Best CPU motherboard combo in 2023 – top picks for Intel, AMD and lower budget
It’s a constant one-up-manship in the world of CPUs, with numbers flung at both Intel and AMD from all sides with no signs of stopping any time soon. With the ever-releasing ranges of chipsets and CPUs, finding the best CPU motherboard combo for you can be tricky. So what’s best? Are you going all-in for gaming? Maybe you’re on a budget? Either way, we’ve picked a few top combos we’d go for ourselves with the aim of giving you a starting point. With that in mind, let’s get into this buying guide.
Christmas Motherboard deals
Before we continue, we’ve spotted these top Christmas motherboard deals, which could be good options if you want to save some money on your new purchase. You can also check out Amazon’s B650 motherboard deals, or their Z790 motherboard deals for alternative compatibility.
- ASUS ProArt B660-Creator D4 LGA 1700 ATX content creator motherboard – £200.93 (save $19.06)
- ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-Plus ATX Gaming Motherboard – $199.99 (save $30)
Products at a Glance
How we picked the best CPU motherboard combo options
Through extensive research, and considering the features needed for motherboards to support a range of top CPUs, we’ve selected combinations we believe will offer excellent performance for years to come. We have also considered budget of course, although the best options aren’t always wallet-friendly. For this list we’ve chosen only the most recent motherboard sockets, considering future-facing features and performance, as well as optimal availability.
Should you be looking for the right CPU for you, have a look at our best CPU for gaming list. Also check out our best graphics card round-up to fill out your system needs. We hope whatever you opt for, this guide helps you get a system, you’ll be very happy with!
Best CPU motherboard combo in 2023 – top picks for Intel, AMD and lower budget
- Excellent gaming performance
- Future-proof with PCIe 5.0 support
- Robust build quality and cooling
- Price may be high for budget builders
- No bundled cooler with the CPU
- Overkill for casual use
The GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS Elite AX, when paired with the Intel Core i5-13600K, presents a formidable combination for gamers and PC enthusiasts. The motherboard supports the LGA 1700 socket, catering to the latest Intel processors. It boasts extensive connectivity options, including Wi-Fi 6, multiple USB 3.2 ports, and dual M.2 slots for high-speed storage. The Intel Core i5-13600K, a part of Intel’s 13th Gen lineup, offers a base clock of 3.5 GHz and a turbo frequency up to 5.1 GHz across its 14 cores (6 Performance-cores and 8 Efficient-cores).
This combo is ideal for users who seek high performance without breaking the bank. The i5-13600K delivers excellent gaming and multitasking capabilities, making it suitable for both gaming rigs and workstations. The Z790 AORUS Elite AX enhances this with top-tier networking, ample storage expansion, and robust power delivery, ensuring stable performance even under load.
Perfect for mid-range PC builders and gamers, this combo provides a balance between cost and performance. It’s particularly suited for those who prioritize gaming performance but also need a system capable of handling everyday productivity and content creation tasks.
- Superior gaming performance
- Rich feature set on the motherboard
- Efficient power consumption
- Higher price point
- May be overkill for casual gaming
- Requires additional investment in DDR5 memory
The ASUS ROG Strix X670E-E Gaming WiFi is a high-end motherboard designed for AMD’s latest AM5 socket, supporting Ryzen 7000 series processors like the Ryzen 7 7800X3D. It offers extensive features including DDR5 support, PCIe 5.0, and Wi-Fi 6E. The Ryzen 7 7800X3D is a gaming powerhouse with 8 cores, 16 threads, a base clock of 4.2 GHz, and a boost up to 5 GHz. Its standout feature is the massive 96 MB of L3 cache, enhancing gaming performance.
This combination is a gamer’s dream, offering top-tier gaming performance. The motherboard’s high-end connectivity and robust power delivery system complement the 7800X3D’s gaming prowess. The processor’s large cache size significantly boosts frame rates in most modern games.
Ideal for enthusiasts and hardcore gamers who want no compromises in their gaming rig. This combo is especially beneficial for those who play CPU-intensive games or engage in competitive gaming where every frame counts.
- Excellent value for money
- Solid performance in gaming and multitasking
- Not as powerful as higher-tier combos
- Limited overclocking potential
- No integrated Wi-Fi
The MSI PRO B650M-P Pro motherboard, coupled with the AMD Ryzen 5 7600X processor, forms a formidable duo for budget-conscious users. This motherboard is designed for AM5 socket compatibility and supports DDR5 memory, offering a future-proof foundation. The Ryzen 5 7600X, with its 6 cores and 12 threads, boasts a base clock of 4.7 GHz and a maximum boost of 5.3 GHz, delivering efficient performance for both gaming and productivity.
This combination is an excellent choice for budget-oriented users who still demand strong performance. The Ryzen 5 7600X provides ample power for gaming and multitasking, while the MSI PRO B650M-P Pro offers necessary features like PCIe 4.0 support and high-speed DDR5 memory compatibility, ensuring a smooth computing experience.
Ideal for entry-level PC builders, gamers on a budget, or users who require a competent but cost-effective setup. This combo is particularly well-suited for mainstream gaming and general computing tasks.
- Incredible processing power
- Feature-rich and future-proof motherboard
- Excellent overclocking capabilities
- Very expensive
- Power consumption is high
- Overkill for average users
The ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Hero is a top-tier motherboard designed for Intel’s latest 13th Gen processors, offering unmatched features like DDR5 support, multiple M.2 slots, and enhanced power delivery. Paired with the Intel Core i9-13900K, a powerhouse CPU with 24 cores (8 Performance-cores and 16 Efficient-cores), this combination is built for extreme performance. The i9-13900K’s base clock is 3.0 GHz, and it can boost up to a staggering 5.8 GHz.
