Intel’s 12th generation processors, code-named Alder Lake, have been on the market since late 2021, bringing with them a significant increase in single-threaded and multi-threaded performance. But, if last year their use was limited only to boards based on the flagship Z690 chipset, then since the beginning of this year, mass chipsets of the B and H series have appeared, making the new platform more accessible to a larger number of users. About the brightest representatives of motherboards based on various chipsets for 12th generation Intel Core processors – in this material.
The base chipset for new-generation processors does not support overclocking, but it has everything necessary for stable operation of a budget system.One of the most inexpensive models manufactured by Gigabyte has a 6-phase processor power subsystem, support for DDR4 RAM with a frequency of up to 3200 MHz and an M2 slot for NVMe drives. True, unlike older chipsets, here it is not on the processor lines, but on the chipset lines, therefore the maximum speed is limited by PCI-E 3.0 x4. But the video card slot is full – PCI-E 4.0 x16. Its bandwidth is more than enough even for top-end graphics adapters. Integrated graphics have HDMI and VGA outputs, allowing you to connect the system to both old and new monitors and TVs.
The slightly more expensive MSI PRO H610M-G can be a good alternative to the first model. The main difference is the dedicated M2 slot for the wireless module, in which you can install the appropriate adapter. The number of integrated graphics outputs has been expanded to three: Display Port has been added to the usual HDMI and VGA. For fans of PS / 2 peripherals, a universal connector is provided, to which you can connect both a keyboard and a mouse.
The model from Asus additionally offers a cooling radiator on the power system, which has a positive effect on the temperature regime of the VRM zone. For M2 drives, there are as many as two connectors, which is rare in this price segment. In addition, the board has two PS / 2 connectors – the owners of the corresponding keyboards and mice will be delighted. As with all H610-based boards, the RAM limits are the same – two slots supporting brackets up to 32 GB at a frequency of up to 3200 MHz.
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For compact ITX builds, an interesting model from AsRock is suitable. Despite the small size, the board managed to accommodate a 6-phase power subsystem with a small heatsink, an M2 slot for drives, and even built-in Wi-Fi. A pair of HDMI and DisplayPort is responsible for graphics output. In the conditions of building a system in an extremely limited space with junior Alder Lake processors, the board’s capabilities are just right.
The “average” brother among chipsets for Alder Lake is the B660. It looks more interesting for gaming assemblies due to the possibility of overclocking RAM, for which four slots are allocated on most boards based on this chipset.
The base model from Gigabyte has 6 power phases for the processor, a small heatsink on the VRM, and support for DDR4 memory at up to 5333 MHz. There are two M2 slots with support for fast drives at PCI-E 4.0 x4 speeds, one of which prudently acquired a cooling radiator for more efficient heat dissipation. A full set of integrated video outputs – HDMI, VGA, DVI and DisplayPort – will give the owner of any monitor to pass the time while waiting for the purchase of a discrete graphics card.
AsRock’s affordable model features an improved 8-phase CPU power system, allowing it to run more powerful Alder Lake CPUs without overheating the VRM. The memory clock speed limit here is more modest – 4800 MHz, but even it will be difficult to achieve in real operation, so the headroom in RAM frequencies is still large. There are two slots for M2 format drives, one of them can operate at full speed PCI-E 4.0 x4, the other is limited to the third version of the protocol. Another M2 slot is for the wireless module.
Gigabyte’s Gaming X series motherboards have always been that “golden mean” throughout their history. The model of the line based on the B660 chipset was no exception. At a low price, the board has an 8-phase power subsystem with impressive heatsinks, two full-speed M2 PCI-E 4.0 x4 slots and another M2 PCI-E 3.0 x4, as well as a fast 2.5 Gb / s network adapter. The back bar is already mounted and forms a single unit with the board and cooling radiators – this has become a tradition of the series.
MSI’s Tomahawk series model, despite the “average” B660 chipset, is equipped with a high-quality 12-phase power subsystem that can easily cope with even top-end Alder Lake processors. This is facilitated by impressive heatsinks, which, in addition to VRM, are registered on the chipset and all three slots for M2 drives. The board has two places for 8-pin connectors, which can transfer an enormous amount of power. Given the lack of overclocking, the board will be an ideal candidate for older models of Alder Lake processors for use at nominal frequencies.
