The best AMD motherboard is fundamental to a good gaming PC. AMD Ryzen CPUs will blaze through games and other tasks with a good motherboard, be it the X570, B55, A520, X470, or B450 chipsets out there. There’s a lot of small differences, but we have a good explanation of what to look for and which ones will fit your budget. Your motherboard is important and you should know which ones are truly worth it.
Before you jam just any AMD motherboard to your cart, make sure you figure out which is the right chipset for you. AMD has stuck with the AM4 socket through numerous CPU generations, so there are many options there. At the top you have X570, though you will find many of the same features on a B550 board, sometimes for less cash. The cheapest 500-series option is the A520, but you could even opt for an older 400-series board if you find one going for a good price.
AMD will be moving away from the AM4 socket used on all of these chipsets with its coming Zen 4 CPUs and the new AM5 socket. So, before you buy, you’ll want to make sure the motherboard is compatible with whatever AMD CPU you plan on installing in your build. Just remember you won’t have an upgrade path to newer chips if you get an AM4 motherboard today. You’ll need an entirely new motherboard for that.
When searching for the right AMD motherboard, try to fight the urge to pick up the most expensive thing out there. Think carefully about what features you need and which you could do without against your budget. Do you need a lot of ports, or are you more of a Bluetooth person? Do you need Wi-Fi 6 support if you plan to plug your PC via ethernet? Are you sticking with SATA-based SSD drives or moving on to an NVMe SSD? The money you save can always be put towards something else on your build, like a better GPU (opens in new tab).
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Asus’ ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero wants to be the last AM4 motherboard you’ll ever need. It incorporates all of the 4+ years of BIOS updates, PCB, and electrical layout tweaks into what should be a mature and refined package. Importantly, unlike early X570 boards, the Dark Hero was designed with Zen 3 processors actually on hand during the design phase.
The Dark Hero features a rather subtle design. Some might even say it’s a little bland. Perhaps we have reached ‘Peak RGB’ with recent motherboards being a little more discrete with their RGB implementations. It’s also unusual that there’s not a Crosshair VIII Apex or Extreme, especially when Gigabyte and MSI have boards priced well above the Dark Hero.
A $400 USD motherboard can never be described as cheap, but compared to the exorbitant prices of the MSI Godlike and Gigabyte Aorus Extreme, it certainly feels more affordable.
The layout of modern ATX boards tends not to vary too much these days. The primary M.2 slot is sensibly located above the PCIe slot. The second slot at the bottom also features a heatsink. The sockets are easy to access without having to remove the entire heatsink assembly. Also notable: No chipset cooling fan! Hooray!
The rear IO is packed out. If you need extra USB ports for that head massager or plasma ball, there are few better equipped boards. There are no less than eight USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, one of which is Type-C. These are joined by four USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports. There are also BIOS clear and flashback buttons, the LAN and WiFi antenna ports, and the usual set of audio ports including S/PDIF. The IO shield is preinstalled, which is blessedly now becoming standard practice on decent motherboards.
The VRM has been upgraded over that of the regular Hero. The power stages are now rated for 90a, up from 60a which bring it in line with some of the other premium X570 boards. Even if you’re into smashing out benchmarks on LN2 (and this board will see plenty of that in the hands of overclockers), it will handle the punishment with ease. The heatsinks are big and chunky affairs.
Motherboard testing is often one of the most painful things a tech journalist has to do. With some boards, you have to fight it to get it to do what you want, or expect it to, or have to or crank up some voltage setting to a level you don’t want to, but the Dark Hero boots the first time, even as we played with the memory clocks and timings and the Infinity Fabric.
The performance differences between boards with otherwise identical partnering components is usually very small. That’s particularly true as we’re now several generations in and any BIOS niggles in the X570 chipset have been well and truly tuned out. A lot of the time variability can simply come down to a margin of error.
That said, we were able to reach an Infinity Fabric clock of 2,066MHz, which combined with a 1:1 memory clock results in DDR4-4133 with tight timings. That’s not something we’ve been able to achieve with other Ryzen 5000 silicon or other boards so far. The Dark Hero was bootable with extra SoC and CCD voltage even higher than this.
