The Intel Core i7-9700K is one of the best CPUs for gaming. It features 8 cores, high frequencies and plenty of power. Because of its specs, it needs a quality motherboard. Don’t worry, we scoured the market and found the six best motherboards for the i7-9700K CPU.
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Best motherboards for the i7-9700K
The i7-9700K demands a quality motherboard to unleash its potential. That means a board supporting overclocking. In other words, either Z370 or Z390 chipsets are in play. You can go with a Z370 board but we wouldn’t recommend that. First of all, you need to update your BIOS in case you pick a Z370. That means mounting an 8th gen Intel processor for the BIOS update before installing your i7-9700K. Next, many Z370 boards are more expensive than their X390 counterparts by now. Because of this, we included only Z390 boards in our recommendation list.
There are lots of Z390 motherboards that offer great performance and lots of handy features. They are placed anywhere between mid-range to high-end and it’s hard to pick just a few. We went with two choices. The first one is the Aorus Pro by Gigabyte that offers the best bang for the buck. Next is a solid MSI Z390 Gaming PRO Carbon that is a bit more expensive but offers RGB goodies. Remember that every board can run overclocked Core i7-9700K without any problem.
The Budget Choice - Gigabyte Z390 UD
The Gigabyte Z390 UD is a great all-rounder motherboard that won’t break the bank. It offers great VRM (Voltage Regulating Module) that also supports i9-9900K. Running Core i7-9700K won’t be a problem for this board.
The board also features excellent cooling, its audio chip (Realtek ALC887) is great for the price, and the list of features is the same as with more expensive models. The Gigabyte Z390 UD also looks rather nice. It sports a simple black and gray design that is striking to look at. The layout is simple and optimized to allow easy component installation and swapping.
The board comes with six SATA 6Gb/s ports, one PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 connector, and 4 RAM slots that support dual-channel memory. The main PCIe 3.0 X16 port is armored and the board also comes with 8 USB 3.1 ports. There’s also support for Intel Thunderbolt 3 and support for RGB light strips if you’re into that thing.
The Gigabyte Z390 UD is a great budget friendly motherboard that offers good specs and features for the price. The alternative could be the MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Plus that comes with similar specs (albeit with one extra M.2 slot) but sports a bit higher price.
Gigabyte Z390 AORUS PRO
First, we have the Gigabyte Z390 AORUS PRO, that offers a slew of excellent features. You get superb VRM (12+1 Phase) along with excellent expansion potential. There are 4 DDR4 DIMMs with dual-channel memory support. They can run every RAM speed up to DDR4 4133(O.C.) and support up to 128GB of RAM.
Next, we have 6 x SATA 6Gb/s ports and two M.2 slots, both equipped with thermal armor. There are three PCIe x16 3.0 ports (one runs at x8, one at x4) along with three PCIe x1 ports. Two PCIe x16 ports are armored, to protect your graphics cards in case you go with dual GPU setup.
The board sports a flawless audio department, with a full 7.1 surround audio, ALC1220-VB audio chip, and optical connector. On the back, you have 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, 2 x USB 3.1 gen 1 ports, 4 x USB 2.0 and one USB Type-C port along with a massive I/O shield. You also get one M.2 port for Intel SNVi wireless module, allowing you to have a wireless internet connection. But if you really want Wi-Fi access, it’s better to just get the Wi-Fi version of this board.
The board sports a striking design with lots of orange details and easy access to almost every expansion port. The advanced thermal design in combination with quality VRM is enough to overclock your Core i7-9700K over 5.0GHz and the Smart Fan 5 feature will optimize fans to provide the best cooling possible.
Finally, you have lots of RGB lights and support for LED & RGB LED Strips. The Wi-Fi version of the board is basically the same but with support for Wireless internet access (we always recommend wired LAN access for more stable internet connection). The board costs a bit more and in case you have a larger budget think about getting the Z390 AORUS Ultra. It comes with an extra M.2 slot, it supports faster RAM modules (up to DDR4 4,400). It also comes with a few extra goodies such as USB DAC-UP 2 (support for external digital audio converters for even better sound).
