Home > PC Hardware Articles > Z87, H87, H81, Q87, Q85, B85 - What is the difference?

Z87, H87, H81, Q87, Q85, B85 - What is the difference?

Z87, H87, H81, Q87, Q85, B85 - What is the difference?

Written on June 2, 2013 by Matt Bach

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Introduction

With the release of the fourth-generation Intel Core processors (Haswell), there are also a whole new line of motherboard chipsets available. There are currently six different chipsets available, divided into two separate categories: consumer and business. The consumer chipsets (Z87, H87, and H81) are intended for the average or enthusiast home user and include a number of features intended to improve the system's overall performance. The business chipsets (Q87, Q85 and B85), on the other hand, lack many of the performance features but instead include many features that are useful for IT departments in larger companies.

Recent Intel CPUs (including Haswell) have been designed with the intent of moving more and more functionality from the motherboard onto the CPU itself. For example, onboard graphics (when available), control of the RAM, PCI-E graphics lanes and with Haswell even the CPU voltage regulator is no longer located on the motherboard, but rather on the CPU. What this means is things like onboard video performance and RAM compatibility is now determined by the CPU rather than the chipset. Because of this, the differences between chipset are now more about feature sets rather than what RAM is compatible or the number of PCI-E lanes available. 

Note that things like wireless, LAN ports, display outputs and audio ports are specific to each motherboard rather than chipset. So even though two boards use the same chipset, they may have vastly different onboard ports and headers.

Consumer Chipsets (Z87, H87, H81)

   Z87 H87 H81
Processor Support Hasell LGA1150
Graphics Support 1x16 or 2x8 or 1x8+2x4 1x16 or 2x8 1x16
Intel RST12 Yes Yes No
Lake Tiny Yes No No
Intel Smart Response Technology Yes Yes No
Small Business Advantage No Yes No
USB Total (USB 3.0) 14(6) 14(6) 20(2)
Total SATA (SATA 6Gb/s) 6(6) 6(6) 4(2)
PCI-E 2.0* 8 8 6
Mem/DIMMs per Channel 2/2 2/2 2/1
CPU Overclocking Yes No No

*In addition to the 16 PCI-E 3.0 lanes from the CPU

Z87 The Z87 chipset is the most feature-rich chipset and is the only one to offer full CPU overclocking for supported (K-series) processors. This chipset can easily handle SLI/Crossfire configurations by allowing the 16 PCI-E lanes from the CPU to be divided into either a single x16 slot, dual x8 slots, or a single x8 plus two x4 slots. While this means that the Z87 chipset can support triple SLI/Crossfire configurations, we typically recommend against doing so except in isolated circumstances. In most cases a Socket 2011 system is a better option as the additional PCI-E 3.0 lanes will provide improved performance.

As far as its feature set goes, Z87 supports Rapid Storage Technology, Smart Response Technology (otherwise known as SSD Caching), six SATA 6Gb/s ports and six USB 3.0 ports. In addition, Z87 also supports Lake Tiny which provides increased SSD power optimization features when using Smart Response Technology (SSD Caching). Finally, it supports two DIMMs per memory channel so it will be able to utilize up to four sticks of RAM.

The Z87 chipset is the chipset for the user that wants it all. CPU overclocking, support for triple SLI/Crossfire, plenty of SATA 6GB/s and USB 3.0 ports, and plenty of additional features.

H87 The H87 chipset is very similar to Z87, but lacks a few important features including CPU overclocking. While this chipset can easily handle SLI/Crossfire configurations by allowing the 16 PCI-E lanes from the CPU to be divided into either a single x16 slot or dual x8 slots, it does not support triple SLI/Crossfire configurations.

Like Z87, H87 supports Rapid Storage TechnologySmart Response Technology (otherwise known as SSD Caching), six SATA 6Gb/s ports and six USB 3.0 ports. Unlike Z87, it adds Small Business Advantage support, but removes support for Lake Tiny (SSD caching performance and power optimization). Finally, it supports two DIMMs per memory channel so it will be able to utilize up to four sticks of RAM.

H87 provides most of the same features as Z87 including plenty of SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0 ports. The only major features it lacks is CPU overclocking support and support for triple SLI/Crossfire configurations. Unfortunately, many motherboard manufactures attempt to push users to Z87 motherboards by limiting the number of ports and headers on their H87 motherboards. Because of this, Z87 motherboards are sometimes a better choice than H87 even when you do not need overclocking or triple SLI/Crossfire.

