Table of Contents
Intel's 12th Gen Core processor family initially launched with the top-end Z690 chipset, but in the months since that time Intel has added additional chipset options with varying feature sets. Now that several of those have been released, we are taking a look at four desktop chipsets: Z690, H670, B660, and H610.
But what is a chipset, you might ask? For those who are new to this term, it refers to the hardware on a motherboard that facilitates communication between the processor (CPU), memory (RAM), video card (GPU), expansion cards, storage (SSDs / HDDs), other onboard controllers (audio/networking), and peripherals (USB and Thunderbolt devices, for example). Different chipsets are built to support different generations of CPUs and provide varying amounts of PCI-Express lanes, SATA ports, USB ports, etc.
Most users won't need to concern themselves with the details of what these chipsets offer, since what really matters, in the end, is the functionality that the motherboard as a whole provides, but for those who enjoy digging into details we've put together this comparison.
Chipset Features & Specifications
Here is a chart showing the major specifications of these four chipsets:
|Intel CPU Compatibility||12th Gen Core||12th Gen Core||12th Gen Core||12th Gen Core|
|CPU Overclocking Support||Yes||No||No||No|
|Memory Overclocking Support||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Intel Integrated Graphics Support||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Max # of Displays Supported||4||4||4||3|
|CPU PCI Express 5.0 Lane Support||1×16 / 2×8||1×16 / 2×8||1×16||1×16|
|CPU PCI Express 4.0 Lane Support||1×4||1×4||1×4||0|
|Chipset PCI Express 4.0 Lanes||12||12||6||0|
|Chipset PCI Express 3.0 Lanes||16||12||8||12|
|DMI 4.0 Lanes||x8||x8||x4||x4|
|Memory Generation||DDR4 & DDR5||DDR4 & DDR5||DDR4 & DDR5||DDR4 & DDR5|
|Max Memory Slots||4||4||4||2|
|Max # of SATA 6.0 Gb/s||8||8||4||4|
|RAID Support||PCIe / SATA||PCIe / SATA||SATA||None|
|Max # USB Ports (total)||14||14||12||10|
|Max USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Ports (20Gbps)||4||2||2||0|
|Max USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 Ports (10Gbps)||10||4||4||2|
|Max USB 3.2 Gen 1×1 Ports (5Gbps)||10||8||6||4|
|Max USB 2.0 Ports||14||14||12||10|
|Integrated Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi 6E||Wi-Fi 6E||Wi-Fi 6E||Wi-Fi 6E|
|Thermal Design Power (TDP)||6W||6W||6W||6W|
What do all of these chipsets have in common?
Before getting into what makes them different, let's briefly cover the similarities they share. All of Intel's 600-series chipsets are built for their 12th Gen Core family of processors. As such, they all support DDR4 and DDR5 (which type is used will depend on the motherboard) and video output capabilities tied to the graphics on Intel's Core CPUs. They also have built-in Wi-Fi 6E functionality and are rated for the same 6W TDP.
What are the differences between Intel’s Z690, H670, B660, and H610 chipsets?
Intel's Z690 chipset is the flagship in this family, so naturally, it supports the most PCI Express lanes, USB ports, and other features. It is also the only 600-series chipset to support CPU overclocking, though here at Puget Systems we tend to recommend against overclocking. H670 isn't far behind its bigger sibling, with just four fewer PCIe 3.0 lanes and a reduction in the number of each type of USB 3.2 port – but still the same number in total. It also retains memory overclocking support.
Taking a bigger cut, B660 reduces PCIe 3.0 and 4.0 lanes, DMI 4.0 lanes, and SATA ports to half of what Z690 supports. It also drops 2 of the USB 3.2 ports compared to H670 and loses support for RAID on PCIe drives. RAID on SATA drives is still an option, though, as well as memory overclocking. The naming of this chipset also seems to indicate that business users are the target market, but unless I missed something when reviewing the specs there are no additional enterprise-class features here that might make it appealing to that segment (things like vPro, for example)
The H610 chipset is by far the most limited of the group, losing out on PCIe 4.0 support entirely and allowing only two memory module slots instead of four. USB ports are cut back as well, with none of the top-speed USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 ports at all, and RAID support is gone as well. H610 also supports one fewer display than the other three: 3 instead of 4. However, I cannot recall ever seeing a motherboard with more than 3 onboard video outputs – and in my experience, 2 or even just 1 is a more common number.
For workstations with the widest range of features and connectivity, Intel's Z690 is definitely the best chipset option for 12th Gen Core processors. It is no wonder that it was the chipset that launched alongside this CPU generation! However, H670 doesn't lose out on much – so for slightly more budget-conscious consumers, and especially those looking for a smaller form factor motherboard (where there wouldn't be room for as many bells and whistles) it is also a great choice.
B660's specifications are even more cut back, but not too much – and for folks who don't plan to add a lot of expansion cards or too many external devices, it would likely be just fine. H610 is probably too cut back for most users, but it could make sense in particularly small ITX form factor boards where the reduced number of memory slots is forced by the board size as much as by the chipset limitations.
Please also keep in mind that these are the capabilities of each chipset – but the exact features which are implemented on any given motherboard depend on other factors as well. Board manufacturers can add functionality by including controller chips, and may opt for different combinations of connectors (both internally and on the rear panel) depending on what they think their customers want and need. If you are looking for a new workstation with an Intel 12th Gen processor, reach out to our consultants for personalized assistance.
Puget Systems offers a range of powerful and reliable systems that are tailor-made for your unique workflow.