Intel Motherboard buyers guide

How to choose an Intel motherboard

If the CPU is the brain of the PC, then the motherboard is like the nervous system, connecting all the other components together, such as the GRAPHICS CARD, memory and drives, enabling them to communicate with one another.

Just like with any component you need to make sure that you choose a motherboard that is compatible with your CPU. In this guide, we will be focussing our attention on motherboards for INTEL PROCESSORS.

Three main factors

There are three main factors to consider when choosing a new motherboard, the socket, the chipset and the size. You can see each of these three characteristics listed on the motherboard homepage on the Scan website and this guide will explain what you need to look out for.

Intel Socket

1Socket

Intel Chipset

2Chipset

Intel Size

3Size

Motherboard Sockets

The first thing to look out for is the socket, which is where the CPU physically connects to the motherboard. CPUs are available in all sorts of shapes and sizes, each with their own socket, so it’s critically important to make sure that the socket of the CPU and motherboard is the same. While Intel does change the socket design from time to time when designing new CPUs, most current Intel CPUs fall into five main sockets: Socket 1700, Socket 1200, Socket 2066, Socket 3647 and Socket 4189, where the number refers to the quantity of electrical connecting pins in the socket.

Motherboard Chipsets

After checking the socket type you also need to consider the chipset. The chipset determines a lot of the capabilities of the motherboard, such as the number of add-in cards, the number of memory slots and USB ports. Some CPUs are only served by one chipset while other times you have a choice of chipsets, so you can strike the right balance between features and budget.

Motherboard Size

The last thing you need to consider when choosing a new motherboard is the size. Size is important because you need to make sure that the motherboard you buy can fit in your CASE. Larger motherboards are beneficial because they support more add-in cards and memory, but you can still build very capable and high performance systems with smaller motherboards.

The computer industry uses codenames to refer to the size of the motherboard, but the good news is that those same codenames are used for the size of cases too. This diagram illustrates the dimensions of the most common motherboard sizes.

Intel Motherboard Size Chart
Mini-ITX Micro-ATX ATX E-ATX SSI-EEB
170 x 170 mm 244 x 244 mm 305 x 244 mm 305 x 330 mm

Socket 1700 Motherboards

Socket 1151 Motherboards

Socket 1700 motherboards support the latest Intel 12th gen Core CPUs based on the Alder Lake architecture.

LATEST SUPPORTED CPU ARCHITECTURE12th gen, Alder Lake

ALDER LAKE MOTHERBOARD CHIPSETS

Z690
HIGH END

Z690 is the flagship motherboard chipset for Intel 12th gen Core CPUs, supporting the most PCIe lanes and USB ports.

RECOMMENDED PROCESSORS

Socket 1200 Motherboards

Socket 1151 Motherboards

Socket 1200 motherboards support Intel 11th gen and 10th Core CPUs based on the Rocket Lake and Comet Lake architectures respectively. Make sure to choose one of the newer 500-series chipset motherboards to enable PCIe 4.0 support.

LATEST SUPPORTED CPU ARCHITECTURE11th gen, Rocket Lake

ROCKET LAKE MOTHERBOARD CHIPSETS

Z590
HIGH END

Z590 is the flagship motherboard chipset for Intel 11th gen Core CPUs, supporting the most PCIe lanes and USB ports.

H570 AND B560
MID RANGE

H570 and B560 are the two mid-range motherboard chipsets for Intel 11th gen Core CPUs. H570 supports the most PCIe lanes and USB ports and is intended for home PCs, while B560 supports fewer PCIe lanes and USB ports and is intended for office PCs.

H510
ENTRY LEVEL

H510 is the entry-level motherboard chipset for Intel 11th and 10th gen CPUs and therefore supports the least number of PCIe lanes and USB ports.

RECOMMENDED PROCESSORS

Socket 2066 Motherboards

Socket 2066 Motherboards

Socket 2066 motherboards support older Core i9 X-Series CPUs based on the Cascade Lake X architecture plus Xeon W workstation CPUs based on the Cascade Lake W architecture.

LATEST SUPPORTED CPU ARCHITECTURE10th gen, Cascade Lake X and W

CASCADE LAKE MOTHERBOARD CHIPSETS

X299
HIGH END

X299 is the only motherboard chipset for Core i9 X-series CPUs.

C422
HIGH END

C422 is the only motherboard chipset for Cascade Lake W Xeon W-series CPUs.

RECOMMENDED PROCESSORS

Socket 3647 Motherboards

Socket 3647 Motherboards

Socket 3647 motherboards support 1st and 2nd gen Xeon Scalable processors based on the Skylake SP and Cascade Lake SP architectures. These motherboards are commonly used in servers and ultra-high-end workstations. Most, but not all Socket 3647 motherboards support two CPUs working together in parallel for even greater performance.

LATEST SUPPORTED CPU ARCHITECTURE2nd gen, Cascade Lake SP

CASCADE LAKE SP MOTHERBOARD CHIPSETSC621, C622, C624, C625, C626, C627 and C628

RECOMMENDED PROCESSORS Compatible 3647 Processor VIEW SOCKET 3647 MOTHERBOARDS

Socket 4189 Motherboards

Socket 3647 Motherboards

Socket 4189 motherboards support 3rd gen Xeon Scalable processors based on the Ice Lake SP architecture. These motherboards are commonly used in servers and ultra-high-end workstations. Most, but not all Socket 4189 motherboards support two CPUs working together in parallel for even greater performance.

LATEST SUPPORTED CPU ARCHITECTURE3rd gen, Ice Lake SP

ICE LAKE SP MOTHERBOARD CHIPSETSC621A, C627A, C629A

RECOMMENDED PROCESSORS Compatible 3647 Processor VIEW SOCKET 4189 MOTHERBOARDS