How to Tell if a CPU is Compatible with a Motherboard + (CHART)


Does the CPU have to be compatible with the motherboard?

A CPU must to be compatible with the motherboard for your computer to work.

There are four main areas where the CPU and motherboard might have compatibility issues.

The first one is the mismatch in manufacturers. The chips by some brands are not compatible with the hardware and need different motherboards.

The second is the mismatch in the socket compatibility where the motherboard socket cannot accommodate the pin of all CPUs. In fact, even in the same brand, the latest CPU may not fit into the socket of an older version of the motherboard.

The third compatibility issue is with the memory.

CPUs are usually optimized to work with one type of memory, the latest  being DDR3.

Older RAM modules cannot keep up with the latest CPUs and their higher processing speed.

The fourth compatibility issue is the chipset. A fast processor needs a chipset that can handle its speed. Otherwise, the computer will slow down or may not even work.

 

Does any CPU fit any motherboard?

No, not all CPU’s will be compatible with all motherboards. Motherboards have different CPU sockets depending on their brand, so you will need to fit the correct CPU.

Intel and AMD use different types of sockets and there’s no way you can use one with the other. The socket type can be found on the internet. Check the motherboard’s number to get the rest of the details online. For example, Intel Pentium 4 initially had Socket 423, but the later revisions have Socket 478.

 

What happens if you put an incompatible CPU in a motherboard?

If the CPU fits all the pins on the motherboard but there is no compatibility between them, the computer won’t work. You will only see a black screen.

There should not be any electronic damage to the CPU. You will, however, need to go for a BIOS update if both belong to different versions. The BIOS update will help speed up the computer.

If you have forced the processor into the CPU socket, it’s clear that they don’t match. This can and will damage the motherboard and the CPU. It’s termed as ZIF arm or zero insertion force when the processor fits the socket without even the slightest force from your side.

Some sockets such as Intel R2 are physically compatible but not electronically compatible with Intel’s R socket. This means that the CPU will still fit but not work, irrespective of the BIOS update.

 

CPU motherboard compatibility chart

CPU Core Thread Base Clock Boost Clock TDP Motherboards
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

 

12 24 3.7GHz 4.8GHz 105W 1.       Gigabyte X570 Aorus Xtreme

2.       MSI Meg X570 Unify

3.       Asus Prime X570-Pro

4.       Asus AM4 TUF Gaming X570-Plus

5.       Asus ROG Strix X570-E

6.       MSI MPG X570 GAMING EDGE WIFI

7.       Asus TUF Gaming B550M-Plus WiFi

8.       Asus ROG STRIX X570-I Gaming

AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 16 32 3.5GHz 4.7GHz 105W 1.       Gigabyte X570 AORUS Ultra

2.       ASUS Prime X570 Pro

3.       MSI MPG X570 Gaming Pro Carbon

4.       ASUS AM4 TUF Gaming X570 Plus

5.       MSI MPG X570 Gaming PLUS

6.       MSI Prestige X570 Creation

7.       ASUS ROG Strix X570 E Gaming ATX

8.       ASUS ROG Strix B550 F Gaming WiFi

AMD Ryzen 5 3600X 6 12 3.8GHz 4.4GHz 95W 1.       ASUS ROG X570 Crosshair VIII Formula

2.       ASRock B450M Steel Legend

3.       MSI MPG X570 Gaming Plus

4.       Asus ROG Strix B450-F

5.       ASUS ROG Strix X570-I

6.       MSI B450 GAMING PRO CARBON AC

7.       MSI MPG B550 GAMING PLUS

8.       ASUS ROG Strix X570-E

AMD Ryzen 3 3100 4 8 3.5GHz 3.6GHz 65W 1.       ASUS ROG X570 Crosshair VIII Formula

2.       MSI MPG X570 GAMING PLUS

3.       ASRock B450M Steel Legend

4.       ASUS ROG Strix X570-E

AMD Ryzen 7 58000X 8 16 3.8GHz 4.7GHz 105W 1.       Asus ROG X570 Crosshair VIII Formula

