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If you’re going to build a quality gaming rig, you’ll need a badass processor, and the i9-9900K still is an extremely capable gaming CPU. Eight fast cores and sixteen threads are the sweet spots for many modern titles, and it seems like the 9900K will stay a potent gaming CPU in years to come. The 9900K is a flagship-level CPU, and it demands a powerful motherboard. If you have some other gaming CPU and want to find the right motherboard for it, visit our motherboards section and check out some of our many motherboard buying guides.
This CPU can eat lots of power under load, so you need a capable motherboard to run it without thermal issues, especially if you plan on OCing the thing. No worries though; we’re about to show you the best motherboards for i9-9900K. We have the budget, mid-range, and high-end options along with mATX and ITX motherboards.
Now, before we start listing the best motherboard for the 9900K, take a couple of minutes and read our list of the best CPU coolers for i9-9900K. This is a powerful CPU, and it demands a top-notch cooling solution. Gamers who own the 9900K should definitely check out our guide of the best graphics cards for i9-9900K. Last but not least, we have an interesting article about CPU & GPU undervolting. If you think your 9900K is too hot, try undervolting it, it may help reduce thermals under load.
1. Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Pro: Best budget motherboard for i9-9900K
If you’re on a budget, you might not be willing to invest in the biggest, baddest motherboard on the market. That’s okay. You can get good performance with very little expense. Take, for example, the Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Pro, our pick for the best budget motherboard for the 9900K.
The Aorus Pro caught our eye right from the outset. It boasts a gorgeous black and orange theme, with a signature Aorus bird of prey and orange stripes on the surface of the motherboard itself, as well as RGB lighting. But a good motherboard is about more than cosmetics. It’s about real-world performance.
First off, the Aorus Pro has a 12+1 phase power section, a significant upgrade from the earlier Z370 line. This will provide more than enough power to unleash the i9-9900K’s full potential.
On the top of the board, you’ll find three PCIe slots, all of which are reinforced. This provides full support for any modern GPU and even an aftermarket sound card if you want to enjoy top-quality audio. If you want to use the i9-9900K’s native sound, you’ll get Gigabyte’s built-in AMP-UP audio technology.
For storage, you get a pair of M.2 slots for lightning-fast SSDs. Alternatively, you can attach up to six SATA drives. Keep in mind that each M.2 drive will use up a SATA connection. For example, if you install two M.2 SSDs, you’ll “only” be able to attach four SATA drives.
For memory, you get a whopping four DIMMs. Your i9-9900K processor will be obsolete long before you run out of RAM capacity. On the back of the board, you’ll get plenty of connection options. There’s a single HDMI port, as well as five USB Type-A ports (three 3.0 and two 3.1) and a USB Type-C port.
The Aorus Pro also supports overclocking. With VRM cooling, you’ll have no problem running your i9-9900K at a full 5GHz, with only 3.33 volts of power. The load line calibration is a bit twitchy, but that’s not a huge complaint at this price point.
2. ASRock Z390 Taichi Ultimate: Best mid-range motherboard for i9-9900K
With motherboards, as with most technology, you get diminishing returns the more you spend. If you want to get the best-bang-for-your-buck board for your i9-9900K, a mid-priced option is where it’s at.
Enter the ASRock Z390 Taichi Ultimate, a motherboard purposely built for online gaming. It supports 10Gb Ethernet, so you can even use it as an access point for a game console.
The Taichi Ultimate sports three PCIx16 slots, so you can install any GPU and sound card you like. Depending on your hardware selection, though, you might have to fiddle around with placement.
Longer cards in the upper slot might butt up against the top M.2 module. Furthermore, the lower slot is very close to the RTC battery, so you’ll need to be careful when you’re installing a card in that slot.
Like the Aorus Pro, the Taichi Ultimate supports up to six SATA drives. If you’re only using one M.2 slot, you’ll want to use the second one since it will occupy the third SATA port. The first and third slots will each steal two SATA connections, 0/1 and 4/5, respectively. But if you’re using three M.2 SSDs, a single SATA port should be more than good enough to meet your storage needs.
The Taichi Ultimate supports DDR4 RAM with clock speeds of up to 4,200 MT/s. This is far beyond your typical DDR4 RAM speeds, so you can overclock your RAM to your heart’s content.
On the Taichi Ultimate, overclocking your i9-9900K is doable. However, you’ll want to avoid the automatic overclocking algorithm. Since it’s based on voltage, and the i9-9900K draws relatively little voltage, the automatic algorithm will end up underclocking your processor.
To get a full 5GHz from your i9-9900K, you’ll want to increase the BCLK, drop the core voltage to 1.3 volts, and increase the multiplier. Fiddle around with it a bit, and you’ll have blazing fast speeds in no time.
3. Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Xtreme: Best high-end ATX motherboard for i9-9900K
If you want the best of the best, the Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Xtreme is virtually unbeatable. This is our pick for the best high-end board for the 9900K. The Aorus Xtreme supports up to 128GB of RAM, including Intel’s high-speed Optane memory.
