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Buying the best motherboard is extremely crucial for the overall performance of a PC. There are plenty of motherboards on the market right now, but not all of them are suitable for overclocking. The best motherboards for overclocking are the ones that offer a robust power delivery system to handle even the most demanding CPUs. Motherboards that are suitable for overclocking also have sophisticated heatsinks, dedicated buttons to aid overclocking, and more. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best motherboards for overclocking in 2021. We’ve also included some of the newer Z690 boards in here for Intel’s Alder Lake CPUs. Let’s get started with the list:
The ROG Maximus Z690 Formula sits on top of the ASUS’ product stack representing the best of what the company has to offer. This is, without a doubt, the best ASUS motherboard you can buy right now for your Alder Lake CPUs. It carries an expensive price tag of $799, but it’s a fully kitted board that comes with all the features you’d expect from a premium motherboard. It also offers a reliable performance even under heavy load.
The ROG Maximus Z690 Formula comes with a black-colored PCB that’s mostly covered with heatsinks. This particular motherboard comes with a water block for the VRM module. It’s called the CrossChill EK III water block and it’s’ designed in collaboration with EK. It includes a nickel water channel hidden within the block, cooling the MOSFETs under load. The water block, however, only covers the VRM, and not the CPU as we’ve seen on a lot of motherboards.
The ROG Maximus Z690 Formula sports 105 amps power stages to deliver CPU power. The PD is powerful enough to handle even the most demanding CPUs out there. It’s perfect to handle a fully unlocked Core i9-12900K for a high-performance build. Pair it with a good quality CPU cooler and you’ll easily be able to overclock the CPU to hit higher clock speeds. The motherboard carries Intel’s Z690 chipset and supports Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0.
The Maximus Z690 Formula also supports DDR5 memory modules, making it a good futureproof machine. ASUS says the motherboard is capable of handling memory speeds of up to DDR5-6400(OC), which is as good as it gets. You also overclock the memory modules provided you have a good cooling solution. This particular board also comes with support for PCIe 5.0. You get two PCIe 5.0 x16 slots that support both x16 and x8/x8 modes. Additionally, there’s also a PCIe 4.0 x16 for other expansion cards.
For storage, the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Formula comes with as many as five M.2 slots with dedicated heat-spreaders. You’ll have to use the ROG Hyper M.2 card to unlock all the slots, though. Notably, you can also add up to six SATA drives. As a premium motherboard, you also get a ton of ports at the back, and additional headers to add more peripherals. The IO shield comes pre-installed out of the box and it covers 12 USB ports including two Thunderbolt 4 USB Type-C ports. You also get an HDMI port for booting without a discrete GPU in addition to a 10Gb Ethernet port. Additionally, there’s also a WiFi module and gold-plated audio ports.
The ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Formula is the most premium ASUS motherboard you can buy right now. It’s perfectly capable of handling the demanding needs of the high-performance Alder Lake CPUs and it also supports extreme overclocking conditions, thanks to a sophisticated VRM water block. ASUS also has a couple of other boards with water blocks that cover almost the entire board as opposed to just the VRM block. However, this is the best option for now in the Z690 space.
The MSI Z690 MEG ACE is a premium MSI motherboard that supports the new Intel Alder Lake CPUs. This high-end motherboard is packed with features and it offers reliable performance, including overclocking. This particular motherboard features Intel’s Z690 chipset and it carries an LGA 1700 CPU socket for the Alder Lake chips. The mainboard itself, as you can see, looks very premium. MSI says it has used 24K gold foils for highlighting the golden accents of the motherboard. Almost the entire PCB is covered with heatsinks with only the exposed parts being the CPU socket, DIMM slots, and PCIe slots.
The MSI Z690 ACE comes with a 19+1+2 phases power design for reliable and consistent power. It combines the dual connectors and a 105A smart power stage to power even the most powerful CPUs out there. You don’t get a water block here on this motherboard, but there’s a good heatsink for the VRM covered by the Aluminum cover. The heat pipe carries the heat away from the heavily plated VRM heatsink. Almost the entire board is covered with a heatsink. The chipset heatsink at the bottom also covers the M.2 slots. There’s also a backplate for added rigidity.
