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Best CPU and Motherboard Combos to Buy

Best CPU and Motherboard Combos Feature Image

Deciding on a CPU and motherboard for your PC build can be made easier by picking out both of these components at the same time. Your choice of CPU can be easily determined by which motherboard you’ve picked out, and vice versa. But in a market filled with competitive options from a plethora of manufacturers, which are the best CPU and motherboard combos to buy?

In this buyers guide we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the best CPU and motherboard combos covering a massive range of options that cater to a plethora of different buyers.

Best Budget CPU and Motherboard Combos

1. Intel Core i5-12400F & Gigabyte B760 DS3H AX

Key SpecsIntel Core i5-12400F
Core Count6
Thread Count12
Base Clock Speed2.5GHz
Boost Clock Speed4.4GHz
Max Cache25MB
Default TDP65W
CPU SocketLGA 1700
OverclockableNo
Key SpecsGigabyte B760 DS3H AX
Form FactorATX
Supported Memory192GB DDR5 7600MT/s
PCI-E x16 Slots1 x PCI-E 4.0
PCI-E x4 Slots2 x PCI-E 4.0
Rear IO1 x USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C
1 x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A
4 x USB 2.0
NetworkingGigabit LAN
WiFi 6E

Intel’s Core i5-12400F is one of the best budget CPUs on the market despite launching back in 2022. The Core i5-12400F is a 6 core 12 thread option geared towards 1080p gaming. Across our testing we’ve found that the Core i5-12400F offers reasonable performance across synthetic workloads, but thrives primarily within Esports games and some modern titles

For our motherboard, we’ve picked out Gigabyte’s B760 DS3H AX, which is another quality budget board from the 13th-Gen range. The B760 DS3H AX sports a relatively barebones aesthetic, but makes up for this with its solid set of features, which includes: integrated WiFi 6E, PCI-E 4.0 graphics card support, along with a rear USB 3.2 Gen2x2 port, rated up to 20Gbps. And this can all be secured for well under $200, making this board an awesome option for price conscious buyers.

It is worth noting that this combo is purely geared for 1080p gaming. While you will be able to push the Core i5-12400F with some tougher workloads such as video editing, the lower core count will restrict how far you can push this. We would recommend taking a look at a somewhat stronger CPU and motherboard combo if you plan on pushing your system with some tougher workloads.

Pros

Cons

Buy the Intel Core i5-12400F on:

$141.61 at Amazon
Last updated: 2024-02-26 18:35:05 ET

Buy the Gigabyte B760 DS3H AX on:

2. AMD Ryzen 5 7600X & Gigabyte B650 Gaming X AX

Key SpecsAMD Ryzen 5 7600X
Core Count6
Thread Count12
Base Clock Speed4.7GHz
Boost Clock Speed5.3GHz
Max Cache38MB
Default TDP105W
CPU SocketAM5
OverclockableYes
Key SpecsGigabyte B650 Gaming X AX
Form FactorATX
Supported Memory192GB DDR5 8000MT/s
PCI-E x16 Slots1 x PCI-E 4.0
PCI-E x4 Slots1 x PCI-E 5.0
1 x PCI-E 4.0
Rear IO1 x USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C
1 x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A
3 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A
3 x USB 2.0
Networking2.5 Gigabit LAN
WiFi 6E

As an AMD alternative CPU and motherboard combo, we believe the Ryzen 5 7600X, and Gigabyte B650 Gaming X AX motherboard to be the best budget AMD options. The Ryzen 5 7600X is one of the strongest gaming-oriented CPUs on the market, sporting 6 cores and 12 threads.

The main strength of the Ryzen 5 7600X versus market alternatives is the high boost clock speed. Because the Ryzen 5 7600X is a lower core count CPU, it can reach its boost clock speed consistently which is ideal for top-end gaming.

This means gaming performance is extremely strong, with the Ryzen 5 7600X capable of 4K gaming when paired up with the right graphics card. Gigabyte’s B650 Gaming X AX motherboard is an awesome budget board, geared towards the price conscious buyer.

This motherboard offers a solid set of features to choose from, such as 8000MT/s RAM overclocking capability, a Gen5 SSD slot ready for the latest generation of high speed drives, along with five high speed USB ports to choose from, which includes a 20Gbps USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C option. Networking is excellent too, with onboard WiFi 6E, and 2.5 Gigabit LAN, which are both ideal for high intensity gaming.

The only major downside of this CPU and motherboard combination is its overclocking capability. While the Ryzen 5 7600X is an officially supported CPU for overclocking, the B650 Gaming X AX doesn’t have that many VRM power phases to be able to handle a high overclock. This means those looking to push their system harder with some overclocking may need to look at alternative motherboards with better power design.

