Few things are as essential to a gaming PC as its motherboard. But is the quality of the motherboard you purchase really that important? Could you go with a $40 model and game safe in the knowledge that your system will perform efficiently? Not exactly.
While any motherboard will power your system – providing it is the right form factor – if you truly want to experience your games you’re going to have to go with a quality model, which may mean spending a little more than you would like to.
Today, we’re going to be discussing what a good motherboard will do for you as a gamer.
The Importance of a Quality Motherboard
In gaming, the quality of your motherboard directly influences the quality of your experience. Below, you will find just some of the things a quality motherboard from a reputable manufacturer – think MSI, Gigabyte, or ASUS – can offer you throughout each gaming session.
For those who are unfamiliar with the term, overclocking enhances the performance of your computer’s processor, allowing it to reach speeds not intended by its manufacturer. Overclocking is often performed manually, which is why it is usually only recommended for experienced gamers who know what they’re doing. However, some motherboards offer automatic overclocking so novice gamers can enjoy a faster performance even without the skills needed to overclock manually.
ASUS, a major player in the motherboard industry, has pioneered auto-overclocking technology with its five-way optimization. It’s important to note, however, that auto-overclocking is controversial as it often pushes the processor beyond what is natural, frying the motherboard.
As long as we’re talking about the overheating risks which come along with auto-overclocking, let’s take a moment to discuss cooling. Any type of motherboard will feature some sort of specialized cooling technology to promote even heat dissipation and eradicate the risk of overheating.
For example, many Gigabyte motherboards come equipped with the brand’s Smart Fan 5 cooling technology. Smart Fan 5 uses hybrid fan headers combined with multiple temperature sensors to ensure heightened control over a system’s fan. With a sophisticated cooling system such as this, you can expect a consistent performance from your gaming PC from the moment you first load your game to the second you topple that final boss.
Many modern motherboards feature M.2 slots – we can think of at least one motherboard that relies on its triple M.2 slots as its primary selling point – but gamers are often skeptical of the usefulness of M.2. This is understandable, given that M.2 is still a relatively new technology, but the vast majority of those who have experienced a motherboard with M.2 slots have little but positive things to report.
Through an M.2 slot, you will be able to connect super-fast SSDs to your motherboard for improved memory and performance. M.2 slots can also be used to connect non-storage devices, including USBs, so the more M.2s slots a motherboard offers, the more versatile that motherboard is.
Although gaming is not a solely visual medium, it is often treated as one and so the importance of quality audio sometimes goes overlooked. As experienced gamers will tell you, however, the quality of your audio heavily influences how you play and experience a game, which is why most motherboards offer some sort of facility to improve audio.
With a motherboard that offers 8-channel HD audio, for example, you will be able to hear everything that is going on around your character, allowing you to detect enemies regardless of what direction they approach you from.
Similar benefits can be expected from ASUS’ DTS Custom Audio and MSI’s Audio Boost. It is important to remember, however, that most motherboard sound enhancements are only effective when experienced through studio-grade headphones, so you may want to make some extra room in your budget to get yourself a pair you can trust.
To fully understand what a good motherboard can do for you as a gamer, you’re going to have to experience one for yourself. Only after you have played using a motherboard with superior overclocking, audio, and cooling will you realize how many hours of genuinely stunning gameplay you have missed out on by going with a lesser motherboard in an attempt to save yourself some cash.
If you are a fanatical gamer, you owe it to yourself to fit your system with a quality motherboard, one that is capable of making Pac-Man look like Assassin's Creed: Origins.