For AMD’s disruptive Ryzen processors, selecting the correct motherboard is both easier and more crucial than ever.

First, the good news: AMD’s doing away with the frightful hodgepodge of motherboard platforms to unite around the AM4 socket with Ryzen CPUs, Radeon-bolstered APUs, and all other chips released in the foreseeable future—including the 2nd-gen Ryzen processors. Huzzah! But there are a wide variety of chipsets available for AM4 motherboards, and each unlocks different capabilities in your PC, from USB support to overclocking to how many graphics cards you can install.

Should you buy an X470, X370, B350, or A320 motherboard? Where do the small form factor X300 and A300 options fit in? Let’s examine what each AM4 chipset offers so you can make the right decision when you buy a motherboard for your Ryzen processor.

[ Alternatively: Intel 8th-gen 300-series motherboards explained ]

Editor’s note: This article originally published on March 1, 2017, but has been updated repeatedly with new information, most recently to include the release of X470 motherboards and 2nd-gen Ryzen processors. 

Ryzen: More than just a processor

am4 procs AMD

As you can see in the graphic above, Ryzen—and AMD’s Bristol Ridge APUs—actually resemble a system-on-a-chip design more than a traditional CPU. AMD’s processors integrate support for many interfaces on-chip, including SATA, USB, NVMe, and PCIe.

The different AM4 motherboard chipsets build additional capabilities on top of that. Here’s a breakdown describing the various features and technology available in X470, X370, B350, and B320 motherboards. (We’ll talk about the X300 and A300 chipsets for small form factor motherboards later in this article.)

ryzen motherboard Rob Schultz/IDG

X470 vs X370 vs B350 vs A320 features

One thing to note: All of the standard motherboard options include support for two SATA Express ports and, well, SATA Express never really got off the ground. But those lanes can easily be repurposed by motherboard makers for other uses, such as traditional SATA III ports or M.2 slots for NVMe SSDs, so its inclusion isn’t worthless by any means.

Here’s the plain-English breakdown of what each motherboard offers beyond what’s available in the Ryzen chip itself, starting with the entry level boards and working up from there.

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