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 have been 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 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|
|Coffee Lake (8th Gen)|
ASUS PRIME Z370-A
|Check Prices||Up to 64GB DDR4 4133MHz (OC'd)||I7 8670, I7 8700, I5 8700K, I5 8400, I5 8420, I5 8500, I5 8550, I5 8600K, I5 8650, I5 8650K, I3 8350k. I3 8320, I3 8120, I3 8100, I3 8020, I3 8000|
|Kabylake (7th Gen) & Skylake (6th Gen)|
GIGABYTE X299 AORUS Gaming 9
|Check Prices||Up to 128GB, 4400MHz (OC) DDR4||I7 7740X, I5 7640X, I7 7800X, I7 7820X, I9 7900X, I9 7920X, I9 7940X, I9 7960X, I9 7980XE|
|Kabylake (7th Gen)|
ASUS ROG Maximus IX Formula
|Check Prices||Up to 64 GB DDR4 4133 OC||Intel Core I7 7700K, I5 7400, I5 7500, I5 7600K, I3 7350k, I3 7100, I3 7300, I3 7320, I3 7350K|
|Skylake (6th Gen)|
ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Hero
|Check Prices||Up to 64 GB DDR4 3733 OC||Intel Core I7 6700K, I5 6400, I5 6500, I5 6600k, I3 6100, I3 6300, I3 6320|
|Broadwell (5th Gen)|
MSI Z97 Gaming 5
|Check Prices||Up to 32 GB DDR3 3200 OC||I7 6800K, I7 6850K, I7 6900K, I7 6950X|
|Haswell Refresh (4th Gen)|
MSI Z97 Gaming 7
|Check Prices||Up to 32 GB DDR3 3300 OC||I7 5960X, I7 5930K, I7 5820K, I7 4790K, I7 4770K, I7 4771, I5 4690K|
Coffee Lake officially came out on October 5th, and with it came several new & exciting features that we have never seen before with Intel CPU’s. Rumour says that Intel rushed the release of the Coffee Lake Architecture due to the popular release of the AMD Ryzen’s which were an enormous hit, as such, Intel went ahead and for damage control they decided to release a new architecture which featured their first 6 core processors which will be a huge improvement for multitasking intensive systems, not only that but Intel claims a massive improvement of ~40% in terms of performance when compared to their predecessors the KabyLake.
Intel has announced that Coffee Lake was made with the intention of only being compatible with Windows 10.
Unfortunately, bad news for people using Kabylake, you will have the need to buy a new Z370 Chipset motherboard, even though the new Coffee Lake CPUs also use the 1151 LGA Socket, they aren’t meant to run on the same motherboards as KabyLake, at least with their promised performance increase it may very well justify it.
Just like the previous 3 Architectures, Coffee Lake was also produced with the 14nm manufacturing process, which means that this manufacturing process may be here to stay as long as it keeps producing small transistor for a fast, powerful & efficient chip.
Skylake has a lot of the other features that make it one of the most advanced Intel platforms, these are some examples of said features:
- Features 6 cores instead of 4 like the other older architectures.
- The stock clock speed & turbo is higher
- L3 Cache size was increased even further
- The internal GPU stock clock speed was increased as well
For a more in-depth explanation of the features check out this article from Anandtech.
ASUS Prime Z370-A – High Performing Motherboard for Coffee Lake
The ASUS Prime Z370-A is a perfect match for the Coffee Lake CPU’s.
With this motherboard you will never face any issues nor have any reasons to complain, it’s the highest rated board with incredible features for the price it costs.
Why is ASUS Prime Z370-A the Best Motherboard for Coffee Lake
This board isn’t one of the highest rated & best sellers for no reason, it comes packed with plenty of powerful features that you will never have the need to desire for anything else, some of these amazing features are:
- It was made exclusively for the 8th Generation of CPUs, it won’t function with any previous generation.
- Dual M.2, USB 3.1 Gen2, Intel Thunderbolt 3 support and Intel Optane Memory compatibility
- 5-Way Optimization with Auto-Tuning and FanXpert 4
- ASUS exclusive AURA Sync RGB lighting
- Two Patent-pending SafeSlots
- 8-channel HD audio
- Wireless + Bluetooth
- SupremeFX Audio Quality, you won’t find a better one!
- Allows up to 64GB RAM DDR4 4133MHz (OC’d)
High-End Processors for Coffee lake
We will now share with you all the processors that you can use with this motherboard and I guarantee you this is the best motherboard for:
- I7 8670
- I7 8700
- I7 8700K
- I5 8400
- I5 8420
- I5 8500
- I5 8550
- I5 8600K
- I5 8650
- I5 8650K
- I3 8350k
- I3 8320
- I3 8120
- I3 8100
- I3 8020
- I3 8000
Kaby Lake is a codename used by Intel for their latest line of microprocessor architecture to their 7th generation CPUs.
Intel released the desktop versions equipped with Kabylake architecture to the market on 3rd 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 7740X & I5 7640X which require a different type of motherboards, the Z299 since they’re using the 2066 socket.
Even though the same 14-nanometer manufacturing process used in Skylake it’s also used in Kabylake, the 14nm process, however, 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.
With the release of the Kabylake Architecture also came the new motherboards accompanying the CPU’s, more specifically, the Z270 motherboards.
