How To Find The Right Ryzen Motherboard
Despite all Zen 3 or earlier CPUs being supported by the AM4 socket, non-Threadripper Ryzen CPUs can come in a variety of chipsets which can make choosing the right motherboard to slot them in a little more complicated than weighing price to performance. AMD, which produces the Ryzen series of CPUs, has been supporting the AM4 socket since late 2016. This has been enormously beneficial for AMD from a marketing standpoint. Users who are new to building PCs are often told that AMD offers very flexible backward and forward compatibility between different generations of CPUs thanks to its AM4 socket being supported all the way from Zen through Zen 3.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
Such benefits aren't often seen by the PC community. With Intel, for example, the idea that one socket type would be supported between multiple generations saw meme-levels of ridicule at times. Although, that criticism isn't to be seen with the LGA 1700 socket, which currently houses the 12th generation Intel CPUs and the upcoming 13th generation CPUs, codenamed Raptor Lake. All the same, the fact that AMD CPUs are and have been supported beyond just a single generation is a luxury that makes PC building with AMD over Intel the choice for some.
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For AMD users who have a Zen 3 CPU (Ryzen 5000 series), slotting it into a 500 series chipset motherboard, such as the B550, is the default option. With that same CPU, one could also update a 400 series motherboard's BIOS, such as the B450, to allow backward compatibility between the newer CPU and older board. However, sticking a Zen 3 CPU to a 300 series chipset motherboard, which was made primarily for the first Zen CPUs (Ryzen 1000 series) is going to require more care to ensure the motherboard's manufacturer has enabled such compatibility. This mostly entails doing a little research ahead of time, and won't really be a scenario most users will find themselves in if they aren't going out of their way to test strange setups. For the majority of users, there's a simple way to tell which AM4 motherboard is right for the CPU of their choice.
As Easy As Zen 1, 2, 3
When excluding the Ryzen 7000 series CPUs, which use the AM5 socket, the easiest way to know which motherboard is right for an AMD CPU is checking to see what architecture said CPU is built upon and matching it with a corresponding chipset. If the CPU is a Ryzen 1000 series, its home is with Zen architecture. The Zen architecture was built to run on a 300 series chipset, so opt for a motherboard with a similar configuration, such as the A320. Likewise, Zen 2 architecture is what the Ryzen 3000 series CPUs run on, which corresponds to the 400 series chipset. So, following that logic, a Zen 2 user can simply look for a 400 series motherboard such as the B450. Finally, users sporting the latest, and soon to be replaced, Ryzen 5000 series CPUs will need a 500 series chipset to match, such as the X570.
As previously mentioned, these CPUs can function with backward and forward compatibility, but extra research is needed to ensure the specific motherboard and CPU have what they need to accomplish. Just because a B550 motherboard from one manufacturer can play host to a Ryzen 1000 series CPU, does not mean another can, and the same is true for newer CPUs on older motherboards.
With all the marketing labels and numbers floating around, it can be hard to keep track of every product out there. Luckily, starting with the CPU and working one's way from there can provide PC builders with an easy trail to get to a motherboard that best suits their needs. After that, what's left is a decision on price-to-performance ratios and functionality for a Ryzen PC, which are decisions that are going to change on a user-to-user basis.