- CPU and motherboard compatibility is crucial when building a new computer, as incompatible components will not fit together.
- Compatibility is determined by the socket type installed on the motherboard, with pin grid arrays (PGA) and land grid arrays (LGA) being the most common.
- The BIOS version of the motherboard also affects compatibility, and it can be checked by using the command prompt.
- PC Part Picker is a useful tool for checking compatibility and suggesting compatible parts for your computer build.
Ensuring your components work together is one of the most important things to look for when purchasing parts for a new computer. However, if the pieces of your PC, such as the central processing unit (CPU) and motherboard, don’t fit together, you’re simply out of luck regarding assembly.
Thus, you’ll have no choice but to return whatever items don’t work with the ones you’ve decided are crucial. So, CPU and motherboard compatibility is essential to check before you purchase them.
While many component pairs will fit together in unideal configurations, central chipsets and motherboards are not one of those combinations. So, if your processor and motherboard are incompatible, they will not go together at all. Here’s how to check CPU and motherboard compatibility to ensure your computer assembly will go smoothly.
What Determines CPU and Motherboard Compatibility?
Typically, CPU and motherboard compatibility is controlled by the socket installed on the printed circuit board (PCB.) There are three primary interfaces: Pin grid arrays (PGA,) land grid arrays (LGA,) and ball grid arrays (BGA.)
A pin grid array has a series of pins on the back of the CPU. You must insert the pins on the chip into the port. A land grid array has pins on the motherboard that you must affix to the back of the chipset. Finally, a ball grid array is a surface mount that requires you to solder the processor to the motherboard. Thus, consumer motherboards will typically be an LGA or PGA socket. BGA sockets are uncommon.
However, sockets are not cross-compatible because an LGA port has pins fixed to the motherboard, while a PGA one has pins sticking out of the back of the chip. So, if you buy a motherboard with an incompatible CPU, there is no recourse besides returning one and purchasing a compatible part.
Additionally, the exact configuration of the pins in the socket must be compatible with your processor of choice. Intel and AMD CPUs are not cross-compatible. The two companies use different types of sockets and pin setups.
However, you can check your CPU and motherboard compatibility by comparing the two sockets. Every chipset and motherboard will be listed along with the socket installed, typically formatted as “LGA/PGA [socket number.]”
The other factor determining your CPU and motherboard compatibility is the BIOS version. “BIOS” stands for basic input/output system. It’s the firmware providing runtimes for the computer’s operating system.
When you look at your CPU’s specifications, it will have specs for “Validated BIOS,” “Validated Since BIOS,” or something equivalent. This specification indicates which firmware versions your new chipset will be compatible with, meaning your processor may be compatible with your motherboard, but only if you have the correct version of your motherboard’s runtime services.
Finding Your BIOS Version
The great news is that finding your BIOS version is straightforward. You just need to open the command prompt and input “wmic bios get smbiosbiosversion.” To do this, you can open the command prompt by opening your search menu and then the “Run” program.
Enter the program “CMD.” Alternatively, you can also press “Windows + R” to open the Run dialog. After entering this command, the window will display your firmware version.
You can install your CPU with no worries if your chipset is valid for your BIOS version. Otherwise, you’ll have to update your motherboard’s firmware version before you install the processor, or the processor won’t function when you try to turn the computer on.
You can update your motherboard’s BIOS version by going to the manufacturer’s website and downloading the new version. Then, you just need to install it, and you’re good to go.
CPU Socket Cheatsheet
|CPU Socket Name|
|DIP||Intel 8086Intel 8088|
|PLCC||Intel 80186Intel 80286Intel 80386|
|PGA 168||Intel 80486AMD 486Cyrix 486|
