With our Best AM4 Overclocking Motherboards content up, we figured it was time to publish something in the same vein for Intel. Intel presently has two mainstream platforms: the 200-series and 300-series, with the former hosting Kaby Lake CPUs (like the i7-7700K, presently on sale) and the Skylake-X/KBL-X series (X299), while the latter hosts the new Coffee Lake series (i7-8700K, i5-8400). Oddly, Intel decided against launching Coffee Lake with lower-tier B-series motherboards, so we’re left with only Z370 to fill both the mainstream and enthusiast segments of Coffee Lake.
We rummaged through the Internet’s Black Friday sales to find the best Z370 and Z270 Intel motherboards, including boards we think fitting for the 8700K, 8500, 8300, and 7700K. If you missed our previous content, we have a GN Pick Black Friday Sales guide (that lists some CPUs), a DDR4 memory sales guide, and a Best CPUs of 2017 listing. For those unsure of which CPU to buy, we have reviews of the i7-8700K here, the i5-8400 here, and the i3-8350K over here. If you’re interested in Ryzen stuff, check out our motherboard round-up or Best CPUs guide, both linked above.
Best High-End Z370 Overclocking Motherboards ($180-$220)
Let’s start with the Coffee Lake motherboards. For these, you’ll need an 8th Generation Intel CPU; again, unfortunately, Z-series boards are the only ones available right now, so you’re buying into something that is unlocked for overclocking and has higher memory clocks. For non-K SKU Intel CPUs, like the i3-8100, i3-8300, the 8700, or the 8400, there’ll be a lot of wasted potential – but we have some budget boards picked out that’d be better suited, a bit further down this list. These boards are best-matched with the 8700K or 8600K.
Gigabyte Z370 Gaming 7: We’ve been using the Gaming 7 family of motherboards from Gigabyte for a while now, primarily as our GPU test bench platforms. Gigabyte’s Z370 Aorus Gaming 7 motherboard is presently marked down to $200 on Amazon (list price of $250), making it one of the better sales. Newegg has an additional $20 rebate, if you count those. Although Gigabyte needs to work a bit on its BIOS menu items, the boards do give reasonable control over LLC, power limits, current limits, and other overclocking necessities, making it easier to take the CPU to its maximum potential. The heatsink is a large mass of aluminum so, while it’ll help keep VRM thermals under control, you’ll still want some direct airflow over the VRM heatsink (as it isn’t finned in any meaningful way). The board would be a good fit for an 8700K that’s being overclocked.
ASRock Z370 Taichi: At $210 after mail-in rebate (or $220 before), the ASRock Z370 Taichi is our next choice – marked down from a list price of $230 – for a higher-end Z370 overclocking motherboard. This one won’t need as much help with VRM heat dissipation, includes plenty of usable mainstream features (built-in wireless, USB Type-C header, loads of USB2 headers and fan headers), and has a strong enough VRM to handle 8700K overclocks. ASRock has been working on refining its BIOS options over the past year or two, and it’s starting to show.
Best Budget Z370 Motherboards (~$100-$135)
For our budget tier of Z370 boards, we have an objective of staying closer to the $100 mark – or as close as is reasonable, without sacrificing too much quality.
Gigabyte Z370 Gaming WIFI: The Gigabyte Z370 Gaming WiFi is presently available for $130, with a $100 price after the rebate, if you count those. This board is one of the more reasonable cheap boards. You could carry a light overclock on it – ideally with some cooling support on the caps for the VRM – if working with an 8600K or 8350K. The board is largely bare, but is also cheap. Primary features include more mainstream items, with a toned-down VRM: Integrated wireless, some diagnostic LEDs, no seven segment display (unfortunately), more limited USB/fan headers, but a cheap board.
MSI Z370 Gaming Plus: We prefer the Gigabyte board above to this one, but if that’s unpalatable for some reason – or if you don’t count rebates – then this is an OK alternative. The MSI Z370 Gaming Plus has one of the most anemic VRMs of the boards in the Z370 series, and we’d advise against overclocking endeavors. We’re only listing this board as an option for i5-8400, i3-8100, and i3-8300 users, where overclocking would be impossible, anyway. For those users, this is a reasonable, cheap board that won’t pose any serious limitations to your needs.
Best High-End Z270 Overclocking Motherboards ($150 to $200)
People are still buying Kaby Lake CPUs, so we’re listing some of the better deals for accompanying motherboards. Fortunately, discounts on Z270 boards are much easier to find, as they’ve been out longer. Coffee Lake is still limited in supply, and Kaby Lake CPUs – like the i7-7700K – are finally going on sale, which means good value when combined with a discounted motherboard.
ASUS TUF Z270 Mark 1: The ASUS TUF Z270 motherboard is heavily discounted right now, falling from its list price of $250 to $192, with an additional $35 rebate. The end price, if counting the rebate, is $156.64. We can recommend this board (and the next) for the higher-end tier of Kaby Lake overclocking endeavors. The ASUS board carries the “Thermal Armor” of the TUF series, which is more an identification badge than a functional element, though the VRM region can connect an additional fan for airflow through the VRM heatsink. This significantly reduces VRM thermals, and should resolve any concern of VRM throttling.
Gigabyte Z270X K7 Gaming: This is one of the boards that we’ve come to appreciate as an affordable, still high-tier overclocker for Kaby Lake. The board has one of the stronger VRMs in its price category (presently $180, list price of $200), and has a somewhat matured BIOS and ample featureset of LLC, power/current limit, and access to memory subtimings.
Best Value Z270 Motherboards ($100 to $135)
ASRock Z270 Extreme4: This board easily takes our best value recommendation. The ASRock Z270 Extreme4 actually, for being a board selling at $105 to $135, comes with a surprisingly reasonably VRM and overall fairly complete featureset. BIOS is easy to work with for beginner-level to moderate OCs (look at the high-end category for better), the VRM heatsink is decent (but you’ll still want airflow), and the VRM proper is strong enough for KBL overclocks. We can readily recommend this board, particularly with its $30 rebate, knocking price down to ~$105 – that’s among the best deals in this list.
ASUS Prime Z270-A: The ASUS Prime Z270-A motherboard is in a nearly identical class to the above ASRock motherboard, but includes a $35 rebate card that results in a $100 final price. For beginner to intermediate overclocks (with some help from airflow), this board is a good, cheap starting point for Kaby Lake CPUs.
Best Budget B250 Motherboards
If you’re just going for a non-K CPU in the 7th Gen family (e.g. i5-7500, i5-7400, i3-7300), the B250 boards will help reduce cost to get into the platform.
Gigabyte GA-B250-HD3: The Gigabyte HD3 B250 motherboard uses the B200-series chipset, which means we lose a couple of general purpose PCIe lanes (not a big deal), step down to a weak VRM (also not a problem, as we’re no longer overclocking), and ditch some of the IO options of the Z-series. At $75 (list price of $95), this board offers enough for a basic build without overclocking needs, and is a good way to save spend for use elsewhere.
ASRock B250 Pro4: Truth be told, we prefer this board to the above. The ASRock Pro4 family stands to offer a still-reasonable VRM heatsink and VRM, despite being in the B250 family. The board also has, although non-functional, a better appearance than the above, making it easier to suit to builds. The board is currently $80.
Check back for more round-ups later today!
- Steve Burke