What Is a Motherboard Chipset? A Basic Definition

Intel Alder Lake CPUs uses 600-Series chipsets (Image credit: ASRock)

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 best motherboard can support. Chipsets are usually comprised of one to four chips and feature controllers for commonly used peripherals, like the your keyboardmouse or monitor.

PC chipsets are designed by Intel and AMD but are found on motherboards from a variety of third-party vendors, such as MSI, Asus and ASRock. Different chipsets support different CPUs, so when you're buying a CPU, you have to consider that your processor will only work with motherboards using a specific chipset (and CPU socket). 

It’s important to note that while a chipset may allow for a certain feature (like support for up to 10 USB ports), your specific 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. 

Intel and AMD Chipsets

Below we break down Intel and AMD chipsets for consumer desktop CPUs across current and prior generations. This includes chipsets for Intel's 12th Generation Alder Lake CPUs. 

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CPU BrandChipset NameCPUMarket
IntelZ69012th Gen Alder LakeEnthusiast
IntelH67012th Gen Alder LakeMainstream
IntelB66012th Gen Alder LakeMainstream
IntelH61012th Gen Alder LakeBudget
IntelZ59011th Gen Rocket LakeEnthusiast
IntelH57011th Gen Rocket LakeMainstream
IntelB56011th Gen Rocket LakeMainstream
IntelH51011th Gen Rocket LakeBudget
IntelZ490 10th Gen Comet Lake Enthusiast
IntelH470 10th Gen Comet Lake Enthusiast
Intel H410 10th Gen Comet Lake Mainstream
Intel B460 10th Gen Comet Lake Budget
IntelZ390 9th Gen Coffee Lake Enthusiast
IntelZ370 9th Gen Coffee Lake Enthusiast
IntelH370 9th Gen Coffee Lake Mainstream
IntelB365 9th Gen Coffee Lake Budget
IntelB360 9th Gen Coffee Lake Budget
AMDTRX40Ryzen 3000 Threadripper High-end desktop (HEDT)
AMDX570Ryzen 3000Enthusiast
AMDB550Ryzen 3000Mainstream
AMDA520 Ryzen 3000 and Athlon processorsBudget
AMDX470 AMD 2nd Gen RyzenEnthusiast
AMDX399Threadripper 2000 and 1000High-end desktop (HEDT)
AMDB4502nd Gen RyzenMainstream
AMDX300 1st Gen Ryzen Enthusiast small form factor
AMDA300 1st Gen Ryzen Mainstream small form factor

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

Further reading:

Scharon Harding

Scharon Harding has a special affinity for gaming peripherals (especially monitors), laptops and virtual reality. Previously, she covered business technology, including hardware, software, cyber security, cloud and other IT happenings, at Channelnomics, with bylines at CRN UK.