MSI MPG Z390 Gaming PRO Carbon
The MSI MPG Z390 Gaming PRO Carbon is an excellent mainstream choice for your Core i7-9700K. You have 11 phase VRM for stable work and OC support. The board is packed with features. RAM support goes to DDR4 4400 and up to 128 GB of memory. Next, we have 6 x SATA 6Gb/s ports and 2 M.2 slots. Only one M.2 slot is armored.
There are two PCIe x16 (x16 and x8) and 3 PCIe x1 expansion ports. Both PCIe x16 slots are armored. The audio section is almost the same as on the Gigabyte Z390 AORUS PRO. You have the same audio chip, full 7.1 channel support along with the optical out. But, this one also has an onboard amplifier.
On the back, you’ll find 3 x USB 3.1 Gen2, 2 x USB 2.0, and one USB Type-C supporting speeds up to 10Gb/s. The back I/O is armored and with a pre-installed backplate shielding. The board also comes with MSI’s Mystic Light RGP tech that offers 29 different color effects. You can also install RGB LED strips for a full light show.
The design of the board is all black and without any fluff. You can access every slot with ease but we still prefer the Gigabyte Z390 AORUS PRO a bit more. Finally, in case you want Wi-Fi access, you can buy a Wi-Fi version of this board.
If you have a larger budget and want something better than these two boards, check out the ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero (Wi-Fi). It has almost everything you’ll ever need and it sports an excellent VRM.
The Ultimate Motherboard - MSI Z390 MEG Godlike
When it comes to the ultimate Z390 motherboard for the Core i7-9700K there are basically two choices. The thing is, one looks like a failure. The Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Xtreme is packed with issues. Performing a simple Google search shows lots of threads listing various issues with the board.
Because of this, there’s only one choice for those who want the best – the MSI Z390 MEG Godlike. This board has it all. Beastly VRM and superb cooling. Maximum DDR4 speed support. 10-gigabit networking. Overkill when it comes to expansion slots. Top of the line audio department. Insane RBG lighting. Yes, it’s more expensive than the Core i9-9900K but it offers the best of the best.
Best Micro ATX Motherboard - Gigabyte Z390 M Gaming
There aren’t many Micro ATX Z390 boards. In fact, you can find just a handful of them. For us, the best choice is the Gigabyte Z390 M Gaming. It’s a good mid-range mobo and comes with more than a solid 10+2 phase VRM. It offers Dual Channel memory support for DDR4 2666 and up to 64GB of memory.
You have 2 PCIe x16 slots but only the second one works at x4. In other words, SLI is supported in theory but it isn’t recommended. You also have 6 x SATA 6Gb/s ports and 2 M.2 connectors, which is great for a Micro ATX board.
Audio supports up to 7.1 channels but comes with a Realtek ALC892 chip, which isn’t as powerful as the one found in more expensive boards. Also, you won’t find an optical audio connector here. The back features 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2, 4 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports. Luckily, you also get one USB Type-C port, which is great.
The board comes with fully armored back I/O panel and humble RGB capabilities. On the other hand, it supports the installation of RGB strips and its grey and black design looks really sleek.
If you have lots of money and want all of the features in smaller package, think about the Asus ROG Maximus XI Gene. This one has the best VRM in the category, superb cooling, but is also extremely expensive
Best Mini ITX Motherboard for Compact Setups - ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac
Finally, we have one option for those who want to build a no-compromise compact setup. The prime choice for a small form factor PC powered with the Core i7-9700K is the ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac.
The reason is simple. Mini ITX form factor greatly limits manufacturers thus leading to most Mini ITX boards having poor VRMs. Well, you won’t find a better VRM section than on this board, and this is really important if you want for your powerful CPU to work stable under load.
