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Question What makes a good motherboard?

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CP5670

Diamond Member
Jun 24, 2004
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I look for wi-fi/BT, 12-phase power, USB-C, at least 6 rear USB ports and at least two M.2 slots. Beyond that they are all pretty similar and anything around $200-250 has good enough build quality, stability and OC features these days.
 

crashtech

Diamond Member
Jan 4, 2013
9,638
1,520
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Selection is highly dependent on use case and personal preference. I use PCs for 24/7 compute on both CPU and GPU, as such my needs may not well represent the mainstream, but may provide an interesting point of reference. Here is a list of my criteria:

1. A trusted brand with which I have experience. This will be different for everyone, but it's often helpful to stay within a couple brands with which one is familiar and which have exhibited good results in the past. Familiarity with a brand's BIOS settings can often mean the difference between rapid success or a lengthy struggle.

2. ATX form factor with at least 2 PCIe x16 slots and 4 RAM slots. This is my preference to gain greater density and to allow incremental RAM upgrade if necessary. I don't use SFF for compute, and the ATX floorplan is generally more spacious and flexible.

3. Good power delivery with generously sized heatsinks. This is a common point of failure on 24/7 rigs. More/better VRMs spread the heat out and tolerate overheating longer than cheaper solutions. Overheating is pretty much a given unless one straps fans to the VRM heatsinks, the typical tower CPU cooler provides no cooling to the VRMs.

4. Upgradability. If the board lives long enough, it might be cost effective to upgrade the CPU. It's prudent to purchase a board that advertises an upgrade path if possible.

5. Price. Ultimately a motherboard is expendable. In my experience, with 24/7 use they die about as often as GPUs, ahead of almost any other part like CPUs, RAM and PSUs. No use paying for extra fancy bells and whistles when it is likely to become e-waste ahead of many other components. Just make sure it's not missing something you require.
 
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Bro_szum

Junior Member
Dec 14, 2020
3
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I agree with a colleague a few posts above that a good motherboard is based on a computer system design. You have to remember what our album will be intended for, more for games, graphic projects or simply surfing the Internet. I think that choosing a motherboard should depend primarily on what it will be used for;)
 

guidryp

Golden Member
Apr 3, 2006
1,066
1,136
136
Question is too general.

It's like asking what makes a good/best car. Ask 100 people and you will get up to 100 different answers. Which is why we have hundreds of cars/motherboards to choose from.

What makes a good motherboard will be the one that has the features/quality you want for the price you are willing to pay.
 

drumsfield

Junior Member
Mar 8, 2010
20
2
71
Brand, Features, Comparability, Specs...

A "good" motherboard will first need to be compatible with whatever cpu you are planning on using.
Secondly it would have the appropriate slots ports that are needed for whatever hard drive, memory, graphics card, and peripherals you are planning on installing.
For example if you're planning on installing multiple m.2 drives you will need multiple m.2 slots. Buit in WIFI?
Third is the chipset and features what features. Some boards have built in overclocking features and higher memory clocking.
Finally, does it have neato features like RGB lighing?
 

Jimminy

Member
May 19, 2020
90
33
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What makes a good motherboard?

This is a philosophical question, and a trivial and idiotic one at that.


Good motherboard is one which meets your needs.
 

Murloc

Diamond Member
Jun 24, 2008
5,369
60
91
It needs to feature the features you need, and fully respect applicable standards.

Alternate answer more in tune with the quality of this thread (the bar was set by the question tbh, although some of the answers look exactly like the spam ads I get in my email): a motherboard needs to be considered for the final use of the computation instrument, gamers need powerful graphic renderings, thus need a special motherboard with a more powerful central unit and better amperes, considering their unique system design specifications, including the presence of electromagnetic wave emitters that can cover the full absorption spectrum of eye vision.
 
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Jimminy

Member
May 19, 2020
90
33
51
Mohammad (an anandtech official) started this ridiculous redacted thread, then he disappeared. Mo is no longer participating. He really never did. Why is this still alive when Mo ain't here no mo?

Bring in Larry and Curly.



Staff callout and profanity in tech is not allowed.


esquared
Anandtech Forum Director
 
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sandorski

No Lifer
Oct 10, 1999
68,110
3,155
126
Mohammad (an anandtech official) started this ridiculous redacted thread, then he disappeared. Mo is no longer participating. He really never did. Why is this still alive when Mo ain't here no mo?

Bring in Larry and Curly.
WTH is your problem?
 
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Hardware Hound

Junior Member
Dec 22, 2020
3
1
6
I want to put the simple answer here, stable. Not to take away from the other answers either. I've just noticed that I always buy motherboards wanting more than I actually use. The best ones didn't really have something special that made them memorable, they were just stable and worked like they were supposed to.

That said, I am a sucker for RGB lighting.
 

bononos

Diamond Member
Aug 21, 2011
3,718
68
91
Before all else it must be reliable. Regardless of what I use it for, if it doesn't reliably do it then it doesn't matter how cool it looks or how much expansion it has. So that means things like quality caps, sufficient solder, etc. It also implies not including anything I don't need. It cant go bad if its not actually installed on the board. It also implies a quality manufacturer that will support you if it does go bad.

