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High-end motherboards come with plenty of bells and whistles, but are they worth the money?

Are expensive motherboards worth it?

When building or specifying a PC, there is often the temptation to save money on non-headline components like the motherboard, especially given they are seen as a less exciting part than the CPU or GPU. However, opting for a cheap motherboard can lead to compromises that ultimately undermine the overall performance, stability, and longevity of your system. To explain this, in today’s blog we are going to compare higher-end motherboards, like those using the AMD X670 and Intel Z790 chipsets, against entry-level models for the LGA 1700 and AM5 sockets.


PCIe Lanes and Connectivity

An easily overlooked difference between high-end and entry-level motherboards lies in the number and type of PCIe lanes. High-end motherboards such as those with the X670 or Z790 chipsets typically offer a greater number of PCIe lanes than their cheaper stablemates. For instance, the X670 chipset can provide up to 44 PCIe lanes, while the Z790 can offer up to 28. This abundance of lanes allows for multiple high-bandwidth components like graphics cards, NVMe SSDs, and additional capture cards to be used simultaneously without bandwidth limitations.

Z790 Motherboard PCIe Lanes Diagram
PCIe Lanes dictate how many add-in cards and PCIe SSDs you can use in your PC

In contrast, entry-level motherboards for the LGA 1700 and AM5 sockets provide far fewer PCIe lanes, limiting your ability to add multiple components without experiencing performance bottlenecks. The H610, for example lacks any PCIe 4.0 capability and offers just eight PCIE 3.0 lanes. Fewer, slower PCIe lanes can also mean fewer slots and potentially shared bandwidth among them, which can severely impact the performance of connected devices.

High-end motherboards almost always offer better connectivity options. They typically include more USB ports, often of the faster USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 variety, more M.2 slots for storage, and better network options, such as 2.5Gb or even 10Gb Ethernet and Wi-Fi 6E. These features are often absent or limited in cheaper motherboards, leading to a less versatile and future-proof system. Cheaper motherboards often lack the option to host Type C connectors on more modern chassis, which will become more and more of an issue as traditional USB A ports are phased out in favour of bidirectional Type Cs.

Types of USB ports
More elaborate chipsets facilitate additional high speed USB ports like Thunderbolt and USB 3.2 Gen 2.


ChipsetIntel Z790Intel B760 Intel Z690Intel B660Intel H610
Chipset PCIe 4.0 Lanes20101260
Chipset PCIe 3.0 Lanes841688
USB 3.2 Gen 2×252420
USB 3.2 Gen 2×11041042
USB 3.2 Gen 1×11061064
Memory OverclockingYesYesYesYesNo

Total PCIe Lanes4444363632
PCIe 5.0 Lanes2042000
USB 3.2 Gen 2×222400
USB 3.2 Gen 2×11212602
USB 3.2 Gen 1×100002
Memory OverclockingYesYesYesYesYes

VRM Cooling and Power Delivery

Voltage Regulator Module (VRM) quality and cooling are paramount in ensuring the performance, stability and longevity of your system, especially if you plan to overclock your CPU. High-end motherboards like those with the X670 and Z790 chipsets feature robust VRMs with more phases, higher quality components, and substantial cooling solutions, such as large heatsinks or in the case of some chipsets,  even active cooling.

These features ensure that the power delivery to the CPU is clean and stable, which is crucial for maintaining performance and avoiding throttling under heavy loads. High-quality VRM cooling helps in maintaining lower temperatures, which further supports better performance and enhances the longevity of the motherboard and the CPU.

Motherboard VRMs
Motherboard VRMs now need to dissipate heat from CPUs pulling as much as 350W. Keeping them cool is critical.

Cheaper motherboards often skimp on VRM quality and cooling. They may have fewer phases, lower quality components, and minimal cooling solutions. This can lead to poor power delivery, higher temperatures, and ultimately, system instability or throttling. Over time, the stress on inadequately cooled VRMs can lead to failures, forcing premature replacements and nullifying any initial cost savings. If your proposed system is only going to be used for lift use, this may not be an issue, but for anything that’ll be worked hard you are better off selecting a component that’s fit for purpose.

Stability and Longevity

Stability and longevity are critical factors where high-end motherboards consistently outperform their cheaper counterparts. Motherboards like those based on the X670 and Z790 chipsets are designed with premium materials and undergo more rigorous testing. This ensures that they can handle the demands of high-performance CPUs, heavy multitasking, gaming, and other intensive tasks reliably over a long period.

High-end motherboards often come with better BIOS support and more frequent updates, which can provide enhancements in stability, compatibility, and security over time. This is less common with entry-level boards, which receive fewer updates and improvements post-release.

The build quality of high-end motherboards is always superior to entry level counterparts. They include features like reinforced PCIe slots, better capacitors, and more durable, thicker PCBs for sturdier overall construction. These contribute to a longer lifespan and better resilience to physical stress, such as when swapping out GPUs or other components.

Gigabyte multi layer PCBs
Higher end motherboards feature additional layers in their PCB designs for durability.

A Z790 motherboard offers more extensive PCIe lane availability, superior connectivity options including multiple high-speed USB ports and support for CPU overclocking. It is the direct successor to the previous Z690, which was the flagship prior to its release. Most Z790 motherboards feature upgraded VRM designs capable of supporting Intel’s high-performance Alder Lake and Raptor Lake i9 CPUs even under our-of-spec Turbo conditions.

The B760 slashes PCIe lanes and high speed ports and removes PCIe RAID and CPU overclocking. H610  cuts even more corners with no PCIE 4.0 chipset support and fewer PCIe 3.0 lanes, limiting the ability to fully utilize multiple GPUs or NVMe drives. It will also have basic VRM setups that might struggle with power delivery, especially if paired with a high-end CPU, and fewer connectivity options, reducing the system’s overall versatility and future-proofing.

AMD X670 vs. Entry-Level AM5

AMD is generally much more generous with it’s mid level chipsets. To illustrate, let’s compare a high-end X670 motherboard with B650E board. The X670 will provide extensive PCIe 5.0 support for both the GPU and NVMe storage, multiple M.2 slots with heatsinks, and a variety of high-speed USB ports. It will have a comprehensive VRM setup with excellent cooling, ensuring stable power delivery even under overclocking conditions. B650-E has fewer lanes and high speed connectivity ports, but still provides RAID and CPU overclocking.

Asrock A620
Basic motherboards like this A620 shouldn’t be paired with Ryzen 7 or 9 CPUs.

In contrast, an entry-level A620 AM5 board only supports PCIe 4.0, has fewer M.2 slots, and lacks advanced USB connectivity options. Its VRMs will likely be less capable, with minimal cooling solutions, which can lead to higher temperatures and potential throttling or instability, especially with a high-end Ryzen CPU.


While it might be tempting to save money upfront by opting for a cheaper motherboard, the long-term disadvantages often outweigh the initial savings. High-end motherboards like those with the X670 and Z790 chipsets offer superior PCIe lanes and connectivity, better VRM cooling and power delivery, and greater stability and longevity. These factors contribute to a more reliable, performant, and future-proof system, making them a better investment in the long run compared to entry-level LGA 1700 and AM5 socket motherboards. Nevertheless, if you are building a budget PC