The board itself is gorgeous, with an RGB Aorus bird of prey and RGB lighting across the board. And if you want even more RGB lighting, there are four onboard connectors for light strips. If you need even more RGB power, check out our guides for the best RGB case fans and the best RGB cases.
There are heatsinks at the rear IO shield, the north and southbridge, and the M.2 modules. All of them have a Perspex coating. Perspex is a lightweight, durable plastic that can withstand even very high operating temperatures.
The Aorus Xtreme sports four PCIe ports, which allow you to install dual graphics cards if you so desire. Pair dual graphics with Optane memory, and your friends will be drooling over your rig’s performance. You might even be able to run Kingdom Come: Deliverance at max settings. Just kidding; everyone knows that’s impossible!
If you’re running a single GPU, you’ll want to install it in the first two PCIe slots. The third shares some bandwidth with the first M.2 socket, so you’ll get slightly reduced speeds from that slot. The other two M.2 slots can occupy either PCI or SATA bandwidth, depending on your settings.
Even so, most people are not going to be using all of these ports. In practice, you aren’t going to run into any issues. That said, the large number of slots gives you plenty of options for future upgrades.
The Aorus Xtreme utilizes a pair of 8-pin CPU power connectors, which allows for even the most demanding CPUs. Thankfully, the i9-9900 is not even going to come close to demanding all that power.
4. ASUS ROG Z390 Maximus XI Gene: Best micro ATX motherboard for i9-9900K
Ever since the first Micro-ATX motherboards came out, people have considered the platform inferior for gaming. However, this hasn’t been the case for the last few years. With modern circuitry, you can get excellent performance from a Micro-ATX board. You just won’t get as many slots.
The ASUS ROG Maximus XI Gene Z390 is the best Micro ATX motherboard you can get for the 9900K. The board features a pair of PCIe x16 ports, enough for a dual-slot GPU. If you choose this option, you’ll be limited to the i9-9900K’s onboard sound. But because the onboard sound is so good, you probably won’t even want a sound card.
For memory, the Maximus XI Gene offers a pair of RAM slots, supporting a total of 64GB. This is more than enough for any foreseeable game.
If you’re a high-speed storage enthusiast, the Maximus XI Gene has plenty to offer. In addition to three Z390 paths, you can also connect two SSDs directly to the CPU. That said, enabling these two M.2 slots will steal eight lanes from the second PCI x16 slot. This will slow down your graphics performance if you’re running dual GPUs.
If you’re having trouble finding the M.2 slots, you’re not alone. They’re located under the aluminum heat spreader, which is a necessity given the relatively small size of the board. Just take a peek under the hood, and you’ll be able to find them.
One thing we like about the Maximus XI Gene is the support for Asus Ramcache III technology. This technology recognizes frequently-used files and caches them in a dedicated portion of memory. This won’t necessarily make a big difference while you’re gaming, but it makes a huge difference when it comes to boot time.
5. ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/AC: Best mini ITX motherboard for i9-9900K
In general, a Mini-ITX motherboard isn’t ideal for gaming. You’re looking at less space for attachments and a smaller case that’s harder to cool. That isn’t to say you can’t build a powerful, compact gaming rig, though. With the ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/AC, you absolutely can.
It sports a PCIe x16 slot, along with dual M.2 slots that can each support NVMe-M.2 SSDs. In other words, you can get 4GB/s transfer rates, as well as install a modern GPU. On the downside, the Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/AC only supports processor speeds of 3.4GHz, even with overclocking. So you won’t be able to get the most out of your i9-9900K.
In addition to the M.2 slots, you also get four SATA 6G connectors, which can support standard 3.5 and 2.5-inch drives. The board also has an M.2 Key E for WiFi and can support up to 32GB of RAM. No memory or connectivity issues here!
When it comes to peripherals, the Z390 Phantom GAMING-ITX/AC provides you with plenty of options. There’s an HDMI port, as well as a DisplayPort 1.2 for video, and a Realtek ALC1220 connection for sound output. You also get four USB 3.1 Type-A ports and a pair of USB 3.1 that support Thunderbolt connections.
Now, if you need a case for your upcoming SFF build, do check our list of the best Mini-ITX cases. It’s packed with high-quality buying options.
About the i9-9900K
First released in October of 2018, the Intel Core i9-9900K is still among the fastest CPUs on the market. It’s Intel’s answer to AMD’s Ryzen processor line, which had been pushing Intel out of the gaming market for several years. The goal was to produce a multi-core processor capable of multi-threading utilizing the LGA 1151 socket and Z390 chipset.
Later versions of the 9th gen i9 are now available, but they offer only modest improvements over the 9900K. You get eight cores, 16 threads, a base frequency of 3.6GHz, and a maximum clock speed of 5.0GHz. This makes it faster than any contemporary AMD processor at a comparable price. In particular, it excels at hyper-threading.
The i9-9900K outperforms the next most powerful Coffee Lake processor by 400MHz, while still using the same 95-watt thermal package. And it has the benchmark results to back up Intel’s claims. Furthermore, a soldered heat spreader improves cooling efficiency and prevents overheating. It runs 10°C cooler than the fastest Core i7 processors.