The Intel i7-8700k was launched quietly on October 5, 2017, and the rest, as they say, is history. Made as an answer to AMD’s Ryzen processors that were threatening to knock Intel off the CPU leaderboard, the i7-8700k has firmly put Intel back in the driver’s seat. Intel codenamed this 8th generation CPU the Coffee Lake, which I think is just a way to lull the competition into thinking it performs like a laid-back vacationer enjoying coffee by the lake watching the sunrise. However, there is nothing lazy about this CPU. With its 6 cores and 12 threads, it is a powerful and fast beast that has left its competition choking on its fumes.
The only problem is (there’s always a catch, right?) the Coffee Lake works best with motherboards that house the newer 300 series chipsets.
“Pshaw!” You say, “who cares about the motherboard?”. Truth be told, you should! Pairing the i7-8700K with an inferior motherboard would be like buying an Audi R8 and then swapping out its engine with a Ford Fiesta. The car will still run fine, just not as well as it could. Pairing it with the right motherboard will allow you to get the most out of the Intel i7-8700K processor. Trust me, it could be the difference between you being pwned (for all the non-gamers out there, that means losing badly) or not.
There are a plethora of motherboards out there that are compatible with the i7-8700k. Here are our picks for the 5 best ones.
5 Best Motherboards for i7-8700k
|Product Image||Name||VRM||Max RAM||Price||Wi-Fi||Storage||USB Ports|
|ASUS ROG STRIX Z370-E GAMING||10-Phase||64 GB||Under $220||✔️||6 SATA + 2 M.2 Ports||4xUSB 2.0
4xUSB 3.1 Gen1 1xUSB 3.1 Gen2
|ASRock Z390 Taichi||12-Phase||Under $220||✔️||8 SATA + 3 M.2 Ports||6xUSB 2.0
4xUSB 3.1 Gen1
|Gigabyte Z370 AORUS GAMING 7||10-Phase||Under $250||❌||6 SATA + 2 M.2 Ports||4xUSB 2.0
2xUSB 3.1 Gen1
|Gigabyte Z390 AORUS XTREME||16-Phase||Under $550||✔️||Six SATA + 3 M.2 Ports||6xUSB 2.0
4xUSB 3.1 Gen1 4xUSB 3.1 Gen2 1xUSB-C
|ASUS ROG STRIX Z390-E GAMING||10-Phase||Under $250||✔️||6 SATA + 3 M.2 Ports||2xUSB 2.0
2xUSB 3.1 Gen1 3xUSB 3.1 Gen2 1xUSB-C
Without further ado, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty now.
1. ASUS ROG Strix Z370-E Gaming
The ASUS Strix lineup of motherboards is the company’s mid-tier series of circuit boards and falls bang in between their higher-end Maximus and lower-end Prime lineups. Excelling in all three departments of aesthetics, features, and build quality, it gives a great gaming experience with stellar looks.
The first thing you notice about this motherboard is how stylish it looks. It has a jet black body with metallic-gray heatsinks that look like plane wings. Enhancing the aesthetics is ASUS’ RGB LED lighting system. The default LED setting of red is customizable using AURA-sync software; a nice touch for those seeking a personalized gaming experience.
It’s not just all about the looks though. Importantly, it is powered by an LGA 1151 socket that supports 8th generation Intel processors. Since the Coffee Lake processor needs more power than its previous generation of processors, Z-390-E has a beefier voltage regulator module (VRM) with a 10-phase design. A higher-phase VRM can lead to overheating problems. ASUS has avoided this with a strategically positioned fan and heatsinks just over the module.
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The Z-390-E has a dual-channel configuration that can support up to 64 GB of RAM. This can be overclocked close to 4300 MHz using the ASUS 5-way optimization technology. Likewise, it has two M.2 slots that can give data speeds of up to 32 GB/second. These have their own heat shields, which is another way that this ASUS motherboard avoids overheating problems. Add to this the 7 fan connectors, 2 water pumps, and one thermal sensor, and you have an excellent cooling system.