2.       GIGABYTE X570 AORUS ELITE

3.       Asus ROG Strix X570-E

4.       MSI MPG X570 GAMING PLUS

5.       ASUS TUF Gaming X570-Plus (Wi-Fi)

6.       MSI MPG X570 GAMING EDGE WIFI

7.       Asus TUF Gaming B550M-Plus

8.       Asus ROG STRIX X570-I Gaming

Intel Core i5-10600K 6 12 3.5GhHz 4.7GHz 105W 1.       GIGABYTE Z490 AORUS Xtreme

2.       ASUS ROG Maximus XII Apex

3.       MSI MEG Z490 GODLIKE

4.       MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Edge WiFi

5.       Gigabyte Z490 AORUS ELITE AC

6.       ASUS Z490-E ROG STRIX GAMING

7.       ASUS ROG Strix Z490-G Gaming WiFi

8.       MSI MEG Z490I Unify

Intel Core i5-11600K 6 12 3.9GHz 4.9GHz 125W 1.       ASUS ROG STRIX Z590-E

2.       Gigabyte Z590 AORUS ELITE AX

3.       MSI MPG Z590 Gaming Carbon WiFi

4.       GIGABYTE B560 AORUS PRO AX

5.       ASUS ROG Maximus XII Hero

6.       ASRock B560 Steel Legend

7.       ASUS ROG STRIX Z490-E GAMING

8.       MSI MPG Z490 GAMING CARBON WIFI

Intel Core i7-10700K 8 16 3.8GHz 5.1GHz 125W 1.       ASUS TUF Gaming Z490-Plus

2.       ASUS Prime Z490-A

3.       GIGABYTE Z490 AORUS Master

4.       MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Plus

5.       ASUS Z490-E ROG STRIX GAMING

6.       MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Edge WiFi

7.       ASUS Prime Z490M-PLUS

8.       GIGABYTE Z490I AORUS Ultra

Intel Core i9-10900K 10 20 3.7GHz 5.3GHz 125W 1.       GIGABYTE Z490 AORUS Xtreme

2.       ASUS ROG Maximus XII Apex

3.       MSI MEG Z490 GODLIKE

4.       Gigabyte Z490 AORUS ELITE AC

5.       MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Edge WiFi

6.       ASUS Z490-E ROG STRIX GAMING

7.       ASUS ROG Strix Z490-G Gaming WiFi

8.       MSI MEG Z490I Unify

Intel Core i7-11375H 4 8 3.3GHz 5GHz 35W 1.       ASUS TUF Gaming Z490-Plus

2.       ASUS Prime Z490-A

3.       GIGABYTE Z490I AORUS Ultra

4.       MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Plus

5.       GIGABYTE Z490 AORUS Master

6.       ASRock Z490M-ITX

7.       ASUS Prime Z490M-PLUS

 

Will a PC boot with an incompatible CPU?

In most instances, the PC won’t boot with an incompatible CPU (given that it physically fits the socket without any extra force).

BIOS is the Basic Input/Output System that connects the firmware to the operating system with UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface).

The BIOS works with the versions that were released before and during its development in the factory. It won’t be compatible with the version after its release. The only way for the BIOS to work with a new version is to update it.

In such instances, the PC will not boot. You can easily solve the problem by reinstalling the older hardware and rebooting it. Then update the BIOS to the latest version. Now, remove the old hardware and connect the new one. The PC should boot if everything else matches just the way it should.

 

Checking if CPU fits motherboard

 

How to know if my CPU is compatible with my motherboard?

To know if your CPU is compatible with your motherboard, look for the CPU model number, stepping code and the serial number of the motherboard.

The motherboard, CPU, GPU, RAM, hard drives, cooling fans, power supply, monitor and even the case or the chassis need to be compatible with each other for the computer to function properly. Any kind of mismatch will either result in a non-functioning computer or will damage its parts.

 

Check the CPU’s Compatibility with Motherboard

You’ll need to know the CPU model number and the stepping code, along with the model number of the motherboard. There are two ways to get the model number of the motherboard.

 

First Method

This method is useful if you don’t have a working computer yet and need to assemble one.

  • Find the socket type by checking the CPU socket. The manufacturer usually stamps the type on it.
  • Get the motherboard model number from the documentation that comes in the package.
  • Look up the above details online to find the list of compatible CPUs for the motherboard.

