What Is a CPU Socket? A Basic Definition

CPU socket (Image credit: Mastermilmar/Shutterstock)

A CPU socket uses a series of pins to connect a CPU’s processor to the PC’s motherboard. If a CPU is connected via a CPU socket, it is not soldered and can therefore be replaced. CPU sockets are more common with desktop gaming PCs than they are on laptops

When buying a motherboard, finding the best motherboard isn't just about making sure it has the features you want. Step one is making sure the motherboard has the right CPU socket (and a supported chipset) for your CPU model. 

Even if you have the best CPU, it won't work with just any CPU socket. Intel has different socket types for its mainstream CPUs versus its high-end desktop (HEDT) ones, as does AMD.

Intel and AMD CPU Sockets

Below we break down the consumer CPU sockets for current and prior generation Intel and AMD desktop CPUs. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
CPU Brand CPU Socket NameCPU Compatible ChipsetsMarket
Intel LGA 2066 10th Gen CoreX299HEDT
IntelLGA 170012th Gen CoreZ690, H670, B660, H610Mainstream
Intel LGA 120011th Gen Core, 10th Gen CoreZ490, H470, B460, H410Mainstream
Intel LGA 1151 9th Gen Core, 8th Gen CoreZ390, Z370, Z370, Q370, H370, B365, B360, H310Mainstream
AMD sTRX4 Ryzen Threadripper 3000TRX40HEDT
AMDTR4 Ryzen Threadripper 2000 and 1000 X399HEDT
AMDAM4 Ryzen 5000, 3000, 2000 and 1000 X570, X470, X370, B550, B450, B350, B450, A320, X300, A300Mainstream

Intel users can also figure out which CPU socket their chip uses with Intel's directions on this page and use Intel’s Product Compatibility Tool to see which motherboard fits your CPU.

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.

  • archfrog
    A bit too brief, perhaps :)

    I was looking forward to a treatise of how modern CPU's use their many, many pins, and got only a teaser that told me nothing new.