|Socket 1||Intel 80486AMD 486AMD 5x86Cyrix 486Cyrix 5×86|
|Socket 2||Intel 80486Intel Pentium Overdrive (P24T)Intel DX4AMD 486AMD 5x86Cyrix 486Cyrix 5×86|
|Socket 3||Intel 80486Intel Pentium Overrdrive (P24T)Intel DX4AMD 486AMD 5x86Cyrix 486Cyrix 5x86IBM Blue Lightning|
|Socket 4||Intel Pentium|
|Socket 5||Intel PentiumAMD K5Cyrix 6x86IDT WinChip C6IDT WinChip 2|
|Socket 6||Intel 80486|
|Socket 463/Socket NexGen||NexGen Nx586|
|Socket 7||Intel PentiumIntel Pentium MMXAMD K6|
|Socket 8||Intel Pentium Pro|
|Slot 1||Intel Pentium IIIntel Pentium III|
|Super Socket 7||AMD K6-2AMD K6-IIIRise mP6Cyrix MII|
|Slot 2||Intel Pentium II XeonIntel Pentium III Xeon|
|Socket 615||Intel Mobile Pentium IIIntel Mobile Celeron|
|Slot A||AMD Athlon|
|Socket 370||Intel Pentium IIIIntel CeleronVIA Cyrix IIIVIA C3|
|Socket A/Socket 462||AMD AthlonAMD DuronAMD Athlon XPAMD Athlon XP-MAMD Athlon MPAMD Sempron|
|Socket 423||Intel Pentium 4|
|Socket 495||Intel CeleronIntel Pentium III|
|Socket 603||Intel Xeon|
|Socket 478/Socket N||Intel Pentium 4Intel CeleronIntel Pentium 4 EEIntel Pentium 4 M|
|Socket 563||AMD Athlon XP-M|
|Socket 604||Intel Xeon|
|Socket 754||AMD Athlon 64AMD SempronAMD Turion 64|
|Socket 940||AMD OpteronAMD Athlon 64 FX|
|Socket 479||Intel Pentium MIntel Celeron M|
|Socket 939||AMD Athlon 64AMD Athlon 64 FXAMD Athlon 64 X2AMD Opteron|
|LGA 775/Socket T||Intel Pentium 4Intel Pentium DIntel CeleronIntel Celeron DIntel Pentium XEIntel Core 2 DuoIntel Core 2 QuadIntel Xeon|
|Socket M||Intel Core SoloIntel Core DuoIntel Dual-Core XeonIntel Core 2 Duo|
|LGA 771/Socket J||Intel Xeon|
|Socket S1||AMD Turion 64 X2|
|Socket AM2||AMD Athlon 64AMD Athlon 64 X2|
|Socket F/Socket L/Socket 1207FX||AMD Athlon 64 FXAMD OpteronSocket L only support Athlon 64 FX|
|Socket AM2+||AMD Athlon 64AMD Athlon X2AMD PhenomAMD Phenom II|
|Socket P||Intel Core 2|
|LGA 1366/Socket B||Intel Core i7 900 seriesIntel Xeon 35xx, 36xx, 55xx, 56xx series|
|Socket AM3||AMD Phenom IIAMD Athlon IIAMD SempronAMD Opteron (1300 series)|
|rPGA 988A/Socket G1||Intel ClarksfieldIntel Arrandale|
|LGA 1156/Socket H||Intel Nehalem 1st genIntel Westmere|
|Socket G34||AMD Opteron 6000 series|
|Socket C32||AMD Opteron 4000 series|
|LGA 1567/Socket LS||Intel Xeon 6500/7500-series|
|LGA 1155/Socket H2||Intel Sandy Bridge 2nd genIntel Ivy Bridge 3rd gen|
|LGA 2011/Socket R||Intel Core i7 3xxx Sandy Bridge-EIntel Core i7 4xxx Ivy Bridge-EIntel Xeon E5 2xxx/4xxx Sandy Bridge EP 2/4SIntel Xeon E5-2xxx/4xxx v2 Ivy Bridge EP 2/4S|
|rPGA 988B/Socket G2||Intel Core i7 2000, 3000 seriesIntel Core i5 2000, 3000 seriesIntel Core i3 2000, 3000 series|
|Socket FM1||AMD Llano Processors|
|Socket FS1||AMD Llano Processors|
|Socket AM3+||AMD FX VisheraAMD FX ZambeziAMD Phenom IIAMD Athlon IIAMD Sempron|
|LGA 1356/Socket B2||Intel Xeon E5 1400 & 2400 series|
|Socket FM2||AMD Trinity Processors|
|LGA 1150/Socket H3||Intel Haswell 4th genIntel Haswell RefreshIntel Broadwell 5th gen|
|rPGA 946B/947/Socket G3||Intel Haswell|
|Socket FM2+||AMD KaveriAMD Godavari|
|Socket AM1||AMD AthlonAMD Sempron|
|LGA 1151/Socket H4||Intel Skylake 6th genIntel Kaby Lake 7th genIntel Coffee Lake 8th genIntel Coffee Lake Refresh 9th gen|
|LGA 3647||Intel Xeon PhiIntel Skylake-SP|
|Socket AM4||AMD Ryzen 9AMD Ryzen 7AMD Ryzen 5AMD Ryzen 3Athlon 200|
|Socket SP3||AMD Epyc|
|Socket TR4/Socket SP3r2||AMD Ryzen Threadripper|
|LGA 2066/Socket R4||Intel Skylake-XIntel Kaby Lake-XIntel Cascade Lake-X|
|Socket sTRX4/Socket SP3r3||AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3000 series|
|LGA 4189||Intel Cooper LakeIntel Ice Lake-SP|
|LGA 1200||Intel Comet Lake 10th genIntel Rocket Lake 11th gen|
|LGA 1700||Intel Alder Lake 12th genIntel Raptor Lake 13th gen|
|Socket AM5||AMD Ryzen 7000 series|
|Socket SP5||AMD Epyc Genoa|
|LGA 4677||Intel Sapphire Rapids|
|LGA 7529||Intel Sierra Forest|
Choosing Components with PC Part Picker
An easier way to check your CPU and motherboard compatibility is to use PC Part Picker, every computer builder’s best friend. This tool lets you input your desired parts and suggest compatible parts for your machine. If you choose incompatible components, the program will flag it and let you know in advance. This way, you can change the pieces you buy to ensure they all fit together smoothly.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Tester128/Shutterstock.com.