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What Is a CPU Socket? A Basic Definition

CPU socket (Image credit: Mastermilmar/Shutterstock)

A CPU socket uses a series of pins to connect a CPU’s processor to the PC’s motherboard. If a CPU is connected via a CPU socket, it is not soldered and can therefore be replaced. CPU sockets are more common with desktop PCs than they are on laptops.

When buying a motherboard, finding the best motherboard isn’t just about making sure it has the features you want. Step one is making sure the motherboard has the right CPU socket (and a supported chipset) for your CPU model.

Even if you have the best CPU, it won’t work with just any CPU socket. Intel has different socket types for its mainstream CPUs versus its high-end desktop (HEDT) ones, as does AMD.

Intel and AMD CPU Sockets

Below we break down the consumer CPU sockets for current and prior generation Intel and AMD desktop CPUs.

CPU Brand CPU Socket NameCPU Compatible ChipsetsMarketIntel LGA 2066 10th Gen CoreX299HEDTIntel LGA 1200 10th Gen CoreZ490, H470, B460, H410MainstreamIntel LGA 1151 9th Gen Core, 8th Gen CoreZ390, Z370, Z370, Q370, H370, B365, B360, H310MainstreamAMD sTRX4 Ryzen Threadripper 3000TRX40HEDTAMDTR4 Ryzen Threadripper 2000 and 1000 X399HEDTAMDAM4 Ryzen 3000, 2000 and 1000 X570, X470, X370, B550, B450, B350, B450, A320, X300, A300Mainstream

Intel users can also figure out which CPU socket their chip uses with Intel’s directions on this page and use Intel’s Product Compatibility Tool to see which motherboard fits your CPU.

This article is part of the Tom’s Hardware Glossary.

Further reading:

Dissecting the Modern Motherboard: Connectors, Ports & Chipsets ExplainedHow to Choose a MotherboardBest MotherboardsBest CPUs

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