This board features 5 phases VRM with 60 Amp power stages along with a large heatsink that offers solid cooling. And that’s what’s really important if you go with a Mini ITX board.
Other features are excellent for a board of this size. It supports DDR4 up to 4500 and a total of 32GB of RAM. You get two DIMM slots, but that’s the case with every Mini ITX board. There’s also 4 x SATA3 6.0Gb/s connectors and two M.2 slots, which is great news for everyone wanting lots of fast SSD storage.
You have one PCIe 3.0 x16 slot and on the back, there are 4 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A Ports, 2 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Ports, and one Thunderbolt 3 port. You also get an excellent audio unit with a full 7.1 channel support and optical audio connector.
The board comes with Wi-Fi and full Bluetooth 5.0 support. The design is cramped but with lots of heat pipes ensuring stable work under load. You don’t have lots of RGB lights but you can install RGB LED strips if you desire. Yes, the price is a bit higher but this is by far the best Mini ITX board for the Core i7-9700K on the market.
Why the i7-9700K?
The Core i7-9700K still is one of the best processors for gaming you can get right now. Eight cores, base frequency of 3.6GHz and all-core boost frequency of 4.6GHz make for a powerful gaming CPU.
Sure, the i7-9700K doesn’t have Hyper-Threading but that doesn’t hurt it. Most modern games prefer fast cores over higher core count and this is where Intel is still ahead of AMD.
The i7-9700K offers performance just below the i9-9900K. And we’re talking about statistically insignificant differences of one to five percent. In some games, the CPUs are tied neck to neck and in a few titles, you get more frames with the Core i7-9700K. So, if you want a CPU for gaming, the Core i7-9700K is a great choice. It costs noticeably less than the i9-9900K; you can get a quality cooling solution for the price difference.
The i7-9700K is no slouch when it comes to productivity tasks. Sure, it’s slower than the latest Ryzen 3xxx series CPUs. But, if you’re a gamer who does photo and video editing from time to time, the i7-9700K still is an excellent choice.
The i7-9700K also has solid overclocking potential. Solder-based thermal interface material provides better heat transfer between the die and heat spreader. This allows most samples to reach 5.0GHz with a quality air cooler, which is more than a solid OC result. If you’re lucky and use a AIO water cooling setup, you’ll be able to top at 5.3GHz, which is more than enough for every single game out there.
And a quick PSA if you haven’t yet ordered your i7-9700K and are still planning your PC build. Not all processors you buy online are equal. Beware of whether it’s a OEM/tray processor or a boxed processor.
i7-9700K cooling solutions
The i7-9700K can get pretty hot under load. It won’t get close to 100 degrees Celsius like the Core i9-9900K but expect temperatures of about 80 °C under load. The processor doesn’t come with a built-in cooler and it requires a quality cooling solution, especially if you want to overclock it. The last thing you want is your CPU overheating.
Tried and true air coolers such as Noctua NH-D15S and be quiet! Dark Rock 4 should be enough in case you don’t want to OC the CPU. If you want an air cooler capable of supporting clocks of up to 5.0GHz, we recommend pro versions of the two coolers mentioned above: Noctua NH-D15 and be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4, as well as be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3.
In case you want to go with a liquid cooling system, there are plenty of potential picks. Of course, with liquid cooling, you have to think about many different variables. The size of your case; the decision between an AIO solution or a system that cools only the CPU; case support for different sized radiators, etc. Alternatively if you’re primarily looking at liquid cooling solutions because they are quieter you can instead invest in a silent PC case that’s purpose built to minimize noise.
The best choices for a Core i7-9700K liquid cooling solution are NZXT Kraken AIO models, such as the NZXT Kraken X62. Other choices include Corsair H1xx models (H150i Pro is a top choice) or Cooler Master ML series.
And of course have a good quality thermal paste when your putting it all together. If you have one lying around from your previous build then make sure it hasn’t expired.