Updated: June 2018
Not all PCs charge to be ample behemoths. If you appetite to save a little amplitude (and, potentially, a little cash), a micro ATX body could be the way to go. With a hardly abate anatomy agency than ATX, but bigger than Mini-ITX, micro ATX motherboards abandon some appearance like added PCIe slots and SATA ports, but accept abundant accretion and whistles to acquiesce you to body a austere PC in a baby enclosure.
Of course, there’s still a lot of array amid Micro ATX boards, with some alms “just the basics”, while others acquiesce for added expansion, action added ports, and some alike bandy in RGB lighting. Based on my research, and affluence of PC architecture experience, actuality are the best micro ATX boards for any gaming build.
If the added motherboards are too arid in the looks department, I’d acclaim the gamer-themed ASUS ROG STRIX B360-G GAMING motherboard. It’s a baby footfall up from the GIGABYTE lath in functionality, abacus a additional M.2 aperture and a bigger audio chipset with optical out on the I/O. It additionally replaces the old academy PCI aperture with a additional PCIe 3.0 x1 slot, and replaces the Type-C USB anchorage with a additional USB 3.1 gen 2 port. And, as you’d apprehend from a gaming board, it has abutment for RGB ablaze strips, which you can ascendancy through ASUS’ Aura lighting software.
If you adopt a albino white blush scheme, the MSI B360M MORTAR TITANIUM is a acceptable alternative, admitting it lacks the optical audio out and turns two of the USB 3.1 ports into USB 2.0 ports. It’s acceptable if you accept MSI-branded peripherals, though, aback it’ll accompany RGB lights with its Mystic Ablaze software.
If you’re attractive to d on a budget, ASRock’s H310M-HDV motherboard is alone $58, and its specs are annihilation to apprehend at. It supports Intel’s latest “Coffee Lake” processors, allows up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM, and it alike has two USB 3.1 gen 1 ports in the backpack (plus four USB 2.0 ports). It additionally has a TPM attack so that, with the advice of a separately-bought TPM chip, you can encrypt your adamantine drive and accumulate your abstracts safe. You won’t acquisition any M.2 slots here, and it alone supports one PCI 3.0 x16 cartoon card, but it’s adamantine to accuse aback the amount is this low. For a basal gaming PC on a budget, it’s about as amount able as you can get. (If you charge added expansion, this similarly-priced MSI lath adds a additional PCIe 3.0 x1 aperture at the amount of the HDMI port.)
While my account aces will accommodate a acceptable foundation for any gaming PC, my midrange aces from GIGABYTE gives you a bit added allowance for approaching upgrades. For $20 added than the ASRock board, you get two added RAM slots (bringing RAM abutment up to 64GB in total), an M.2 aperture (for accelerated storage), two added USB 3.1 ports (one gen2, one type-C), a bigger audio chipset, Intel gigabit LAN, a additional PCIe x16 aperture (with Crossfire abutment for assorted AMD GPUs), and a accepted PCI slot…you know, in case you accept an old amplification agenda you aloof can’t accord up. It additionally has an RGB attack if you appetite to ablaze up your system, and supports RGB Fusion so you can accompany your lights with added GIGABYTE products.
If you appetite to overclock your Coffee Lake CPU, you’ll charge a motherboard with the Z370 chipset. The best account lath with overclocking capabilities is the ASRock Z370M Pro4, which is absolutely packs absolutely a punch. For $125, you get two PCIe 3.0 x16 slots (with the additional active in x4 mode), two PCIe 3.0 x1 slots, two M.2 accumulator slots, an Intel gigabit LAN chipset, and abutment for up to 64GB of RAM. It doesn’t accept USB 3.1 gen 2, but you do get four USB 3.1 gen 1 ports, forth with a USB 3.1 Type-C anchorage and a USB 2.0 anchorage in the back. If you appetite blast for your buck, attending no further.
If you appetite the ultimate Micro ATX Intel board, you’ll be attractive at MSI’s Z370 offering. It takes aggregate abundant about the ASRock lath above, including overclocking capabilities—and adds optical audio, SLI and Crossfire abutment for bifold cartoon cards, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and red LED lights on the abject of the board. That’s about as feature-packed as you get in the Micro ATX anatomy factor, and it has a amount to match: this lath is $170, but it’s able-bodied account it if you appetite to charge as abundant ability as accessible into a Micro ATX case.
There are absolutely a few account AMD boards in the mATX anatomy factor, but abounding of them accomplish cogent sacrifices—not so with the ASUS Prime A320M-K. For $55, you get a motherboard with abutment for all Ryzen CPUs and APUs, as able-bodied as 7th bearing Athlon X4 processors. It can handle up to 32GB of RAM, has an M.2 aperture for storage, and four USB 3.1 gen 1 ports. If you aren’t attractive to absorb a ton, the ASUS Prime A320M-K provides a solid abject to body your rig.
You’ll charge a motherboard with the B350 or X370 chipset if you appetite to overclock your AMD CPU, and GIGABYTE AB350M-DS3H is a abundant choice. With two PCIe x16 slots, four RAM slots with abutment up to 64GB, and six USB 3.1 ports on the aback (four gen 1, two gen 2)—plus two 2.0 ports—you’ll accept aggregate you need. It alike has a TPM attack so you can encrypt your adamantine drive. And at alone $69, it’s rather amount effective.
Whitson Gordon is a writer, gamer, and tech alarmist who has been architecture PCs for 10 years. He eats potato chips with chopsticks so he doesn’t get grease on his automated keyboard.
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