The Crosshair VIII Dark Hero might not be the best AM4 motherboard ever made, we’d have to review a few hundred others to make that claim, but it’s an easy claim to make that the Dark Hero is undoubtedly one of the best AM4 motherboards we’ve ever used. Time and months of user feedback will determine if the Dark Hero assumes a position as one of the truly legendary ROG motherboards, but we wouldn’t bet against that happening.
Read our full Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero review (opens in new tab).
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The MSI MPG X570 represents an amalgamation of bleeding-edge motherboard tech, built to help you get the most out of AMD’s high-end Ryzen 5000 processors, such as the Ryzen 9 5900X (opens in new tab) or Ryzen 9 5950X (opens in new tab). Of course, you could pick up something cheaper and still unlock most of those chips performance, but MSI is also throwing in a stylish look, plenty of connectivity, and rock-solid VRM.
The MSI MPG X570 has four DIMM slots that can handle speeds up to 4,400MHz (although there’s not much point going beyond DDR4-4000) and two PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots—MSI’s MPG X570 is all about getting the most out of the best components, be that high-end DDR4 RAM (opens in new tab) or NVMe SSD (opens in new tab).
The rear I/O panel features seven USB Type-A ports for peripherals, as well as a single USB Type-C port for connectivity and high-speed data transfer. So you won’t go without precious ports for at least, er, a week.
The MPG X570 supports Wi-Fi 6, and while that does necessitate a Wi-Fi 6 compatible router for the fastest speeds, it will also work with existing Wi-Fi 4/5 routers (formerly 802.11n and 802.11ac). Also of note is the HDMI port, which many X570 boards omit (not that we’d recommend using an AMD APU with integrated graphics in a high-end board like this).
The pair of M.2 slots each have dedicated heat shields and fans, and while this does help prevent potential thermal throttling, it makes installing or replacing them a more delicate process than with their more-exposed counterparts.
The MPG X570 features enough compatibility to get the most out of your hardware now and in the future, provided you’re willing to pay a premium for it. While it’s an excellent motherboard, if you aren’t already committed to a shopping list of top-of-the-line components, you may want to consider a slightly less expensive board for your needs. The MSI X570-A Pro (opens in new tab) omits some extras like Wi-Fi and the M.2 shields, but it still runs fine and costs nearly $100 less.
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If you’re looking for a sub $200 AMD motherboard (opens in new tab), the typical advice would be to look at one of the many quality B550 offerings. It’s important not to overlook the new X570 versions, though. The basic chipset is a few years old, but with the newly released X570S models, maybe it’s time to take a more serious look at AMD’s top boards.
Notably, the ‘S’ in the new X570S nomenclature denotes silence. Early generation X570 boards, with only a few exceptions, all came with pesky, whiny chipset fans. As well as passive chipset cooling, the new X570S boards enable upgraded connectivity options, including faster than Gigabit LAN or WiFi 6E. Sadly the ASRock X570S Riptide doesn’t have WiFi 6E, but it does have an excellent price for a top chipset board.
The X570S Riptide may not be what you would call a feature-packed board, but it does have most of the important features you’ll need to run a top spec gaming rig. Only one of the two M.2 slots is covered by a heatsink, though in fairness, an increasing number of high-performance SSD models are being shipped with optional heatsinks these days anyways.
The rear I/O is reasonable for a board in this price range. There’s an empty bracket reserved for Wi-Fi antennas, plus a PS/2 combo port, CMOS clear button, and a welcome HDMI 2.1 port for use with one of AMD upcoming 5000-series APUs.
There’s also a standard set of audio ports including S/PDIF, but sadly, its driven by the ageing ALC897 codec. It’s outdated in 2021 and doesn’t belong on anything other than budget city boards. Network duties are handled by a Killer E3100 2.5G controller. Pure Gigabit is disappearing fast, and not a moment too soon. There are eight USB ports, made up of Type-A and C USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, four Gen 1 ports and two 2.0 ports. All in all, it’s a good selection of ports.
The ASRock Riptide tended to be a little slower in productivity-based tasks during our benchmarking, but proved itself to be good under gaming loads. Our recent experiences with ASRock boards typically show them to offer very good memory bandwidth, so perhaps that final 0.1% of BIOS polish is yet to come. Overall, there is little to complain about and, if you’re a gamer, you’ll be very happy. As ever, our X570-based motherboards perform within one or two percent of each other, or within a margin of error.
