Buying Guide Part 3: Motherboard
Part three of my gaming pc components is on the motherboard. I’ve been building my own gaming PCs for over 20 years now and one of the major brands since the beginning is still the king when it comes to motherboards and that’s ASUS.
I’ve worked with motherboards from MSI, Gigabyte, EVGA and ASRock. There are some gems from MSI and Gigabyte, but overall ASUS is still my pick.
ASRock is gaining some momentum with good quality builds. They are actually a spin-off from ASUS initially targeting the more value-oriented segment. However, these days, they have boards that compete directly with ASUS.
Years ago, ASUS came out with their high-end ROG (Republic Of Gamers) series motherboards. I actually don’t recommend these unless you are a serious overclocker and need all those crazy features.
Do you know the saying that the more complex the system is, the more can go wrong? Well, that’s how I feel about the ROG series of boards. If you’re not an expert on all the BIOS features for motherboards, don’t bother with the ROG boards. I’ve had to fine tune and tweak settings just for the system to run stable and I wasn’t even overclocking yet.
The boards that I usually go with are their mainstream offerings, which these days they have branded them as ASUS Prime motherboards. I have also used ASUS’s commercial or business stable boards for my home server builds and had no issues.
From our previous article on this series, we chose the Intel Core i7-8700K processor, which is an 8th generation Intel Core Processor, codenamed Coffee Lake. With the 8th generation Coffee Lake processors, you’ll need to choose a motherboard with the Z370 chipset.
At this time, there are two motherboards that I would recommend: ASUS Prime Z370-P and ASUS Prime Z370-A. For most builds, I would recommend with just the ASUS Prime Z370-P motherboard, which roughly costs around $140. If you’d like a slightly higher end build with multiple graphics cards, then you should go with the ASUS Prime Z370-A motherboard.
With both boards, you’ll be able to do dual graphics cards in either SLI or Crossfire configuration. The difference is that the Z370-P only comes with two PCIe x16 slots. The Z370-A motherboard comes with 3x PCIe x16 slots so you can have a dual graphics card setup and still have another x16 slot for something else.
One thing I think about is its upgradability. If you plan on only having one graphics card and are not overclocking, then the Z370-P motherboard is good. If you plan on having an SLI or Crossfire setup, then go with the Z370-A.
In my opinion, I would always go with a single graphics card setup. With a high-end single card, you can run almost all games at very high graphic settings. But I will get into this more in the next article.
So in the end, I recommend the ASUS Prime Z370-P motherboard.