When people think about building their own gaming PCs, they usually think about what graphics card and CPU to get. But, one thing that you should never overlook is the motherboard.
You see, the motherboard is where you will plug-in all of your PC’s components, so without a good one, you are not getting the most out of the things that you’ve bought.
If you search for good motherboards out there, you will just be bombarded with a lot of different options.
Fortunately for you, I will narrow it down only to the best motherboards for gaming in 2020.
Quick Buying Tips
So, what are the things that you should consider when you are getting a motherboard for gaming? First is that it should be compatible with the processor that you are looking to get.
For instance, if you are going to get the latest Intel Core i9 processor, you will need a motherboard with an Intel 1200 socket to support it.
Another thing worth mentioning is the size of the mobo. You can either choose an ATX (standard sized), Micro-ATX, and Mini-ITX (smallest).
Keep in mind that the smaller the motherboard you are going to get, the fewer features you are going to end up getting.
Of course, there is the issue of money. Do you want the top-of-the-line mobo or do you want one that just has all of the right features at an affordable price?
Lastly, while there are motherboards that come with nifty features such as a built-in WiFi Adapter, Bluetooth receiver, and more, only spend money on them if you really need those features. Otherwise, you can go for the base configuration and be done with it.
Without further ado, here are the best motherboards for gaming in 2020:
Best Gaming Motherboards
1.Asus ROG Maximus XII Extreme
If you intend to get the best gaming processor in the form of the Intel Core i9-10900K, then you are going to want a motherboard that can tame that beast.
The Asus ROG Maximus XII Extreme is one of the best, if not the best, Z490 motherboard on the market today.
Let’s start with some technical specs. First is that you can fill this up with 4 memory sticks up to 128GB. You can even overclock the memory to DDR4-4700 if you want to (but that will also depend on the RAM sticks themselves).
You also get two Thunderbolt 3 ports, one DisplayPort, and you get two PCIe x16 expansion slots that are capped off by a single PCIe 3.0 x 4 slot.
It has a bevy of USB ports as well so that you can plug in your favorite peripherals and more. It has a total of 12 USB ports at the back and it also has some front headers as well.
I also love the fact that the motherboard has a built-in WiFi 6 adapter and because it is the newest standard, getting this one pretty much future-proofs your gaming rig.
The reason why I consider this as the best Z490 motherboard on the market is due to its overclocking prowess.
Among all of the top brands out there, only this one is able to reach insanely high core frequencies using LN2 and custom liquid cooling.
And oh, do not worry, when it comes to aesthetics, this baby has got you covered.
All of this, of course, would require you to spend more than $800 to get one. But, if you want the best of the best, there is no doubt that the Asus ROG Maximus XII Extreme takes the crown.
2.MSI MEG Z490 Godlike
While the Asus motherboard above is what I would consider as the best Z490 motherboard, this next one is a close second.
The MSI MEG Z490 Godlike has a lot of features that you will surely love. Aside from its amazingly beautiful aesthetics, you also get a bevy of ports, including Thunderbolt 3 ports at the back, as well as a triple M.2 configuration for your high-speed storage needs.
People with fast internet connections will surely love the fact that this motherboard also comes with 10G super LAN with an additional 2.5G LAN port if you need it. It also has a WiFi 6 adapter that you can attach at the back if you want to go wireless.
What really impressed me the most about the Z490 Godlike is that it is one of the best motherboards in terms of out of the box performance.
You see, not a lot of people want to overclock their CPUs and they just want to maximize its performance without any additional tinkering. If that is what you want, you should go for this one instead of the ROG Maximus Extreme.
I have also received reports that a lot of people have much more success overclocking memory sticks with this motherboard than any other brand., though your mileage will vary depending on the silicon lottery.
This product is a serious overclocker and that is thanks to its robust VRM solution. You never have to worry about thermals at all if you want to push everything to their limits.
The only thing that’s holding you back from getting this motherboard is its price. But, if you have the money, every dollar you spend on this one will be worth it without a doubt.
