Purchasing an expensive motherboard doesn’t mean you’ll automatically gain additional performance in your favorite games. Saving that money for your graphics card and processor is the way to go for those building a budget PC. While we recently did an article on the best Skylake motherboards I wanted to do another post for the budget or even space conscious. In this post, I looked at 30 popular Skylake boards and narrowed that list down to the few that we felt offer the best value for the money. You can also take a look at our latest picks for Intel Z370 Coffee Lake Motherboards.
Why Skylake and not Haswell?
As I’ve done all of my builds lately with Skylake CPUs I get this question a lot. Why are so many people asking it? Because it’s a valid point. Performance-wise Haswell CPUs don’t feel that different from Skylake ones. For gaming, the performance difference is minimal and especially if you overclock. By the way, that same reasoning could be used with Ivy Bridge.
For this very reason, I hesitated to recommend Skylake when it was first released. The CPUs, motherboards, and even DDR4 were overpriced when compared with the performance you could get for a similarly priced Haswell build.
Though Skylake components remain more expensive than Haswell, the difference in price, in my opinion, doesn’t justify holding on to a CPU that’s a couple of years old at this point. How much is that price difference? While it was $100 to $150 when we published our $1,000 Skylake Build, it’s now as little as $50 if you’re willing to go with a less expensive motherboard.
So, if you’re going to spend a bit more on your PC to go with Skylake, what do you get for it? While that can vary for every CPU in the line of 100 chipset CPUs, you can expect a 1-10% increase in performance. More if you’re talking about certain areas of Lightroom and Photoshop. If the performance boost isn’t enough, what this CPU can drive might be; SATA 6, M.2, U.2, SATA Express, ddr4 memory that uses less power, gigabit jacks, audio solutions, and USB 3.1 to name a few. Oh did I mention? CPUs like the i7-6700k use about 4-10 fewer watts than a comparable Haswell CPU like the Intel i7-4790k. Over time, that extra power usage adds up.
Cheap and Good Intel Skylake 1151 Motherboards 2018
With all that in mind, let’s get to our motherboard picks for $50, $100, and $150 budgets. Prefer something smaller? Here’s a list of our favorite small form factor Mini-ITX Intel motherboards.
Under $150 Skylake 1151 Motherboard Picks
Asus H170 PRO Gaming
A lot of gamers look at any chipset with an H rather than a Z in front of it and completely write it off. The Asus H170 Pro Gaming motherboard is for the gamer who wants a single GPU solution and doesn’t care about overclocking. That’s a lot of the public and even gamers. What do you get for going for you H170 chipset motherboard? A high-quality motherboard for less money with a ton of gaming features. These features include SupremeFX Audio, Sonic Radar II, Intel Gigabit Ethernet, LANGuard, GameFirst, and RAMCache packages. We found the audio chipset to be especially impressive.
In addition to all of these features, the PRO Gaming also includes support for USB 3.1 Type A/C and M.2 SATA Express. The board also looks fantastic.
A motherboard like this feels like enough for most PC builders out there. You’ll still get all the benefits from Intel’s Turbo Boost technology with all the features and quality you need, and none of those you don’t.
Recommended CPU Combo: i5-6500, i3-6100
Recommended as a value pick by Proclockers.com and Tweaktown, the Gigabyte GA-Z170XP-SLI is for the budget-conscious gamer that still wishes to overclock. Coming in at just $6 more than the motherboard above it comes with a few more connectors and more flexibility than the board above but not quite as many gaming-related features.
Still, the GA-Z170XP-SLI is a durable board with support for overclocking, USB Type-C, 3-Way Graphics, M.2, and much more.
Overall this is the board I’d recommend for those wanting to go with a standard ATX budget Intel i5-6600k build. See the comparison table below for more information.
If you’re wanting to go with a small form factor build, consider the Asus Z170M-PLUS. Despite it’s smaller size it still has ATX performance and solid overclocking potential.
Overall the Z170M-PLUS is a good and cheap Micro-ATX Skylake Motherboard for that small space area or gaming HTPC. It’s loaded with USB 3.0, 3.1, M.2 Support and more.
From Under $125
Last year I built a green mini ITX gaming PC and most recently our friend Joker showcased his portable LAN Syndicate Mini ITX build here on TopTenGamer. These builds show just how compact gaming PCs have become. I regularly use mine as a Plex Server and gaming HTPC in my theater room and take it with me when I go to LAN parties.
If you’re looking to build something similar, I’d recommend Gigabyte’s GA-H170N-WIFI motherboard. It’s not an overclocker, but you’ll get quite a bit of performance by using something like the i5-6500 or i3-6100. Other features to like include Dual wired NICs, Intel Dual Band 802.11ac W-Fi, M.2, Bluetooth 4.2, high-quality audio capacitors with the Realtek ALC1150 high definition audio codec, and USB 3.0 with Type-C.
