Looking for something new and very good for your gaming or workstation computer, more precisely for a performant motherboard? Then since you have just arrived around here, let’s dive a bit into which best high end motherboard you may choose for your needs & wishes!
Having a “high end heart” in the PC
As it’s known in the world of computers, a PC cannot run at all if there is no motherboard. If the CPU is to be called the brain of the computer, then the motherboard would be… umm, maybe call it the body? No, let’s better say it is the heart. Every other modules of a computing system are related to it – the CPU itself, the memory, the case LED wires, the disk drives, the video card part, the CPU & GPU cooling systems, the case fans, the monitor cable… they all point to some socket, ports, fans or slots from the motherboard, which at its turn is regularly mounted into a case.
And if you are an enthusiast user with great targets and an enough wide budget to afford a high-end motherboard that be as good as possible, then let’s just call it the best high end motherboard or the best heart that would “tick” inside your PC, and you can have it!
The powers of a strong motherboard
Using a top motherboard is surely empowering you with some of the newest technologies concerning storage, video, memories, CPU usages & enhancements and more. A top mobo means you can also use a top CPU and high frequency DDR4 DIMMs. You can also make use of some more “exotic” technologies like U2, Intel Optane (this one if you are using an Intel motherboard, though) and Thunderbolt, not to mention the PCI-E NVME slots that however have already become popular to a certain extent during the latest years. Either your computer is designed / projected to serve as a gaming or as a workstation machine in your house (yes, you may use it like that at home too, if you create content or do some other research needing appropriate hardware power, not to mention good algoritms as well), you may be interested in achieving the best high end motherboard that is suitable for your needs.
Choosing between Gaming and Workstation
When you get to decide what best motherboard to buy, you should also know well what plans of using it you have. If you are eager on games, then there is plenty of high-end motherboards to choose from, either we are talking about ASUS or MSI, GIGABYTE, EVGA – just to mention the most famous manufacturers. By example, ASUS has a consacrated gaming division called Republic of Gamers (ROG) that serves users with treasures of motherboards that match Intel or AMD processors. As a matter of fact, there is still no desktop motherboard to support two CPU sockets, with one of them being an Intel and the another an AMD.
When it comes to workstation heavy-duty loads, computer configuration has to be different, and note that workstation PC builds are usually more performant and powerful than gaming ones, having also a power consumption as such. A gaming user would be content with less amounts of storage, RAM, and CPU threads, while having a solid GPU part (note also that we may use two video cards on the same high end motherboard, putting them into two side-by-side PCI-E slots and then interconnecting them via a SLI bridge). On the other hand, intensive content creators should think rather of a Workstation build that would imply another kind of high-end motherboard, supporting more SATA and PCI-E NVME ports, more PCI-E x1/x4/x16 expansion slots as well and, why not, the above called “exotic” inlets such as Optane, U2 and Thunderbolt, at least just out of curiosity – e.g. I have not used them myself by now.
All that said, depending on your point of view, whether you will be playing online games or create content / do heavy-load scientifical researches on your enhanced rig (this is a synonym for PC), the best high end motherboard expression may mean quite different things, so take care of your choice and buy the strong “heart of PC” that will indeed sustain your needs and deeds!
Seeing some models
Now let’s also check on some real stuff of gaming/workstation high end mobos (abbreviation for motherboards).
Speaking of gaming motherboards in November 2019, let’s take a look at the specs of Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Ultra, which according to pcgamer.com would be “the best Gaming motherboard of the year”.
Although this motherboard was not quite recently released (its first BIOS version leads us back to August 2018), however it has already had enough time to demonstrate good performance in the gaming field, and of course there has been also enough time for good user feedbacks and technical reviews while seeing how the motherboard works.
It has support for Intel processors (we can deduce that from the Z390 chipset name, definately an Intel one), more exactly for 8th and 9th Intel Core generations. Its latest BIOS update, from October 28th, 2019, provides support for the Intel® Core™ i9-9900KS CPU (8-core, 16-thread, 4.0 GHz base clock, 5.0 GHz turbo clock, not to mention overclocking), that has just come out, so it’s a proof that the motherboard stays put and is keeping pace with the technical progresses.
