PC motherboards are defined by their CPU socket. If you already own a motherboard, your CPU options are limited and vice versa; if you already own a CPU, you can’t just buy any motherboard available. CPU sockets are different for Intel and AMD CPUs. Even among Intel or AMD CPUs, there are various sockets since new ones are released every once in a while, to keep up with new technologies.
The 10th generation of Intel CPUs will be based on Comet Lake 10 nm processors and Ice Lake 10 nm CPUs. Comet Lake CPUs will use the LGA 1200 socket and they are expected to be released sometime during 2020. The new socket sounds like bad news for many people who thought they could own the latest gear with their current motherboard. LGA 1200 is now here so let’s check out what it’s all about!
What is LGA 1200?
LGA 1200 is a CPU socket compatible with Comet Lake desktop CPUs. Like its predecessors, LGA 1200 has the same amount of pins its name would suggest: 1200. Under the hood, LGA 1200 is a modified version of LGA 1151, its predecessor and currently the latest CPU socket for Intel CPUs. It features 49 additional protruding pins that are used to improve power delivery and provide support for eventual updates with I/O features.
Intel wouldn’t be Intel if they didn’t intentionally make new sockets fully incompatible with older CPUs. The problem lies in Pin 1. The pin’s position remains the same but its socket keying is now to the left and it was to the right in previous generations of CPU sockets. This means that you won’t be able to use older CPUs with the LGA 1200 socket nor you’ll be able to use Comet Lake CPUs on older sockets. To make things clear, if you want to have a 10th generation Comet Lake CPU in your PC, you’ll need to buy a new motherboard as well!
When it comes to the heatsink, the 4 holes used for fastening the heatsink are in the same place for several Intel CPU-compatible sockets, including LGA 1151, LGA 1150, LGA 1155, LGA 1156, and LGA 1200. This means that you can use the same cooling options for any socket. If you already own a cooling solution for any of these motherboards, you will be able to use it for LGA 1200 as well.
LGA 1200 motherboards and their CPU counterparts were released in May 2020.
LGA 1200 CPU List and Specs
LGA 1200 vs LGA 1151
LGA 1151 is currently the latest desktop CPU socket for Intel CPUs. It’s commonly known as Socket H4. There are two versions of the LGA 1151 socket and they are generally not compatible with each other. The only reason they share the same name is the number of pins they have. We’ll focus on the second revision designed to support Coffee Lake CPUs, on which the 8th and 9th generations of Intel chipsets are based on.
We’ll state the obvious difference first: LGA 1151 has 1151 protruding pins, whereas LGA 1200 has 1200 of those. We’ve already mentioned that LGA 1151 provides support for the 8th and 9th generations of Intel CPUs which use the 300 series chipsets, including H310, B360, Z370, and Z390. On the other hand, LGA 1200 was announced for the 10th generation of Intel CPUs, under the code name of Comet Lake. This new generation will use 400 series chipsets including W480, H470, B460, and Z490. We also fail to understand how would a comet replace coffee. No one really understands Intel’s naming conventions!
Socket keying has changed with LGA 1200 and it’s now oriented to the left, whereas LGA 1151 uses the right orientation. This means backward compatibility is out of the question. Anyone looking to have a taste of the 10th generation will need to buy a new LGA 1200-compatible motherboard. The size of the socket remains the same for both generations: 37.5 mm x 37.5 mm. There are two more things you won’t have to replace if you decide to buy a Comet Lake CPU: cooling solutions and memory. Since the heatsink fastening holes are places in the same square formation as they were in for LGA 1151, you can migrate your cooler easily. DDR4 is still the go-to memory, even though the estimated release date for DDR5 memory is also some time during 2020.
LGA 1200 promises to improve power delivery with the 49 additional pins. Much else can’t be said since LGA 1200 is yet to be released. Certain designs have been leaked but nothing can’t be said about some performance aspects before LGA 1200 motherboards are released. They are already leaked by various motherboard manufacturers, including Gigabyte, ASUS, ASRock, and MSI. New generations of technology are always exciting and we hope that the new generation of CPUs will make your motherboard investment-worthy.
About Comet Lake
It would be unfair to talk about the socket and not mention the reason why the socket is needed in the first place. Comet Lake will, with Ice Lake CPUs, represent the 10th generation of Intel chipsets. It’s the fourth 14 nm Skylake refinement. Many eyes will steer towards Ice Lake since it’s the first mainstream CPU generation based on the 10 nm technology. Comet Lake mobile processors were already released in 2019 but the real treat is the versions for gaming laptops and workstations.
