At the heart of every great custom-built PC lies a well-balanced CPU and motherboard combo. These are the cornerstones hardware components of your custom build that dictate pretty much everything you can and can’t achieve from your PC.
Choosing the right CPU and motherboard combo is one of the most important steps you take when building a new PC – and not just for performance reasons either. If you choose unwisely, you could end up with a base that doesn’t cater to your performance needs and expansion requirements.
That being said, the following article will be a closer look at some of the best CPU and motherboard combos available in today’s market. We’ll be focusing on specific budgets and usage scenarios, covering what I believe are the most popular right now.
So, let’s waste no further time and dive straight into it!
To better understand the important role both the CPU and motherboard play, we must first learn what they do as individual components.
It is this component – the CPU, that is for all intents and purposes, the beating heart of your PC. It’s the theoretical brain of your computer, the hardware component that processes everything that happens on your PC.
The CPU takes instructions from active programs and applications, then executes them so they can function correctly. Whilst the CPU isn’t the only important hardware component you can purchase, it’s certainly one of the top three to consider before you build your next PC.
The motherboard is the glue that holds all your hardware components together. As you can imagine, the motherboard is a fairly complex piece of hardware. It’s the single platform that allows all the other components to communicate with each other.
Yet despite many people classing the motherboard as a secondary piece of hardware, it actually has one of the biggest impacts on the overall performance of your PC. The motherboard dictates everything from; expansion, CPU support, RAM support, USB inputs, RGB Support, and fan support – to name but a few. Choosing the wrong motherboard could effectively be one of the most costly mistakes you make.
So, here at WePC, we understand the importance of choosing the right CPU and motherboard combo. Whether you’re building a top-level gaming PC or a workstation for highly taxing workflows, we never overlook the importance of a good CPU and motherboard combo.
Thus, below we’ve picked four different CPU and motherboard combos that cater to specific budget/usage requirements.
Right, first up, the classic combo, the 2600/B450. A nicely balanced mix of adequate performance and affordability, this little combo gets our best budget CPU and motherboard top spot.
Ever since AMD released their Ryzen 3000 series of CPUs, the world has gone crazy for team red when it comes to CPU purchasing. Whilst they still fall marginally short of their bitter rivals Intel, they have closed the gap exponentially over the last couple of years. Whilst this is the case for gaming, the same can not be said when it comes to straight-up multi-tasking and workstation type scenarios. Team AMD has been ruling the roost in this department for some time now, and there’s absolutely no difference in the budget department.
And with the new CPUs being available for over 12 months now, we’ve naturally seen a huge drop in the pricing of last gens 2600. That being said, it still holds a lot of relevance in today’s market. The 2600 offers up 6 cores and 12 threads, clocked at a respectable 3.4GHz right out the box. It can be boosted to 3.9GHz with precision boost, giving users more than enough speed for general gaming, medium levels of multitasking, and all general browsing requirements.
Motherboard-wise we have the hugely popular MSI B450 Gaming Plus, a simple yet effective motherboard that does pretty much exactly what you want. This motherboard is the perfect pairing for the 2nd gen Ryzen CPU. It isn’t overpowering in any way and allows users to push the CPU to its limits with a light overclock. With decent expansion support and good reliability, this budget option makes the perfect partner for the Ryzen 2600.
Ever-present once again, it’s AMD, this time in our mid-range pick. Yet again an AMD CPU/ motherboard combo. This time, it’s the successor to the Ryzen 2600, the Ryzen 5 3600. The newer iteration of the budget CPU is a bolstered copy of the original. It comes built around the new 7nm manufacturing process and equipped with Zen 2 architecture. The base clock speed has been ramped up to 3.6GHz and the max tops out at 4.2GHz respectively. It’s one of the best CPUs in its price range for gaming, undercutting its Intel alternative in the pricing department.
Right alongside this is the hugely popular B450 Gaming Pro Carbon Max Wi-Fi motherboard. This is a great pairing for the 3600 as it offers the bolstered VRM design that the Gaming Plus doesn’t. Alongside similar expansion and hardware support as the B450 Gaming Plus, the Gaming Pro Carbon also offers up built-in Wi-Fi. This is a great addition for those that need the added benefit of wireless connectivity.
As far as gaming is concerned, we had to go with Intel’s latest lineup of CPUs. We opted for the Intel i5 10600K, a CPU that is widely considered the best pound-for-pound gaming CPU on the market right now. Whilst it isn’t nearly as powerful as the 10900K out the box, with a fairly simple overclock, the 10600K can match the performance of its big brother.
Out of the box, the Intel I5 10600K brings six cores and twelve threads to the table. It offers a base clock speed of 4.1GHz with a max turbo frequency of 4.8GHz – more than enough for almost any gaming type scenario. The single-core performance of this chip is undoubtedly the standout feature it offers, providing super gaming performance across the board.
Alongside this stellar CPU sits the ASUS ROG Maximus XI (Z390), a motherboard that is draped in high-end features and top-level reliability. It is the perfect pairing for this highly efficient CPU as it offers a ton of support to get the most out of your base components. The VRM design gives users the confidence to manually crank up the clock speed of this chip with little to no fuss whilst doing so. Last but not least, the Maximus XI looks absolutely fantastic. If you want a CPU and motherboard combo that not only performs great but looks stunning too, Intel has you covered.
Lastly, we have the best workstation CPU and motherboard combo. It comes in the form of AMD’s Ryzen 9 3900X alongside the ASUS TUF X570 Wi-Fi – a partnership that simply screams premium.
The CPU is by far the best price to performance desktop CPU for workstation type tasks. Whilst we could have opted for the more powerful – and much more expensive – 3990X, we felt the 3900X was a better reflection of overall value for money.
The CPU comes equipped with 12 cores and 24 threads, blowing any Intel alternative out of the water. It offers a base clock speed of 3.8GHz which can be boosted to 4.6GHz when running particularly demanding workflows. With the ability to overclock this further, it’s no surprise that it sits extremely high on many review benchmarking charts – including our own. This CPU is hugely impressive when it comes to multi-tasking and scores highly on a number of highly taxing benchmarking suites. Overall, if you’re looking for the best bang for your buck when it comes to workstation CPUs, look no further.
Paired with this CPU is the highly efficient ASUS TUF Gaming X570 Wi-FI. Again, we could have opted for something more premium – like the X570 Godlike – but for the price, you really can’t go wrong with the ASUS TUF X570. It ticks all the right boxes. This motherboard is going to offer all the reliability you’ll ever need, giving users the ability to push it in ways other motherboards can’t. It has an extremely good VRM design, excellent onboard cooling, and supports a whole host of add-on/expansion cards to create a truly high-end PC build.
So, there you have it, our comprehensive rundown of the best CPU and motherboard combos in today’s market. We’ve tried to cater for all types of users and budgetary requirements in this guide, however, we stuck to the most popular to keep it at a readable length. Hopefully, this article will make finding your next CPU and motherboard combo that little bit easier, shedding some light on the pros of what we consider the best in their respective fields.
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