Now the silicon drought is more or less over (for the time being) being a DIY PC gamer is back on the menu. Yes, we no longer have to rely on pre-built systems for our gaming PC jollies, we can actually go back to the good old days of poring over the specs sheets of a million different components so we can pick the perfect parts of our bespoke PC.
Gamifying PC building is what it's all about, min-maxing your new system and making absolutely sure that the bang for buck ratios are very much in your favour.
It's a mission and many of us will spend hours figuring out exactly what will go in our new rigs. But what's the most important part of that? Sure, the GPU is the component that will have the most say over your actual on-screen frame rate, but your motherboard has the most impact on every other facet of your build.
For one, how big it is. That's almost entirely down to your motherboard, as is how speedy the memory you can jam, how pacey an SSD, and what level of processor—whether Intel or AMD—you can fit inside it. It will also decide how future-proof a rig you are building.
This year we've bridged multiple CPU generations and chipsets, but surprisingly it's AMD which has started off on one socket and ended the year with another. Intel's LGA 1700 has stood through Alder Lake and now Raptor Lake. So, which boards get our votes?
The best motherboard of 2022: the nominees
Gigabyte Z690i Aorus Ultra Plus
At $330, the Gigabyte comes in well under the price of the Asus ROG Strix Z690i or the MSI Z690i Unify. A board like the ATX Aorus Master is priced well over $400. But comparing it to an ATX board is inappropriate. The Z690i Aorus Ultra Plus is a board you buy because it's an ITX board. That’s its number one characteristic and it's a feature rich mini-ITX mobo with excellent cooling. It impresses like a mature second generation Z690 offering should.
MSI MAG B660 Tomahawk Wi-Fi DDR4
The quality of Intel motherboards within its B series chipsets have taken a genuine step forward since the introduction of the last-gen B560. Many of them now, like the MSI MAG B660 Tomahawk WIFI DDR4, carry feature sets that would have been restricted to high-end boards just a couple of years ago. The B660 Tomahawk is a smart motherboard choice that offers a quality core feature set and excellent value for money.
Gigabyte X670 Aorus Elite AX
AMD chose to create both X670 and X670E chipsets for its high-end AM5 boards for the Ryzen 7000-series, and that created some issues. Namely super-expensive X670E boards with feature sets that aren't especially useful. But this straight X670 eschews PCIe 5.0 support for its GPU slot in favour of a host of PCIe 5.0 SSD sockets. That and high-end DDR5 support, and performance that sees the Aorus topping the benchmark boards as often as not, makes this one of the best new mobos around.
The winner of the PC Gamer Hardware Award for the best motherboard will be announced on New Year's Eve. All three of these motherboards are in with a shot of taking home the big prize, so tune in to find out which one it'll be.