H81 The H81 chipset is the "budget" option and as such is very limited compared to the other consumer chipsets. It does not support SLI/Crossfire at all, has only two SATA 6Gb/s ports (plus four SATA 3Gb/s ports), and only two USB 3.0 headers. In addition, it does not support any of the major features found in the other chipsets like RST12 and Smart Response Technology. Finally, H81 only supports one DIMM per memory channel so it will be limited to a maximum of two sticks of RAM.

H81 is a great option for small form factor systems where you rarely have more than one discrete card and a couple of SATA drives. For larger desktop systems, we recommend avoiding the H81 chipset and using either Z87 or H87 instead to allow for the possibility of future upgrades.

Business Chipsets (Q87, Q85, B85)

   Q87 Q85 B85
Processor Support Haswell LGA1150
Intel vPro Technology Yes No No
Intel Small Business Advantage Yes Yes Yes
USB Total (USB 3.0) 14(6) 14(6) 12(4)
Total SATA (SATA 6Gb/s) 6(6) 6(4) 6(4)
PCI-E 2.0* 8 8 8
Identity Protection Technology Yes Yes Yes
iSIPP Eligible Yes Yes No

*In addition to the 16 PCI-E 3.0 lanes from the CPU

Q87 The Q87 chipset is the most feature-rich business chipset and includes support Intel vPro, Identity Protection, and SIPP. It has six SATA 6Gb/s ports and six USB 3.0 ports in addition to the 14 USB 2.0 ports. This is the only chipset that will work if you need Intel vPro support or a large number of SATA 6Gb/s drives.

Q85 The Q85 chipset is very similar to Q87, but lacks Intel vPro support and only has four SATA 6Gb/s ports. The Q85 chipset is a great choice when you want a business chipset that includes plenty of SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0 ports, but does not need support for Intel vPro.

B85 The B85 chipset is the "budget" business option and as such is very limited compared to the other business chipsets. As such, it does not support iSIPP or vPro. Like the Q85 chipset, it has four SATA 6Gb/s ports compared to the six found on Q87. The B85 chipset is a good option for systems that need only basic functionality without the various features found in the other business chipsets.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that the chipset is only one of the may factors you should take into consideration when choosing a motherboard. If there is a specific feature you need like CPU overclocking, knowing what each chipset offers gives you a great starting place. But even from there, you still have to sort through the large number of motherboards that use that chipset. If you don't find a motherboard that fits your needs in terms of rear or internal ports, layout, or other functionality, you may even need to look at a "higher" chipset instead. 

For example, while the H87 may sound like the ideal chipset for the majority of our customers, we have found that the Z87 motherboards are almost always a better fit. Since Z87 is the top chipset, motherboard manufactures tend to include ports and headers on those motherboards that are not on their H87 equivalent. Often times, just a couple of additional ports can make the difference between a motherboard working for a customer out of the box or needing to use add-on PCI-E cards to get the proper functionality. These cards can give a customer the functionality they want, but they usually don't perform as well as onboard ports and add more points of failure which may lead to system instability. For that reason, we always recommend to get as much functionality as you can from the motherboard itself and only use PCI-E cards when absolutely necessary.

 


Tags: Haswell, Chipset, Z87, H87, H81, Q87, Q85, B85


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quanta

Thanks for the comprehensive chart? Do the business chipsets have RST12 or Smart Response? Do the commercial chipsets have vPro or IPT?

Posted on 2013-06-02 20:57:12

According to the Intel Ark page (http://ark.intel.com/#DesktopP..., the Q87 supports RST12, but the Q85 and B85 do not. It's not listed in the specs, but I am pretty sure that none of the business chipsets support Smart Response Technology.

As for the consumer chipsets, none of them support vPro or IPT as far as I can find.

Posted on 2013-06-03 18:06:09
SSR

Thank you Matthew for your brief and useful review of the new Intel chipsets. According to original specifications
http://ark.intel.com/compare/7...
http://www.intel.com/content/w... (p. 54)
1) the Q87 chipset actually supports Smart Response Technology
2) the Q85 and B85 chipsets don’t support any RAID configuration and Smart Response Technology but can benefit from using AHCI mode
3) at least Z87 and H87 chipsets support IPT
4) the unique Q87 chipset only supports Intel VPro and TXT technologies as well as VT-d Virtualization

Posted on 2013-09-15 14:04:51
Sicofante

Does Q87 support overclocking?

