I’m willing to bet that when planning a new gaming and streaming PC, the CPU and motherboard aren’t the components you’re most excited about. Rather, it’s probably the GPU, and that’s understandable. The GPU plays a massive role in gaming performance, but a good CPU and motherboard combo ensures stability and reliability.

The problem is, it’s a lot more difficult to choose a good CPU and motherboard combo than it is to choose a GPU. Beyond just compatibility, you also need to keep in mind overclocking, future upgrades, and much more. In this article, you’ll find three tried-and-tested combos under $300 which are proven to work great together!

CPU and Motherboard: The Perfect Pair

In order to move ahead, I trust that you don’t need the textbook definition of what purpose a CPU and motherboard serve in a PC. Instead, let’s talk about three important factors you need to keep in mind.

  • Compatibility: This is the most essential factor to keep in mind. Mainly, you need to check if the socket is compatible so the CPU can connect with the motherboard.
  • Balance: When it comes to the CPU and motherboard combo, balance is the name of the game. You don’t want an overkill motherboard for a low-end CPU. You also don’t want to bottleneck a beast CPU by using a cheap motherboard.
  • Use case: Consider the features you need for your specific use case. Do you need wireless connectivity? Are you planning on overclocking your CPU, and thus should you look for good VRMs and cooling capacity? Are you going to use an M.2 drive? Know what you want and search accordingly.

These are three main factors to keep in mind when it comes to choosing a CPU and motherboard combo. If you’re finding this a bit overwhelming, don’t worry. I’ve made things easy for you in this article by recommending three popular pairs which are proven to work well together. So, let’s dive in…

Top 3 Best CPU Motherboard Combos Under $300 in 2022:

1. Ryzen 5 3600 and MSI B450 Tomahawk Max II – Best Overall

CPU SPECS:

  • Socket: AM4
  • Cores and Threads: 6C/12T
  • Boost Clock: 4.2 GHz
  • TDP Rating: 65W
  • Cooler Included: Wraith Stealth

MOBO SPECS:

  • CPU Socket: AM4
  • RAM Capacity: DDR4 128GB (4 Slots up to 4133MHz)
  • Networking and Connectivity: 1G Ethernet Port
  • Form Factor: ATX (12 x 9.6 inches)
  • RGB Lights: Yes (MSI Mystic Light)

Even three years after getting launched, the Ryzen 5 3600 is still one of the most popular and trusted CPUs in the PC gaming space. With six cores and twelve threads, it’s powerful enough for both gaming and streaming.

With a price tag of around $150, it’s most attractive to entry-level and value-focused PC builds. In line with that, I would recommend a mid-range B450 chipset motherboard that has all the necessary features at a reasonable price: the MSI B450 Tomahawk Max II!

It doesn’t have the best cooling features, but since the 3600 is a 65W TDP CPU, it’s still good enough for overclocking. It’ll also fit into most PC builds with a dark-gray brushed finish.

The biggest downside of this motherboard is the lack of PCIe 4.0 (you’ll need to get a B550 or X570 motherboard for that). Plus, it doesn’t include a pre-installed I/O shield either. But, if you can look past that, it’s a good, budget-friendly motherboard to pair with a 3600.

As you might know, the Ryzen 5 3600 doesn’t have integrated graphics. So, you’re going to need a dedicated GPU for your PC build. Check out this article for further recommendations.

2. Intel Core i3-12100F and Gigabyte B660M DS3H DDR4 – Best for Intel

CPU SPECS:

  • Socket: LGA 1700
  • Cores and Threads: 4C/8T
  • Boost Clock: 4.3 GHz
  • TDP Rating: 58W
  • Cooler Included: Intel Laminar RM1

MOBO SPECS:

  • CPU Socket: LGA 1700
  • RAM Capacity: DDR4 128GB (4 Slots up to 5333MHz)
  • Networking and Connectivity: 2.5G Ethernet Port
  • Form Factor: mATX (9.6 x 9.6 inches)
  • RGB Lights: No

For those who want to join Team Blue, I have a great combo for you too. The i3-12100F is one of the best budget-friendly CPUs in the Intel 12th-Gen Alder Lake lineup. For around $100, it packs a solid 4-core and 8-thread configuration with a boost clock of 4.3 GHz, leading many to call it the “Budget King” of PC gaming.

