With next-gen consoles releasing soon, you must be questioning yourself whether you should get one? Well, you don’t have to, because a PC is more than capable of fulfilling your gaming needs. You can do much more with a gaming PC than just game though, that is where they surpass consoles. So to build one, check out one of these Micro ATX Motherboards from our list.
These are some of the best Micro ATX Motherboards in the market at the moment. People often neglect the importance of a good motherboard. The reason behind it is they think the CPU runs the operations. But it is the motherboard that connects the CPU with all the other components.
This connection is what the CPU uses to relay its commands and process calculations. Also, a motherboard is also responsible to provide power to the components including the CPU. Micro ATX Motherboards are perfect for a compact build. They allow you to create powerful machines in a small size.
You have 3 sizes available in motherboards. The smallest of which is Mini ITX and has very limited slots. After which we have the Micro ATX motherboards and lastly we have Standard ATX.
There are a few sacrifices that buyers have to make to reach that build. But in no way does it make them any less powerful than a full-size motherboard. After all, a PC is as good as its components. But then what difference will a motherboard make? We will explore that part in a buyer’s guide.
Buyer’s Guide for Best Micro ATX Motherboards
So Micro ATX motherboards are a middle ground in size between ATX and Mini ITX motherboards. Being between these two, there are a few sacrifices that a Micro ATX build has to make.
Although, a few things that one should keep in mind are common throughout the motherboard sizes. For instance, the chipset, the number of PCI-e slots, RAM slots, number of SATA ports, and the number of ports on the IO.
Intel has had the tendency to change the chipset of their CPU’s every few generations. This has caused people to frequently change their systems every now and then. Or some people stick to the older generation of CPUs due to the frequent changes by Intel.
AMD on the other hand has had given chipset compatibility from their first Ryzen up to the 3rd on a single motherboard. Meaning you can install a Ryzen 1000 series CPU in motherboards up to the B450 and X470 series of boards.
AMD also announced that B450 boards will be able to support the Ryzen 4000 series of CPUs. The only problem is that due to having a lower ROM capacity, the boards will be wiped clean off compatibility of the older CPUs. Meaning that once you install a 4000 series CPU and flash the BIOS to support it, you cannot revert back to a 3000 series CPU or lower later on.
So if you have bought a B450 board recently, you are in luck as you will be able to install a Ryzen 4000 series CPU. While rumors are that 11th Generation Intel CPUs will have a completely different chipset and will require you to purchase another motherboard. Tough luck for Intel users.
So when you are buying any motherboard, check out its compatibility and chipset to see if it will support your CPU.
One of the biggest differences in Micro ATX motherboards and ATX ones is the number of expansion slots. Due to having a smaller size than a standard ATX board, the mATX board has lesser expansion slots.
An ATX motherboard has up to 5 expansion slots, while a typical mATX board only has 3. The max number of expansion slots on an mATX board can be 4. Although, most people do not even utilize expansion slots as much because manufacturers have made most of the things unnecessary by integrating them on the boards themselves.
Before if you needed decent sound, you would require a sound card. But these days manufacturers have a great quality on-board sound that buying a soundcard feels unnecessary. Onboard LAN and WiFi are also very powerful, so you needn’t install anything yourself.
But if you do need those extra expansion slots, you will need to go for an ATX board instead of Micro ATX motherboards.
One of the most essential things on a motherboard has to be its Voltage Regulator Modules or VRMs. When you are pumping electricity into the motherboard, it has to regulate and control the amount of power provided to the CPU.
That is where the VRMs come into play as they regulate and reduce the amount of electricity to the requirements of CPU. So having subpar quality VRMs can actually be damaging. Although we have not heard of many cases of bad VRMs on motherboards lately, there are reports of higher temperatures on the VRMs themselves.
This does cause concern, since a higher temperature may result in burning out of the VRM itself. And once that happens, your motherboard is typically dead for good. Good quality VRMs do not heat up as much and some of the motherboard manufacturers have made sure of that. One of the tech enthusiasts favorite, B450 Tomahawk has said to have one of the best VRMs installed in a B450 series motherboard.
Best Micro ATX Motherboards for Compact but Powerful Builds
Best Overall for AMD
AMD has released the B550 series of motherboards that support PCIe Gen 4. Although it was an unnecessary requirement before, with the announcement of the RTX 30 series of GPUs, it seemed AMD was one step ahead of the curve.
