer the most Z690 features at the lowest price possible. It may not have some flagship boards’ beefy heatsinks or premium build quality, but it provides enough gaming features to make up for it. In addition to its standout specs, the onboard RGB can sync with other RGB components of your PC. Asus has also included AI noise cancelation to improve online gaming sessions. Frankly, the TUF Gaming Z690-Plus Wi-Fi packs a lot in a reasonably affordable package.
- Aesthetically pleasing TUF Gaming design
- Four PCIe 4.0 M.2 ports, with three having their own heatsinks
- Impressively fast memory speeds of up to 6000 MT/s for its price range
- Features tough to find at this price, like integrated Wi-Fi 6E, 6-layer PCB design, and 3 ARGB headers
- Decent number of USB ports with four USB 3.2 Gen2 ports
- Build quality could have been better
- Only six USB Type-A ports
6. Best Mini-ITX Z690: Gigabyte Z690I Aorus Ultra Lite DDR5
Another benefit of going Z690 over Z790 is the availability of much more affordable SFF motherboards. The Gigabyte Z690I Aorus Ultra Lite DDR5 is a prime example of this. With a premium PCB design and enough connectivity options to complete the package, the Z690I Aorus Ultra Lite DDR5 is a steal. The lack of PCIe 5.0 graphics and Wi-Fi 6E sticks out. However, these negatives aren’t dealbreakers considering their negligible effect on the motherboard’s PC gaming performance.
- A great feature set for its price, especially DDR5 support, dual M.2 slots, and great looks
- Inclusion of an ARGB header for minimal but customizable RGB
- CPU-less BIOS update with Q-Flash Plus
- Robust power solution with 10+2+1 phase VRMs rated for 105A
- Fast onboard Ethernet with 2.5Gbe Intel LAN
- Wi-Fi 6 instead of Wi-Fi 6E
- PCIe 3.0 graphics slot
- Only eight USB Type-A ports
- Only one ARGB header
7. Best Budget B660: MSI MAG B660M Mortar Wi-Fi DDR5
If overclocking isn’t your thing, the MSI MAG B660M Mortar Wi-Fi DDR5 may just be all you need for your budget gaming PC. For running a 12th Gen or 13th Gen Intel CPU at stock speeds, this micro-ATX board offers more than enough gaming performance for under $300. It may not have the fancy RGB and build quality of some pricier boards, but it excels at the essentials, allowing you to invest your dollars into other components of your build.
- Great, well-equipped option for a budget gaming PC
- DDR5 support with speeds of up to 6200 MT/s is fast enough
- Two PCIe 4.0 M.2 ports, each with its own heatsink
- More than adequate cooling for a non-OC build
- Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 for excellent connectivity
- Plenty of USB ports for peripherals
- Only two ARGB headers
- Only three USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A ports at the back
8. Best Mini-ITX B660: Asus ROG Strix B660-I Gaming WiFi
There aren’t many options for SFF builders looking for a well-balanced mini-ITX B660 motherboard. The Asus ROG Strix B660-I Gaming Wi-Fi is easily the clear winner in this category. Being the only real option with DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 support, this Asus board also has outstanding gaming features. There are minor compromises, like the lack of WiFi 6E and fewer USB ports, but they can’t take away from the overall great value of the ROG Strix B660-I Gaming WiFi.
- Well-balanced board with next-gen features at a great price
- Fast DDR5 memory support with speeds of up to 6200 MT/s
- Robust 8+1 phase VRMs with a beefy heatsink
- Two PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots with heatsinks
- Integrated Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2
- Wi-Fi 6 instead of Wi-Fi 6E
- Only one ARGB header
- Only one USB 3.2 Gen2 port at the back
- Only six USB Type-A ports at the back
Also helpful: If you’re in the market for a new monitor, we’ve rounded up the best curved monitors for every budget.
9. Best Value H610: Asus Prime H610M-A D4-CSM
The H610 chipset is the most affordable gateway into Intel’s 12th and 13th Gen processors. The Asus Prime H610M-A D4-CSM is the best of all the H610 boards available. While it may have a bare-bones look, it’s the only H610 board with a proper VRM heatsink and two M.2 slots. You have to make a few compromises on the H610 chipset, like having only one memory DIMM per channel, fewer and slower USB ports, and reduced overall functionality, especially with the high-end CPUs. But if you want to build an ultra-budget Intel-based gaming PC, the Asus Prime H610M-A D4-CSM is your best bet.
- Discrete VRM heatsink, a rarity in its class of boards
- Dual PCIe 4.0 M.2 ports
- Three ARGB headers, much more than even some pricier boards
- Inclusion of USB 3.2 Gen2 ports
- Only six USB ports
- No option to run dual-channel memory
- Not advisable to pair it with high-end CPUs
- Basic aesthetics
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Intel better than AMD for gaming?
Intel currently offers a much better value proposition than AMD for gaming builds. For the past few years, AMD’s Ryzen platform reigned supreme in terms of performance, efficiency, or price. But Intel gradually improved its microarchitecture, added performance and efficiency cores to its CPUs and regained its spot as the preferred gaming platform across price points with the latest Raptor Lake CPUs. Intel CPUs offer better performance, overclocking, and software support than their AMD counterparts.
How much RAM is enough for gaming?
Only a few years ago, the popular opinion was that 16GB RAM was more than enough for any gaming workload. But with the rapid advancement in PC tech, games have become much more demanding in recent years. Therefore, 16GB RAM is quickly reaching its limit, especially if you’re multitasking while gaming. While this doesn’t mean you should start upgrading to 32GB right away, any new PC builders are recommended to opt for 32GB RAM instead of 16GB. However, if you’re working on a budget build, you can still go with 16GB RAM and comfortably run games without issues as long as you’re not running multiple programs in the background.
Which motherboard brand is the best?
While there are many motherboard manufacturers, only a few are known to deliver consistent and top-tier performance. Brands like Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, and ASRock are generally considered the best motherboard brands. If you’re choosing between two or more similar motherboards from among these brands, you’ll need to base your decision on personal preferences or the quality of bundled software, as all four of these brands offer exceptional motherboards in different price segments.
Image credit: Unsplash
Leave a Reply