So you have finally decided to take the plunge and go ahead with building a PC for you. You sat down, figured out your budget, and went with the top-of-the-line Intel Core i7-7700K processor to be the centerpiece of your build. Now it’s time to pick a motherboard before your build can go any further. To help cut through all the fluff and jargon out there, I have curated a list of 6 motherboards (MOBOs) and how to pick the best motherboard for your i7-7700K CPU.
|Product Image||Name||Form Factor||Chipset||Price Rating||RAM Slots||USB Ports (Internal and External)|
|ASUS ROG Maximus IX Apex||eATX||Z270||$$$$$||2||2 x USB 3.1
8 x USB 3.0
6 x USB 2.0
|GIGABYTE AORUS GA-Z270X||ATX||Z270||$$$||4||10 x USB 3.1
6 x USB 2.0
|ASRock FATAL1TY Z270 GAMING-ITX||Mini-ITX||Z270||$$$$$||2||1 x Thunderbolt 3
7 x USB 3.0
2 x USB 2.0
|ASUS ROG Maximus IX Hero||ATX||Z270||$$$$||4||2 x USB 3.1
6 x USB 3.0
6 x USB 2.0
|MSI Pro Series Intel Z270||ATX||Z270||$$||4||8 x USB 3.1
6 x USB 2.0
|ASRock B250M-HDV||mATX||B250M||$||2||6 x USB 3.1
2 x USB 2.0
When introduced, this was a new product in the ROG MOBO space. It placed a heavy focus on overclocking, with an emphasis on LN2 cooling. Firstly, many of its features are tailor-made for easy overclocking and system diagnosis. Its customizability knows no bounds, with full AURA SYNC support for RGB goodness. This one caters to the gaming enthusiasts out there and if you’re one of them, this board will not disappoint.
The e-ATX form factor allows for a full array of features, without little to no compromises. I love the one-click overclocking and fan curve settings. This makes overclocking accessible to everyone. The 2 DDR4 RAM slots seem pale in comparison to the competitors at this price point. It can be a deal-breaker for creative professionals doing RAM-intensive tasks. However, six PCIe 3.0 slots offer varying bandwidths to support a multitude of expansion cards. Importantly, if you are eyeing a multi-GPU setup, this board should rank high in your priority list. The two M.2 expansion slots are given via a DIMM.2 adapter PCB. This allows a DRAM fan cooler to direct air towards the M.2 drives to prevent throttling.
At this price, it is honestly a little disappointing to see only four SATA ports available. Inclusion of two more would have been the cherry on top of the proverbial cake.
Staying true to its ROG culture, ASUS has compromised on very few things in this product. Overclocking enthusiasts are greeted with advanced features like LN2 support, for what seems like a reasonable price tag in the space. The limited availability of SATA-based storage options should not be a cause for concern. Most storage configurations can be worked around the available set of ports.
✔️ Adequate cooling flexibility
✔️ Water cooling compatible
✔️ Unparalleled customizability
✔️ Support for extreme overclocking
✔️ Uniquely shaped PCB adds to
the aesthetic appeal
In a ROG-style entry, the Z270 chipset led to Gigabyte differentiating their gaming-oriented hardware, from the rest of their offerings. While it does not excel at any one particular aspect, it performs really well across the board. In addition, support for RGB Fusion enables full RGBW customization in the system. For anyone looking to the mid-range market for their next gaming PC, this motherboard has a lot to offer.
There are two variants of this product: Gaming 5 and Gaming K5. The differences between them are few and far between, so the final choice boils down to aesthetics and the price tag.
💡 Facts Time
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Both variants come in a standard ATX form factor, making it an ideal choice for mid-tower and full-tower cases. Overclocking performance is solid across the board. However, Overclock/ECO buttons are available in the Gaming 5 variant only. Four RAM slots are available on both variants, with the Gaming 5 getting the slight edge in terms of supported memory speeds. As has become the norm in ATX and eATX boards, there are six PCIe slots available for adding expansion cards and GPUs. I am a fan of the flexible storage options available. Two M.2 slots, one U.2 slot, and a whopping nine SATA ports make it a compelling buy for any mid-range system.
