February 4, 2023
United Kingdom
Buyers Guides CPUs Motherboards

Best CPU and Motherboard Combos to Buy in 2023

Best CPU and Motherboard Combos Feature Image

Introduction

Choosing components for a PC build can be a difficult endeavour at the best of times. With new releases a constant in the world of PC hardware, things don’t sit still for more than a couple of months, making part choices ever more complicated for the novice PC builder. The last year is a prime example of this: we’ve seen brand new CPUs from Intel and AMD, alongside some new motherboards and RAM. NVIDIA and AMD have also gone head-to-head in a seemingly endless GPU war, which keeps things interesting in the industry, but hardly simplifies the list of available of choices.

We always find that a great starting point for a PC build is selecting your CPU. The CPU can dictate the kind of performance you should expect system-wide, alongside the motherboard you’ll need to pair up with your chosen processor. Once you’ve picked out a CPU, it becomes somewhat easier to decide on a motherboard, but because there are a myriad of options on the market, how do you choose? Or better yet, which options are best?

Should you pair up a Core i5 with one of MSI’s top-tier GODLIKE boards? Or for AMD, will a B650 motherboard suffice for the the top-end Ryzen 9 7950X? We’ll be answering these questions, and more, with this best CPU and Motherboard combos buyers guide.

We’ve supplied a wide range of options, all coming in at different price points, catering to a plethora of consumers.

Our Recommendations At A Glance

Keep reading to learn more about the exact rationale behind each of our selections!

What Type of PC Are You Building?

Before jumping into our recommendations, there are a few things you’ll want to consider. The first of which being: ‘what do you actually want your PC to do?’ Are you building a PC to play games at 1080P? Or are you aiming for a higher resolution play in 1440P or 4K? Is this going to be a workstation PC which demands a higher core count and clock speed?

All of these questions are vital considerations that need to be made when picking out components for a PC build. Although a CPU won’t necessarily dictate what kind of frames you’ll get when playing games (this job is primarily determined by your GPU), it does play a massive part in ensuring that data from your GPU is processed quickly enough to avoid bottlenecking. This essentially means that the weaker your CPU is, the choppier the gameplay might become – irrespective of how much you spend on the graphics card.

Ultimately there needs to be an equilibrium between all of your components to ensure the best performance levels. But determining what kind of PC you’re building is a good first step in figuring out what kind of performance metrics you want to achieve, versus what you’ll actually be able to, with your budget and chosen parts.

The Compatibility and Features Checklist

Something that we’ve covered before in much of our written content is motherboard compatibility and features. CPUs from either Intel or AMD have seen a vast amount of change in the features available, chipset type, and CPU socket. This means that for the average consumer, all of the various letters and numbers concerning chipsets, such as Z790, X670E, B760, etc. – could easily cause confusion.

Features also play a big part in determining which motherboard a consumer will choose. For those that want the latest and greatest options, you’ll need to pick up a flagship chipset from either AMD’s or Intel’s latest line of motherboards. For other consumers that don’t particularly care about the number of USB ports they have, a cheaper more price-conscious chipset will be a better consideration.

Regardless, in order to alleviate confusion we’ve created a table that details the compatibility between CPU ranges, and motherboard chipsets (with some information on the features too). This table is extensive, so please bare with us, but we hope it provides a little more clarity as to which options work where.

