Intel Motherboard buyers guide
What is 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.
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 three main sockets: Socket 1151, Socket 2066 and Socket 3647, where the number refers to the quantity of electrical connecting pins in the socket.
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.
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.
|170 x 170 mm||244 x 244 mm||305 x 244 mm||305 x 330 mm|
Socket 1151 Motherboards
One of the most common socket type is Socket 1151, and is compatible with a huge range of previous generation Intel desktop CPUs. This includes the last three of Intel CPUs, Skylake, Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake, so you need to be careful to choose a Socket 1151 motherboard that is compatible with your CPU.
Coffee Lake Motherboards
Latest achitecture Coffee Lake
*Note on the Z370 & Z390 chipset; if you buy a CPU with a ‘K’ on the end of the name you will be to overclock the CPU to make your PC faster. If you do plan on overclocking you should also plan to buy a suitable CPU cooler and good quality power supply.
Socket 1200 Motherboards
The latest socket type is Socket 1200, and is used by the Intel desktop CPUs based on the Comet Lake architecture. While it has more pins than the previous generation Socket 1151 they are the same physical size, so most Socket 1151 coolers will fit on a Socket 1200 motherboard.
Comet Lake Motherboards
Latest achitecture Comet Lake
*Note on the Z490 chipset; if you buy a CPU with a ‘K’ on the end of the name you will be to overclock the CPU to make your PC faster. If you do plan on overclocking you should also plan to buy a suitable CPU cooler and good quality power supply.
Socket 2066 Motherboards
The second main type of CPU socket is Socket 2066, which is used by two families of high-end Intel desktop CPU, Core i9 and Xeon W. The specs explain the most important differences between the two families so you can make the appropriate choice.
Socket 3647 Motherboards
The last major type of motherboard for current Intel CPUs is Socket 3647, which supports Xeon Scalable CPUs. These are designed for high-end workstations and SERVERS, with many, but not all Socket 3647 motherboards supporting two CPUs for massive amounts of performance.
Cascade Lake SP MotherboardsC621, C622, C624, C625, C626, C627 and C628
Latest achitecture Cascade Lake SP
System Use Workstation / Server