The thing about choosing which gaming motherboards to buy is that it isn’t really about the board. Gaming machines are a different breed, built by gamers with individually chosen parts. The motherboard’s main requirement here is that it be compatible with the parts chosen.
What gamers really look for is extreme speed and stunning detail. A monitor has the capacity for high resolution display, but it needs a powerful graphics adaptor for this. In turn, a powerful adaptor needs a motherboard which has enough capacity to handle the card and transfer data quickly enough between the display card and other parts. This means the right form factor (size), heavy-duty chipsets and an efficient bus system.
The same criteria apply to every other part, including LAN cards, HDD, the memory sticks, power supply and the cooling fans. For the individual parts and the system to live up to their potential, the motherboard must be fast and rugged enough to keep up with each part. The bottomline is that compatibility is not enough for gaming motherboards. It has to be extreme compatibility.
Another thing worth noting is that motherboards have a lot of built-in cards such as display cards, LAN cards and sound cards. These are functional and sufficient for normal applications, but gaming is an entirely different scenario. As far as gaming is concerned, these built-in cards are redundant, and a motherboard should instead have more space to accommodate higher performance, more add-on cards and more memory.
Motherboards that satisfy all these points would still need to pass benchmarking tests. Buy only those boards which are rated positively by hardware and gaming review sites. Manufacturers make their products available to reviewers before it launches in the market, so every new board already has reviews that indicate clearly if it is good enough for gaming.
Another couple of very important requirements that need to be fulfilled are over clocking and upgrade possibilities. Over clocking is used to make parts run at faster clock rates than the specified ratings. Changing clock rates on a motherboard’s bios setup is a critical procedure, because too much change will fry the board and take out some of the major parts along with the board.
For those wondering why fiddle with it, it is because gaming needs that edge beyond what a standard machine offers to everyone else. If every gamer has the latest parts and all of the gamers are equally talented, the one who wins is the guy who overclocked the machine. Gamers often use overclocking to push every part to the extreme end of its capacity. This means that gaming motherboards need quite a bit extra performance capability beyond the specs.
As for the upgrades, the problem is that the parts are good enough for at most six months or a year. After that, new games and versions are released which need the latest parts and won’t work with old ones. If the motherboard is unable to accept a twice a year upgrade of all the other parts, then it’s not a gaming motherboard.
In summarization, these boards aren’t like the ordinary boards found in the usual computer. Gaming motherboards need be ultra-compatible with parts from any company, and need to have the capacity to keep up with high speed performance by other parts. Unless a manufacturer explicitly states the board is good enough for gaming, it’s not a gaming motherboard.