Which Intel motherboard should I buy? Z390, Z370, h470, B360 and h410
Find the perfect Intel 300-series motherboard with this guide.
By Brad Chacos
PCWorld Oct 11, 2018 1:21 pm PDT
Which Intel motherboard should you buy? After initially launching with the Z370 chipset alone in October 2017, Intel fleshed out the 300-series lineup with a full range of motherboard options in April, complete with nice extra features not included in Z370. It then plopped a cherry on top by releasing enthusiast-class Z390 motherboards alongside the 9th-gen Core processors in October 2018. These motherboards should work with both 8th-gen and 9th-gen Core CPUs (though older models may need a BIOS revision to support the new chips) so you’ve got options galore now.
Should you buy a Z390, h470, B360, or h410 motherboard for those fancy features that weren’t available when Z370 rolled out? Does it make sense to splurge on a high-end Z370 or Z390 chipset anyway? Let’s examine what each Intel 300-series motherboard chipset offers so you can make the right decision when you buy an Intel CPU.
Editor’s note: Last updated to include the release of new Z390 motherboards.
Z390 vs. Z370 vs. h470 vs. B360 vs. h410
You need a new Intel 300-series motherboard if you buy an 8th-gen or 9th-gen “Coffee Lake” processor. Older motherboards don’t work with Intel’s current CPUs, and that includes the recent 100- and 200-series options for Skylake and Kaby Lake chips. While Coffee Lake chips are largely based around the same architecture as those predecessors, the new processors pack in more cores, which means they have different power requirements.
Here’s a look at raw specifications for each of the Intel 300-series motherboard chipsets available to consumers. You won’t see the new Z390 motherboards in the chart; they mirror the basic loadout of the Z370 chipset, but with a handful of additional features added, including up to six speedy USB Gen. 2 ports.
Z370 motherboards and Z390 motherboards are the gold standard, built for enthusiast PCs. These are the only Intel motherboards that support CPU and memory overclocking (if you have an unlocked K-series chip), or handle gaming rigs with multiple graphics cards, at least until Z390 boards become available. They’re loaded with the most PCI-E lanes, potential USB ports (with one notable caveat—more on that after), and RAID storage options. As flagship chipsets, they also offer the most high-speed I/O lanes. More HSIO lanes let board makers divvy out more features, like NVMe SSD connections and SuperSpeed USB ports, as they see fit.
Z390 motherboards released a year after Z370 and added the niceties introduced in the more mainstream options. Its basic loadout matches Z370’s capabilities, but you’ll also get Intel wireless networking, native SDXC support, and up to six USB 3.1 Gen. 2 ports integrated, as well as a newer Intel Management Engine (IME) firmware version. If you’re building a new system from scratch, opt for Z390 and its abundant USB 3.1 ports over Z370, unless you can find a comparable Z370 board at a steep discount. If you already own a Z370 board, it doesn’t make much sense to upgrade to Z390.
Gigabyte’s Z390 Aorus Master motherboard.
Here are some of the options in Newegg’s Z370 selection. The higher you go up in price, the more extra features you receive.
- Gigabyte Z370M DS3H for $105.
- MSI Z370-A PRO for $120.
- ASRock Z370 Pro4 for $130.
- MSI Z370 Tomahawk for $150.
- ASRock Z370 Extreme4 for $175.
- Asus ROG Strix 370-I Gaming for $190. (Mini-ITX)
- Gigabyte Z370 Aorus Gaming 7 for $250.
- Asus ROG Maximus X Hero for $280.
And here are some of the options in Newegg’s Z390 selection. Again, spending more gets you more extras, but the base configurations tend to be fairly similar.
- Gigabyte Z390 UD for $130
- MSI MAG Z390 Tomahawk for $160
- ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming for $195
- Asus ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming for $245
- Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Master for $290
- Asus ROG Maximus XI Code for $350
h470 motherboards are only a notch below Z370 and Z390, and perfect for people who don’t like to tinker. These boards don’t support overclocking, multiple graphics card setups, or some of the more exotic Intel Rapid Storage Technology features. Other than those niche enthusiast features, and some differences in USB 3.1 support, h470 largely mirrors Z370.
Here are some of the options in Newegg’s h470 selection:
- Gigabyte h470M D3H for $90.
- ASRock h470M-ITX/ac for $109. (Mini-ITX)
- MSI h470 Gaming Plus for $120.
- Asus ROG Strix h470-F Gaming for $140.
B360 motherboards start shaving more off. You’ll get fewer USB ports, fewer HSIO and PCI-E lanes, and barely any RAID support via Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology. But they still pack speedy USB 3.1 Gen. 2 ports and Optane Memory support to boost hard drive speeds to near-SSD speeds. Look at these as solid-value motherboards for mainstream computers.
Here are some of the options in Newegg’s B360 selection. Once you start creeping too far north of $100, however, you might be better off opting for an h470 motherboard, unless a B360 selection includes a specific key feature that isn’t available in your budget with h470.
- Gigabyte B360M DS3H for $70.
- MSI B360M PRO-VH for $80.
