What Is a Chipset? A Basic Definition

Living on the motherboard, a PC’s chipset controls the communication between the CPU, RAM, storage and other peripherals. The chipset determines how many high-speed components or USB devices your motherboard can support. Chipsets are usually comprised of one to four chips and feature controllers for commonly used peripherals, like the keyboard, mouse or monitor.

Though the chipsets are designed by Intel and AMD, they appear on motherboards from a variety of third-party vendors, such as MSI, Asus and ASRock. Different chipsets support different CPUs, so once you pick a CPU, you next need to decide which chipset you’d like. 

When selecting your chipset, it’s important to note that while a chipset may offer a certain feature (like support for up to 10 USB ports), your motherboard may not support that feature (many motherboards only come equipped for four to eight USB ports). If your motherboard doesn’t support a certain chipset feature, that feature will not work with your PC. 

Below is a list of Intel and AMD chipsets:

Brand Chipset Name Use
Intel X299 Enthusiast
Intel Z370 Enthusiast
AMD X399 Enthusiast
AMD X470 Enthusiast
AMD X370 Enthusiast
AMD B350 Performance
Intel H370 Mainstream
Intel Q370 Mainstream
Intel B360 Mainstream
Intel H310 Mainstream
AMD X300 Small Form Factor
AMD A300 Small Form Factor

Further reading: