Whether you're a performance enthusiast or just looking to build a gaming PC, you're going to need a good motherboard.
Your motherboard acts as the skeleton of the system that all of your expensive components are attached to. Many problems with your system can be traced back to your motherboard because it's such a vital part of your system. This includes a lack of overclocking performance.
In this article, I'll review a few of my favorite Zambezi CPU/Bulldozer architecture compatible motherboards from four trusted manufacturers, Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, and ASRock. You'll also be able to vote for your favorite brand and motherboard.
Best AM3+ Motherboards for the Money
1. ASUS Crosshair V Formula-Z
AMD gaming PC builds truly shine when you're willing to overclock your hardware. As the company who holds the most overclocking world records, Asus is certainly a good option for power users. In particular, I like the Asus ROG series and, as of now, the Asus Crosshair V Formula-Z takes the cake in terms of performance.
- Why I like it: This board is incredible. I like it mainly for its amazing heat dissipation, which allows stable overclocking of sometimes hot FX processors and helps to avoid issues with other components. Other than that, the board itself just looks fantastic and simply has a ton of features. These include support for up to 32GB memory at 2400 (OC), 8 Sata 6Gb/s Devices, 8 USB 2.0 and 4 USB 3.0, and an onboard video in the Supreme FX III that makes sound cards obsolete.
- Final thoughts: The Asus Crosshair V Formula-Z is worth purchasing for mid to high-end builds that can benefit more from performance tweaking than the extra money this board costs. Lower-end builds may want to opt for a more inexpensive board in order to allocate more of their budget to components.
2. Asus Sabertooth 990FX
If you want another good overclocking option, be sure to look at the Asus Sabertooth 990FX. While I wouldn't say the quality of heat dissipation is as high as the Formula-Z, it's still solid and good enough for most that aren't trying to break records.
- Overclocking on the Sabertooth 990FX: For my FX-8350, I was able to reach a stable 4.7GHz. I also find the UEFI BIOS of these boards to be super easy to use and set up.
Overall, the Sabertooth is definitely worth looking at if you want something with solid overclocking potential. Yet, it may still be overkill for many who are looking to build a budget AM3+ PC.
3. Asus M5A97 AM3+
If you don't have a super huge budget for your components, go with the Asus M5A97 and you'll be happy with it. You get Asus quality in a budget board that's easy to use and allows you to allocate more of your money towards game changing hardware.
Overall this motherboard does what it needs to. Nothing more and nothing less. For Less than $70, it's great for an affordable PC build.
Best Gigabyte AMD AM3+ Motherboards 2018
By price range, here's a list of my favorite Gigabyte AM3+ boards.
If you're looking for a good mid-range motherboard with a lot of features, I highly recommend the Gigabyte GA-970A-UD3. This board hovers just above $100 and gives you a lot of features and overclocking potential for that price.
For durability, this board is good. You certainly don't have to worry about screwing it in to the standoffs or bending like I've seen with some cheap boards.
The BIOS is also easy-to-use and gives you a lot of good information. This includes your CPU temperature and other things you'll be looking at when you overclock your AMD FX CPU.
FSB 2400MHz Hyper Transport (4800 MT/s), up to 32 GB of Dual Channel DDR3 memory 2000(O.C.) / 1866 / 1600 / 1333 / 1066 standard, graphical interface 2*PCI-E 2.0x16(x16,x4), and 6 x SATA 6Gb/s, 8 x USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0. Also comes with a three-year warranty.
Technical Details: Four-way SLI/CrossFireX, 7 x USB 2.0 2 x USB 3.0, 8 x SATA 6Gb/s, 6*PCI-E 2.0x16(4*x8+2*4), supports up to 32 GB of dual channel DDR3 ram 2000(O.C.)/1866/1600/1333/1066, 5200MT/s (HT3.0) 2600MHz Hyper Transport, and comes with a three year parts and labor warranty.
If you can still find this board, it's a good budget option with the following specifications.
Technical details include:
- CPU compatibility: AMD AM3+ FX/Phenom II/Athlon II processor. Chipset: North Bridge: AMD 970. South Bridge: AMD SB950.
- Memory: 4 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 32 GB of system memory. Dual channel memory architecture. Support for DDR3 2000(O.C.)/1866/1600/1333/1066 MHz memory modules.
