Hardware

Best Budget (Cheap) Motherboards for Gaming PCs

best-budget-cheap-motherboards-gaming-pc

If the CPU is the brain of a computer, then the motherboard is the nervous system. It is responsible for bringing everything together and allowing the CPU and the other components to interact with each other. However, this doesn’t mean it needs to be expensive. In truth, even if you aren’t looking for a budget motherboard, you can still find something great for under $100. In most cases, anything more expensive is going to be wasted unless you intend to spend a mint on your entire machine.

When choosing a motherboard, budget or otherwise, it is all about knowing what features you want, then getting a motherboard to match for the price. Some features to consider include:

  • Form Factor – This is what size your motherboard is. There is no right size, mostly form factor is for deciding if it will fit in your case or what sized case you will buy for your motherboard.
  • USB – How many USB ports your MOBO has is completely up to preference, but even with budget boards, you will now want to consider USB 3.0. It doesn’t inflate price much and it prepares your board for the near future of peripheral compatibility will currently enhancing transfer speed.
  • CPU Compatibility – If you already purchased a CPU, obviously, you need to make sure it is compatible. Typically these days you don’t want to go any lower than FM2+, AM3+, AM3, LGA 1150, or LGA 1151.
  • Number of Sata and Expansion Slots – How many drives do you want to connect? How many expansion slots do you need for sound or video cards? The bigger the form factor, the more expansion slots it will have. Typically, you won’t ever need more than four expansion slots, and you should plan for at least three SATA ports if you intend to house your OS on a separate solid state as well as have a hard drive and CD drive connected.
  • RAM Bays – It is widely believed that the more RAM you have, the more efficient your computer will be. However after 16 GB, these days you hit a point of diminishing returns. Around 8 GB is pretty much ideal for anything you need for gaming, but it is still up to preference.
  • Power Connectors – Your motherboard takes power like the rest of your machine. Be absolutely sure that, if you already have a power supply, it is compatible with your budget motherboard.
  • Brand – Yes, yes, brand isn’t important, but it kind of is when it comes to the nervous system of your gaming PC that has the potential to fry all your other components. Most of the time you can’t go wrong, but there are brands to avoid like BioStar, Foxconn, or JetWay. Bad reviews are a good indicator on this one.

Top Picks for Best Budget Motherboards for Gaming PCs

Gigabyte GA-H110M-S2H GSM

As far as Intel LGA 1151 processors go, this is the best board for your budget. As it also uses the H110 chipset, the cheapest of all, it keeps prices down enough to justify the two DIMM slots that can support up to 32 GB of memory. While it doesn’t support much in the way of overclocking and the two front and two rear USB 3.0 ports are practically the bare minimum requirements if the eight USB 2.0 ports that it sports ever go completely obsolete, it does have four SATA ports. It it’s the fanciest of gaming motherboards, but it gets the job done well.

Specs:

  • CPU: LGA1151
  • Chipset: Intel H110 Express
  • Form Factor: MicroATX
  • Memory: 2x DDR4-2133 DIMM Slots, Dual Channel, ECC, Non-ECC, Unbuffered, Max Capacity of 32GB
  • Slots: 1x PCI-Express 3.0 x16 Slot, 2x PCI-Express 2.0 x1 Slots
  • SATA: 4x SATA3 Ports
  • Ports: 4x USB 3.0/2.0 Ports (2 rear, 2 via header), 8x USB 2.0/1.1 Ports (4 rear, 4 via headers), 1 x PS/2 Mouse Port, 1x PS/2 Keyboard Port, 1x VGA Port, 1x DVI-D Port, 1x HDMI Port, 1x RJ45 LAN Port, Audio I/O Jacks

 


ASUS M5A97

If you are looking for a full ATX motherboard, then this motherboard for under $100 is a real steal. Not only does it feature four DIMM slots for more opportunities to upgrade your RAM as needed, but you also get six SATA ports. This makes the M5A97 a good budget motherboard for those short on cash now, but intend on upgrading their gaming rig in the future since it has the power and ports to support some pretty high end components. You also get six USB 2.0 ports, but only two USB 3.0 ports. So it is not great on that front, but not completely unreasonable for the price.

