Best 3 Motherboards with Thunderbolt 4 – Buying Guide

Motherboards with Thunderbolt 4

This post includes affiliate links, for which we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase using our links. As an Amazon Associate, we can earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more.

The latest Intel Z590 motherboards bring excellent features, one of them being Thunderbolt 4 support. Thunderbolt 4 guarantees 40Gbps of peripheral bandwidth for the latest high-speed devices and drives. Thunderbolt 4 also brings native USB4 compatibility and support for up to two 4K external displays.

However, not all Z590 and the latest AMD motherboards come with Thunderbolt 4 ports. This buying guide includes Thunderbolt 4 motherboards from Intel and AMD, including those with a Thunderbolt 4 header. A Thunderbolt 4 header lets you add Thunderbolt 4 to your PC using a PCIe adapter.

Here are the best motherboards with Thunderbolt 4.

Best Motherboards with Thunderbolt 4 Compared

1. ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero – Overall Choice

ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero is the best all-around motherboard with Thunderbolt 4 you can buy today. It is compatible with both 10th and 11th gen Intel processors, but only the latter unlocks PCIe 4.0 speeds. There are two onboard Thunderbolt 4 ports and WiFi 6E support, which brings extra bandwidth and improved signal stability through the 6GHz spectrum.

According to Wccftech, Z590 motherboards offer PCIe 4.0 compatibility only with 11th gen Intel processors. If you want to take full advantage of what the latest PCIe 4.0 SSDs have to offer, make sure to pair this motherboard with an 11th gen Intel processor.

The ROG Maximus XIII Hero is built for hardcore gamers and extreme overclockers. It combines cutting-edge hardware with a full suite of AI features to deliver the best gaming performance with no compromises.

Design

The ROG Maximus XIII Hero retains the same dark theme as the Z490 version. However, Asus went for a more subtle approach in the RGB lighting to deliver more gaming immersion. It has three addressable RGB headers that let you customize the PC to match your taste. Onboard you get a pre-mounted I/O shield and graphics cardholder for ease of installation.

The motherboard uses 14+2 teamed power stages rated at 90A to deliver power to the CPU and other critical components. That’s enough power to overclock the demanding 11th gen processors. It has excellent cooling, with four M.2 heatsinks and backplates, a large surface area VRM heatsink, and a chipset heatsink. You also get water cooling capabilities and AI cooling to deliver the best balance of performance and thermals with just a single click.

Features

The Z590 ROG Maximus XIII Hero comes with industry-leading AI features, including AI Overclocking, AI Cooling, AI Networking, and Two-Way AI Noise-Cancelation. AI Overclocking gives you the ideal overclocking settings without having to tweak the CPU clock speeds and voltages manually. There is also 5-Way Optimization, which optimizes all the system settings, including power delivery, cooling, and overclocking, with a click of a button.

The motherboard has two PCIe 4.0 x16 slots, a PCIe 3.0 x16, and an additional PCIe 3.0 x1 slot. The Gen4 slots run at X16 speeds when only one is populated and at X8 when both are active. You can connect more than one graphics card to the motherboard using NVIDIA SLI.

In terms of storage, there are four M.2 slots with two supporting PCIe Gen4 speeds. There are six additional SATA slots for more storage capacity. The Z590 ROG Maximus XIII Hero can support up to 128GB of system memory through its four DIMM slots with incredible speeds of up to 5333MHz.

Connectivity

One of the best features of the Z590 ROG Maximus XIII Hero is the dual Thunderbolt 4 ports that support blistering transfer speeds and two 4K displays. You also get WiFi 6E support, dual 2.5 Gb Ethernet ports, and six 20Gbps USB-A ports.

Our Take

ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero is an excellent Thunderbolt 4 motherboard with all the features you need to build a high-end gaming rig. It has robust power delivery and cooling design, great AI features, and fast connectivity powered by Thunderbolt 4, PCIe Gen4, and WiFi 6E. It is one of the best future-proof motherboards you can buy right now.

PROS
  • Two Thunderbolt 4 ports and PCIe Gen4 support
  • Robust power delivery and cooling
  • Customizable RGB lighting
  • Four M.2 slots (two with PCIe 4.0 support)
  • Six 20Gbps USB-A ports
CONS
  • M.2_1 is disabled for 10th Gen Intel

2. ASUS ROG Strix Z590-I Gaming WiFi – Mini ITX Pick

The ROG Strix Z590-I Gaming WiFi is the best choice for Mini-ITX builders. It comes with a single onboard Thunderbolt 4 port, WiFi 6E, and full PCIe 4.0 speeds through an 11th gen Intel processor. The motherboard is backward compatible with 10th gen Intel processors since it uses the same LGA 1200 socket.