MSI H170A Gaming Pro
For a little less than the Asus H170 Gaming model above, the H170A Gaming Pro from MSI still offers most of the same features. You get dedicated gaming LAN with Intel, Gaming optimized Bandwidth management, as well as USB 3.1.
For those of you looking to match a particular color scheme, the MSI H170A Gaming PRO comes in red and black and has mystic light which allows you to customize your own LED colors.
Overall, the H170A Gaming Pro is another solid option for gamers who don’t feel the need to overclock.
Z170A PC Mate
Looking for a practical full-sized motherboard that still has support for higher speed RAM and a decent CPU overclock? I was a fan of MSI’s Z97 PC mate and now have the same positive things to say about the Z170A PC Mate. It’s cheap, performs well, and gives you all the Z170 features, like USB 3.1 and M.2 support, without paying for a lot of extras.
If we have any gripe, it’s that the board isn’t eye-catching, but at this price, who doesn’t prefer performance?
From Under $100 to $50
Here’s another no frills H170 micro ATX motherboard from Gigabyte. Despite its size, you’ll still find M.2, 2-way graphic, and SATA Express support as well as many of the standard Gigabyte features, like quality audio capacitors and the 15 micron Gold Plated CPU Socket design.
Budget $200 Skylake Motherboard CPU Combo
Just want to go with a cheap and reliable system that will do the job? Go with Gigabyte’s GA-H110M-A motherboard and the i3-6100 for around $175. Put this together with some reasonably priced RAM and PSU as well as the 750 Ti or R7 360 and you’ve got a build that fits well as a $400 PC on our top gaming PC builds list.
|Model||Picture||Form / Memory||Expansion / Storage||Rear Ports/ Audio/ LAN||Internal|
|Asus H170 PRO Gaming||ATX / Up to 64GB DDR4 2133||1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16), 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4), 4 x PCI Express 3.0 x1/ 4 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports (gray), 1 x SATA Express port (gray, compatible with 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports), 1 x M.2 Socket 3 with M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (both SATA & PCIe3.0 x4 modes)*|
* When the M.2 Socket 3 is operating in SATA mode, SATA port 1 will be disabled.
|1 PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, D-Sub + DVI, 1 HDMI, 1 RJ45, 1 DisplayPort, 2 USB 3.1 ports (1 Type-A, red; 1 Type-C, black), 2 USB 3.0/2.0 ports, 2 USB 2.0, |
1 Optical, 8-channel audio I/O ports / SupremeFX 8-Channel/ Intel Gigabit LAN, LANGuard, GameFirst
|2 USB 3.0, 3 USB 2.0 connectors, 1 System panel header, 1 Front panel audio, 1 CPU fan (4-pin),
1 CPU optional fan connector (4-pin), 3 Chassis fan, 1 Thermal sensor connector, 1 EXT_FAN header, 1 COM connector, 1 TPM header, 1 24-pin EATX Power connector, 1 8-pin EATX 12V Power, 1 ROG extension, 1 CPU_OV, 1 Stdby Power LED (red), 1 Clear CMOS jumper
|Gigabyte GA-Z170XP-SLI||ATX / Up to 64GB DDR4 3466||1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16), |
1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8), 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4), 2 x PCI Express x1 slots, 2 x PCI Slots,
6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors, 3 x SATA Express connectors, 1 x M.2 Socket 3 connector
|1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, 1 x D-Sub port, 1 x DVI-D Port, 1 x HDMI, 1 x RJ45, 1 x USB Type-C port with USB 3.1, 1 x USB 3.1, 3 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, 6 x Audio Jacks / Realtek ALC1150 / Intel GbE Lan Chip||2 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0/1.1 headers, 1 24-pin ATX main, power connector, 1 8-pin ATX 12V power connector, 1 CPU fan header, 1 water cooling fan header (CPU_OPT), 3 x system fan headers, 1 front panel header, 1 x front panel audio header, 1 S/PDIF Out header, 1 Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header, 1 Thunderbolt add-in card connector, 1 serial port header, 1 parallel port header, 1 Clear CMOS jumper|
