Which Intel motherboard should you buy? Afterwards initially ablution with the Z370 chipset abandoned in October 2017, Intel fleshed out the 300-series calendar with a abounding ambit of motherboard options in April, complete with nice added appearance not included in Z370. It afresh plopped a blooming on top by absolution enthusiast-class Z390 motherboards alongside the 9th-gen Core processors in October 2018. These motherboards should assignment with both 8th-gen and 9th-gen Core CPUs (though earlier models may charge a BIOS afterlight to abutment the new chips) so you’ve got options abounding now.
Should you buy a Z390, H370, B360, or H310 motherboard for those adorned appearance that weren’t accessible aback Z370 formed out? Does it accomplish faculty to splurge on a high-end Z370 or Z390 chipset anyway? Let’s appraise what anniversary Intel 300-series motherboard chipset offers so you can accomplish the appropriate accommodation aback you buy an Intel CPU.
Editor’s note: Last adapted to accommodate the absolution of new Z390 motherboards.
You charge a new Intel 300-series motherboard if you buy an 8th-gen or 9th-gen “Coffee Lake” processor. Earlier motherboards don’t assignment with Intel’s accepted CPUs, and that includes the contempo 100- and 200-series options for Skylake and Kaby Lake chips. While Coffee Lake chips are abundantly based about the aforementioned architectonics as those predecessors, the new processors backpack in added cores, which agency they accept altered ability requirements.
Here’s a attending at raw blueprint for anniversary of the Intel 300-series motherboard chipsets accessible to consumers. You won’t see the new Z390 motherboards in the chart; they mirror the basal loadout of the Z370 chipset, but with a scattering of added appearance added, including up to six accelerated USB Gen. 2 ports.
Z370 motherboards and Z390 motherboards are the gold standard, congenital for enthusiast PCs. These are the alone Intel motherboards that abutment CPU and anamnesis overclocking (if you accept an apart K-series chip), or handle gaming rigs with assorted cartoon cards, at atomic until Z390 boards become available. They’re loaded with the best PCI-E lanes, abeyant USB ports (with one notable caveat—more on that after), and RAID accumulator options. As flagship chipsets, they additionally action the best accelerated I/O lanes. Added HSIO lanes let lath makers admeasure out added features, like NVMe SSD access and SuperSpeed USB ports, as they see fit.
Z390 motherboards appear a year afterwards Z370 and added the niceties alien in the added boilerplate options. Its basal loadout matches Z370’s capabilities, but you’ll additionally get Intel wireless networking, built-in SDXC support, and up to six USB 3.1 Gen. 2 ports integrated, as able-bodied as a newer Intel Management Engine (IME) firmware version. If you’re architecture a new arrangement from scratch, opt for Z390 and its abounding USB 3.1 ports over Z370, unless you can acquisition a commensurable Z370 lath at a abrupt discount. If you already own a Z370 board, it doesn’t accomplish abundant faculty to advancement to Z390.
Gigabyte’s Z390 Aorus Master motherboard.
Here are some of the options in Newegg’s Z370 selection. The college you go up in price, the added added appearance you receive.
And actuality are some of the options in Newegg’s Z390 selection. Again, spending added gets you added extras, but the abject configurations tend to be adequately similar.
H370 motherboards are alone a cleft beneath Z370 and Z390, and absolute for bodies who don’t like to tinker. These boards don’t abutment overclocking, assorted cartoon agenda setups, or some of the added alien Intel Rapid Accumulator Technology features. Added than those alcove enthusiast features, and some differences in USB 3.1 support, H370 abundantly mirrors Z370.
Here are some of the options in Newegg’s H370 selection:
B360 motherboards alpha atom added off. You’ll get beneath USB ports, beneath HSIO and PCI-E lanes, and almost any RAID abutment via Intel’s Rapid Accumulator Technology. But they still backpack accelerated USB 3.1 Gen. 2 ports and Optane Anamnesis abutment to addition adamantine drive speeds to near-SSD speeds. Attending at these as solid-value motherboards for boilerplate computers.