The motherboard has four DDR4 DIMM slots, in dual channel, supporting up to 128 GB* of memory if we use 32 GB unbuffered modules, and the supported memory frequency ranges between 2133 and 4400 MHz (now I have to say I’m a bit stunned that these 32GB modules became available, because when I built my computers at home, 16 GB per module was a widely-known limit and 32 GB single modules were rather liken to exotic pieces). Yeah well, it means only four slots while other modern mobos have eight of them, but a gaming motherboard does not necessarily need astronomical amounts of memory, we may leave that one for workstation-oriented mobos, speaking of which, we will see also something about below.
* We must take care of the fact that if the processor supports a smaller amount of memory (like 64 GB), then the motherboard has to “abide by” this restriction and the BIOS & the operating system will see only 64 GB of RAM in that case! Do not install 128 GB of RAM on a motherboard that supports this value if the CPU has a smaller memory support limit. That would be unuseful, since it is the CPU (the brain of the computer) that decides how many GBs of RAM we can use.
Back on Z390 Aorus Ultra, it offers six SATA3 6Gb/s ports and a Thunderbolt 3 slot, along with one HDMI port for video shared memory (that can be up to 1 GB), in case the installed processor supports this feature. We may also find one M.2 Socket 1 connector for an Intel® CNVi wireless module only (CNVI*), three PCI-E X16 slots (only the first does actually run at x16, the other two run at x8 and x4), and three small PCI-E x1 connectors, that of course fit little cards like SATA expansion ones. And for best video performance, it is recommended that the GPU be placed into the first x16 that is really x16! People who want two GPUs interconnected by SLI can put the second card into the x16-being-x8-running slot, next to the “x16-really-x16” one.
* The CNVI (meaning Intel’s Intgrated Connectivity) is an integrated wireless IP portion for Intel processors.
Moreover, the board offers three M.2 NVME connectors (M2M, M2A, M2P – names that depend on the position of the connector on the motherboard), running at x4 or x2 PCI-E 3.0, so that you can place three fast NVME SSDs directly on the motherboard. You can also use a M.2 expansion card that is PCI-E pluggable, in order to put more NVMEs at work. The motherboard supports RAID 0/1/5/10 and Intel Optane memory too.
The GPU (Video) support is for NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ and 2-Way NVIDIA® SLI™ technologies, and when it comes to AMD, you may install GPUS of types AMD Quad-GPU CrossFire™ and 3-Way/2-Way AMD CrossFire™ technologies.
The CPU can receive power from the motherboard through one 8-pin and other 4-pin ATX 12V power connector.
Z390 Aorus Ultra also gives support for USB 1.1/3.0/3.1 Gen-1 & Gen-2 Types A & B, and you can install 64-bit Windows 10 on a computer with this board.
Its form factor is a standard ATX 30.5cm x 24.4cm. It’s just a normal measure and should fit into mid-tower and high-tower cases.
Also, this board has a dual BIOS (2 x 128 Mbit flash, meaning there is support for DualBIOS™). The functionailty of a dual BIOS is as such: there are two distinct BIOS segments on the motherboard, each one with its own Lithium battery, and they are the main one and the backup one. If you ever fail some BIOS update on the main BIOS, your motherboard would NOT be doomed, because you will be able to recover the main BIOS basing on the version that is stored in the secondary BIOS (128 Mbit flash) – so this is truly an advantage on modern motherboards. Updating the BIOS gets less risky when you have the Dual BIOS feature under your eyes!
The integrated LAN is Intel® GbE LAN chip (10/100/1000 Mbit).
Of course the motherboard has also other specifications at
And now let’s go one step further and talk about a dedicated workstation motherboard. Like the gaming Aorus mentioned above, this workstation motherboard was not recently released either (its first BIOS version dates from November 2017), but it is a quite suggestive and a keeping-pace motherboard, since its latest BIOS is from this October 18th. Its name is ASUS WS X299 SAGE workstation motherboard.
So what does this ASUS board bring and what makes it special?
First of all, let’s see that we can interchangeably use any high-end motherboards (that are usable for Gaming too) on a workstation-like environment, especially if they are really top-tier, although not bearing a “WS” in their name. But Asus came up with this distinct motherboard for leveraging Desktop workstation loads, since we are still talking about a Desktop motherboard. ASUS WS X299 SAGE is not a Server motherboard. A Workstation motherboard aims at high parameters of work and the first thing we notice is its belonging to the X299 Intel chipset – which by itself is a top and a HEDT chipset Intel launched for enthusiasts in 2017.
