Alder Lake was Intel’s gateway towards leaving behind its eternal 14nm++ process node. Unlike Rocket Lake which was reconfigured to fit on the existing LGA 1200 socket, Intel’s 12thGen architecture utilizes the newer LGA 1700 socket including the H610, B660, H670, and Z690 chipsets.
Together with the supported CPU’s better IPC performance, these Intel 600 series intel chipsets showcase more PCIe 4.0 connections than ever. But most importantly, PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 memory officially enter the consumer PC industry through Alder Lake, setting a new standard for newer systems for the next decade.
However, the question of what are the differences between those intel 600 series chipsets? And which one is ideal for your computing needs? Then arises. Therefore, in this article, we will discuss in great detail the differences between H610 vs B660 vs H670 vs Z690 and help you choose the right one for your computing needs.
H610 vs B660 vs H670 vs Z690 Motherboard Specs & Comparison Table
|CPU Compatibility*||12th, 13th Gen||12th, 13th Gen||12th, 13th Gen||12th, 13th Gen|
|DMI 4.0 Lanes||x4||x4||x8||x8|
|Max displays (iGPU)||3||4||4||4|
|CPU PCIe 5.0 lanes||1×16||1×16||1×16 or 2×8||1×16 or 2×8|
|CPU PCIe4.0 lanes||0||1×4||1×4||1×4|
|Chipset PCIe4.0 lanes||0||6||12||12|
|Chipset PCIe3.0 lanes||12||8||12||16|
|DDR Support***||DDR4 & DDR5||DDR4 & DDR5||DDR4 & DDR5||DDR4 & DDR5|
|Max Memory Slots||2||4||4||4|
|Max Memory Capacity||64GB||128GB||128GB||128GB|
|SATA 6Gbps ports||4||4||8||8|
|Total USB ports||10||12||14||14|
|Max USB 20Gbps ports||0||2||2||4|
|Max USB 10Gbps ports||2||4||4||10|
|Max USB 5Gbps ports||4||6||8||10|
|Max USB 2.0 ports||10||12||14||14|
|RAID Support||None||SATA||PCIe / SATA||PCIe / SATA|
|Integrated Wi-Fi||WiFi 6E||WiFi 6E||WiFi 6E||WiFi 6E|
*- 13th Gen support available after BIOS update
**– some motherboard manufacturers offer BCLK overclocking for B660
*** – Each motherboard supports only one type at a time, double-check as necessary
Differences Between H610 vs B660 vs H670 vs Z690 Chipsets
All four Alder Lake chipsets retain the same basic differences reflecting the models’ intended product tier. From H610, the number of connectivity and data bandwidth expands until it maxes out at Z690. Technologies and tweaking options also go up in scale, with the stark exception of B660 overclocking, which is bypassed by some notable manufacturers that provided the feature.
- H610 has no 20Gbps ports, no PCIe 4.0 lanes, and no memory overclocking – being the lowest tier, H610 motherboards won’t support more standard high-speed connections as their higher-end counterparts. It does still retain direct CPU PCIe 5.0 support, at least.
- H610 and B660 effectively do not support DDR5 – on paper, both chipsets should be able to support either DDR4 or DDR5. However, because of manufacturer product level priorities, only the top (most expensive) models of the B660 chipset would support DDR5 memory.
- Select B660 motherboards can overclock any Alder Lake CPU – if the motherboard is installed with an external clock multiplier, then it can provide overclocking to the installed CPU via traditional BCLK OC methods. Such a method is not limited to the CPU’s product type, so even non-K CPUs can be overclocked this way. (Check around online for supported models)
- Z690 offers the highest connectivity features – as expected, Z690 has the highest number of USB ports, the highest number of available PCIe lanes, and natively supports overclocking to all supported K-SKU CPUs.
H610 vs B660 vs H670 vs Z690 Overclocking
As the lowest tier, H610 does not support overclocking of any kind. Memory overclocking is available for the rest of the other chipsets, which is a direct turnover after its default support for B-type and H-type chipsets last 11th Gen.
This leaves B660 and Z690 as the only chipset options for overclocking. For Z690, the option is straightforward and is utilized the same way when a K-SKU processor is installed on the system. Z-type motherboards also tend to have robust VRMs by default, so even something like an MSI Pro motherboard can support a Core i9 12900K without too much thermal throttling.