- Asus Prime B360M-A for $90.
- ASRock B360 Pro4 for $95.
- Asus ROG Strix B360-G Gaming for $110.
- Gigabyte Aorus Gaming 3 Wi-Fi for $120.
h410 motherboards really strip things back. Far fewer USB and SATA ports are supported. It doesn’t support PCI-E 3.0, only the slower PCI-E 2.0, and you can’t use Intel’s Optane Memory technology like you can with the other options. The memory setup only supports a single DIMM per channel, reducing overall bandwidth. RAID options are nonexistent. These ultra-basic motherboards should only be considered for bargain-basement systems with simple needs. They lock you out of a lot of niftier new features that’ve blossomed in Intel’s ecosystem in recent years.
Here are some of the options in Newegg’s h410 selection. There isn’t much variety here, nor fancy gaming brands.
- ASRock h410M-DGS for $58.
- MSI h410M PRO-VDH for $65.
- Asus Prime h410M-D for $70.
Intel 300-series motherboards: Feature comparisons
Mentioned in this article
Intel Optane memory
The Z370 chipset might have one of the mightiest spec sets on paper, but the other options pack some features that the original 300-series motherboards lack, and the stripped-down h410 is the only chipset that can’t run Intel’s hard drive-boosting Optane Memory.
Z390, h470, B360, and h410 motherboards integrate support for speedy 10Gbps USB 3.1 Gen.2 ports into the chipset, which you can see listed in the comparison chart above. That should help bring the blisteringly fast tech to more affordable motherboards, as vendors will no longer need to pay for a third-party controller—this uses Intel’s own technology. Z390 packs six ports; the others pack four. Z370 has none. Adding USB 3.1 Gen. 2 ports eats into a motherboard’s stash of HSIO lanes, though.
All Intel 300-series motherboards except Z370 can support USB 3. 1 Gen. 2 and integrated Wi-Fi.
The new boards also move a lot of the functions needed for wireless networking into the platform controller hub itself, using Intel’s CNVi wireless-AC technology. Highlights include integrated 802.11ac Wi-Fi support and up to 1733Mbps speeds with Intel’s highest-end companion RF module, which Intel says is far faster than most Wi-Fi options available.
Mentioned in this article
Asus RT AC87U Wireless AC2400 router
Equipping extra hardware to fully activate the functionality can add to the cost of a motherboard, and it’s an option for motherboard vendors—not a requirement. Don’t expect to see Wi-Fi on every h470, B360, and h410 motherboard, in other words, especially as you move further down the price scale. (Gigabyte, for example, sells an optional “CNVi WiFi upgrade kit” for some of its motherboards.) If yours includes it, you’ll want an 802.11ac “Wave 2” router that can take advantage of CNVi’s full potential, like the Asus RT-AC87U.
Z390, h470, B360, and h410 motherboards also include “modern standby” features that lets computers sleep to save energy, but listen for a wake word (in smart speaker-like fashion) and quickly resume. Modern standby functionality previously existed in laptops, but this is a first for desktop PCs.
Once again, motherboards based on the Z370 chipset don’t include any of this new native functionality, though hardware makers can add Wi-Fi and USB 3.1 Gen. 2 capabilities via add-in controllers.
The RGB LED-illuminated light strip and RAM slots on the Gigabyte h470 Aorus Gaming 3.
The final part of the equation is finding a 300-series board with finishing touches that fit your needs. While the information above describes the guts of every Z390, Z370, h470, B360, and h410 motherboard, vendors can tweak and configure their hardware in different ways, so two h470 boards (for example) might have slightly different port configurations and wildly different features, such as RGB lighting, fancy audio, one-button overclocking, et cetera.
[ Further reading: The best SSDs you can buy ]
But now that you know the basics of what each Intel 300-series chipset offers, you can quickly narrow down your search for the perfect Intel motherboard for you.
Core i9 on Mobile, Iris Plus, Desktop, Chipsets, and vPro
The march from Intel for everything to be under the ‘8th Gen Intel Core’ branding is now at its climax: today is the official launch of several new 8th Gen products spread across four of five new categories. The headline is that Intel’s mobile platform will now get Core i9 and Core i7 products with six cores at 45W, along with some 28W U-series mobile chips with Iris Plus graphics. Desktop also gets some extra chips, filling out the Coffee Lake stack for desktop users, and vPro is littered around both mobile and desktop. Also on the plate is new branding for 8th Gen Core products being used with Intel’s Optane drives, new mobile and desktop chipsets which include wireless capabilities and USB 3. 1, and Intel’s new ‘Thermal Velocity Boost’ which promises more frequency in devices that can handle the thermal stress.
Because there are so many different aspects to Intel’s processor strategy being announced today, here is a quick bullet point list of all the headline features, which link to their respective pages.
