To know if your CPU is compatible with your motherboard or not, you have to know the socket model. Every CPU has a specific socket requirement that you can find out from their specifications.
For instance, the latest Intel 10th and 11th Gen desktop CPUs require the LGA1200 socket whereas the AMD Ryzen 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000 and 5000 series desktop processors require the AM4 socket.
When you look into the motherboard specification online, they will NOT list all the supported CPU models. Instead, they will only make mention of the CPU socket they have. This socket information will enable you to deduce the models of CPUs the motherboard will support.
The socket of the motherboard has also a lot of relevance with its chipset. The chipset essentially defines a lot of motherboard factors including its socket.
In the following text we will dive deeper into answering “what CPU is compatible with my motherboard.”
Essentially, we will look into the socket type, what they mean and also touch base on motherboard chipsets and how they would affect the choice of your CPU.
Figuring Out What CPU is Compatible with My Motherboard
Again, as mentioned earlier, to figure out if your CPU is compatible with your motherboard or not, the primary feature to look at is the socket details.
What is CPU Socket?
A CPU socket is, as the name suggests, the physical mount on which the processor is placed. It basically provides the right mechanical and physical dimensions, and pin layout to facilitate the CPU connectivity with the motherboard. Simply put, it is the place where the CPU sits on the motherboard.
If you have a CPU socket that is not compatible with your motherboard, it will practically not even fit in the mount.
Also Read: How to Check Motherboard Socket?
Types of Sockets and Surface Mounting Techniques
There are three types of surface mounting methods for the CPUs:
- LGA: Land Grid Array
- PGA: Pin Grid Array
- BGA: Ball Grid Array
Land Grid Array is the mounting type used by Intel. In the case of LGA, the motherboard socket has visible pins; whereas, the CPU has flat contacts.
Example include the Intel LGA 1151 used by 7th, 8th and 9th Gen CPU and, Intel LGA 1200 used by 10th and 11th Gen CPUs.
Pin Grid Array is the mounting type used by AMD. This type of surface mounting has visible pins on the CPU. In the case of PGA, the motherboard socket has pin slots in which the pins of the CPU slide into.
The AMD AM4 used by the 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000 and 5000 series all use the AM4 socket.
Also Read: LGA vs PGA CPUs
Ball Grid Array is the surface mounting technique found on Laptop CPUs. The BGA CPUs are soldered into the motherboard socket and are thus not replaceable.
How to Know Which Socket You Have?
You have to look into both the CPU and motherboard specifications for the socket to learn if they are compatible.
Figuring Out CPU Socket Supported
You can find out the CPU socket supported through its specifications online.
You can see here that the Intel Core i7-11700K CPU supports the LGA1200.
The Intel socket defines what type they are also their pin count.
Here the FCLGA1200 means:
- FC: Flip Chip
- LGA: Land Grid Array
- 1200: The amount of pins.
Figuring Out Motherboard Socket
Similar to CPUs, you can figure out the socket on the motherboard through their specsheets.
A simple search online could reveal the socket type of the motherboard. For instance, the ASUS Z590-A clearly mentions in its specsheet that it has the Intel LGA1200 socket which is supported by the 11th and 10th Gen Intel processors.
So essentially, both the socket supported on the CPU and the socket on the motherboard HAVE TO MATCH.
Also Read: How is Processor Speed Measured?
Common Sockets in Use
Both Intel and AMD produce several CPU product lines which unsurprisingly fit into very specific sockets.
Intel mostly uses LGA socket.
The current socket for the mainstream DESKTOP CPUs are as follows:
- LGA 1151 for 7th, 8th and 9th Gen Core, Pentium and Celeron CPUs
- LGA 1200 for 10th and 11th Gen Core, Pentium and Celeron CPUs
For Intel Workstation CPUs, the following sockets are popular:
- LGA 2066 for 10th Gen Intel Core Extreme processors like the Intel Core i9-10980XE
With AMD, things are quite simple as the AM4 socket has been in use since the AMD Ryzen 1000 series came out in 2017.
At this stage, for mainstream desktop CPUs, AM4 socket is supported by 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000 and 5000 series desktop CPUs.
The workstation grade Ryzen Threadripper series use the sTRX4 socket.
Taking Note of Motherboard Chipset to Confirm Compatibility
While socket is the primary concern when checking for compatibility between CPU and the motherboard, the motherboard chipset also matters.
This is because most of the times, the socket remains the same across different chipset generations. This can bring about some compatibility issues, which can mostly be addressed via a BIOS update.
For instance, the older AMD B350, AMD B450 and the newer AMD B550 motherboard chipset all use the AM4 socket.
However, the oldest in the series i.e the AMD B350 was released back in 2017 for the earliest AMD Ryzen 1000 series CPUs. The AMD B550 was released in June 2020 just before the AMD Ryzen 5000 series CPUs were released.
Therefore, the B550 motherboards can readily run the newest 5000 series AMD Ryzen CPUs without any BIOS update.
The older B350 motherboard, however, would not be able to run the 5000 series processor by default despite having the supported socket. Instead, it will require a BIOS update.
Hence, make sure you get a motherboard chipset that aligns well with the release date of the CPU. For instance, I will not advise you to go for for an older AMD B350 motherboard if you plan to get a 5000 series AMD CPU.
Are There CPU Socket Adapters?
It would be great to have a CPU socket adapter that would allow you to fit an LGA1151 CPU into an LGA1200 socket. However, such socket adapters are not possible due to various compatibility issues.
Decades ago, manufacturers came up with a way to use certain Intel Pentium CPUs with incompatible boards using socket adapters. However, these never gave satisfactory results and since they were almost as expensive as getting a new motherboard, the idea never really came into fruition for mass use.
So the simplest answer to the question “what CPU is compatible with my motherboard” is to find out what socket it supports and then choose a motherboard that has the supported socket.
Sockets are also shared across different motherboard chipset generations as well. We recommend getting the latest motherboard chipset series if you plan to go for a CPU from the latest generation.