The upper-mid range Intel i9-9900K is currently Intel’s best 8-core, 16-thread option for desktop computers. In fact, it is the best option currently available for gaming, as it avoids throttling, and bottlenecking, issues which are inherent in AMD processors. With all the processing power available in the i9-9900K, there comes equivalently high demands for any connecting hardware components, so that they synergize properly with the processor. To make the most use of its inherent capabilities, one has to make sure that the CPU isn’t inhibited by the peculiarities of the board from which it will lay in its pouch.
A good motherboard will allow a user to use overclock their CPU to the maximum of its effective ability without any unwanted interference, all while keeping temperatures as low as possible. For the Intel i9-9900K, one would best need a Z390 motherboard, and though there are many options available, the right choice ultimately depends on the intended use of the PC, as well as its size. A workstation will have more demands from both the processor’s speeds, as well the motherboards available slots. 16 GB of RAM is great for a computer meant for gaming, whereas 32 GB of RAM would be the bare minimum for editing and rendering high-resolution videos. Also, depending on the size of your case (whether you’re going for a traditional ATX build, of a small-form-factor PC) you are going to want the best motherboard for its size.
In this article, we will provide you with the best Z390 motherboards depending on your intended use. Whether you’re on a budget, want to make a dedicated gaming build, or whether you’re looking to make a workstation, you will find the best options for your needs. We will and also provide you with the best micro-ATX motherboard option for the Intel i9-9900K as well.
Best Motherboards for i9-9900K Builds – My Recommendations
Best Gaming Motherboard for i9-9900K – Gigabyte Z390 AORUS Master
This motherboard has everything a gamer could ask for. With a 12-phase, 40A VRM solution, the processor is guaranteed to receive a sufficient amount of power it will need for overclocking. The motherboard achieves this feat using an all IR-digital CPU power design, including a digital PWM and PowlRstage MOSFET. In terms of thermal design, it has a Fins-Array heat sink with a direct-touch heat pipe and thermal conductivity pad. In practical terms, what does all this mean? It means lower MOSFET temperatures, which itself translates to more freedom to overclock your CPU consistently.
With regards to memory, this motherboard supports up to 128GB 4266 MHz DDR4, XMP compatible, RAM. Of course, on a gaming computer you shouldn’t need more that 16 GBs of 3200 MHz RAM, but the fact that it allows you the freedom to reach this capacity is a great addition, further futureproofing your build. Accordingly, for ROM, it allows for three M.2 hard drives, with Gigabyte’s integrated thermal guard for added heat dispersion. More specifically it allows for 2 PCIe Gen3 x4 type 22110 M.2s, and one PCIe Gen3 x4 type 2280 M.2. It also has six slots for 6 GB/s SATA drives.
In terms of audio, it features a Realtek ALC1220 120dB(A) SNR HD audio chipset which automatically detects the impedance of your head-worn audio device, preventing issues relating to low-volumes or distortion – effectively relieving you of the need to buy an amplifier for your 250 Ohm headset, while at the time automatically adjusting impedance to your Bluetooth earplugs.
Lest we forget, it also has a, customizable, RGB lighting panel on the front face of the motherboard, which you can adjust to fit your build through the RGB Fusion 2.0 application included within. This motherboard has applications for everything: from increasing your internet speeds, to adjusting fans-speeds and system metrics, to even software which removes the background from your camera feed, so you can effectively feature a green screen on your stream, without actually having a green screen.
Best Budget Motherboard for i9-9900K – Gigabyte Z390 AORUS Pro WiFi
Speaking of a great deal, have you seen the Gigabyte’s AORUS Pro WIFI? For under $200, this motherboard has many similar features to the AORUS Master, and will cost you close to $100 cheaper.
