5 Best CPU Motherboard Combos in 2021

— 15 minute read

Building a PC is a bit like growing up -- seemingly impossible, gratifying, and yet a bit overrated! (Why would someone sit through hours of planning and assembling a PC when he could have a thousand times more conveniently bought a pre-built PC?) Nevertheless, at the core of every well-built PC lies a well-balanced CPU Motherboard combo. These components affect a PC’s potential and determine things that a PC can or cannot do.

5 Best CPU Motherboard Combos

The conventional wisdom is to just buy a motherboard that complements the CPU. Z370 chipset, for instance, supports up to 8th generation processors. So you can’t couple it with i9 9900K or for that matter, any 9th generation CPU. Most people don’t look beyond compatibility while buying a motherboard.

Stupid People Everywhere Meme

A motherboard can affect a PC’s performance in terms of overclocking potential and ram speed. Hasty decisions over CPU and motherboard pairing can have serious financial implications and should be avoided at all costs.

We understand that the process of building a PC can be tiresome and irksome. We intend to ease it for you as much as we can. Hence, we have curated a list of the best CPU and MOBO combos in varying price ranges.

5 Best CPU Motherboard Combos permalink

Here’s a list of the best motherboard and CPU pairings in increasing order of Price Range.

1. Best Budget CPU and Motherboard Combo: AMD Ryzen 5 2600 and ASRock Steel Legend mATX B450 permalink

CPU is an integral part of the computer, but so is the GPU (especially if you building a gaming rig). So if you are a little tight on budget, I suggest you hold back on the CPU and motherboard pair and spend your money on a beefy GPU. Budget CPUs are quite powerful, especially Ryzen 5 2600.

Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 2600

AMD Ryzen 5 2600 CPU for gaming

SpecificationValue
Cores6
Threads12
Base Frequency3.4 GHz
Max Frequency3.9 GHz
Wattage65 W

Only a couple of years ago, Intel was reigning supreme over the Processor market. AMD was nowhere to be seen. That’s when Team Red fired back with the launch of their Ryzen 3000 series, exponentially decreasing the gap between the two renowned manufacturers. In the windfall of the Ryzen 3000 series launch, prices for AMD Ryzen 5 2600 have fallen drastically.

With 6 cores and 12 threads, Ryzen 5 2600 is still relevant today. It performs amicably in multi-tasking and is a gaming power-house. In pure gaming performance, this rivals Intel Core i9-7900X, which, for context, is significantly costlier.

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Motherboard: ASRock Steel Legend mATX B450

ASRock Steel Legend mATX B450 motherboard for gaming

SpecificationValue
ChipsetAMD PROMONTORY B450
Memory Slots4
Maximum Memory Size Supported64 GB
RAM Memory TechnologyDDR4
Storage6 SATA3, 1 Ultra M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4), 1 M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x2 and SATA3)
Multi-GPU SupportAMD Crossfire

ASRock Steel Legend mATX B450 is a simple, relatively in-expensive motherboard with limited overclocking potential. It supports 4 Ram slots, 2 M.2 slots, and multi-GPU technology. RGB Lighting, premium looks, and high-quality audio outputs act as icing on the cake.

Don’t let the price tag fool you on this one, because this packs a punch! This is a budget option in all senses, except that it doesn’t feel like one.

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ProsCons
Great Value per DollarLimited Overclocking Potential
Power-Packed Performance
Great for Gaming

2. Best Mid-Range CPU and Motherboard Combo: Ryzen 5 3600 and MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk Gaming Motherboard permalink

Processor: Ryzen 5 3600

AMD Ryzen 5 3600 CPU for Gaming

SpecificationValue
Cores6
Threads12
Base Frequency3.6 GHz
Max Frequency4.2 GHz
Wattage65 W

While AMD Ryzen 5 2600 is no slouch, if you can spare a few extra bucks, you should go for Ryzen 5 3600. AMD’s proposition is really simple-spend less and get more, and Ryzen 5 3600 is no different. Packing 6 cores, 12 threads, and a 35MB game cache, it excels in gaming and multi-threaded operations. For context, you can expect 100+ frames per second on almost all AAA titles. That’s almost as good as Intel's 10th generation processors (okay! I might have exaggerated a little, but the CPU is really good). If that wasn’t all, AMD’s cutting-edge 7nm manufacturing process alongside Zen 2 architecture ensures quiet, cool, and efficient operation. Without a shadow of a doubt, this is one of Team Red’s best ever processors and a solid mid-tier option.