One of the few boards that implements support for the new DDR5 memory in conjunction with the B660 chipset. 12 phases and a dual 8+4 pin CPU power connector let you worry about the stability of powerful Alder Lake processors, and the new high-speed memory up to 6000 MHz will allow you to unleash their full potential. Next to the three slots for M2 drives, there is a built-in Wi-Fi module with an external antenna. The model is equipped with high-quality built-in sound based on the Realtek ALC4080 codec with the Savitech SV3H712 amplifier, a duet of which can be a good alternative to external sound cards.Boards based on the H670 chipset are not as widely distributed as their younger brothers. Overclocking here is also available only for memory, but these models also have a couple of highlights that distinguish them from motherboards based on simpler chipsets. For example, the H670, unlike the younger models, supports PCI-E 5.0, although this is not implemented on all boards with this chipset. Also, the H670, like the older Z690, has a wider channel for interaction between the processor and the chipset – DMI 4.0 x8, against a twice narrower channel for junior solutions. This opens up more options for connecting fast peripherals, in particular, NVMe drives.
The base model from Asus, unfortunately, does not support the latest PCI-E 5.0. But there are as many as three M2 connectors, and everything is at full PCI-E 4.0 x4 speed thanks to the capabilities of the chipset. A separate M2 slot is for the wireless network adapter. The processor is powered by 8 phases, a small radiator on the VRM is responsible for cooling. DDR4 memory can operate at frequencies up to 5066 MHz.
The TUF Gaming series board brings the long-awaited PCI-E 5.0 support for the graphics card slot. Despite the lack of CPU overclocking, there are 14 power phases designed to ensure stability in hot gaming battles, complete even with older Alder Lake processors. Power is supplied to the board via two 8+4 pin connectors, and the theoretical frequency limit for DDR4 memory here is a mind-blowing 5333 MHz. Using the extended DMI channel, the board provides as many as four slots for NVME drives, three of which are covered by the model’s own heatsinks.
“Steel Legend” from AsRock, in addition to a unique appearance, has a good 9-phase power supply system, PCI-E 5.0 support for the video card slot, as well as DDR4 memory with speeds up to 5000 MHz. Three full-speed M2 PCI-E 4.0 x4 drive slots provide fast storage access, while an additional M2 network module slot provides Wi-Fi support without the need for bulky PCI-E cards.
The top chipset that includes all the advantages of junior chipsets, plus processor overclocking.
An inexpensive model from MSI with the “PRO” prefix has 14 phases of the processor power supply, as well as two connectors for power connectors according to the 8 + 4 pin scheme. Although the series is designed for stable and productive performance, overclocking of DDR4 memory up to 5200 MHz is supported. The video card slot supports the PCI-E 5.0 mode – however, it is implemented everywhere on the boards of the older chipset.
The Gigabyte UD series board, despite its relatively low cost, has an excellent CPU power supply – as many as 16 phases. In addition, the power subsystem is covered with large radiators, which improves heat dissipation and contributes to better overclocking. The board supports DDR4 memory frequency up to 5333 MHz, and fast storage is provided by three M2 slots at PCI-E 4.0 x4 speed. A similar model with DDR5 RAM is slightly more expensive, but has the same advantages, plus it works with fast next-generation memory up to 6000 MHz.
The model from AsRock is another good representative of entry-level motherboards based on the older chipset with DDR5 support. 9-phase power supply, three full-speed connectors for M2 drives and a dedicated M2 for a wireless network adapter, memory support up to 5800 MHz – all this for a fairly modest amount, comparable to similar solutions based on DDR4.
MSI’s twin boards have 14 phases of CPU power combined with two 8-pin connectors. It is worth noting the good VRM cooling radiators. These models have as many as four slots for M2 drives, and only one is limited to PCI-E 3.0 x4, the rest are capable of working with the fourth version of the protocol. Modification with DDR4 supports memory up to 5200 MHz, with DDR5 – up to an incredible 6400 MHz. Strict tones and belonging to the PRO-series imply the use of products as the basis for workstations.
Continuing the tradition of similar motherboards based on a chipset, Asus’ “twins” have similar characteristics, except for the types and speeds of supported memory. The younger model supports DDR4 memory up to 5333 MHz, the older one supports DDR5 memory up to 6000 MHz. Otherwise, the boards are similar: there are 14 CPU power phases, three full-speed slots for M2 drives, a separate M2 slot for a wireless module. By the way, the boards have four full-size PCI-E slots. True, electrically, only one has a full 16 lines, the rest have only 4 each.
Gaming X series boards, previously mentioned as the “golden mean”, are also present in the line of models based on the older chipset. Moreover, in two modifications – with DDR4 and DDR5. The power subsystem has 16 phases with large massive radiators, the storage subsystem has 4 slots for M2 drives, each of which operates at speeds up to PCI-E 4.0 x4. Like VRM, all M2 slots are “covered” with heatsinks that effectively remove heat from fast drives. Modification on DDR4 is capable of reaching a memory frequency of 5333 MHz, on DDR5 – 6000 MHz. Due to the wide range of features and affordable price, the boards are ideal for building low-cost gaming assemblies, which is what the manufacturer implies in their name.