Pros

Cons

Buy the AMD Ryzen 5 7600X on:

$213.99 at Amazon
Last updated: 2024-02-27 00:38:17 ET

Buy the Gigabyte B650 Gaming X AX on:

$209.99 at Amazon
Last updated: 2024-02-26 18:35:05 ET

Best Mid-Range CPU and Motherboard Combos

3. AMD Ryzen 5 7600X & ASUS ROG STRIX B650E-F Gaming WiFi

Key SpecsAMD Ryzen 5 7600X
Core Count6
Thread Count12
Base Clock Speed4.7GHz
Boost Clock Speed5.3GHz
Max Cache38MB
Default TDP105W
CPU SocketAM5
OverclockableYes
Key SpecsASUS ROG STRIX B650E-F Gaming WiFi
Form FactorATX
Supported Memory128GB DDR5 6400MT/s
PCI-E x16 Slots1 x PCI-E 5.0
1 x PCI-E 4.0
PCI-E x4 Slots1 x PCI-E 5.0
2 x PCI-E 4.0
Rear IO1 x USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C
2 x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A
1 x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C
4 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A
4 x USB 2.0
Networking2.5 Gigabit LAN
WiFi 6E

The reason why the Ryzen 5 7600X has popped up again, comes down to its gaming performance. As we’ve alluded to above, the lower core count and excellent clock speeds of the Ryzen 5 7600X makes this CPU a great competitor for top-end gaming, whether you’re playing at 1080p, or 4K. So it makes perfect sense to pair this up with a more capable motherboard, while saving some money on the cost of the CPU due to the Ryzen 5 7600X being a competitively priced option.

The ROG STRIX B650E-F offers a strong VRM power phase design, with 12+2+1 power phases more equipped to handle a stronger overclock with the Ryzen 5 7600X. On the expansion front, this motherboard provides a Gen5 graphics card and SSD slot, with two further Gen4 slots for those looking to kit out their storage.

Rear IO is also very strong with 12 ports in total to choose from, which are primarily made up of high speed options. What’s more, the futuristic heatsink design and RGB lighting provide additional flair for your PC build, contributing to the look of your system.

The only downside of this combo is the RAM overclocking capability on the ROG STRIX B650E-F. This board only offers up to 64000MT/s speeds, which means you’re losing out on some performance gains if you plan on pushing your RAM a bit further.

Pros

Cons

Buy the AMD Ryzen 5 7600X on:

$213.99 at Amazon
Last updated: 2024-02-27 00:38:17 ET

Buy the ASUS ROG STRIX B650E-F Gaming WiFi on:

4. Intel Core i5-14600K & MSI MAG Z790 TOMAHAWK WiFi

Key SpecsIntel Core i5-14600K
Core Count14
Thread Count20
Base Clock Speed3.5GHz
Boost Clock Speed5.3GHz
Max Cache44MB
Default TDP125W
CPU SocketLGA 1700
OverclockableYes
Key SpecsMSI MAG Z790 TOMAHAWK MAX WiFi
Form FactorATX
Supported Memory192GB DDR5 7800MT/s
PCI-E x16 Slots1 x PCI-E 5.0
1 x PCI-E 4.0
PCI-E x4 Slots1 x PCI-E 5.0
3 x PCI-E 4.0
Rear IO1 x USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C
4 x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A
1 x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C
4 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A
Networking2.5 Gigabit LAN
WiFi 7

Our next combo utilises the Intel Core i5-14600K, and MSI’s MAG Z790 TOMAHAWK MAX WiFi motherboard. The Core i5-14600K offers some slight performance bonuses over the previous Core i5-13600K, while retaining a very similar price point around the $300 mark. This processor is an excellent option for top-end gaming, geared towards those playing at 1440p or 4K, while offering 14 cores and 20 threads, which will assist with tougher multi-core workloads.

The star of this combo is the MAG Z790 TOMAHAWK MAX, which arrived as part of the 14th-Gen launch back in 2023. This motherboard offers an extremely strong set of features, while also coming in at a fairly competitive price point. The MAG Z790 TOMAHAWK MAX sports a 16+1+1 VRM power phase delivery, which is perfect for a strong overclock on the Core i5-14600K.

For expansion options, the MAG Z790 TOMAHAWK MAX sports 2 Gen5 slots, with an additional 2 Gen4 slots for those bulking up SSD storage. Rear IO is exceedingly strong, with 10 ports in total to leverage, all of which are high speed options which is great to see. This board offers 2.5 Gigabit LAN, along with onboard WiFi 7, supporting those with the latest routers which increase stability for wireless gaming.

