What Is a Chipset? A Basic Definition

Living on the motherboard, a PC's chipset controls the communication between the CPU, RAM, storage and other peripherals. The chipset determines how many high-speed components or USB devices your motherboard can support. Chipsets are usually comprised of one to four chips and feature controllers for commonly used peripherals, like the keyboard, mouse or monitor.

Though the chipsets are designed by Intel and AMD, they appear on motherboards from a variety of third-party vendors, such as MSI, Asus and ASRock. Different chipsets support different CPUs, so once you pick a CPU, you next need to decide which chipset you’d like. 

When selecting your chipset, it’s important to note that while a chipset may offer a certain feature (like support for up to 10 USB ports), your motherboard may not support that feature (many motherboards only come equipped for four to eight USB ports). If your motherboard doesn’t support a certain chipset feature, that feature will not work with your PC. 

Below is a list of Intel and AMD chipsets:

BrandChipset NameUse
IntelX299Enthusiast
IntelZ370Enthusiast
AMDX399Enthusiast
AMDX470Enthusiast
AMDX370Enthusiast
AMDB350Performance
IntelH370Mainstream
IntelQ370Mainstream
IntelB360Mainstream
IntelH310Mainstream
AMDX300Small Form Factor
AMDA300Small Form Factor

This article is part of the Tom's Hardware Glossary.

Further reading:

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