Recently, NVIDIA announced the RTX 30 series of GPUs, which is a breakthrough in the GPU world. It seems NVIDIA is going to benefit from PCIe Gen 4 that AMD B550 series of motherboards support.
Also, the Ryzen 3000 series of CPUs are also PCIe Gen 4 ready, meanwhile, Intel will be giving support for it in the 11th Generation. And if you want to build a console killer? Then this motherboard is your key to that, the MSI B550m Mortar Gaming Motherboard.
It is one of the best Micro ATX motherboards for AMD, that has been tested and reviewed by several tech enthusiasts. In the last generation lineup of B450 boards, MSI was still on top of their B450 Tomahawk MAX.
Speaking of the RTX 30 series, the RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 are going to use the potential of the PCIe Gen 4. And the B550 and X570 series of motherboards support Gen 4. But not all boards are going to be as good as this one. Even under sustained loads, the B550M Mortar by MSI seems to be the coolest of all boards we tested.
Now let us talk about the features of this motherboard. The MSI B550 Tomahawk and B550M Mortar are targetted towards gamers, as the name itself suggests. There are two versions in B550M Mortar motherboards, one is the normal version and one is a WiFi one.
The motherboard itself is pretty simple and plain, it carries on the black and gray color scheme from the previous generation. You have 4 expansion slots, 2 M.2 slots, and 4 RAM slots for DDR4 memory.
One of the PCIe slots for the GPU has a steel reinforced shielding to prevent GPU sag. The other full PCIe slot does not have that, but you have support for AMD Crossfire.
One of the 2 M.2 slots has Gen 4 support for even faster data reading and a heatsink for cooling the M.2 flash drive. It keeps the M.2 drive pretty chill even under full loads.
For memory, we have dual-channel support on the 4 RAM slots for DDR4 memory of speeds up to 4400MHz kits. Let us talk about overclocking on this thing now, even when overclocked the VRM temps did not rise too much. The overclock went smooth and it was pretty easy to overclock our Ryzen 3000 series CPU on the B550M Mortar Motherboard.
The IO shield is pre-installed for convenience. For the IO we have built-in HDMI for APUs, Display Port as well, 4X USB-A Gen 3.1, and 1x USB-A Gen 3.2 with a Type-C Gen 3.2 for faster transfer speeds. We also have a 2.5GHz Gigabit port, which as its name suggests is 2.5 times faster than a normal Gigabit LAN port.
We have a Flash Bios Button for easy upgrade of BIOS and PS2 port for mouse or keyboard. And lastly, there are the usual audio inputs with an Optical S/PDIF out as well.
The motherboard is priced at $160 on Amazon and Newegg, making the price quite competitive. The WiFi variant is a bit more expensive if you need the onboard WiFi support.
Best Overall Intel
ASUS ROG is the company’s gamer-centric series of peripherals and components. It has always been flashy, full of RGB and this motherboard is no exception.
Intel was proud to boast its 10th Generation CPUs as the first-ever in history to surpass the 5.0GHz frequency. But even they could not anticipate a loss in benchmark scores by the AMD 4000 series in the mobile market.
But that does not mean that Intel has lost the game, because when it comes to single-core performance, Intel is still ahead. That helps it excel in gaming compared to the AMD CPUs thus far.
But we are yet to see Ryzen 4000 series desktop CPUs hit the market. But the truth is, so far Intel is still ahead of the competition in gaming.
And what better board to pair your Intel 10th Generation CPU than the ASUS ROG STRIX Z490-G Gaming WiFi motherboard? Every aspect of the motherboard screams gaming. It has the same features as some of the high-end standard ATX motherboards from ASUS.
This makes it a great deal at the price tag of under $250, and if you go for the non-WiFi variant, it would be even cheaper. We really like the RGB on the ASUS ROG STRIX series of products.
This motherboard has beautiful built-in RGB on the IO Shroud and ASUS Logo on the IO heatsink. It can be controlled VIA the ASUS AURA SYNC software on your OS. The chipset heatsink has that signature ROG graffiti with a game-on slogan.
We have 3 expansion slots on the motherboard, 2x PCIe 3.0X 16 GPU slots with SLI support with one being reinforced by steel to avoid sag. Also, a stylish M.2 heatsink covers the 22110 M.2 while the 2280 M.2 slot does not have a heatsink on it.
There is also a massive heatsink over the VRMs to keep the temps as low as possible. And there are 4 DIMM slots with DDR4 memory support of up to 4600MHz+ frequency.