- The Core i9-8950HK, with six-core Core i9 and i7 now on Mobile
- 6 New Intel H-series 45 W Mobile CPUs, including Xeon-E and vPro
- 4 New Intel U-series 28 W Mobile CPUs with Iris Plus graphics
- Some New Intel Mobile Chipsets
- 17 New Intel Desktop Coffee Lake CPUs, including vPro
- 4 New Intel Desktop Chipsets
- New Intel plus Optane Branding for OEMs and system integrators
- Plus Bonus: A Quick Look at the GIGABYTE h470N-WiFi
Leaks for a lot of these products have slowly been appearing in the media for some time, with a number of OEMs, particularly in the laptop space, ready to pounce with their latest generation of products – some of them are set to be announced at the same time as this announcement, such as GIGABYTE’s Aero line with 144 Hz panels and 8th Gen processors, while others will be going live very soon.
GIGABYTE Aero 15X v8 — 15.6-inch 1080p144 IPS (5mm bezels)
Core i7-8750H + GTX1070 + 1x16GB DDR4 + 512GB PCIe
$2300. First pre-orders also get Aero-branded Beats headphones
Prior to today, Intel’s 8th Gen launch has been of certain choice components only. Back as early as August we saw the launch of a small handful of U-series 15W mobile processors, dubbed ‘the Kaby Lake Refresh’ launch, by virtue of the chips being binned from already manufactured quad-core Kaby Lake silicon. These parts offered a route into quad-core CPUs for Intel’s mobile partners within a strict TDP/PL1 limit of 15W (despite peak power PL2 moving up from 19W to 44W).
In October 2017, Intel launched six desktop processors, as well as a desktop chipset ecosystem to go around them. These new components were the first of Intel’s ‘Coffee Lake’ generation of components, giving the six-cores on Intel’s latest version of its 14nm manufacturing process. Again, components were binned to ensure that the base frequencies hit the traditional TDP/PL1 limits, such as 95W for the Core i7-8700K, however high-turbo modes afforded a hungry chip. Nonetheless, the raw performance gave a new peak single-threaded champion processor, and even more so when overclocked.
Buy Intel Core i7-8700K on Amazon.com
Then most recently in January of this year, Intel launched its new G series processors that bundled a standard 45W Kaby Lake mobile processor with an AMD Radeon graphics chip and HBM2 memory all in the same package. The new product line, called ‘Intel Core with Radeon RX Vega’, was a supply agreement between AMD and Intel, with AMD effectively selling the graphics chips to Intel and it is up to Intel to sell the full components under Intel branding. These parts fit somewhere between the high-end mobile CPUs and user systems with mid-range discrete GPUs, and the first product launched was the Intel Hades Canyon NUC, to which the embargo lifted on reviews only a few days ago – Ganesh has all the pertinent details on the system in his review. Many people expect Apple to be Intel’s biggest customer with these parts, however the future of the product line is unclear, with Intel unwilling to discuss the roadmap on what is being called ‘Kaby Lake-G’.
What should be clear is that Intel is mixing and matching its processor microarchitecture designs, as well as process node variants, within the same product family. So far the ‘8th Gen Intel Core’ family has processors built on Kaby Lake (Kaby-G), Kaby Lake Refresh (U-series), and Coffee Lake (desktop). The announcements today muddy the water even further, with Coffee Lake coming to the mobile parts, potentially more Kaby Lake Refresh in mobile too, and more Coffee Lake on the desktop. The as-yet unreleased 10nm Cannon Lake CPUs, which Intel claims to have started shipping, are also set to be part of the 8th Gen family.
|Intel’s Core Architecture Cadence (4/3)|
|Core Generation||Microarchitecture||Process Node||Release Year|
Coffee Lake-S Part 2
|Unknown||Cascade Lake (Server)||?||?|
Perhaps the most poignant part of this is that when Intel gave us the briefing for these components, nowhere on the slide deck was there any mention of which microarchitecture applied to which processor. Back at Intel’s Manufacturing Tech Day in early 2017 (no word on a 2018 equivalent yet), it was stated that Intel was going to be fluid on microarchitecture and naming between the generations. So far we have underestimated just how fluid Intel wants to take this, as it now becomes clear that Intel is set not to specifically focus its PR relating to any microarchitecture names for the sake of clarity. Though this is blunted somewhat by the fact that Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake share the same CPU and iGPU architectures, thereby limiting the actual differences between the two. However this fluid strategy also hides some of the additional functionality that the latest platforms will bring: case in point, new chipsets.
New 300-Series Chipsets, with Wi-Fi and USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps)
As part of today’s launch, Intel is announcing four new chipsets for the desktop platforms. This models ‘fill out’ the product stack, similar to how previous generation chipsets were labelled. Joining the currently available Z370 chipset will be the mid-range h470 chipset, the corporate focused vPro-enabled Q370 chipset, the cheaper mid-range B360 chipset, and the limited function (but super cheap) consumer-focused h410 chipset. All four of these new chipsets are based on the Platform Controller Hub (PCH) originally designed for the still-missing Cannon Lake architecture CPUs.