The X570S Riptide is a solid budget offering that will happily occur at the heart of a top-spec PCIe 4.0 system. It won’t win the feature showdown battle with more expensive boards, however. Ultimately, there are two schools of though when evaluating the X570S Riptide. And it all depends on what components you are running. As mentioned above, if you have two PCIe 4.0 drives and want to use them to their full ability, with or without other PCIe 4.0 expansion cards, then the X570 chipset is for you.
On the other hand, if you’ve got just one drive and a single PCIe 4.0 GPU, then a B550 board is worth a look, particularly models like ASRock’s own B550 PG Velocita or the MSI MAG B550M Mortar listed below, both of which offer a worthwhile alternative.
Read our full ASRock X570S PG Riptide review (opens in new tab).
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The X570 chipset might be a couple of years old, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to put it out to pasture just yet. That’s precisely what Gigabyte has done with the X570S Aorus Master. It shares a lot in common with its already highly regarded 2019 predecessor. With the inclusion of some critical feature updates and design tweaks, the X570S Aorus Master should remain a best-in-class contender for AMD motherboards.
When we first saw X570 boards en masse at Computex in 2019, one of the things that concerned us was the almost universal presence of chipset fans. A 15W TDP combined with the heat of several PCIe 4.0 drives meant that active cooling was required in many cases, though thankfully not all the time. The S in X570S denotes silence. The base chipset design hasn’t changed, but Gigabyte has added a lot of surface area to the cooling assembly, with almost the entire bottom half of the board now covered with heatsinks.
Gigabyte deserves credit for continuing to use finned VRM heatsinks, which add a lot of surface area. They’re proof that it’s possible to blend function with form. A 14 phase VRM with 70a MOSFETS is enough to power a 5950X cooled by LN2 with headroom to spare, which means users of ambient cooling won’t face any issue. We’re not only impressed by how the VRM cooling looks on the X570S Master, it showed in testing. With PBO enabled on our 5800X processor, we saw a peak VRM temperature of just 48°C. That’s a full 5°C cooler than our recent test with an ASRock X570S PG Riptide.
The rear I/O is fully featured, particularly when it comes to USB connectivity. Twelve ports consist of four USB 2.0, two USB 3.1 Gen 1, five USB 3.2 Gen 2, and a single Type-C USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 port. Something has to be done about that ridiculous USB naming scheme, but that’s a story for another day. You get clear CMOS and BIOS Flashback buttons, antenna connectors, the standard audio ports with S/PDIF, and finally, a single Intel i225-V 2.5G LAN port.
When it comes to performance, once again there’s not much in it between X570 motherboards. However, the X570S Master proved to be quite strong under multi-threaded loads while its single threaded performance is about average. Gaming performance is bang on where we expect it to be, with margin of error differences. It also showed itself to have strong M.2 SSD performance.
The Aorus Master is packed with features that keep AM4 and X570 relevant and up to date. It’s got loads of USB ports and storage options. It looks good too. A board around the $400 mark can’t ever be considered affordable, but we feel it offers a good feature set at this price.
Read our full Gigabyte X570S Aorus Master review (opens in new tab).
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This motherboard is small and mighty. Just look at it, there’s so much stuffed onto the ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming ITX/TB3’s tiny PCB—I dread to think how the PCB design and routing process went. That effort hasn’t been wasted, though. This is an excellent motherboard that fans of small form factor PC builds are going to love.
ASRock has made some great AMD Ryzen motherboards over the years, and this one packs in the latest high-end X570 chipset, forward-looking features, and serious performance. The $200+ price point might be a bit tough to swallow, but that’s often the price you pay for cleverly compact machines. It also must be said that plenty of X570 motherboards sit at around that sort of price, even full-size ATX ones.
The fact there’s almost no Mini-ITX premium attached makes the Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB3 even more tempting. It also means you can potentially create a 16-core AMD Ryzen 9 3950X (opens in new tab) or AMD Ryzen 9 5950X (opens in new tab) machine that looks about the same sort of size as an Xbox Series X.
