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PC Gamer Hardware Awards: What is the best motherboard of 2020?

PC Gamer Hardware Awards
(Image credit: Asus)

New processors don't always lead to an influx of new motherboards, but there does tend to be a correlation between the two, just to ensure that you're getting the most from the new technologies on offer. New CPUs can also introduce a different pinout on the socket, which necessitates a slew of new boards, which is what we've seen with Intel's 10th gen chips. Alternatively, a new CPU family may plug into existing boards, which is what we've seen with AMD's Ryzen 5000 chips.

Back to Intel a second, and the new Z490 chipset takes care of the top end of the stack and can be found in the more tricked out motherboards, while the B460 and H470 chipsets can be found in more affordable, mainstream offerings. There are some important differences between these chipsets, with overclocking being an obvious separator, although memory performance and connectivity options are also a factor. Basically the more you spend, the more you're going to get access to. How much of that you actually need is another question, and weighing up features versus price is what separates a good motherboard from a great one.

Things are a little different with AMD, as the more-recently released Zen 5000 family plug straight into existing motherboards. Indeed AMD has stuck with its AM4 socket since the original Ryzen chips dropped. There have been a few new releases this year though, with the 'budget' B550 and A520 chipsets making it into motherboards this summer. Again, if you want the full feature set, then you're going to want to focus on the enthusiast-class X570 chipset, but these more affordable options can still definitely deliver. Plus we're still seeing new motherboards based around the X570 pop up from time to time as well.

This all means a lot of new motherboards have been released this year, sporting a number of new chipsets. We've highlighted three motherboards that have stood out to us below:

Best motherboard 2020: the nominees

Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero
Best Motherboard 2020 nominee

Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero
Asus has taken the release of AMD's Ryzen 5000 chips as an opportunity to take another look at the X570 chipset, and the result is one of the most-impressive X570 motherboards yet. Designed with Zen 3 in mind, this admittedly pricey $400 motherboard is capable of hitting higher overclocks and better memory speeds than we've seen with older boards. It also features a clean design while packing an incredible feature list. 

MSI MAG B460M Mortar WiFi
Best Motherboard 2020 nominee

MSI MAG B460M Mortar WiFi
Proving that you don't need to spend a fortune to get a decent LGA1200 motherboard, this $125 B460-powered offering for Intel 10th Gen processors is laser-focused on providing great value for money. It also checks off the things you actually need in a quality gaming motherboard, including speedy ethernet connectivity and support for Wi-Fi 6. It's a lot of motherboard for not a lot of cash basically.

ASRock A520M ITX/AC
Best Motherboard 2020 nominee

ASRock A520M ITX/AC
Motherboards sporting AMD's B550 chipset were a tad disappointing simply because they had such high prices. It's the A520 motherboards that actually represent decent value for money. You lose PCIe 4.0 support and overclocking options, but everything else is present and correct, including Wi-Fi 5 (aka 802.11ac). The fact that this is all squeezed into a tiny ITX form factor makes it all the more impressive. Great for tiny, powerful builds.

We'll be announcing our motherboard of the year on New Year's Eve, so check back then if you want to see which of these excellent offerings impressed us the most. They're all impressive in their own way and highlight just how healthy the motherboard market is right now. With more new CPUs due next year, it's going to be interesting to see how the market develops across a range of prices and form factors. 

Alan Dexter

Alan has been writing about PC tech since before 3D graphics cards existed, and still vividly recalls having to fight with MS-DOS just to get games to load. He fondly remembers the killer combo of a Matrox Millenium and 3dfx Voodoo, and seeing Lara Croft in 3D for the first time. He's very glad hardware has advanced as much as it has though, and is particularly happy when putting the latest M.2 NVMe SSDs, AMD processors, and laptops through their paces. He has a long-lasting Magic: The Gathering obsession but limits this to MTG Arena these days.