Best Thunderbolt 3 Motherboards Of 2022

Whether you’re looking for a great Intel or AMD motherboard, there are amazing options on the market that come with Thunderbolt 3 support. To spare you an arduous search for the perfect motherboard, I’ve compiled a list of my pick of the best Thunderbolt 3 motherboards available right now.

Best Motherboards with Thunderbolt 3 Overview

Buying Guide

Along with looking at the other important motherboard specifications that should influence your decision (CPU, RAM, PCIe slots, connectivity, and brand), here are some Thunderbolt features you need to consider.

If Not Ports, Then Headers

Not all motherboards come with separate Thunderbolt 3 ports. Some only come with Thunderbolt support via headers on the board itself. You’ll need to get a corresponding Thunderbolt add-in card to plug into the header which will enable you to use a USB Type-C port as your Thunderbolt port. 

Not all motherboards come with this header, however, so be sure to check ahead. You’ll also have to make sure to buy a compatible TB card for your motherboard model as they’re created to match specific boards. Just search for one from the same manufacturer as your motherboard.

How Many Thunderbolt 3 Ports Do You Need?

The more the merrier, right? While having more Thunderbolt 3 ports is arguably better, there’s usually also a price tag attached to that. Part of picking the best motherboard for you while staying on budget is assessing how many Thunderbolt ports you actually need. Creators will likely appreciate at least 2, but it definitely depends on how many devices you’ll want to connect at the same time.

Are There Ports Heading to the Front?

Motherboards with Thunderbolt ports generally have them headed to the rear I/O plate on the PC. But it’s usually much more convenient to plug your devices in at the front, as that’s typically within reach. It’s also better if you have multiple devices that you want to plug in and out regularly as you swap them out. 

If this is an important feature to you, then make sure to look for a motherboard with Thunderbolt headers that head to ports at the front of your computer and not just the back.

Best Thunderbolt 3 Motherboards of 2022

Gigabyte Z490 AORUS Xtreme – Best Overall Thunderbolt 3 Motherboard

Gigabyte-Z490-AORUS-Xtreme---Best-Overall-Thunderbolt-3-Motherboard

Key Specifications

  • Chipset: Intel Z490
  • Number of Memory Slots: 4 x DIMM, DDR4
  • Maximum Memory Supported: 128GB
  • Channel Supported: DUAL Channel
  • Wi-Fi / Bluetooth: WiFi 6 / V5.1
  • USB SUPPORT: 9 x USB 3.2, 6 x USB 2.0
  • Form Factor: E-ATX

This gorgeous motherboard is a unique testament to Gigabyte’s dedication to creating powerful motherboards as well as incorporating the incredible design. It has 2x Intel Thunderbolt 3 connectors that connect to the back I/O plate, as well as 9x USB 3.2 and 6x USB 2.0 ports for plenty of device connectivity.

As for other internal specifications, it’s got 4 x DDR4 DIMM sockets supporting up to 128 GB with speeds up to 5000 Mhz (when overclocked with Intel Core i9/i7 processors). There’s also 3x M.2 sockets, 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors, and both Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 and Bluetooth 5.1.

Gigabyte also makes the Z490 AORUS Xtreme Waterforce version which, like the name implies, comes with a unique water-cooled block. That’s the main difference between these two motherboards, but the Waterforce has almost twice the price tag. The addition of water-cooling can be amazing for enthusiasts and overclockers, but I don’t know if it’s worth that price tag.

ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming – Best AMD Thunderbolt Motherboard

ASRock-X570-Phantom-Gaming---Best-AMD-Thunderbolt-Motherboard

Key Specifications

  • Chipset: AMD X570
  • Number of Memory Slots: 4 x DIMM, DDR4
  • Maximum Memory Supported: 128GB
  • Channel Supported: DUAL Channel
  • Wi-Fi / Bluetooth: NA
  • USB SUPPORT: 12 X USB 3.2 Gen2, 2 X USB 2.0
  • Form Factor: ATX

It’s quite a struggle to find an AMD motherboard with Thunderbolt support because it was an Intel exclusive feature for a long time before the company made it open-source in 2020. This is one of the few AMD AM4 motherboards that does support Thunderbolt 3. Things will probably change with the upcoming AM5 boards.

While the lack of choice is frustrating, thankfully the ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming is an amazing motherboard. It supports AMD Ryzen 2000 through 5000 CPUs (no Ryzen 1000 processor support, unfortunately). The board also comes with 2x PCI Express 4.0 x16 slots, 2x PCIe 4.0 x1, and 2x M.2 slots. You can mount 2 GPUs on the x16 slots with AMD CrossFire support. 

The 10-phase power design and 4x DDR4 slots that support speeds up to 4666 MHz make this board great for overclocking. The only disappointing part is that it only has a 1x Thunderbolt Add-In Card (AIC) connector and if it’s enabled then the one SATA type M.2 slot will be disabled.

Asus ProArt Z490-CREATOR – Best Motherboard for Creatives

Asus-ProArt-Z490-CREATOR---Best-Motherboard-for-Creatives

Key Specifications

  • Chipset: Intel Z490
  • Number of Memory Slots: 4 x DIMM, DDR4
  • Maximum Memory Supported: 128GB
  • Channel Supported: DUAL Channel
  • Wi-Fi / Bluetooth: NA
  • USB SUPPORT: 11 X USB 3.2, 4 X USB 2.0
  • Form Factor: ATX

The first thing you need to know is that this board comes with two Thunderbolt 3 Type-C ports (you can daisy-chain up to 12 Thunderbolt devices) and Asus’s ProArt Creator Hub. These features alone make this motherboard a fantastic option for creatives, though it comes with a whole swoon-worthy bag of tricks on top of that.

