Building a computer for the first time can be a daunting task, mostly because you’re always on the lookout for the best hardware components possible. If we want the best gaming performance money can buy, we’re more or less going for a powerful combination of CPU and GPU. Other components like the RAM and SSD affect performance but not as much as the first two components.
Unbeknownst to many first-time builders, the motherboard can affect gaming performance, but not in the same way as a GPU affects raw gaming performance.
And that’s exactly what we’ll be discussing in this article. Does motherboard affect performance, and how would PC performance be if the motherboard isn’t the latest model?
What’s a Motherboard?
Before we talk about how motherboard affect gaming performance, we need to understand what a motherboard is first.
A motherboard, or the mainboard, houses all the components and allows them to communicate with one another to get you a fully functioning computer. The motherboard is also responsible for power distribution across these computer parts.
If the CPU or processor is the brain of the computer, then the motherboard is the heart, so to speak. A computer can run without a processor for a short while, but a computer will not exist without a motherboard.
But how does the motherboard affect performance? Well, it doesn’t directly affect computer performance, but it can determine maximum performance.
You see, your motherboard does not have actual specs that would directly affect performance, unlike how a GPU or CPU might dictate your PC’s performance when it comes to gaming. However, a motherboard will play a huge role in overclocking capabilities of gaming PCs, which would greatly improve performance.
To sum it up, a motherboard does not directly affect performance, but rather it indirectly affects performance.
What Is Overclocking?
Overclocking is a term that’s liberally thrown about in the gaming PC world, but what exactly is it and why are people so gung-ho about it?
Think of it this way, a CPU or GPU will come with a base clock speed. Newer models and high-end models will have another set of numbers called boost clock speed. By default, your CPU or GPU will run at its base clock speed. Overclocking will push both of these components to its maximum speed, or boost speed.
This allows you to get more power out of your CPU and GPU, significantly improving performance at a cost. Even at the base clock speeds, both CPUs and GPUs generate heat when they’re working. But the heat generated by overclocked GPUs and CPUs is higher. Without proper cooling, a motherboard and the other components will become damaged by the heat.
A new motherboard supports overclocking, but low end motherboards might not be able to. Higher-end motherboards will almost always have to overclock support too, especially when you have modern CPUs like the Intel Core i9 and the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X.
Where does the motherboard come into play in determining your capability to push your CPU or GPU to maximum speed?
Since a motherboard connects all parts, it’s also responsible for distributing power to these parts. A motherboard will need to regulate the voltage well to make sure that the other components don’t get fried when you’re trying to overclock a CPU or GPU.
A motherboard will not dictate whether or not you can overclock, but rather, it’s more along the lines of how well it can protect the other components. New motherboards, especially the high-end models, will come with stable clocks, allowing you to have better stability when overclocking.
Sadly, not everyone can overclock their computers because not all processors were made to be overclocked. Some of the new AMD and Intel CPUs may be powerful, but they just can’t be overclocked (and for a good reason, we think).
Can Motherboard Affect Your FPS?
Now that we’ve discussed about how motherboards can affect your overclocking capabilities, you’re probably thinking about whether or not budget motherboards can affect your FPS.
We know that most motherboards recently released into the market can support overclocking to give you that extra performance. Newer motherboards have better performance than older motherboard because the former can equip the latest CPUs and GPUs.
The simple answer is this. Different motherboards may still have the same slots for CPUs, GPUs, RAMs, and so on. The rule of thumb is that the newer the motherboard, the higher the chances of being able to use the latest hardware.
However, a motherboard cannot directly affect your FPS. Your motherboard will only let you know what kind of GPU you can run. Your FPS will still be dictated by the more important components like the CPU and GPU. An SSD storage may guarantee your entire system’s best performance more than your motherboard.
A budget motherboard may not be able to run the latest graphics cards, so performance gains might not be as much as opposed to a motherboard running an RTX GPU. Will your motherboard have the RAM slots for DDR5 RAM sticks? Will your motherboard have PCIe slots to house your graphics card and more? Will your motherboard’s chipset limit your options in terms of upgrades?
These are just some of the bigger questions that you need to ask when it comes to how motherboards can affect the overall performance of your entire system when gaming.
Does A Motherboard Affect GPU Performance?
We know that the motherboard plays a role in housing and protecting your entire system, as well as determining how much power goes into individual components.
But as we talked in the previous section, a motherboard will never affect the performance of the entire system or the individual components directly. A graphics card is only as capable as the motherboard that’s housing it.
Your graphics card will never be impacted directly by your motherboard. Your computer’s performance will still rely on how powerful your CPU and GPU is, further complemented by your RAM and SSD storage.
Your motherboard will only let you know what kind of graphics card you can equip, if you can overclock the graphics card, and if you can upgrade various components.
Will A Good Motherboard Matter In The End?
So what makes a motherboard good? And what kind of motherboard is the best for gaming PCs?
Motherboard affect FPS indirectly simply because it restricts you from what kind of GPU and CPU you can run. General rule of thumb is if you want your computer’s performance to be top notch, then you’ll need to build around your motherboard’s chipset. This will set you up for what kind of motherboard to use. From there, you’ll know what kind of graphics card, RAM, and SSD to run with. Everything else will become secondary.
A good motherboard will cost you somewhere about $200 to $300, more if you’re planning to run an Intel Core i9 or an AMD Threadripper.