This article will discuss the best motherboards for music production and audio engineering in 2024.
A motherboard, also known as a mainboard, is the primary circuit board in a computer that connects all the components. A printed circuit board (PCB) houses the central processing unit (CPU), memory modules, expansion slots, and other essential components that enable communication between various computer parts.
The motherboard acts as the central hub that allows all computer components to communicate with each other. It also provides power to various computer components and manages the data flow between different components.
The size, shape, and layout of a motherboard depend on the type of computer it is designed for. For example, motherboards designed for desktop computers may have different form factors than those designed for laptops or servers.
Does the motherboard matter for music production & sound quality?
When it comes to music production, having a good motherboard is crucial. This component can significantly impact a music production computer‘s performance, stability, and reliability. Here are some key reasons why a good motherboard is important for music production:
Firstly, a good motherboard can provide the necessary performance for music production applications. This includes high-speed data transfer between components, support for high-end processors, and the ability to handle large amounts of RAM.
Secondly, music production requires stable and reliable hardware to prevent system crashes or glitches that can cause data loss and impact productivity. A good motherboard with high-quality components and good power management can help ensure stability.
Thirdly, music production requires additional hardware, such as audio interfaces, MIDI controllers, and other peripherals. A good motherboard with ample expansion slots can accommodate these additional components without sacrificing performance or stability.
Next, the quality of the audio output is critical for music production. A good motherboard with a high-quality audio codec can provide clean and accurate sound output. It’s also important to note that Windows 10 and 11 operating systems provide improved audio routing from the CPU to the motherboard’s audio chip using the WASAPI (Windows Audio Session API) audio driver.
The WASAPI is a low-latency audio driver that allows direct access to the audio hardware without going through the operating system’s audio stack. That means that audio data can be sent directly from the CPU to the audio chip on the motherboard, bypassing any intermediate processing layers and resulting in lower latency and improved audio performance.
Most modern Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs), including FL Studio, Ableton Live, Cubase, Pro Tools, Studio One, Bitwig Studio, etc., support the WASAPI audio driver mode on Windows operating systems. However, the specific implementation and support for WASAPI may vary depending on the DAW software.
The WASAPI mode also supports exclusive mode, which allows applications to take exclusive control of the audio device and prevent other applications from interfering with the audio stream. In addition to improved audio routing, Windows 10 and 11 provide a range of other audio enhancements, including support for higher sample rates and bit depths, improved resampling algorithms, and enhancements to the audio mixer and volume controls.
In summary, choosing the right motherboard is vital for music production. It’s important to consider factors such as performance, stability, expansion capabilities, and audio quality when selecting a motherboard that meets the requirements of your music production workflow. Now let’s get to the main topic of discussion.
Top 6 Motherboards For Seamless Music Production & DAW 2024
1. ASUS TUF Gaming X570-Plus Wi-Fi (Best AMD Choice)
The ASUS TUF Gaming X570-Plus Wi-Fi is a high-performance motherboard designed for gamers and anyone who requires high-performance computing.
Its features make it a suitable option for music production due to its support for high-speed data transfer, powerful processor support, excellent power management, ample expansion options, and high-quality audio output. It is built on the AMD X570 chipset and supports the latest AMD Ryzen processors.
Additionally, the motherboard has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, making it easy to connect to wireless networks and other devices.
- Fast processing
The X570 chipset supports high-speed data transfer between components, which is essential for music production applications that require the movement of large files and data sets. The motherboard also supports high-end processors and can handle large amounts of RAM, which is important for running resource-intensive plugins and virtual instruments.
- Reliable power management
ASUS TUF Gaming X570 has excellent power management, which is essential for music production and ensures stable and reliable hardware performance. The motherboard features high-quality components and advanced cooling technologies that help prevent overheating and ensure the system remains stable even under heavy loads.
The motherboard provides a range of expansion options, which is beneficial for music production workflows that require additional hardware such as audio interfaces, MIDI controllers, and other peripherals. The motherboard has several PCIe 4.0 slots, M.2 slots, and SATA ports, providing ample room for expansion without sacrificing performance or stability.