The pricing of this product enables it to take dead aim at the mid-range competitors. The sheer variety of storage options makes it a compelling buy for the storage-junkies out there. Likewise, memory stability and overclocking options are also commendable and offer an unparalleled price-to-performance ratio. If you are someone in the market for a mid-range gaming rig, this MOBO should not fly under the radar.
✔️ Healthy array of storage options
✔️ Excellent mid-range price point
✔️ Commendable overclocking performance
✔️ Appealing aesthetics (with the
K5 variant taking the cake for black
✔️ Superior memory stability and
This product occupies a niche in the market but does so with little to no compromises. In a mini-ITX form factor, this motherboard brings with it all the features that one might expect to see in an ATX or e-ATX board. The lack of RGB, and the aggressive red and black color scheme might not make this a perfect choice for you. However, this product is worthy of being the centerpiece of your next HTPC setup.
The mini-ITX form factor caters towards experienced builders who can work with a cramped chassis. It severely limits the expanse of features at your disposal. 2 RAM slots are standard in a small form factor board and this board is no different. It has only one PCIe slot for the GPU to occupy. One of my favorite features on this board is the inclusion of a Thunderbolt 3 controller on-board. With the inclusion of 6 SATA ports and an M.2 slot, the storage options are surprisingly well-rounded for a small MOBO. The inclusion of a dedicated headphone amplifier from Texas Instruments deserves a special mention and can be indispensable for the gamers out there.
This MOBO is particularly catered towards someone looking to build a small but powerful PC. Its features are pretty comprehensive and do not leave much to be desired. The Thunderbolt 3 helps deliver power and video information through one cable. This helps keep the entire build spotless, aesthetically. It is especially advantageous if your PC is to be kept in the living room. If you are someone looking to upgrade your current living-room entertainment setup, it is hard to find a better option that does it all.
✔️ Does a lot in a small package
✔️ Almost all features are available
to make it suitable for gamers, overclockers
and people looking for a powerful HTPC
✔️ Great onboard Wi-Fi
✔️ Memory overclocking is excellent
and easy to achieve
✔️ Excellent audio-centric performance
Calling it the younger sibling of ASUS ROG IX Apex is pretty accurate. It has everything that the Apex has to offer, in a slightly smaller form factor. This MOBO might just be the perfect entry-level enthusiast platform for the i7-7700K.
This board can be best described as the ATX equivalent of ASUS ROG IX Apex that I previously mentioned. They share the same, robust set of features with very little differentiating the two. The Hero receives a bump in the number of RAM slots, going from 2 to a more modest 4. The SATA ports, too, see an increase from 4 in the Apex to 6 in the Hero. The trade-off? Lack of support for LN2 cooling and DIMM.2 storage. You still get 2 M.2 slots but in a more conventional layout and PCB design.
You get what you pay for. It is as simple as that. The price tag brings along with it a diverse set of features and support for overclocking. As a result, for enthusiasts who are into overclocking, but have not graduated to LN2, this is the perfect platform to extract maximum performance out of the 7700K processor. What it lacks in extreme overclock performance, it makes up for in terms of storage options and DIMM slots, earning itself a solid recommendation from me.
✔️ Wide array of features
✔️ Customizable RGB lighting
✔️ Storage options are plentiful
✔️ Special features to help
✔️ Aesthetically appealing
❌ LN2 overclocking is not recommended
❌ AC Wi-Fi is not available on-board
5. MSI Z270-A Pro – Good choice for i7-7700 processor
The Z270-A Pro is directly aimed at those consumers who spent a significant portion of their budget on the i7-7700K. It allows you to marginally enjoy the benefits of an unlocked chip, while being pocket-friendly. As a result, you lose the fancy RGB customization options and over-the-top features. In return, however, you get a very solid mid-range MOBO.
Being an ATX board, it is perfectly suited for mid-tower and full-tower cases. It brings along with it, the standard features that are commonplace at this size. It comes with the usual roster of 4 RAM slots, 6 PCIe slots and 6 SATA ports in addition to a single M.2 slot. Its price-to-performance ratio is what keeps drawing me to this product. You are not going to be breaking any overclocking records, but for the price, you get a rock-solid platform for your PC.