3.Gigabyte X570 Aorus Xtreme
Okay, what if you do not want to go with team blue, and instead, you want to go for the top-of-the-line AMD desktop processor? If that is the case, you’d want to get the Gigabyte X570 Aorus Xtreme.
This is an x570 motherboard that is packed with all of the goodies. It has an impressive VRM solution, it has PCIe shields to prevent GPU sagging, and the product itself looks damn amazing.
The X570 Aorus Xtreme comes with a true 14-phase power delivery so even if you slap an AMD Ryzen 9 3950X and intend to overclock the chip, you will have no problems at all.
For the good stuff, you are getting an Aquantia 10G Ethernet controller at the back with an additional Intel Gigabit controller if you need an extra Ethernet port. It also has a WiFi 6 adapter included in the box as well.
You get three PCIe 4.0 x 4 slots and about six SATA ports so you will have no problems attaching all of your SSDs and hard drives (even in RAID configurations).
I also love the fact that this X570 motherboard has a dual BIOS along with a BIOS flashback feature. The said feature just enables you to flash the newest BIOS without having a CPU installed which comes pretty handy.
Among all of the X570 motherboards on the market, the Gigabyte Aorus Xtreme is a pretty good overclocker thanks to its VRM and power delivery system. It also has RGB if you want to improve the aesthetics of your build.
Again, it is just the price that is not favorable for everyone, but if you are willing to go all out and if you have a pretty competitive Ryzen processor, there is without a doubt that this should be the one that you will be getting.
4.MSI MAG X570 Tomahawk WiFi
When you are a fan of AMD, you might have noticed that not a lot of people are willing to spend money on an X570 motherboard.
You see, part of the reason why that is the case is that there is an existing B550 motherboard that can handle any AMD Ryzen processor on the market without any problems. They are cheaper and, for the most part, have all of the features that most people will need.
But, if you ask me, I would still go for the X570 platform simply because you are future-proofing your machine. And, if you are convinced about getting one, this next recommendation is for you.
The MSI MAG X570 Tomahawk WiFi is a pretty good X570 motherboard at a relatively affordable price. While it is not as flashy as the recommendation above, it does have a wealth of features that people can utilize to their hearts’ content.
First is that the VRM solution on this thing is superb. You can either install a modest Ryzen 5 3600 chip on this one or you can go balls to the wall and get the Ryzen 9 3950X and this motherboard will have no problem supporting any Ryzen 3000 series CPUs.
You get 10 USB slots so there are plenty of ports to plug in your favorite gaming peripherals and whatnot.
Since this is the WiFi version of the product, you will also be getting a WiFi and Bluetooth receiver that you can attach at the back of the mobo if you want.
It comes with a predominantly black and gray aesthetic and it should fit most of the builds out there. It does have mystic RGB lighting support as it has a lighting strip on the right side, but it is quite subtle. Still, it is a nice addition to the RGB aficionados out there.
The MSI MAG X570 Tomahawk WiFi provides amazing value. You can save even more money by going for the base version if you are okay with ditching the WiFi receiver.
5.Gigabyte Z490 Vision G
While most Z490 motherboards are priced higher than any other motherboards on the market, this next one is a pretty good mid-range board.
The Gigabyte Z490 Vision G is what I would recommend for people that just want a motherboard with good performance that doesn’t break the bank.
For starters, it supports the latest 10th generation Intel Core processors really well. You can even put an i9-10900K and overclock it to your heart’s content without worrying about thermals and power delivery.
It has an Intel 2.5GBe LAN port at the back which should suffice for most users. You will also love the fact that it has a pretty good audio solution in the form of the Realtek ALC1220-VB2 with Nichicon capacitors.
I also love the fact that the company also included two full-sized m.2 slots with thermal guards. All you need to do is to buy your favorite M.2 storage solution and put the thermal guard on the top of it before screwing it in. This helps reduce heat much more efficiently than not having it on.