|Intel 8th Gen Chipsets (PCH)|
|Launch||Oct ’17||Apr ’18||Apr ’18||Apr ’18||Apr ’18|
|Max USB 3. 1 G2||—||4||6||4||0|
|Max USB 3.1 G1||10||10||8||6||4|
|SATA 6 Gbps||6||6||6||6||4|
|PCH PCIe 3.0 Lanes||24||20||24||12||—|
|PCH PCIe 2.0 Lanes||—||—||—||—||6|
|Max RST PCIe Storage||3||2||3||1||0|
|Integrated 802. 11ac||N||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Intel Smart Sound||Y||Y||Y||Y||N|
|TDP||6 W||6 W||6 W||6 W||6 W|
The headline for these parts is that as they’re actually based on a newer generation PCH, they come with a number of new features. The first headline feature is the integrated 2T2R 802.11ac Wi-Fi support, allowing the latest Wave 2 (160 MHz) channel communications and giving speeds up to 1733 Mbps. Intel states that this is 12x faster than 1T1R 802.11n support provided by low cost solutions, and double the performance of most 2T2R options on the market. Despite Intel support however, not all motherboards that use a chipset that offers this feature will have it implemented: we canvassed some of the manufacturers and were told that the periphery around Wi-Fi support, such as manufacturing, trace layouts, the companion module, antenna, and potential regulatory support (given devices shipping with Wi-Fi) can add an additional $15 cost to the motherboard. Given that h410/B360/Q370 are designed to be at the lower end of the cost spectrum, there may only be a few motherboards that were already planning on having Wi-Fi that would enable this feature, as it does (sort of) save some money overall.
Intel’s Wi-Fi solution relies on its integrated connectivity feature, CNVi, enabled in Gemini Lake and now in the latest 8th Gen processors. This method pushes the large/expensive functional blocks, such as the logic, MAC, and memory, from a standard Wi-Fi module onto the chipset, leaving the PHY and antenna on the companion RF module (CRF), and connecting through the CNVio interface via a specialised M. 2 slot. Intel’s own webpage on the feature states that it has three different CRFs possible, all under the ‘Jefferson Peak’ platform codename:
- The AC-9560 (the 2T2R module, the only vPro enabled CRF),
- The AC-9462 (a 1T1R module with FIPS9 support), and
- The AC-9461 (a low-end 1T1R module).
All three CRFs support Linux, Chrome OS, and Windows 10, but are only offered with a 1 year warranty.
The second headline feature is the support for USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) ports native to the chipset. This is using Intel’s own IP, and shows Intel reaching parity with the competition. Motherboard manufacturers will have to use HSIO lanes to enable USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) ports, with up to four being supported on h470/B360, and six being supported on Q370. In order to implement a Type-C port, a re-driver is required, as with other Type-C implementations. It will be interesting to see the number of 10 Gbps ports that are put into play on the motherboards available.
We have asked Intel for breakdowns of the HSIO appropriation rules, and are waiting for that information. Unlike the materials we recieved in our Skylake launch decks, the 8th Gen HSIO data was not provided in the materials for today’s launch.
Also on the plate for the chipsets are features like Modern Standby/Smart Connect, allowing for systems to update email and such while in a sleep state similar to some laptops. Intel was proud to state that this is the first time the feature has come to the desktop, whereas previously it was seen more as a laptop-focused feature. This is enabled through the chipset and the network connection, although Intel only lists the 1T1R enabled CRFs as supporting this feature, meaning that the 2T2R might not. We are waiting on confirmation. Update: Intel has confirmed that all three CRFs support Modern Standby.
Intel also lists ‘ambient computing’ as being enabled by the chipset. This allows for wake-on-voice in a low powered mode, much like a smartphone or connected device that the user can call Cortana or Alexa while the system is in screen-off or Modern Standby.
For the launch today, Intel is also announcing a number of notebook chipsets with similar features: enhanced audio, enhanced IO, integrated 802.11ac with gigabit throughput, and USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) native support.
Unfortunately, Intel didn’t provide any details on what the new chipsets are called, let alone their capabilities, which is surprising given how forthcoming they have been before with this information. Probably QM370 or something similar. We will update this page when we know more.
Update: Because Intel ARK (ark.intel.com) has the information at launch before Intel’s own PR does, we now have the information on the mobile chipsets.
|Intel 8th Gen Mobile Chipsets (PCH)|
|Launch||Apr ’18||Apr ’18||Apr ’18|
|Max USB 3. 1 G2||4||6||0|
|Max USB 3.1 G1||8||10||6|
|SATA 6 Gbps||4||4||4|
|PCH PCIe 3.0 Lanes||16||20||8|
|PCH PCIe 2.0 Lanes||—||—||—|
|Max RST PCIe Storage||?||?||?|
|Intel Smart Sound||Y||Y||Y|
|TDP||3 W||3 W||2. 4 W|
Some of the information is still missing, like the HSIO lanes, and ARK is a little sketchy on Optane support. However interestingly Intel does give the 1K pricing for two of the chipsets, at a whopping $49. I would assume that this is more of an arbitrary number: if the vendor buys the CPU and PCH at the same time, there’s some discount involved.