Posted on 2013-06-04 13:33:51

No, Z87 is the only chipset that fully supports CPU overclocking. You might be able to adjust the base clock a little bit, but you very likely will not be able to get a higher overclock than what Turbo Boost will automatically get you.

Posted on 2013-06-04 21:23:58
Jefro

Very concise and informative, thanks!

Posted on 2013-06-08 00:57:48
amd

Intel should pay you to do this.
Very helpful
Tx

Posted on 2013-06-19 21:27:14
Joel

Thanks for this. Re z87 vs H87, other than ports, what else? What type of headers might be in the former, not in the latter? Is build also an issue? I found an H87 w/ the right ports, but not sure if the components would be of lower quality than a z87 equivalent, w/c has excess components I don't need.

Posted on 2013-07-19 12:29:08
Hari

Thanks a lot..
This made things alot clearer.
I m getting Intel 4670 (I5 4th Gen Processor)
Gonna use it mostly for gaming and movies..
IS Intel Intel DH87RL a good Mobo for this ??

Thanks :)

Posted on 2013-11-02 11:16:40
Lorribot

Very good overview.
One point to note is that in Intel speak overclocking includes Memory, which means if you want to go above DDR3 1600MHz then you will need to use Z87 boards.

Posted on 2013-11-05 15:13:50
jax

thanks alot! lol i was going to get an i5 4670k with an B85 mobo chipset, thinking that im so going to overclock it. LOL!! thank you so much for this article.

Posted on 2013-11-23 11:45:39
Paul

You were wrong, you can overclock it..

http://www.tomshardware.com/ne...

Posted on 2014-01-21 10:44:02
mad

I am in the process of getting multiple Desktops to run ubuntu for Research and Development, at the moment am comparing
the following intel chipset H81, Q87, Q77, H61
What would be best performance issue?

Posted on 2013-11-25 17:56:26
stefun33

Hello, everybody. I'm building a PC that I'm going to use exclusively for multiple parallel FullHD Live video streaming (upload), using an i5-4570 and 2x4Gb of RAM. I got three questions:

*1*
Do all the chipsets for the Haswell series work the same? I've read there are some Intel features support differences between them, but I don't know if any of those features would influence in any way my PC's performance given what is built for.

And, besides those features, the question would be if there's any difference between the expensive Z87 chipset and the cheap H81, for example, when it comes to how the CPU will perform, how RAM will perform, and how those two work with each-other.

*2*
Is it true that I won't be necessarily needing a graphics card, and that the integrated CPU graphics will be enough?

*3*
Will a SSD be better than a HDD? I know SSD reads / writes faster, boots... opens, closes faster the programs, but are these actions involves in the actual video streaming? And, if they are, does it make any difference what type of storage drive I use?

Thank you for taking the time to read. I'm looking forward for any reply / advice.

Kind regards.

Posted on 2013-11-28 03:18:54
Junior Carvalho

Hooow! Now I Know!

Thanks.

Posted on 2013-12-17 17:33:01
Paressh

Help me choose between these Laptops

1) Dell 17R N5721__17inch, 900p, i7 3537U, HM76, 8GB, Intel HD 4000 Price=48,000/-
.
2) Lenovo Z510__15inch, 1080p,i5 4200M, QM87, 4GB, 2GB NVIDIA 740 Price=52,000/-
.
3) Dell 15R SE 7520__115inch, 1080p, i7 3632QM, HM77, 8GB, 2GB Radeon 7730M Price=57,000/-
.
4) Dell 17R SE 7720__17inch, 900p, i7 3630QM, HM77, 8GB, 2GB NVIDIA GT 650M Price=61,000/-
.
.
My Priorities......
My 1st Requirement- Display Resolution
My 2nd Requirement- Display Size
My 3rd Requirement- Quad Core.

Posted on 2014-01-30 13:45:53
Jim B

Late to this article, but it was *very* informative to us newbies. Thanks for it!

Posted on 2014-02-26 23:16:43
Nael

How about i5 4670 with b85 or i5 4670 with z87 not the oc one
which is better for gaming ?

Posted on 2014-02-27 20:46:13

The processor will perform identically on both of those chipsets, so paired with a single video card it shouldn't actually matter. Z87 based motherboards often support SLI too, though, which would give that platform an edge if you wanted to use dual video cards.

Posted on 2014-02-27 20:57:58
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