As for B660, the option is only available for motherboards installed with external clock generators. Most usable models are on the higher end and only support DDR5 memory, such as Asus’ ROG Strix B660 variants, so the cost investment ends up similar to Z690 systems. That being said, you can overclock even non-K CPUs this way. It has been demonstrated that something like a Core i5 12400F can still exhibit good performance gains when overclocked on a B660 motherboard.
Why Choose an H610 Motherboard?
If you are planning to build a basic system that would still benefit from Alder Lake’s significantly improved performance, then H610 motherboards are the barebones option. Take note that this mostly only applies when building a system around the Core i3 12100 or 12100F. Because that is the only CPU competitive enough for modern standards, but would not draw too much power to wear out H610 motherboards’ weak VRMs.
Anything else upward, and you should step it up to a B660 instead.
Why Choose a B660 Motherboard?
The B660 chipset is the perfect choice for an all-rounder build that has enough USB/PCIe 4.0 connectivity and modern technology options, while not being hindered by the tier of CPU that can be used. Memory overclocking is also available, so that should also contribute to slightly better performance gains by default.
At least for Core i3 12100 and Core i5 12400 systems, you should not find any difficulty maxing out their performance even for the most basic of B660 motherboards. If you wish to upgrade in the future, however, or if you’re planning to use something like a Core i7 12700, then you should find B660 models with better VRMs, such as the Soyo B660M Classic, or the MSI Pro B660M-A.
Why Choose an H670 Motherboard?
An H670 chipset is a welcome option for professional workloads that deal more with data bandwidth and connectivity rather than pure CPU performance. This is because H670 is almost identical to the Z690 with data transfer potential alone. The only major difference is that H670 does not support enthusiast-level CPU overclocking, and therefore is somewhat cheaper in price.
Why Choose a Z690 Motherboard?
Z690 is, as usual, the top-tier choice for users that want the best out of their systems, whether for professional applications, or hobby considerations. It has all the PCIe 5.0 and 4.0 connectivity that you will ever theoretically need, plus the entire traditional overclocking suite for K-SKU processors.
For early DDR5 memory adopters, the Z690 chipset is also somewhat of a better investment considering the high price variations of top-end B660 DDR5 motherboards. You are not limited to B660 connectivity and have the entire stack of direct CPU data connections to maximize whatever tweaked performance limits that your system is built for.
Alder Lake (LGA 1700) Motherboard FAQs
B660 vs Z690?
When directly pitted with each other, the competition boils down to whatever price category you intend to invest in. So if buying a high-end B660 motherboard anyway, or using a CPU more powerful than a Core i5 12400, the entry-level Z690 becomes the better economic choice with its connectivity and default VRM quality.
That being said, for mid-range DIY builders, B660 is still the much better money saver. All of the added performance benefits of higher-tier CPUs and the additional PCIe 5.0/4.0 are only ever justifiable if they can be utilized right now (as opposed to being a future-proofing decision).
H670 vs B660?
For standard real-world applications, B660 is the better bang-for-the-buck choice. Given a solid motherboard model for the chipset, it can perform nearly the same as an H670, while having enough connectivity for most standard users. However, if you are aiming for Z690 connectivity while not prioritizing CPU performance, the H670 becomes the better investment.
Do 600 series motherboards support Intel 13th Gen CPUs?
Yes, 600 series Intel motherboards support 13th Gen CPUs via a BIOS update. Check the respective official webpage of your motherboard model, and see which BIOS introduced the new CPU support. Starting from that BIOS version upward, all of them should allow your motherboard to support Raptor Lake processors.
Choosing the right Alder Lake chipset ultimately depends on how you practically use the PC and what features would you like to remain relevant for the foreseeable future. And for the most part, their intended product tiers reflect exactly what users would theoretically need. H610 is a barebones, but reliable system. B660 for the standard all-rounder. H670 for productivity with a dash of price-to-performance. And lastly, Z690 to enjoy the best of what Alder Lake has to offer.
As for the debate over DDR4 and DDR5… both are considered good choices at this point. Just remember to line up the price levels of each DDR version to the correct chipset of the same budget category.