Alongside news regarding Intel Comet Lake processors, Intel is also launching its latest 400-Series chipset.
As mentioned earlier, with a new socket type from LGA115x to LGA1200, so too comes a new chipset to manage the increased power requirements of Comet Lake. While you can use your same cooler (if it's up to scratch), you'll need a new motherboard to use Comet Lake processors. Fortunately, with the news of the new chipsets also come dozens of new motherboards.
The big one to notice here is the Z490 chipset leading the pack with other models including the B460 and H410. The Z490 is the most interesting of the bunch offering plenty of high-end features.
Built on a 14nm production process, the Z490 connects to the LGA1200 processor across a conventional DMI 3.0 chipset bus. It then offers an impressive 24 PCI-Express 3.0 downstream lanes alongside 16 PEG lanes from the processor. There's room here for up to three M.2 NVMe slots along with numerous high-bandwidth devices like additional USB 3.2 host controllers, and Thunderbolt 3 controllers.
The chipset integrates a 6-port SATA 6 Gbps AHCI/RAID controller, a 4-port USB 3.2 gen 2 controller with Gen 2 x2 (20Gbps) capability, and up to 12 USB 3.2 gen 1 (5 Gbps) ports. It also has a HD Audio bus with Intel Smart Sound capability which means you can issue voice commands to your PC even in standby mode. It also offers Intel Wi-Fi 6 as a solid bit of planning ahead.
While the chipset lacks PCIe 4.0 support (which sounds like it'll be coming for Intel via Rocket Lake further down the road), the 400-series chipset is clearly no slouch for other features. Also, some of the motherboards already announced have stated they will support PCIe 4.0 in some way for future Intel generations so that could be useful for those looking to future proof. It's expected that this will be a little limited but it's an option. Albeit one that's not fully realised or understood just yet.
Less information has been revealed about the other chipset options - the B460, Z390, Z370 - but expect them to offer a lot of similarities to the Z490, albeit with a few key omissions such as the Z390 only having Wi-Fi 5 and the Z370 having no integrated Wi-Fi MAC at all. The B460 is expected to not support overclocking. It's all a balancing act of features with the Z490 being the best of the bunch.
As expected, all major motherboard manufacturers are taking advantage of the new chipset and CPU with the likes of ASRock, Asus, Biostar, EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI and more embracing the 400-series chipset. Time and extensive tests will tell who wins the race here to be the best combo for your situation.
April 16 2021 | 18:20