Choosing the best motherboard for your new Intel CPU whether it be for the latest i9 9900k variant or the less expensive i7 9700k and i5 9600k, you’re going to want the necessary features and correct compatibility for your components to shine. There are a number of things that you need to consider before clicking that purchase button such as what generation processor you need it to be compatible with, are you looking for wireless functionality, or what the primary use of your rig is. We’re going to be giving you the necessary information in an effort to help you choose the right motherboard, detailing our picks for the best motherboard for Intel i9, i7, and i5 processors, alongside some knowledge for what differentiates motherboard variants.
Table of Contents
- Do motherboards work with any CPU?
- Best Intel Motherboard for i9 (compatible with i9 9900k)
- Best Intel Motherboard for i7 (compatible with i7 9700k, i7 8700k)
- Best Intel Motherboard for i5 (compatible with i5 9600k, i5 8600k)
Do motherboards work with any CPU?
The short answer to this is no. There are a variety of different CPU generations, different brands, and chipsets that all affect what motherboard will be compatible. If you read on, we’ll talk about each of these and the terminology you need to look out for.
When it comes to CPU generations, more specifically for Intel, you need to look out for which variant you have, and what motherboard you want to use with it. Usually, you want to acquire motherboards that cover two generations of Intel processors, for example, the ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero (Wi-Fi) Z390 Gaming Motherboard will work with 9th and 8th processors. This gives you a couple of options, go for the pricer, latest generation CPU or have the option for the more budget pick. Additionally, going for one of these motherboards opens up the option for upgrades later down the line. You can go for an 8th generation CPU such as the i7 8700k and potentially upgrade to the i9 9900k in the future.
You only really hear of AMD and Intel when talking about CPUs for PCs and for good reason, they’re the only big hitters out there. There are other chip manufacturers such as Qualcomm and Mediatek but these are the bigger names in mobile manufacturing and tend to stay away from the PC scene. So, which is best? AMD or Intel? Well, it’s all down to preference and to an extent, budget. Intel was the main staple for a number of years providing the highest quality chips out there but AMD burst onto the scene with top-notch quality CPUs at very affordable prices, enticing the PC builders out there to switch.
Similar to the generation problem, when motherboards are manufactured, they are for specific chips thus making the sockets tied to certain characteristics. The main socket types are Pin Grid Array (PGA) and Land Grid Array (LGA). These socket types apply compression through either a lever or a full plate to marry connections and keep it from dislodging. These two socket types are so popular with manufacturers as you avoid the risk of bending the pins when inserting the chip into the socket, and you can easily replace your current CPU with a different processor when required. On the other hand, devices that use the lesser-known Ball Grid Array (BGA) socket require soldering, meaning you’re stuck with that component for the lifetime of your machine.
Best Intel Motherboard for i9 (compatible with i9 9900k)
ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero (Wi-Fi) Z390 Gaming Motherboard
- Latest technology
- 9th and 8th generation compatibility
- Great overclocking capabilities
- RGB lighting and synchronization
This motherboard from ASUS has been specifically created for Intel 8th and 9th generation processors, including the i9 9900k. It offers the gaming flair for those looking for some RGB lighting but also packs some serious specs for high performance. The newly revamped 5-Way Optimization intelligently overclocks your components based on a smart prediction formula, pushing your rig to the max. Additionally, ASUS’ FanXpert 4 technology delivers dynamic system cooling ensuring those temperature levels are at optimum levels, which is essential when intense multitasking, video editing, and gaming. Continuing ASUS’ tech, OptiMem II has been incorporated into this i9 compatible motherboard which carefully maps memory signal pathways across different PCB layers in an effort to reduce vias and reduce crosstalk. This is coupled with a customized T-Topology layout, delivers time-aligned signaling, compounding the overclocking efforts of the 5-Way Optimization. Bluetooth 5.0 and WiFi come included on this board so going out and purchasing external adaptors isn’t necessary.
Best Intel Motherboard for i7 (compatible with i7 9700k, i7 8700k)
Aorus Z390 AORUS PRO WIFI
- Customizable fan placements
- 9th and 8th generation compatibility
- Integrated WiFi & Bluetooth 5.0
- Poor in-OS software
The Aorus Z390 has been created with a strong focus on both keeping your components cool and attempting to maximize the speeds. It includes a 12+1 phase digital CPU power design and additional 8+4 Solid-pin CPU Power Connectors allowing those looking to push their 9th generation Intel i7 CPU to its limits. Of course, with pushing your CPU to the max, you’re going to need excellent cooling. The Smart Fan 5 tech allows for full customization of fan headers to reflect different thermal sensors at specified locations on the motherboard. You are also able to access instant details on flow rate and temperatures which is great for those who closely monitor components. It does come with onboard WiFi which is a nice plus but sadly, no Bluetooth so it does leave those wireless peripheral users wanting. You could upgrade this choice to the ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero (Wi-Fi) Z390 Gaming Motherboard mentioned above, but is it worth it over using some Bluetooth adaptors? Probably not.
Best Intel Motherboard for i5 (compatible with i5 9600k, i5 8600k)
Gigabyte Z390 UD
- Great value
- Customizable features
- Built with ultra-durable materials
- No WiFi and Bluetooth out the box
When looking for a suitable Intel motherboard for i5 processors, you’re going to want enough of the features that come with the higher-end models but at a friendly price point. The Gigabyte Z390 UD comes fully compatible with both 9th and 8th generation Intel processors straight out the box alongside i7 and i9 variants if you were to upgrade. This, coupled with features like Smart Fan 5 and reinforced PCIe connectors, you’re getting the customizability and durability of a motherboard that you could see in a much higher price bracket. The only major downside when choosing this option is the lack of wireless functionality. You will obviously still be able to get an internet connection over Ethernet but without a WiFi adaptor, you’ll be tied to the cables. Similarly, it doesn’t offer up any Bluetooth connectivity so get your adaptors prepped if you’re wanting to use your wireless headphones.
Having the knowledge of what motherboards will be compatible with your CPU is an absolute necessity when building a PC, or even inserting upgrades. You don’t want to waste hours of your time, spend unnecessary money, and potentially damage components, especially with the price of 9th generation Intel CPUs. Looking at the three motherboards for their respective Intel CPU variants, they’re all at the top of their game when considering the price points. The ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero (Wi-Fi) Z390 Gaming Motherboard offers up the best of the best in terms of features for the i9 processors and the Gigabyte Z390 UD provides the best value to feature ratio for the i5 processors. However, if you want to explore other options for i9, i7 and i5 CPUs you can, with our other best picks broken down for various uses.