Overclocking on this board works smoothly, provided that you have enough airflow in the case to cool everything down. All those heatsinks could use good airflow to cool down faster after all.
The rear IO has up to 8 ports if you include the USB-C port as well. 4 of them are USB-A Gen 3.1 ports while 2 are USB Gen 2.0 ports which are pretty outdated but still good to have. We have 1 USB-A Gen 3.2 and 1 USB-C Gen 3.2 slot as well.
We have a 2.5GHz Intel Gigabit LAN port for wired as well as a WiFi 6 AX201 port with Bluetooth V5.1 for wireless connectivity. Lastly, we have an Optical S/PDIF in and Audio-in powered by the ASUS SupremeFX built-in audio.
So the ASROCK B550M Steel Legend series of motherboards has been quite successful in the past. Specifically, when it comes to Ryzen CPUs it had performed better than many other competitors. So we were eager to put the legend to the test when ASRock released the B550 and B550M Steel Legend motherboards.
The ASRock B550M Steel Legend is one of the best boards that we have reviewed. The VRMs are not as great as the B550M Mortar, but it still holds its own when it comes to temps.
The board can support Ryzen 3950X on stock configuration without problems. Though the VRMs do heat up a bit when you go up the ladder. But that is the case with all motherboards we review.
Overclocking your CPU on this motherboard is not a problem unless you are talking about the 3950X, which is quite a powerful CPU. That CPU might cause the VRMs to heat up quite a bit, but nothing good airflow cannot solve.
This motherboard has 3 expansion slots, 2x 16x PCIe slot with one supporting PCIe Gen 4.0 while the other sits at Gen 3.0. The PCIe 4.0 slot is reinforced to avoid GPU sag.
There are 2 M.2 slots on the motherboard again with one having support for PCIe Gen 4.0 while the other has PCIe Gen 3.0 support. The Gen 4.0 M.2 slot is covered by a massive heatsink that keeps it cool under heavy stressful loads.
This motherboard is also flashy, with RGB under the chipset heatsink and on the IO shroud and heatsink. The color scheme of the motherboard is a mix of whites, greys, and blacks giving it quite the gamer aesthetic.
When we talk about the rear IO, we have 4xUSB-A Gen 3.1, 2xUSB-A Gen 2.0, 1xUSB-A Gen 3.2, and 1xUSB-C Gen 3.2 port. That is quite a massive amount of USB ports on the rear IO itself. And that does not including the ports for the front IO.
We have Dragon 2.5GHz LAN in wired connectivity and also 7.1 CH HD sound powered by Nahimic Audio. We also have a Display Port and HDMI for onboard graphic display.
The price is almost the same as the B550M Mortar by MSI. So it is a good alternative and one of the best Micro ATX motherboards in the market.
The MPG Z490M WiFi Gaming Edge is a great alternative if you cannot afford the ASUS ROG STRIX Z490-G. The MSI MPG Z490M WiFi Gaming Edge has great features with a flashy look that rivals the ASUS ROG STRIX.
Let us talk about the RGB, it does not have as many RGB zones as the competitor’s motherboard. But the RGB under the chipset heatsink is pretty bright and shows off great gamer aesthetics.
We have 4 expansion slots, with 2 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots reinforced with steel for resisting GPU sag. We have SLI and Crossfire support on the motherboard if you are into that.
For storage, we have 2 M.2 Slots with one having a Shield Frozr heatsink. This allows the motherboard to keep temps low while sustained load.
The rear IO heatsink is made from aluminum and covers an extended area to provide maximum relief from the heat. We also have WiFi 6 for getting that super fast connection speed while playing online.
Moving on to the rear IO, this is why the board placed second, it has a limited amount of USB ports. There are 2x USB-A 2.0, 2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, 1x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 and 1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2.
We also have an HDMI port and Display Port for onboard graphics and a PS2 port for keyboard and mouse. For wired network connectivity, the MSI MPG Z490M Gaming Edge WiFi model has a 2.5GHz LAN port. So when you cannot get wireless speeds where you want them, go wired.
So the motherboard has decent quality VRMs, which isn’t a surprise as this is the same brand that made B550M Mortar. They stay under controlled temperatures under sustained loads and boosting on your 10th Gen Intel Core CPUs.
We have 4 DIMM Slots for DDR4 Memory that supports up to 5000MHz frequency overclocked. That is some insane amount of speed and we doubt you would need to overclock your RAM that much.
The motherboard costs around $190 so maybe the affordable price tag can make up for its shortcomings.