The MSI Z690 ACE comes with support for DDR5 memory modules. This means you can’t really use the older DDR4 modules. That being said, the new DDR5 memory modules are faster than the older ones and you can overclock them further to get more performance out of them. MSI says the motherboard supports DDR5 memory speeds of up to 6666MHz. You can install a maximum of 128GB of DDR5 memory on the MSI Z690 ACE. Notably, there’s also support for PCIe 5.0. This makes the Z690 ACE a future-proof motherboard.
You get three full-sized reinforced PCIe 5.0 x16 slots on this particular unit. For storage, there are M.2 slots that are hidden under the chipset heatsink. You can add more SATA drives to further increase the storage too. As a premium motherboard, the MSI Z690 ACE comes with a pre-installed IO shield that covers a variety of ports. You get ten USB ports including three Thunderbolt 4 USB Type C ports. There’s no HDMI or DisplayPort, but you do get two ethernet ports and a full stack of gold-plated audio ports. The MSI Z690 ACE also has plenty of headers that let you add more USBs, fans, pumps, RGB lights, and more.
Overall, we think the MSI Z690 ACE is a solid motherboard to consider if you a high-end motherboard. It’s also one of the most expensive Z690 boards on the market right now, which means you should be ready to pay some big money for this one. MSI also has a motherboard with a built-in water block for the VRM, CPU, and chipset, and that’s also a great alternative to consider if you’re planning a build with custom cooling. That being said, you can’t really go wrong with the Z690 ACE, even if you’re planning to overclock the CPU or the memory modules.
The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon EK X is a premium motherboard that uses an EK water block for cooling both the CPU as well as the VRM module. EK, in case you don’t know, is a popular custom cooling parts manufacturers. This makes it one of the best motherboards for those who’re looking to overclock their systems. Water cooling is very efficient when it comes to maintaining the overall thermal output of a system and this is perhaps the board you can get in that regard. Unlike the Maximus Z690 Formula board we saw earlier, the water block on this also covers the CPU and a portion of the M.2 section.
Having a built-in water block on the motherboard for your CPU makes it easier to build a water-cooled solution. This is indeed an expensive motherboard, but it’ll also save you the CPU water block cost. The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon EK X comes with an 18+1+1 phases power design for reliable power delivery. The water block will make sure the VRMs remain cool at all times, even under heavy load. A motherboard with a sophisticated cooling solution like this is perfect for overclocking.
This particular board also comes with support for DDR5 memory modules. A lot of premium Z690 motherboards now support the new DDR5 modules, so it’s not really surprising to see here in this case. MSI says this motherboard supports a maximum of up to 128GB DDR5 memory with a max speed of up to 6666MHz. You can also overclock the memory modules further to get more performance out of them. However, you’ll need a powerful cooling solution for that. Notably, you also get support for PCIe 5.0 support with this particular motherboard. The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon EK X comes with three PCIe x16 slots. For storage, you get five M.2 slots which are pretty common for an MSI motherboard, especially in this price range. You can also add more storage SATA drives to the build with support for RAID 0,1,5, and 10.
The chipset heatsink at the bottom also covers all the M.2 slots. This also means that you don’t have to buy M.2 sticks with a heatsink. The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon EK X comes with a pre-installed IO shield that covers ten USB ports including a single USB Type C port. Additionally, you also get an HDMI and a Displayport on this motherboard to boot with integrated graphics. There’s also a 2.5G LAN port and a full stack of audio ports too.
The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon EK X is one of the few Z690 motherboards with a custom water block. Having a built-in water block to cool the CPU and the VRM is quite handy. It makes it slightly easier for you to build a water-cooled PC with a custom loop. All you have to do is simply channel the coolant through the block and it’ll cover both the CPU and the VRM. There are other boards that also cover the chipset, but they’re more expensive than this one. You can buy both the Z690 and the Z590 version of this particular, and they both are equally good for overclocking.
The Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Extreme Waterforce is also a popular pick in the community. It’s a great motherboard to consider if you’re planning a new water-cooled PC build. This particular unit comes with a massive monoblock that covers the CPU, VRM, the chipset, M.2 slots, and the DDR5 memory modules too. This monoblock, as you can see, essentially covers the entire motherboard PCB, leaving nothing exposed except the PCIe expansions slots.
Gigabyte has also added a ton of RGB lights that we think would look great inside your PC case. There’s also a display on top of the monoblock to show you both various metrics including the CPU and water temperature. This also happens to be one of the motherboards on the market to come with a sophisticated cooling solution for the RAM modules too. This means you don’t have a separate cooler for the modules for overclocking them.
The Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Extreme Waterforce motherboard 20 phase power design to supply CPU power. This is capable of delivering enough power to handle even the most demanding CPUs out there on the market. As a Z690 chipset motherboard, this board only supports the new Intel Alder Lake processors. A motherboard like this is best paired with a high-performance CPU like the Core i9-12900K. You don’t even have to worry about buying a separate CPU water block for the custom loop as the monoblock will take care of that for you.
This particular motherboard supports the new DDR5 memory modules. You can install a maximum of 128GB DDR5 memory with support for up to DDR5-6600(OC). You can overclock the modules easily with the help of XMP support too. To make it fully future-proof, the Aorus Extreme Waterforce motherboard also supports PCIe 5.0. The board comes with a total of three x16 slots but only the top one conforms to PCIe 5.0 for optimal performance. For storage, you get M.2 slots, all of them are hidden under the heatsink. There’s also space to add four additional SATA drives with support for RAID 0,1,5, and 10.
The Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Extreme Waterforce features a decent amount of ports at the back too. You’re looking at a total of 12 UBS ports out of which two are USB Type C Thunderbolt 4 ports. Gigabyte hasn’t added an HDMI or a DisplayPort, but you do get two ethernet ports, WiFi antenna sockets, and more. There’s also no shortage of headers on the board for more USB devices, fans, RGB lights, and more.
All in all, the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Extreme Waterforce is a fantastic motherboard for those looking to dish out a water-cooled PC with a custom loop. It’s not necessarily a cheap motherboard but we think it definitely worth it, especially if you consider the performance potential with liquid cooling. Also, it eliminates the need for a CPU water block too, making it that much easier to build. You can also buy the Z590 variant of this motherboard if you’re planning to use either the 10th or the 11th gen Intel CPUs. Hit the link below to check out the current price of the Z590 variant.
Intel’s new Alder Lake CPUs support both DDR5 as well as DDR4 memory modules. However, you’ll need a compatible motherboard to take advantage of each memory type. It’s also worth pointing out that motherboards either DDR5 or DDR4 memory modules, not both. This means you’ll have to decide whether or not you want to switch to the new standard. Since DDR5 is still relatively new to the market, we think it’s sticking to DDR4 isn’t a bad idea, at least until the DDR5 memory modules go mainstream.
If you are in the market to buy a new Z690 chipset motherboard with DDR4 memory support then we think the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro DDR4 is a great choice. This particular motherboard is also suitable for overclocking, making it a solid addition to this collection at the best Z690 motherboard overclocking with DDR4 support.
The black-colored PCB on this board is mostly covered with a heatsink. The Aorus Pro DDR4 features a 16 phase power design capable of delivering consistent power. This will allow you to take full advantage of the CPU by overclocking. The VRM heatsink on this board is one of the biggest we’ve seen on the market. It’s not as sophisticated as some other boards we’ve seen in this collection, but it’s plenty to maintain the thermal output. The chipset heatsink towards the bottom of the motherboard extends further to cover the M.2 slots too.
The Aorus Pro DDR4, as we mentioned earlier, supports DDR4 modules. Gigabyte says you can a maximum of 128GB DDR4 memory with memory speeds of up to 560MHz. The motherboard supports XMP to make it easier for you to overclock the modules too. As for the expansion slots, the Gigabyte Aorus Pro DDR4 supports PCIe 5.0. It features three full-sized x16 PCIe slots with the top one supporting the PCIe 5.0 standard. The Aorus Pro DDR4 motherboard lets you install four M.2 PCIe 4.0 modules. Each slot comes with its own thermal pad for heat dissipation too.
The Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro DDR4 is fitted with a ton of headers for USB, RGB lights, fans, and more. You can also add SATA drives to your build in addition to the M.2 drives. The IO shield also comes pre-installed on the motherboard, making it easier for you to install it on the PC case. There are plenty of ports at the back including as many as 13 USB ports out of which one of them is a USB Type C port. You also get a DisplayPort and an ethernet jack in addition to the WiFi antenna sockets.