 

Second Method

This is useful if you have a working computer and can’t take the cabinet away to check the details.

  • Download CPU-Z, a free software that collects information about the main parts of the computer.
  • Open the CPU tab and check the ‘Package’ section. The socket type will be mentioned.
  • Search for CPUs that work with the mentioned socket type and buy the one that suits your needs.

Motherboards and CPUs – Compatibility Factors to Consider

 

Processor 

There are two major processor brands in the market – AMD and Intel. Be it for a regular computer or a gaming one, you’ll find various models from these companies. For gaming computers, check out the Ryzen series from AMD and the Core series from Intel.

AMD made sure that the Ryzen series will be compatible with the previous and latest version, not just now but even in the near future. But Intel Core isn’t the same. The 8th and 9th gen processors need an LGA1151 socket and are compatible with Intel 300 series chipset. The latest 10th gen processors need an LGA1200 socket.

 

Sockets and Form Factor 

We’ve already talked about sockets. Let’s see what form factor is and what kind of role it plays.

All motherboards are not in the same size or shape. The most common ones are called ATX, Micro-ATX, and Mini-ITX.

The difference between these motherboards is much more varied than their shape and size. The type of power supply, design, ports on the back panel and location of the mounting holes differ from one type of motherboard to another.

 

ATX

  • ATX is the largest of the motherboards and the most powerful too. The standard size of an ATX motherboard is 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm.
  • ATX has four RAM slots and has more capacity. It is suitable if you want to build a powerful computer.
  • It has seven PCIe slots, which are necessary to connect to the GPU and the sound card. A specially designed ATX motherboard can have up to nineteen PCIe slots and is preferred by pro gamers.
  • ATX is the most expensive motherboard of all three motherboards.

 

Micro-ATX 

  • Micro-ATX is of medium size with dimensions of 24.4 cm x 24.4 cm.
  • It also has four RAM slots and can accommodate up to 4*16GB= 64GB RAM.
  • It has four PCIe slots and is suitable for regular and moderately heavy computer usage.
  • Micro-ATX falls into the budget-friendly category and is preferred by many professional computer users.

 

Mini-ITX 

  • Mini-ITX is the smallest of the motherboards, thus resulting in smaller cabinets and computers/ laptops. It is just 17 cm x 17 cm in size.
  • It has only two RAM slots and can handle only half the capacity of the previous two motherboards.
  • It has just one PCIe slot and is best suited for minimum usage.
  • Mini-ITX is the second most expensive model due to its smaller size.

 

Chipsets

A chipset decides the capabilities of the motherboard. The chipsets are integrated in various ways depending on the type of computer you want. CPUs usually support different levels of chipsets, from basic to overclocking.

Overclocking is the process of boosting a chipset in the motherboard to deliver better performance than what it’s capable of. In short, it’s a way of pushing the motherboard to do better by increasing the clock speed.

However, not all processors are capable of supporting overclocking chipsets. Let’s take AMD and Intel as examples again.

Most of AMD’s processors are overclockable, including the Ryzen and FX series. But Intel is rather restrictive about overclocking. Only the K series and X series processors are capable of overclocking.

The advantage of overclocking is better noticed when the processor and the motherboard are paired with a high-power cooling fan that prevents over-heating.

 

RAM 

The latest generation of RAM, DDR4, has a stock speed of 2133 MHz. Though the manufacturer mentions the best processor for RAM, it can be used with either Intel or AMD. The difference lies only in the limit for overclocking speed.

That said, the RAM needs to be compatible with the motherboard for it to work with the processor. You can check if the RAM has a double or a quadruple channel kit for extra bandwidth. Check which kit the motherboard supports before you buy the RAM.

 

Size of the Case

While this factor doesn’t directly impact the compatibility of a processor and a motherboard, when you look at the bigger picture, you’ll see that it affects the performance of the computer. If you choose an ATX motherboard and have an overclockable processor, you’ll need a bigger cooling fan.

The size of the motherboard, the fan, and the space for other connections (including graphic cards) will naturally require a large case. Stuffing them all together in a small one or compromising on the power of the cooling fan will damage the computer in the long run.

Ensure that you have double-checked every component for overall compatibility before buying the parts and assembling the computer.

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