- High-quality Audio Codec
The circuit features a high-quality audio codec that provides clean and accurate sound output, essential for music production. The ASUS TUF Gaming X570 also supports the latest audio standards, such as DTS:X Ultra, which provides virtual surround sound and other advanced audio features.
- Super-fast storage
M.2 is a small form factor for solid-state drive (SSD) that uses a PCIe interface to provide faster read and write speeds than traditional hard drives
The Dual M.2 PCIe 4.0 slots on the ASUS TUF Gaming X570 motherboard allow users to install two M.2 SSDs, providing plenty of super-fast storage options for storing music files, samples, and virtual instrument libraries.
This can significantly improve the overall performance of a music production computer, as it reduces the time required for loading and saving files and speeds up the workflow when using plugins and virtual instruments.
2. GIGABYTE Z690 Gaming X (Best Intel Choice)
The GIGABYTE Z690 Gaming X motherboard is designed for demanding tasks and high-performance computing needs such as music production and gaming.
It features the latest Intel Z690 chipset and supports 12th-generation Intel Core processors. The motherboard is equipped with various features that are well-suited for music production. These include support for fast data transfer, compatibility with powerful processors, efficient power management, plentiful expansion options, and superior audio output capabilities. Additionally, it has several USB and audio ports that are easily accessible, allowing users to connect various devices and peripherals.
- Intel Z690 chipset
The motherboard is built on the latest Intel Z690 chipset, which supports 12th-generation Intel Core processors. This ensures compatibility with the latest and most powerful processors in the market.
- DD4 compatibility
The GIGABYTE Z690 Gaming X motherboard is compatible with DDR4 memory modules, providing faster data transfer rates and higher bandwidth than previous generations of memory modules. That improves overall system performance, especially for memory-intensive applications such as music production.
- Cool and quiet
The motherboard is designed with a comprehensive thermal design that ensures efficient cooling for the system. The motherboard features multiple thermal sensors that monitor the temperature of the system components, such as the CPU and GPU, and adjust the fan speeds accordingly to maintain optimal operating temperatures.
It also features an advanced heatsink design that maximizes heat dissipation from critical components such as the VRM and M.2 SSDs. Additionally, the GIGABYTE Z690 Gaming X motherboard has a Smart Fan 6 feature that allows users to customize the fan speeds and control the temperature profiles for various components.
- High-speed data transfer
The motherboard supports high-speed data transfer with its PCIe 5.0 and M.2 connectors, allowing fast read and write speeds. This makes it ideal for storing and accessing large audio files, samples, and virtual instruments.
- Efficient power management
The motherboard has excellent power management, which ensures stable and reliable performance. This is essential for music production, where system crashes, or glitches can result in data loss and impact productivity.
- Ample expansion options
The motherboard has many expansion options, including multiple PCIe 5.0 and Quad M.2 slots, USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C ports, and audio connectors. Users can add peripherals and hardware components, such as audio interfaces, MIDI controllers, and external hard drives, without sacrificing performance or stability.
- High-quality audio output
The motherboard has high-quality audio output capabilities thanks to its Realtek ALC897 codec and Nichicon audio capacitors. This ensures clean and accurate sound output, critical for music production.
3. GIGABYTE X670 AORUS Elite AX (Future-Proof AMD)
The GIGABYTE X670 AORUS Elite AX motherboard is a high-end option offering excellent music production features.
It supports the latest PCIe 5.0 interface, which provides faster data transfer rates and improved connectivity. The motherboard also has a comprehensive thermal design, with multiple temperature sensors and advanced heatsinks, ensuring stable and reliable operation even during extended music production sessions.
In addition, the AORUS Elite AX motherboard supports high-speed memory modules up to 6666 MHz, which is crucial for memory-intensive applications like music production. The motherboard also has several expansion options, including Quad NVMe x4 M.2 and PCIe 5.0 slots, allowing for additional hardware components like audio interfaces and MIDI controllers.
