Making sure your PC parts are compatible can be a stressful task, especially for beginners. Often many pc builders will buy incompatible parts without knowing, so that’s why I decided to make a guide to make sure that you never run into this issue.

If you’re a beginner PC Builder, you may be interested in the do’s and dont’s when building a PC.

The best way to build A PC is to know what to go for first, and what to build your PC around. I find it’s best to go for the processor/CPU first, as it will narrow down the possibilities of motherboards.

After you pick your CPU first, then it’s time to pick a compatible motherboard for it. If you were to pick your motherboard first, you could potentially end up with a processor you don’t want.

Once you’ve picked your motherboard, you should go for RAM. If your motherboard only accepts DDR4 RAM, then you know what to go for.

After you’ve picked your RAM, let’s go look for a compatible case to fit your motherboard in. Generally, you will pick up a case that is physically compatible with your motherboard. Say your motherboard is an ATX form factor, then you can select from ATX – EATX Cases.

Now we can look for a graphics card that is compatible with the motherboard. The process of picking a graphics card is not as difficult as PCI-E slots are backward compatible. If you have a PCI-E x16 3.0 GPU, it will work fine in a PCI-E x16 2.0 slot.

Motherboard – Make Sure It’s Compatible With Your CPU

Gaming Motherboard

As we’ve decided to choose the processor first, we’re going to look for motherboards that can support that specific CPU.

What we’re going to do is look at the socket first. The mobo socket is what physically allows the CPU to sit inside of it.

If you’re wondering if an LGA1150 socket can house an LGA1151 Processor, the answer is no. The number after “LGA” refers to the number of contacts inside the CPU socket which has to match up with the number of contacts on the processor.

CPU SOCKET COMPATIBILITY LIST

In this table, you will find the most common processors to date. They consist of Intel & Ryzen processors, and you can use this table to find the compatible socket for that processor.

CPU/PROCESSORSOCKET
Intel 9th Gen(9900KS, 9900K, 9900KF, 9900, 9900T, 9700K, 9700KF, 9700, 9700F, 9700T, 9600K, 9600KF, 9600,
9600T, 9500, 9500F 9500T, 9400 9400F, 9400T, 9350KF,
9320, 9300, 9300T, 9100, 9100F, 9100T)

Intel 8th Gen(8086K, 8700K, 8700, 8700T,
8600K, 8600, 8600T, 8500, 8500T, 8400,
8400T, 8350K, 8300, 8300T, 8100, 8100F, 8100T)
LGA 1151 INTEL (300) SOCKET
AMD Gen Ryzen 7(PRO 1700X, PRO 1700, 3800X, 3700X, 2700X,
2700X Gold Edition, 2700E, 2700, 1800X, 1700X, 1700)

AMD Gen Ryzen 5(1400, 1500X, 1600, 1600X, 2400G
2400GE, 2500X, 2600, 2600E, 2600X, 3400G, 3500X
3600, 3600X, PRO 1500, PRO 1600, PRO 2400G
PRO 2400GE, PRO 2600, PRO 3400G, PRO 3400GE, PRO 3600)

AMD Gen Ryzen 3(1200, 1300X, 2200G, 2200GE
2300X, 3200G, PRO 1200, PRO 1300, PRO 2200G
PRO 2200GE, PRO 3200G, PRO 3200GE)
AM4 SOCKET

CHIPSET

Within the chipset, it consists of two sections, the north-bridge, and the south-bridge. The north-bridge is responsible for communication between the Processor, RAM, and PCI-E.

This is what makes a CPU compatible with a motherboard on a software level.

Also, the chipset determines the capabilities of the motherboard. When picking up a motherboard, make sure the chipset has the features you desire.

Certain chipsets allow for integrated wireless AC or additional USB ports. Do your research before purchasing a motherboard.

Beware, some motherboards don’t allow overclocking simply because their chipset doesn’t support it.

Popular Intel Chipsets

ChipsetCode NameSupports OverclockingIntegrated Wireless ACUSB 3.1 G1USB 3.1 G2USB 3.0USB 2.0
Z370Coffee LakeYesNo001014
H370Coffee LakeNoYes84014
H310Coffee LakeNoYes40010
Z390Coffee LakeYesYes106014

Popular AMD Chipsets

ChipsetCode NameSupports OverclockingIntegrated Wireless ACUSB 3.1 G1USB 3.1 G2USB 3.0USB 2.0
X470Socket AM4YesNo10206
X399Socket TR4YesNo14206
X370Socket AM4YesNo10206
B350Socket AM4YesNo6206
B450Socket AM4YesNo6206

RAM – Your RAM Can Easily Be Incompatible

compatible RAM STICKS

RAM Compatibility, first we need to make sure the RAM can actually fit inside the specified DIMM slot on the motherboard. To do this check the memory specification, and look for the speed. You should see something like “DDR4-3000″, what this means is that the selected RAM module can ONLY fit in a DDR4 DIMM slot.

Your CPU and motherboard support different RAM capacities & speeds, the i7 9700k can support RAM speeds up to 2666Mhz.

Apart from this, depending on your motherboard size, you can only fit a certain amount of RAM sticks due to memory slot limitations.

You can always check your motherboard & CPU specifications for more information.