Aside from the wealth of USB ports at the back of the mobo, you are also getting a PS/2 port so that you can plug in your old IBM mechanical keyboard.
For the price of just $199, you get a pretty good Z490 motherboard that can handle even the top-of-the-line processors from Intel.
6.MSI MAG B550 Mortar
As previously mentioned, some people that are on a tight budget would probably consider getting the cheaper b550 motherboard as opposed to the more expensive X570 variant. Both of them support the AM4 socket anyway, so there is no issue if you go for the cheaper alternative.
That being said, the MSI MAG B550 Mortar is a micro-ATX motherboard which means that it has a smaller form factor compared to the standard ATX. However, despite its smaller stature, it does come with the right feature set.
First is that it comes with Realtek’s 2.5GB Ethernet solution and it is also built with the company’s ALC1200HD audio codec as well. That means that the WiFi and audio performance of this thing is superb for an entry-level board.
Aside from that, the aesthetics are quite nice as well. You get a predominantly black motherboard with some metallic gray accents that truly elevate its looks more than other B550 motherboards out there.
It has a considerable number of USB ports (both the back and front headers) and it also has a PCIe 4.0 x16 slot if you want to get the most out of your graphics card.
RAM overclockers will love the fact that this board can handle memory frequencies of up to 4400Mhz which is a beast. In fact, it is one of the only B550 mobos on the market that can handle that high of a frequency at a sub $200 price point.
Thermals and overall power delivery on this thing are quite superb. You will never have to worry about your system getting hot at all, even if it is under extreme loads.
If you can spend $20 more, you can get the WiFi version of this motherboard with a WiFi and Bluetooth receiver that you can attach at the back. And oh, the WiFi receiver supports the latest WiFi 6 standard, for your information.
7.Gigabyte Z490I Aorus Ultra
People who are thinking of building a rather small gaming desktop will love the last motherboard on this list.
The Gigabyte Z490I is one of the best mini-ITX motherboards with an Intel 1200 socket. That means that it can support even the behemoth Intel Core i9-10900K without problems at all.
It has a direct 8-phase VRM with 90-amp power stages for maximum and sustained power delivery. This is great if you intend to overclock your CPU to the max.
The motherboard comes with Intel 2.5GB Lan, two full-sized m.2 slots, WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 receiver, and has a pretty good audio solution in the form of the Realtek ALC1220-VB audio DAC.
The board has a backplate which makes it sturdier than its other ITX counterparts and it also has some RGB lighting, albeit a subtle one at the right side of the product.
It also has the company’s Q-Flash functionality that allows you to update the motherboard’s BIOS even if you do not have a processor installed yet.
While there are certainly other competitive ITX motherboards on the market, the Gigabyte Z490I Aorus Ultra is just a cut above the rest.
Amazon Luna- Everything You Need to Know About Amazon’s Cloud Gaming Service
It seems that cloud gaming is the future as a lot of companies are pooling their resources just to make things happen.
Amazon Luna is Amazon’s foray into cloud gaming and it is going to be available soon. Read further to find out more information about this new experience.
Google has paved the way for cloud gaming to come to the fore with the release of the Stadia not too long ago. Although it was mired with a lot of different issues, it seems that the company has found a way to make things work.
Amazon also wants in on the action and although there are some similarities with Luna and Stadia, there are also some stark differences as well.
Before I begin, I just want to explain the concept of cloud gaming. Basically, instead of downloading games to your gaming PC or whatever platform you choose to install them, you will just stream those games using data centers that are scattered all over the world.
It should go without saying that you need to have a fast internet connection to make this happen and so that you will not experience high latency (which was a huge problem when Stadia launched).
That being said, the premise of Google Stadia is that you need to either purchase an individual game so that you can play it at any time (forever) or you could subscribe to the monthly plan and play the games that are on offer every month (and continue to play them so long as you’re subscribed).
With Amazon Luna, you will be presented with different channels that you can subscribe to. Each of these channels has different games on offer which makes this quite appealing for game developers to show their mettle.