It also comes equipped with an 802.11ac Wi-Fi that has 2×2 dual-band and 2.4/5GHz antennas which gave me a maximum transfer speed of close to 870 Mbps. Additionally, it has three single-slot and three 16-slot PCI express ports. The memory options include dual M.2 slots in addition to 6 SATA 3.0 plugs that can transfer up to 6 Gbps.
Pros✔️ Customizable AURA-sync LED lighting system
✔️ Inbuilt Wi-fi functionality
✔️ A Solid VRM to handle the i7-8700k
✔️ Easy overclocking
✔️ Excellent cooling system
Cons❌ Only 6 rear USB slots
2. ASRock z370 Taichi
The ASRock Taichi series of motherboards have been a well-liked product over several generations now because of their stable platform providing user-friendly and rock-solid features at an optimal price point. The z370 Taichi is no different and is the company’s mid-range offering. It has a muted gray and black contrast scheme with a large heatsink over the chipset, perfect for those who like to keep things simple.
The z370 Taichi has a 6+2, 12-phase digital VRM design. The Infineon IR35201 digital pulse-width modulation (PWM) that supports the VRM module is one of the best PWMs out there. This makes it a solid VRM for avid gamers who want to overclock over a prolonged period of time. I had no problems overclocking the Coffee Lake processor to 4.025 GHz at 1.4 volts. ASRock has improved the BIOS significantly from earlier generations. The BIOS is easy to use with provisions to save overclocking profiles and even manually overclock the CPU for those who like to do it old school.
Audio and Other Features
The onboard audio is equipped with a Realtek ALC S1220A jack and a Texas Instruments NE5532 amp that does a great job of providing studio-quality sound. I actually found the maximum volume setting to be too loud. The mike port-in is also solid with great channel separation, meaning that there are only minimal levels of crosstalk and external noise. All in all, great for making streaming videos and podcasts. It has only one set of RGB lights along with the chipset heatsink.
This motherboard has 3 full-length 16-slot and 2 single-slot PCIe slots. Storage-wise, it has 3 high-speed M.2 slots and 8 SATA ports. The rear panel has two antenna ports, 5 audio jacks, one HDMI port, and a total of 6 USB ports. It also has dual LAN and inbuilt Wi-Fi capabilities.
Pros✔️ Solid VRM that gives easy and sustained overclocking
✔️ Easy-to-use BIOS
✔️ Studio-quality audio
Cons❌ Limited lighting options
3. GIGABYTE Z370 AORUS Gaming 7
The Gigabyte Z370 AORUS Gaming 7 motherboard is one of the company’s high-end products. It comes with a good set of features that includes a solid power-supply scheme which gives optimum overclocking. This along with the customizable RGB lighting and great audio provides an immersive gaming experience.
Gigabyte uses Intersil’s high-tech digital power design that includes 60A smart-power stages, 76 A inductors, and a 100% digital power width modulation. What all that technical jargon means is that this motherboard has a high-quality 8-2 VRM design that can extract the maximum out of the i7-8700k processor. Additionally, this motherboard has load-line calibration (LLC) built into its basic I/o system allowing users to tune it both externally and internally, giving easier overclocking.
This motherboard comes equipped with RGB fusion technology that gives users a great surround lighting experience. I think it is cool that each LED strip can be controlled separately using the RGB Fusion app. They have nine new light patterns and a host of speed settings that I had fun playing around with. It has 7 different light zones across the motherboard including areas such as the CPU, memory DIMMs, and I/o shields, which shine to the beat of the music. Along with surround lighting, the Z370 AORUS also offers a great surround sound experience. The audio system has an independent analog power supply that gives a studio-quality sound with minimal mechanical noise.
This motherboard has 9 temperature sensors distributed all around the motherboard along with 8 fan or water pump connectors. Moreover, the motherboard comes equipped with Smart Fan 5 technology that allows users to stop any fan completely. The VRM module also has a special built-in fan that turns on if the temperature rises above 190 degrees Fahrenheit (87.78 °C) and can spin at 6000 rpm.