Form FactorMemory Slots
Standard-ATXUp To 8 Memory Slots
Micro-ATXUp To 4 Memory Slots
Mini-ATXMAX 2 Memory Slots

PC Case – This Can Be Incompatible With Your Motherboard

Before you purchase a case, we need to ensure that the case supports the selected form factor of our motherboard.

Motherboards come in different form factors, Standard ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX, Nano ITX, and Pico ITX. Whatever form factor you choose, check the specifications of your PC case and check if it can support your desired form factor.

Motherboard form factors
Motherboard form factors Courtesy Of VIA GALLERY.

If we choose a Micro-ATX motherboard, we have some decent leeway with cases. A Micro-ATX PC motherboard can fit in Full/Mid/Micro ATX PC case due to having the same screw-hole layout.

If you ever get lost finding a compatible case, you can use this table down below to guide you.

The only time you should build your PC around your PC case is when you’re going for a Niche build. For example, if your build has to be small and compact, then you will go for the components accordingly.

Form FactorDimensions(length x width)Supported Cases Screwholes
Extended-ATX305 x 330 mmEATX Cases
Standard-ATX305 x 244 mmFull/Mid ATX Cases
Micro-ATX244 X 244 mmFull/Mid/Micro ATX Cases
Mini-ATX150 x 150 mmFull/Mid/Micro/Mini ATX Cases

Graphics Card – They’re More Forgiving

compatible graphics card

If you decide to install a dedicated graphics card, you will be inserting it inside the PCI-E slot of the motherboard. Installing a graphics card is pretty straight forward, you should be looking for a PCI-E x16 slot.

The graphics cards of today use PCI-E 3.0 technology, which means the latest graphics cards will work best in a PCI express 3.0 slot.

However, PCI-E is backward compatible, you can still install the latest graphics card in a PCI-E 2.0 slot if that’s what your motherboard only has.

Also, if you have two PCI-E x16 slots, and you decide to run SLI/Crossfire, then you will need both of these slots.

The only thing you really need to worry about is the graphics card being compatible with the case. Your graphics card length needs to be less than the maximum supported length your case has to offer.

There are some tiny graphics cards out there with the same exact performance as the original. If your case cannot support the original size, pick up a mini GPU.

An example of a mini graphics card would be the 1080 Mini.

Power Supply – Get This Right The First Time

compatible power supply

The last thing you want to do when you build a gaming PC is under power your components. The power supply is the most important part of the build, it powers everything inside of your build.

Basically, you want to supply enough power to your components, and to do this, you need to know the wattage demands for the components of your system.

You will need to work out each individual component’s power consumption and add it up. The components you need to focus on mainly are the: Motherboard, Processor, GPU, RAM, and Storage devices.

In this case, you may be tempted to buy the maximum wattage power supply you can find, while this does work, this isn’t the best approach taking your budget into consideration.

Before you purchase a power supply, make sure it has an 80% certificate. Most power supplies will have this nowadays, but just keep an eye out.

Capacity & Efficiency

LOAD:20%50%100%
80+ PLUS80%80%80%
80+ PLUS BRONZE82%85%82%
80+ SILVER85%88%85%
80+ GOLD87%90%87%
80+ PLATINUM90%92%89%
80% TITANIUM92%94%90%

If your PC case is ATX, then you will most definitely be picking up an ATX power supply. You will be picking up an ATX/ATX12V to power your system.

If you’re running with a small chassis, typically a small form factor PC case, then you will pick up an SFX/SFX12V. SFX translates to (Small Form Factor), and it is very similar to an ATX12V PSU.

Size – Form Factor

PSU FORM FACTORWIDTH(mm)HEIGHT(mm)DEPTH(mm)
ATX12V/BTX15086140
ATX LARGE15086180
ATX EPS15086230
CFX12V101.6+48.48696
SFX12V12563.5100
TFX12V8564175
LFX12V6272210
FLEX ATX81.540.5150

CPU Coolers – This Can Be Annoying

incompatible cpu cooler
CPU COOLER COMPATIBILITY

While this isn’t a big deal, some AIR Coolers have issues with RAM clearance, typically the air coolers with dual heatsinks and fans. These large air coolers overhang the DIMM slots, preventing high profile RAM from being inserted. You can avoid this problem by researching if your chosen CPU cooler is compatible with your selected RAM.

AIO/Water coolers completely remove the issue of RAM clearance. This is one of the many benefits of AIO coolers.

Additionally, your AIR cooler needs to be compatible with your case. To make sure of this, you need to check your PC case for the maximum cooler height supported.

As for AIO coolers, ensure that your case has space where you can mount the radiator, and its check its maximum length it supports. Some cases may only support 240MM radiators.

If you happen to need a guide purchasing a CPU cooler, take a look here. CPU Cooler Buyers Guide.

My Favorite Tool That Helps With Compatibility

Here are some of the best tools that can help you find incompatibilities, and guide you in the right direction.

pc part compatibility checker

You can use PCPARTPICKER to check for compatibility issues with your components automatically. It is a very effective tool for beginners to use. Just look for compatibility issues, and you should be good to go.

compatible power supply calculator

You can use Outervisions power supply calculator, it is a powerful tool to use. It adds up the power consumption for each component AUTOMATICALLY and recommends you the best power supply for your needs.