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Intel’s 8th Generation Coffee Lake processors aren’t very different from their latest 9th Generation processors, so it’s not a surprise that the older motherboard chipset such as the Z370 is still relevant. The Intel Z370 is a great motherboard for gaming as it can allow for overclocking on unlocked Intel processors.
Best Intel Z370 Motherboards for Gaming
Although the Intel Z370 chipset is almost two years old, because of the tech giant’s slow progression in the CPU world it is still relevant today. We’ve handpicked the best Intel Z370 motherboards available on the market right now and reviewed them. Before we get into the reviews, be sure to make the following considerations when shopping for Intel Z370 motherboards:
What to Consider Before Buying
Overclocking is the main reason you’ll want to go for a Z370 motherboard. Intel has the habit of limiting overclocking to only specific motherboard chipsets and certain processors. These “unlocked” processors come with a “K” at the end, such as the Core i7 9700K. To overclock these processors, you also need an unlocked motherboard chipset. Intel’s unlocked motherboard chipsets are the top of the line products, costing way more than the midrange and budget-friendly series.
Intel’s most powerful chipset for the 8th Generation processors is the Z370, released in 2017. However, because there is no architectural difference between the 8th Generation and 9th Generation processors, the Z370 motherboards work with the latest mainstream processors from Intel. You’ll likely need to run a BIOS update for your motherboard, and you’ll be good to use the 9th Generation processors.
That said, overclocking these processors is not the same experience on just any Z370 board. Various companies like ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte, and ASRock develop multiple motherboards with the same high-end chipset at varying prices. This is because although the chipset dictates whether you can overclock your Intel 8th or 9th Generation processor, the power delivery system (VRM) dictates how far you can overclock them.
More expensive Z370 boards will have larger power delivery phases with active heat spreaders that up their price. Additionally, manufacturers also tend to add additional high-end features such as RGB lighting, steel armored PCI Express slots, I/O shields, m.2 slots, and more which adds to the cost. Usually, the higher the overclocking potential of a motherboard (i.e. better VRM), the more additional features you’ll find as well.
It seems that modern gamers and even general PC builders just cannot live without RGB lighting. It’s all the rave nowadays, virtually in every PC component you can imagine. Motherboards haven’t been left behind, and many of the higher-end ones feature disco-esque RGB LED lighting. Since the Z370 is one of Intel’s two highest-end motherboard chipsets, you can expect the most adorned versions to have fancy RGB lighting on them, mostly on the shields and around the edges.
RGB LEDs do add a significant cost to the motherboard, but unfortunately, motherboard manufacturers often pair them with the best VRMs, storage options and features, so you’re forced to pay the additional premium for it even if you’re not necessarily interested.
Regardless, how important RGB is and how far you want to go with it is certainly a consideration. There are some great “affordable” Z370 motherboards for gaming that will provide decent overclocking but skimp on the RGB to provide more value. However, such motherboards are scarce in numbers.
Most Z370 ATX form factor motherboards will feature the standard 6 SATAIII ports to connect multiple storage systems such as hard drives or full-sized SATA SSDs. However, many of the higher-end Z370 motherboards will feature one, two, or even three m.2 slots with heat spreaders. These m.2 SSDs run across the PCIe lanes, making them ridiculously fast.
The m.2 PCIe NVMe is up to 6 times faster than the fastest SATA III SSDs. Not too long ago, they were considered storage technology for the rich and enthusiasts, but recent price drops in 2019 have seen some m.2 SSDs reach price points as affordable as regular SATAIII SSDs. We highly recommend investing in at least one m.2 PCIe NVMe SSD if you’re building a high-end game PC, and thus encourage you to buy a Z370 motherboard with at least one m.2 SSD slot, ideally with a heat spreader to run it at cooler temperatures so it maintains top speeds. You can then install your OS and your most essential videogames on that drive for an incredibly fast experience.
We’ll mostly be dealing with industry-standard ATX motherboards in this article, but it’s important to know that Z370 boards are also available in other form factors. You can expect to find Z370 boards in eATX, mATX, and mini-ITX form factors.
eATX Z370 boards are a little too large for most users, as the eATX form factor best serves high-end desktops designed for intense non-gaming computing. mATX isn’t as popular as it once was because of the growing trend of creating highly compact high-end gaming PCs with the use of mini-ITX boards.
Mini-ITX has seen an upsurge in use as AIO cooling pumps become smaller and board technology becomes better. You can expect to buy a fully pimped mini-ITX Z370 board and overclock it reasonably provided you have an efficient cooling system for your CPU. Mini-ITX, however, does skimp on additional slots for storage and graphics cards, but that is to be expected for such a small form factor.
