It’s always your motherboard and CPU that decide what other parts you could go after. And if you are building a gaming PC from scratch, it’s better to look out for the best CPU and motherboard combo deals. You’ll end up with a lot of deals on different marketplaces lying in different budget segments. The thing is, not every deal sits well under your budget and needs.
Choosing the motherboard sets the foundation for building the rest of your gaming rig. If you’ll go with a cheap motherboard, then you’ll limit yourself from upgrading your machine with the latest hardware.
Most recently, AMD and Intel have thrown their latest generation of CPUs on the market. With Intel’s 12th gen chips slicing through AMD’s flagship CPUs, there’s a tough battle to watch for spectators like us. And with the latest generation CPUs, there’s a flood of next-generation motherboards flowing through the market.
It’s a bit daunting task for gamers to find the most compatible motherboard and CPU from a pool of deals. We know what’s on your mind, so we’ve done the hard part for you in this guide. All you need is to pick the combo that falls within your budget and gaming needs.
The Best Motherboard/CPU Combo for Gamers
Here are the top recommendations to consider at this time of the year:
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X + MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk Gaming – Overall Best Pick
Cores: 8 | Threads: 16 | Boost Clock Speed: 3.8 GHz | TDP: 105W
Socket: AM4 | Form Factor: ATX | Memory Support: Up to 128GB DDR4 (4866 MHz)
The Ryzen 7 5800X is one of the most powerful CPUs for gaming enthusiasts. It outperforms some of the competing flagships from Intel in HD gaming. If you need a gaming processor without putting a hole in your wallet, then it’s the right option to go with. With 8 cores and a boost clock up to 3.8 GHz, this CPU can chew any intense gaming workloads that you’ll throw in its way.
To squeeze the most performance out of a Ryzen 7 5800X, there couldn’t be a better motherboard than the MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk. It’s an AM4 socket motherboard that natively supports every 3rd Ryzen processor.
Moreover, the added support for PCIe 4.0 makes this mobo a great option for adding the latest generation hardware. The Mystic RGB lighting gives it an eye-catching look if you install this motherboard inside a transparent PC chassis. And there are plenty of I/Os at the back panel to plug in the latest tech.
All in all, the Ryzen 7 5800X and MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk motherboard would be a good-to-go deal for someone looking to build a high-end gaming PC. You can easily overclock any 3rd generation AMD CPU on this motherboard. Also, the ATX form factor makes the MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk a battleground for a beefy graphics card.
This CPU and motherboard combo easily fits in the budget range of most PC gamers. By spending around $400, you lay out the foundations of a gaming PC that you can then, later on, upgrade with more powerful hardware.
AMD Ryzen 5 5600 + GIGABYTE B450 AORUS PRO Wi-Fi – Best Budget AMD CPU & Motherboard Combo
Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Boost Clock Speed: 4.4 GHz | TDP: 65W
Socket: AM4 | Form Factor: ATX | Memory Support: Up to 128GB DDR4 (3600 MHz)
The AMD Ryzen 5 5600 is one of my favorite processors for budget gamers. Not only it’s affordable but it has all the guts to be one of the leading chips for AAA gaming. It performs almost closer to its “X” variant when it comes to gaming or productivity workload. The only difference is that the Ryzen 5 5600X packs a bit more base and boost clock speed on its end.
AMD ships this processor with its own stock cooler, which is good enough to cool down this chip at higher temperatures. Under heavy workloads, the Ryzen 5 5600 easily hits up to 4.4 GHz clock speed. And I believe up to this point, the Wraith Stealth cooler would be enough to handle the surging temperatures.
There are 6 cores and 12 threads on this processor to deal with gaming and content creation workloads. For instance, most games demand a six-core CPU to bump up the higher frame rates on your screen.
To install the Ryzen 5 5600, the most suited motherboard would be the GIGABYTE B450 AORUS PRO Wi-Fi. This sub $200 motherboard serves well for 3rd generation AMD processors. There are plenty of advanced I/Os and connectivity options on this motherboard to hook up the latest devices.
Almost half of the motherboard is covered with I/Os shields and mystic RGB lights. This allows you to showcase your build if you have a PC case with a side glass panel. It readily supports PCIe 3.0 devices to boost your performance.
All in all, the Ryzen 5 5600 and GIGABYTE B450 AORUS PRO Wi-Fi gives you the best bang for your buck. The deal costs around $250, which is an affordable amount to spend if you are tight on your budget.