The Z370 AORUS has 3 full-length 16-slot ports and 3 single-slot PCle ports that are reinforced with metal to withstand the weight of heavy graphics cards. Best of all, these are accompanied by 6 SATA connectors along with Three 2nd generation, seven 1st generation, and four USB 2.0 ports
Pros✔️ Easy overclocking
✔️ Surround sound and light
✔️ Smart cooling system
Cons❌ No inbuilt wi-fi. Most of its contemporaries in the $220 to $250 come equipped with one
4. Gigabyte Z390 AORUS Xtreme
The Z390 AORUS XTREME is the top tier offering from GIGABYTE and comes packed with a ton of features that include great overclocking capabilities, a solid VRM, excellent audio, customizable lighting and a lot in between. All of this, however, comes at a hefty price tag of $550.
Looking like something you would find on the Millennium Falcon, the Z390 AORUS XTREME has an eye-catching futuristic design. The large heatsinks standout across the board in different shades of gray. I especially loved the glossy camouflage pattern over the M.2 heatsinks. It also comes with a ton of customizable RGB LED lights. All the heatsinks and protective coverings have RGB lights. Additionally, the lighting extends along the back of the board along with the entire right side. If that’s not enough, there are four extra connectors on the board to install more light strips.
Firstly, while most top tier motherboards have up to 14-phase regulators, the Z390 AORUS XTREME boasts of a 16-phase VRM. It also comes with the Gigabyte OC Touch, which is an extra circuit board with additional reset, CMOS clearing, and reset buttons. Designed for maximum overclocking, the OC Touch board has 6 extra fan headers, over 12 voltage headers, and a row of buttons to tinker with the processor’s clock speed and voltage. I could push it to achieve a whopping 5.2 GHz with no significant rise in temperature.
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It comes equipped with three PCIe x16 slots and two PCIe x1 slots. The top two x16 slots run at 8x speed and can be used with a graphics card. Needless to say, all slots are reinforced with steel to support heavier cards. On the storage front, the Z390 AORUS XTREME comes with 3 M.2 connectors and 6 SATA ports. While that is the standard number for most top tier gaming motherboards, at $550, I was hoping for more in this department. It has four 2nd generation and two 1st generation USB ports. The rear panel also houses an optical connector, two Type C connectors, five audio jacks, and two antenna ports.
For networking, you get dual networking with an ethernet port that can handle up to 10 Gbps speeds and inbuilt wi-fi that supports 1.73 GB. Customization options also abound with the AORUS Fan-Commander, which lets you control all eight fans on the motherboard. The Gigabyte app gives a plethora of lighting options too. Keep in mind that the Z390 AORUS XTREME is an EATX motherboard and therefore wider than other standard ATX motherboards. So, make sure your case can hold its larger EATX dimensions.
Pros✔️ Extreme overclocking capabilities with the extra circuit board
✔️ Powerful 16-phase VRM module
✔️ Plenty of customizable RGB LED lights
✔️ User-controlled cooling system
✔️ Dual networking options
Cons❌ At $550, it is at the pointy high end of the price spectrum
5. ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming Motherboard
The ASUS ROG STRIX Z390-E Gaming is another great mid-tier offering from the company’s STRIX lineup. It comes with the Republic of Gaming (ROG) tag, which is a branding ASUS has used since 2006 to show products that are built with hardware and software components primarily oriented towards gaming. With a juiced-up power delivery system and plenty of cooling options, the STRIX Z390-E deftly tames the power-hungry i7-8700k. It offers a nice feature-to-price balance.
Aesthetically pleasing, the STRIX Z390-E has a dual-tone black and gray color scheme with two integrated RGB lighting zones. Personally, I think it looks great with or without the RGB lighting. Nestled under the futuristic-looking large heatsink is this motherboard’s solid 10-phase VRM module. ASUS uses the DrMOS power stages to ensure stable and reliable power supply. Its digital power design gives users extensive options within the OS to tinker with the VRM and get the best balance between temperature and power. Along with that is ASUS’ AI Overclocking feature that basically tracks all the pertinent information in real-time to provide custom overclocking options for your CPU.