The Gigabyte B660M DS3H DDR4 is a good budget option to use with the i3-12100F. It has a 6+2+1 phase power design, PCIe 4.0 connectivity, and an M.2 thermal guard. Being an mATX motherboard, it’s suitable for a small form factor build too!

Unfortunately, the “F” suffix means that this CPU doesn’t have integrated graphics (May I get an “F” in the chat for that?). So, if you’re clueless about which GPU to go for, check out my article on this topic.

3. Ryzen 5 5600 and ASUS Prime B550-PLUS – Best for AMD

CPU SPECS:

  • Socket: AM4
  • Cores and Threads: 6C/12T
  • Boost Clock: 4.4 GHz
  • TDP Rating: 65W
  • Cooler Included: Wraith Stealth

MOBO SPECS:

  • CPU Socket: AM4
  • RAM Capacity: DDR4 128GB (4 Slots up to 4600MHz)
  • Networking and Connectivity: 1G Ethernet Port
  • Form Factor: ATX (12 x 9.6 inches)
  • RGB Lights: Yes (ASUS Aura Sync)

You’ve probably heard the Ryzen 5 5600X mentioned many times in PC enthusiast circles, but the underrated non-“X” variant provides better bang for your buck. It has a slightly lower boost clock (going from 4.6 GHz to 4.4 GHz), but the same number of cores and threads. Plus, it also comes with the Wraith Stealth cooler.

All in all, you’re getting competitive performance at a lower price tag, which makes it a better choice for a value-focused build. Considering the power level and budget limits, a B550 chipset motherboard would be the optimal choice to pair with it.

I’d recommend the ASUS Prime B550-PLUS. Being a B550 motherboard, it supports PCIe 4.0 with the 5600. Beyond that, it also has other attractive features: VRM and chipset heatsink, stainless-steel back I/O, 8+1 DrMOS power stages, and dual M.2 slots (one with PCIe 4.0 connectivity).

To take full advantage of the 5600 in gaming, you’ll need a good GPU to pair with it. Check this article for some awesome recommendations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Best High-End AMD and Intel Combo?

In this article, we discussed three CPU and motherboard Combos under $300. But if you have a bigger budget, you can go for a more high-end combo instead. On AMD’s side, you can go for an X570 motherboard and pair it with a 5000 series CPU like the 5950X or 5900X. For Intel, a Z690 motherboard (check this article for recommendations) will pair well with a 12th-Gen Alder Lake CPU like the i9-12900K or i7-12700K.

What’s the Cheapest Way to Add WiFi and Bluetooth Connectivity to a Motherboard?

Being budget-focused, none of the motherboards in this article includes onboard WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. Although Ethernet is strongly recommended for gaming and streaming, if you want to have wireless connectivity available, you can use a USB adapter instead. These ones from Auscoumer and TP-Link come in under $20 and offer high-speed and stable connections. You can also go for a PCIe WiFi card, like this one from Gigabyte.

Wrapping Up

As any veteran PC builder will tell you, getting the wrong CPU and motherboard combo is one of the most expensive mistakes to make when building a PC. Adhering to the three factors I mentioned before—ensuring that both components are compatible, well-balanced, and fit your use case—will save you a lot of trouble later on.

In this article, I introduced you to three great budget-friendly CPU and motherboard combos. I hope you found the right one for your PC build. Happy streaming!

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Author

Devansh is a writer and blogger who is just as passionate about PC hardware as he is about literature. He often spends his free time wading through the latest releases, industry news, and hardware benchmarks just for fun. His goal is to help fellow hardware enthusiasts and gamers make better and more informed choices regarding their PCs and battlestations.