Skylake Workstation Chipsets
Starting with the introduction of its Allendale- and Conroe-based microprocessors, Intel also made single-socket Xeon processor support available on its consumer-oriented platforms. Over the years, these Xeon CPUs became popular alternatives to Intel’s more expensive Core i7s because they have similar specs but sometimes cost less or include other useful features.
To stop desktop enthusiasts from turning to Xeons rather than Core i7s, Intel doesn't facilitate Xeon support on its Skylake-based consumer- and business-oriented platforms.
Instead, the company created two workstation-oriented hubs for its LGA 1151 interface: C232 and C236. Intel hasn’t given us all of their specs, but a representative did convey the basics. What we're missing is how many HSIO lanes are available on C232 and C236, which is an important piece of information (more on that below). So, we reached out to the motherboard OEMs and were told by one product manager that C232 has the same connectivity support as B150, while C236 is identical to Z170.
|Comparison Of C232 & C236 Chipsets|
|CPU Support||Celeron, Pentium, Core, Xeon||Celeron, Pentium, Core, Xeon|
|Recommended Customer Price||$34||$49|
|Max PCIe Lanes||8||20|
|CPU PCIe Configurations||1x16, 2x8, 1x8+2x4||1x16, 2x8, 1x8+2x4|
|USB 3.0||Up To 6||Up To 10|
|Intel Virtualization technology||No||Yes|
|Intel RST Enterprise||Yes||Yes|
|Intel Node Manager||No||Yes|
|Intel Standard Manageability||No||Yes|
|Intel Smart Response Technology||No||Yes|
|Trusted Execution Technology||Yes||Yes|
|Intel HD Audio Technology||No||No|
|Intel Small Business Advantage||No||No|
|Intel HD Graphics Support||No||No|
These chipsets are supposed to last longer and boast several advanced technologies that are not available on the desktop side. Other than that, their biggest advantages are multi-GPU and Xeon support.
Limiting LGA 1151-based Xeons to the C232 and C236 chipsets makes it more difficult for enthusiasts to build PCs using a Xeon processor, of course, as there are fewer motherboards sporting either PCH. Those that do exist are often pricier due to the validation work that goes into a more professional product.
Although a Xeon-based build can still be achieved for less money than a high-end Core i7, the delta is no longer as large. Most C236-based boards cost too much to make buying a Xeon economically viable. Falling back to C232 might save you some cash, but you'll also have far fewer features to use compared to Z170.