Right now, the platform is still in beta and there are only two channels available at the moment- Amazon’s own Luna Plus and the Ubisoft Channel. The latter will have 50 games that you can play right away and more Ubisoft games will be added in the future.
Keep in mind that this channel-based system makes it so that developers can price their services accordingly. It remains to be seen how much Ubisoft will charge individual users, so stay tuned for that.
1080p and 4K Gaming
Just like Google Stadia, Amazon Luna will support both 1080p and 4K resolutions. Of course, the latter would be more taxing and you will need a fast internet connection to be able to enjoy high-fidelity gaming. I suggest that you get a WiFi 6 router and a compatible device to make the most out of your experience.
Unlike Stadia, Amazon Luna is more flexible in that it supports a lot of different devices. Not only can you play on your PC, but you can also choose to play it using your iOS devices, Android phones, and you can even utilize the company’s own FireTV devices as well.
Now, there has been this entire debacle about Apple’s 30% cut on every app in its App store but the good news is that Amazon can circumvent that.
You see, when you are going to play on your iOS devices, the application will actually be a PWA or a Progressive Web App. Basically, the game that you want to play will run in a contained web browser instead of it being an actual application that you install in your device. This bypasses the whole 30% cut issue which is a good thing.
NVIDIA Hardware Use
According to a recent Steam survey, the vast majority of PC users are all using NVIDIA graphics cards. This is a good thing for Amazon Luna because it means that it can support a lot more people.
That is because the company’s cloud gaming service will use NVIDIA GPUs instead of AMD cards (which Stadia uses for graphics processing).
Supposing that Amazon Luna will be more popular than any other cloud gaming service out there, NVIDIA will enjoy huge profits as a result.
Can Be Streamed to Popular Sites
Twitch is arguably the most popular streaming platform today and Amazon is looking to forge a partnership with the said service to allow you to stream your games to the popular website.
The said platform is widely used as a means of generating revenue- something that is quite popular today due to the recent pandemic.
This move also makes it appealing as well as more and more content creators can use Amazon Luna to reach a broader audience.
New Controller with Alexa Support
Just like Google Stadia, Amazon Luna also requires you to get a special controller. The good thing is that the control will have a microphone so that you can use Alexa for specific voice commands.
What’s interesting about the Luna’s controller is that it is completely connected to the Cloud, which means that you do not have to pair it with the specific device you are going to use to play games online.
According to Amazon’s website, it should have a grippy texture and will feature low-friction thumbsticks that provide maximum performance across the board. By using the controller’s microphone, you can actually tell Alexa to fire up the specific game that you want to play, so long as it is inside the channel that you’ve subscribed to.
Amazon Luna is quite enticing, at least, on paper. It is shaping up to be a better cloud gaming service compared to its competitors but the service is still in beta, so there are more things that need ironing out before its official release.
Right now, there are only two channels that are available and Ubisoft hasn’t imposed its pricing yet. The Amazon Luna channel is priced at $6.99
If you are interested in getting in on the action, you can be an early beta tester by subscribing to the service.
Amazon Luna will be out sometime in October.
Acer Nitro XV340CK Review- A Greatly Competitive Ultrawide Gaming Monitor Under $500
Ultrawide monitors used to be a niche display in that the only people who work on productivity tasks and creative workloads usually buy them.
Fortunately, the display technology has evolved and gamers, too, can enjoy a much wider screen.
Today, I am going to review the Acer Nitro XV340CK which is a 34-inch ultrawide gaming monitor that is priced competitively.
Even though this is marketed as a gaming monitor, the Acer Nitro XV340CK actually doesn’t look like it. It looks simple and I love the aesthetics, especially if you want to place this in your office.
The only thing that might make you think that this is a gaming display is that red accent that you can find on the base of the monitor but that’s about it.
Anyway, let’s start with the stand. Aside from the aforementioned red accent, the stand provides good ergonomics.