The PCIe 4.0 support isn’t the only advanced connection on offer with this wee ASRock AMD motherboard either; there’s also Thunderbolt 3 connectivity from the integrated I/O shield of the back panel. That’s an impressive little added extra from what is an already special board.
It is worth noting that it will require an Intel-based CPU cooling bracket. To fit all the features into the mini-ITX form factor, ASRock didn’t have space for the bulky AMD fitting. That’s only an issue if you want to use the stock AMD coolers, but otherwise, any third-party cooler will come with Intel brackets anyways.
While you will have to sacrifice a few ports and slots for the compact design of the Phantom Gaming, that’s to be expected at its size. All the key stuff is present and accounted for: Wi-Fi, Thunderbolt, Gigabit LAN, PCIe 4.0, and support for the latest and greatest AMD chips. Everything you need for a seriously powerful yet compact mini PC.
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When it comes to gaming performance above all else, MSI’s micro-ATX MAG B550M Mortar is your best bet for an affordable next-gen Ryzen machine. It comes in around the $160 mark, making it cheaper than a great many X570 and other B550 motherboards on the market right now.
At this price point something has to give, of course, and the MAG B550M Mortar is conspicuously short on luxuries. There’s no debug display, no physical power or reset buttons, no RGB lighting. Of course, none of those things make any difference in-game and it’s easy to argue the £100 / $100 saving over a premium B550 board like the Asus ROG Strix B550-E Gaming can therefore be invested where it really counts: in a better graphics card.
Other economics include details like just one heat spreader supplied for the two M.2 slots and arguably the general air of old fashionedness. That includes memory DIMM slots with clips at both ends and a user manual that feels a little dated and clunky compared to the relative polish of Asus. You can’t say that, however, of the MAG B550M Mortar BIOS menu, which is slick, friendly and full-featured.
The gaming frame rates of the MSI B550 Mortar put it above the rest of the B550 crew we’ve tested so far, however. So all that penny-pinching doesn’t hit where it counts. Indeed its straight CPU performance puts it up there with some of the best X570s. That bodes well if you’re looking for an affordable home for your AMD Zen 3 CPU; this B550 has a great chance to ensure it performs to its fullest stock-clocked potential without breaking the bank.
Predictably there’s a catch. The MSI MAG B550M Mortar’s Achilles’ heel is overclocking. The 8+2+1 power phase design results in a board that isn’t going to spark any overclocking joy in your heart. Where the two Asus boards easily achieved 4.2GHz on all cores with our AMD Ryzen 3100 quad-core test chip, the B550M Mortar only manages 4GHz, a paltry 100MHz above the 3.9GHz all-core Turbo rating of the 3100.
If you don’t care about overclocking facility, then just be aware that you will be missing out on extra PCIe 4.0 M.2 and x16 graphics slots if those extras mean a lot to you. You can also opt to ditch wireless networking, depending on whether you pick the straight Mortar or the more expensive Mortar Wi-Fi 6 version.
But, as an affordable gaming board without OC pretensions, it’s a great shout.
Read our full MSI MAG B550M Mortar review (opens in new tab).
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Look at it, it’s so little! The ITX form factor has a dedicated following, and the ASRock A520M ITC/ac definitely seems to thinks so. With the ever increasing integration of functionality into the chipset, there really isn’t a need for multiple PCIe slots like there has been in years past. Does a typical gamer need more than one slot for a graphics card? If the board has WiFi, LAN, USB 3.0 and decent audio, most of the core bases are covered.
AMD’s budget Ryzen motherboard chipset, the A520, has largely slipped under the radar. While B350 and B450 motherboards were mainly regarded as entry-level, A320 was strictly seen as resolutely low-end. The introduction of B550 motherboards (opens in new tab), and their associated move upward in price, left a big hole in the sub-$100 market. Enter the A520. If you’re on a tighter budget and don’t care about PCIe 4.0 or the overclocking support offered by B550, then the A520 motherboards might be exactly what you need.
There’s cheap, and there’s cheap, but a decent A520 board can more or less do everything a board at double the price can.
Then there’s the cherry on top, support for AMD Ryzen 5000 (opens in new tab) series CPUs and Ryzen 4000 and 5000 APUs. Combine a Zen 3 CPU with a motherboard such as this ASRock A520M ITX/ac, and you’ll be able to build an affordable and compact system that can beat a comparable Intel in any workload.