This combo is a dream for performance enthusiasts and professional content creators. The i9-13900K excels in heavy multitasking and demanding applications, while the Maximus Z790 Hero brings advanced features like AI overclocking, robust connectivity options, and top-notch audio quality.
Tailored for high-end users, including hardcore gamers, professional video editors, and 3D animators, who require the pinnacle of performance without any compromises.
Things to consider with the best cpu motherboard combo
AMD Vs. Intel CPU?
Barring some odd quirk, you’ll be well aware of AMD and Intel’s tussle when it comes to processors. For better or worse, the retail space is dominated by the two chip powerhouses, limiting the choice of which streaming-fit CPU to one of the two. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but choosing one camp over the other can very much feel like picking sides.
While we aren’t here to side with one or the other, they each have their strong points, and arguably the race has never been so closely fought after years of Intel leading the charge. A few years ago, the thrifty builder invariably veered towards AMD’s more competitively priced products, while those eager for all-out performance threw their cash at Intel. Intel’s dominance, especially when it comes to gaming performance, isn’t what it once was with AMD products now more or less on par, if not better (looking at you multithreading).
Motherboard Form Factor
Before we get to the technical stuff, we’ll need to consider what size motherboard you’re after. There are currently four main form factors availabl
- ATX (12 x 9.6”) – This is considered the standard size motherboard. It will fit in most mid-tower cases and can have as many as seven expansion slots.
- Micro ATX (9.6 x 9.6”) – These motherboards are usually square-shaped and are often used for compact builds. They can have as many as four expansion slots and are backward compatible with ATX cases.
- Mini ITX (6.7 x 6.7”) – Even smaller still, we have the Mini ITX form factor motherboard. These are used for incredibly SFF builds, but much like the Micro ATX, will be fully supported in an ATX case.
- EATX (12 x 13”) – On the other end of the spectrum, we have the largest form factor, the EATX. It’s unlikely you’ll be considering this as they’re usually only used for incredibly powerful builds with dual CPUs.
Socket And Chipset
Next on the agenda is the socket. You’ll need to be mindful of the right ones for your build. While Intel has made use of the LGA 1700 socket for Alder Lake, Raptor Lake and Raptor Lake Refresh, this allows you options including Z690, Z790, B760 and B660.
For the AMD CPUs and boards on this list, you’re looking at the AM5 socket. AM4 is the socket for the Ryzen 5000 series.
Do you want your motherboard to connect up to your network wirelessly? It’s a really great feature, but unfortunately, it’s not a universal one, so be wary when making your decision. Motherboards without integrated wifi connectivity rely on a LAN Ethernet connection.
In the absence of wifi, you should take stock of LAN proficiency. Ethernet connections come with vastly different bandwidths, so it makes sense to shop around for the best one. Ideally, your motherboard will feature gigabit LAN, a port capable of 1000MBps transfer speeds.
The power design of your motherboard refers to the VRM (voltage regulator module). It’s the VRM that transforms the power from your outlet into energy suitable for powering your CPU.
What’s the VRM made up of? Power phases. What are power phases? A basic power phase is a mechanism made up of a capacitor, two transistors, and a choke. Component quality does come into play in a big way but generally speaking, the more power phases your motherboard has, the more stable the CPU voltage becomes.
This is because the more power phases there are, the less each one has to work. The burden never falls too heavily on any of them, enabling them to work cooler. In light of this, if you’re interested in overclocking your Ryzen 5 2600, we recommend a more expansive power design or at least one that uses high-quality components.
We know what you’re thinking…motherboards don’t come with RAM, right? Well, no, unless you got some kind of sweet, all-inclusive, second-hand deal, motherboards don’t come with any integrated or additional memory. They do; however, come with memory capacities.
That’s right, folks. You can’t just load your motherboard up with any old RAM. It can only support a certain memory capacity and speed. If you do try and use more or faster RAM than your board is designed to utilize, it simply won’t do anything with the excess, and you’ll have wasted your money.
CPUs Might Already Be TPM Equipped
You really should double-check if your CPU supports a software TPM, you might not need to worry at all about getting a TPM.
Be Wary Of Motherboard Sizes
We’ve covered this before, but you should check what motherboard you currently have or what your case can fit as buying the wrong motherboard for your case will be a really bad (and often expensive) mistake to make.
If I buy a new motherboard, can I keep my own components?
Sure can! Once you’ve replaced the motherboard refit everything into its slot and off you go!
Make sure your parts match specification, don’t be putting DDR3 RAM in DDR4 slots, and make sure you have a Windows 11 supported CPU going back in too.
Our preferred pick of the best cpu motherboard combo, the GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS Elite AX and Intel Core i5-13600K, stands out for its balance of price and performance, making it an ideal choice for users seeking a robust setup without breaking the bank. The Intel Core i5-13600K, with its impressive multi-core performance, is perfectly complemented by the AORUS Elite’s extensive feature set, proving that high performance doesn’t always come with a high price tag.
Other noteworthy mentions include the ASUS ROG Strix X670E-E Gaming WiFi paired with AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D for those seeking top-tier AMD performance, especially in gaming. For budget-conscious buyers, the MSI PRO B650M-P Pro and AMD Ryzen 5 7600X offer a solid, cost-effective solution. Finally, for users demanding the ultimate in performance, the ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Hero with Intel Core i9-13900K is an unbeatable combo, although it comes with a premium price. Each of these combinations is tailored to specific user requirements, ensuring that whether you’re a gamer, content creator, or general user, there’s an ideal match for your computing needs.