With the ROG Strix Z590-I Gaming WiFi, you don’t have to compromise on any part of your PC. It comes with cutting-edge hardware and features to build a powerful yet small PC that can fit just about anywhere. It is excellent if you have limited desk space or want a full-blown desktop that’s great for portability.

Design

The ROG Strix Z590-I Gaming WiFi comes with an 8+2 power delivery configuration, which is impressive for a motherboard of this size. The thermal design is also excellent. There is a large VRM heatsink with a built-in fan, a heatsink for the two M.2 slots and chipset, and M.2 backplates to improve heat dissipation on sustained loads. Overall, it is an impressive design that allows high performance at low temperatures.

In terms of design, you get the same all-black design as most ASUS motherboards. There is an RGB-lit ROG logo on the M.2/chipset heatsink and an addressable header for more customizations. The pre-mounted I/O shield, BIOS FlashBack, and FlexKey add more value to justify the premium price tag.

Features

While this motherboard belongs to the slightly affordable ROG Strix family, it supports all the artificial intelligence features, including AI Overclocking, AI Cooling, AI Networking, and Two-Way AI Noise-Cancelation. It also supports 5-Way Optimization to tune your entire system performance with just a single click.

Onboard there is only one PCIe 4.0 x16 slot to connect graphics cards or other add-in cards. While small and compact, this motherboard supports up to 64GB of memory with incredible speeds up to DDR4-5133MHz. Not bad for a motherboard so small that it can fit in an eGPU enclosure.

There is an M.2 PCIe 4.0 slot for high-speed storage and another one supporting PCIe 3.0 speeds. You also get four SATA ports for additional storage. With four SATA ports, the motherboard is capable of RAID 0, 1, and 10 configurations.

Connectivity

In addition to the one Thunderbolt 4 port, the ROG Strix Z590-I Gaming has a 20Gbps USB-C port, six additional USB-A ports, 2.5G Ethernet jack, and an HDMI 2.0 output. You also high-speed storage and wireless speeds with PCIe 4.0 and WiFi 6E support.

Our Take

If you want to build the most powerful small form factor PC today, the ASUS ROG Strix Z590-I Gaming WiFi is the best motherboard for that. It’s specifically designed to deliver exceptional performance in a compact, smaller footprint. Add the Thunderbolt 4 support, WiFi 6E, and PCIe 4.0, and you get yourself that will last for years.

PROS
  • Small yet powerful than ever
  • Next-gen connectivity with WiFi 6E and PCIe 4.0
  • Reliable cooling
  • Full suite of AI features
CONS
  • No 20Gbpps USB-A ports

3. ASUS TUF Gaming Z590-Plus – Best Budget Thunderbolt 4 Motherboard

If you’re looking for a budget motherboard with Thunderbolt 4, ASUS TUF Gaming Z590-Plus is an excellent choice. This motherboard doesn’t have Thunderbolt 4 ports, but it has a Thunderbolt 4 header that lets you add Thunderbolt 4 ports through an add-in card. ASUS has already announced its Thunderbolt 4 PCIe card, which will be available soon.

In the meantime, the motherboard provides a 20Gbps USB-C port for your Type-C peripherals, HDMI and DisplayPort output to connect external monitors, and six additional USB-A ports. All these at an affordable price tag.

The ASUS TUF Gaming Z590-Plus LGA 1200 has an LGA 1200 socket, so it is compatible with both 10th and 11th gen processors. As with other Z590 motherboards, PCIe 4.0 speed will only be available with an 11th gen processor.

Design

The TUF Gaming Z590-Plus is a very tough motherboard built with military-grade components to ensure durability. It has a dark theme with white branding and the new TUF logo on the chipset and I/O cover, which adds some great aesthetics. Onboard you get RGB lighting, although minimal, and addressable RGB headers to personalize it to your liking. Overall it is a well-built motherboard despite its low price tag.

TUF Gaming Z590-Plus uses 16 DrMOS power stages in a 14+2 configuration to deliver enough power to run the 11th gen processors. It is very much optimized for cooling with a large VRM heatsink, three heatsinked M.2 slots, and multiple fan headers and water pumps.

Features

TUF motherboards are designed for budget builders and thus don’t include many features. The TUF Gaming Z590-Plus only supports 2-Way AI Noise Cancelation and misses out on the other AI features. However, you get the Fan Xpert 4 utility which gives you total control over the cooling performance.

Onboard there are two PCIe x16 slots, but only one supports PCIe Gen4 speeds. There are two additional PCIe 3.0 x1 slots. There is one M.2 PCIe 4.0 slot, two M.2 PCIe 3.0 slots, and six SATA ports for storage. It has four DIMM slots, supporting up to 128GB.

Connectivity

To add Thunderbolt 4 ports on this motherboard, you’ll need a Thunderbolt 4 to PCIe adapter, which is sold separately. The motherboard comes with a 20Gbps USB-C port, dual 10Gbps USB-A ports, four additional onboard USB-A ports. For wireless connectivity, there is WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1.

