Choosing the right Intel 300-series motherboard to suit your wants was easy when the initial wave of 8th-gen Core desktop processors launched in October 2017, as a result of solely the enthusiast-class Z370 chipset launched alongside the brand new chips. That was sufficient to assist the flagship Core i7-8700K CPU counter AMD’s Ryzen threat on the excessive finish, however left PC customers in search of extra inexpensive choices in a pickle. Shopping for a $100 Core i3 chip doesn’t make a lot sense while you’re compelled to slap it in a $130, high-end motherboard, particularly with AMD providing a full arsenal of Ryzen motherboards in any respect worth factors.
The disparity resulted in April, 2018, when Intel revealed the full lineup of 300-series chipsets for its Eighth-gen CPUs. The lower-cost chipsets don’t provide all of the bells and whistles of Z370 motherboards, however they’ve a number of fancy options up their sleeves that the swankier boards lack.
Do you have to purchase a H370, B360, or H310 motherboard for these extras? Does it make sense to splurge on a Z370 chipset anyway? Let’s study what every Intel 300-series motherboard chipset presents so you can also make the correct choice while you purchase an Intel Eighth-generation processor.
Z370 vs. H370 vs. B360 vs. H310
You want a brand new Intel 300-series motherboard in the event you purchase an Eighth-gen “Espresso Lake” processor. Older motherboards don’t work with Eighth-gen chips, and that features the latest 100- and 200-series choices for Skylake and Kaby Lake chips. Whereas Espresso Lake chips are largely based mostly across the identical structure as these predecessors, Eighth-gen chips pack in additional cores, which suggests they’ve completely different energy necessities.
Right here’s a have a look at uncooked specs for every of the Intel 300-series motherboard chipsets out there to shoppers. (We’re not together with the Q370, a chipset that matches Z370 however with further enterprise options added.)
Z370 motherboards are the gold customary, constructed for fanatic PCs. These are the one Intel motherboards that assist CPU and reminiscence overclocking (in case you have an unlocked Ok-series chip), or deal with gaming rigs with a number of graphics playing cards. They’re loaded with essentially the most PCI-E lanes, potential USB ports (with one notable caveat—extra on that after), and RAID storage choices. Because the flagship chipset, Z370 additionally presents essentially the most high-speed I/O lanes. Extra HSIO lanes let board makers divvy out extra options, like NVMe SSD connections and SuperSpeed USB ports, as they see match.
Listed below are among the choices in Newegg’s Z370 selection. The upper you go up in worth, the extra further options you obtain.
H370 motherboards are solely a notch under Z370, and excellent for individuals who don’t wish to tinker. These boards don’t assist overclocking, a number of graphics card setups, or among the extra unique Intel Fast Storage Know-how options. Apart from these area of interest fanatic options, and a few variations in USB three.1 assist, H370 largely mirrors Z370.
Listed below are among the choices in Newegg’s H370 selection:
B360 motherboards begin shaving extra off. You’ll get fewer USB ports, fewer HSIO and PCI-E lanes, and barely any RAID assist through Intel’s Fast Storage Know-how. However they nonetheless pack speedy USB three.1 Gen. 2 ports and Optane Memory support to spice up exhausting drive speeds to near-SSD speeds. Have a look at these as solid-value motherboards for mainstream computer systems.
Listed below are among the choices in Newegg’s B360 selection. When you begin creeping too far north of $100, nevertheless, you could be higher off choosing an H370 motherboard, except a B360 choice features a particular key function that isn’t out there in your funds with H370.
H310 motherboards actually strip issues again. Far fewer USB and SATA ports are supported. It doesn’t assist PCI-E three.zero, solely the slower PCI-E 2.zero, and you’ll’t use Intel’s Optane Reminiscence expertise like you possibly can with the opposite choices. The reminiscence setup solely helps a single DIMM per channel, decreasing total bandwidth. RAID choices are nonexistent. These ultra-basic motherboards ought to solely be thought of for bargain-basement methods with easy wants. They lock you out of lots of niftier new options that’ve blossomed in Intel’s ecosystem in recent times.
Listed below are among the choices in Newegg’s H310 selection. There isn’t a lot selection right here, nor fancy gaming manufacturers.
Intel 300-series motherboard variations defined
The Z370 chipset might need the mightiest spec set on paper, however the different choices pack some options that the unique Eighth-gen motherboards lack, and the stripped-down H310 is the one chipset that may’t run Intel’s hard drive-boosting Optane Memory.
H370, B360, and H310 motherboards combine assist for fast 10Gbps USB three.1 Gen.2 ports into the chipset, which you’ll be able to see listed within the comparability chart above. That ought to assist convey the blisteringly quick tech to extra inexpensive motherboards, as distributors will now not must pay for a third-party controller—this makes use of Intel’s personal expertise. Including USB three.1 ports eats right into a motherboard’s stash of HSIO lanes, although.
The brand new boards additionally transfer lots of the capabilities wanted for wi-fi networking into the platform controller hub itself, utilizing Intel’s CNVi wireless-AC technology. Highlights embrace built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi assist and as much as 1733Mbps speeds with Intel’s highest-end companion RF module, which Intel says is much quicker than most Wi-Fi choices out there.
Equipping further to totally activate the performance can add to the price of a motherboard, and it’s an choice for motherboard distributors—not a requirement. Don’t count on to see Wi-Fi on each H370, B360, and H310 motherboard, in different phrases, particularly as you progress additional down the value scale. (Gigabyte, for instance, sells an elective “CNVi WiFi improve equipment” for a few of its motherboards.) If yours consists of it, you’ll need an 802.11ac “Wave 2” router that may reap the benefits of CNVi’s full potential, just like the Asus RT-AC87U.
H370, B360, and H310 motherboards additionally embrace “fashionable standby” options that lets computer systems sleep to avoid wasting vitality, however pay attention for a wake phrase (in good speaker-like trend) and rapidly resume. Fashionable standby performance beforehand existed in laptops, however it is a first for desktop PCs.
As soon as once more, motherboards based mostly on the Z370 chipset don’t embrace any of this new native performance, although makers can add Wi-Fi and USB three.1 Gen. 2 capabilities through add-in controllers. However curiously, the business-focused Q370 chipset mirrors Z370’s specs (sans overclocking) and consists of the brand new capabilities discovered within the H370, B360, and H310 motherboards. Intel hasn’t introduced a successor to the Z370 chipset for Eighth-gen CPUs, however we wouldn’t be shocked to see one sooner or later to convey the 300-series flagship into function parity with its little cousins.
The ultimate a part of the equation is discovering a 300-series board with ending touches that suit your wants. Whereas the data above describes the center of each Z370, H370, B360, and H310 motherboard, distributors can tweak and configure their in several methods, so two H370 boards (for instance) might need barely completely different port configurations and wildly completely different options, resembling RGB lighting, fancy audio, one-button overclocking, et cetera.
However now that the fundamentals of what every Intel 300-series chipset presents, you possibly can rapidly slender down your seek for the right Eighth-gen motherboard for you.