The ASRock A520M ITX/ac is one of the most expensive A520 boards at $105. In fact in many markets it might be the most expensive. That would be a little unusual for ASRock which is normally known for its highly competitive bang for buck offerings. It’s one of few A520 boards to include Wi-Fi though, so that alone adds a great deal of usefulness. It supports a speed of 433Mbps, not exactly the Usain Bolt of Wi-Fi speeds when Wi-Fi 6 is the norm, but it’s enough for high speed internet.
The rear I/O is fairly standard, with six USB ports consisting of two 2.0 ports and four 3.1 Gen 1 ports. We’d like to see eight on all but the very cheapest boards but the little ASRock is hardly alone there. We are pleased to see both HDMI 2.1 and Display Port 1.4 meaning that proper 4K/60Hz with a Renoir APU will be doable.
The ASRock A520M’s audio is a bit of a let-down, but that’s something that budget boards often compromise on. A gamer listening to compressed audio assets in-game probably won’t be any less immersed, but you can opt for an external DAC if you desire one later in life, anyways.
As we often say, the performance of modern motherboards usually falls within a standard margin of error. If we see an outlier, it can often be attributed an aggressive multi core turbo mode or even ambient temperatures affecting GPU boost clocks. The ASRock performed as expected. We did note that its storage performance with a Samsung 970 Pro was strong.
The little ASRock A520M ITX/ac has it where it counts and will serve you well at the heart of a budget gaming system. It benefits from the strengths of the Ryzen platform and adds some future-proofing into the mix. ITX fans looking for a capable budget AMD Ryzen option should have this one on their shortlist.
Read our full ASRock A520M ITX/ac review (opens in new tab).
Best AMD motherboard FAQ
What should I consider when buying a motherboard?
Aside from the type of chip you’re getting—be that Intel or AMD—figure out how many M.2 slots (opens in new tab) and PCIe slots (opens in new tab) you need, as well as the number of USB ports that are acceptable to you.
Of course, keep in mind the scale of your build. Is space no object? Then go with an ATX board. But if you’re looking to create a mini PC, you’ll need a good mini-ITX motherboard. Thankfully there are some great options, and not only at the high end.
Here are some other options for the best gaming motherboards (opens in new tab) to check over.
What is the best AMD motherboard chipset?
The AMD X570 is the latest motherboard chipset for Ryzen 5000-series processors and has the most up-to-date features. It offers PCIe 4.0 support, dual-GPU configurations, and a wealth of tweaking and compatibility options. A newer version of this chipset is starting to appear, called the X570S, which removes the need for active fan cooling on the chipset itself, but is otherwise pretty much identical.
Which socket is compatible with AMD Ryzen CPUs?
There’s a simple answer for this: AM4. That’s the same socket for every AMD Ryzen processor to date. That is due to change with the release of Zen 4, though, where AM5 will be introduced. However, that’s not expected until later this year.
AMD says it will only change the socket when such a change is required, at least. It says that’s primarily tied to the schedule of industry I/O technologies, many of which will be out of AMD’s hands directly. Whether it builds out a new pin configuration and socket will depend on the features available on said platform and chip, which is how it’s supposed to work.
A single socket does not necessarily mean broad compatibility backward and forwards between Ryzen CPU generations, though. That’s down to the chipset.
Which motherboard chipset do I need for my AMD Ryzen CPU?
Today’s most relevant motherboards for a new CPU buyer are those equipped with the following chipsets: X570, B550, X470, and B450. The ‘X’ prefix denotes the high-end motherboards, while the ‘B’ indicates the close-run mid-range models. There’s also the ‘A’ prefix for the entry-level, but these come usually strapped for features and are not that much cheaper than entry-level B450 boards—plenty of options.
The 500-series chipsets are the latest to arrive, while the 400-series is generally a little older—not always, however, as Asus is still pumping out new B450 motherboards even today. Both technically support the latest Ryzen 5000-series and Ryzen 3000-series processors, but with some features missing within those packing older parts. The most notable of these omissions is PCIe 4.0 support for increased platform bandwidth—despite rumors, only 500-series motherboards are PCIe 4.0 ready.