Our Take

ASUS TUF Gaming Z590-Plus is the best budget motherboard with Thunderbolt 4 you can buy. It does not come with onboard Thunderbolt 4 ports, but you can add some via a Thunderbolt 4 PCIe card. Elsewhere, you’re getting all the essential features needed to build a high-end gaming rig. If you can manually tune the system and find the best overclocking and thermal settings, save your money and get this motherboard.

PROS
  • Best value
  • Faster connectivity with Thunderbolt 4, WiFi 6, and PCIe Gen4
  • Robust build quality
  • Solid power delivery
CONS
  • Thunderbolt 4 ports require an external adapter, which raises the cost

Choosing the Best Motherboards with Thunderbolt 4 – The best Buying Guide

Here is what to consider when buying a Thunderbolt 4 motherboard.

Platform: AMD or Intel

Most motherboards that support Thunderbolt are Intel-based. Well, it’s not a surprise since Thunderbolt was co-developed by Intel and Apple. However, you still have a few options if you’re looking for an AMD motherboard with Thunderbolt connectivity.

ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming was the only AMD motherboard that supported Thunderbolt 3. Recently, ASUS announced the first AMD B550 motherboard with Thunderbolt 4 ports, the ProArt B550-Creator.

For Intel, many motherboards support Thunderbolt 4. And since Thunderbolt 4 is integrated into the newly-released 11th gen Intel processors, building an Intel-based Thunderbolt 4 PC is now easier than ever. Choosing the best platform depends on your needs and preference. Both Intel and AMD have excellent entry-level, mid-range, and powerful processors.

According to PassMark’s single-thread performance, Intel Core i9-11900K graces the top, followed by Apple M1 8, Intel Core i7-11700K, AMD Ryzen 7 5800X, and AMD Ryzen 9 5950X for the top five. These are all powerful processors that can build high-end gaming, VR, and content creation rigs. So, it’s a matter of preference really and availability. Have you tried buying a PS5 or an RTX 3080 lately?

Form Factor

Most Thunderbolt 4 motherboards come with an ATX form factor. It the de facto standard, offering more space, expansion slots, and ports. Most PC cases available on the market are compatible with ATX motherboards.

ATX motherboards have up to seven expansion slots, eight RAM slots, 12 SATA ports for storage drives. That’s enough plugs for your components and future expansion plans. ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero (Amazon Link) is the best ATX motherboard with Thunderbolt 4.

Micro-ATX motherboards are a few inches smaller than ATX motherboards. They have fewer plugs and expansion slots, but more than Mini-ITX boards. If you want to build a small Thunderbolt 4 PC with more room for devices and expansion, a micro ATX motherboard is the best choice.

Mini ITX motherboards are the smallest. They are usually used to build tiny PCs. These motherboards are small and compact but provide room for a full-size graphics card, two RAM sticks, and up to six storage drives. If you want to build a full-blown Thunderbolt 4 PC for a space-constrained desk or portability, mini ITX motherboards are the best.

ASUS ROG Strix Z590-I Gaming WiFi (Amazon Link) is the best mini ITX motherboard with Thunderbolt 4 ports.

Socket

Processor compatibility depends on the type of socket in the motherboards. A socket is where you install the processor in the motherboard. Different generations of processors use different types of sockets.

The latest Intel motherboards come with an LGA 1200 socket, which is compatible with 10th gen and the latest 11th gen processors. Yes, Intel retained the same processor socket in the new Z590 motherboards. However, you can only unlock Thunderbolt 4 and PCIe 4.0 capabilities on the new Z590 motherboards using an 11th gen processor.

On the other hand, the latest AMD motherboards use the AM4 socket, which is compatible with the new 5000 series processors and last-gen 4000 and 3000 series desktop processors.

Thunderbolt 4 Ports

If everything remains the same, select the motherboard with the most Thunderbolt 4 ports. Having many Thunderbolt 4 ports allows you to connect many devices and peripherals, such as Thunderbolt 4 monitors, docking stations, external drives, NAS devices, 10G Ethernet adapters, and more, to expand the functionality of your system.

You can leverage Thunderbolt 4 daisy-chaining features to create independent daisy-chains on each port, which allows you to connect even more Thunderbolt devices than you could ever imagine. The ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero (Amazon Link) with two onboard Thunderbolt 4 ports is the best you can get in the market.

If the motherboard comes with a Thunderbolt 4 header instead of onboard Thunderbolt 4 ports, such as the ASUS TUF Gaming Z590-Plus (Amazon Link), you can choose the Thunderbolt 4 add-on card with the most Thunderbolt 4 ports. ASUS announced a Thunderbolt 4 PCIe card with two Thunderbolt 4 ports. We will update with a link if more adapters are available for purchase.