Motherboard ChipsetCompatible CPU RangesChipset Features
AMD X670EAMD Ryzen 7000 SeriesUsable PCI-E Lanes: 44
PCI-E 5.0 Lanes: 24
CPU Overclocking Support: Yes
Maximum USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Ports: 2
Maximum SATA Ports: 8
RAM Generation: DDR5
AMD X670AMD Ryzen 7000 SeriesUsable PCI-E Lanes: 44
PCI-E 5.0 Lanes: 8
CPU Overclocking Support: Yes
Maximum USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Ports: 2
Maximum SATA Ports: 8
RAM Generation: DDR5
AMD B650EAMD Ryzen 7000 SeriesUsable PCI-E Lanes: 36
PCI-E 5.0 Lanes: 24
CPU Overclocking Support: Yes
Maximum USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Ports: 1
Maximum SATA Ports: 4
RAM Generation: DDR5
AMD B650AMD Ryzen 7000 SeriesUsable PCI-E Lanes: 36
PCI-E 5.0 Lanes: 0
CPU Overclocking Support: Yes
Maximum USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Ports: 1
Maximum SATA Ports: 4
RAM Generation: DDR5
Intel Z790Intel 13th Gen Core Processors
Intel 12th Gen Core Processors
Usable PCI-E Lanes: 28
PCI-E 5.0 Lanes: 20
CPU Overclocking Support: Yes
Maximum USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Ports: 5
Maximum SATA Ports: 8
RAM Generation: DDR4 & DDR5
Intel H770Intel 13th Gen Core Processors
Intel 12th Gen Core Processors
Usable PCI-E Lanes: 24
PCI-E 5.0 Lanes: 20
CPU Overclocking Support: No
Maximum USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Ports: 2
Maximum SATA Ports: 8
RAM Generation: DDR4 & DDR5
Intel B760Intel 13th Gen Core Processors
Intel 12th Gen Core Processors
Usable PCI-E Lanes: 14
PCI-E 5.0 Lanes: 20
CPU Overclocking Support: No
Maximum USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Ports: 2
Maximum SATA Ports: 4
RAM Generation: DDR4 & DDR5
AMD X570AMD Ryzen 5000 Series
AMD Ryzen 3000 Series
Usable PCI-E Lanes: 36
PCI-E 5.0 Lanes: 0
CPU Overclocking Support: Yes
Maximum USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Ports: 0
Maximum SATA Ports: 14
RAM Generation: DDR4
AMD B550AMD Ryzen 5000 Series
AMD Ryzen 3000 Series
Usable PCI-E Lanes: 30
PCI-E 5.0 Lanes: 0
CPU Overclocking Support: Yes
Maximum USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Ports: 0
Maximum SATA Ports: 8
RAM Generation: DDR4
AMD A520AMD Ryzen 5000 Series
AMD Ryzen 3000 Series
Usable PCI-E Lanes: 26
PCI-E 5.0 Lanes: 0
CPU Overclocking Support: No
Maximum USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Ports: 0
Maximum SATA Ports: 4
RAM Generation: DDR4
Intel Z690Intel 13th Gen Core Processors (with a BIOS update)
Intel 12th Gen Core Processors
Usable PCI-E Lanes: 28
PCI-E 5.0 Lanes: 28
CPU Overclocking Support: Yes
Maximum USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Ports: 4
Maximum SATA Ports: 8
RAM Generation: DDR4 & DDR5
Intel H670Intel 13th Gen Core Processors (with a BIOS update)
Intel 12th Gen Core Processors
Usable PCI-E Lanes: 24
PCI-E 5.0 Lanes: 20
CPU Overclocking Support: No
Maximum USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Ports: 2
Maximum SATA Ports: 8
RAM Generation: DDR4 & DDR5
Intel B660Intel 13th Gen Core Processors (with a BIOS update)
Intel 12th Gen Core Processors
Usable PCI-E Lanes: 12
PCI-E 5.0 Lanes: 20
CPU Overclocking Support: No
Maximum USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Ports: 2
Maximum SATA Ports: 2
RAM Generation: DDR4 & DDR5
Motherboard and CPU compatibility table. For our in-depth recommendations on the best motherboards, read our wide range of motherboard buyer’s guides.

Best CPU & Motherboard Combos

Without further ado, here are the best CPU and motherboard combos to pick up in 2023. We’ve covered a vast range of options with inclusions from AMD and Intel, with budget combinations, all the way up to high-end more expensive choices.

1. Intel Core i3 12100F & & Gigabyte B660 DS3H AX

Intel’s Core i3 12100F is the budget titan from Intel’s previous generation, offering a total of 4 cores and 8 threads clocked at 4.3GHz while boosting. This CPU is one of the best budget options money can buy, sitting well below the $150 mark, making it perfect for an entry-level build. Needless to say, you probably won’t be rendering any 4K videos with this CPU, but it is perfect for 1080P gaming when paired up with a GPU of similar performance, such as an RTX 3050 from NVIDIA, or RX 6600 from AMD.

For our motherboard, we’ve picked out Gigabyte‘s B660 DS3H AX, which is another quality budget board from the 12th-Gen line. We’ve reviewed this motherboard in full on our website, and spoiler alert – it is awesome. Consumers get access to an integrated WiFi 6E and Bluetooth module, alongside some high speed USB ports, and Gen4 M.2 SSD slots. Although this motherboard doesn’t look amazing, you really can’t argue with the price.

i3 12100F Budget Build

Key Specs:

  • Core Count: 4
  • Thread Count: 8
  • Base Clock Speed: 3.3GHz
  • Boost Clock Speed: 4.3GHz
  • Socket Type: LGA 1700
  • Total Cache: 17MB
  • TDP: 89W