It gives you the ability to swivel the monitor a complete 360 degrees, you can tilt it to 35 degrees back and you can adjust the height up to 5.9 inches. Because this is an ultrawide monitor, you cannot put this thing in portrait mode.
I love the fact that this monitor has slim bezels. At only 0.4 inches, you can place another monitor right beside it and it wouldn’t really take a lot of screen real estate at all.
The overall build quality is good. Despite the fact that it doesn’t feel premium, at least when compared to the best gaming monitors out there, it still feels sturdy nevertheless.
For the ports, you get two Displayport 1.4 ports, two HDMI 2.0 ports, and two USB 3.0 ports. Due to the wealth of ports on offer, you can use this for your PC or your game console.
The only thing that might be cumbersome for some users is that the OSD controls are situated at the back of the monitor- particularly on the bottom right side. The buttons are also a bit smaller than usual, so you may have a hard time pressing the right ones.
The Acer Nitro XV340CK has a 34-inch IPS display with a resolution of 3440 x 1440 and an aspect ratio of 21:9. It is the same as other ultrawide gaming monitors that you can find on the market so there is no problem with that.
You do have the option to enable the picture-in-picture mode so that you can divide the display in two if you wish to fire up two different programs at the same time. This is why it is not only a handy gaming monitor, but it can also be used for office work as well.
Its contrast and brightness leave much to be desired. With a native contrast ratio of 1048:1 and peak SDR brightness of only 247 nits, it is not the best display when it comes to these things.
However, its redeeming quality is that its colors are accurate. After calibration, I got 95% sRGB, 82% AdobeRGB, and 81% DCI-P3. It is relatively color accurate and it would have been nice for creative workloads, but its peak brightness just falls short of making it an ideal display for such use-cases.
It is also worth noting that if you are in a well-lit room that the brightness could be a huge issue. The good thing is that the display’s matte finish can help reduce glare significantly, though you will still find that it is not bright enough in some situations.
I am surprised by the fact that there is literally no color bleed on the Acer Nitro XV340CK. This is unheard of, especially since ultrawide monitors are notorious for this.
Sure, its peak brightness and contrast could have improved, but gamers are not especially focused on those things. If anything, it is the performance of the display that usually takes the cake and I am happy to report that you won’t be disappointed with the Nitro XV340CK.
Normally, with IPS panels, they tend to not have a good response time, but that is actually not the case here. At just 5.3ms, it is definitely one of the best out there even when compared to other, more premium models.
How about input lag? This is a speed monitor and as expected, input lag is minimal. At just 4.2ms, I am really blown away by the performance of this thing. Every keypress on your gaming keyboard will register almost immediately and that is really great from a competitive standpoint.
It is also worth noting that its 144Hz refresh rate is ideal, especially since most gamers are clamoring for high refresh rate displays anyway.
This is a FreeSync gaming monitor and you can enable this variable refresh rate feature in both AMD and Nvidia graphics cards.
To get a hold of the said features, it is important for you to know that you should use the DisplayPort cable that is included in the box. There is also an included HDMI cable if you want to use this display for your Xbox or Playstation consoles.
With all of those things being said, if I were to ask you how much this thing costs, what will be your guess? If you’ve guessed around $700, you’re wrong.
The Acer Nitro XV340CK is priced at just $450! At that price, you are getting a relatively color-accurate monitor, a really fast display with minimal input lag, and a vast number of ports that you can use for your PC or game consoles.
Sure, its contrast and peak brightness could have been improved, but if you are talking about raw gaming performance, the Acer Nitro XV340CK blows other ultrawide gaming monitors out of the way.
Just make sure that you have a nice gaming PC for this thing to work nicely. Other than that, I highly recommend the Acer Nitro XV340CK for its price and performance.
HyperX Cloud Stinger S- A Comfortable 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset
As an audiophile, I’ve always loved HyperX’s gaming audio solution. They are inexpensive and for the price, you are actually getting sound quality that you normally would only hear from expensive products.
