With speeds reaching 3.7 to 4.6 GHz, and a cache of 9MB, the six-core, six-thread, Intel i5-9600K is Intel’s mid-range CPU primarily designed for gaming; though it can be used for light editing and rendering applications. Despite its specifications seriously lacking those of equivalently priced Ryzen CPUs, its benchmarks show that it can rival some of its more expensive counterparts, like the Ryzen 7 3700X, in terms of benchmarked effective FPS due to the lack of CPU bottlenecking with Nvidia GPUs. Therefore, if you’re looking for an inexpensive build primarily for gaming – especially for popular online multiplayer games – then this mid-range CPU will suit your needs perfectly.
But in order to reach these high refresh rates, the CPU has to synergize with the other PC components, and what more important than the motherboard that will house the unit. A motherboard can either limit your CPU’s power and overclocking abilities or give it the thermal efficiency to reach its maximum speeds for prolonged periods of time. Since this hardware component is so crucial, it is best to keep up to date and not sacrifice on its utility by appropriating the right amount of your budget towards it. Of course, on the other hand, you may not want a motherboard that has specifications that are overkill for your CPU, which will, therefore, go unused and end up being a waste of money. This will ultimately depend on your intended use of the machine, because if you plan, for example, to later upgrade to an Intel i9-9900K then it is best to invest in a mid-level motherboard that can handle both these CPUs to a fair extent. Taken all the above into account, we recommend going for the Z390 chipset, which can work great for all mid-to-high-end Intel 9th generation CPUs, and still has decent options (mainly from Gigabyte) for under $200.
In this article, we have picked the best Z390 options for gaming, overall-value, and SFF cases, all options which will cost under $200. In addition, we have chosen a motherboard that will best suit those looking to upgrade their CPU in the near future, so these options will also futureproof your build and save you from needing to purchase a motherboard when (and if) you decide to upgrade your Intel i5- 9600K.
Best Motherboards for i5-9600K – My Recommendations
Best Overall Value Motherboard for i5-9600K
The best overall value Z390 motherboard for under $200, the Gigabyte AORUS Pro WIFI has more than enough power for the Intel i5-9600K, and can even properly holster the i9-9900K sufficiently.
This motherboards VRM design uses Vishay SiC634 50A MOSFETs with a 12 + 1 phase, digitally PWM controlled, VRM solution using Dr MOS and 8 + 4 solid-pin CPU power connectors. For an Intel i5-9600K, this may even be considered overkill, but either way, it is easily efficient enough to host and overclock the CPU. To help keep these VRMs cool, the AORUS Pro uses a 1.5mm thick thermal pad, situated under a heatpipe which will also help transfer heat between the two heatsinks. Overall a great thermal solution for the amount of power supplied. In addition, this CPU uses two-times the copper PCBs and an enlarged CPU power plane, which allows for better heat dissipation as the heat from the components can sink heat into a larger surface area.
In terms of RAM, this motherboard allows for more than enough memory for gaming, or even for mid-range workstation, as it allows for 128 GB at 4133 MHz – though anything over 3200 MHz is where diminishing returns begin to become prominent, as lower CAS numbers are more important after this 3200 MHz range. It also allows for two M.2 PCIe Gen3 SSDs, one of which is 22110, the other a 2280 type slot. It also has six SATA 6 Gb/s HDD/SSDs.
In terms of audio, the motherboard uses an ALC1220-VB 120 dB HD audio codec, similar to though on high-end motherboards that are priced several times above the AORUS Pro WIFI. It has a smart headphone amp which automatically detects the impedance of your headphone, eliminating issues like low-volumes and distortions for high impedance headphones.
Finally, it does also feature RGB Fusion 2.0, with RGB lighting on the front panel and on the RAM slots, with the software allowing for full customization of the lighting, the fan speeds, the system metrics – even the optimization of internet speeds.
You can currently find the Gigabyte Z390 AORUS Pro WIFI for only $189 – easily making it the best deal to be made for a motherboard suitable to holster the Intel i5-9600K and beyond.
Best Gaming Motherboard for i5-9600K
Very similar, both in price and in features, with the Z390 AORUS Pro WIFI, the Gigabyte Z390 AORUS Elite has the exact same VRM solution, heatsinks, and audio chipset. The differences between the two are quite slim, but worth being mentioned.
The AORUS Elite has slightly higher RAM support, as it can support RAM of up to 4266 MHz, versus 4133 MHz of the AORUS Pro (which admittedly is quite meaningless), while the AORUS Pro WIFI has an extra thermal guard on its 2280 M.2 slot, which is missing from the AORUS Elite. Also, the AORUS Elite lacks SLI support, as the AORUS PRO has an extra PCIe x16 lane, though again rarely will SLI be useful, especially with an i5-9600K CPU.
In terms of ports and other miscellaneous features, the Elite switches a USB 3.1 Type-C for a USB 3.1 Type-A in comparison to the Pro WIFI, as well as lacking two thermal sensors. Additionally, the Elite is also missing three system fan headers, though it does have a total of four, which should be more than enough cooling for a system featuring the i5-9600K.
Taking into consideration that the Elite has the same RGB lighting, same Gigabyte exclusive software, and more importantly the same impressive VRM solution, it is a great choice to make for a gaming build. Currently, it sits at a $179 price, so only a $10 difference with the AORUS Pro WIFI, but depending on availability this is a great choice to pair with the Intel i5-9600K.
Best ITX Motherboard for SFF Cases
If you’re looking to situate your Intel i5-9600K into a small form factor case (great choice) then this is the motherboard to go for.
The ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming ITX has a DIGI power design with 7 power phases, 60-amp power chokes and a Dr. MOS design with Smart Power Stage technology. According to TweakTown’s benchmarks, this VRM was able to overclock an Intel i9-9900K CPU to 5.2 GHz at 1.33V, which is quite impressive for a motherboard of this size and price.
What is also impressive for its size, is its volume of ports. It can holster two M.2 SSDs, providing a full coverage heatsink for one of the two, as well as four SATA3 6 Gbps slots. It also has four USB 3.1 Gen 2, four USB 3.1 Gen 1 sockets, and an Intel Thunderbolt 3 Type-C socket. In terms of DDR4 RAM, it can hold 32 GBs with speeds of up to 4500 MHz, separated into two RAM slots.
Similar to the aforementioned Gigabyte motherboards, the Phantom Gaming ITX also has a Realtek ALC 1220 Audio Codec with 7.1 channel HD Audio, which is a great overall audio chipset to feature.
In general, it is hard to find faults with this motherboard, especially for its price and its ITX compatibility. You can currently purchase the ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming ITX/AC for only $190, so if you’re looking to build an SFF PC with your Intel i5-9600K, while maintaining the ability to later upgrade the CPU to as high as a i9-9900K, then this is the motherboard to buy.