We’ll be dealing with ATX motherboards in this article because they are the industry standard and the most popular type. ATX motherboards allow for great cooling because they require a larger case, have the right amount of PCIe and storage slots, and offer the best balance between space and price.
Z370 vs Z390 Chipset
Even though Intel released the Z390 motherboard chipset last year as a potential “successor” to the Z370, the difference is rather minimal. In terms of pure performance and compatibility, there is zero difference between the Z370 and Z390.
The upgrade is merely incremental, with Z390 chipset having innate support for built-in USB 3.1 Ge 2 and WiFi 802.11ac. Z370 chipset had neither of those, but many manufacturers added them using separate controllers in certain high-end Z370 boards. Given the price difference between the Z370 and Z390, it’s perhaps still prudent to go for the former.
The ASUS ROG Maximus X Hero isn’t cheap, but the price you pay for gorgeous aesthetics and fantastic performance is well worth it with this behemoth.
- Memory: 4 x DIMM up to 64GB DDR4-4133
- Storage: 2 x m.2 sockets, 6 x SATA 6Gb/s
- Network: Ethernet, 866Mbps WiFi 802.11ac
It’s a little hard to ignore the extravagant naming scheme, particularly with this motherboard, but the general trend with ASUS is that the longer the name, the more likely it is their product will slay.
The ASUS ROG Maximus X Hero stays true to this trend, with a long name that suggests just how powerful it truly is. The performance as an overclocking foundation is simply unparalleled – so much so that the premium price point actually feels warranted when compared with other high-end Intel motherboards. It’s true that on paper you could potentially find even more beefed up Z370 motherboards for gaming, but beyond bragging rights, there’s little incentive to look past the Maximus X Hero.
This motherboard’s incredible VRM maintains stable temperatures even when CPUs like the 9700K are overclocked to extreme ends. Furthermore, this Z370 board features insane memory speed limits, clocking at a max memory speed of 4133MHz.
Asus provides the user with great immediate access for the tinkerers by integrating a number of switches and controls on the board. Reset and power buttons are also accompanied by a POST code display, a memory reset button, and a BIOS switch.
ALC1220 codec and a number of port options ensure you have all the connectivity and audio requirements you’d ever want, and fast-paced 2×2 MU-MIMO WiFi ensures adequate connectivity. We’re fans of the shielded I/O port as well. Both the I/O and the chipset heatsink have RGB LEDs that can be customized with the ASUS AURA Sync RGB lighting.
For storage, you have the standard ATX 6 x SATAIII ports, but ASUS also integrates two m.2 NVMe SSD slots flanking the armored PCIe slots. The upper slot comes with a stylish heat spreader and is also surrounded by RGB LEDs.
The fan headers on this board are located conveniently as well, and there are enough RGB headers to synchronize your other components through AURA Sync.
One of our favorite parts of ASUS motherboards is how good their BIOS is. Given the price and target audience of the Maximus X Hero, it’s not a surprise to see ASUS integrate this board with their best BIOS out there.
There’s very little to complain about the Maximus X Hero other than its price tag. If you have a generous budget for your motherboard, we highly recommend the Maximus X Hero over every other Z370 board.
With gamers set on RGB lighting as a standard for gaming rigs, this board will provide you with the ultimate RGB greatness, the GIGABYTE Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming is one of the best board for overclocking your system.
- Memory: 4 x DIMM up to 64GB DDR4-4000+
- Storage: 2 x m.2 sockets, 6 x SATA 6Gb/s
- Network: Intel GbE LAN Gaming Network
The Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming is a high-end motherboard with plethora of features, the main one being all the brightly lit RGB zones all over the motherboard, so if you love RGB, you will not even need RGB components to light up the inside of your case, the motherboard would do enough of it. There is RGB between your DIMM Slots, the AORUS logo shines brightly, an Accent LED, on the PCIe slots, around the VRM, and under the rear IO.
We have 3xPCIe slots for NVIDIA SLI or 3-Way CrossFire support, the slots themselves are reinforced to hold heavy GPUs and we know they can really be heavy. Right under and above the top PCIe slot you get PCIe 3×4 M.2 slots, 2 of them at that, which you can use to increase your storage capacity with some lightning-fast SSD for faster loading times on games. We could use a slot or two more, but for now, just 2 will have to do.
There are enough 6 fan headers and 6 temperature sensors throughout the motherboard, two of them are RGB fan headers, to get even more RGB goodness out of the board. You also get RGB LED strip headers, if you want to decorate RGB throughout your casing. If this isn’t enough RGB for you, we do not know what else will please you.