While the two motherboards can hold the same amount of RAM (128GB), the AORUS Master can support up to 4266 MHz, while the Pro WIFI supports up to 4133 MHz – though more than 3200 MHz on RAM is where diminishing returns start to kick in. In terms of ROM, this motherboard is down one slot: the 22110 socket – though it holds the same amount (six) of SATA 6 Gb/s HDs.
Other than that, and of course its slightly more basic appearance, the Pro WIFI has little to envy from its 50%-more-expensive AORUS Master sibling. Whether or not this motherboard will fit your needs depends entirely on your overclocking demands from your i9-9900K. If you don’t plan on using it to its limits, but rather just want to plug and play, then this is the motherboard for you.
Best Micro ATX Motherboard for i9-9900K – Asus ROG Maximus XI Gene
If you’re looking for a small form factor build, but don’t want to compromise in terms of the overclocking capabilities of your CPU, then the ASUS ROG Maximus XI Gene is the perfect choice. Of all the Z390 motherboards build for mATX (or even ITX) this is by far the superior. It features a 10 phase IR3555 VRM solution, so it is top-tier in regards to the amount of overclocking that it allows – even in comparison to full ATX builds.
What may be a turn-off for many is the fact that it has only two RAM slots, though with the use of Double-Capacity DIMM support it can reach up to 64GB of RAM. Of course, that would mean having to find respectable single-rank 32GB cards, definitely not an easy task. Depending on your intended use, two 8 GB cards should work just fine. What it lacks in RAM slots, it makes up in ROM slots, holding up to an impressive four PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSDS, 2 of which can fit type 22110 models, and the other two 2280s. It can also hold up to four SATA 6 Gb/s SSDs.
For audio it uses SupremeFX audio technology, with a 1220A codec. It features a Sonic Radar III for audio detail at low volumes, and Sonic Studio III for EQ options and one-click presets.
For its $399 price, it may seem a bit expensive for an mATX motherboard, but it is by far the best option for an SFF build using the i9-9900K, and it comes with a ton of useful software and features, so it is worth the extra cost.
Best Overall (Price/Performance) Motherboard for i9-9900K – EVGA Z390 Dark
This motherboard is a beast in its overclocking capabilities, as well as a saint in its quality of build. It has a 17-phase digital VRM, sitting on a large, passive, heatsink which allows for chassis airflow to go right across the CPU and memory, and straight through the rear-panel heatsink. With such a large heatsink, you can have low temperatures even when overclocking the CPU beyond 5 GHz. To ensure better power delivery to the CPU, EVGA also provided the CPU socket with a higher volume (150% over competitors) of gold – which means less contact resistance and better conductivity. The overall build features a 10-layer E-ATX PCBA with a gold-plated, shielded, edge.
The only area where this motherboard disappoints, is the amount of RAM it can hold – only 32 GBs divided into two slots; but 32 GB is more than enough RAM for most intended purposes, including workstations. It has two M.2 Key-M 110mm slots, and a M.2 Key-E 32mm slot, as well as six SATA 6 Gb/s Intel PCH SSD slots, and two ASMedia ASM1061 slots, for a total of eight SATA 6 GB/s SSD slots. It also has seven USB 3.1 ports, 5 of which are Gen2, and even includes a U.2 NVMe port.
In terms of audio, it uses a Creative 5.1 Channel Audio with EVGA’s NU Audio, which is made available through the front-panel header.
Though it may not have much in terms of extra fluff, like RGB lighting for example, what it does have is a ton of great, useful, features that are many times overlooked prior to purchasing a motherboard. For starters, it has the best designed BIOS of any brand, even featuring in-BIOS stress testing. In fact, it has 3 different BIOS ROM profiles that you can choose from, so you can boot depending on your needs. It also has a SW slow-mode switch, which changes the CPU ratio back to the minimum, when stability or heat issues arrise in long, high load sessions. This can be life-saving.
If the limited RAM is not an issue for you, then this motherboard is the best that money can buy – especially for its current $399 price, as it can perform at the level of other motherboards that are double its price.