Here are some of the options in Newegg’s B360 selection. Once you alpha bit-by-bit too far arctic of $100, however, you ability be bigger off opting for an H370 motherboard, unless a B360 alternative includes a specific key affection that isn’t accessible in your account with H370.
H310 motherboards absolutely band things back. Far beneath USB and SATA ports are supported. It doesn’t abutment PCI-E 3.0, alone the slower PCI-E 2.0, and you can’t use Intel’s Optane Anamnesis technology like you can with the added options. The anamnesis bureaucracy alone supports a distinct DIMM per channel, abbreviation all-embracing bandwidth. RAID options are nonexistent. These ultra-basic motherboards should alone be advised for bargain systems with simple needs. They lock you out of a lot of niftier new appearance that’ve blossomed in Intel’s ecosystem in contempo years.
Here are some of the options in Newegg’s H310 selection. There isn’t abundant array here, nor adorned gaming brands.
The Z370 chipset ability accept one of the mightiest blueprint sets on paper, but the added options backpack some appearance that the aboriginal 300-series motherboards lack, and the stripped-down H310 is the alone chipset that can’t run Intel’s adamantine drive-boosting Optane Memory.
Z390, H370, B360, and H310 motherboards accommodate abutment for accelerated 10Gbps USB 3.1 Gen.2 ports into the chipset, which you can see listed in the allegory blueprint above. That should advice accompany the blisteringly fast tech to added affordable motherboards, as vendors will no best charge to pay for a third-party controller—this uses Intel’s own technology. Z390 packs six ports; the others backpack four. Z370 has none. Adding USB 3.1 Gen. 2 ports eats into a motherboard’s backing of HSIO lanes, though.
All Intel 300-series motherboards except Z370 can abutment USB 3.1 Gen. 2 and chip Wi-Fi.
The new boards additionally move a lot of the functions bare for wireless networking into the belvedere ambassador hub itself, application Intel’s CNVi wireless-AC technology. Highlights accommodate chip 802.11ac Wi-Fi abutment and up to 1733Mbps speeds with Intel’s highest-end accompaniment RF module, which Intel says is far faster than best Wi-Fi options available.
Equipping added accouterments to absolutely actuate the functionality can add to the amount of a motherboard, and it’s an advantage for motherboard vendors—not a requirement. Don’t apprehend to see Wi-Fi on every H370, B360, and H310 motherboard, in added words, abnormally as you move added bottomward the amount scale. (Gigabyte, for example, sells an alternative “CNVi WiFi advancement kit” for some of its motherboards.) If castigation includes it, you’ll appetite an 802.11ac “Wave 2” router that can booty advantage of CNVi’s abounding potential, like the Asus RT-AC87U.
Z390, H370, B360, and H310 motherboards additionally accommodate “modern standby” appearance that lets computers beddy-bye to save energy, but accept for a deathwatch chat (in acute speaker-like fashion) and bound resume. Modern standby functionality ahead existed in laptops, but this is a aboriginal for desktop PCs.
Once again, motherboards based on the Z370 chipset don’t accommodate any of this new built-in functionality, admitting accouterments makers can add Wi-Fi and USB 3.1 Gen. 2 capabilities via add-in controllers.
The RGB LED-illuminated ablaze band and RAM slots on the Gigabyte H370 Aorus Gaming 3.
The final allotment of the blueprint is award a 300-series lath with finishing touches that fit your needs. While the advice aloft describes the audacity of every Z390, Z370, H370, B360, and H310 motherboard, vendors can abuse and configure their accouterments in altered ways, so two H370 boards (for example) ability accept hardly altered anchorage configurations and berserk altered features, such as RGB lighting, adorned audio, one-on overclocking, et cetera.
[ Added reading: The best SSDs you can buy ]
But now that you apperceive the basics of what anniversary Intel 300-series chipset offers, you can bound attenuated bottomward your chase for the absolute Intel motherboard for you.
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