PC Gear Lab

5 Best MSI Motherboards for Gaming in 2020

MSI has a huge line up of motherboards and with every new chipset iteration MSI releases yet another line of superior quality gaming motherboards.

Thus, finding the right one can be a daunting effort specially if you are new into custom builds.

In this article we have selected the best MSI motherboards for gaming. Here we look at motherboard that will appeal to an average gamer. As such we are not necessarily looking at the most expensive model and throwing it in here to call it the best – because that would be the easy way out.

Instead, here we have gauged the requirement of an average gamer and have listed those select models that offer the best price/performance value.

Also Read: Best Motherboards for NVIDIA SLI

List of Best MSI Motherboards for Gaming in 2020

The following stand out the most in terms of performance or features per dollar value.

We have selected the following for Intel and AMD based setup separately

  1. MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Plus – ATX – Budget Intel Motherboard – Crossfire
  2. MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC – ATX – WiFi – SLI/Crossfire
  3. MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge AC – Micro ATX – WiFi – SLI/Crossfire
  4. MSI Arsenal B450 Tomahawk Max – ATX – Budget AMD Motherboard – Crossfire
  5. MSI MPG X570 Gaming Plus – ATX – Latest Chipset – Crossfire

Best MSI Intel Based Gaming Motherboards  (LGA 1151)

Note: For an SLI setup, we recommend you stick with Intel based motherboards since AMD based SLI motherboards are very expensive.

1. MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Plus – ATX – Budget Intel Motherboard – Crossfire

An affordable Intel based motherboard for building basic gaming rigs. Supports single NVIDIA Card or two AMD card for Crossfire.

First up we have one of the most affordable MSI gaming motherboard out there for those who want to build a simple Intel based gaming rig.

As far as the looks are concerned, you would certainly be able to brag about it as it not only has beautifully crafted heatsinks but also offers red accents that can improve your PC’s ambiance. Of course to show it off you will need a see through chassis.

The motherboard features the LGA1151 socket and thus supports the latest Intel 8th and 9th generation processors.

As far as expansion capabilities go, this motherboard has two PCIe x16 slots however only one of them works at full X16 mode. The other works at X4 mode.

Therefore, you can install a single NVIDIA graphics card or two AMD graphics card in this. This is because NVIDIA requires at least 2 x X8 PCIe slot for SLI. AMD graphics cards, on the other hand, can work in X4 slots.

As such, while this motherboard is suitable for AMD CrossFire, it is incapable of supporting NVIDIA SLI.

Other than that, it offers a decent amount of ports and interfaces despite its budget price tag including 2 x M.2 slots for SSD and 6 x SATA 3 slots.

All in all for a budget Intel based build, we highly recommend this as the best MSI motherboard for gaming.

MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Plus Specifications

Essentials

Socket: LGA 1151
Motherboard Chipset: Intel Z390
Form Factor – ATX
CPU Support: 8th and 9th Gen Intel / Pentium Gold and Newer Celeron Processors
Memory Support: DDR 4 (OC), Dual Channel, 128 GB Max, XMP support
DIMM Slots: 4
Audio: 8 channel 7.1

Expandability

PCIe Version 3.0
PCIe X16:
2

  • Mode 1: (X16/ X4)

PCIe v3.0 X1: 4
SATA 3: 6
M.2 Slot: 2
2 Way Crossfire

Connectivity

1 x PS/2 Combo Port
6 x USB 3.1 Type A (Gen1)
1 x USB 3.1 Type C (Gen2)
1 x USB 3.1 Type A (Gen2)
6 x USB 2.0
1 x HDMI 1.4
1 x DVI-D
1 x Ethernet (RJ45)
6 x audio Ports

2. MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC – ATX – WiFi – SLI/Crossfire

A premium grade LGA1151 motherboard with Z390 chipset and ATX form factor. It is suitable for most enthusiast builds. Comes with built in WiFi as well as a reasonable range of expandability.

This motherboard is certianly a step up from the previous model we saw above. It is slightly more expensive however, it improves on a lot of aspect.

For starters, this has a beautiful dark look with RGB lights illuminating the insides. Therefore, this motherboard is certainly something that you would want everyone to see.

Other than that, while it still offers the same LGA 1151 socket for the latest Intel 8th and 9th gen processors, the one area where it differs significantly from the motherboard above is in the PCIe expansion slot configuration.

This motherboard has 3 x PCIE X16 size slots. It has support for 2 way NVIDIA SLI support or 3 Way AMD Crossfire support. In other words, you can have dual NVIDIA graphics card or upto three AMD graphics cards installed on this.

One important thing to note here is that when using only a single graphics card, use the top of most PCIe X16 slot. Using the center PCIe X16 slot will dial down the bandwidht of the top and bottom slot to X8 only.

As for the third PCIe X16 slot, it only has a native bandwidth of X4 and this is only suitable when using 3 AMD graphics cards. Otherwise, it can be used for other devices like RAID Controllers etc.

