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

Written on June 2, 2013 by Matt Bach
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Looking for information on newer chipsets? We have multiple articles you may be interested in:

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 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. In addition, this chipset is not able to divide up the PCI-E lanes from the CPU so it cannot handle 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 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 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
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/#Deskt..., 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/compar...
http://www.intel.com/conten... (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
guest

So how come I've overclocked my i5-760 to 4 Ghz with ASUS P7H55 mobo if Z87 is the only chipset that supports overclocking? Considering I've adjusted both, the base clock AND multiplier. It's stock clock is 2.6 Ghz so I think 4 Ghz is pretty good overclock. Turbo-boosted was 3.2 if I'm not mistaken, still +800 Mhz.

Posted on 2014-07-12 13:40:13

The Z87 was the only chipset in its generation to support overclocking. Back with the H55, which is I think three generations older, Intel didn't limit overclocking to certain chipsets and CPUs like it does now.

Posted on 2014-07-14 05:44:56
awn007

I'm on an MSi B85 G series MB with a Pentium anniversary edition chip OC'ed stable at 4.4ghz for about 6 months now. It depends on the MB a few out there do support some types of OC. It's a great budget board for some good performance if you don't need Raid or ISRT

Posted on 2015-05-15 20:57:30
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

If both boards are from the same manufacturer and have similar names (i.e. ASUS Z87-Pro and Asus H87-PLUS) then the build quality and components should be the same. Many manufactures do have higher end boards (like the ASUS TUF or ROG series) that do use higher quality components, however, and generally offer longer warranties as well. Those boards are usually only available with the Z87 chipset, and you will pay a premium for them, so depending on your budget they may not be the best choice.

If you are comparing across different brands, it is more difficult. Your best bet in that case is to simply look up reviews and see if there are any reports of problems with one board or another.

Posted on 2013-07-19 17:48:31
Joel

Thanks. Unfortunately, I haven't found a single review on the Asus H87m-Pro, nor discussions in other forums. Do I assume it has same quality as the mid-tier boards, like Asus Z87-Deluxe/Pro or Z87-A? It was the only board of 2 that I found in Z87/H87 having eSata at the back panel at the price range. The other was z87x-ud3h but these board (and similar) are being plagued with issues being reported now.

Posted on 2013-07-20 02:38:49

In general, ASUS makes really high quality motherboards, so I wouldn't be very concerned about the quality of that motherboard. In fact, one of the reasons we use ASUS motherboards for the majority of our systems is because we know that no matter what board we decide to carry, the quality will at least be great. You still have to sort through all the different models to find the one with the features and ports you want, but you've already done that so you should be set.

Posted on 2013-07-22 18:38:31
Giggitygoebbels

Not only Z87 TUF series.There is a B85 Vanguard,and there is also a CS-B which is Q87.which is pretty nice if one does not overclock but want high quality components.

Posted on 2014-01-02 07:42:08
Alex

What about h87m?

Posted on 2013-10-18 22:27:22

H87m is a mobile (laptop) chipset - this post was only covering the desktop-class chipsets.

Posted on 2013-10-18 22:28:27
afa

H87M means micro-ATX.

Posted on 2013-12-06 13:06:38

M in a motherboard name might mean a microATX sized board (Asus uses an "M" to designate that often times). So for example, the H87M-E is a microATX motherboard from Asus that uses the H87 chipset.

However, Intel uses the letter M to designate mobile versions of their processors and chipsets. Thus, there is a *chipset* (not a motherboard) called the HM87. Since this article is about chipsets, not motherboards, I assumed the original question from Alex was referring to the chipset with a very similar name to what he listed.

Alex, if I was mistaken and you are asking about a motherboard, not a chipset, then that motherboard simply uses the H87 chipset and would thus fall under the description of that chipset given in the article above.

Posted on 2013-12-06 17:58:18
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

I don't have a lot of hands-on experience with Intel motherboards, but looking at their specs page it seems like that would be a fine motherboard. It is the H87 chipset, so it can't overclock - but that isn't a concern as you aren't getting the overclockable version of that processor anyway. It does have a slot for a single, dedicated video card (which will be important for gaming) - and the rear port selection looks fine too. You might want to look it up on sites like Newegg or Amazon that have lots of customer reviews, to make sure people who own in are pleased with it... but aside from that it looks like a fine choice :)

Posted on 2013-11-04 04:36:57
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...

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

Afraid not, Intel blocked that update shortly after. http://www.bit-tech.net/new...

Posted on 2014-01-21 17:11:16
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

Q77 and H61 are both older generations of chipsets, which means you would also be stuck with older CPUs and fewer of the latest features (USB 3.0 ports, SATA 6Gbps, etc). Thus I would avoid those.

As for the two current chipsets you listed, Q87 and H81, the article above should help you understand the differences between them. The Q87 is the more capable chipset overall, though, if you just want a quick answer :)

Posted on 2013-11-25 19:39:05
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
delonge

does all of them (consumer (z87 h87 h81) and bussines (q87 b85) ) support intel virtualization?

Posted on 2014-03-03 23:34:12

I can't decide between Z87 or H87, any suggestion?, or wait for the haswell refresh similar chip series?