It’s As Simple As a Chipset
It seems odd to go into a CPU launch and describe a bunch of chipsets on the first page. The main reason is this: with the cluster of microarchitectures now living inside the ‘8th Gen’ branding, each product line has different chipsets for different parts of those products. Without knowing the intimate breakdown of how Intel segregates its naming within the 8th Gen family, there is no specific way to know whether the platform you are investing in using native connectivity, controller provided connectivity, whether that platform is guaranteed feature XYZ as part of its base package, or if that feature is going to cost a lot extra. Simply by looking at the CPU SKU is no longer enough to identify if the product might take advantage of a feature.
Take for example, a new 8th Gen Core laptop. The OEM lists the CPU simply as ‘quad-core 8th Gen’ and lists the Wi-Fi support as just ‘802.11ac’. There is no way to tell if that Wi-Fi module is native to the chipset or something additional (which draws power). There is nothing to say if the CRF is using a 1×1 connection or a 2×2 connection. Out of the two USB 3.1 (10 Gbps) ports, there is no way to tell if they are coming from an ASMedia chipset or hub, or if they are coming from the chipset.
Does it matter?
For the bulk of Intel’s business, probably not. Buy the latest, and the user experience is the user experience. Someone might be concerned if the cheaper model has the better user experience, which is a tough one to explain, without it being a new full generation.
But for the enthusiast that details the minutiae of their purchase, the enthusiast that scours the Internet for feedback and information – those that spend as much time researching that purchase as they would have been paid to get double the system: it matters. If you’re reading AnandTech, it probably matters to you too. It also means that in-depth reviews matter more than ever before. As a reviewer that is probably good for business, but as a consumer it makes me want to pull my hair out.
Nonetheless, there is more to today’s launch. Mobile Core i9, anyone?
High-Performance Mobile: Core i9 and Xeon E at 45W
Intel Expands 8th Gen Core: ChipsetsHigh-Performance Mobile: Core i9 and Xeon E at 45WHigh-Performance Mobile: Coffee Lake with Iris Plus at 28WHigh-Performance Desktop: 65W to 35W Coffee Lake CPUsNew Optane Branding: Core i9+, Core i7+, Core i5+Looking at a h470 Motherboard: the GIGABYTE h470N-WiFiIntel Spring 2018 Slide Deck
Chipsets for the 8th generation Intel
The situation with the Intel 300 series chipsets for the 8th generation Coffee Lake processors has finally cleared up. Although there is no official information about the latest chipset, Z390, on the Intel website, almost all of its specifications are known. Next, I will briefly describe what it is, and in general, let’s look at the chipsets for the 8th generation Intel Coffee Lake for socket 1151 v2, make a small comparison, determine how they differ. This can help when choosing a motherboard for the latest generation CPU.
Chipset Features Comparison Table Let’s start by putting together the main chipset specs:
|Possible configurations of PCI Express processor lanes|| 1×16 2×8 /
| 1×16 /
| 1×16 /
|Max. number of PCI Express lanes||6||12||20||24||24||24|
|PCI Express configurations||x1, x2, x4||x1, x2, x4||x1, x2, x4||x1, x2, x4||x1, x2, x4||x1, x2, x4|
|Number of memory channels||1||2||2||2||2||2|
|Max. number of DIMMs||2||4||4||4||4||4|
|Support for Intel Optane 9Max. number of SATA 3.0||4||6||6||6||6||6|
|Max. number x2 M.2 or x4 M.2||0||1||2||3||3||3|
|RAID configuration||—||—|| PCIe 0.1.5 /
| PCIe 0.1.5 /
| PCIe 0.1.5 /
|Intel Wireless-AC MAC||—||Intel Wireless-AC MAC|
|Max. number of USB||10||12||14||14||14||14|
|Max. number of USB 3.1 Gen 2||—||4||4||—||6||6|
|Max. The amount of USB 3.1 GEN 1||4||6||8||10||10||10|
|max. number of usb 2.0||10||12||14||14||14||14|
|Col -in supported displays||2||3||3||3||3||3|
of its product hierarchy, in which chipsets with the letter “Z” are endowed with the greatest number of functions. However, not quite so. There are moments that, it would seem, should be present in the same Z370, but they are not there. At the same time, h470 and younger ones have them.
This is due to the fact that we got acquainted with the Z370 last year, but all the others began to appear relatively recently. In addition, motherboards on the latest chip, Z390, so far not at all. However, I will gradually tell about everything.
Let’s start with the youngest. As it was in the 1xx and 2xx series, this is the most “stripped down” version with a minimum of features. Probably a great choice for an office computer: cheap, no bells and whistles, but with everything you need for a not very powerful PC.
The flowchart is «self-made», because I did not find the official one, and if it is somewhere, then leave a link to the picture in the comments so that I can insert the official image here.
The chipset does not support the PCI-Express bus of the latest version 3.0 today, but uses the previous, 2nd version with a corresponding reduction in throughput — 8GB/s versus 5GB/s. By the way, the DMI bus used to communicate with the processor is also version 2, although all other chipsets use DMI 3.0.
Memory controller — single channel, supports two DIMMs. Everything else is clear from the table.
