Using Intel 10th Gen CPUs on 500-Series Motherboards
9 June 2021
Intel’s 500-Series chipsets aren’t just for 11th generation buyers, 10th generation owners and buyers can take advantage of loads of new features
When you’re considering your next system upgrade, you’d obviously think of the benefits offered by a new CPU or graphics card. Those upgrades add more performance, but many users also want more or updated features. These are often specific to the platform and motherboard. Things like faster connectivity, more USB ports or the ability to add more M.2 drives are typical examples.
Buyers of Intel’s 11th generation CPUs would logically pair them with a 500 series chipset equipped motherboard, but don’t forget that owners of still very capable 10th Generation CPUs can upgrade to a 500 series motherboard and enjoy all the benefits the platform has to offer + buyers of 10th Generation CPUs can pair it with 500-series motherboards.
Introducing Intel’s 500-Series chipsets
Intel’s 500 series motherboards with the LGA1200 socket, including Z590, B560 and H570 boards, all support 10th generation CPUs. There’s no need to worry about compatibility as all 500 series boards support 10th generation CPUs out of the box. Upgrading to a 500 series chipset motherboard means you’ll be able to take advantage of a whole swathe of updated features that will enhance your PC.
Of course, not all boards support all the new features, but in general, many features that were restricted to high end 400 series boards have trickled down the range. Some affordable B560 boards boast connectivity features that would have been right at home on a flagship board from a couple of years ago. Let’s have a look at some of the key 500 series upgrades.
Faster and more capable networking
Wi-Fi 6 and the updated Wi-Fi 6E standards are very desirable features to have in a 2021 PC. Wi-Fi 6 is now common with many affordable 500 series motherboards featuring it. Wi-Fi 6 and 6E isn’t just faster; they support more concurrent devices than the older Wi-Fi 5 standard (formally known as 802.11ac). This is especially important in a multi-user, multi-device household. In many busy households, moving to Wi-Fi 6 can make the difference between a stuttering or lagging connection and a silky-smooth one even when streaming 4K content. Of course, a Wi-Fi 6 / 6E router or wireless access point will be required to take full advantage of this feature.
Gigabit Ethernet is rapidly being relegated to barebones motherboards only. Gigabit is still perfectly adequate for general internet use, but if you’re a user who is discovering the benefits of a NAS for the first time, you’ll quickly be driven crazy by the bottlenecked transfer rates of a 1G connection. 2.5G Ethernet is now common. This allows you to all but reach the maximum transfer speeds of a typical mechanical hard drive that you’d find in a NAS. Of course, just like Wi-Fi 6 / 6E, you will need a 2.5G Ethernet equipped network switch or router to take advantage of 2.5G Ethernet speeds.
USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 – Great to have, even if the naming scheme leaves a lot to be desired!
It would be easy to rant about the silly USB naming scheme, but at the end of the day, the key takeaway is that USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 is the latest and greatest iteration of the USB standard. It provides up to 20Gbps of bandwidth, and it’s available natively on many 500 series motherboards and even some B560 boards! Depending on the board, USB Gen 2x2 ports can be either Type-C or Type-A ports or even wired up to the front panel of your case via a front-panel header. They’re great for connecting to things like portable SSDs and any other modern device like a smartphone or flash drive that can make use of all that bandwidth. They’re also useful for connecting a hub, where you can split up all the bandwidth across many devices.
Thunderbolt 4 – a connection for the future
Many 500 series motherboard reviews didn’t go into a lot of detail on the benefits of Thunderbolt 4. It’s a highly underrated and versatile standard that adds a lot of future-proofing to your PC. It’s a compelling reason to upgrade to a supporting 500 series board. Thunderbolt 4 ports have 40Gbps of bandwidth, and devices can be daisy-chained. It’s compatible with USB, DisplayPort for connecting to monitors, and PCle. This kind of flexibility and compatibility adds a lot of upgrade options, many of which we are yet to see. Things like charging your notebook, adding 10G networking, video capturing, 4K monitors and even external graphics are all possible with Thunderbolt 4. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, placing your gaming PC in a different room and connecting your peripherals via a Thunderbolt 4 dock to eliminate noise and heat from your gaming setup.
Connect the Razer Thunderbolt 4 Dock Chroma to a Thunderbolt 4 equipped 500-Series motherboard and use it to its full potential.
Intel B560 motherboards – Definitely worth considering!
B series motherboards have always been aimed at mainstream buyers. They are tended to be affordable, but they lacked a few features compared to the higher tier Z series boards. Notably, there was one significant weakness: The lack of memory overclocking. That’s changed now as B560 motherboards offer unlocked memory support*. You can run a DDR4-5000 kit if you really want but the real takeaway is that kits in the DDR4-3200 or 3600MHz price range hardly cost more than a DDR4-2666 kit, so you can now enjoy better system performance without being stuck with slow and outdated memory speeds. Plug in some memory, set your XMP, and you’re good to go.
A cheap B560 board is still a cheap board. You can’t expect it to offer the features of boards at 3x the price. But B560 boards have taken a big step up in quality, and pairing one with a 10th Generation processor makes a lot of sense. Depending on the board, you can find USB 3.2 Gen 2x2, Wi-Fi 6 / 6E and 2.5G LAN (such as this MSI MAG B560 Tomahawk Motherboard). B560 boards also tend to have improved power delivery systems compared to their B460 predecessors. This means better motherboard durability and longevity with less stress and cooler operating temperatures. A 10th generation processor will be right at home in a B560 motherboard.
So, if you’re running a Intel 10th Gen processor and you find that your current motherboard is a bit lacking in features, perhaps it doesn’t support decent memory speeds, or you want faster and more capable networking, there are a lot of reasons to upgrade to a 500 series motherboard. Or maybe you would prefer to purchase an Intel 10th Gen processor over an 11th Gen thanks to the improved value proposition, pairing it with 500 series motherboard provides a lot of new features over 400 series motherboards.
If you have any questions about Intel’s 500 series motherboards, feel free to reach out to our team. We’re happy to advise you on the best upgrade path to suit your unique requirements.
*Altering clock frequency or voltage may void any product warranties and reduce stability, security, performance, and life of the processor and other components. Check with system and component manufacturers for details.