💡 Facts Time
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This board is an excellent budget option for those looking for the Z270 chipset. The chipset in itself supports overclocking of the 7700K, but the board is not catered towards serious overclocking. Most importantly, for the average user looking to take their baby steps into the world of overclocking, this is an option that will not break the bank. You can make use of the Z270’s cooling flexibility to keep your frame-rates high, and temperatures low.
✔️ Excellent mid-range option
✔️ Has a good array of storage options
✔️ RAM slots are in a good number
✔️ DDR4 Boost gives a boost
to memory speeds
✔️ Ample cooling options
❌ Features to ensure stability
under overclocking are missing
❌ No RGB customization
The B250M chipset is the entry-level chipset for the 6th and 7th gen Intel processors. It is a no-frills option, lacking many features found on the higher-end offerings. While this may be far from an ideal platform for the i7-7700K CPU, it gets the job done.
This is the only mATX board covered in this lineup. 2 RAM slots give adequate flexibility for the price. One of the 3 PCIe slots can be used for the GPU. This effectively rules out any fantasies of seamlessly running a multi-monitor setup. Storage options are above par, with a single M.2 slot and 6 SATA ports. At a lowly $70 price point, expecting more than this would be wishful thinking.
As is visible from the price tag and the feature set, this is by far the least expensive and feature-rich board in this roundup. I find it very hard to recommend this to anyone with an i7-7700K CPU, as they cannot leverage the advantages of the unlocked processor. The only time this is a viable option is if there is an upgrade planned within a year or so. Otherwise, pairing a $370 processor with a $70 motherboard calls for a revisit of the budget.
✔️ Extremely budget-friendly
✔️ Inclusion of M.2 slot at this
price point is a welcome addition
✔️ Good number of storage options
for the price
❌ B250M does not do justice
to the unlocked processor
Choosing the right motherboard for your next PC can be a daunting task. The jargon can be overwhelming for the uninitiated and making the wrong choice can be both a waste of money and a waste of time. Use this guide as a bird’s-eye view of the motherboard space, and pick the right one for your PC.
Step 1: Pick your processor
The processor determines the motherboard chipset that is needed to support the functioning
of the processor. As this article deals with the best offerings for the i7-7700K CPU, it is
assumed that it is the processor of choice.
Given this choice, it only makes sense to opt for the Z270 platform and utilize the unlocked
features of the processor. This rules out the ASRock B250M-HDV board as it runs on the
inferior B250M chipset.
Step 2: Size matters
Motherboards come in a variety of sizes to suit different builds and enclosures. A general
rule of thumb is that as the size decreases, the available features also decrease. Bigger
motherboards have more onboard expansion slots and storage options but necessitate the use
of a bigger chassis. Depending on how much room you want your PC to occupy, decide on the
size of your motherboard.
In the roundup, there are four sizes to choose from, given in descending order of size:
eATX, ATX, mATX, and mini ITX.
While it is impossible to proclaim one greater than the other, the ATX layout is usually the
standard size and a safe bet.
Step 3: How much RAM is too much?
You must have heard this adage at some point – more RAM equals faster speeds. While there is
some truth to this statement, the complete truth is not very well known to the layman.
Depending on the use-case scenario, your PC might need a lot of RAM to function without
hiccups. At other times, you might just be cutting into your budget for no real reason. So,
how much RAM is too much?
If you are a creative junkie dwelling in the depths of the Adobe Suite, or an AUTOCAD
professional, you can make use of all the RAM that is available. Look for boards with at
least 4 DIMM slots, like the GIGABYTE AORUS GA-Z270X, ASUS ROG Maximus IX Hero or the MSI
Z270-A Pro. For gamers and casual users, 2 DIMM slots, each populated with an 8 GB module
gives enough and more headroom to ensure near-flawless performance.
💡 Facts Time
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Step 4: Determine your storage
Solid State Drives are growing in popularity and today, you have a bunch of options to
choose from. M.2 storage will keep your system running fast, and can be the perfect choice
to house your operating system. SATA ports are more commonly linked to slower SSDs and the
aging hard disk drives. These drives have a very low $/GB value, and hence, are used for
storing numerous files, like your Steam game library.
GIGABYTE’s AORUS GA-Z270X is the undisputed king when it comes to storage flexibility. With
9 SATA ports, 2 M.2 slots and a U.2 slot, you can have storage for days. The ASRock B250M-
HDV and ASUS ROG Maximus IX Apex fail to appeal to gamers and creative professionals on this
front. Most of the other MOBOs offer a good number of SATA ports, but lack an extra M.2 slot
for truly blazing speeds.