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Motherboard: MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

MSI MAG B550 TOMAHAWK Gaming Motherboard

SpecificationValue
ChipsetAMD B550 Chipset
Memory Slots4
Maximum Memory Size Supported128 GB
RAM Memory TechnologyDDR4
Storage-6x SATA 6 Gb/s ports -2x M.2 slots
Multi-GPU SupportSupports 2-way AMD Crossfire Technology

Just like Ryzen 5 3600, you get more than you pay with MSI MAG 550 Tomahawk Gaming Motherboard. It is reasonably priced and supports 4 ram slots (combining for 128 GB of DDR4 Ram), PCIe 4.0, 2.5Gbps NIC, and two 10Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports. For instance, it is easy to mistake it for a premium motherboard. An efficient thermal solution, RGB illumination, and Studio-grade sound quality only make it more desirable.

Almost all aspects of this pair are desirable. What stands out for me, though, is the upgradeability. If you outgrow Ryzen 5 3600, you can just slap on any one of Ryzen 5000 processors, and you will be good for another couple of years. This is, by far, the best mid-tier motherboard and CPU pairing available in the market today.

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ProsCons
AffordableLimited 4K gaming potential
UpgradeabilityLimited Overclocking Headroom
Dynamic Build Quality
Great for 1080p Gaming
Self-Overclocking

3. Best Value CPU and Motherboard Combo: AMD Ryzen 3700X and Asus AM4 TUF Gaming X570-Plus (Wi-Fi) permalink

Processor: AMD Ryzen 3700X

AMD Ryzen 3700x Gaming CPU

SpecificationValue
Cores8
Threads16
Base Frequency3.6 GHz
Max Frequency4.4 GHz
Wattage65 W

AMD Ryzen 3700X is the best processor option for most people. With 8 cores and 16 threads, it is the king of multi-threaded workloads. In multi-core performances, it beats Intel Core i7-9700K with relative ease. The same can’t be said about single-core performances though, as Intel reigns supreme over that territory. Nevertheless, Ryzen 3700X offers low power consumption and improved performance (15% increase to Instructions per Cycle as compared to Intel 2nd Zen Processors) owing to its 7nm manufacturing nodes. So whether you are building a workstation or a budgeted gaming rig, AMD Ryzen 3700X is the best processor option for you.

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Motherboard: Asus AM4 TUF Gaming X570-Plus (WIFI)

Asus AM4 TUF Gaming X570-Plus Mobo

SpecificationValue
ChipsetAMD 570X
Memory Slots4
Maximum Memory Size Supported128 GB
RAM Memory TechnologyDIMM
Storage-8 x SATA 6Gb/s -1 x M.2 Socket 3, with M Key, Type 2242/2260/2280/22110(PCIe 4.0 x4 and SATA modes) storage devices support
Multi-GPU SupportAMD Crossfire

What do you pair alongside one of the finest-one size fits all- processors in the market? An affordable, yet feature-rich motherboard! Asus AM4 Gaming can accommodate up to 128 GB of DDR4, owing to its 4 DIMM slots. It supports PCIe 4.0 and features a 12+2 VRM setup and a decent heat sink. The latter ensures uncanny cooling and overclocking potential! If that hasn’t got you drooling, the MOBO features a dual-band WIFI, RGB illumination (near the heat sink), and an unprecedented 108dB signal to noise ratio.

Together, AMD Ryzen 7 3700X and ASUS AM4 TUF Gaming X570 make up one of the most affordable and balanced motherboards and CPU combos. If you intend to build a PC on a limited budget and wish to leave no corner uncut, you should look no further.

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ProsCons
Best Value per DollarModest Gaming Performance
Best Thermal Management
Affordable

4. Best CPU and Motherboard Combo for most Gamers: Intel Core i7-9700K and GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS PRO permalink

Processor: Intel Core i7-9700K

Intel Core i7 9700K CPU

SpecificationValue
Cores8
Threads8
Base Frequency3.6 GHz
Max Frequency4.9 GHz
Wattage95 W

The list has been strangely lop-sided as of yet- so much so that it is easy to assume that AMD is crushing Intel in the CPU market. As much as Team Red and its supporters would fantasize about this, it is absurd! AMD CPUs are better priced and sweep low and mid-tier price ranges. Intel CPUs tend to be more powerful. And i7-9700K is no different. Owing to its ‘relatively lower price’, it compares favorably to i9-9900K. Don’t misunderstand me: i9-9900k is, hands-on, a better processor, and one of the most powerful CPUs in the market today, but comes at a hefty premium. Hence, i7-9700K is a smarter choice.

I7-9700K may not have hyper-threading technology but it still has 8 cores and a 12 MB smart cache, ensuring a power-packed performance. It crosses the 100 fps barrier on almost all AAA titles with relative ease. I7-9700K is a one size fits all solution to all your gaming woes!