Therefore, for those who want to build their dream gaming rig , this may be the best MSI motherboard for gaming.

Another important point to note here is that it offers WiFi Built in. This is important for many who build dual graphics card PC since installing a standalone PCIe WiFi Card can block the huge graphics card from being installed.

MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC Specifications

Essentials

Socket: LGA 1151
Motherboard Chipset: Intel Z390
Form Factor – ATX
CPU Support: 8th and 9th Gen Intel / Pentium Gold and Newer Celeron Processors
Memory Support: DDR 4 (OC), Dual Channel, 128 GB Max, XMP support
DIMM Slots: 4
Audio: 8 channel 7.1

Expandability

PCIe X16: 2

  • Mode 1: (X16/ 0) – Single Card
  • Mode 2: (X8 / X8) – Dual Card

PCIe v3.0 X1: 3
SATA 3: 6
M.2 Slot: 2
2 way SLI – 3 Way Crossfire

Connectivity

WiFi / BT v5.0 / LAN
2 x USB 3.1 Type C
6 x USB 3.1 Type A (Gen1)
1 x USB 3.1 Type A (Gen2)
6 x USB 2.0
1 x Serial Port
1 x HDMI 1.4
1 x DP
1 x Ethernet (RJ45)
1 x Optical S/PDIF out

3. MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge AC- Micro ATX – WiFi – SLI/Crossfire

A premium grade LGA1151 motherboard with Z390 chipset and mATX form factor. It is suitable for compact gaming builds. Comes with built in WiFi.

Next up we have another motherboard that is much similar compared to the MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC above but differs in terms of size.

While the motherboard above offered an ATX form factor, this motherboard offers the Micro ATX form factor.

ATX form factor has dimensions of 12 x 9.6 inches, whereas, Micro ATX, aka mATX, has dimension of 9.6 x 9.6 inches. As such, these motherobard are preferred by those who want to build compact PCs.

While it has almost everything the same as previous motherboard, it, unfortunately, opts out on the third PCIe X16 expansion slot which was located at the bottom of the previous motherboard.

Therefore, this motherboard is suitable for 2 Way NVIDIA SLI and 2 Way AMD Crossfire setups only instead of 3 Way AMD Crossfire.

It also offers fewer SATA and PCIE X1 expansion slots.

This is a sacrifice that you need to accept in order to get the smaller form factor. Smaller form factor motherboards are also generally more expensice since they are rarer.

Hence, this motherboard, despite being small and having less expasions slots, costs almost the same as its larger counterpart above.

If you came here specifically looking for Micro ATX card for smaller builds, then this is the best MSI motherboard for gaming in our opinion.

MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge AC Specifications

Essentials

Socket: LGA 1151
Motherboard Chipset: Intel Z390
Form Factor – mATX
CPU Support: 8th and 9th Gen Intel / Pentium Gold and Newer Celeron Processors
Memory Support: DDR 4 (OC), Dual Channel, 128 GB Max, XMP support
DIMM Slots: 4
Audio: 8 channel 7.1

Expandability

PCIe X16: 2

  • Mode 1: (X16/ 0) – Single Card
  • Mode 2: (X8 / X8) – Dual Card

PCIe v3.0 X1: 2
SATA 3: 4
M.2 Slot: 2
2 way SLI – 2Way Crossfire

Connectivity

WiFi / BT v5.0 / LAN
1 x PS/2 Mouse
1 x
PS/2 Keyboard
2 x
USB 3.1 Type C
8 x USB 3.1 Type A (Gen1)
2 x USB 3.1 Type C (Gen2)
1 x USB 3.1 Type A (Gen2)
4 x USB 2.0
1 x HDMI 1.4
1 x DP
1 x Ethernet (RJ45)
1 x Optical S/PDIF out

Best MSI AMD Based Gaming Motherboard (AM4)

Note: MSI AMD based motherboard are great if you plan to setup AMD Crossfire.

1. MSI Arsenal B450 Tomahawk Max – ATX – Budget AMD Motherboard – Crossfire

A highly affordable gaming motherboard for AMD based setups. Supports AMD Crossfire. Great for entry level gaming build.

This is the most affordable motherboard in this list. It is a bare minimum gaming motherboard with an ATX form factor. It supports both the second and the third generation of AMD Ryzen processors.

The most attractive aspect about this motherboard IS its price tag. For a low price you get a motherboard that comes with reinforced PCIe X16 slot for graphics card, as well as BIOS 5 for easily tweaking the board if you are into overclocking.

Note that unlike most B450 chispet motherboards that need a BIOS update in order to support the 3rd Gen Ryzen 3 motherboards, this comes with support out of the box.

As far as expansion capability goes, it is limited, as you should expect from an affordable model.

It offers two PCIe X16 slots. One works are X16 mode while the other works at X4. This makes it suitable for a single NVIDIA Graphics card or upto dual AMD graphics card in Crossfire setup.

