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The central processing unit (CPU) is an integral part of any PC. But how do you choose the best CPU that is compatible with your motherboard? Do you opt for AMD or Intel? Budget or power hungry?

What is a CPU?

CPU it is the heart and soul of a computer. It launches applications, performs actions and receives instructions, to name a few of its functions.

Over the years, CPUs have become multi-core processors. Previously, single core CPUs could only handle one process at a time. At the time of writing in early 2022, CPUs can offer up to 64 cores, with this expected to increase to 128 cores in 2023.

PCs can handle multiple programs, browsers, and even games at any given time. But it’s not as simple as buying a new CPU with lots of threads and cores, and then installing it on your motherboard. Not only do you need to make sure that your power supply unit (PSU) can handle the CPU and has enough cooling for it; you need to make sure it’s compatible with your motherboard or, frankly, it won’t work.

AMD vs. Intel

Most desktop PCs are built with an AMD or Intel CPU. Previously, Intel was the best option if you wanted to build a budget PC, and AMD was the way to go if you were looking for a powerful gaming PC.

Now, however, there is very little difference between the two manufacturers. Both offer cheap CPUs with good value for money, such as Intel Core i3-9100 (4 cores/4 threads) and AMD Ryzen 3 3100 (4 cores/8 threads), which you can get for as low as $140. Similarly, you can get high-end CPUs like Intel Core i9-12900K Y Ryzen 9 5900X for around $550 to $600.

Regardless of whether you choose Intel or AMD, your CPU must be compatible with your motherboard. You can’t put an Intel CPU on an AMD motherboard and vice versa.

CPU sockets

The easiest way to see if your CPU is compatible with your motherboard is to look at the CPU socket and motherboard.

For example, Intel 10th and 11th Gen CPUs are compatible with Intel socket LGA1200, and Ryzen 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000 and 5000 series CPUs are compatible with Intel socket AM4 motherboards. AMD.

You can see if a CPU is compatible with your motherboard by checking the manufacturer’s website. For example, the Intel Core i7-10700K (10th Gen) is compatible with motherboards with socket LGA1200.

Identify which intel cpu is compatible with intel motherboard

This can be identified using the “Compatible Sockets” specification. The case is very similar with AMD processors. By checking the manufacturer’s website, you can see which CPU socket the CPU is compatible with, in this case, AMD Ryzen 9 5900X.

Check which CPU socket the ryzen 9 5900x supports

Are the CPUs backward compatible?

CPU sockets are made up of physical pins and connectors, allowing the CPU to be mounted on them. For this reason, the CPUs are not backward compatible. You couldn’t fit an Intel CPU into an AMD CPU socket, nor could you fit an Intel 10th or 11th Gen CPU, designed for LGA 1200 sockets, into an Intel LGA 1151 socket.

However, AMD has been much more generous in offering broader support for its sockets compared to Intel. As such, you can put a Ryzen 3 1200 CPU, released in 2017, into socket AM4, which is also compatible with AMD Ryzen 9 5950X, released in 2020. However, in some cases, a BIOS update may be required. to support certain AM4 motherboards

Intel tends to be more confusing due to the code names they use for their desktop CPUs. Intel 12th Gen (Alder Lake) CPUs are only compatible with LGA 1700 sockets, so you will need to purchase a new Intel motherboard if you were previously using a Comet Lake or Rocket Lake CPU and upgraded to an Alder Lake .

Choosing the right CPU for your motherboard

Sure, upgrading your desktop PC is exciting, but as we’ve seen so far, it can also be a bit confusing. If you want to stick to your current motherboard, you’ll need to find the right CPU that’s compatible with it. Alternatively, if you have a CPU in mind that is not compatible with your motherboard, you will need to buy a new motherboard that offers the correct CPU socket.


An AMD Ryzen 3700x processor on a motherboard.

There are three generations of AM4 CPUs; 1st generation (Ryzen Zen), 2nd generation (Ryzen Zen+), and 3rd generation (Ryzen Zen 2).

AM4 3rd generation motherboards are compatible with all Ryzen Zen 2 and Ryzen Zen 3 CPUs. AMD X570 motherboards also offer support for Ryzen Zen+ CPUs, but not first-gen Ryzen CPUs.

The second generation AM4s offer compatibility with Ryzen Zen, Ryzen Zen+ and Ryzen Zen 2 CPUs.

AM4 A320, B350, and Z370 1st generation motherboards support Ryzen Zen, Ryzen Zen+, and Ryzen Zen 2 CPUs, just like AM4 2nd generation motherboards. It is also not compatible with Ryzen Zen 3 CPUs.


Intel Core i7-8700 CPU connected to a motherboard.

Motherboards with LGA1700 socket are compatible with Intel’s latest 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs . This includes Intel Core i9 socket 1700, Intel Core i7 socket 1700, Intel Core i5 socket 1700, and Intel Core i3 socket 1700 CPUs.

In 2020, Intel released its LGA 1200 CPU sockets; these are compatible with LGA 1200 (Comet Lake) motherboards. H410, B460, H470, Q470, W480, and Z490 motherboards all support Comet Lake CPUs. These are known as 10th generation CPUs, including Core i9, Core i7, Core i5, Core i3, Pentium Gold, and Celeron (G5900, G5900T, G5905, G5905T, G5920, G5925).

Compatibility is key

You will quickly notice that there are many factors to consider when choosing a CPU for your motherboard. From the number of cores and threads and clock speeds to integrated graphics and cooling. You could spend hours going through the specs to find a CPU that meets your requirements.

However, the most important thing to look for in a CPU is compatibility with your motherboard. If your CPU is not compatible with the motherboard’s CPU socket, you will not be able to enjoy your new purchase.

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