Amazon is also promoting a lot of hardware on this Prime Day. But not every “offer” is cheap and not every cheap product is worth buying. Motherboards, for example, serve so many different functions that the number one lesson from our bargain day motherboard quick buy guide is: think carefully about what you need. You can send a lot of money to MSI, Asus or Gigabyte (to EVGA and NZXT anyway and with a little skill also to Asrock or Biostar) without getting any benefit from it. Would you like an example? Asus’ Crosshair VIII Dark Hero (Test) cost 450 to 500 euros for a long time, that Crosshair VIII Hero without Dark was available for 390 euros. In the meantime, the difference has fallen to 30 euros, but the differences
between the two boards are limited to the passive X570 cooling for the former and a power supply for around 2.0 kW or 1.3 kW. As a normal user, who operates his processor without liquid nitrogen cooling under full gaming load with 0.1 kW, you notice absolutely nothing of this.
Other things can be all the more noticeable: if you want to increase your storage capacity with a third M.2 SSD but only have two M.2 slots. If your mainboard advertises with thick slots for several graphics cards, but there is no room for the sound and capture cards in your streaming system. Of course, these also work in a graphics card slot, but only on a few
Boards are connected independently of each other – usually the use of a slot specified as “×8” in the manual halves the connection of the primary GPU slot from 16 to 8 lanes as well. So make a checklist before you buy a motherboard: How many SATA drives do you have? How many M.2 SSDs? How many USB devices do you permanently connect to the back of the system and how many front ports does your case have? Is it the classic Type-A connector or the new USB Type-C format? And is USB 3.2 (“Gen2x2”), 3.1 (“Gen2”) or 3.0 (“Gen1”) speed required? Is even classic USB 2.0 completely sufficient, because a keyboard, a mouse or a USB headset do not generate that much data traffic at all?
However, the completed actual list is only the first step. If you don’t want to click the wrong mainboard head over heels in the rush of Prime Day, you have to ask yourself the much more difficult question of “will”: While SATA drives probably don’t to add more, any smile at the mention of three M.2 SSDs was not unreservedly appropriate. Although many users use exactly one, the trend towards larger and larger game installations is already leading to a second SSD. A fast CPU and thus its substructure have a life expectancy of five years these days, if you buy high-end and don’t really need it, you can also do ten years. So it is quite conceivable that another memory upgrade will also be due in the same board.
“Having better than needing” also applies to display connections: no gamer gambles with onboard graphics. But if the processor contains an IGP anyway, using it in the event of graphics card errors is worth its weight in gold and maybe the computer has a second life ahead of it as an office PC? Due to the long service life, flexible upgrade options via PCI Express are particularly valuable. You can’t even buy USB4 controllers yet – but you can probably retrofit them in a ×4 slot. Just like a Thunderbolt controller or an adapter card to M.2. Does your new NAS require 10G LAN in 2025? ×4 card! The same applies to a lesser extent in the case of sound that needs improvement, too few USB ports, a shortage of SATA or a lack of WLAN for ×1 expansions.
Our tip therefore: A mainboard that should be prepared for the future and not as an absolute luxury product all brings onboard should have a ×1 and a ×4 slot, which are not planned yet. In addition, at least two rear reserve USB ports, one of which achieves at least 3.0 speed, and if it is possible in the price range that is acceptable to you, a free M.2 does not hurt either – otherwise the ×4 has to be used as a reserve for serve several contingencies. Please also note double assignments, it is not always electrically or physically possible to use all interfaces of a board at the same time. There are often compromises, especially at the higher price end of the I/O hubs defined by market segments – solid tests (e.g. PCGH ;-)) reveal whether they are good or bad. A “B550” mainboard can be just as suitable for your purposes as an equally expensive X570 model. Possibly even better, because the manufacturer of the latter must have saved somewhere to be able to use the more powerful, more flexible chip at the same price.
Incidentally, popular savings factors are the quality of the onboard sound and that of the voltage converters and their cooling. While overclockers are usually well served electrically from the middle class upwards, it can get uncomfortably hot on some boards in summer if you push them to the limit. In the entry-level segment and with the generally somewhat more expensive Intel B660 mainboards even up to the 150-euro range, there are even specimens that are officially “compatible” with the thickest processors, but for self-protection apply strict consumption reins and thus increase the computing power of the dampen the system. Asrock B660 Pro RS For example, we couldn’t test it on our course because it allows a maximum of 125 W in continuous operation, but our CPU is supposed to run at 241 W in temperature tests.
The processor to be used is therefore also an important point on your wish list beyond the socket you are looking for, both under “is” and under “could be”: If you want to use a cheap Core i5 permanently anyway, the board just mentioned is because of equipment and The layout is well worth a look. On the other hand, if you want to upgrade to an i9 later, it would be a bad buy. The built-in I/O hubs, B550 and X570 (AMD AM4) as well as B660, H670 and Z690 (Intel Socket 1700), do not provide any information about the CPU suitability. The processor generation is linked to these mainboard chips by the manufacturer, but within the CPU portfolio everything depends on the mainboard manufacturer – one model offers too little, another drives just the right amount of effort and a surprising number of products on the market require hundreds Euro surcharge for a technical overkill that allows even experienced overclockers only a few dozen MHz extra. In all of this, the I/O hub only defines the basic equipment class and leaves a lot of leeway within this.
So what do you do now when the desired criteria are set and no Prime Day offer meets them? In view of the already mentioned mainboard service life, we clearly advocate buying the board that suits you! Even if another mainboard is currently being advertised. We have distributed a few suggestions next to this article text; Short reviews and links to print/[Plus]tests can be found in our detailed purchase guides for AMD mainboards and the counterpart for Intel boards.
Note that each of the boards tested also has closely related siblings. MSI motherboards in particular often follow a modular system of sound, expansion options including M.2 and voltage converters, which are combined in different stages. Asrock, on the other hand, who provide the other half of our AM4 mainboard recommendations, often offer an extroverted, more gamer-oriented board and a somewhat conservative, but functionally similar board based on the same layout. Caution: The Gigabyte motherboards currently dominating our Socket 1700 test results, on the other hand, often use the same design and the same naming hierarchy B660 master but little with one Z690 master common, as the equipment list shows. Asus mainboards also know a system at best – the more full-bodied the name, the higher the price. Except maybe on Prime Day?