Selecting an Intel Based Motherboard
Motherboards are one of the most essential components of any PC build. The motherboard you choose for your computer will determine all of the other components that are compatible with your PC. Everything from your CPU to storage drives and RAM connects to your motherboard. This importance of motherboards is why they are considered the best starting point for almost any computer build.
Intel CPUs are compatible only with Intel based motherboards. If you ever need help or want to get estimates for your own build, you can use Micro Center's Custom PC Builder tool for this purpose. With that said, if you have decided that an Intel processor is the best choice for you, be sure to take a look at the important features like chipsets and sockets that we discuss below.
Chipsets and Sockets on Intel Motherboards
Chipsets and sockets help to distinguish between motherboards. Intel processors require specific sockets to be compatible with Intel motherboards, and chipsets can help inform you which components will work with each other. Z490 motherboards are designed to support 10th and 11th gen Intel processors and higher RAM speeds of 2933MHz. The 11th gen CPUs are best paired with motherboards based on 500 series chipsets. Gaming motherboards or other high end tasks may utilize the Intel 12th and 14th Gen Processors and Z690 boards, which features 10 USB 3.2 ports and the fastest RAM speeds possible. Intel’s 14th Gen Processor Raptor Lake SR CPUs is best suited for Intel B660, H610, H670, and Z790 motherboards. Intel Z690 Motherboards are expected to support Intel’s 14th gen processor, however a BIOS update may be required for full compatibility.
Sockets are another key element of motherboards that any PC builder needs to understand. Currently, Intel motherboards are available with two main types of sockets: LGA 1200 and LGA 1700. A few high performance motherboards also use the LGA 2066 socket. While these sockets do have performance differences between them that are worth investigating if you are serious about maximizing PC specs, the functional difference comes down to the pin connector layout, which determines which types of CPU each socket can support. Thus, when choosing a CPU for your build, be sure to note which socket size it’s compatible with.
There is no doubt that sockets and chipsets can be complex and confusing, especially if you are a first time PC builder. That is why many gamers and builders choose to use a CPU and motherboard bundle from Micro Center. With these pre selected packages, you will never have to worry about connectivity issues between your CPU and motherboard, and you will be able to move on to other parts of your build.
Intel Motherboard Form Factors
Besides chipsets and sockets, the next most crucial motherboard specification is the form factor. The size or form factor of a motherboard tells you which type of PC case your build will fit into and how many additional components you can install. ATX motherboards are the most common and largest size available. The larger size of ATX motherboards makes them much easier to work with and some of the most popular motherboards for gaming. Recently, extended ATX (eATX) motherboards have also gained popularity. These jumbo sized motherboards are larger than standard ATX motherboards and often feature additional PCIe slots that make it easy to add graphics cards, WiFi cards, and other performance components.
Smaller motherboard form factors, such as microATX or Mini ITX, are great for office based machines or computers that need to fit specific space requirements. Building with Mini ITX compared to ATX motherboards can be more challenging due to their reduced size, but the tradeoffs can be worth it if, for example, you are a college student who wants to build a dorm friendly compact gaming PC.
Micro Center offers a full selection of Intel motherboards from leading manufacturers, like ASUS, MSI, and more. Compare specs here and choose the one that offers the performance and functionality you are seeking for your build. Don’t forget our CPU motherboard bundle packages if you are looking for a solution that will allow you to get started on your build quickly and without the potential headaches of pairing chipsets and sockets. If you are considering AMD CPUs for your build, check out our AMD motherboard selection as well.
Selecting a Motherboard
Looking to build your own PC? Don’t overlook the importance of the motherboard. This is the printed circuit board that contains the primary components of your device, featuring all the connections and slots that allow your CPU, GPU, hard drive, and other components to interact. While it may not get as much attention as your graphics card or processor, the motherboard is important because it allocates power and keeps all hardware working in sync.
The motherboard is at the core of any PC build. Motherboards come in different shapes, sizes, and chipsets that determine what other components are supported by your computer. Understanding what features the different chipsets offer can help you determine which motherboard is the right choice for you.
Typically, you can see the chipset of a motherboard within the parts name, such as the ASRock X570 Taichi ATX or ASUS Z690-A LGA 1700 ATX. The name of these components will tell you many things, including which processor the board supports, the form factor of the part, and other features such as integrated WiFi. Intel processors and AMD processors require specific sockets to function, and a motherboard will only support one brand.
Intel and AMD Motherboards
A motherboard's chipset can tell you which processor the board supports and other additional features. AMD B550 motherboards use AMD AM4 socket and are some of the most popular on the market today. These boards often support multiple graphics cards, integrated WiFi 6, and USB 3.2 ports, making them great motherboards for gaming or workstation style PCs.
A popular choice is AMD B450 motherboards. The differences between B550 and B450 are minor, and supported peripheral components are similar, making either an excellent choice. AMD X570 motherboards are considered top of the line for AMD processors and offer the most robust features and build flexibility. These boards can come at a premium price, however features such as support for multiple high speed storage drives or GPUs make them highly desired for streaming PCs or workstation style computers.
If you need a motherboard that is compatible with Intel processors, be sure to select an Intel motherboard. We offer many of the top Intel motherboards at Micro Center, including the popular ASUS Intel Z690, the Gigabyte Aorus Elite, and others. Check the specs of each model to ensure that your motherboard is compatible with your CPU and memory. Each motherboard also has its own socket type (LGA 1151, LGA 2066, LGA 1700, LGA 1200, etc.) so be sure to reference that to ensure compatibility.
Selecting a Gaming Motherboard
A great place to start when choosing a motherboard for gaming or any task is by looking at the form factor. The size or form factor will tell you what kind of case the motherboard will fit in. From largest to smallest, the most common sizes of modern motherboards are ATX, microATX, and ITX. ATX motherboards are easy to build with and allow many other components to be integrated into your build. This makes them great for first time PC builders or anyone looking to make the most powerful PC possible.
Each motherboard has a certain number of connectors or slots that allow you to connect expansion cards. As a gamer, you will want to think about the number of PCI expansion slots as well as memory slots to connect your RAM modules. Regardless of if you plan to use your motherboard for work or play, you need to think about RAM compatibility. Your motherboard must be compatible with the type of RAM such as DDR4 or DDR5.
Differences between chipsets can be minor yet significant for specific tasks. Understanding the anatomy of a motherboard will help you learn precisely what each chipset can do. You can also use Micro Center's Custom PC Builder tool to ensure your motherboard supports your CPU and other parts.
Shop All Motherboards at Micro Center
Micro Center is here to help you select the perfect motherboard for your unique needs, whether you are building a high end gaming PC or simply want to design your own custom workstation. We have the right motherboard options for desktops with all the features you need. Shop AMD and Intel motherboards by ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte, ASRock, and more in our awesome selection.
Whether you are looking for a top notch AMD motherboard or something to power your Intel processor, we can help with custom recommendations and expert-level support.