- PCIe 5.0 Interface
The motherboard supports the latest PCIe 5.0 interface, which provides faster data transfer rates and improved connectivity for high-speed devices like graphics cards, audio interfaces, and other peripherals.
- Comprehensive Thermal Design
The motherboard features multiple temperature sensors and advanced heatsinks, ensuring efficient cooling for critical components like the CPU and VRM. This ensures stable and reliable operation even during extended music production sessions.
- Stable operation
The motherboard has a 16-phase digital power design with advanced VRM components, including high-quality chokes, capacitors, and MOSFETs. This design helps to minimize voltage ripple and provide consistent power to the CPU, which is critical for stable and reliable operation during music production.
Moreover, the GIGABYTE X670 AORUS Elite AX motherboard also has a dedicated 4-pin header for connecting an additional power source to the CPU, ensuring stable power delivery during heavy overclocking or when using power-hungry processors.
- Fast Networking
The GIGABYTE X670 AORUS Elite AX motherboard comes with the latest networking technologies, including Wi-Fi 6E and 2.5GbE Lan (Ethernet), which offer fast and stable connectivity options for wired and wireless networks.
Wi-Fi 6E is the latest Wi-Fi standard and offers faster speeds and lower latency than previous generations. The 2.5G Ethernet provides a high-speed wired connection that can transfer data at a speed that is more than five times faster than standard Ethernet.
These networking features of the GIGABYTE X670 AORUS Elite AX motherboard ensure that music producers can quickly and efficiently transfer large files, stream high-quality audio, and video, and collaborate with other musicians without worrying about slow network speeds or latency issues.
4. ASUS TUF Z790-Plus WiFi D4 (Future-Proof Intel)
The ASUS TUF GAMING Z790-PLUS WIFI D4 motherboard is an advanced motherboard designed for long and intensive use.
It offers various functionalities that make it suitable for music production. For instance, it supports DDR4 RAM, PCIe 5.0 for graphics cards, and USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C. The motherboard incorporates AI Noise Cancellation technology, which is advantageous when recording music in noisy surroundings.
Additionally, the Armoury Crate software and AI Cooling II features can aid in system optimization and temperature regulation, respectively, which are crucial for running music production software that consumes resources.
- DDR4 RAM support
One of these features is its support for up to 128GB of DDR4 RAM. This high memory capacity can be useful when running resource-intensive music production software. With ample memory, the motherboard can store big data and run multiple applications without experiencing lag or slowdowns.
- PCIe 5.0 support
The motherboard’s PCIe 5.0 slots are another useful feature that enables high-speed data transfer between the motherboard and other components, such as a graphics card. This capability is essential when running multiple plugins and virtual instruments, which require fast data transfer speeds to function correctly.
- USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C
The motherboard has USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C ports, which can transfer data at up to 20Gbps. This feature makes it possible to transfer large audio files quickly and efficiently without experiencing significant delays.
- AI Noise Cancellation
The motherboard’s AI Noise Cancellation technology is an excellent feature that can help eliminate background noise when recording music in a noisy environment. This functionality ensures that recorded audio files are high quality and free from any unwanted noise affecting the overall sound quality.
- Armoury Crate software
The Armoury Crate software provided by the motherboard is another feature that provides system optimization and can help configure the motherboard settings for optimal performance. This software lets users tweak the system settings to suit their music production needs, ensuring the best possible performance.
- AI Cooling II
The TUF GAMING Z790-PLUS WIFI D4 motherboard comes equipped with AI Cooling II, which can help with temperature control and prevent overheating when running resource-intensive music production software. This feature ensures that the motherboard and other components do not overheat, prolonging their lifespan and maintaining performance.
5. MSI B550-A PRO Pro Series (Budget AMD)
The MSI B550-A Pro Series is a motherboard made by MSI, which uses the B550 chipset and is part of MSI’s “Pro Series” line of motherboards.
It is designed for AMD Ryzen processors and supports PCIe 4.0 technology for faster data transfer rates. The motherboard includes features such as multiple USB ports, M.2 slots for storage, and support for up to 128GB of DDR4 RAM, which makes it a good choice for audio engineering tasks.
