If you are custom building a computer, getting your hands on a good motherboard is paramount.
You don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars for a motherboard. A decent motherboard can cost between $40 and $100.
You don’t really need to spend over $100 unless you are going for really speedy specs.
The best budget motherboard I found was the ASUS M5A97 LE R2.0, which had amazing performance considering its price.
But you should have a few good options to know what suits your needs and budget best. Here are the top picks under $100:
7 Best Budget Motherboard – 2018
The LGA 1151 model supports 6th generation Intel Core i3, i5, and i7, Celeron and Pentium processors.
You can equip AMD Crossfire processors as well. The motherboard itself has an Intel H110 chipset, and 2x DDR4-2133 memory.
It’s advertised that this has USB 3.1 ports. Note that USB 3.0 and 3.1 ports are basically the same.
Overall, this motherboard is a wonderful low-cost base that you can use to build a powerful gaming computer.
If you just want to build a regular work computer, this will deliver more power than you need.
You can put it in 7th or 6th gen Intel Core processors.
Additional features include audio noise guard, top notch audio capacitors, HDMI 1.4 port, Realtek GbE LAN with cFos internet accelerator software, and access to Gigabyte apps.
Don’t expect superb performance but it delivers as it promises.
However, it’s not well suited for Windows 10, because this motherboard has a lot of generic drivers that can make the OS buggy.
It ships with a new BIOS, which is a great plus.
The system lacks a VRM heatsink, so you will probably have to buy one separately if you want to build something like a gaming computer.
This motherboard has a number of power saving features and anti-surge protection that makes it ideal for most custom-built computers.
I was surprised by how durable this board is. It does not bend easily.
You can change components several times or move the motherboard between cases multiple times without worry of wear and tear.
You get all the standard ports like VGA, HDMI, USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports and DVI. It has an intuitive BIOS as well. And it displays the temp too.
Plus, it has power failure, humidity and electrostatic protection.
There is a host of other utilities, especially for health monitoring, which makes this board worth every penny.
It has DDR4 memory compatibility and comes with M.2 sockets for 2242/2260/2280 SSDs. So essentially you can use this to build a really fast computer.
There are audio connections perfect for getting powerful sounds for multimedia and gaming.
The board is packed with connections, including for HDMI, which is unique for boards of this price range. The board has Fan Xpert 2 controls.
However, it only has a single chassis fan connector.
You can use almost any Intel processor with this one and it comes with two RAM bays.
I wouldn’t really recommend this for hardcore gaming, but it’s suitable for moderate gaming needs.
Also, this motherboard is well suited for custom building a PC.
The only issue I encountered with getting an interior fan for the board. You will need a fan with 3 specific female connectors, which can be a hassle to find.
This board has an Intel H110 chipset and supports 7th and 6th generation Intel Core processors.
It has dual channel DDR4 and double DIMM memory.
I was impressed with the high-quality audio capacitors, which actually had audio noise guards.
Even more impressive was the 1.4 HDMI port that makes this board ideal for multimedia for gaming computer building.
It comes with Realtek modem software too
Tips for Buying a Cheap Motherboard
When you are on the hunt for a good motherboard for less than $100, keep the following in mind:
Support for USB 3.0 is a great bonus. In fact, it may be a necessity as computers of the future are switching to USB 3.0.
Try to buy a motherboard with 6-GBps SATA ports that support faster data transfer on hard drives, including SSD drives.
SATA ports are also very compact so you will have more room for attaching other devices.
RAM is now cheaper than ever. So, don’t settle for less.
Get as much RAM as possible. 8GB is decent enough and you won’t have to pay a lot like you would for 16GB max RAM.
If you plan on equipping your PC with a new generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, you will need to buy a motherboard with an 1155 socket.
Keep in mind that the processor is the most important component your motherboard will have.
You will need to buy the motherboard after you decide which processor you want.
When buying, make sure the motherboard has a CPU socket that can actually hold the processor you want.
Modern motherboards have two main form factors: ATX and microATX.
ATX motherboards usually have a larger number of slots for expansion (about 7 typically), four to eight RAM bays and data connectors.
MicroATX motherboards typically only have four expansion slots and fewer RAM bays.
However, you will find microATX motherboards more commonly because they support smaller, minimalist PCs.
If you are a gamer, you will need a full-size ATX motherboard.