Expansion Slots

Expansion slots are one of the reasons people prefer desktops to laptops. You can easily expand your PC’s functionality using an adapter card, such as a WiFi card, sound card, storage devices, and a host of others. These adapters (also known as add-on or add-in cards) install on the desktop via an expansion slot. The PCI Express (PCIe) is the standard expansion slot available in most motherboards today.

A motherboard can have one or more PCIe expansion slots depending on the form factor. PCIe slots come in different sizes, from a smaller PCIe x1 to PCIe x4, PCIe x8, and PCIe x16. The speed of a PCIe slot depends on the lanes a CPU allocates to devices and the speed at which those lanes operate.

A PCIe 3.0 x16 slot running at full 16 lanes (X16) has a bandwidth of 32GB/s, while the same PCIe slot at PCIe Gen4 speeds has a bandwidth of 64GB/s.

All motherboards in this roundup support PCIe 4.0. However, you’ll need to use an 11th gen Intel processor to unlock PCIe Gen4. For AMD, you can use both 5000 and 4000 series processors.

More reading: Best Motherboards with PCIe 4

Graphics cards require a full-length PCIe x16 slot running at 16 lanes to deliver the best performance. However, you can use a PCIe x8 slot with a PCIe Gen4 motherboard and still get similar performance. M.2 drives only require four PCIe lanes to work at their full potential. All add-in cards indicate the required PCIe lanes to work at full speeds. It is good to check you have the available lanes to get the best of a PCIe adapter card.

The number of PCIe lanes a CPU can allocate to devices is limited. As a result, some motherboards may disable some PCIe slots when the lanes are saturated. For instance, using all the M.2 PCIe slots in a motherboard may disable a few SATA slots. Or a PCIe x16 slot may run at X8 speed when another PCIe x16 slot is being used. How this is implemented depends on the type of motherboard.

GPU Support

Both Intel and AMD processors have integrated graphics that can drive an external monitor and handle lightweight tasks such as light photo editing. However, if you’re building a PC for professional video and photo editing, AAA gaming, or 3D workflows, you’ll need a dedicated graphics card.

Graphics install to the motherboard through a PCIe expansion slot, preferably a full-length PCIe x16 slot. Even the smaller mini ITX boards include one PCIe x16 expansion slot.

If you plan to use multiple graphics cards, select a motherboard with more than one PCIe x16 slot and make sure it supports multi-GPU configurations such as SLI for NVIDIA and CrossFire for AMD GPUs. The ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero (Amazon Link) supports two graphics cards through NVIDIA SLI.

Storage

Motherboards come with M.2 slots and SATA ports for connecting storage drives. For the best performance, ensure the motherboard has at least one M.2 PCIe 4.0 slots and more than four SATA ports. The latest M.2 PCIe 4.0 delivers insanely fast speeds, breaking the 7000MBps barrier. This results in faster OS and application boot times, zero game loading screens, and quick rendering time in content creation.

More reading: Best PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs

If you need more storage capacity for media and other files, a SATA SSD or the older HDD can come in handy. They may not be as fast as M.2 drives, but they are very affordable and great for storing large files.

The ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero (Amazon Link) with four M.2 slots (two support PCIe 4.0) and six SATA is the best most pro users and hardcore gamers.

RAM

How much memory you need in your PC depends on your needs. 8GB is great for entry-level and budget PCs, but we consider 16GB to be the sweet spot for most people.

RAM plugs into a motherboard using dual in-line memory modules (DIMM). The number of DIMM slots determines how much RAM you can install to your PC, but not to a great extent since you can add 64GB with just two DIMM slots. You’ll get the best experience when you install RAM in matched pairs to take advantage of dual-channel mode.

Best Motherboards with Thunderbolt 4 – Frequently Asked Questions

Do AMD motherboards support Thunderbolt 4?

AMD motherboards support Thunderbolt 4. ASUS recently announced the ProArt B550-Creator, an AMD motherboard with two Thunderbolt 4 ports.

Does my motherboard support Thunderbolt 4?

You can confirm if your motherboard support Thunderbolt 4 by checking if it has Thunderbolt 4 ports in the back panel or a Thunderbolt 4 header. You can check if it appears in our Thunderbolt 4 motherboards list or the manufacturer’s product page.

Can I add Thunderbolt 4 to my PC?

You can add Thunderbolt 4 to your PC if the motherboard has a Thunderbolt 4 header using a Thunderbolt 4 to PCIe adapter.

Is Thunderbolt exclusive to Intel?

Thunderbolt is not exclusively to Intel anymore. Some AMD motherboards support Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous Post
Cheap 240Hz Monitors

Best 19 Cheap 240Hz Monitors – Buying Guide (2021)

Next Post
App-based AI Smartly Navigates Away from Failed Deliveries

App-based AI Smartly Navigates Away from Failed Deliveries

Related Posts