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Are All Intel CPUs the Same Size? (Use the Same Socket)

There are many different Intel CPUs, each year Intel brings out new ones, and provide multiple different models in the same year such as an i3, and i5. A CPU needs to fit into a socket on the motherboard, so knowing whether a CPU will fit into a motherboard is very important. So, in this article, I will explain whether all Intel CPUs are the same size.

Intel CPUs are not the same size. Intel releases a new generation of processors every year. Each new generation of CPU is a different size socket. But an i5, i7, and i9 CPU of the same generation (year) will generally all have an identical socket that fits into a motherboard.

There are different motherboards from Intel, as well as, from other brands such as AMD. So, below I will provide a detailed answer about whether Intel CPUs fit into other brands of motherboards, and different motherboards all made by Intel. 

As well as, whether all Intel i-series CPUs have the same socket if newer Intel CPUs fit into older motherboards, and how to check if a CPU you’re buying will fit into your motherboard or a specific motherboard you’re thinking about buying.

Are All Intel CPUs Compatible With All Motherboards (Same Size, Socket, etc)

CPU (no cooler)

Some electronic devices and components are universal and can plug into anything. Whereas, others are brand or model-specific, and also differ based on the country. Here’s how Intel CPUs and motherboards work and whether any Intel CPU can be plugged into any Intel motherboard.

All Intel CPUs are not compatible with all motherboards. Intel CPUs use different technology than the other motherboard manufacturers such as AMD, and ASUS. Intel CPUs only fit into Intel motherboards, every generation (year) also has a different socket.

As you may know, each year Intel brings out a new CPU, which they call a generation. For example, 11th generation CPUs came out after 10th generation CPUs. Each new generation of Intel CPUs has a completely different socket. Therefore, if you have a 10th generation Intel CPU, you can’t get the 11th generation Intel CPU and plug it into your existing motherboard.

Below, is a table that shows the recent 3 generations of Intel CPUs, and what sockets they have.

Intel CPU (Desktop only)Socket
10th generation – i3 FCLGA1200
10th generation – i5 FCLGA1200
10th generation – i7 FCLGA1200
10th generation – i9FCLGA1200
11th generation – i3 FCBGA1787
11th generation – i5 FCBGA1787
11th generation – i7 FCBGA1787
11th generation – i9FCBGA1787
12th generation – i5 FCBGA1744
12th generation – i7 FCBGA1744
12th generation – i9FCBGA1744
Intel CPUs sockets

There are many different model numbers of Intel CPUs. And individual Intel CPUs can have different socket numbers. For example, here’s a list on the official Intel website of all of the 12th generation i7 CPUs. On that list, you can see that there are 11 different 12th generation i7 CPUs. 

Because of the many different Intel CPUs, it’s always best to check exactly what socket it has by looking at the specification page for it on the Intel website. You can do a search for the model number and it’s easy to find a tab to see the list of specs for it where it will say the socket number.

This info is readily available on the product info page of the CPU you’re planning on buying. To find the compatible socket for the CPU you’re planning to get look for the number next to ‘Socket’.

To see what RAM is compatible with the CPU look for the type of RAM next to ‘Memory’. There can be a lot of info on the specifications page, so a helpful trick is to use ‘Ctrl + F’ to bring up the ‘find’ text box. And in the search box type ‘memory’ and hit enter, note down the number, and the type ‘socket’, and hit enter a few times to find the socket number and write it down.

Then it’s a matter of finding out what motherboards have that socket, and getting the best one for you based on your budget and speed requirements. Or, you can find what socket your existing motherboard has, and then find Intel CPUs that have that socket. A really good website I found which shows what CPUs have a particular socket is Eatyourbytes.com.

If you put in the socket number it will tell all the CPUs that have that socket number, then you can select one that is good for what you’re going to use your computer for such as gaming, photo/video editing, or school/university/work. 

Are All Intel i-Series CPUs the Same?

If you’ve been researching Intel CPUs you will have noticed that each generation of CPUs has 3 to 4 different models that have the convention i3, i5, i7 to denote which ones are more powerful than others. There are multiple generations of CPUs and so here’s a summary of whether Intel i-Series CPUs all have the same socket. 

All Intel i-Series CPUs are not the same size. They differ based on the generation (year). Each year Intel brings out a new generation of CPUs. All of the i-series of that generation generally have the same socket. For example, a 12 generation i5 CPU has the same socket as a 12 generation i7 CPU.

The other thing to be aware of is the RAM that’s compatible with your CPU. Some types of motherboards will work with your CPU but won’t support the RAM that’s compatible with your CPU. For example, your CPU might only work with DDR4 RAM. But, the motherboard you’re planning on using doesn’t support the type of RAM that your motherboard needs.

Therefore you need to check both:

  1. The CPU socket for your motherboard is compatible
  2. The RAM socket on your motherboard is compatible with the RAM your CPU needs

Are Intel CPUs From the Same Family Backward Compatible

There are Intel i-Series CPUs that have the same i-Series number. 12th generation Intel CPUs have an i5, and 11th generation CPUs have an i5. So, are newer i-Series Intel CPUs compatible with the motherboard for previous generations of Intel CPUs? 

Intel CPUs from the same family are not backward compatible. All Intel CPUs of the same generation are typically compatible with the same motherboard socket. But, newer and older generations don’t fit into the same motherboard socket.

For example, an 11th generation Intel CPU will not fit into a motherboard that is compatible with a 10th generation motherboard. Some motherboards have two places that a CPU can plug into. But, others only have one. Each motherboard socket is fixed and doesn’t change. Whereas, the socket that newer CPUs have changes generally each year.

This is also the broad reason that old Intel CPUs keep their price, and are about as expensive as newer CPUs. But, I explained this in more detail in this article about why Intel CPUs keep their price.

How To Know If Your Motherboard Is Compatible With Newer CPUs

Upgrading your CPU is a great way to boost the performance of your computer. The CPU is a component that plugs into the motherboard and therefore can technically be swapped out. Here’s a summary of how to check if a newer CPU is compatible with a motherboard that you’ve had for a while.

Check what socket type your motherboard has by searching on EatYourBytes.com, and once you know what socket your motherboard has you can see what socket a newer CPU has. As a general rule, newer CPUs are not compatible with motherboards that are compatible with older CPUs.

Intel – one of the most well-known and liked CPU brands – changes the socket their CPUs have with each new generation of CPU they bring out. For example, the 12th generation i5 has a different socket from an 11th generation i5 socket.

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Sources

I started building and fixing PCs in high school. After a couple of years of offering consultancy to a PC repair shop, I became the goto guy for all my acquaintances for PC/Laptop related buying advice or troubleshooting.