Choosing the best motherboard for your Intel Core I7, I5 or I3 CPUs can be a tough task as there are several different motherboards in various microarchitectures available in the market. So if you want to find which are considered to be the top performing boards, then read on, as this buyer’s guide will show you exactly which architecture your Intel Core CPU belongs to along with the suitable board that you should use it with. This guide will also help you understand about the various architectures including Kabylake, Skylake, Broadwell and Haswell Refresh and review some of the top performing boards for each of the four architectures.
|CPU Architecture||Board Name||Learn More||Memory||Processors|
|Kabylake (7th Gen)|
ASUS ROG Maximus IX Formula
|Read Reviews||Up to 64 GB Dual Channel DDR4 4133 OC||Intel Core I7 7700K, the I5 7600K, I3 7350k, I7 7740K, I5 7640K|
|Skylake (6th Gen)|
ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Hero
|Read Reviews||Up to 64 GB Dual Channel DDR4 3733 OC||Intel Core I7 6700K, I5 6600k|
|Broadwell (5th Gen)|
MSI Z97 Gaming 5
|Read Reviews||Up to 32 GB Dual Channel DDR3 3200 OC||I7 6800K, I7 6850K, I7 6900K, I7 6950X|
|Haswell Refresh (4th Gen)|
MSI Z97 Gaming 7
|Read Reviews||Up to 32 GB Dual Channel DDR3 3300 OC||I7 5960X, I7 5930K, I7 5820K, I7 4790K, I7 4770K, I5 4690K|
Kaby Lake is a codename used by Intel for their latest line of microprocessor architecture to their 7 th generation CPUs. Intel released the desktop versions equipped with Kabylake architecture to the market on 3 rd January, 2017. Similar to the predecessor Skylake, Kabylake is also produced using the 14nm manufacturing process, but the previous “Tick-Tock” design process gave way to the ground-breaking “process-architecture- optimization” model. Broadwell was the process stage as the CPUs used the 14nm process and Skylake as the architecture stage, as Skylake CPUs had a change in architecture to come equipped with new sockets. And finally, Kabylake is the optimization stage to move away from the “Tick Tock” manufacturing and design model.
Even though 10 nm Cannonlake was presumed to be the successor for Skylake, it was officially announced that the launch of Cannonlake has been delayed until the third quarter of 2017. Hence, Kabylake was introduced and it was the first architecture to provide any official driver support only for CPUs running Windows 10 and not lower than that. Later, support has been provided for downloading HD Graphics driver for Windows 7 and Windows 8 versions. Some of the featured models of Kabylake architecture are the Intel Core I7 7700K, I5 7600K, I3 7350K and their newest releases, the I7 7740K & I5 7640K.
Even though the same 14 nanometer manufacturing process like Skylake is used in Kabylake, the 14nm process has been improved in Kabylake when compared to Skylake, the performance has been improved by almost 12% for desktop applications and 19% in internet usage.
Some of the other features of Kabylake that makes it one of the most advanced Intel platforms are:
- New graphics architecture to enhance your 3D graphic performance and responsiveness
- Faster clock speeds when compared to Skylake as the clock speed has been increased up to 300 MHz
- Clock speed changes – means the time taken to shift from one frequency to another is lower when compared to Skylake
- Higher Turbo Frequencies
- Support for up to 16 PCI Express 3.0 lanes from CPU and 24 from PCH.
- Intel Optane technology support
Asus ROG Maximus IX Formula – Best Motherboard for Kabylake
The ASUS ROG Maximus IX Formula motherboard is the best choice motherboard for the Intel 7 th generation Kabylake processors. It is the successor to the best selling Maximus VIII Formula that was designed for the 6 th generation Intel Core CPUs.
The ASUS ROG Maximus IX Formula motherboard looks similar to the Maximus VIII Formula, but comes with a few enhancements including dedicated motherboard headers to provide added water cooling support feature and rear I/O shield integrated with the CPU along with a backplate protection, additional slot for USB 3.1 header and M.2 slot in the front for easy usage and 3d printing templates for advanced customisation of your motherboard.