Posted on 2014-04-01 23:49:47

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Posted on 2014-12-25 20:44:33
Enzowned

The one big thing I'm seeing in looking at boards (only looking at ITX), is that H81 has PCI-E 2.0 instead of 3.0. The other common ones, Z87, H87, B85 have 3.0. Furthermore the H81 boards I'm seeing don't have a USB 3.0 header. So while H81 supports it? They are choosing to not implement it. Lastly, the H87 and B85 boards from the same manufacturer are nearly identical. I do not see any reason to go with an H87 over a B85 when in ITX you're probably limited to a few internal ports anyways.

B85 seems the way to go without useless features (again in regards to the ITX boards I've seen). Recommending z87 is all but the easiest thing to do. I don't even understand what the real difference is between B85 and H87 technically from this article hah.

Take a look at http://www.amazon.com/Gigab...
It has everything I could want, even msata and mini-pciE, and I am genuinely in awe. Their more expensive H87 board ditches the msata? why? and offers a second gigabit port.... I do not understand how that is $15 more. I almost feel like there has to be a catch...

Posted on 2014-04-28 09:50:44
Manohar

Lenovo M73
model with the below specifications.

Think
Center M 73 Tower Model Core I 5 -4670S 3.1 GHz 6 MB cache H81 TW 280 W 4 GB
DDR 3 RAM 500 GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.5 " WINDOWS 8 64 bit SL USB key board USB
mouse 18.5 " with 3 years onsite warranty.

Does this H81 supports PCI E card ?

We require
a PCI E slot in the motherboard for adding a dedicated graphics card for these
systems. Hence kindly ensure that PCI E slot is present in the model .

Posted on 2014-06-04 11:00:58

For something this specific about a different brand of computer you would be best off asking the computer manufacturer.

Posted on 2014-06-04 16:19:27
mony

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Posted on 2014-06-29 16:07:31
Nikos Petroupoli

So with B85 chipset u cant overclock ?
i have this one http://www.gigabyte.com/pro... plus an i5 4670k and i was planing to OC is it posible?

Posted on 2014-07-08 11:19:13

Correct - the B85 chipset will not allow overclocking, even though the 4670K supports it. You would be better off with either a different motherboard if you want to overclock.

Posted on 2014-07-08 16:08:25
Nikos Petroupoli

this is bad ... prffff . thanks

Posted on 2014-07-08 17:30:43
Brian

If I wanted to put the H81 into another larger tower case to fit say a gtx 690 graphics card, what motherboard type of case would i need?

Posted on 2014-12-26 07:57:50

It depends what form factor your motherboard is. I've seen H81 chipsets used on Mini ITX, Micro ATX, and I think even full ATX motherboards. You would need a case that was the right size (or larger), with room for a full-length video card (the GTX 690 is a big card) and lots of cooling. You would also want to have a pretty beefy power supply to run a card like that.

Posted on 2014-12-26 16:50:49
Brian

Thank you, I already have a tx 750w power supply so my power needs are met for the project ahead of me. I know that the case is supposed to be a mini, more specifically it is a Dell Inspiron 3847 but i do not know what motherboard form factor I have. Iv been googling it for days now with no luck. I am just going to drag it up to the Denver Micro Center and see if they can help me. If you happen to know or be able to tell me what form factor my motherboard is though I would be most appreciative.

Posted on 2014-12-29 07:06:17

Looks like MicroATX to me: the four expansion slots on the back of the chassis indicate that, while normal ATX should have seven or ITX would have only one or two. However, that does not guarantee that the motherboard and case mounting that Dell used are exactly to MicroATX specifications - it is entirely possible that they used a more customized / proprietary design, as they make both the case and motherboard themselves.

Posted on 2014-12-29 07:49:55
Brian

Thank you for your assistance.

Posted on 2014-12-29 14:50:01
sumedh

hi awesome post.....wanted a gaming config ...i have

GCARD > NVIDIA GEFORCE GTS 450 (ASUS)

I NEED a good motherboard for gaming with intel core i3 4160.... 3.6ghz ,lga1150

my options are :

gigabyte/asus
B85 M D3H (or other b85 variants)
H87 M D3H (or other b85 variants)
H81 also an option ,but i can go till B85 /H87(@ BUDGET)

or any OTHER!

coz on gigabyte when i compare all are the same except the hd 1s.
i have 4gb ddr2 RAMs ...guess i ll have 2 change em 2?

Posted on 2014-12-26 19:22:06

i built a pc on h81 and mobo has even dedicated software for oc in bios

Posted on 2015-03-19 02:29:27
NuckFuts

Actual board layouts and BIOS/Chipset updates have beefed up the H81 chipsets capabilities, rendering this guide 'old'. I bought a H81- Gamer and it can have up to 32GB Ram and is able to push an i7 to 4.8Ghz easily

Posted on 2015-07-23 12:16:05
Ben

i purchased a B85M-G motherboard for my sweet spot gaming PC, was this a good choice? or at least, it wont bottleneck my intel i5 4690, gtx 960, 2400mz 16 gb corsair ram? ...will it? I don't know much about how chip-sets and boards affect performance.

Posted on 2015-07-24 12:25:58
Saba

i need info about h81 r h85 cipset difference?

Posted on 2015-11-17 12:02:19
Daniel

can i use the h81 chipset for gaming ? intel core i7 4790 nvidia gtx 960

Posted on 2015-11-28 17:43:43
william

Why would you need to overclock a new pc when you can buy one with 8gb of ram?

Posted on 2015-12-30 12:32:22

Very insightful. Thanks!

Posted on 2017-08-03 17:05:00