This high-powered board comes with 12+2 DrMOS power stages, great VRMs, and multi-GPU support for overclockers. It also comes with 4x DIMM slots with a maximum memory of 128GB and supporting speeds of up to 4800 MHz (when overclocked). If you’re not into buying separate GPUs, this board also supports integrated-graphics processors and works with Intel’s 10th Gen CPUs.

Unfortunately, this board doesn’t come with PCIe 4.0 slots, but it does have 3 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, and 2x PCIe 3.0 x1 slots. The ProArt Z490-CREATOR also has 2x M.2 Socket 3, 6 x SATA 6Gb/s ports, and plenty of USB 3.2 ports. All of these are great features for a creator-centric model.

MSI MEG Z490I – Best Mini-ITX Thunderbolt motherboard

MSI-MEG-Z490I---Best-MINI-ITX-motherboard

Key Specifications

  • Chipset: Intel Z490
  • Number of Memory Slots: 2 x DIMM, DDR4
  • Maximum Memory Supported: 64GB
  • Channel Supported: DUAL Channel
  • Wi-Fi / Bluetooth: WiFI 6 / Bluetooth 5.1
  • USB SUPPORT: 6 X USB 3.2, 4 X USB 2.0
  • Form Factor: Mini-ITX

The MSI MEG Z490I proves mini in size doesn’t have to mean mini in features when it comes to motherboards. This tiny motherboard isn’t just great for creators, it was built with gamers and overclockers in mind too. The board comes with fantastic heatsinks, a great design for heat distribution (especially for an ITX board), and a 10-layer PCB design.

You get access to the current Intel CPU tech with the Intel LGA1200 chipset, and 1x PCIe 3.0 x16 slot (with support up to PCIe 4.0 for 11th Gen Intel CPUs). There’s also 2x DDR4 memory slots that can reach a maximum speed of an insane 5000+ MHz (with one memory stick) and support for up to 64GB. Plus you get 2x M.2 slots, which is rare on a Mini ITX model.

It comes with a 1x Thunderbolt 3 port, which is situated on the back I/O panel. A port at the front would have been great, but if it’s not a dealbreaker for you then this is still a fantastic option. There’s also 6x USB 3.2 slots and 4x USB 2.0 slots for all your other connectivity needs.

Asus Prime X299 Edition 30 – Best Value for Money Option

Best Thunderbolt 3 Motherboards-Asus-Prime-X299-Edition-30---Best-Value-For-Money-Option

Key Specifications

  • Chipset: Intel X299
  • Number of Memory Slots: 8 x DIMM, DDR4
  • Maximum Memory Supported: 256GB
  • Channel Supported: DUAL Channel
  • Wi-Fi / Bluetooth: WiFI 6 / Bluetooth 5.0
  • USB SUPPORT: 11 X USB 3.2, 6 X USB 2.0
  • Form Factor: Mini-ITX

This incredibly stylish board hides a lot of strength. Along with sporting 2x Thunderbolt 3 ports (you can daisy-chain up to 12 Thunderbolt devices), it’s also packed with the latest high-tech features including incredible 8x DIMM slots. The DDR4 memory support includes speeds up to 4266 MHz (when overclocked) with a maximum memory of 256GB.

The Prime X299 Edition 30 is built to provide more than you enough features whether you use it for work or gaming at home, with up to quad-GPU support (both SLI and CrossFire), triple M.2 sockets, and AI Overclocking. It also comes with 8 x SATA 6Gb/s ports, 11x USB 3.2 ports and 6x USB 2.0 ports, as well as the latest Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200 and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity.

3x PCIe 3.0 slots. Though PCIe 4.0 would have been great since it’s newer, the Intel Core Skylake-X processors only support PCIe 3.0.

FAQ

What Is Thunderbolt 3 on a Motherboard?

Thunderbolt 3 is a connector extension for a computer, like USB, that lets you transfer data back and forth. This includes audio, video, and storage files. Thunderbolt 3 has data transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps, which is double the speed of USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (the latest USB version at the time of writing).

What Can I Plug Into a Thunderbolt 3 Port?

Thunderbolt 3 ports look the same as a USB-C port and work with Thunderbolt devices. Because of this, you can plug USB-C cables into Thunderbolt 3 ports, but they won’t be able to transfer data at the Thunderbolt connector’s normal rate and will revert to the maximum rate of the USB-C cable.

Is Thunderbolt 3 Better Than HDMI?

Thunderbolt 3 supports significantly higher refresh rates and speeds than HDMI. With Thunderbolt 3 ports, you get refresh rates of up to 240Hz with resolutions as high as 4K. With HDMI your refresh rate is limited to 60Hz with 4K screens.

Is Thunderbolt 3 the Same as USB-C?

While they use the same type of connectors, Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C are not the same. USB-C ports and cables can sustain much smaller data transfer rates than Thunderbolt 3. Also, while you can connect a USB-C cable to a Thunderbolt 3 port, it doesn’t typically work the other way around.

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