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 graphics 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 Z270 – High Performing Motherboard for KabyLake
The ASUS ROG Maximus IX Formula Z270 motherboard is the best choice motherboard for the Intel 7th generation Kabylake processors. It is the successor to the best selling Maximus VIII Formula that was designed for the 6th generation Intel Core CPUs.
After our analysis, we concluded that the ASUS ROG Maximus IX Formula Z270 motherboard looks similar to the Maximus VIII Formula.
The Maximus IX Formula Z270, 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 is ASUS ROG Maximus IX Formula Z270 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 water block allows the cooling to happen even with water or air
- Designed specifically for the 7th 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 are out on the market for Kabylake as of today, also no exceptions, the previous motherboard is without a doubt the best motherboard for:
- I7 7700K
- I5 7600K
- I5 7400
- I5 7500
- I5 7600
- I5 7600K
- I3 7100
- I3 7300
- I3 7350K
Special Mentions (They require an X299):
- I7 7740X
- I5 7640X
Skylake is the predecessor of Kabylake, and the microarchitecture was designed for the 6th 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.
With the redesign of Broadwell architecture, Skylake brought excellent 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.
The Intel Core I7 6700K was the first processor to be released with the Skylake architecture followed by I7 6700k 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.
Halfway in 2017, the new Skylake releases came out featuring the first few Intel I9 CPU’s, the I9 7900X, I97920X, I9 7940X, I9 7960X and the I9 7980XE.
It’s speculated that these new I9’s was Intel’s way to fight off against AMD’s massive Cores & Threads, although they’re quite infamous for not being quite as efficient. These new CPU’s also require different motherboards, the Z299 due to their 2066 LGA Socket.
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 comes with an overclocked “K” variant with unlocked multipliers. Also, the “S” variant has 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 Z170 – High Performing Motherboard for Skylake
Overall, the Asus ROG Maximus VIII Formula Z170 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 Z170 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 is ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Formula Z170 the Best Motherboard for Skylake
The ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Formula Z170 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 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 enable 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 most excellent audio experience you can get, thanks to the SupremeFX 2015 that provides different sound 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 smoothly without any lag.
High-End Processors from Skylake
These were the latest high-end processors that are out on the market with the Skylake architecture as of today, also, no exceptions, the previous motherboard is without a doubt the best motherboard for:
- I7 6700K
- I7 6700
- I7 7800X
- I7 7820X
- I5 6400
- I5 6500
- I5 6600
- I5 6600K
- I3 6100
- I3 6300
- I3 6320
- I9 7900X
- I9 7940X
- I9 7960X
- I9 7980XE
Initial Release in 2015, the Broadwell architecture faced some tough times, and hence the Skylake Chips were introduced sooner. But Broadwell was seen as a significant 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 5th 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.
In our opinion these are the most exciting and innovative features of Broadwell microarchitecture:
- Intel Quick Sync Video Hardware – VP8 hardware decoding and encoding support 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 – High Performing 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 CPU and makes it pretty much simple to adjust the voltage.
The cost factor is also an essential factor, and MSI Z97 beats that too with a mid-range pricing that is affordable for the average gamer’s budget.
Why is MSI Z97 Gaming 5 The Best Motherboard for Broadwell?
MSI Z97 Gaming 5 board is considered to be the best motherboard for Broadwell because of its full compatibility with 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 sound in your game clearly.
- Dual Headphone Amplifiers – With built-in dual headphone amplifiers 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 incredible 67% performance increase over the mSATA storage.
- Isolated PCB – Helps with the static noise by isolating the PCB.
High-End Processors for Broadwell
These were the latest high-end processors that are out on the market for Broadwell as of today; the Z97 is without a doubt the best motherboard for:
- I7 6800K
- I7 6850K
- I7 6900K
- I7 6950X
In 2013, Intel released their Haswell processors for their 4th 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, an entirely 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.
Some of the most exciting and essential features of the Haswell Refresh architecture are:
- Entirely new set of sockets and chipsets
- Included hardware graphics support for OpenGL 4.3 and Direct3D 11.1
- Thunderbolt Technology optional support
- Fully Integrated Voltage Regulator (FIVR).
- Equipped with New instructions (HNI, BMI1, BMI2, ABM, FMA3, AVX2, gather, etc.)
Z97X-Gaming 5 – High Performing 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 (recommend you to read this guide in TomsHardWare about overclocking if you’re gonna do it). It’s 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 improved 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 excellent gaming motherboard at this price range.
Why is Z97X-Gaming 5 The Best Motherboard for Haswell Refresh?
Honestly, the Z97X Gaming 5 is the best choice for Haswell Refresh Processors because it provides full compatibility and is an excellent board for gaming. It comes with all the features needed, including USB ports, SATA Express storage and also support for 3-way Crossfire or 2-way SLI.
The following reasons support the fact that the Z97X Gaming 5 is our choice for the Haswell Refresh architecture:
- 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 offers 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 previously mentioned motherboard is without a doubt the best motherboard for the following Haswell Refresh CPUs:
- I7 5960X
- I7 5930K
- I7 5820K
- I7 4790K
- I7 4790
- I7 4770K
- I7 4770
- I7 4771
- I5 4690K
- I5 4690
So we hope we’ve provided a clear and precise information to help you decide what board you should get. 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.