Buy the Intel Core i3 12100F on:

Gigabyte B660 DS3H AX

Key Specs:

  • Form Factor: ATX
  • Supported Memory: 128GB DDR4 5333MHz
  • PCI-E x16 Slots: 1x PCI-E 4.0, 4x PCI-E 3.0
  • PCI-E x4 Slots: 2x PCI-E 4.0
  • Rear IO: 1x USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C, 1x USB 3.2 Gen2, 4x USB 2.0
  • Networking: Gigabit LAN & WiFi 6E

Buy the Gigabyte B660 DS3H AX on:

2. AMD Ryzen 5 3600 & MSI B550M Pro VDH

On the AMD side, we’ve picked out the Ryzen 5 3600. AMD’s current Ryzen 7000 CPUs don’t offer a lot of value at the lower-end, so we’ve picked out an older option from their Ryzen 3000 range. The reason we’ve picked out the 3600 as opposed to a 3100 is due to the increase in clock speed. Gaming is becoming more and more demanding as the years go by, so a better boost clock is needed to ensure smoother gameplay at 1080P and higher resolutions.

Alongside the 3600, the B550M Pro VDH is making a return. MSI‘s B550M is an excellent board sporting a Micro-ATX form factor, with plenty of features for consumers to sink their teeth into. Speaking of features, the B550M offers an M.2 PCI-E 4.0 slot, along with a Gen3 slot for those needing extra storage space. The B550M also offers a PCI-E 4.0 x16 slot, which is compatible with the latest generation of graphics card, making it ideal for consumers looking to pick up a Radeon 7000, or RTX 4000 series GPU.

Jake's Build 6650XT - AMD Ryzen 5 5600X

Key Specs:

  • Core Count: 6
  • Thread Count: 12
  • Base Clock Speed: 3.6GHz
  • Boost Clock Speed: 4.2GHz
  • Socket Type: AM4
  • Total Cache: 35MB
  • TDP: 65W

Buy the Ryzen 5 3600 on:

Best CPU & Motherboards 2022 - MSI B550M Pro VDH

Key Specs:

  • Form Factor: Micro-ATX
  • Supported Memory: 128GB DDR4 4400MHz
  • PCI-E x16 Slots: 1x PCI-E 4.0
  • PCI-E x4 Slots: 1x PCI-E 4.0, 1x PCI-E 3.0
  • Rear IO: 4x USB 3.2 Gen1, 2x USB 2.0
  • SATA Ports: 4x SATA 6Gb/s
  • Networking: Gigabit LAN

Buy the MSI B550M Pro VDH on:

3. Intel Core i5 13400F & ASUS TUF Gaming B760-Plus WiFi D4

At the end of our budget choices is the Core i5 13400F from Intel. We’ve reviewed this CPU recently, and overall we were pretty impressed with the performance. The 13400F aligns itself with the 12600K from the previous generation, offering great metrics in 1080P and some 1440P games. The lower clock speed does let this CPU down to some extent, but the awesome price point makes this CPU worth picking up if you’re looking to build a budget PC with plenty of cores and threads.

On the motherboard front we’ve picked a more recent entrant from ASUS, the TUF Gaming B760-Plus WiFi D4. We’ve reviewed this motherboard in full on the website, and I’ve got to say I’m a big fan. Although the B760 chipset hasn’t drastically changed, the TUF Gaming offers a more refined design sporting the TUF logos across the board with various features that make this board a worthwhile purchase. Consumers have access to Gen5 x16 slot, ready for the next generation of graphics cards, alongside three PCI-E 4.0 M.2 slots, offering up plenty of space for storage devices!

Intel Core i5 13400F in Front of Box

Key Specs:

  • Core Count: 10
  • Thread Count: 16
  • Base Clock Speed: 3.3GHz
  • Boost Clock Speed: 4.6GHz
  • Socket Type: LGA 1700
  • Total Cache: 29.5MB
  • TDP: 148W

Buy the Intel Core i5 13400F on:

ASUS TUF Gaming B760 Plus WiFi D4

Key Specs:

  • Form Factor: ATX
  • Supported Memory: 128GB DDR4 5333MHz
  • PCI-E x16 Slots: 1x PCI-E 5.0, 1x PCI-E 3.0
  • PCI-E x4 Slots: 3x PCI-E 4.0
  • Rear IO: 1x USB 3.2 Gen2x2, 1x USB 3.2 Gen2, 3x USB 3.2 Gen1, 1x USB 2.0
  • Networking: 2.5 Gigabit LAN, WiFi 6