- Audio: Realtek HD audio codec. High Definition Audio. 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel. Support for S/PDIF Out. LAN: Realtek GbE LAN chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
- Expansion Slots: 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4. 3 x PCI Express x1 slots. 2 x PCI slots. Support for AMD CrossFireX technology.
- Back panel connectors: 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port. 6 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports. 2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports. 1 x RJ-45 port. 3 x audio jacks, Internal I/O Connectors: 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector/1 x 4-pin ATX 12V power connector/6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors/1 x CPU fan header/2 x system fan headers/1 x power fan header/1 x front panel header/1 x front panel audio header/1 x S/PDIF Out header/3 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers/1 x Clear CMOS jumper, USB:
- South bridge: Up to 12 USB 2.0/1.1 ports. Etron EJ168 chip: Up to 2 USB 3.0/2.0 ports on the back panel Storage Interface: 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors supporting up to 6 SATA 6Gb/s devices. Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10, and JBOD.
Our Favorite ASRock AM3+ Motherboards
Chipset: AMD 970 & SB950
Memory: 4x DDR3-2100(OC)/1866(OC)/1800(OC)/1600(OC)/1333/1066/800 DIMMs
Slots: 2x PCI-Express 2.0 x16 Slots; 2x PCI-Express 2.0 x1 Slots; 2x PCI Slots
SATA: 5x SATA3 Ports, Support RAID 0/ 1/ 5/ 10; 1x eSATA3 Port
Form Factor: ATX
Ports: 10x USB 2.0 Ports (4 rear, 6 by headers); 2x USB 3.0 Ports
Power Connector: 1x 24pin main power, 1x 8pin CPU power
Also Consider: The AsRock 990FX Professional
- Chipset: AMD 990FX & SB950
- Memory: 4x DDR3-2100(OC)/1866(OC)/1600(OC)/1333/1066/800 DIMMs
- Slots: 3x PCI-Express 2.0 x16 Slots; 2x PCI-Express 2.0 x1 slots; 2x PCI Slots
- SATA: 6x SATA3 Ports, Support RAID 0/ 1/ 0+1/ JBOD/ 5, 2x eSATA3 Ports
- Form factor: ATX
- Ports: 9x USB 2.0 Ports (5 rear, 4 by headers); 6x USB 3.0 Ports (2 rear, 4 by headers); 2x IEEE 1394 Ports
- Power connector: 1x 24pin main power, 1x 8pin CPU power
What Type of Motherboard Do You Need for Your AMD Processor?
- Compatibility: Building an AMD gaming PC is all about getting the best bang for your buck. AMD's FX series certainly allows gamers to do just that. Whether you're using one of AMD's newer or older version CPUs, you'll likely be looking for an AM3+ motherboard. These motherboards are not only compatible with the FX Series, but also Phenom II, Athlon II, and the Sempron 100 Series processors as well.
- AMD APUs. One of the more interesting releases from AMD in the last couple of years has been their APUs, which are a great option for those looking for great graphics performance while on a budget. While AMD generally tries to keep multiple generations of processors compatible with motherboards, AMD's Llano APU require the socket FM1 motherboards. Trinity and Richland require the FM2 socket. Most recently, the Kaveri series requires the FM2+ socket which is also backwards compatible with Trinity and Richland.
Is Your AMD AM3 Motherboard Compatible with Bulldozer?
If you already have an AM3 motherboard and are looking to upgrade to something that is compatible with AMD's new Zambezi processors, then it's important to know whether your motherboard is already compatible with AMD's Bulldozer architecture Zambezi processors, or if the one you're purchasing will be.
While I could make some huge list of compatible motherboards, the most efficient way for you to find the compatibility of your motherboard is to go to the manufacturer's AM3+ compatible web page. To facilitate this process, I've listed the links, by manufacturer, that you can find below my list of the best Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, and ASRock motherboards.
Motherboard Manufacturer Poll and Discussion
Video: AMD FX Processor Breaks the Operating Frequency World Record
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2011 TTGReviews
Exuroth on April 12, 2020:
I have a question, my computer has an AMD FX-8350 but my motherboard is a Gigabyte GA-78LMT-USB3 and the problem is that this motherboard is not supported so I am having trouble with my graphics card drivers. My question is, does this motherboard like ASUS have support and driver updates so far?
Anon on February 15, 2019:
What about Asus 970 pro gaming aura
Wanclik on August 04, 2017:
I préfère asrock for the performances I expect