Choosing the best motherboard for your new Intel CPU whether it be for the latest i9 9900k variant or the less expensive i7 9700k and i5 9600k, you’re going to want the necessary features and correct compatibility for your components to shine. There are a number of things that you need to consider before clicking that purchase button such as what generation processor you need it to be compatible with, are you looking for wireless functionality, or what the primary use of your rig is. We’re going to be giving you the necessary information in an effort to help you choose the right motherboard, detailing our picks for the best motherboard for Intel i9, i7, and i5 processors, alongside some knowledge for what differentiates motherboard variants.
Do motherboards work with any CPU?
The short answer to this is no. There are a variety of different CPU generations, different brands, and chipsets that all affect what motherboard will be compatible. If you read on, we’ll talk about each of these and the terminology you need to look out for.
When it comes to CPU generations, more specifically for Intel, you need to look out for which variant you have, and what motherboard you want to use with it. Usually, you want to acquire motherboards that cover two generations of Intel processors, for example, the ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero (Wi-Fi) Z390 Gaming Motherboard will work with 9th and 8th processors. This gives you a couple of options, go for the pricer, latest generation CPU or have the option for the more budget pick. Additionally, going for one of these motherboards opens up the option for upgrades later down the line. You can go for an 8th generation CPU such as the i7 8700k and potentially upgrade to the i9 9900k in the future.
You only really hear of AMD and Intel when talking about CPUs for PCs and for good reason, they’re the only big hitters out there. There are other chip manufacturers such as Qualcomm and Mediatek but these are the bigger names in mobile manufacturing and tend to stay away from the PC scene. So, which is best? AMD or Intel? Well, it’s all down to preference and to an extent, budget. Intel was the main staple for a number of years providing the highest quality chips out there but AMD burst onto the scene with top-notch quality CPUs at very affordable prices, enticing the PC builders out there to switch.
Similar to the generation problem, when motherboards are manufactured, they are for specific chips thus making the sockets tied to certain characteristics. The main socket types are Pin Grid Array (PGA) and Land Grid Array (LGA). These socket types apply compression through either a lever or a full plate to marry connections and keep it from dislodging. These two socket types are so popular with manufacturers as you avoid the risk of bending the pins when inserting the chip into the socket, and you can easily replace your current CPU with a different processor when required. On the other hand, devices that use the lesser-known Ball Grid Array (BGA) socket require soldering, meaning you’re stuck with that component for the lifetime of your machine.
Best Intel Motherboard for i9 (compatible with i9 9900k)
Best Intel Motherboard for i7 (compatible with i7 9700k, i7 8700k)
Best Intel Motherboard for i5 (compatible with i5 9600k, i5 8600k)
Having the knowledge of what motherboards will be compatible with your CPU is an absolute necessity when building a PC, or even inserting upgrades. You don’t want to waste hours of your time, spend unnecessary money, and potentially damage components, especially with the price of 9th generation Intel CPUs. Looking at the three motherboards for their respective Intel CPU variants, they’re all at the top of their game when considering the price points. The ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero (Wi-Fi) Z390 Gaming Motherboard offers up the best of the best in terms of features for the i9 processors and the Gigabyte Z390 UD provides the best value to feature ratio for the i5 processors. However, if you want to explore other options for i9, i7 and i5 CPUs you can, with our other best picks broken down for various uses.