In today’s article, I am going to review the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. This is a budget offering that aims to improve upon the original Cloud Stinger with the inclusion of a 7.1 surround sound option.
Do I recommend this headset? Find out later on in the article.
The HyperX Cloud Stinger S is actually quite similar to the original version. It has the same pleather ear cups that envelope your ears quite nicely and the clamping force of the headset itself is actually quite okay.
I’ve been receiving reports that there are some people that have problems with the tightness or, shall I say, how loose this thing can be. But that will probably be a result of the size of your head and not the actual product itself. For me, the fit was okay, but your mileage may vary.
Although this thing is predominantly made in plastic, the overall build quality is good, though I would advise you not to throw this headset when you lose a round in a MOBA game or first-person shooter.
There is a microphone on this headset and just like the original, it is not removable. It would have been nice if you could remove it when you are not using it because even if you fold the microphone (which also acts as a way of muting it), you will still see it which can be annoying at times.
This thing is quite simple and all you have for the controls is the volume slider that is located on the right ear cup.
While other HyperX gaming headsets come with a carrying pouch, I am sad to say that the HyperX Cloud Stinger S doesn’t have one.
All you get in the box aside from the headset is a USB dongle that is attached to a relatively long cable and some documentation. And, since you use this thing completely wired, it can also be used in your Playstation or other game consoles as well.
The 3.5mm analog cable should be inserted in the USB dongle if you wish to use its 7.1 surround sound implementation, but if you are just going to watch movies or play non-competitive games, I suggest that you do not use it.
There are two modes that you can utilize if you are going to use the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. You can use its 3.5mm headphone jack and enjoy stereo sound or you could insert that into the included USB dongle and use the 7.1 surround sound feature.
Keep in mind that if you are going to use the 7.1 output that it is only supported on the PC since you will need the NGENUITY software to enable it.
That being said, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S’ sound signature leans more toward being bright and with a little emphasis on the bass. This seems to be the preference of the majority of gamers since lower frequencies can make those in-game sounds pop-out more.
I also love the mid frequencies as it is quite balanced as well. I’ve had no problems listening to in-game dialog and when I am using the microphone, it just works really well.
Although the high frequencies are okay, I would say that it is the weakest of the bunch, though not so much as to diminish the overall sound quality. You will still hear the sibilance of the cymbals and lead guitars, but it is not as pronounced as the lower and mid frequencies.
As for the 7.1 surround sound, you should enable it in the companion software and it is only available when you are on the PC.
Anyway, its surround sound is okay but I say this because it is a budget gaming headset. If you compare it to the more premium ones, this is subpar at best. Still, you could enable it in your favorite games but I will advise against it if you are just listening to music or watching movies.
Despite a relatively good clamping force, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S doesn’t do so well in terms of sound isolation. People around me can still hear what I was listening to, so this might not be ideal if you are playing at night and there are people sleeping.
There is usually this notion that budget headsets have horrible microphones but not the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. In fact, I would go on to say that it has one of the better ones on the market.
Instead of sounding tinny, the microphone quality of the Cloud Stinger S is full-bodied and my teammates can hear every word I said without any problems.
The volume of the microphone is also quite good as well. Normally, with budget offerings, you tend to sound a bit ‘too far’ but that is not the case here.
Overall, I am quite pleased with the microphone. The only thing that I do not like is that the flippable microphone may impede your vision sometimes, but I think that you can adjust to this.
For a budget headset, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S is definitely one of the better sounding ones. I also love the fact that the microphone’s quality is top-notch and it can even go head-to-head against its more premium counterparts.
I am just a bit disappointed that you do not get a carrying pouch with this one because other HyperX gaming headsets have them. But, this is a minor inconvenience.
I did not feel the need to talk about the NGENUITY software mainly because it is pretty barebones and all you can do with it is to enable the 7.1 surround sound, adjust the volume and microphone, and that’s about it. There is no equalizer present which is quite odd.
Still, for what it is giving you, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S is highly recommended. This thing costs $60.
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