Your Guide to Intel Quad-Core CPU and Motherboard Combos

If you are building a custom desktop computer or replacing a motherboard and processor, then these motherboard-CPU combos from Intel may be the solution you need. Combos like these can eliminate the challenge of choosing appropriate computer components because these parts have already been paired for you. You will find a wide selection of combinations that are suitable to many desktop purposes, including office workstations, gaming rigs, and home theater PCs.

What does it mean to purchase a combo?

Processors must be paired with an appropriate motherboard based on various factors, including chipset, mounting type, supported features, and so forth. When you purchase a combo with an Intel processor and an Intel or third-party motherboard, you are ensured that the components will work together. These processors, in particular, have four cores, which means that there are four distinct processing units on the die that can operate independently of each other for multitasking. These products include the Intel:

  • Celeron
  • Pentium
  • Core i3
  • Core i5
  • Core i7
What does generation mean in this context?

In the case of the Intel Core series, the microarchitecture was refined over the years. The first Intel Core processors or the first generation were based on the Nehalem microarchitecture. After it came Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, Haswell, Broadwell, Sky Lake, Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake, and so forth. Each generation is meant to be an improvement over the last in raw processing power as well as in energy consumption and heat generation.

Do these combos include everything needed to install them?

It depends. If the Intel CPU is in retail packaging, then it will include the heatsink, fan, and thermal paste. In Intel OEM packaging, however, these accessories are not provided and must be purchased separately. When combos are neither retail nor OEM, then it depends on a case-by-case basis.

Do these combos feature integrated graphics?

In the case of the Intel quad-core processors mentioned here, any integrated graphics solution is on the CPU itself. Not all of these products have an iGPU. In regard to the Nehalem microarchitecture, the Clarkdale i3 and i5 had it, but the Lynnfield i5 and i7 did not. You can look up the specific CPU model in the combo to determine if it has an iGPU. Note that a discrete graphics adapter is supported in either case and required when integrated graphics are not present.

Can you compare GHz across combos?

The listed GHz is the speed or frequency at which a processor operates. The GHz value is only useful within context. You can, however, compare the speed of a Skylake i3 to a Skylake i5, but comparing a Skylake i3 to a Coffee Lake i3 likely is not meaningful because different versions and generations achieve certain performance levels at the same frequency.