A chipset that is one step higher than the previous one, but this step is quite large, because here we already see the use of PCI-Express and DMI (and, in fact, they are one and the same) version 3. 0. The memory controller is already dual-channel.
SATA drives can be connected 6, not 4, like h410. There was also the possibility of using the M.2 / U.2 connector. True, it is still impossible to assemble a RAID array using the chipset.
The 300-series chipsets now have built-in support for USB 3.1 Gen 2, which eliminates the need for third-party controllers such as ASMedia. By the way, this version of USB is only available on chipsets released this year.
In general, this is the first «full-fledged» chipset in the family, already suitable for using motherboards built on it to build very productive computers.
A very interesting chipset, which in many ways resembles the Z370 described below, and in some cases even has more features than it. Yes, multiplier overclocking is still unavailable, and the number of PCI-Express lanes is somewhat less. It also only supports two M.2/U.2 connectors versus three on the Z370.
What’s the advantage? Firstly, there is USB 3. 1 Gen 2. Secondly, there is support for wireless networks. Let’s dwell on this in a little more detail.
This chipset, like the younger versions, has an integrated CNVi controller that supports Wi-fi 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5.0. Now, to take advantage of wireless connectivity, all you need to do is install the RF module, which is a small form factor M.2 2230 or 2216 board. The motherboard must have an E-keyed M.2 connector for this.
RF modules can be distinguished by «budget» options — Wireless-AC 9461 and Wireless-AC 9462, which support Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-fi 802.11ac with a maximum speed of up to 433 Mb / s, but which do not have what is in the Intel Wireless-AC 9560 module, namely the ability to work in a 2×2 scheme (including 802.11 Wave 2), as well as support for a 160 MHz channel, which gives a theoretical speed of up to 1.73 Gb / s.
As a result, we have a very advanced chipset, and if overclocking is not of interest, but you need to build a fairly productive system, including a gaming one, then h470 should definitely be carefully considered.
As mentioned above, this chipset, the first of the 300th series, is, on the one hand, one of the most sophisticated, and overclocking is available only in Z-versions. On the other hand, it is deprived of some «chips» that appeared in chipsets only this year, which was already mentioned above when describing the h470.
This can be somewhat confusing when choosing the right motherboard. And yet, for the assembly of the top Z370 system, there is something to offer. This is, first of all, the configuration of video cards that can be used more than one. The second argument is the possibility of overclocking, because what kind of top system is it without overclocking and squeezing all the megahertz out of the processor to the drop.
Another, perhaps small, plus for the Z370 is support for 3x M.2/U.2 drives with the ability to combine PCIe SSDs into a RAID array. The h470 also has this feature, but only 2 M.2 are supported by the chipset.
A novelty (at the moment), which was intrigued last year when the new generation chipset roadmap was published. Z390 was attached somewhere on the sidelines, and it was not very clear what it was.
Now everything is in place. Expectations that this chipset will be top-end than the top-end Z370 were only partly justified. It does not offer anything special, and rather represents what the Z370 should have actually been, if it came out in due time, and not because there was no chipset for the new Coffee Lake processors released. , and it was necessary to offer at least some.
So, the Z390 is very similar to the Z370 in terms of storage configuration, PCI-Express lane configuration, and so on. The changes consist in adding something that was not in the Z370, but is present in later chipsets that were released in the hierarchy at lower levels. So, there was support for USB 3.1 Gen 2, and, of course, Intel Wireless-AC MAC.
Nothing else new, at least for the moment, not included.
This chipset looks quite attractive, at least in terms of features. In fact, this is the same Z370, but without overclocking wings and without RAID. On the plus side, the ability to use multiple video cards, which is still only available in Z-versions.
As the name implies, the chipset is aimed at corporate needs and, most likely, it will be bypassed by motherboard manufacturers, since the number of models offered on Q-versions of chipsets is traditionally very scarce, and they are not widely used.
Conclusion. Chipsets for the 8th generation of Intel — now everything is in place
The only thing left is to wait for the final specifications of the latest 300 series chipset — Z390, but it is already clear that it should replace the Z370 released in a hurry.
All of these chipsets will also need to support future next generation CPUs called Cannon Lake. For one «but» — according to available information, the «old» Z370 will not work with new CPUs. This can be regarded as a kind of “setup” from Intel, since everyone who was seduced by the new “coffee” processors and, having no alternative, purchased a motherboard based on the Z370, when switching to the next generation of Intel processors, will be forced to change and motherboard.
Otherwise, the usual hierarchy of chipset models, each of which will find its place when assembling a particular system, from budget to top … well, to almost top, because only processors related to the HEDT level can be considered a real peak, for which the corresponding X39 chipset has already been announced9. Yes, it has the same name as the AMD Ryzen Threadripper chipset. So now to the question “Which chipset do you need a motherboard for?” the answer «on X399» will not be enough. It is required to specify, Intel or AMD.
