What is the most powerful motherboard?


Having been around for the best part of two decades, it’s always an interesting time for motherboards.

The graphics card market is booming, with each new generation bringing ever more high-end graphics processing units to the table. The Question What is the most powerful motherboard? is quite common.

But with prices also rocketing up higher and higher, those in the market for the most power-packed graphics card are in a very difficult spot.

Tightening the screws

This competition is aimed at anyone trying to keep the cards under their desk rather than in them. But with every new processor the promise of graphics performance increases. So what has all that meant in terms of motherboards?

Over the last decade or so the biggest thing that has changed is the size of motherboards. Much like the graphics card market, the market for motherboards is booming. And, also much like the graphics card market, there are only so many ‘proper’ motherboards that can fit into a PC.

Although PC case makers have been producing smaller cases for some time, you’ll still struggle to fit a full-size ATX motherboard into something the size of an Xbox 360. Thankfully there are plenty of mini-ITX motherboards to pick from, but even then the smaller size has its disadvantages.

Being smaller in size means the CPU cooler has to be smaller too. If you’re planning to have the graphics card the entire length of the case, this is a killer choice. If you want a small motherboard that’s still powerful enough for top-end cards, there’s a big choice of mid-range and even budget offerings on the market.

What is the most powerful motherboard?

Some of the motherboards have been produced, so what makes one better than another? Size is the main factor. Manufacturers have to work to keep in step with other components. The CPU cooler and memory used in a new machine need to match the motherboard, for example. However, a much smaller motherboard can offer more features.

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That’s not the only difference. Some processors are rated for higher voltages, such as 3.0 or 3.1GHz, for example. Motherboards that are ‘suitable’ for these higher voltages will have a dedicated VGA connector or the appropriate I/O for a graphics card. But they will require a larger power supply unit, which can be a budget-busting £80 or more extra.

If a single graphics card won’t do it for you, a motherboard that has a second graphics card socket is a welcome addition too. With a graphics card installed you get access to two extra PCI Express x16 slots and two more PCI Express x1 slots. This could be ideal for SLI or CrossFire with two graphics cards.

All this being said, is there a ‘killer’ motherboard that offers the best combination of power, size, features, and overall value for money? Let’s find out. I try to explain to you What is the most powerful motherboard?

The verdict

We’ve been testing a number of motherboards over the last couple of months.

To narrow the field down we’ve picked the most recent one, MSI’s XPOWER GAMING M6. To give an idea of what you can get with a similar price of £140, check out the results of our best mini-ITX motherboards round-up.

In terms of processing power, you can’t go much cheaper than the Asus Strix Z390-A. But with a £70 saving, the MSI is certainly worth a look. It’s impressively small, so you don’t have to have your graphics card all the way up behind your CPU.

The obvious bonus is its size. MSI has managed to keep the power supply unit at the rear of the motherboard. This means a single cable goes from the power supply unit to the graphics card. And the lack of moving parts means less noise is emitted from the motherboard.

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However, MSI’s headline feature is something called the Armor Kit, which covers the processor with a layer of steel. The idea is to protect the processor from damage should the power supply fail.

The kit is a little expensive, but with a motherboard that’s small, light, and relatively cheap to manufacture (we’re talking £140) it’s not such a bad idea. As for noise, steel can be helpful as well. It makes the MSI cooler and quieter than most and it also stops it from picking up excess noise from your processor fan.

We mentioned that mini-ITX boards tend to have a single graphics card slot. If that’s not what you want, MSI has a range of boards with two, three, four, and even six graphics cards.

Unlike Asus, MSI provides its power supplies separately, so you don’t have to buy the whole motherboard to get the power supply unit you want. The thing is, you don’t really want a 500W power supply unit – it’s far too big for this size of the motherboard.

With all this in mind, we’d say the MSI XPOWER GAMING M6 is worth a look. We’d especially recommend the 6x USB 3.1 Type-A headers and the four-way USB 3.1 Type-C hub. The two additional PCIe x16 slots are good value for money, and the HDMI and DisplayPort are also handy. If you do want a smaller graphics card, the MSI offers the ‘All in One option, which is a bit more expensive at £330, but it means you’ll only have one PCIe x16 slot and one PCIe x1 slot for the card in the future.

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Also, consider

When it comes to pure processing power, the Asus Strix Z390-A doesn’t quite make it onto the podium. However, it’s still a good value at £165. You can get that much computing power in a mini-ITX board from Gigabyte’s X470 Aorus Gaming 7 for £176.

Gigabyte’s board has the added bonus of two full-sized PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots. If you have one of those, the added PCIe x16 slots from the Asus are worth considering. However, if you don’t have an extra graphics card, the Asus might be better for you.

We’ve also had some good luck with the ASRock H370-Plus. It’s an H370 board,

but if you can afford it, this is the best H370 board you can buy. It’s not much cheaper than the MSI at £165, but for pure grunt, you won’t get it anywhere else. It also has enough ports to cover all of your future storage and video needs. Now, What is the most powerful motherboard? is not difficult for you.

MSI’s XPOWER GAMING M6 is also worth considering if you’re looking for a premium motherboard. This is a smaller, but high-performance mini-ITX board that has a few features that the more expensive boards don’t. It comes with a four-way USB 3.1 header, an SLI bridge, and two PCIe x16 slots. If you want the best performance, this is the way to go.

Hope You know the answer Now: What is the most powerful motherboard?

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David

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