Intel Core i5-12400 + GIGABYTE B660M DS3H – Best Mid-Range CPU Motherboard Combo
Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Boost Clock Speed: 4.4 GHz | TDP: 65W
Socket: LGA 1700 | Form Factor: Mico-ATX | Memory Support: Up to 128GB DDR5 (5333 MHz)
The 12th generation Alder Lake CPUs put the crown back on the head of Intel when it comes to single and multi-threaded performance. The Core i5 12400 doesn’t fully reflect the mighty of the Alder Lake Series unlike its elder siblings, the Core i5 12600K and Core i9 12900K. But it still unleashes excellent performance in gaming when compared to the previous generation Core i5 chips.
The Core 15 12400 is a raw six-core CPU that is highly recommended for budget gaming builds. It offers on-par performance when put side by side with some of the competing chips from AMD. And if you pair this CPU with a motherboard like the GIGABYTE B660M DS3H to extract more juice out of it by overclocking.
We have a gaming build with Core i5 12400 and RTX 3050 graphics card, and this deadly combo throws phenomenal performance in 1080p gaming.
The Gigabyte B660M DS3H DDR4 motherboard is natively built for the 12th generation Intel line-up. Also, the added support for DDR5 memory makes this motherboard a great option for hardcore gamers. Plus, some other features like memory overclocking, PCIe 5.0, and Gen 2 SSD ports make the B660 a full package for installing the latest generation hardware.
The B660 DS3H is the cheapest motherboard you can get to accommodate the most advanced hardware available on the market. But the thing is, this motherboard has a classic look to it and there are no fancy shrouds and RGB lights on it. Moreover, there are limited USB connectivity ports at the back panel of this motherboard.
However, the B660 DS3H is crafted in keeping in mind the basic necessities of budget gamers. It has all the basic features that a gaming motherboard should count on these days.
If you have a $300 budget in mind to spend for a CPU and motherboard, then Core i5 12400 and B660 could be a win-win situation.
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X + ASUS ROG Crosshair X670E Hero AM5 – Extreme Gaming Performance Combo
Cores: 16 | Threads: 32 | Boost Clock Speed: 5.7 GHz | TDP: 170W
Socket: AM5 | Form Factor: ATX | Memory Support: Up to 128GB DDR5 (6400 MHz)
The Ryzen 9 7950X is an expensive CPU to get this time of the year, but it’ll make your gaming rig future-proof for upcoming years. It outperforms most of the competing chips in Intel’s Alder Lake line-up. If you are planning to build a hardcore gaming or professional content creation PC, then this might be the right chip to go with.
At the time of writing this guide, the Ryzen 9 7950X is the fastest gaming CPU from AMD so far. It goes on par with some of the mid-range CPUs available in the 13th gen line-up. With 16 cores and 32 threads, the Ryzen 9 7950X grinds the toughest of multi-threaded workloads.
The Ryzen 9 7950X easily hits up to 5.7 GHz under heavy workloads which is a huge speed jump over the previous Zen 3 architecture CPUs. And this massive jump in boost clock speed puts the Ryzen 9 7950X side by side with Intel Raptor Lake processors.
To get the maximum performance out of a Zen 4 CPU, it’s better to go with a high-end motherboard like the ASUS ROG Crosshair X670E Hero. This motherboard lies between the mid-range and other expensive gaming boards on the market. Even at a $650 price tag, this board offers plenty of features for enthusiasts.
Some of these notable features are native support for USB 4.0, PCIe 5.0 M.2 sockets, and up to 10 USB ports on the back panel. So, you can connect a lot of devices to this motherboard at a single time.
Also, the ASUS ROG Crosshair X670E supports the DDR5 modules to get maximum performance with Zen 4 chips. There are four DIMM slots on this motherboard to add memory up to 128GB.
The only thing to worry about is the higher price tag of this CPU/motherboard combo. But if you are not restricted to a tight budget and all you need is pure performance, then this is the right type of deal to stick with.
Intel Core i9 12900KF + ASUS Maximus Z690 Hero – Future-Proof CPU Motherboard Combo for Enthusiasts
Cores: 16 | Threads: 24 | Boost Clock Speed: 5.2 GHz | TDP: 125W
Socket: LGA 1700 | Form Factor: ATX | Memory Support: Up to 128GB DDR5 (6400 MHz)
The Core i9 12900KF is one of the top-performing gaming CPUs on the market. It’s also one of the best chips in the entire Alder Lake line-up. Just like the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X, the Core i9 12900KF also breaks the 5.0 GHz when running under peak load. Also, it is the only chip in the family that fully stretch its wings when it comes to single and multi-threaded workloads.
The hybrid architecture of Core i9 12900KF makes it a great deal for both enthusiast gamers and serious content creators. It outperforms many high-end chips in AMD’s Zen 3 architecture by a great margin. For a decent amount of money, you’ll get a CPU that is great at chewing the toughest of productivity and gaming workloads.