Other than, it offers only a single M.2 SSD expansion slot but a decent number of 6 x SATA 3 slots.

All in all, if you are building a budget AMD gaming setup, then this is certainly the best MSI motherboard for gaming out there.

MSI Arsenal B450 Tomahawk Max Specifications

Essentials

Socket: AM4
Motherboard Chipset: AMD B450
Form Factor – ATX
CPU Support: 1st, 2nd and 3rd Gen Ryzen processors, Athlon
Memory Support: DDR 4 (OC), Dual Channel, 128 GB Max, XMP support
DIMM Slots: 4
Audio: 8 channel 7.1

Expandability

PCIe Version 3.0 and 2.0
PCIe v3.0 X16 (X16 mode):
1
PCIe v2.0 X16 (X4 Mode):
1
PCIe v2.0 X1: 4
SATA 3: 6
M.2 Slot: 1
2 Way Crossfire

Connectivity

1 x PS/2 Combo
1
x USB 3.2 Type C (Gen2)
3 x
USB 3.2 Type A (Gen2)
2 x USB 3.2 Type A (Gen1)
6 x USB 2.0
1 x HDMI
1 x DVI-D
1 x Ethernet (RJ45)
6 x audio Ports

2. MSI MPG X570 Gaming Plus – ATX – Latest Chipset – Crossfire

An affordable AM4 motherboard featuring the latest X570 chipset. The X570 introduces the PCIe v4.0 protocol thus doubling the transfer speeds for the PCIe slots compared to the previous gen motherboards.

This motherboard is slightely more expensive than the MSI Arsenal B450 Tomahawk Max we saw previously, however, it offers the latest AMD motherboard chipset, the X570.

The most remarkable improvement of the X570 chipset is that it features the PCIe V4.0 instead of the V3.0.

As is the case with all PCIe newer iterations, the V4.0 doubles the transfer speed as compared to the previous version. The faster speeds not only makes this motherboard future proof, it can improve the performance across the board from the graphics cards to the SSD installed.

While it should be noted that no graphics card at the moment does require such high transfer speed as those offered by the PCIe V4.0, it is still prudent to have it for future expansion.

There already are PCIe V4.0 graphics cards avaiable in the market i.e Radeon Rx 5700 or the RX 5500XT.

Other than that, it also improves on the previous motherboard with its 2 x M.2 slots instead of just one. As far as graphics card compatability and expansion goes, it is the same as previous motherboard.

In other words, if offers support for a single NVIDIA Graphics card or dual AMD grpahic card.

In the end, if  you value PCIe V4.0, then this is the best MSI motherboard for gaming as far as affordability is concerned.

MSI MPG X570 Gaming Plus Specifications

Essentials

Socket: AM4
Motherboard Chipset: AMD X570
Form Factor – ATX
CPU Support: 2nd and 3rd Gen Ryzen processors
Memory Support: DDR 4 (OC), Dual Channel, 128 GB Max, XMP support
DIMM Slots: 4
Audio: 8 channel 7.1

Expandability

PCIe Version: 4.0*
PCIe X16:
2

  • Mode 1: (X16/ 0) – Single Card
  • Mode 2: (X8 / X8) – Dual Card

PCIe v3.0 X1: 3
SATA 3: 6
M.2 Slot: 2
2 Way Crossfire

Connectivity

1 x PS/2 Combo
1 x
PS/2 Keyboard
2 x
USB 3.2 (Gen1)
8 x
USB 3.2 (Gen1)
6 x
USB 2.0
1 x HDMI
1 x DP
1 x Ethernet (RJ45)
5 x Audio Ports
1 x Optical S/PDIF out

*PCIe version 4.0 is only supported with 3rd Gen Ryzen. Otherwise it runs at version 3.0 speeds.

Why Go For MSI Motherboards?

Best MSI Motherboards for Gaming
MSI X570 Chipset Motherboards

If you are remotely into PC gaming or into building custom PCs, then you must have certainly heard of the big three: ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI.

There are other famous brands like EVGA and ASRock, but none standout as compared to the aforementioned three.

As such, investing in an MSI motherboard is as safe as it gets. Other than that, if you are still on the edge, it will be worth checking out the customer reviews of the board you are interested in.

Most, if not all, of the MSI motherboards are generally scored fairly high.

Although any opinion is subjective, there is no doubt in the gaming industry that MSI is a respectable brand that stands along with the other giants.

If you are unsure about PCIe and its configuration, it is worth reading about it.

Also Read:

Final Words

In this article we had a look at some of the best MSI motherboards for gaming. As you may have noticed, we have generally looked at the low-mid range gaming motherobard here.

We opted out the high end models since they are not generally what the average public is looking for. With that said, MSI has motherboards in all form factors including EATX as well as with chipsets suitable for Intel Core Extreme or AMD Threadripper processors.

Therefore, if you are into extreme builds, you will most certianly find models that will tickle your fancy.

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