The central processing unit (CPU) is the brain of every computer. After all, the word “central” is already in the name. But every ruler also needs a throne – and when it comes to the CPU, the throne is very important. If your processor gets the wrong fit, it can no longer rule your computer.
The throne we are talking about here is called the CPU socket and is where the CPU connects to the motherboard. However, not all sockets can accommodate all processors, and the biggest difference begins with the classic rivalry between AMD and Intel, the two most important providers of CPUs in Windows computers.
The socket types are firmly soldered to the motherboard and cannot be changed. At the same time, every part of the motherboard is designed to work with specific generations of AMD or Intel processors. So the choice between AMD and Intel has an impact on which motherboard models are available to you.
However, it also depends on which generation of processors you are using. Just because you have an Intel CPU doesn’t mean that it will fit in an old Intel-compatible motherboard. The same goes for AMD. This is because the number of pins used to communicate with the rest of the system affects the functionality of the system. Each pin is wired to communicate with a specific part of the computer. Often times, an old pin design cannot accommodate new functions.
Even current AMD CPUs still use the AM4 socket. However, not all CPUs are compatible with it. That makes things a bit confusing.
Because of this, the base design can change frequently between generations. AMD and Intel are walking a fine line, of course. Many users want to buy the latest and greatest CPUs for their PCs, but they don’t necessarily want to replace the motherboard every time a new CPU comes on the market.
The two companies therefore try to accommodate users as much as possible. At the same time, they do not hesitate to switch to a new type of socket if this is necessary.
At the time of research in August 2021, AMD’s current CPU flagship is the Ryzen 5000 series. Like the previous Ryzen generations, this requires an AM4 socket. However, the 5000 series only supports mainboards that were built directly for Ryzen 5000, as well as numerous Ryzen 4000-compatible boards. Further back, a Ryzen 5000 processor will not work, even though older Ryzen motherboards use the same socket.
The base is the throne for the CPU, from which the processor rules over the entire PC system.
The situation is similar with the CPU competitor: Intel’s latest release, Rocket Lake, uses an LGA 1200 socket – just like its predecessor, Comet Lake. Despite this apparent compatibility, however, there are some older Comet Lake boards with an LGA 1200 socket that are not compatible with a Rocket Lake chip. In either case, this incompatibility has little to do with the physical socket itself, but rather affects the technologies that surround it.
With all these small differences, it is not easy to keep a compatibility table for motherboards and CPUs in mind. So if you’re looking for upgrades or a new PC, websites like www.PCPartPicker.com can help. This allows you to check the compatibility of the processor and motherboard before buying.
Socket types are a fairly simple concept, but they can quickly become confusing due to motherboard models and compatibility issues. If you can distinguish between AMD and Intel sockets, that’s enough. For everything else, a little research is enough to tackle the rest of the way.
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