The MSI B550-A Pro Series is a reliable, high-performance motherboard for gaming or other intensive computing tasks.
- Core Boost technology
This technology optimizes the power delivery system to the CPU for stable performance and overclocking potential. That makes it great for intensive production sessions, especially those that use Kontakt libraries or software like Omnisphere.
- Extended heatsinks
The motherboard has an extended heatsink design that helps to dissipate heat and maintain system stability even under heavy workloads.
- Lightning Gen 4 M.2 slots
The MSI B550-A PRO Pro Series features Lightning Gen 4 M.2 slots that support the latest PCIe 4.0 standard for faster data transfer rates. In addition, the B550 chipset and support for PCIe 4.0 technology allow for fast data transfer rates, which can be important for working with large audio files and running multiple applications simultaneously.
- M.2 slots for storage
The MSI B550-A Pro Series has M.2 slots for solid-state drives, which can provide fast read and write speeds and help reduce load times when working with large audio files.
- Audio boost technology
The motherboard features MSI’s Audio Boost technology, which includes high-quality audio components and software enhancements, like Audio Boost Shielding, high-quality audio capacitors, ESS audio DAC, Nahimic Audio Software, etc., to improve the sound quality of onboard audio.
6. ASRock H670 PG Riptide (Budget Intel)
The H670 PG Riptide by ASRock is a DDR4 RAM Memory technology-based motherboard with the Intel H670 chipset.
The motherboard supports the latest Intel Core processors and has high-speed DDR4 memory up to 5000MHz (OC) with a powerful 9-Phase Dr.MOS Power Design. Lastly, its high-speed memory support and robust power delivery system can enhance the performance of resource-intensive music production software.
- High-speed memory support
The motherboard supports DDR4 5000MHz (OC) memory, which can provide faster data transfer rates and improve overall system performance. This can be beneficial when running resource-intensive audio production software, such as digital audio workstations (DAWs) or plugins.
- Expansion slots
The motherboard has one PCIe 5.0 x16 and one PCIe 4.0 x16 expansion slot, accommodating high-performance audio interface cards or other expansion cards, such as graphics cards or storage controllers.
- Multiple USB ports
The circuit includes multiple USB ports, including USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C ports, which can connect external audio interfaces, MIDI controllers, and other audio equipment.
- Onboard Audio
The motherboard has onboard audio, including a Realtek ALC897 audio codec, which can provide high-quality audio output. While it may not be as high-quality as dedicated audio interfaces, it can be useful for basic audio monitoring or playback.
The H670 PG Riptide has a 2.5 Gigabit LAN port, which can provide fast and stable network connectivity. This can benefit streaming audio files or collaborating with other audio professionals remotely.
1. Gigabyte B450M DS3H WiFi (Ultra-Budget AMD)
The Gigabyte B450M DS3H WiFi is a micro-ATX motherboard that supports AMD Ryzen processors and has built-in WiFi connectivity.
It has four memory slots that support up to 64GB of DDR4 memory and includes multiple expansion slots, such as one PCIe 3.0 x16, one PCIe 2.0 x16, and one PCIe 2.0 x1. Lastly, its affordable price and decent specifications make it a good option for budget-conscious music producers who need a basic but functional motherboard.
- AMD Ryzen Support
The motherboard is designed to support AMD Ryzen processors, including 2nd and 3rd Gen Ryzen CPUs, providing users with powerful processing capabilities.
- Built-in WiFi
The Gigabyte B450M DS3H WiFi has built-in WiFi connectivity, allowing users to connect to wireless networks without needing a separate WiFi card. This feature is particularly useful for users who need to work in a location without an Ethernet connection.
- Multiple Expansion Slots
The motherboard has one PCIe 3.0 x16 slot, one PCIe 2.0 x16 slot, and one PCIe 2.0 x1 slot, allowing users to add additional expansion cards for graphics, audio, or networking purposes.
