How to Pick Best Motherboard for i5 9400F
The i5 9400F is an excellent choice for a medium-high-end build that will give you the best performance for an affordable medium budget build. A few years back, this could’ve easily been a high-end build because of its incredible gaming performance, but with the market being flooded with high-end next-gen CPUs, built-in advanced architecture has just taken things way too far. However, you can still get the best out of your i5 9400F if you pair it with the right choice of components, especially the motherboard, and juice out its maximum potential. This 6 core and 6 thread CPU operates at a base frequency of 2.90 GHz that can be boosted right up to a whopping 4.10 GHz.
Picking the best motherboard for the i5 9400F is extremely crucial because not only will it determine the actual power that this CPU will be able to push up to, but also be good enough for future upgrades; let’s face it, maybe a year later, there will be a lot better choice for the same price, and you wouldn’t be able to resist.
What to consider
Your motherboard would be housing all the components that you can pair with your i5 9400F to get the best performance possible, so it should be expandable in every sense of the word. Here are some things for you to consider if you want to pick the best motherboard for your i5 9400F.
The form factor is the first thing to decide when picking a motherboard, and it will establish your requirements. There are three major form factors, ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX, and those are the only ones you will be picking amongst. All three of these are for different types of users. The size goes from big to small, respectively. Since we are looking to pick the best possible motherboard for i5 9400F, which an excellent CPU for gaming, the ATX is a preferable choice; not just because its the biggest, but also because it is manufactured to house all the components that you will need for a gaming build, or say any high-performance build that requires considerably larger components.
However, there are also a decent number of M-ATX motherboards that can help i5 9400F reach its maximum potential, but that choice is only encouraged if you want a considerably smaller CPU on your desk or you are following a tight budget.
RAM is crucial to good performance. However, getting this wrong is not that big of a deal. Most of the ATX boards will offer 4x DIMM slots, which is the maximum number that you can get, but experts have identified that it is much better to have only two. The single memory stick with higher memory will be slightly more expensive than its two sticks amounting to the same size because it will give the processor more relaxed timing, and there will be less strain on the motherboard. If you are not limited by budget, then it would be preferable to have a motherboard with steel reinforced DIMM slots for extra durability.
When the i5 9400F was released, there might not have been such a growing market for lightning-fast M.2 SSDs, but right now, it is a must. To get the best out of your i5 9400F, you’ll need incredibly fast connectivity, and the M.2 SSDs are just the thing; so you’ll need to pick a motherboard that offers M.2 SSD option, and depending on your budget, you can either pick a motherboard with an option for only 1 M.2 SSD or more (up to 3). But the i5 9400F being a budget motherboard, a single M.2 SSD for primary use will do you just right. On a motherboard like that, you’ll also get a decent number of SATA 6GB/s drives which are cheaper and slightly slower alternatives to secondary M.2. The conventional HDDs will at your service, too.
The lightning-fast connectivity will only be truly accomplished with a few USB 3.0 onboard to spice things up and give you the best of portable storage. So, a single M.2, and a few USB 3.0 will give you a wondrously excellent companionship with your i5 9400F.
Cooling and Power Solution
This is an absolutely crucial factor, and you cannot overlook it if you are willing to build a balanced gaming PC with your i5 9400F. A gaming build will need an excellent and efficient cooling solution, so make sure that your motherboard offers several well-positioned fan headers around the board, along with a few AIO-pump headers in case you want to go ahead with liquid cooling. Furthermore, the heatsinks around the board will also be quite useful, the CPU heatsink should be a good one, and a heatsink over the m.2 slots will make all the difference. If you keep your temperatures in check, you’ll be able to juice out the best performance the i5 9400F can offer. In fact, you’ll be able to overclock without any worries at all and push beyond the peak base performance. An adequately cooled build will run for a much longer period, preserving the best durability possible for every component.
Power solution is just as important for unabridged high-performance, and especially if you are planning to overclock any component. The newer motherboards have a brilliant IR digital PWM and an efficient power delivery system to ensure smooth operation.
It is 2021, so in the case of PCIe, there are no other choices worth making against the PCIe 4.0. Almost all of the newer motherboards have adopted this generation, so make sure you are picking one amongst those because the high data transfer rate provided by the PCIe 4.0 is well worth the extra buck. The PCI-e 4.0 will give you high-speed memory storage options like the M.2 SSD. On the other hand, most of the latest graphics card also utilizes the PCI-e 4.0, so it is definitely a must for an excellent gaming build.
Audio and Networking
Almost all of the motherboards these days have excellent integrated Audio and networking chipsets. Both of these can massively improve your experience, so make sure that you get excellent surround audio with a renowned codec that can give out the most immersive audio for gaming; sound-enhancing technologies will be a cherry-on-top. For networking, LAN with a decent codec does the job, but somehow most people prefer Wifi solutions, which you can easily avail of in the latest motherboards, so make sure your motherboard is equipped with both.
A motherboard that satisfies all of the above factors will give you adequate ground for a powerful mid-range build that will give out an excellent gaming performance. The i5 9400F being an affordable mid-range build, it is ill-advised to go way over your budget and make it not affordable anymore unless you are building a future-proof set-up. However, you should remember that motherboard is not as easy to upgrade as the rest of the components, so make a choice accordingly.
Also, going overboard is not a good way to go about it if you are trying to juice out the maximum performance because a significant performance difference between the components can cause bottlenecking, and you’ll be stuck with spending your extra buck for nothing.