The biggest caveat to this particular combo is power draw. Intel’s 14th-Gen CPUs are well known for drawing significant amounts of power when boosting, and this will only be pushed further with overclocking. If you’re looking to minimise your power draw, an older Intel alternative like the Core i5-13600K is a solid option that will reduce your overall TDP.

Pros

Cons

Buy the Intel Core i5-14600K on:

$299.99 at Amazon
Last updated: 2024-02-27 00:38:17 ET

Buy the MSI MAG Z790 TOMAHAWK MAX WiFi on:

$259.99 at Amazon
Last updated: 2024-02-27 00:38:17 ET

Best High-End CPU and Motherboard Combos

5. AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D & MSI MAG X670E TOMAHAWK WiFi

Key SpecsAMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D
Core Count8
Thread Count16
Base Clock Speed4.2GHz
Boost Clock Speed5GHz
Max Cache104MB
Default TDP120W
CPU SocketAM5
OverclockableNo
Key SpecsMSI MAG X670E TOMAHAWK WiFi
Form FactorATX
Supported Memory192GB DDR5 7800MT/s
PCI-E x16 Slots1 x PCI-E 5.0
1 x PCI-E 4.0
PCI-E x4 Slots1 x PCI-E 5.0
3 x PCI-E 4.0
Rear IO1 x USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C
2 x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A
1 x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C
4 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A
Networking2.5 Gigabit LAN
WiFi 6E

This CPU and motherboard combo steps performance up a notch as we move into the high-end bracket. AMD’s Ryzen 7 7800X3D is one of the most popular and one of the strongest processors within the current market, all thanks to the 3D V-Cache. This hardware acts as blazing-fast storage for your CPU to read, write, and execute instructions. And because games tend to have a myriad of different instructions to iterate through, the Ryzen 7 7800X3D thrives in top-end titles.

The motherboard that we’ve picked out is effectively an AMD alternative to the above TOMAHAWK MAX, but with some minor feature differences. The VRM power phase design offers a 14+2+1 system. Ultimately this would be a problem if you were using an overclockable Ryzen CPU, but because the Ryzen 7 7800X3D doesn’t officially support overclocking, this won’t be an issue for most buyers.

The MAG X670E TOMAHAWK offers a Gen5 SSD and graphics card slot, along with 3 more Gen4 slots to choose from, catering to all your storage needs. Rear IO is also great, with 8 high speed ports at your disposal allowing you to plug in a vast range of peripherals. This board does also feature a full audio suite which includes optical out, this is ideal for those with a dedicated speaker setup.

The biggest weakness of this particular combination is the multi-core capability of the Ryzen 7 7800X3D. While gaming performance is definitely a strength for this CPU, the 3D V-Cache doesn’t have many applications beyond this. So the 8 core and 16 threads configuration won’t be as powerful versus another CPU that has more cores and threads to offer.

Pros

Cons

Buy the AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D on:

$364.56 at Amazon
Last updated: 2024-02-26 18:35:05 ET

Buy the MSI MAG X670E TOMAHAWK WiFi on:

$350.54 at Amazon
Last updated: 2024-02-26 18:35:05 ET

6.Intel Core i7-14700K & MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi

Key SpecsIntel Core i7-14700K
Core Count20
Thread Count28
Base Clock Speed3.4GHz
Boost Clock Speed5.6GHz
Max Cache61MB
Default TDP125W
CPU SocketLGA 1700
OverclockableYes
Key SpecsMSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi
Form FactorATX
Supported Memory192GB DDR5 7600MT/s
PCI-E x16 Slots1 x PCI-E 5.0
1 x PCI-E 4.0
PCI-E x4 Slots1 x PCI-E 5.0
4 x PCI-E 4.0
Rear IO1 x USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C
6 x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A
1 x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C
4 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A
Networking2.5 Gigabit LAN
WiFi 6E

Intel’s Core i7-14700K is the only flagship Intel 14th-Gen option to have received significant upgrades compared to its Core i5, and Core i9 counterparts. This CPU is an impressive multicore titan that offers 20 cores and 28 threads, at a rated boost clock speed of 5.6GHz. The Core i7-14700K is not only perfect for gaming, but it has the hardware to cope with much tougher multi-core tasks that demand a higher thread count.

This processor is also overclockable, allowing you to push the boosting capability further which will offer some additional performance bonuses. The MSI MPG Z790 Carbon will be able to handle a solid overclock thanks to its 19+1+1 VRM power phase design. This board is equipped with a vast set of connectivity and expansion options, including widespread PCI-E 5.0 support for GPUs and SSDs.