Intel Unveils New Desktop Processors and Chipsets for the 8th Gen Core
Today, Intel unveiled a massive update to its mobile and desktop platforms, introducing several categories of new products at once. For desktop PCs, the company expanded its range of classic Coffee Lake models, added cost-effective versions with a TDP of 35W, and also launched the most affordable Pentium Gold and Celeron series of chips. No less expected was the presentation of the new Intel 300 series chipsets, lowering the threshold for entering the platform with 8th generation Intel Core processors.
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- 1 New addition to the ranks of Coffee Lake processors
- 2 Intel h410/B360/h470/Q370 chipsets
- 3 Motherboards 9042 2
- 4 ASUS ROG STRIX B360-F GAMING
- 5 MSI B360 GAMING ARCTIC
Replenishment in the ranks of Coffee Lake processors
The manufacturer has expanded the desktop line of Coffee Lake processors. The 6-core Core i5 series, originally represented by the Core i5-8600K and Core i5-8400 chips, has now been expanded with the Core i5-8600 (3.1 / 4.3 GHz) and Core i5-8500 (3.0 / 4.1 GHz) GHz). Whereas the Core i3-8300 (3.7 GHz) joined the 4-core Core i3, which received 8 MB of L3 cache, like the top model of the family — the Core i3-8350K. Another interesting detail of this model is the TDP of 62 W, instead of 65 W for other chips in the series.
As for the cost of new models, here Intel does not change its price grid. The values are similar to those for similar chips of the previous generation. It remains only to recall that in all Coffee Lake lines, the number of computing units has been increased by one and a half times. All desktop Core i7-8xxx offer 6 cores 12 threads, all Core i5-8xxx have 6 cores, and all Core i3-8xxx have 4 cores.
Intel also introduced six cost-effective versions of processors from various product lines. Chips with the “T” index in the model name fit into the 35 W thermal package, instead of the 62–65 W typical for conventional modifications. Savings are achieved by lowering the operating frequency and voltage of the processor. A dubious benefit for classic desktops, but for compact platforms and monoblocks, such modifications can be very fit. Such devices often do not allow you to do downclocking and downvolting on your own, which someone must have already thought about. The cost of economical versions of processors corresponds to that of the classic versions of the chips, so there is no overpayment here, as well as the opportunity to save money. It’s just that these CPUs are designed for special tasks. Until now, only previous generation chips were offered in the 35-watt package, now such models are also part of Coffee Lake.
In addition to the classic Core chips, the manufacturer also offered basic models of the Pentium Gold and Celeron lines. To remind of the value of the legendary brand, now its name will be adjacent to the designation Gold. The series at launch includes three models — G5600 (3.9 GHz, $86), G5500 (3.8 GHz, $75) and G5400 (3.7 GHz, $64). All processors have 2 cores, and support for Hyper-Threading allows them to process up to 4 data streams simultaneously. The amount of cache memory is 4 MB. The chips can work with DDR4-2400 in dual-channel mode.
The Celeron family at the first stage is represented by two models — Celeron G4920 (3.2 GHz, $52) and Celeron G4900 (3.1 GHz, $42). «Thoroughbred» dual-core processors work with DDR4-2400 memory, are equipped with 2 MB L3 and fit into the TDP 54 watts.
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Intel h410/B360/h470/Q370 chipsets
The desktop platform also received a long-awaited update. First of all, we note the launch of a line of new chipsets — Intel h470, Intel h410, Intel B360 and Intel Q370. There were no surprises here, while leaks were confirmed, according to which some new PCHs received an integrated USB 3.1 Gen2 (10 Gb / s) controller. In addition, all chipsets got support for Integrated Intel Wireless-AC technology, which potentially simplifies the organization of high-speed wireless connections (up to 1733 Mb / s). The manufacturer also once again reminded the support of Intel Smart Sound technology, so we can expect that the capabilities of the built-in DSP will be used more often in practice.
The base chipset for Coffee Lake processors becomes Intel h410 . Evaluating the PCH specification, we can say that this is a minimally improved version of the long-lived Intel h210. The total number of I / O lines has been increased from 10 to 14, plus support for Integrated Intel Wireless-AC has been added. The rest of the functionality is preserved. These are the same 6 PCI Express 2.0 lanes, support for 10 USB ports, four of which can correspond to USB 3.1 Gen1 (USB 3.0) and 4 SATA 6 Gb / s channels. Like its predecessor, Intel h410 will allow you to use dual-channel access to RAM, while using one module per channel. You can count on this basic functionality when choosing the most affordable motherboards for 8th generation Intel Core processors.
The Intel B360 for Coffee Lake chips is the successor to the very successful PCH used for previous generation Kaby Lake/Skylake processors, the Intel B250. And here the interesting begins. The number of PCI Express 3.0 lanes and SATA channels remained at the same level — 12 and 6, respectively. But with regard to support for high-speed USB, here is progress. The total number of USB ports has not changed — 12, but 6 of them can comply with the USB 3.1 standard. At the same time, four of the six ports can be USB 3.1 Gen2 with a bandwidth of up to 10 Gb / s. One of the fast M.2 drives can be serviced by Intel RST, and Intel B360 boards allow Intel Optane Memory, and the chipset itself is potentially ready for the practical implementation of Intel Wireless-AC and Intel Smart Sound.