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Motherboard: GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS PRO

gigabyte Z390 aorus pro gaming motherboard

SpecificationValue
ChipsetIntel Z390 Express Chipset
Memory Slots4
Maximum Memory Size Supported128 GB
RAM Memory TechnologyDIMM
Storage-6 x SATA 6Gb/s -1 X M.2 Connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 SATA and PCIe x4/x2 SSD support) -1 X M.2 Connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2260/2280 SATA and PCIe x4/x2 SSD support)
Multi-GPU SupportSupports: -Nvidia Quad-GPU SLI -2-Way Nvidia SLI - AMD Quad-GPU CrossFire -3-Way/2-Way AMD CrossFire

In order to fully utilize i7-9700K’s overclocking headroom, we need a Motherboard with a strong VRM. GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS Pro offers just that! It boasts a 12+1 Phases Digital VRM solution including PWM Controllers and DrMOS. These deliver power to all power-hungry and energy-sensitive components, ensuring maximal performance. This way i7-9700K and GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS Pro perfectly complement one another.

The motherboard can support up to 128 GB of RAM, owing to 4 memory slots. It supports both Nvidia SLI and AMD CrossFire, should you need Multiple GPUs. These features alongside a plethora of Input/ Output options, advanced thermal design (including multiple cut Heatsinks and Heatpipe), and a Realtek High-End HD Audio Codec make the MOBO highly desirable.

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ProsCons
Overclocking HeadroomDoesn’t have Hyper-Threading technology
Uncanny Gaming PerformanceExpensive
Excels in Parallelized Workloads
Maintains high fps in most games

5. Best Premium: Intel Core i9-10900K and ASUS ROG Strix Z490-E Gaming Z490 (WiFi 6) permalink

Processor: Intel Core i9-10900K

Intel Core i9-10900K CPU

SpecificationValue
Cores10
Threads20
Base Frequency3.7 GHz
Max Frequency5.3 GHz
Wattage125 W

Power Efficient ❌

Best Price to Performance Ratio ❌

Best Productivity ❌

Best CPU in the Market ✅

Intel i9-10900K is expensive, power-hungry, and (yet!), hands down, the best CPU available in the market. 10 cores, 20 threads, and a 20 MB L3 cache ensure uncannily performance. With a base frequency of 3.7 GHz and a single-core turbo of 5.3 GHz, you are bound to get the highest frame rates for almost all AAA titles on the planet. I was especially surprised by the chip’s thermal management. For a 14nm form factor, the chip’s thermal management is prodigious. If you can afford it, go for it. I9-10900K is a cleverly engineered piece and probably the best overall CPU you can buy today.

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Motherboard: ASUS ROG Strix Z490-E Gaming Z490 (WiFi 6)

ASUS ROG Strix Z490-E Gaming Z490 Motherboards

SpecificationValue
ChipsetIntel Z490 Chipset
Memory Slots4
Maximum Memory Size Supported128 GB
RAM Memory TechnologyDDR4
Storage-6 x SATA 6Gb/s -2 x M.2 slots
Multi-GPU SupportSupports: -2-Way Nvidia SLI -3-Way AMD CrossFire

So, what do you do with the best CPU available in the market today? Pair it with the best motherboard that you can buy? Yes! and that’s exactly what we have done. ASUS ROG Strix Z490-E comes with 14+2 power stages with a ProCool II power connector, ensuring reliable power supply to all components at all times. This way you can push your CPU to the limit, and while you are at it, the motherboard’s heatsink, Heatpipe, fan headers, and AI cooling would ensure a 5 Celsius Delta.

Cooling and Performance aside, ASUS ROG Strix supports 4 memory slots, 6 SATA slots, and 2 M.2 slots. If you need any further incentives to buy this motherboard, you can always look up to RGB Lighting, and Pristine audio quality.

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ProsCons
Future ProofVery Very (a thousand times Very) Expensive
Clever Thermal ManagementHigh TDP
Exceptional Raw Gaming PowerNo PCIe 4.0 support
More Threads
Overclocking Headroom

Which of these CPU and Motherboard Combos should you buy? permalink

By now, we have curated a list of the best CPU and MOBO pairings in increasing order of price. So, pick out a price range and buy the corresponding pair. If you can afford it, there is no reason not to buy Intel Core i9-10900K and ASUS ROG Strix Z490-E Gaming Z490. Not only does the pair offer the best performance, but it will also future proof you.

But what if you are tied by financial constraints?

How much should you spend on a CPU and Motherboard Pair?

It is important to understand that a CPU cannot deliver exceptional performance on its own. It needs support from an able GPU. And, we all know how expensive the best GPUs can be. So, spend wisely and don’t go all out on the CPU and Motherboard. Mid-Tier CPU and Motherboard Combos are quite powerful too. For instance, there isn’t much that AMD Ryzen 3700X and Asus AM4 TUF Gaming X570-Plus can’t do.


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