Yes, this motherboard has support for the Intel LGA2066 processors that offer up to 18 cores, and speaking of flagships, the first Desktop 18-core processors (in 2017) was the Intel Core i9-7980XE CPU, but the repeated BIOS updates that this board received in the meanwhile surely empowered it to support also the more recent i9-9980XE, still with 18 cores and 36 threads.
To be more precise, ASUS WS X299 SAGE supports Intel Core-X processors starting from the 4-core Kaby Lake 7740X-es that were launched in 2017 too, but its DDR4 RAM support narrows down to 64 GB, 2133 up to 4200 MHz, non-ECC, unbuffered memory while 4-core processors are connected to the board. From 6-core processors above, 128 GB of DDR4 RAM is the limit – with the same range and specifications. Of course heavy workstation tasks would need up to 18 cores in the CPU, so it’s unlikely that a serious workstation user ever put a small 4-core, 8-thread processor into such a motherboard, that is supposed to handle huge tasks.
The form factor of the motherboard is CEB (standing for Compact Electronics Bay specification), and it is mainly used on dual or multi-socketed boards (having two or more processor sockets on them, which is specific to Server boards), which means 12 inch x 10.5 inch (30.5 cm x 26.7 cm) in the case of WS X299 SAGE. Still, we are talking about a Desktop, single-socketed motherboard.
It supports eight SATA-III 6Gb/s connectors, two U.2 connectors and two M.2 Socket 3 connectors (PCI-E 3.0 x4). The motherboard also features RAID 0/1/5/10 support and Intel Virtual RAID (VROC) for CPU RAID. There are two different Gigabit LAN integrated controllers, Intel I210-AT and Intel I219-LM.
Further, when it comes to PCI-E expansion slots, the increased storage and creation power of thsi motherboard is shown to us in its plenty – there are no more, no less than seven PCI-E slots, and according to the official specification page from ASUS they are “PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (single x16 or dual x16/x16 or triple x16/x16/x16 or quad x16/x16/x16/x16 or seven x16/x8/x8/x8/x8/x8/x8)”.
The board support Intel specific storage technologies (features) like Intel Optane, Intel Smart Response, Intel Rapid Storage Technology. Also, if you want to use several GPUs in order to do huge computations* with CUDA (on NVIDIA cards) or OpenCL (for AMD cards), the multi-GPU support that WS X299 SAGE offers to you is either for NVIDIA® 4-Way SLI™ Technology or for AMD 4-Way CrossFireX Technology.
* Now, we do not say it is impossible to use multiple GPUs on a workstation board for games too. But obviously, gaming on a workstation does not sound quite appropriately.
Other powers that this motherboard shows us are the Realtek HD audio support, along with features like DTS Connect, DST Headphone:X, Japanese audio capacitors and not only; the USB support is quite large too, consisting of eight USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, four of USB 2.0, and also three AsMedia USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports. It has also an Overclocking design (ASUS PRO Clock II Technology), which is understandable if we take into the account the fact that the CPU may be a power-hungry colossus like 7980XE or 9980XE, and that the motherboard itself ensures a good capacity to handle large power consumptions by having one 6-pin ATX power connector and two 8-pin ATX 12V power connectors as well (the latter ones are for the CPU, of course).
There are also a lot of specifications for this motherboard and we can see all of them by visiting
These motherboard examples are just two fishes from a larger lake, let’s just call them “the green fish” (for Gaming) and “the blue fish” for the Workstation part. Walking through the Internet and researching carefully the motherboards segment, we are also able to find other masterpieces worth being considered “the best” for your needs. There are also other newer, very strong and rich-featured motherboards to come, especially if we think of the colossal Threadrippers AMD announces us about. And even Intel managed to release a 28-core, 56-thread Workstation (but not Server) Xeon CPU this year, which is surely not compatible with X299 motherboards – the Xeon W-3175X CPU is associated to the C621 chipset and the ASUS ROG Dominus Extreme Intel LGA 3647 motherboard. Anyway, this product in bold is much more expensive than the examples cited above, you have to come indeed from ABBA’s “Rich Man World” in order to afford pieces like top Xeons and their accurate mobos. So that motherboards like GIGABYTE Z390 Aorus Ultra and ASUS WS X299 SAGE are still to be considered as best high end motherboards.