Selecting the best Intel 300-series motherboard to fit your needs was straightforward when the initial wave of 8th-gen Core desktop processors launched in October 2017, because only the enthusiast-class Z370 chipset released alongside the new chips. That was enough to help the flagship Core i7-8700K CPU counter AMD’s Ryzen threat at the high end, but left PC users looking for more affordable options in a pickle. Buying a $100 Core i3 chip doesn’t make much sense when you’re forced to slap it in a $130, high-end motherboard, especially with AMD offering a full arsenal of Ryzen motherboards at all price points.

The disparity ended in April, 2018, when Intel revealed the full lineup of 300-series chipsets for its 8th-gen CPUs. The lower-cost chipsets don’t offer all the bells and whistles of Z370 motherboards, but they have a few fancy features up their sleeves that the swankier boards lack.

Should you buy a H370, B360, or H310 motherboard for those extras? Does it make sense to splurge on a Z370 chipset anyway? Let’s examine what each Intel 300-series motherboard chipset offers so you can make the right decision when you buy an Intel 8th-generation processor.

Z370 vs. H370 vs. B360 vs. H310

You need a new Intel 300-series motherboard if you buy an 8th-gen “Coffee Lake” processor. Older motherboards don’t work with 8th-gen chips, and that includes the recent 100- and 200-series options for Skylake and Kaby Lake chips. While Coffee Lake chips are largely based around the same architecture as those predecessors, 8th-gen chips pack in more cores, which means they have different power requirements.

Here’s a look at raw specifications for each of the Intel 300-series motherboard chipsets available to consumers. (We’re not including the Q370, a chipset that matches Z370 but with additional business features added.) 

intel motherboard chart Rob Schultz/IDG

Z370 motherboards are the gold standard, built for enthusiast PCs. These are the only Intel motherboards that support CPU and memory overclocking (if you have an unlocked K-series chip), or handle gaming rigs with multiple graphics cards. They’re loaded with the most PCI-E lanes, potential USB ports (with one notable caveat—more on that after), and RAID storage options. As the flagship chipset, Z370 also offers the most high-speed I/O lanes. More HSIO lanes let board makers divvy out more features, like NVMe SSD connections and SuperSpeed USB ports, as they see fit.

Here are some of the options in Newegg’s Z370 selection. The higher you go up in price, the more extra features you receive.

evga h370EVGA

H370 motherboards are only a notch below Z370, and perfect for people who don’t like to tinker. These boards don’t support overclocking, multiple graphics card setups, or some of the more exotic Intel Rapid Storage Technology features. Other than those niche enthusiast features, and some differences in USB 3.1 support, H370 largely mirrors Z370.





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