The CPU acts like a brain for a computer while the motherboard is the spinal cord; both must work effectively together to make a system perform well. And this happens only when you choose a CPU and motherboard that are compatible with each other.
Maybe this is the reason we receive tons of messages from thousands of our readers regarding how to know what CPU is compatible with the motherboard. So, in this guide, we will reveal this to you. If you have the same query in your mind, go through this guide.
How To Find Your Motherboard’s Specifications?
The process of finding a compatible CPU for your motherboard always starts with knowing a few specifications of your motherboard. So, if you don’t know how to find your motherboard’s specifications, read on to learn. However, skip to the next section if you do know.
Know Your Motherboard’s Exact Name. First of all, you should know the name of your motherboard. There are four ways to find your motherboard’s name if you don’t know already:
- Check on the box of your motherboard
- Physically look at your motherboard’s top side. Look for the complete name of your motherboard.
- Click on the Windows icon, type in “cmd”, and press Enter. Type “wmic baseboard get product, manufacturer” into the CMD and press Enter to see your motherboard’s name.
- Click on the Windows icon, search for System Information, and press Enter. See the information with the term “BaseBoard”.
Search For Your Motherboard’s Specifications. Once you have the name, search online like this: [your motherboard name] specifications. Look for the specifications you’ll need in the process.
How To Know What CPU Is Compatible With Motherboard?
To determine what CPU is compatible with your motherboard, all you need is to check the following key specifications for both the processor and motherboard:
- The CPU’s socket
- The motherboard’s chipset
- The current BIOS version.
Well, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Read about these factors below to learn more.
1. Check The CPU Socket Type
The first thing is to check your motherboard’s socket type and the CPU you want to pair with. The socket type is the physical interface consisting of pins to connect the CPU to the motherboard.
The CPU’s socket must match the corresponding socket on the motherboard. Mixing and matching different socket types is impossible as these are not interchangeable.
As you might know, there are two popular CPU brands, each using several types of sockets on their CPUs. Since both use different types of sockets, AMD CPUs only work with AMD-compatible motherboards, while Intel CPUs work with Intel-compatible motherboards.
Consumer Intel CPU sockets include LGA 1700, LGA 1200, LGA 1150, LGA 1151, etc. However, most AMD Ryzen 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, and 5000-series CPUs have an “AM4 Socket”, while the newer 7000-series processors come with an “AM5 Socket”.
What Chipset Does Your Motherboard Have?
On finding the specifications of your motherboard, usually, the first line tells you the socket it has and the processor it can support.
For example, in the case of the ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero, the first line on the specifications table looks like this: [Intel® Socket LGA1200 for 11th Gen Intel® Core™ Processors & 10th Gen Intel® Core™, Pentium® Gold and Celeron® Processors]
As you can see, it has an Intel LGA1200 socket, it is compatible with all the processors that are compatible with this socket.
2. Check The Motherboard Chipset
Once you have checked the CPU socket embedded in your motherboard, the next step is evaluating the chipset. The chipset is a set of integrated circuits and acts as a communication hub between the CPU and other components, such as the GPU, memory, storage devices, etc.
Different chipsets provide support for different functions and features the CPU can do, like overclocking, memory speed, and power management. Your goal should be to choose a CPU that can team up well with your motherboard’s chipset or vice versa.
How To Check CPU and Chipset Compatibility?
It’s easy to evaluate whether a particular chipset will work with your CPU. Take the example of the ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero motherboard, it has the Z590 motherboard. If you choose any of the CPUs mentioned in the CPU section above the chipset, both will work fine.
There is another trick here that can help you find a CPU that will work with your motherboard. On the motherboard’s specification page, simply go to the Support > CPU/Memory Support > CPU Support. Here, you’ll see the list of the compatible CPUs.
3. Ensure BIOS Compatibility
Thirdly, check the BIOS version of your motherboard and the new CPU you want to pair. It’s a crucial piece of software stored on a small memory chip on your motherboard. It initializes and configures the settings of the hardware components attached to the PC.
Think of it as the pre-boot operating system that comes alive every time you turn on your computer, even before your regular operating system (like Windows or macOS) kicks in.
If you are installing a new CPU, it may not work with the older BIOS version of your motherboard. A new CPU sometimes needs a newer, updated BIOS version to work with your motherboard properly. So, ensure your motherboard has a BIOS version compatible with your CPU.
How To Check CPU Is Compatible With Motherboard BIOS?
On your motherboard’s specification page, go to Support > CPU/Memory Support > CPU Support. You’ll find the list of supported CPUs here as we have seen earlier. Find a column that says: Validated since BIOS, Validated BIOS, or similar.
The “Validated since BIOS” column shows the minimum BIOS version on the motherboard for a CPU to be compatible with it. Find your CPU and look for the minimum BIOS version in that row.
How To Find What BIOS Version Is On Your Motherboard?
Use the Command Window method to find the current BIOS version on your motherboard. Click on the Windows icons, type in “cmd”, and press Enter. Search for [wmic bios get smbiosbiosversion] and press Enter. The newly-appeared results will show the current BIOS version.
Alternatively, use the “System Information” screen to find your BIOS version. Simply click on the Windows icon, search for “System Information”, and press Enter to see your result. Look for the column that says “BIOS Version/Date”.
Once you have found the current BIOS version on your motherboard, compare it with the minimum BIOS version your new CPU will need. In case your motherboard is using an older BIOS version, simply update it to make it CPU-compatible.
Will The TDP Of New CPU Work With Your Motherboard?
Once you are done with checking the CPU socket, chipset, and BIOS version compatibility, in the end, check if the TDP of the new CPU will work in your motherboard.
High-performance gaming CPUs usually don’t work smoothly with less powerful motherboards because they need more power than the motherboard can provide. So, ensure your motherboard has a strong enough VRM design to power up the new CPU efficiently.
To determine CPU compatibility with a motherboard, first, find the motherboard’s specifications. Confirm the CPU socket matches between the motherboard and chosen processor (AMD with AMD, Intel with Intel).
Next, evaluate the motherboard’s chipset, ensuring it aligns with CPU functions. Check BIOS compatibility and update if necessary. In the end, verify the new CPU’s Thermal Design Power (TDP) to ensure compatibility with the motherboard’s VRM design.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Difference Between LGA 1151 And LGA 1200?
LGA 1200 CPUs have 49 more pins than LGA 1151 CPUs. They were introduced in 2020 for Rocket Lake and Comet Lake desktop CPUs. LGA 1151 and LGA 1200 components are not interchangeable; you must match sockets to ensure compatibility.
What Are The Most Common CPU Sockets?
For Intel CPUs: LGA 1151 (7th, 8th, 9th Gen), LGA 1200 (10th, 11th Gen), LGA1700 (12th Gen).
AMD primarily uses AM4 (1000-5000 series) and AM5 (7000 series) sockets. However, AMD Threadripper CPUs use TR4 and sTR4 sockets.
What CPU Pins Should Look Like To Work Correctly?
When installing a CPU on the socket, ensure it has no defect. For example, if you’re using an older CPU, ensure all the CPU pins are perfectly straight without any bends or breakages. Just like that, physically inspect your CPU to ensure it has no visible damage.
Are There CPU Socket Adapters?
No, socket adapters for CPUs do not exist due to compatibility issues. So, if you have already bought a CPU, return it. Or, if you don’t want to return it, buy a new motherboard with the socket type your CPU is compatible with.