Getting ready to build a fancy new gaming rig is definitely exciting, but the real question is how to choose a motherboard and processor for gaming especially when this is your first time. Today is your lucky day and today is the day you find out!
In order to choose a motherboard and processor for gaming correctly, you must first pick your motherboard and then match your processor up with the motherboards corresponding socket number. An example: A 1151 chipset motherboard will only match a 1151 socket processor.
With that out of the way lets immediately dive down into motherboard/processor shopping so you can get your new computer up and running!
So if you are reading and decided to go with a Intel based machine, then this is the section for you. So if you’re asking how to choose a motherboard and processor for gaming but want to stick with Intel, then continue reading!
Intels are very picky when it comes to sockets but there is a reason why they are loved by gamers everywhere! You may be limited to 1 socket size, but we promise, the performance will make up for it. Every Intel motherboard will have a specific socket attached to it which means it needs the exact same size processor. We will take the example above as an example….
Let’s say you pick out a motherboard that has a 1155 socket in the description. This means only a processor that was built for an 1155 socket is going to fit it. Another example would be the 1151 socket as stated above. If you read the description on the motherboard and it states it’s a 1151 motherboard than that means only a 1151 processor will fit in it’s specific chipset. Now why is this important?
Because fitment issues lead to bent processor pins/motherboard pins. If you have bent pins that means the motherboard will not be able to detect the processor correctly and the computer will fail to boot completely. Not only that but because a different size/pin design processor was attempted to be installed and pins were bent, this usually instantly voids manufacturers warranty and you will either A have to buy a new motherboard, or B have to RMA the board at your own cost.
These components are not cheap so it’s always important to research before you buy. If you need help shopping, find a motherboard you absolutely like and will love first and then navigate over to pcpartspicker.com and enable the compatibility checker, this will state for sure if it will fit or not. But the basic rule of thumb if you have fitment questions is to makes sure the socket size on the motherboard and the processor are the exact same.
Now determining what motherboard you should actually get depends on what features you want your computer to have. Some motherboards come with a 3.0 usb slot on the motherboard for your case and others do not. Some motherboards come with RGB lighting controls and some others do not. You should always pay attention to what features the motherboard comes with before you purchase it.
Most gamers run on a wired internet connection but we get it, sometimes you need wireless. Instead of having to shovel out some extra money for a wireless network adapter, you could always purchase a gaming motherboard with a wifi chip pre-installed on the motherboard so you have wireless on command. This will work without the need of a wifi adapter for you to get wireless internet. Basically before you purchase your motherboard, use this checklist before you purchase it.
This leads us to the next part of the equation. Determining if it will fit inside of your case or not. When you go case shopping you will notice they say terms like micro atx, atx, mid, full, etc… make sure your case can support the size of the motherboard before you purchase, trying to slam a full sized motherboard in a micro sized case is definitely not going to work and you will end up breaking something trying to fit it in there.
Now while were not really on the subject of RAM. It should be noted as well however that the RAM you are deciding to purchase is compatible with your motherboard as well. You can lookup on the manufacturers website under the owners manual or tables that they have to determine if the RAM you are deciding to purchase will work with your motherboard.
When you are choosing a gaming motherboard, the build quality is completely different versus a traditional motherboard. These are built heavy duty with upgraded capacitors, upgraded base materials for the actual board, and copper styled tracers which delivers faster response times.
So if you’re still wondering how to choose a motherboard and processor for gaming and you are full blown ready to jump into Intel, just make sure the board will fit, it has the features you want on it, and most importantly, make sure the socket sizes are the same.
AMD is a common name in the pc building industry and they have been around for a long time. AMD is known to deliver a great gaming experience for those who are on a budget. So how do you pick a motherboard and processor for a AMD style setup?
Well once again make sure the checklist above in the Intel section is reviewed first. This time however socket sizes and pins are going to go a little bit differently. AMD motherboards have sockets with slots on them instead of pins, where as Intel has the pins on the actual motherboard rather than the processor.
Additionally the common chip sizes for AMD are the AM2/AM2+/AM3/AM3+/ and the more newer styled AM4. It’s no different than Intel though in terms of making sure your sockets on the processor and the motherboard match. We cannot stress this enough as it is so disappointing when you drop a good chunk of money on a build and are ready to assemble, just to realize the processor/motherboard isn’t going to fit and you have to ship it back and wait again.
It’s like the old saying goes, measure once, cut twice. In this case scenario it’s research twice, buy once.
Additionally just like in the Intel section, make sure your motherboard absolutely will fit the case first and foremost. Additionally make sure the motherboard has all the features that you want installed on it as well!
So you have picked a motherboard and you have picked a processor. Everything will fit in your case and you’re 100% sure you are ready to go. Before you purchase ANY components though, there is one more thing you should read into/check up on reviews first. That last thing is going to the the BIOS. This is the screen that when you tap a key it access the BIOS screen and allows you to tweak fan speeds, processor overclocking, etc…
Now while this isn’t a critical factor, some computers do require a BIOS flash right from the get go due to the fact maybe your RAM isn’t supported on the factory firmware. Being able to easily tweak your fans and your other hardware easily is a super nice factor to take into consideration. Setting things up like RAID for dual hard drives on the go, and even being able to flash/update your BIOS easily are always nice perks but is something that is commonly overlooked.
Now onto the more intense stuff is going to be choosing what kind of processor you are looking for…
Your processor does a very important thing, it processes information! You have all these different style processors but which one would work for you? Most common in gaming rigs these days are quad core processors which do handle gaming very well. If you are looking to stream and do more powerful things with it though maybe it’s time to check out a 6 core or 8 core processor as well. These will open up the amount of Gigahertz per core allowing you to utilize and get more out of processor when you are doing more demanding things, like stream/rendering videos.
The other giant thing to take into consideration is going to be what speed the processor operates at and what it can turbo to. If you are trying to stick with 1080p gaming then a 3.5 ghz quad core or higher will suffice. However with 4k on the rize and gamers wanting the next best thing, shoot for a 4,6, or even 8 core processor that can handle 4.0 ghz+.
Most processors however can turbo by themselves to reach from lets say 3.5 ghz to 4.0 ghz when they absolutely need to, it’s just important to pay attention to the wonderful heat element to ensure it can handle it without causing a major error.
The final important note that we wanted to mention is make sure you keep a cooler in mind as well. Do you plan on going air cooled or water cooled with your processor. Does your socket have a water/air cooler that supports it’s chipset. Does the motherboard/processor come with a cooling system.
Taking this into consideration before you drop a ton of money on essentially the heart and brain of your computer will save you a lot of money and time in the long term. Some processors are more prone to heat than others so maybe a AIO (All in one) water cooled system might be the better choice to go.
Once you’ve checked over your check list (Size, Socket, Cooling, Features) and you’re 100% ready to go, then take pride and purchase your new motherboard and processor!
We hope you now understand how to choose a motherboard and processor for gaming and get out there and get gaming folks! We would love to hear from you though, have you ever made a mistake purchasing a motherboard/processor before. Or even wished you would have researched more before purchasing, lets us know in the comments below!
Don’t forget to check out these 7 must have computer gaming accessories to amp up your rigs as well!