Intel Core i9 1200KF has got enough juice to let you game, stream, and do multi-tasking at the same time. But only consider going with this chip if you are planning to build an extreme gaming rig.
Alder Lake provides excellent performance with DDR5 memory, so we have opted for the ASUS Maximus Z690 Hero which natively supports the latest generation modules. The Maximus Z690 Hero is highly compatible with Intel’s 12th gen chips.
This is a high-end motherboard with all the necessary I/Os including two Thunderbolt 4 ports for high-speed data transfer. Moreover, this board has built-in Wi-Fi 6E to keep stay connected to high-speed internet.
Lastly, the solid build quality and killing aesthetics of Maximum Z690 Hero makes it an appealing choice for PC gamers. This motherboard is the playground of some of the most powerful Intel CPUs on the market. You can overclock Alder Lake CPUs on this board with easy-to-follow steps in the BIOS.
There’s a lot of overclocking potential with the Maximus Z690 Here motherboard. And pairing this motherboard with Core i9 12900KF and RTX 3090 graphics card would make your build future-proof for several years.
Factors to Consider Before Buying a CPU/Motherboard in a Single Package
Before you make any final purchase, here are the things you need to watch out for:
AMD or Intel
There are two brands at the moment, Intel and AMD. Both of these build chips that are then installed on the relevant motherboards. If you are building a rig for gaming purposes, then go with an Intel CPU and a compatible motherboard.
Whereas AMD chips are better for multitasking and content creators as they offer excellent multi-threaded performance as compared to Intel chips. But with the arrival of Intel Alder Lake CPUs, the Blue Team is trying its best to claim the lost crown back from AMD.
The latest generation Intel CPUs come with P/E (performance and Efficiency) cores that handle the single and multi-threaded way better than AMD chips. At the same time, these hybrid core CPUs from Intel are expensive as compared to their AMD counterparts.
Also, before making up your mind about an Intel or AMD platform, look out for compatibility. The CPU socket on an Intel motherboard does not support AMD processors. The same goes for AMD motherboards that do not support Intel CPUs. It’s a kind of rivalry thing you know!
Size of the Motherboard
Intel and AMD-supported motherboards are available in different sizes. The most common sizes are E-ATX, ATX, Micro-ATX, and mini-ITX. If you have already bought the PC case for your gaming rig, then make sure you choose the relevant size motherboard to fit in that case.
Also, the size of a motherboard determines what size of hardware you can install on it. Micro ATX motherboards can easily accommodate beefy graphics cards whereas there’s limited space available on a mini-ITX motherboard to install extra hardware.
Similarly, E-ATX motherboards are meant for high-end workstations or gaming builds with beefy components. ATX motherboards is the most in-demand size at the moment. Most PC hardware can easily sit on an ATX motherboard without doing any alterations.
When shopping for a CPU and motherboard at the same time, watch out for some of the much-needed features on a motherboard. Modern motherboards offer built-in Wi-Fi, multiple M.2 slots, advanced I/Os like Thunderbolt 4, and the latest gen USB connectivity ports.
Moreover, if you are an overclocker who frequently pushes the CPU to its limits, then look for a motherboard with an advanced VRM design. A motherboard with more phases produces better results in overclocking.
DDR5 modules are already hitting the market, although they are expensive to get for now. But with the passage of time, these will become cheaper and you’ll see DDR4 vanishing from the marketplaces.
The current generation CPUs from AMD and Intel now support DDR5 modules, so this is the right time to switch to next-gen technology. Although current games and applications do not show extra performance with DDR5 chips, upcoming games and programs will make the most use of them.
Finally, these were some of the most suitable CPU motherboard combos to consider for gaming. If your intentions are limited to gaming, then AMD Ryzen 7 5800X + MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk is the most affordable combo for budget-oriented gamers. But if you have extra money to spend to build a high-end gaming and content creation, then Intel Core i9 12900KF + ASUS Maximus Z690 Hero provides you endless possibilities to step up your performance with time.
What type of RAM can I buy with a CPU motherboard combo that I choose from above?
You have to choose the type of RAM that is most compatible with your motherboard and CPU. Choosing a 12th-generation CPU would mostly require you to have DDR4 or DDR5 RAM (if compatible with the motherboard).
What kind of CPU Cooler should I choose?
Again, the generation of your CPU would decide what kind of CPU cooler you should buy for it. I’ve written a quick guide on how to choose the right CPU cooler when building a new PC.
Hi, this is Masab, the Founder of PC Building Lab. I’m a PC enthusiast who loves to share the prior knowledge and experience that I have with computers. Well, troubleshooting computers is in my DNA, what else I could say….