With Intel and AMD’s new processor releases this year and with Battlefield 3 looming in the minds of many gamers, the gaming PC build has become more popular than ever. In this article we’ll review the best gaming motherboards for 2011 by socket type – 1155, AM3, and 1366.
The bestselling socket of the year is the 1155, which is compatible with Intel’s all new Sandy Bridge processors. Among gamers the i7-2600k in combination with a variety of high-end boards has quickly become a favorite for those looking for performance. Here are two motherboards that really stick out in this category.
Best LGA 1155 Socket Z68 Chipset Motherboard
The new Z68 chipset brings together the best of the P67 and H67 by allowing you to overclock your CPU and use integrated graphics. An additional feature that we really like is Intel’s Smart Response Technology which allows you to dedicate up to 64GB of SSD “cache” to your hard drive to give you SSD-like performance for your entire hard drive.
The bestselling Z68 motherboard of the year is the Asus P8Z68-V PRO. The P8Z68-V PRO received an editor’s choice award from Tech Report, HardOCP, and PCPer. You pay a small premium for purchasing a Z68 motherboard over say a P67 motherboard with similar specifications, so if you don’t plan on using Smart Response Technology or if you don’t care about the integrated graphics, then staying with a P67 chipset might save you a couple of bucks.
Specifications for the P8Z68-V PRO include up to 32 GB of DDR3 2200(O.C.)*/2133(O.C.)/1866(O.C.)/1600/1333/1066 memory, 2 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots (single at x16 or dual at x8 / x8 mode), 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot* [black] (max. at x4 mode, compatible with PCIe x1 and x4 devices), 2x PCI Express x1, 4 x SATA 6Gb/s, 4 x SATA 3Gb/s, Realtek ALC892 audio chipset, D-sub, DVI, and HDMI connectors, 6 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.0, GPU Boost, BT GO!, Dual Intelligent Processors 2 with DIGI+ VRM, LucidLogix Virtu, EPU and TPU.
Here’s what one owner had to say:
“The board is great. The price is good and there are many features. The best part is that you can overclock and use integrated graphics. Some newer Z68 boards don’t allow you to use integrated because they have no video ports and I think the whole point of Z68 is to be able to use the combined features of a P67 and H67. ”
Best LGA 1155 Socket P67 Chipset Motherboard
If you want a solid P67 motherboard, then we recommend you look at one of two, the MSI P67A-GD65, and the ASRock P67 EXTREME4. We’ll feature the P67A-GD65 but the ASRock P67 Extreme4 is worth mentioning because of it’s good value and high recommendation from Tom’s Hardware. The MSI P67A-GD65 has established some merit as well being the HardOCP.com Gold Award Winner.
The MSI P67A-GD65 (featured in the image to the right) uses top quality military grade components to give you high performance and stability and with O.C. Genie II its easier to overclock that new i7-2600k or i5-2500k than ever. Specifications for the MSI P67A-GD65 include up to 32 GB of DDR3 memory, PCI Express 2.0 x16, 3 x PCI Express x1, 4 x SATA 6Gb/s, 4 x SATA 3Gb/s, Realtek ALC892 audio chipset, 8 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.0, B3 Stepping Ready, Click BIOS Universal Extensible Firmware Interface User-friendly mouse-controlled BIOS menuPre-OS Applications, Super Charger, THX TruStudio PRO, and a 3 year parts and labor warranty.
Top AM3+ Motherboards for Gaming – 2012
Are you ready for Bulldozer? Whether you plan on upgrading when Bulldozer comes out or just want to be ready when it does there are some great AM3+ ready motherboards that will work with your AM3 compatible CPU (Phenom II etc…).
This motherboard is listed in the boards that Asus has posted are AM3+ Ready. It’s a great value board and has most of the features that you would find on motherboards that are $70 more.
Specifications include up to 16 GB Dual channel supported DDR3 ram, PCI Express 2.0 x16 2 (x16 or x8, x8), 6 x SATA 6Gb/s, onboard ATI Radeon HD 4290, D-Sub, DVI, and HDMI connectors, 4 x USB 2.0, and 2 x USB 3.0. It also comes with a 3 year parts and labor warranty. Features include; Core Unlocker, Turbo Key II for Easy O.C., GPU Boost, TurboV EVO, ASUS Express Gate, and ASUS EPU Engine.
What one owner had to say:
“This motherboard is very popular for a good reason. With all the features that it packs its definitely a great investment for the price you are paying. I don’t doubt there will be some performance PC enthusiasts that would prefer higher end than this, but for about 150 bucks its hard to find too many other motherboards that can compete with this package. Having so many USB ports, full SATA, GPU support, and the ram / CPU boosting features makes this a great buy and should give you lots of power. I do recommend that if you’re going to get a motherboard like this to spend the extra few bucks to get a strong CPU to really get the bang for your money out of this motherboard. I put in an AMD 6 core Phenom II and its been running like a dream. This machine handles anything I throw at it.”
Other Great AM3+ MotherboardAlternatives
After Intel’s Sandy Bridge release I’ll assume that if you’re looking for a 1366 motherboard you’re looking for a pure performance build with one of Intel’s Extreme processors or you are looking for a replacement for your current motherboard. 3 great motherboards from Asus in this category include the SABERTOOTH X58, ASUS LGA 1366 – Intel X58 – Republic of Gamers – ATX Motherboard Rampage III Extreme, and ASUS Rampage III Black Edition Intel X58/ICH10R Chipset DDR3 Triple-Channel Memory 2200 LGA 1366 Extended ATX Motherboard (shown in the picture to the right).
We hope you’ve enjoyed this review of the best PC gaming motherboards for 2012. If you’d like to feature another motherboard on this page, then please leave a comment below. We also highly recommend this article on the best gaming motherboards for 2012. It outlines a few other great motherboards you might have interest in. AMD users may also be interested in this article on the best AM3+ motherboards for 2011 which outlines a few other motherboards which weren’t discussed in this post.