The board overclocks like a pro, you get great performance out of it, and the board has Thunderbolt 3 support, but sadly does not have a port for it. The rear IO has USB Type-C port which is always a great addition these days, you also get some amped-up sound with the ALC1220, which is a built-in smart amp for the perfect sound on the headphone you use.
Lastly, we would like to mention one big con for the board, which is it only supports Intel 8th Generation CPU, which is sad, because the 9th gen is right there and we cannot upgrade to it without changing the whole board.
MSI Z370 Tomahawk
The MSI Z370 Tomahawk is one of their most popular Z370 motherboards for its balance of value and great specs. RGB lighting combined with high-end features across the board (literally) make it an enticing option for those not looking to spend close to $200 on a motherboard.
The MSI Z370 Tomahawk is a great choice for those looking for a fantastic motherboard with decent overclocking headroom and great aesthetics without having to spend exorbitantly on a board.
- Memory: 4 x DIMM up to 64GB DDR4-4000+
- Storage: 2 x m.2 sockets, 6 x SATA 6Gb/s
- Network: Ethernet, 867Mbps WiFi 802.11ac
The Z370 Tomahawk is neither MSI’s best Z370 motherboard nor its most affordable. It does however offer a fantastic balance between features, performance, and pricing, making it highly appealing for anyone looking for a high-end overclocking motherboard at a good value.
The Tomahawk is equipped with premium features and provides good overclocking potential for both CPU and memory. You can easily achieve core clock speeds well above the 5GHz range up to even 5.2GHz on a Core i7 9700K with adequate liquid cooling. Memory speeds can reach up to 4000MHz, though you shouldn’t need to spend so much on memory for gaming purposes alone.
For storage, MSI has integrated two m.2 sockets to add ultra-fast NVMe Ssds. Neither of the sockets has a heat spreader though, which is a shame.
One of the key highlights of this motherboard is the RGB implementation. It’s understated because most of the RGB lighting is at the back, with only a subtle strip on the left edge and the MSI heatsink on the chipset illuminating at the front. You get plenty of RGB goodness on the board and connections to control other RGB components of your rig as well.
One downside of this MSI Z370 Tomahawk motherboard is it is not compatible with the 9th Generation Intel processors out of the box. The board will not even boot until you have flashed the latest BIOS which will make it compatible with 9th Generation processors.
This means that if you’re building a brand new PC with a 9th Generation Intel processor and this board, you’ll need to borrow an 8th Generation processor from somewhere and update it to the latest BIOS before you can use it. This is a major bummer for those who are upgrading from a 7th or older generation Intel processor to the 9th Generation processor.
ASUS Prime Z370-A II
ASUS is a name of quality, so even their low-end boards that are below $150 mark are premium quality, the ASUS Prime Z370-A II is a low budget premium board, that has such a stylish look and built-in RGB, even though it is not a lot, but for the price, we will take it.
If you do not like your motherboard to look bland and simple, but your budget doesn’t allow for a high end fully souped-up motherboard, then look no further coz the ASUS Prime Z370-A II is just the thing you are looking for.
- Memory: 4 x DIMM up to 64GB DDR4-4000
- Storage: 1 x m.2 sockets, 6 x SATA 6Gb/s
- Network: Ethernet
Now first thing you will notice about this motherboard is how stylish it looks, it has RGB, it has all the features of a high-end board.
You get 4 DIMM Slots for 64GB of DDR4-4000+Mhz RAM, so it is not just stylish, its beefed up as well. The great thing about the board, it supports both 8th Generation and 9th Generation Intel Core Processors. So if you plan on upgrading to a 9th Generation CPU anytime, you can just jump the ship without replacing the board.
It has 2 M.2 Slot for SSD, 2 is not the biggest number we have seen in our list, but for the price it is great. One M.2 slot also has a stylish heatsink, which tucks in your SSD on the board.
You get 3 PCIe Slots for SLI and CrossFire, these slots are reinforced so your heavy GPUs don’t damage the board itself, and you have Thunderbolt 3 Support on the board as well if you want to install it. It has a USB Type-C port which is a must-have with all the Type-C peripherals coming out lately.
So the audio system on this motherboard is surprisingly good because we love to not only see our games but also listen to them as good and be immersed in the experience. The Crystal 3, Realtek S1220A sound gives you a built-in amp, DTS Headphones:X support, for great sound quality.
We do not think this board lacks in anything and it is a surprise it costs so less when it gives you so much more.