Why ASUS ROG Maximus IX Formula is the Best Motherboard for Kabylake
The ASUS ROG Maximus IX Formula is considered to be the best motherboard for Kabylake because of its new and advanced features that support the Kabylake architecture in a great manner. Some of the salient features that make the Maximus IX Formula stands out among the others are listed below:
- The New Water Cooling Zone present in the Maximus IX Formula allows in monitoring the cooling system to great extent
- Enhanced Cross Chill EK II waterblock allows the cooling to happen even with water or air
- Designed specifically for the 7 th generation Intel Core CPUs
- Intel Optane Compatibility
- The Maximus IX Formula takes gaming to the next level
- Customizable Aura Sync Lighting to take control of the colors of the board
- Integrated I/O Shield provides additional protection against electrostatic discharge
- Integrated water flow tachometer allows you to monitor the water flow rate in the system
- People looking for the latest hardware for advanced gaming and 3D graphics would definitely love the Maximus IX Formula.
High End Processors for Kabylake
These are the latest high end processors that were launched for Kabylake as of today:
- I7 7700K
- I5 7600K
- I3 7350k
- I7 7740K
- I5 7640K
Skylake is the predecessor of Kabylake and the microarchitecture was designed for the 6 th generation line of Intel Core CPUs. Skylake was launched in August 2015 after making some improvements in the Broadwell architecture. Skylake also uses the same 14nm manufacturing process model like Broadwell and incorporated the “Tick-Tock” design model. His redesign of Broadwell architecture, Skylake brought great levels of performance enhancements and reduced power consumption.
Skylake is also the last line of microarchitectures that supported lower versions of Windows 10.
Kabylake only supports Windows 10 and later added some support for drivers for Windows 7 and 8.
Intel Core I7 6700K was the first processor to be released with the Skylake architecture followed by I7 6700 and I5 6600K. Skylake architecture also featured new sockets (socket LGA 1151) along with new chipsets. The Intel Core I7 6700K processors are compatible with both Z170 and Z270 motherboards which were released just recently after the Kabylake CPUs came out.
Skylake was developed at the research facility in Haifa, Israel and was completed in four years of time after the Intel Israel team faced a lot of difficulties and challenges. Skylake’s introduction enabled laptop manufacturers to produce laptops that are thin and lighter in weight than the previous models. Specific consideration has been provided to use the Skylake architecture in smartphones, tablets along with desktops.
Skylake architecture is fully compatible with x86/x86-64 OS and on January 2016, it was officially announced by Microsoft that support would not be available for Windows 7, 8.1 CPUs running Skylake processors from July 2017, which changed the date to January 2020 after sharp criticism from its enterprise customers.
Some of the other features of Skylake that makes it one of the most advanced Intel platforms are:
- Skylake is available in four variants like Broadwell including the SKL-S, SKL-H, SKL-U and SKL-Y, where the SKL-S is equipped with an overclocked “K” variant with unlocked multipliers. Also, the “S” variant uses a new socket and manufactured using the land grid array, the other three variants “H”, “U” and “Y” are manufactured using ball grid array.
- Dual Channel Memory Support
- DMI 3.0 and PCIe 3.0 interfaces provided
- Base graphics clock rate increased to 350 MHz
- Integrated L4 Cache feature in all variants except “Y”
- DDR4 SD RAM
- Smaller in size when compared to Broadwell architecture, hence enabling laptop manufacturers to produce smaller and thinner laptops
Asus ROG Maximus VIII Formula – Best Motherboard for Skylake
The Asus ROG Maximus VIII Formula is specifically designed for gaming enthusiasts to provide that adventurous gaming experience to the casual and hardcore gamers. The overall design looks clean and appealing with an uncluttered design and aesthetically good in sleek black color with shades of silver on it.
What makes the ROG Maximus VIII Formula unique is the various RGB LED bulbs scattered around throughout the board shield and heat sinks, allowing the user to control the color scheme of the board easily. Almost 28 LED bulbs are placed on the motherboard enabling to change the whole color scheme of the board within seconds by the help of the ROG Aura software and RGB strip header.
Why ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Formula is the Best Motherboard for Skylake
The ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Formula is considered to be the best motherboard for Skylake because of its superior specification, best gaming performance and best cooling while gaming along with its ability to support the Skylake architecture completely. Some of the salient features that make the Maximus VIII Formula stands out among the others are listed below:
- Best Cooling While Gaming – With a dedicated cooler block Maximus VIII formula is the coolest of the cool motherboards.