Buy the ASUS TUF Gaming B760-Plus WiFi D4 on:

4. AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D & MSI MPG B550 Gaming Plus

Moving onto the more mid-range options, we’ve picked out AMD‘s Ryzen 7 5800X3D from the previous AM4 platform. The reason we’ve picked out this CPU, versus one of AMD’s latest Ryzen 7000 CPUs is down to value. The 7600X and non-X variants aren’t great value for money right now, especially when you consider the price of the motherboards and DDR5 memory. The 5800X3D on the other hand, offers a much better value proposition when it comes to gaming. The 5800X3D was able to compete against the 12900K when it came to gaming, and considering the platform price is much cheaper now, this makes it a definitive purchase for many consumers.

But be aware, despite the core and thread count, the 5800X3D is primarily a gaming CPU, and not really ideal for workstation users. There are many better CPUs (that we’ll be covering below) which are more ideal for multi-faceted systems that have heavier workloads to deal with.

Moving onto the motherboard choice, we’ve picked out MSI‘s MPG B550 Gaming Plus, to pair up with the 5800X3D. B550 motherboards are extremely cheap right now, which means consumers can pick up some of the more high-end SKUs on this chipset, for an exceptional price point. X570 boards are slowly dropping in price, but they are harder to pick up, because they sell pretty quickly. MSI’s MPG B550 will be perfect for those that just want to build their PC, throw in a Gen4 drive, and play some games at high framerates.

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D

Key Specs:

  • Core Count: 8
  • Thread Count: 16
  • Base Clock Speed: 3.4GHz
  • Boost Clock Speed: 4.5GHz
  • Socket Type: AM4
  • Total Cache: 100MB
  • TDP: 105W

Buy the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D on:

MSI MPG B550 Gaming Plus

Key Specs:

  • Form Factor: ATX
  • Supported Memory: 128GB DDR4 4400MHz
  • PCI-E x16 Slots: 1x PCI-E 4.0, 1x PCI-E 3.0
  • PCI-E x4 Slots: 1x PCI-E 4.0, 1x PCI-E 3.0
  • Rear IO: 1x USB 3.2 Gen2, 2x USB 3.2 Gen1, 4x USB 2.0
  • SATA Ports: 6x SATA 6Gb/s
  • Networking: Gigabit LAN

Buy the MSI MPG B550 Gaming Plus on:

5. Intel Core i5 13600K & NZXT N7 Z690

For our final mid-range option, we’ve picked out the Core i5 13600K from Intel’s latest 13th-Gen range. This CPU currently holds the ‘value king’ title, due to its incredible performance metrics, with a more than reasonable price point. The Core i5 13600K offers similar metrics to the Core i9 13900K from the previous generation, but sits at a price comparable to a 12600K. Consumers with this CPU will have no issues with 4K games, and will find that this CPU is awesome in a workstation setting too. The 13600K is the go-to for many consumers right now, and we definitely recommend picking it up if it’s within your budget range.

As our chosen CPU is an unlocked ‘K’ variant, it makes perfect send to pick out a motherboard that can handle some overclocking. We didn’t choose a Z790 motherboard, because at their current price, they’re not ideal for a mid-range system. Z690 motherboards have dropped significantly with the launch of Intel 13th-Gen, and the N7 Z690 is currently one of the best priced Z690 boards on offer. Although the BIOS is a little bit funky, this board comes with an awesome minimalist NZXT aesthetic, with features such as integrated WiFi 6E, numerous high speed USB ports, and a PCI-E Gen5 GPU slot, ready for the next generation of graphics cards.

Intel Core i5 13600K in Front of Box

Key Specs:

  • Core Count: 14
  • Thread Count: 20
  • Base Clock Speed: 3.5GHz
  • Boost Clock Speed: 5.1GHz
  • Socket Type: LGA 1700
  • Total Cache: 44MB
  • TDP: 181W

Buy the Intel Core i5 13600K on:

NZXT N7 Z690 With Box

Key Specs:

  • Form Factor: ATX
  • Supported Memory: 128GB DDR4 5000MHz
  • PCI-E x16 Slots: 1x PCI-E 5.0, 1x PCI-E 3.0
  • PCI-E x4 Slots: 3x PCI-E 4.0
  • Rear IO: 1x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C, 1x USB 3.2 Gen2, 3x USB 3.2 Gen1, 2x USB 2.0
  • Networking: 2.5 Gigabit LAN, WiFi 6E

Buy the NZXT N7 Z690 on:

6. AMD Ryzen 9 7900X & Gigabyte X670E AORUS Master

At the high-end we’ve picked out AMD’s Ryzen 9 7900X. AMD most recently released their non-X variants, and unfortunately the value isn’t great. With the price of the 7900X sitting mostly on par with the standard 7900, it will be worth paying the $10-$20 extra to be able to overclock your CPU. Regardless, the performance of the 7900X is very strong, offering excellent metrics in 4K games, alongside great performance in workstation applications. Single and multithreaded are also very good, especially due to the higher clock speed. Overall, if you’re looking for a CPU that can handle intense workloads, or 4K games, the 7900X is a great pick

Motherboards wise, the new AM5 platform leaves consumers spoilt for choice, but the motherboards are rather expensive. We’ve picked out one of the cheaper options that sits within the high-end range, but isn’t overkill. Gigabyte’s X670E AORUS Master comes loaded with USB ports, most of which are high speed, with only two USB 2.0 ports in sight. For PCI-E, this board comes with a Gen5 x16 slot for your GPU, alongside two Gen5 M.2 SSD slots. The X670E AORUS Master is perfect if you’re looking for plenty of slots and ports, and also offers plenty of upgradeability as we see the market become saturated with newer components.

Ryzen 9 7900X in Box

Key Specs:

  • Core Count: 12
  • Thread Count: 24
  • Base Clock Speed: 4.7GHz
  • Boost Clock Speed: 5.6GHz
  • Socket Type: AM5
  • Total Cache: 76MB
  • TDP: 170W

Buy the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X on:

Gigabyte X670E AORUS Master Whole Motherboard

Key Specs:

  • Form Factor: E-ATX
  • Supported Memory: 128GB DDR5 6666MHz
  • PCI-E x16 Slots: 1x PCI-E 5.0, 1x PCI-E 4.0, 1x PCI-E 3.0
  • PCI-E x4 Slots: 2x PCI-E 5.0, 2x PCI-E 4.0
  • Rear IO: 1x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C, 4x USB 3.2 Gen2, 1x USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C, 4x USB 3.2 Gen1, 2x USB 2.0
  • Networking: 2.5 Gigabit LAN, WiFi 6E

Buy the Gigabyte X670E AORUS Master on:

7. Intel Core i9 13900K & ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Hero

For our final combo, we’ve picked out the Core i9 13900K and the ROG Maximus Z790 Hero from ASUS. The 13900K is currently the most powerful consumer-focused CPU that you can currently buy. There are very few tasks that will cause an issue for the 13900K. Multithreaded and single threaded benchmarks are excellent, and unexpectedly, 4K gaming does not pose an issue for this CPU either. Consumers will definitely need to pair a good cooler with this CPU, due to the higher TDP, but once your system is built, this CPU is an absolute powerhouse, that will not disappoint.

Motherboard wise, we’ve picked out the ROG Maximus Z790 Hero. This E-ATX DDR5 motherboard is perfect to house the 13900K due to its high VRM power phase count, alongside the plethora of features that are on offer. In terms of features, the Maximus Hero has more USB ports than anyone will ever need, making it ideal for those that have an excess amount of peripherals and accessories. This board also offers plenty of upgrade paths, with support for Gen5 graphics cards (when they release), and Gen5 SSDs. Needless to say, this motherboard has ‘all the features’, and is perfect for a high-end system!

Intel Core i9 13900K

Key Specs:

  • Core Count: 24
  • Thread Count: 32
  • Base Clock Speed: 3GHz
  • Boost Clock Speed: 5.8GHz
  • Socket Type: LGA 1700
  • Total Cache: 68MB
  • Base TDP: 125W
  • Max TDP: 253W

Buy the Intel Core i9 13900K on:

ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Hero

Key Specs:

  • Form Factor: E-ATX
  • Supported Memory: 128GB DDR5 7800MHz
  • PCI-E x16 Slots: 2x PCI-E 5.0, 1x PCI-E 4.0
  • PCI-E x4 Slots: 5x PCI-E 4.0, 1x PCI-E 5.0 (via ROG M.2 Card)
  • Rear IO: 2x Thunderbolt 4, 6x USB 3.2 Gen2, 4x USB 3.2 Gen1
  • Networking: 2.5 Gigabit LAN, WiFi 6E

Buy the ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Hero on:

editor
Jay joined Geeka Media in April of 2022, bringing with him a wealth of technical knowledge and a background in Computer Science. Jay is an avid gamer, keyboard-builder and tech wizz with years of PC-building passion under his belt.