The Intel h470 offers even more PCI Express 3.0 lanes and high-speed USB ports. The table does not indicate, but for sure this PCH, unlike the younger chipsets of the line, also allows you to create arrays of RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10. To update corporate platforms, the manufacturer also introduced the Intel Q370 chipset. As you can see, it offers even more functionality, including Intel vPro remote management technology.
Motherboard manufacturers have been very well prepared for today’s platform update. For them, this is a great opportunity to increase sales, and in order not to miss the interest of potential buyers at the start of sales of new solutions for Coffee Lake, all key players in this market tried to offer the widest possible range of devices. From the abundance of boards, eyes run wide, but this is the very case when the hassle of choosing a specific device is rather a pleasure.
Recall that until today, everyone who wanted to use the 8th generation Intel Core processors had to buy motherboards based on the top-end Intel Z370 chipset. This is natural when such a model is purchased in pair with a chip with an unlocked multiplier, but for models without the “K” index in the name, the functionality of such boards, as well as their price, is clearly excessive. For half a year since the announcement of desktop Coffee Lake, this situation was an unpleasant reality that had to be put up with. Now, finally, when assembling a system with a new CPU, it will be possible to choose a platform that is suitable for the price and equipment.
As we have already noted, the most affordable motherboards for Coffee Lake will be based on the Intel h410 chipset, which offer only basic functionality. Of course, often this will already be a lot, but some unpleasant restrictions still cannot be avoided. This is only two slots for memory modules, and the lack of an integrated USB 3.1 Gen2 controller, and modest connectivity for high-speed M.2 drives. Intel h410 boards will definitely find their buyer. Let’s hope that the most affordable models can be purchased for $60-70.
However, for optimal configurations, of course, more functional motherboards based on Intel B360 look more interesting. Despite the dual positioning of the chipset, there is no doubt that models based on this PCH will be very popular among home desktop users.
The first models based on Intel B360 have already arrived at our office — ASUS ROG STRIX B360-F GAMING and MSI B360 GAMING ARCTIC. Each one is interesting in its own way.
ASUS ROG STRIX B360-F GAMING
The full-format model from ASUS attracts attention with massive radiator blocks of the cooling system and a large decorative casing above the interface panel, on which, by the way, a blank for the case wall is fixed — a technique previously used for older models.
ASUS ROG STRIX B360-F GAMING offers two M.2 storage slots, one of which has a heatsink. The six SATA ports are lined up in a single tier along the right edge of the PCB. The model is equipped with an Intel i-219 network controllerV and the top-end Realtek S1220A audio codec, which is supported by additional preamps.
It was interesting to find out how the developers disposed of the chipset resource in terms of USB 3.1 Gen2. As it turned out, three channels are involved. Two corresponding USB Type-A ports are located on the interface panel and there is also another compact USB Type-C port with a bandwidth of up to 10 Gb / s. The panel has a full set of digital video outputs — DVI-D, HDMI and DisplayPort, optical S / PDIF is provided for connecting acoustics.
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By the time the new chipsets for Coffee Lake were launched, ASUS had prepared about a dozen motherboards based on the presented PCHs. In the context of low-cost solutions, the PRIME series line is expectedly wide. The ROG STRIX series initially includes two models. In addition to the ASUS ROG STRIX B360-F GAMING that came to us for review, a model with similar equipment based on Intel h470 is also available — ASUS ROG STRIX B360-F GAMING.
MSI B360 GAMING ARCTIC
By maintaining and expanding the range of ARCTIC motherboards, MSI remains a stronghold of original solution enthusiasts who want to build a system in a snow-white setting. In the case of the MSI B360 GAMING ARCTIC, it’s easy to guess what chipset this full-format model, which belongs to the Performance Gaming line, is based on.
In addition to the contrast board, you can immediately notice the large heatsinks on the chipset and all power elements. There is only one slot for high-speed M. 2 drives here, additional cooling is not provided. In the central part of the PCB, it is easy to see a 6-pin connector for connecting additional power to the PCI Express slots. It would seem that mining has nothing to do with it, but there are different cases. Today you play jazz, and tomorrow …
Seven 4-pin cooling configuration headers also hint that the MSI B360 GAMING ARCTIC is ready for various environments. The board has six expansion slots — a pair of PCI-E x16 (x16+x4) and four PCI-E x1, as well as five SATA. The developers brought two native USB 3.1 Gen2 ports (10 Gb / s) to the interface panel. One in Type-A format, the second — Type-C. Nearby is a pair of USB 3.1 Gen1 and two USB 2.0. DVI-D and DisplayPort digital interfaces can be used to connect display devices, and six 3.5 mm jacks are provided for acoustics.
MSI has thoroughly prepared for the announcement of new chipsets for Coffee Lake, offering almost three dozen diverse models at once. In the Performance Gaming and Arsenal Gaming lines, the maximum emphasis is expected on devices with the Intel B360 chipset, but in the PRO series, there is an incredible concentration of boards based on the Intel h410.