Another outstanding feature is the motherboard’s cooling system that gives an optimum thermal performance under maximum capacity. Crucially, the heatsinks themselves are large and cover a good surface area. In addition, ASUS has a fan bracket near the VRM heatsink included in its design so that users can mount an extra fan if they want to. The cooling system can also be controlled using the Fan Xpert 4 software. Therefore, this along with its intuitive power supply design makes overclocking an absolute breeze.
It features a SupremeFX audio design with an isolated audio path that ensures minimal signal interference. This motherboard also has a shielded S2220 audio codec line input for microphones. An integrated amplifier serves to boost the overall audio experience.
It has 802.11ac integrated Wi-Fi that gives users optimal video streaming. It also comes equipped with the standard 6 third-generation PCI express ports; 3 single-slot ports and 3 16-slot ports. The 6 SATA 3.0 plugs that can transfer up to 6 Gbps and two M.2 PCIe ports provide great storage options. The I/O shield comes integrated with the motherboard making it easier for users to set up and use. The shield has all the usual fittings including a PC connector, 6 USB ports (2 from each generation), and 3 video connectors.
Pros✔️ AI Overclocking feature makes for easy overclocking
✔️ Powerful cooling system
✔️ Integrated I/O shield
✔️ Solid audio system
Cons❌ Sparse RGB lighting options
What is the difference between gaming and a PC motherboard?
Simply put, a lot! Gaming demands more performance that pushes the limits of the CPU, while a regular user will be satisfied with a lot less. For gamers, it is all about the experience. Having a motherboard that delivers higher frame rates could be the difference between a high-class experience and an irritating jerky one. Motherboards built for gaming also use high-quality materials throughout their design. An example of this is the gaming motherboard sockets which use anywhere between 10 to 15-micron gold plating while normal PC motherboards can make do with 2 to 4-micron. These reinforcements ensure improved performances, especially for overclocking.
How much Random-Access Memory (RAM) does my motherboard need for gaming?
Normal motherboards that run office PCs come equipped with 4 GB RAM, which may have been enough 10 years ago to have satisfactory gaming experience. With today’s games being heavy on the graphics that give users studio-quality audio and visual details, a minimum of 8 GB is required. The optimum RAM for gaming is 16 GB which will be sufficient for all the demanding game titles out there today and then some. If you are on a budget, buy a motherboard that supports 8 GB RAM but has extra memory slots that can be used for future upgrades.
Is inbuilt wi-fi a must-have for a motherboard?
No, inbuilt Wi-Fi is not a must-have feature for a motherboard. All boards come with PCIe slots to which you can easily attach a PCIe wireless network card. The motherboards that do come with inbuilt Wi-Fi just have a bundled Wi-Fi card already inserted into one of the PCIe slots with connected antennas. For sure, this feature is convenient since you need not purchase additional paraphernalia, but motherboards with inbuilt Wi-Fi are typically costlier than the ones without. Of course, this point is redundant to gamers, who prefer the superior quality and stability of wired Ethernet connections to Wi-Fi.
Can I overclock the i7-8700k and how do I do it?
Overclocking means to run the CPU at speeds higher than the factory set speed. A lot of processors come with locked multipliers that block users from tinkering with them. All Intel CPUs with a ‘K’ in their name come unlocked and therefore can be overclocked. So yes, the i7-8700K can be overclocked.
The Coffee Lake CPU comes set at the default speed of 3.7 GHz. Overclocking it entails accessing the motherboards BIOS that boots up the system and increasing the clock rate or the voltage or both. In times past, this used to be an arduous task where the speeds and voltages had to be increased bit by bit, followed by rigorous testing to see if the system stayed stable. Not anymore though. The i7-8700k comes with an inbuilt multiplier that can make you a master overclocker in a matter of minutes.
ConclusionTo conclude, the i7-8700k is a great processor built for gaming, and it deserves to be paired with a motherboard that can get the most out of it. All the motherboards reviewed in this list have a proven track record of doing just that. I hope it has made the task of choosing the one that fits your unique needs a much simpler one.