Buyers also have 4 extra Gen4 SSD slots that they can use, which is an ample amount of storage support. On the rear IO, there are a whopping 12 ports here, which are mostly made up of USB 3.2 Gen2 options, rated at 10Gbps. Networking is relatively standard, with onboard WiFi 6E and 2.5 Gigabit LAN, but this will be more than enough for most buyers.

The main caveat to this particular CPU and motherboard combination is thermals. Across our testing we’ve found that the Core i7-14700K runs very hot when boosting, and if you plan on overclocking with this board, thermals will only increase. We would advise picking up a 360mm liquid cooler to ensure thermals are kept at bay during intense workloads.

Pros

Cons

Buy the Intel Core i7-14700K on:

$399.99 at Amazon
Last updated: 2024-02-27 00:38:17 ET

Buy the MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi on:

$455.82 at Amazon
Last updated: 2024-02-27 00:38:17 ET

7. Intel Core i9 14900K & Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Pro X

Key SpecsIntel Core i9-14900K
Core Count24
Thread Count32
Base Clock Speed3.2GHz
Boost Clock Speed6GHz
Max Cache68MB
Default TDP125W
CPU SocketLGA 1700
OverclockableYes
Key SpecsGigabyte Z790 AORUS Pro X
Form FactorATX
Supported Memory192GB DDR5 8266MT/s
PCI-E x16 Slots1 x PCI-E 5.0
1 x PCI-E 4.0
PCI-E x4 Slots1 x PCI-E 5.0
4 x PCI-E 4.0
Rear IO1 x USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C
2 x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A
1 x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C
4 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A
2 x USB 2.0
Networking5 Gigabit LAN
WiFi 7

Intel’s Core i9-14900K is the ‘crème de la crème’ of performance offering an insane amount of cores and threads for buyers to leverage, boosting to a 6GHz clock speed, making it ideal for a multifaceted system. This 14th-Gen option is Intel’s strongest CPU yet, and is a solid contender for those looking to build an enthusiast-level system that beats out all of the competition.

Gigabyte’s Z790 AORUS Pro X is the motherboard that we’re pairing up with the Core i9-14900K, due to its strong set of features and design. The Z790 AORUS Pro X is one of the most capable motherboards on the market, offering 8266MT/s on the RAM overclocking front, along with an 18+1+2 VRM power phase design, providing stable and consistent power for your CPU.

Taking a look at expansion, this board offers a myriad of ports and slots to choose from of the Gen5 and Gen4 varieties. You’ve got access to two Gen5 slots for both your graphics card and SSD, with the rest of the available expansion offering Gen4 bandwidth. Rear IO is also very strong, with 10 ports in total, which are primarily made up of high speed USB 3.2 options. The Z790 AORUS Pro X also offers 5 Gigabit LAN and WiFi 7 for those that need blazing-fast networking.

Much like its Core i7 counterpart, the biggest caveat to consider with this CPU and motherboard combo is the thermals and power draw of the Core i9-14900K. Across our testing, we’ve found that the Core i9-14900K draws an insane amount of power, resulting in exceedingly high thermals even when using a few cores. We highly recommend picking up an 80 Plus Gold rated power supply or better, along with a 360mm liquid cooler to ensure power and thermals aren’t out of control.

Pros

Cons

Buy the Intel Core i9-14900K on:

$544.99 at Amazon
Last updated: 2024-02-27 00:38:17 ET

Buy the Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Pro X on:

$329.99 at Amazon
Last updated: 2024-02-27 00:38:17 ET

How We Test CPUs and Motherboards

To inform all of our product recommendations, that components we pick out go through rigorous testing and assessment. To do this, we evaluate all parts across synthetic and gaming workloads to ensure they offer solid performance within and given application, and provide a strong value-proposition. To read a full breakdown of our testing methodologies, we’ve written a range of ‘Behind the Scenes’ articles, which highlight how we assess and test components.

Frequently Asked Questions

RR Question Mark

Does My Motherboard Affect Performance?

While your motherboard does affect the overclocking capability, your choice of board won’t affect your overall system performance.

RR Question Mark

Do I Need More CPU Cores for Gaming?

Generally, most games will only ever use 2-4 cores for gaming, so more cores won’t improve your overall gaming performance.

RR Question Mark

Should I Use DDR4 or DDR5 RAM?

All of the motherboards that we’ve provided in this roundup are DDR5 only, but Intel users can pick up a DDR4 variant of most motherboards.

editor
Jay Harris is an expert in everything PC hardware! With a degree in Cybersecurity, and a PC hardware background Jay has all of the technical knowledge required to make informed recommendations. Jay is an avid keyboard builder and gamer, with a major passion for tech. In fact, Jay's personal rig boasts a white RX 7900 XTX graphics card, inside of the Lian O11D Mini - a true enthusiast's dream!