Specs:

  • CPU: AM3+
  • Chipset: AMD 970 + SB950
  • Form Factor: Full ATX
  • Memory: 4x DDR3-2133(OC)/ 1866/ 1600/ 1333/ 1066 DIMM Slots, Dual Channel, Max Capacity of 32GB
  • Slots: 1x PCIe 2.0 x16, 2x PCIe 2.0 x1, 2x PCI Slots
  • SATA: 6x SATA 6Gb/s Ports
  • Ports: 2x USB 3.0 Ports , 6x USB 2.0/1.1 Ports, 1 x PS/2 Mouse Port, 1x PS/2 Keyboard Port, 1x VGA Port, 1x DVI-D Port, 1x HDMI Port, 1x RJ45 LAN Port, Audio I/O Jacks

 


MSI 970 Gaming

It is no secret that you want to be wary of anything specific like “gaming” in the actual product title. Usually it is just there to try to get an easy sale from an uninformed consumer, but the MSI 970 is the rare exception. The entire reason that this card can proudly wear the title “gaming” is because it is the best budget card for overclocking.

This AM3 processor supports full overclocking with the OC Genie 4 as well as other features like multiple GPU support, memory that can be taken up to 2133Mhz, audio boost 2.0, and the Killer E2200 Ethernet networking that reduces lag for online play, which is a real gem. However, because it has all these features, don’t be surprised if you find the price fluctuates. Usually it is under $100, but the off-season can see it go up as high as the mid-hundreds.

Specs:

  • CPU: AM3+
  • Chipset: AMD 970 + SB950
  • Form Factor: Full ATX
  • Memory: 4x DDR3-2133(OC)/ 1866/ 1600/ 1333/ 1066 DIMM Slots, Dual Channel, Max Capacity of 32GB
  • Slots: 2x PCI-Express 2.0 x16 Slots (One runs at x8), 2x PCI-Express 2.0 x1 Slots, 2x PCI Slots
  • SATA: 6x SATA3 Ports
  • Ports: 4x USB 3.0 Ports (2 rear, 2 via header), 14x USB 2.0 Ports (8 rear, 6 via headers), 1x PS/2 keyboard/Mouse Combo Port, 1x Optical S/PDIF-Out, 1x RJ45 LAN Port, Audio I/O Jacks

Motherboard Buying Chart

Product Brand Feature List Price Manufacturer
Gigabyte Motherboard Micro ATX DDR4 LGA 1151 GA-H110M-S2H GSM Gigabyte CPU: LGA1151; Chipset: Intel H110 Express
Memory: 2x DDR4-2133 DIMM Slots, Dual Channel, ECC, Non-ECC, Unbuffered, Max Capacity of 32GB
Slots: 1x PCI-Express 3.0 x16 Slot, 2x PCI-Express 2.0 x1 Slots
SATA: 4x SATA3 Ports
Ports: 4x USB 3.0/2.0 Ports (2 rear, 2 via header), 8x USB 2.0/1.1 Ports (4 rear, 4 via headers), 1 x PS/2 Mouse Port, 1x PS/2 Keyboard Port, 1x VGA Port, 1x DVI-D Port, 1x HDMI Port, 1x RJ45 LAN Port, Audio I/O Jacks
Form Factor: MicroATX
$79.99 Gigabyte
ASUS M5A97 LE R2.0 AM3+ AMD 970 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard Asus ASUS Exclusive Design consists of the EPU (Energy Processing Unit) and the TPU (TurboV Processing Unit), guaranteeing superior performance for every task, bringing users an unbeatable experience
Network iControl Gives user real-time bandwidth allocation control to insure efficient bandwidth usage
DirectKey Easy access BIOS when PC is on standby with the push of a button
Windows 8 Ready Meets strict hardware requirements for Windows 8 support
USB 3.0 Boost Faster USB 3.0 Transmission with UASP, with increased transmission speed of up to 170%
N/A Asus
MSI Extreme Gaming AMD 970 AM3+ DDR3 USB 3.1 ATX Motherboard (970A GAMING PRO CARBON) MSI CPU: socket AM3/AM3+
Memory: 4x DDR3-2133(OC)/ 1866/ 1600/ 1333/ 1066 DIMM Slots, Dual Channel, max capacity of 32GB
Slots: 2x PCI-Express 2.0 x16 Slots (run at x16/x0 or x8/x8), 3x PCI-Express 2.0 x1 Slots, 1x PCI Slot
SATA: 6x SATA3 Ports, M.2: 1x M.2 port
Ports: 6x USB 3.1 Ports, 14x USB 2.0 Ports (8 rear, 6 via headers), 1x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port, 1x Optical s/pdif-out, 1x RJ45 LAN port, Audio I/O jacks
$119.99 MSI COMPUTER

 

>>Check our our “Best Budget (Cheap) Memory” feature<<

WinterIsComing

WinterIsComing

Warden of the North at Winterfell
Ken should have been born a "Stark".
His 2 favorite fictional characters of all time are Ned and Tony.
Ken lives a life of anguish as his love for video games and all things geek is only surpassed by how horrible he is at playing them.
He has the hand/eye coordination of a 41 y/o man matched with a mind of an 18 y/o.
His cat's name is John Constantine.
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