The Best microATX (mATX) Motherboards for Gaming

Small form factor doesn’t mean lightweight performance.

Updated: June 2018

Not all PCs need to be hulking behemoths. If you want to save a little space (and, potentially, a little cash), a micro ATX build could be the way to go. With a slightly smaller form factor than ATX, but bigger than Mini-ITX, micro ATX motherboards forego some features like extra PCIe slots and SATA ports, but have enough bells and whistles to allow you to build a serious PC in a smallish enclosure.

Of course, there’s still a lot of variety between Micro ATX boards, with some offering “just the basics”, while others allow for more expansion, offer more ports, and some even throw in RGB lighting. Based on my research, and plenty of PC building experience, here are the best micro ATX boards for any gaming build.

Best “Gamer-Style” Intel microATX Board – ASUS ROG STRIX B360 GAMING

If the other motherboards are too boring in the looks department, I’d recommend the gamer-themed ASUS ROG STRIX B360-G GAMING motherboard. It’s a small step up from the GIGABYTE board in functionality, adding a second M.2 slot and a better audio chipset with optical out on the I/O. It also replaces the old school PCI slot with a second PCIe 3.0 x1 slot, and replaces the Type-C USB port with a second USB 3.1 gen 2 port. And, as you’d expect from a gaming board, it has support for RGB light strips, which you can control through ASUS’ Aura lighting software.

If you prefer a snowy white color scheme, the MSI B360M MORTAR TITANIUM is a good alternative, though it lacks the optical audio out and turns two of the USB 3.1 ports into USB 2.0 ports. It’s good if you have MSI-branded peripherals, though, since it’ll sync RGB lights with its Mystic Light software.

Best Budget Intel microATX Board – ASRock H310M-HDV

If you’re looking to game on a budget, ASRock’s H310M-HDV motherboard is only $58, and its specs are nothing to sneeze at. It supports Intel’s latest “Coffee Lake” processors, allows up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM, and it even has two USB 3.1 gen 1 ports in the pack (plus four USB 2.0 ports). It also has a TPM header so that, with the help of a separately-bought TPM chip, you can encrypt your hard drive and keep your data safe. You won’t find any M.2 slots here, and it only supports one PCI 3.0 x16 graphics card, but it’s hard to complain when the price is this low. For a basic gaming PC on a budget, it’s about as cost effective as you can get.

Best Midrange Intel microATX Board – GIGABYTE B360M D3H

While my budget pick will provide a good foundation for any gaming PC, my midrange pick from GIGABYTE gives you a bit more room for future upgrades. For $20 more than the ASRock board, you get two more RAM slots (bringing RAM support up to 64GB in total), an M.2 slot (for high-speed storage), two more USB 3.1 ports (one gen2, one type-C), a better audio chipset, Intel gigabit LAN, a second PCIe x16 slot (with Crossfire support for multiple AMD GPUs), and a standard PCI slot…you know, in case you have an old expansion card you just can’t give up. It also has an RGB header if you want to light up your system, and supports RGB Fusion so you can sync your lights with other GIGABYTE products.

Best Intel microATX Board for Overclockers on a Budget – ASRock Z370M Pro4

If you want to overclock your Coffee Lake CPU, you’ll need a motherboard with the Z370 chipset. The best budget board with overclocking capabilities is the ASRock Z370M Pro4, which is actually packs quite a punch. For $125, you get two PCIe 3.0 x16 slots (with the second running in x4 mode), two PCIe 3.0 x1 slots, two M.2 storage slots, an Intel gigabit LAN chipset, and support for up to 64GB of RAM. It doesn’t have USB 3.1 gen 2, but you do get four USB 3.1 gen 1 ports, along with a USB 3.1 Type-C port and a USB 2.0 port in the back. If you want bang for your buck, look no further.

Best Do-Anything Intel microATX Board – MSI Z370M GAMING PRO AC

If you want the ultimate Micro ATX Intel board, you’ll be looking at MSI’s Z370 offering. It takes everything great about the ASRock board above, including overclocking capabilities—and adds optical audio, SLI and Crossfire support for dual graphics cards, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and red LED lights on the underside of the board. That’s about as feature-packed as you get in the Micro ATX form factor, and it has a price to match: this board is $170, but it’s well worth it if you want to cram as much power as possible into a Micro ATX case.

Best Budget AMD microATX Board – ASUS Prime A320M-K

There are quite a few budget AMD boards in the mATX form factor, but many of them make significant sacrifices—not so with the ASUS Prime A320M-K. For $55, you get a motherboard with support for all Ryzen CPUs and APUs, as well as 7th generation Athlon X4 processors. It can handle up to 32GB of RAM, has an M.2 slot for storage, and four USB 3.1 gen 1 ports. If you aren’t looking to spend a ton, the ASUS Prime A320M-K provides a solid base to build your rig.

Best AMD microATX Board for Overclockers – GIGABYTE GA-AB350M Gaming 3

You’ll need a motherboard with the B350 or X370 chipset if you want to overclock your AMD CPU, and GIGABYTE AB350M-DS3H is a great choice. With two PCIe x16 slots, four RAM slots with support up to 64GB, and six USB 3.1 ports on the back (four gen 1, two gen 2)—plus two 2.0 ports—you’ll have everything you need. It even has a TPM header so you can encrypt your hard drive. And at only $69, it’s rather cost effective.

Whitson Gordon is a writer, gamer, and tech nerd who has been building PCs for 10 years. He eats potato chips with chopsticks so he doesn’t get grease on his mechanical keyboard.

SOURCE: IGN.com

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