- Excellent Gaming Performance – Enhanced performance literally translates to smooth gameplay and you never need to break a sweat to win that challenge with your friends in the game.
- Superior Gaming Lighting – An inbuilt RGB strip header and RGB Aura software enables you to take control of the color scheme of your motherboard and light it up as you wish.
- Superb Gaming Audio – It’s not just good audio but the greatest audio experience you can get, thanks to the SupremeFX 2015 that provides different audio effects for the perfect gaming experience.
- Faster Online Gaming – Equipped with the Ethernet (1219-V) card, one can find faster processing and high TCP and UDP throughput to enable playing online easily without any kind of lag.
High End Processors for Skylake
These were the latest high end processors that were launched for Skylake as of today:
- I7 6700K
- I5 6600K
Released in 2015, the Broadwell architecture faced some tough times and hence the Skylake Chips were introduced sooner. But Broadwell was seen as a major improvement from Haswell architecture, as the performance in Broadwell CPUs increased by 5-10% when compared to Haswell based Intel CPUs. Broadwell was welcomed by gamers having socket 1150 motherboards who didn’t want to upgrade their whole system setup but just wanted to add some boost in their system performance.
The Broadwell processors that launched were the I7 6800K, I7 6850K, I7 6900K and I7 6950X. Whereas the Skylake is the “tock” in the “Tick-Tock” manufacturing design model, the Broadwell is the “tick” in the semiconductor fabrication process. Broadwell is the codename provided for the 5 th generation Intel Core CPU’s. But Broadwell didn’t replace the whole of Haswell architecture, as Broadwell didn’t support some low-end desktop variants.
The most interesting and new features of Broadwell microarchitecture are:
- Intel Quick Sync Video Hardware – VP8 hardware decoding and encoding support are provided through this video decoder.
- With the help of the integrated GPU, VP9 and HEVC 10-bit decoding support is also provided
- Equipped with a couple of independent bit stream decoders (BSD) rings, one BSD ring takes care of the encoding part and the other takes care of the decoding process at the same time to process video commands quickly on GT3 GPUs.
- New Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0
MSI Z97 Gaming 5 – Best Motherboard for Broadwell
If you are looking for a motherboard that is not loaded with all the unnecessary features that you’ll never use but want a simple and rock solid motherboard, then MSI Z97 Gaming is the right motherboard for you. You never need to worry about multiple connection slots, as the MSI Z97 is equipped with M.2 connectors, 6 SATA 6GB/s connectors and 6 USB 3.0 slots available to connect all your gaming equipment.
With the Audio Boost 2 sound system, one cannot ask for more quality sound experience. Network gaming is also made using with Killer E2200 networking port for an extreme gaming experience. The board also looks aesthetically pleasing with red/black color combo along with the embedded dragon emblem and striking logo. The MSI Z97 Gaming 5 board features a simple BIOS with a simple one-click overclocking for CPU and makes it pretty much simple to adjust the voltage.
The cost factor is also an important factor and MSI Z97 beats that too with a mid-range pricing that is affordable for the average gamers budget.
Why MSI Z97 Gaming 5 is the best Motherboard for Broadwell?
MSI Z97 Gaming 5 board is considered to be the best motherboard for Broadwell because of its full compatibility to the Broadwell microarchitecture and Z97 support the 1150 Broadwell CPUs. MSI Z97 boards are specifically designed to provide a best in calls experience to the gamers. Some features that make MSI Z97 Gaming 5 motherboard the best choice for Broadwell architecture are:
- Creative Sound Blaster Cinema2 – If you think surround sound is available only with high tech sound systems, then you’ll be amazed at the exceptional surround sound to differentiate between each and every different sounds in your game clearly.
- Dual Headphone Amplifiers – With a built in dual headphone amplifiers, be prepared for the best quality sound experience and coupled with Audio Boost 2, you can experience studio level sound quality.
- Killer E2200 Game Networking – Provides an ultimate online gaming experience without any lag.
- Ultimate Storage Solutions – the M.2 provides an amazing 67% performance increase over the mSATA storage.