There’s no shortage of Z690 motherboards on the market, but it’s safe to say that there aren’t too many Z690 boards with support for DDR4 memory. The Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro DDR4 is one of the best boards in this space and you can’t possibly go wrong with this one. It also supports overclocking, so you can pair it with an unlocked 12900K and get the most out of it.
The MSI MEG Z590 Godlike is one of the most premium Z590 chipset motherboards you can buy on the market. This is a beast of a motherboard that comes with all the bells and whistles that you’d expect from a high-quality board. The mainboard, as you can see, is almost fully covered with a heatsink. Unlike the Carbon EK X we saw earlier, this one doesn’t have a water block, but it’s still very much capable of handling the demanding needs for a high-performance CPU. The VRM is heatsink consists of a cooling fan, a stack of fins, and a heat pipe to carry the heat away from the modules. The heatsink cover has Godlike branding along with the MSI Dragon logo.
The chipset heatsink at the bottom further extends to cover the M.2 slots too. The entire bottom portion of the board is exposed with only the PCIe slots being the exposed part. There’s also very little in the name of RGB lights, which makes it very easy for this motherboard to blend in with most builds. The MSI MEG Godlike motherboard also comes with a backplate giving it additional support. This particular board carries the Intel Z590 chipset and an LGA 1200 CPU socket. This means you can’t use this motherboard to build a PC with the new Alder Lake processors. The MSI MEG Z590 Godlike is only compatible with the 10th and the 11th gen Intel Core processors.
The MSI MEG Z590 motherboard also supports overclocking, making it a great addition to this collection. It may not have a highly sophisticated VRM or CPU cooling with a water block, but the existing cooling solution is proven to be powerful enough to let you push the CPUs to their limits. The MSI MEG Z590 Godlike comes with four DIMM slots next to the CPU socket and it supports up to 128GB DDR4 memory. DDR5 memory support is missing here because the older chipset doesn’t support the new memory standard. According to MSI, this particular motherboard can support memory speeds of up to 5600MHz.
The MSI MEG Z590 Godlike also comes with three PCIe 4.0 x16 reinforced slots. Notably, the PCIe 5.0 support is also missing on this one, but the older CPUs don’t support it anyway, so it’s not a deal-breaker. For storage, you can add up to four M.2 modules to the board. They’re hidden under the chipset heatsink, so you’ll have to remove that before installing the module. You can also add more SATA drives to the board in RAID 0,1,5, or 10.
The MSI MEG Z590 is a fantastic motherboard overall. It still represents the best of what MSI has to offer in the Z590 chipset space. MSI sill hasn’t launched a MEG Godlike motherboard with the Z690 chipset for the 12th gen Intel CPUs, but we hope they’re working on it. The Godlike happens to be one of the most expensive motherboards on the market, so be sure to pair it with a high-performance CPU for high-end gaming or content creation rig.
ASRock makes a lot of high-quality motherboards but the Z590 OC Formula has got to its best overclocking motherboard. This high-performance motherboard doesn’t come cheap but we think it’s well worth the asking price. It is, without a doubt, one of the best motherboards you can buy for overclocking. It comes with a lot of overclocking-friendly features, making it a lot easier for you to push the limits of your CPU.
The ASRock Z590 OC Formula, as you can see, has a striking design. This motherboard looks a lot different from every other ASRock motherboard on the market. The OC Formula board comes with a black-colored PCB and has yellow-colored heatsinks. We think the motherboard also has just the right amount of LED lights to make it attractive. The VRM heatsink cover comes with the ASRock branding the signature of Nick Shih. Nick, for those of you who don’t know, is a popular overclocker in the community, who ASRock collaborated for this motherboard.
The Z590 OC Formula comes with a 16 power phase design with 90A SPS. This is responsible for reliable power delivery even under heavy loads. The VRM heatsink has a sophisticated design, complete with fin-stacks and a heat pipe. The chipset heatsink on the board also extends further to cover the M.2 SSDs. The OC Formula motherboard also comes with some handy features, specifically designed for overclocking. It comes with OC buttons with various functions to help overclock do what they do best. There’s also an OLED panel on the board to showcase various metrics such as temperatures, voltage, and more.
For memory, you can install a maximum of 64GB DDR4 memory. DDR5 memory isn’t supported by this motherboard. You’ll have to buy one of the newer LGA 1700 motherboards to get DDR5 memory support. According to ASRock, the motherboard can support memory speeds of up to DDR4-6000. You can also overclock the memory provided you have a solid cooling solution for that. The ASRock Z590 OC Formula comes with support for PCIe 4.0. The motherboard is fitted with three x16 slots and two x1 slots. All three x16 slots are reinforced on the board.
