If you are thinking of building a PC, you might be wondering, is a gaming motherboard worth it?
But what exactly are the benefits of a gaming motherboard, when compared with a 'non-gaming' motherboard? Well, we know that a motherboard is, of course, an essential component of your PC. Gaming or non-gaming, it's a foundation upon which the rest of your components are going to be built.
Make the wrong decision, and you may find it inhibits the potential of everything else. Or you may find you've just thrown money down the drain that you didn't need to spend...
Read on, to find out exactly when a gaming motherboard may be worth it.
Gaming Motherboard vs PC Motherboard: Key Differences
What exactly differentiates a gaming motherboard from a regular motherboard? It's a good question, well put. Motherboards, as critical as they are, can be quite complicated. So let's break it down.
A motherboard is effectively the central nervous system of your computer. It's what all the other components of your computer connect to, and use to communicate with one another. It's where you will find all the ports for your computer, as well as a socket for your CPU, expansion slots, and memory slots, among other things.
Interestingly though, a motherboard itself won't directly affect performance on a gaming PC. So you may find yourself wondering what the point of this article is. A motherboard is crucial for dictating the overall functionality of your computer. It can influence things like how quickly other components can run, for example, your SSD, your RAM, or your GPU.
You also need to ensure your motherboard is compatible with any other parts you have or plan to get. Some will limit which other components can connect to it. So in some indirect ways, it can affect performance. But what would make a 'gaming' motherboard? Here are some of the key things to look for.
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What Makes A Gaming Motherboard?
While technically, any motherboard can be used for gaming, there are certain features that make a motherboard more suitable than another. We'll try not to get too technical. Someone else can do that.
Quite often, the difference will come down to the quality of components that have been used. Heavier copper tracing (the wiring that connects components) will allow for enhanced signal integrity. This is particularly important if you plan to overclock your computer, which many gamers like to do.
Overclocking can increase temperature, so a good heat sink is also essential. This is one reason why many high-end gaming PCs use a water-based cooling system.
Capacitors on a gaming motherboard are often made from ceramic, as these often have lower capacitance (lower is better). Sockets will also often be of higher quality than on a regular motherboard. This could be, for example, thanks to thicker gold plating.
So if these are some of the differences, what does this equate to in performance terms? We'll cover that next.
Gaming Motherboard: Performance Benefits
As we mentioned earlier, a motherboard is the central nervous system for your PC. Its influence on performance is slightly indirect, as it is really about how well, or badly, it allows all your other PC components to perform.
But there are things you need to think about. A gaming motherboard may allow (or prevent) you from overclocking your CPU, which will affect performance. You can also find some motherboards that provide high-performance RAM support.
And then there's checking whether the motherboard you are looking at will support a top-end processor or not. If the sockets aren't compatible, then you can't use those components. And again, this can restrict performance.
In many cases, a higher-end motherboard won't give you much of an FPS boost, which is what some people may be hoping for.
How does this translate into pricing?
Gaming Motherboard: Prices
Motherboards cover a wide range of price points. Some overclockable motherboards are available for around $100 or less. While a top-end gaming motherboard would certainly run into the thousands. And then there are options anywhere in-between.
What accounts for the difference in price? There are many factors, such as build quality, the number of ports, or whether they offer DDR5 support or not. Whether or not they have pretty lights can also be a factor. The important thing is to work out what features you need, and base your purchase on that.
There are cheaper motherboards that will still give you great features and performance for the price, so don't feel that you necessarily need to break the bank. Of course, if you're looking to go all out for the best of the best, you'll need to pay for it. But if you want something that's going to do an effective job, and aren't looking for the edge in every component, you will be able to save some money.
Is A Gaming Motherboard Worth It?
With all of this in mind, is a gaming motherboard worth it? Once again, a lot comes down to how you plan to use it. Will you be gaming competitively, for example? If so, then you may want to think carefully about anything that is going to give you an edge in the heat of battle. Just don't expect a motherboard to change your life.
But on the other hand, if you are going to be using it as a casual, recreational gamer, and overclocking isn't something you are interested in, then you may find a perfectly capable motherboard that won't break the bank.
Remember, pretty much any motherboard can be used for gaming. You'll almost certainly pay a premium for a dedicated 'gaming' motherboard. It's up to you to judge whether that premium will give you the features that make it worth having.