Does a motherboard matter?

Hello all,


In short: I've been buying cheap motherboards for all my builds (up to $80 on mobo). I've always thought that as long as all my parts are compatible, the mobo doesn't matter much. Does the mobo affect performance?

I currently have an AMD FX-4300, AMD 7850 2gb, 8gb 1600mhz RAM, and the mobo is a MSI 970a-G43.


I've heard that the mobo does actually affect my PC's performance, which I've always thought it was mainly a balance between CPU and GPU. (Of course getting RAM is required :P )

Thanks in advance for any replies.

it has a massive impact on potential performance, aka. overclockability

but if you've running at stock cpu clocks and nothing is throttling (overheating voltage regulators, or few pcie lanes) it shouldn't make a difference

Well, a motherboard does not add any real performance to your PC. As long as it works it will generally not bottleneck any components (like your GPU or your CPU) and just do its job. If you want to overclock your CPU, however, a good motherboard is essential, since it has to deliver the power to your CPU. Also, higher end motherboards come with more features, they are usually more reliable than going for the cheapest one you can find and they have different hardware built into them (higher quality audio, more/better connectors for USB and ethernet, etc.) Extremely cheap mobos are also more likely to fry and maybe take your CPU with them in the process. I'm not saying that it will happen, but the chances are higher if the built in components are cheaper.

For an office PC or for a gaming rig that will not overclock at all you can definitely go for a cheap motherboard. It really depends on what you want to do and what kind of features you expect.

Features and quality of components come to mind when you pay more for a board. It all really depends on what you want out of it? Do you want to OC or just have high reliability? Maybe both? More expensive board caters to that usually. 

Asking does the motherboard matter is like asking if putting a Ferrari motor into a Civic is a good idea. Sure it might work, and sure it will be fast, but at the end of the day is the whole package really all that good?

The motherboard, along with being the hub for all your features, is the bedrock for stability in your system. If you want a reliable and long lasting computer, buy a good motherboard. If you plan on "turbocharging" your motor (overclocking your CPU) the better the motherboard, the better your results. So ultimately its about stability and headroom as well as being classy and functional, rather than just about clock-per-clock performance comparisons.