With the mobile processors already released, we are still waiting for Comet Lake-H releases for gaming laptops. It’s also been rumored that Comet Lake-S CPUs will be released for desktop use. Even their price tags were leaked but Intel still hasn’t commented on the matter. The star of the show is the Intel Core i7-10710U Processor. With 6 cores, 12 threads, a 12 MB cache, and a boost of up to 4.7 GHz, this beast is surely a good way to represent the generation. However, it must be said that the lineup of mobile processors released so far doesn’t offer much in terms of improvement.
PCIe 4.0 Support
PCI Express (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express), abbreviated as PCIe, is a serial bus standard used to connect your motherboard with external components like graphics cards, HDDs, SSDs, and many more. PCIe 4.0 was announced in November 2011, offering a 16 GT/s bitrate, double from what its predecessor, PCIe 3.0, offered.
|Version||Raw Bit Rate||Link BW||BW/Lane/Way||Total BW X16|
|PCIe 1.x||2.5 GT/s||2 Gb/s||250 MB/s||8 GB/s|
|PCIe 2.x||5.0 GT/s||4 Gb/s||500 MB/s||16 GB/s|
|PCIe 3.x||8.0 GT/s||8 Gb/s||~1 GB/s||~32 GB/s|
|PCIe 4.0||16 GT/s||16 Gb/s||~2 GB/s||~64 GB/s|
|PCIe 5.0||32 GT/s||32 Gb/s||~4 GB/s||~128 GB/s|
While Z490 motherboards support PCIe 4.0, Intel’s Comet Lake CPUs don’t support it. The next 11th generation Rocket Lake CPUs will have support, however. If you want a motherboard that comes with PCIe 4.0 slots and your CPU doesn’t support it, you’ll end up overpaying for a motherboard with a feature you won’t get a chance to use. So you’ll probably be skipping the 10th gen if that’s a priority for you.
Looking on the bright side of things, PCIe 4.0 support is not a ground-breaking feature for gamers looking for the perfect CPU. The full bandwidth opportunity that PCIe 4.0 offers can’t be utilized at all by many games. Some laptops even limit their capabilities since they don’t matter that much. There are several aspects in which PCIe 4.0 showcases its benefits: power dissipation and storage management. You essentially get higher data transfer speeds with less power dissipation, making it a win-win situation. When it comes to storage, read and write speeds from SSDs hit new records (5,000 MB/s read, 4,300 MB/s write) as did NVMe M.2 drives (7,000 MB/s read, 6,000 MB/s write) and that is mighty handy when dealing with large files on your computer.
Making sense of it all
Intel Core Frequencies Explained
The CPU clock frequency is one of its most important parameters and it can be said that a higher frequency leads to a faster processor. However, if you were to take a look at an Intel CPU datasheet online, you’d quickly find several frequencies that are used to describe it. Sometimes it’s hard to weigh out which CPU is a better purchase, especially if you are unsure about what those frequencies mean.
Comet Lake CPUs are described by a lot of different frequencies so let’s take our time and see what they all mean.
The base clock frequency is the frequency your CPU operates at when its workload is light. This frequency will be used most of the time while you’re browsing the Internet or performing other relatively light operations on your computer. While operating at this frequency, the power your CPU dissipates should be below TDP (Thermal Design Power). TDP represents how much heat your CPU can generate that the heatsink will be able to absorb. So, while running at the base clock frequency, you won’t need a cooler!
Turbo Boost Technology
Intel Turbo Boost Technology (TBT) 3.0 is an updated version of the 2.0 technology. This technology is used to increase your CPU clock frequency depending on the workload. So, the frequency of your CPU will fluctuate between the base clock frequency and the Max Turbo Frequency. So, when you see the CPU speed indicated like “3.70 GHz, up to 4.70 GHz”, 3.70 GHz is the base clock frequency, and the 4.70 GHz is the Max Turbo Frequency!
Single-Core Boost Clock
When new Comet Lake CPU data was leaked, two new frequency parameters came into play.
Single-Core Boost clock frequency is the maximum frequency a single core can achieve if the Turbo Boost Max Technology determines there is a need to boost the frequency. This number is valid for any processor core. Programs that only use a single core to run on your computer will benefit from this frequency greatly.
All-Core Boost Clock
This frequency is the maximum frequency you can achieve when all cores of your CPU are being boosted. For instance, let’s go back to this CPU speed indicator: “3.70 GHz, up to 4.70 GHz”. A single core can be boosted to 4.70 GHz but, if you were to boost all cores, you wouldn’t be able to achieve this frequency. Instead, all cores could be boosted to the All-Core Boost clock frequency, which should be somewhere in between.
Thermal Velocity Boost
Thermal Velocity Boost (TVB) technology lets a CPU squeeze more performance by automatically increasing the clock frequency in accord with the CPUs current temperature. This tech was first included in Intel’s mobile CPU lineup in 2018 and later in desktop CPUs with the i9-9900 which had a TVB clock of 5.0 GHz. For the 10th gen, only some of the i9 series will have support for TVB.