When it comes to storage, you can install up to three M.2 modules on the board. These slots have their own heatsink on the motherboard, so you don’t need a separate heat-spreader. The IO shield comes pre-installed on the motherboard and it covers a variety of ports including eight USB ports, two ethernet ports, a full stack of audio ports. ASRock has also added the legacy PS/2 ports for the keyboard and mouse.
All in all, we think the ASRock Z590 OC Formula is an excellent motherboard for overclocking. A high-performance board like this is best paired with, say, the Core i9-11900K for the best performance. You can push those high-end CPUs to their limits on this board. This is as good as it gets when it comes to overclocking a 10th or 11th gen CPU. We expect ASRock to come up with a similar motherboard for the new 12th Intel Core processors too.
The ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero is similar to the ROG Crosshair VIII Hero that came out earlier. These are some of the best X570 motherboards you can buy on the market right now. In fact, the ROG Crosshair VIII Hero is our pick for the best X570 motherboard you can buy in 2021. The new Dark Hero motherboard, as you can see, comes in a stunning all-black design. This is perhaps one of the best-looking motherboards on the market right now. ASUS has also added some RGB lights to the board to add a touch of RGB to the build.
In addition to the new all-black design, the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero also comes with upgrades power delivery and a passive cooling chipset. The Dark Hero motherboard comes with a robust power delivery system to supply consistent power even under heavy load. The VRM heatsink ensures that everything stays cool at all times. This particular board doesn’t have a sophisticated water block for the VRM but ASUS has added the standard set of heat sink along with heat pipes to efficiently carry the heat away from the CPU.
The chipset heatsink further extends to cover the M.2 slots too, leaving the PCIe slots as the only exposed part at the bottom of the motherboard. The Dark Hero motherboard carries the X570 chipset and the AM4 CPU socket. This means this is an AMD motherboard that supports both 3000 and the 5000 series chipset. We think a powerful chipset like this must be paired with a high-performance Ryzen chip like the 5900X or the 5950X. The Dark Hero board also supports overclocking and you can push the CPUs to their limits without a hitch.
You also get four DIMM slots to the right of the CPU socket. You can install a maximum of 128GB DDR4 memory. DDR5 memory support is not available since the existing Ryzen chips don’t support the new memory standard. When it comes to the expansion slots, the Dark Hero motherboard offers a total of four PCIe slots. You get a single PCIe 4.0 x16 slot along with two PCIe 3.0 x16 slots. Notably, you also get a single PCIe 3.0 x1 slot towards the bottom. You can install up to three M.2 modules. These modules are hidden under the chipset heatsink and have their own heat-spreader. Additionally, you can also install SATA drives to add more storage to your build.
The ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero motherboard comes with a pre-installed IO shield that covers as many as twelve USB ports including a single USB Type-C port. You don’t get an HDMI or a DisplayPort, but ASUS has added two ethernet ports and a full stack of audio ports. The motherboard also has plenty of headers for USB, fans, pumps, RGB lights, and more too. Overall, it’s safe to say that the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero is one of the best X570 motherboards you can buy right now.
A lot of high-performance motherboards on the market from various manufacturers now support overclocking. That being said, we think the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Formula is the best Z690 motherboard for overclocking. It delivers reliable performance and a good set of features, all while keeping the cost relatively less. If you’re building a fully water-cooled PC with a custom cooling loop, then we think you should consider buying the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon EK X motherboard. It comes with its own water block for efficient cooling and better overclocking performance. Those leaning towards an AMD-based build can check out the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero motherboard. It’s an upgraded version of the Crosshair VIII Hero, our pick for the best gaming motherboard for AMD CPUs.
Let us know what do you think about this collection of the best motherboards for overclocking. If you think we missed any of your favorite motherboards, then let us know by dropping a line in the comments below. We also encourage you to join our XDA Computing Forums to get more product recommendations from the experts in our community.
XDA » Buying Guides » These are the best motherboards for overclocking in 2021
Karthik covers PC hardware for XDA Computing. When not at work, you will find him yelling at his monitors while playing video games.
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