- Isolated PCB – One can see that the audio getting distorted by the electromagnetic signals from the PCB in traditional on-board audio systems, but here the PCB is isolated so one can hear a clear audio signal.
High End Processors for Broadwell
The were the latest high end processors that were launched for Broadwell as of today:
- I7 6800K
- I7 6850K
- I7 6900K
- I7 6950K
In 2013, Intel released their Haswell processors for their 4 th gen CPUs and launched the Intel Core I7 4770K as their flagship model along with other models such as the I7 5960X, I7 5930K , I7 5820K, I5 4690K.
With this Haswell Refresh architecture, Intel also introduced LGA 1150, a complete new motherboard socket. It also saw the introduction of 6 new chipsets, where H87 and Z87 being the popular chipsets.
In the next year in 2014, Intel came with an advanced processor range called the Haswell Refresh processor and codenamed as the “Devils Canyon”. The Intel I7 4790K was launched as the high end version of the Haswell microarchitecture. The I7 4790K also saw the introduction of two new chipsets H97 and Z97. 8-series motherboards require a Bios update to include Haswell refresh processors, whereas the original Haswell processors are compatible with 9 series chipsets too.
The main objective of the Haswell architecture is to optimize power usage and enhanced performance. Haswell was launched in three forms including the desktop version, mobile/laptop version and the BGA version. Compared to the Ivy Bridge architecture, Haswell also saw an enormous increase in single threaded and multi-threaded performance along with sequential CPU performance.
The most interesting and important features of the Haswell Refresh architecture are:
- Completely new set of sockets and chipsets
- Included hardware graphics support for OpenGL 4.3 and Direct3D 11.1
- Thunderbolt Technology optional support
- With the inclusion of the Fully Integrated Voltage Regulator (FIVR), the motherboard is freed from some components as they got moved to the CPU
- Equipped with New instructions (HNI, BMI1, BMI2, ABM, FMA3, AVX2, gather etc.)
Z97X-Gaming 5 – Best Motherboard for Haswell
Z97X Gaming Motherboard is the perfect choice for people who just want to play a game with all the bells and whistles. With the one-click automatic overclocking, it is best suited for a great gaming experience and you can play for hours without any interruptions.
The Z97X features a phenomenal sound experience, thanks to the Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi MB3 gaming audio suite, advanced Realtek ALC1150 sound chip and the AMP-UP Audio technology. When playing network or online games, you never feel any lag but only witness faster networking speeds to ensure that gaming traffic is prioritised for a smoother gaming experience.
The Z97X is also equipped with a lot of slots for connecting all your gaming gadgets with M.2 connectors, SATA Express 10GB/s port, PCIe x16 and USB 3.0 slots to make the Z97X a great gaming motherboard at this price range.
Why Z97X-Gaming 5 is the Best Motherboard for Haswell Refresh?
The Z97X Gaming 5 is the best choice motherboard for Haswell Refresh Processors because it provides full compatibility and is the best board for gaming enthusiasts. It comes with all the features required for a gaming board including multiple USB ports, SATA Express storage and also support for 3 way Crossfire or 2 way SLI.
Other reasons supporting the fact that the Z97X Gaming 5 is the best choice motherboard for Haswell Refresh architecture are listed below:
- Good Expansion Ports – The Z97X also provides a lot of connection slots with four USB slots and two PS/2 ports
- High Performance – Z97X Gaming 5 board provides a processor frequency of 4.77 GHz and Ram speed to 2.133 MHz.
- Accessories – The bundle consists of help manuals, utility DVD’s, four SATA cables, sticker along with an I/O shield.
- The Performance upgrade feature helps users with older PCs get a significant boost
High End Processors for Haswell Refresh
The latest high end processors that were launched for Haswell Refresh as of today:
- I7 5960K
- I7 5930K
- I7 5820K
- I7 4790K
- I7 4770K
- I5 4690K
So we hope we’ve provided a clear and precise information to consider before choosing what motherboard fits you regardless of it being for Intel I7, I5 and I3 CPUs. Please read through the article carefully and choose the right board based on your requirements.
Also please don’t hesitate to provide your valuable feedback, views and suggestions about this article.