Step 5: Pixels – More the merrier
There are two ways to look at this:
1) How many monitors do you plan to hook up to your PC?
2) What is the desired resolution of the display setup?
Be it stock market traders, spreadsheet maestros or gaming enthusiasts, they can all make
use of the extra real estate provided by a multi-monitor setup. Gamers in specific can also
benefit from higher resolution monitors for a better overall experience.
Multiple monitors need to be supported by the motherboard, to achieve this. Gamers in
specific, might need more than one Graphics Cards to drive all those pixels without any
stuttering. ATX and eATX boards usually offer the most flexibility in terms of Nvidia SLI
and AMD Crossfire support for multiple GPUs.
Step 6: Is the CPU going to work overtime?
This step is pretty important. Are you someone who plans to overclock their CPU to gain that
extra bit of performance? If so, you will greatly benefit from MOBOs that are tailored
towards stable operation when overclocked. However, if you plan on running the processor at
out-of-the-box speeds, you can save some bucks by opting for a mid-range motherboard at a
lower price, like the MSI Z270-A Pro.
ASUS’ ROG Maximus IX Apex and Hero offerings are geared specifically towards extreme
overclocking. These boards are dotted with pump and fan headers to adequately cool the CPU,
along with many features to make for an easy tuning experience. These options are for
seasoned overclocking enthusiasts and for those without any budget constraints.
Step 7: USB – Number and types
Everyone is well aware of USB and the unparalleled flexibility that it offers. Today, almost
all peripherals and external storage devices are connected via USB ports. Moreover, you have
multiple USB technologies at your disposal, offering varied speeds and connectors.
Determining the number of USB ports you might need can ease your purchase decision.
Generally, the number of USB ports available is dependent on the size of the MOBO. eATX and
ATX boards have more ports than mATX and mini-ITX offerings for obvious reasons.
Frequently Asked Questions
🔹 How do I know which size motherboard to get?
The size of the motherboard is usually dependent on the size of the chassis/case. Obviously,
the size of the case has to be greater than the motherboard. Now, if the size of the case
is not known, you can decide the form factor of the MOBO based on the features you want.
🔹 Can I use any RAM module in my motherboard?
Short answer, no. The speed of the RAM module (usually indicated on the back of the
packaging) has to be compatible with the motherboard. Refer to the MOBO manufacturer’s
user manual and/or website for compatible speeds.
🔹 Does my choice of motherboard affect gaming performance?
Gaming performance is most commonly measured in frames-per-second (FPS). The choice of MOBO
does not directly affect the FPS in any way. However, the stability of the system as a whole
is dependent on the motherboard.
🔹 Do I have to overclock my i7-7700K?
You do not “have to” overclock the CPU. But if you are able to get more performance
for essentially no extra cost, why not? But proceed with caution and make sure you
have adequate features on the motherboard and cooling inside your chassis.
Picking the Best Motherboard for Intel Core i7-7700K – How to Make the Right Choice
As is the case with most tech-related suggestions, there cannot be one definitive winner. Crucially, you must look at your use-case scenario and pick the one that is the best fit. Obviously, as your budget increases, the compromises decrease and quality of the product increases. Given all these factors, these are the best picks for the common use cases.
The performance enthusiasts and those with a fat wallet can pick one of ASUS’ ROG Maximus IX boards. The ASRock FATAL1TY Z270 GAMING is a no-brainer if you’re looking for a small, but powerful PC. They cut very few corners and are a solid buy, overall. If you are in the hunt for a mid-range purchase, the GIGABYTE AORUS GA-Z270X is your best friend. It offers RGBW customization along with modest overclockability to squeeze some extra MHz from the i7-7700K. Lastly, the budget-conscious builders can look towards the MSI Z270-A Pro or the ASRock B250M-HDV boards, for a no-frills platform that gets the job done.
Finally, all of this boils down to your use-cases. Before you pick your gizmos and gadgets, you, as a consumer, should know yourself. Are you a gamer? Are you someone who is into overclocking? How much flexibility does your budget give you? Answer these questions, and this guide will lead you to the right motherboard.