After that then really its all about what you need. My daughters PC has a glass side and there she wants lots of RGB headers for cool lighting effect. Mine is a black box so RGB stuff is unwanted.
I agree with you but there is a problem of how to market those qualities successfully. Some things like solid caps, 105C ratings are widely marketed now after the days of capacitor plague. Things like soldering quality, bios support, voltage stability, not having dangerously high voltages are hard to translate into buzzwords compared to RGB lights.
 

aleader

Senior member
Oct 28, 2013
403
111
116
A good MB must have an excellent rebate. ;) Seriously though I just buy MSI now. I don't even care about VRM temps as I see no point in overclocking AMD CPU's, but I do buy my board based first on the testing done at GN and HW Unboxed. MSI boards these days always seem to lead in those (in my price range), and I just figure that's a sign of good board quality. That, and obviously features that you want are next. Honestly I'm having far more trouble picking a PSU than I ever have picking a MB.

I also liked the B550 Gaming Plus because it had an extra USB on the back, and with all my peripherals for flight sims, I need every one I can get. Also, it looked pretty. :p Honestly I would have just kept my Carbon B450 board if not for the $80 in discounts in November for this board. For the record, the WIFI on the Carbon board is fantastic when I tested it. Far better than I thought it would be. I swear it seems faster than my hardwired connection (300MBps). That was just a 'bonus' feature as I don't use it.

I still have 2 Asrock H81m boards and an ASUS Z97 running without issue too. I thought the Z97 had bit it when I could only run 1 RAM module, but it was just a mis-seated CPU. I still haven't had a failure on any board in over 30 years (knock on wood). Probably has a lot to do with the fact I seem to upgrade them every 5 years or so these days...something I wouldn't do if I didn't have kids I suppose. I think this will be my last upgrade for a long while though. I'm so bored today I'm posting in a 'good motherboard' thread...
 

Lopoetve

Junior Member
Jan 7, 2021
11
1
11
Stability and reliability first, connectivity to match your needs, reliable updates and firmware maintenance for at least 3 years, and no fundamental flaws. I generally trust ASUS, MSI, ASRock, and Gigabyte, with the note of "No Gigabyte AMD boards, and no MSI Intel boards unless the deal is just too good" - bad history with both on that side, with no issues flipping them the other way.

Personally, I also like rear shields (no knocking off caps or scratching the board ham-fisting it during install), I like shields on the front if they're easy to remove (no slips with a screwdriver!), and sane placement of parts and ports.
 

JWMiddleton

Diamond Member
Aug 10, 2000
5,520
77
91
I spent a lot of time last week looking at motherboards, which I bought at Micro Center on Sunday. The first thing I had to decide was what CPU I was going to buy. Looking at all the typical places like Amazon, Newegg, B&HPhoto and MC, I found that availability was the biggest issue. Since Ryzen 5000 series chips were nowhere to be found I looked at Intel. What actually got me looking originally was a blurb on AT about MC selling i9-9900K for $299. By the time I decided to get off my butt and upgrade my i7-4790K, the price had gone up to $369. I ended up settling on an i9-10850K at $399; thus, I would need a motherboard to support it. The only 400 series ATX board in stock was the ASUS ROG Strix Z490-A Gaming. I did some research on it and liked the features. What I didn't realize was that it was big on RGB. The shroud over the ports glows as does my ROG Strix 1660S GPU. Who knew? Sure didn't have that on my Z97 board.

I am a fan of ASUS as I feel that they are high quality with great support. And I'd also add CPU supported and availability. Oh, @sandorski it does have BIOS Flashback and it works!!

John
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
14,657
981
126
To me, I try and minimize the expense for what I want, what I want to pay for, and wnat I need.

First, what I need is the largest number of something called "power phases". Cheap boards back in the Ivy Bridge era might have about 4. Some midrange at that time -- about 8. A good board would have at least 12. If You got 14, you were going to pay ASUS-Maximus prices.

I think I got just below the maximum available with my Sabertooth Z170 S. It wasn't the "Mark [x]" version of the Sabertooth, but what it missed was either superfluous or ancillary. With that, it also helps to have VCORE Mosfet or VRMs that have heat sensors and all the ancillary voltage settings for the board.

I'm in the middle of troubleshooting a USB failure due to a static charge from my finger the other day -- prospects for replacing the board if there's actually something damaged. I ordered a new (pre-owned) ASUS Z170-WS workstation board in a -CPU-RAM bundle. It should certainly be a notch above the Sabertooth Z170 S, and it has extra PCI-E lanes, so I can RAID NVME drives with an expansion card that uses x8 PCI-E lanes. I feel very good about the WS board, if I indeed have to change out the existing part.

I could build decent machines out ASUS bottom-of-the-line offerings -- Skylake or newer processor generations. But with the features I had in mind with the Skylake system, I'd want to buy a unit closer to the flagship model. It's worth the extra Franklin or even two of 'em.

The Sabertooth line always touted a product meeting military specifications -- "MIL-SPEC". I can't see how their other top-end boards would not also be of that quality.
 

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