- High-Speed Memory Support
The motherboard has four memory slots that support up to 64GB of DDR4 memory with speeds of up to 3200MHz (OC). This feature ensures that users can run memory-intensive applications such as music production software without experiencing any lag.
- Dual NVMe PCIe Gen3 M.2 Slots
The motherboard has two M.2 slots that support NVMe PCIe Gen3 x4 SSDs, enabling users to quickly store and access large amounts of data.
- Audio Capacitors
The motherboard has high-quality audio capacitors that provide better sound quality and reduced noise, making it ideal for music production tasks.
- Smart Fan 5
This feature allows users to control the fan speed and temperature of different components on the motherboard. This feature helps to keep the system cool, reducing the risk of overheating and prolonging the lifespan of the components.
Before we conclude, I’d like to mention some more motherboard options for Intel CPUs that are available in the B and H lineup that are also affordable. The B and H lineup is the Intel chipset series designed for desktop motherboards. The “B” series is typically geared towards mainstream users and offers a balance of performance, features, and affordability.
The “H” series is typically geared towards budget-conscious users and offers basic features and functionality. These chipsets are often used with Intel Core processors, and manufacturers offer a range of compatible motherboards with various features and form factors.
B&H has a wide range of affordable Intel motherboards available in their lineup. The Gigabyte B660 DS3H AX is a great option for those on a budget, with a good feature set and compatibility with Intel 12th-gen CPUs. The next option is the MAG B660 TOMAHAWK WIFI DDR4, which is highly rated for its premium features and compatibility with Intel CPUs.
When selecting a motherboard, it’s important to consider CPU compatibility, DDR5 memory support, and the number of PCI-E slots, among other features. Other affordable motherboards for Intel CPUs in the B and H lineup include the ASUS Prime B560M-A, MSI MAG B560M BAZOOKA, ASRock H510M-HDV, Gigabyte H510M DS2V, and ASUS Prime H510M-E.
These micro-ATX motherboards all support 11th Gen Intel Core processors and offer features such as PCIe 4.0, USB 3.2, and HDMI for video output, with some also including dual M.2 slots or ASUS OptiMem for memory stability.
To summarize, our discourse covered a range of motherboards with distinct features and compatibility. The first motherboard we discussed is the ASUS TUF Gaming X570-Plus Wi-Fi, which adopts the AMD X570 chipset and supports the latest AMD Ryzen processors with exceptional power management, high-speed data transfer, and flexible expansion options.
Next, we continued highlighting the GIGABYTE Z690 Gaming X, built on the latest Intel Z690 chipset, with DDR4 compatibility, highly efficient power management, superior audio output, and high-speed data transfer. Further, we considered the GIGABYTE X670 AORUS Elite AX, which features a high-quality audio output and rapid data transfer capabilities, intended for AMD processors and designed to be future-proof.
We then delved into the ASUS TUF GAMING Z790-PLUS WIFI D4 motherboard, offering impressive features, such as PCIe 5.0 for graphics cards, AI Noise Cancellation technology, Armoury Crate software, AI Cooling II, and support for DDR4 RAM and USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C.
Next, we scrutinized the MSI B550-A PRO Pro Series, designed specifically for use with AMD Ryzen processors and equipped with core boost technology, extended heatsinks, Lightning Gen 4 M.2 slots, M.2 slots for storage, and audio boost technology.
Finally, we considered the ASRock H670 PG Riptide, based on DDR4 RAM Memory technology, featuring high-speed memory support up to 5000MHz (OC), one PCIe 5.0 x16 and one PCIe 4.0 x16 expansion slot for high-speed data transfer, and ample e expansion options.
I hope the article was of help. Thank you for reading.
Shaurya Bhatia, is an Indian Music Producer, Composer, Rapper & Performer, who goes by the stage name MC SNUB, and is also 1/2 of the Indian pop music duo, called “babyface”. A certified Audio Engineer & Music Producer, and a practicing musician & rapper for more than 6 years, Shaurya has worked on projects of various genres and has also been a teaching faculty at Spin Gurus DJ Academy.