How do I know what CPU is compatible with my motherboard?

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CPU is the brain of your computer. So, oftentimes you would want to replace the CPU you have, with a better one to enhance the performance. But to replace the CPU, the new one has to be compatible with the motherboard. So, your question is how do I know what CPU is compatible with my motherboard?

This is a very important question. Because, if the CPU and the motherboard are not compatible, they won’t work together. So, if you buy a CPU only to learn it won’t run, it is a huge waste of money. But there are very easy and practical ways to know what CPU is compatible with your motherboard.

For the CPU and the motherboard to be compatible they need to have some common features. The motherboard needs to have the exact type of socket that the CPU requires. And there are other issues like that. Let’s discuss them in detail. 

How do I know what CPU is compatible with my motherboard? – Detailed discussion

Now let’s see how you can find the compatible CPU for your motherboard.

Buy from the same manufacturer

This step will narrow your research by a large margin. There are only two major manufacturers that produce chipsets for computers. They are Intel and AMD. But they make a large number of chipsets that are different from each other. So, sticking to the same manufacturer will help.

Note that Intel makes its own motherboards as well CPUs. So, if you have an Intel motherboard, buying an Intel chipset will help with the compatibility. On the other hand, AMD doesn’t make its own motherboards. But they work with specific companies Like ASUS to make compatible motherboards for their CPUs. 

The RAM dilemma

Now between motherboard and CPU, RAM has an important role to play. Because specific CPUs can only work with a specific type of RAM. Older processors used to work with DDR2 type of memory. But then came DDR3 and even newer DDR4. Your chosen CPU will only work with only one of them.

So, then if you buy compatible RAM for your CPU, it has to be compatible with the motherboard too. The reason is not all motherboards can host every type of memory. So, if you would like to buy a CPU that is compatible with your motherboard as well as your RAM. This will make your list even shorter.

The key issue: Same socket 

This is the ultimate defining factor of which CPU you should buy for your specific motherboard. The CPU socket is the physical mount on the CPU that will be used to connect the CPU with the motherboard. It defines the area and the dimensions of the connection. So, the motherboard must have the same socket.

If not, you cannot even connect both parts together, let alone make them work together. So, this is not a very hard task to find out what type of socket your motherboard has. You will find the information online on the manufacturer’s site. And even on the manual provided with the board.

And then you can search for CPUs from the same manufacturers with the same type of socket. You can select CPUs from different manufacturers too only if they have the specific type of socket. But that doesn’t happen too often. So, sticking to the same manufacturer is the key. 

So, you will find the socket information in the specification section of the CPU description. If the socket it has matches with the socket on your motherboard, then it is a green flag. There are no physical obstacles keeping the two parts join together.

The right CPU 

Now that you have considered every other aspect that decides what CPU is compatible with your motherboard, take a look at the CPU itself. Even if the CPU is from the same manufacturer, the RAM is compatible with both parts and the CPU has the right socket it is not enough. You need the right CPU.

Right CPU means the one that is compatible performance-wise with the motherboard. The CPU is the brain of this system. It needs to send and receive data from different parts of the computer. And this occurs via the motherboard. So, the CPU and motherboard must be on the same level performance-wise.

If the CPU is super powerful and the motherboard cannot match its level then it’s a total waste of resources. So, before buying a CPU for your existing motherboard keep this in mind. Either buy a less powerful CPU or replace the motherboard to match the level of the CPU. 

Can you use any CPU for any motherboard?

No, you can’t. It is physically not possible. As there is something called the CPU socket. This is the part of the CPU that is used to connect it to the motherboard. So, for this reason, the motherboard needs to have the same type of socket too. And not all motherboards have the same type of socket and the same goes for CPUs.

So, you must find a CPU and a motherboard that have the same type of socket. Only in that situation, you can put them together. There are still some issues that need to be checked like RAM compatibility and CPU compatibility. But at least, you can connect the CPU to the motherboard.

What is the right CPU that goes with your motherboard?

What is the right CPU that goes with your motherboard?

The answer depends on various factors. In a nutshell, not every CPU goes with every motherboard. There are some determining factors. The first one is the manufacturer. The CPU and the motherboard have to be from the same manufacturer or at least from the manufacturers that work together.

Then these two parts should be compatible with the same type of memory. And finally, they must have the same type of socket that will connect them physically. When all these boxes are checked now you can look for the best compatible CPU and motherboard performance-wise. That’s a different discussion.

You can also read – How do you know if your motherboard supports wifi?

What happens if you pick an incompatible CPU in your motherboard?

The computer won’t just simply work. You will see a dark screen. If the CPU fits into the socket of the motherboard there shouldn’t be any damage to the circuits. If they are not compatible but fit you can try a BIOS update. It might force them to work together.

But if you force the CPU into the motherboard socket it will physically damage the parts. On the other hand, if the CPU goes into the motherboard without any effort at all, it also indicates incompatibility. And in most cases, even a BIOS update cannot fix the problem. 

Watch the video below for more information:


Hopefully, you have got some insight into the matter of CPU and motherboard compatibility by now. The question you had; How do I know what CPU is compatible with my motherboard has been answered. The answer deals with all the aspects that you will have to consider to select the right CPU.

To summarize the discussion, you will need a CPU that has been manufactured by the same company. The CPU and the motherboard should support the same type of RAM. And most importantly they both must have the same type of socket. Or else you cannot even connect them together.

And finally, when you have considered all those aspects you should consider the performance factor. When you find a CPU that the motherboard will be able to match performance-wise, that’s the right CPU for your motherboard. Good luck then.

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Gary Scott

Hi There, I am Gary Scott, a Computer Engineer, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow Computer community and pc enthusiast. I am a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). I have been writing for Motherboard, CPU, GPU, RAM, Power Supply, Intel/AMD comparisons, CPU/GPU benchmarking, Gaming performance, Xbox, Play Station, and How to build your own PC. I will be regularly updating this website with new resources, If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.

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