|ASUS Z170M-PLUS||Micro ATX / Up to 64GB DDR4 3466||1 x PCI Express 3.0/2.0 x16 slot (at x16), 1 x PCI Express 3.0/2.0 x16 slot (max. at x4 mode, compatible with PCIe x1 and x4 devices), 2 x PCI Express 3.0/2.0 x1 slots, 6 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports (gray, 2 from SATA Express), 1 x SATA Express port (compatible with 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports), 1 x M.2 Socket 3 with M Key||1 x PS/2 Keyboard, 1 x PS/2 Mouse, 1 x DVI-D, 1 x HDMI, 1 x LAN, 2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (blue, Type A), 1 x USB 5Gb/s Type C port, 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports, 3-Jack 8-Channel Audio I/O Ports/ Intel 1219-V, Realtek ALC887||2 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0, 1 4-pin CPU Fan connector, 2 4-pin Chassis Fan connectors, 1 x Front panel audio connector, 1 x System panel connector, 1 x S/PDIF out header, 1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector, 1 x 8-pin EATX 12V Power connector, 1 x COM header, 1 x LPT connector, 1 x Clear CMOS jumper|
|Gigabyte GA-H170N-WIFI||Mini ITX / Up to 32GB DDR4 2133||1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16, 1 x M.2 Socket 1 connector for the wireless communication module (M2_WIFI), 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors, 2 x SATA Express connectors, 1 x M.2 Socket 3 connector on the back of the motherboard||1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, 1 x DVI-D port, 2 x HDMI, 2 x RJ-45 ports, 4 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports, 1 x USB Type-C port, with USB 3.0 support, 1 x Optical, 5 x audio jack, 2 x SMA antenna connectors (2T2R), Realtek ALC1150||1 USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector, 1 4-pin ATX 12V power connector, 1 CPU fan header, 1 system fan header, 1 front panel header, 1 front panel audio header, 1 S/PDIF Out header, 1 speaker header, 1 Clear CMOS jumper, 1 chassis intrusion header|
|MSI H170A GAMING PRO||Mini ITX/ Up to 32GB DDR4 2133||2 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, 2 x PCIe 3.0 x1 slots, 3 x PCI Slots, 1 x SATAe port (PCIe 3.0 x2)||1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, 1 x DVI-D, 1 x HDMI, 1 x RJ45, 2 x USB 3.1 gen 2, 4 x USB 3.1 gen 1, 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x optical, 5 x OFC audio jacks, Realtek ALC1150, Intel 1219-V||1 USB 2.0 connector, 1 USB 3.1 Gen1 connector, 1 24-pin ATX main power connector, 1 8-pin ATX 12V power connector, 2 4-pin CPU fan connectors, 3 4-pin system fan connectors, 1 Front panel audio connector, 2 Front panel connectors, 1 TPM module connector, 1 Chassis Intrusion connector, 1 Clear CMOS jumper, 1 Serial port connector, 1 Parallel port connector|
|MSI Z170A PC Mate||ATX/ Up to 64 GB Dual Channel DDR4 3200 OC||2 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, 3 x PCIe 3.0 x1 slots / 4 x SATA 6Gb/s, 1 x SATAe ports (PCIe3.0), 1 x M.2 ports||1 x PS/2 port, 1 x DVI port, 1 x DVI port, 1 x HDMI, 1 x RJ45, 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2, 4 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 / Realtek ALC887, 7.1 Audio Channels / Realtek RTL8111H, 10/100/1000Mbps||2 USB 2.0 connectors, 1 USB 3.1 Gen1, 1 24-pin ATX main power connector, 1 8-pin ATX 12V power connector, 2 4-pin CPU fan connectors, 3 4-pin system fan connectors, 1 Front panel audio connector, 1 System panel connector. 1 TPM module connector, 1 Parallel port connector, 1 Chassis Intrusion connector, 1 Clear CMOS jumper, 3 x Debug Code LED|
|Gigabyte GA-H170M-D3H||Micro ATX/ Up to 64GB DDR4 2133||1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16), 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4), |
2 x PCI Slots, 6 x SATA 6Gb/s, 2 x SATA Express connectors,
1 x M.2 Socket 3 connector
|1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port/ 1 x d-sub, 1 x DVI-D, 1 x HDMI, 1 x RJ45, 4 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports, 2 x USB 2.01/1.1 ports, 6 x audio jacks/ Realtek ALC892/ Intel GbE Lan Chip||2 USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, 1 24-pin ATX main power connector, 1 8-pin ATX 12V power connector, 1 CPU fan header, 3 system fan headers, 1 front panel header, 1 front panel audio header, 1 S/PDIF Out header, 1 Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header, 1 Thunderbolt add-in card connector, 1 serial port header, 1 parallel port header, 1 Clear CMOS jumper|
|Gigabyte GA-H110M-A||Micro ATX/ Up to 32 GB DDR4 2133||1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16), 2 x PCI Express x1 slots, 4 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors||1 x PS/2 mouse, 1 x HDMI, 1 x RJ45, 2 x USB 3.0, 4 x USB 2.0, 3 x Audio Jacks, Realtek ALC887, Realtek GbE Lan Chip||1 USB 3.0/2.0 header, 1 USB 2.0, 1 24-pin ATX main power connector, 1 4-pin ATX 12V power connector, 4 SATA 6Gb/s connectors, 1 CPU fan header, 1 system fan header, 1 front panel header, 1 front panel audio header, 1 S/PDIF Out header, 1 Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header, 1 Clear CMOS jumper|