Nothing is worse than purchasing a CPU and Motherboard combo only to find out that they’re incompatible with each other. Not only have you wasted time, but you’ve wasted money on useless components. We understand that picking the correct components can be extremely difficult, so we’re going to make it easier for you.
When you purchase a CPU and a motherboard, they will not tell you whether they’re compatible with each other, it’s up to you to find out whether they work together. To a beginner, this isn’t exactly obvious, as far as they know, a CPU goes in a motherboard. But this isn’t the case, there’s much more that makes a CPU/Motherboard compatible with each other.
Answer: To ensure that your CPU and motherboard are compatible with each other, first you need to consider their physical properties. First and foremost, the CPU will only go in one specific socket, for example, an LGA 1151 CPU will only physically fit in a LGA 1151 motherboard. But we’re going to go much more into motherboard compatibility.
Are Motherboards Compatible With All CPUs?
It would be extremely convenient if motherboards could work with all processors on the market, but unfortunately this isn’t the case, the type of motherboard you select will only work with a select few of processors. So you need to be careful when you’re purchasing your motherboard, this is arguably the most important component.
If you really want to know whether your CPU is compatible with a specific motherboard, there are some online services you can use, this is extremely convenient especially for beginners. PCPARTPICKER is a great service used religiously by most PC builders, it only shows components that work with each other, and will notify if there are potential incompatibility issues.
So, not all motherboards are the same, in fact motherboards will often feature different features from each other, so it goes beyond just a device to connect devices with each other. Motherboards can also be incompatible with certain CPU features such as overclocking.
Ensure The Sockets Are Compatible
With Intel sockets, the motherboards will feature a number in front of the LGA(land grid array), the number you see is actually the amount of pins that will come in contact with your CPU. So if you’ve purchased an LGA1700, you can physically see 1700 pins on the motherboard that’s meant to come in contact with a LGA 1700 processor.
The socket of your motherboard is the place that houses your processor, this is where you physically insert your processor. CPUs are made to go into a specific socket, so you can’t really insert a CPU into an incompatible socket due to physical differences. Intel and AMD will have extremely different socket designs, there is no way you can install an Intel CPU into an AMD motherboard and vice versa.
AMD motherboards usually accept processors of completely different physical aspects to Intel CPUs, AMD motherboards mainly accept PGA or pin grid array processors. This is when the CPU will have pins, and the motherboard doesn’t. Intel CPUs don’t use pins, the motherboards will feature them, this is the LGA(land grid array) setup.
How To Find Supported CPU Sockets?
So you’ve got your processor in mind, that’s great the next thing you need to do is figure out what its supported socket is. There’s many ways you can do this online, you can google the processors specifications online, it will likely tell you it’s supported socket. You can do this with both Intel and AMD processors.
As you can see, the 12gen intel processors are only supported by LGA1700 sockets and no other. It’s completely possible that the 13th generation of Intel processors will go into the LGA1700 socket, multiple CPU generations can use the same socket.
- FC = Flip Chip
- LGA = Land Grid Array
- 1700 = Number Of Pins
How To Find Supported CPU/Processors?
You can also find which processors are compatible for your motherboard if you’ve chosen to select your motherboard first. When you select your motherboard, it’ll show what socket it supports, and it should display which type of processors are supported by this socket.
As you can see in this image, it displays the CPU socket which is the LGA 1700 socket, and it says it supports 12th gen Intel core processors. It’s not possible to insert 11th and 10th gen processors into this socket, it’s physically impossible due to previous gen Intel CPUs having fewer pins.
LGA(Land Grid Array) sockets are a surface mount for processors, they are typically used by Intel processors but not exclusive to them. Threadripper processors will actually use the LGA interface instead of PGA sockets.
AMD processors will actually use the LGA interface for their HEDT processors, but the LGA interface is typically dominated by Intel processors.
|CPU Manufacturer||Socket Type||Socket Codename|
|Intel||LGA 1151||Socket H4|
|Intel||LGA 1200||Socket H5|
|Intel||LGA 1700||Socket V0|
|AMD||LGA 4094||Socket TRG|
|AMD||LGA 1718||Socket AM5|
PGA(Pin Grid Array) is another socket surface mount dominated by AMD processors, you will see physical pins on the processor. When buying a CPU with pins, you should be extra careful with them as it’s possible to damage or bend the pins.
Intel processors have used PGA sockets in the past, but they haven’t used them as of recently, as of whether PGA or LGA are better, it all comes down to personal preference. Some prefer PGA sockets as it’s easier to fix pins on the CPU rather than broken pins on the motherboard.
|CPU Manufacturer||Socket Type||Socket Codename|
|AMD||1331(contact points)||Socket AM4|
|AMD||721(contact points)||Socket AM1|
Do CPU Adapters Exist For Sockets?
The idea of having an adapter to allow for an AMD processor to work in an Intel processor has been brought up in the past, this type of technology is pretty much impossible due to many limitations with the pin count, and chipset. For this technology to work, the socket will have to compensate for extra and missing pins in completely different assignments.
The chipset differences will be too different, a Z690 motherboard won’t know how to identify a Ryzen 5000 processor, it’s only able to identify Intel 12th gen processors.
Select The Right Motherboard Chipset
The chipset of the motherboard is another aspect you need to consider, this is because the chipset is responsible for how the hardware communicates with each other. This means a motherboard can have the correct socket for your CPU, but an incorrect chipset. If this happens the BIOS will fail to detect the CPU, this usually means you will have to modify or update your BIOS to allow for compatibility.
Depending on the chipset, there will also be different features, so if you’re looking for a specific feature, you must be careful with what motherboard you pick. For Intel processors, the Z690 motherboards will feature the most features, but they will also come at a higher price. Some chipsets even won’t allow you to overclock, so it could be a complete waste purchasing a “K” Intel CPU.
X570 motherboards are the highest quality motherboards for AMD processors, it features more PCI-E lanes, and a higher PCI-E generation compared to B550 and A520 motherboards (PCI-E 4.0 vs 3.0). Both the X570 and the B550 motherboards support overclocking, but the A520 motherboards do not, so if you’re a fan of overclocking your CPU past its rated limits, you’re going to want to go with X570 or B550.
Can A Motherboard’s BIOS Be Updated?
Yes, you can update the BIOS, and it is a good idea as the BIOS acts as the link between your hardware and software. You can update the BIOS by downloading the BIOS firmware to a USB Flash Drive, then updating it through the BIOS.
You can find the downloadable firmware from the manufacturer website of your motherboard. The fear when updating a BIOS shouldn’t exist anymore! Even if something were to go wrong, most motherboards have a dual BIOS in case a failure were to occur. Please update your BIOS whenever an update is available.
Despite B350 motherboards having a socket that can support Ryzen 5000 generation processors, the Ryzen 5000 processors won’t work in this motherboard immediately, so you will need to update the BIOS to allow for compatibility. The same thing applies for Z370 motherboards, they usually require an update if you’re going to use an Intel 9th generation processor within them.
Motherboards won’t support all processors due to physical and firmware differences, motherboards are mainly made to support one or more generations of processors. For example, an LGA1151 motherboard is able to support Intel 8th gen and 9th gen processors, but not the 10th gen processors due to the difference in pins.