This article will discuss choosing a motherboard for AMD's Ryzen 9 3950X processor. Check out my Recommended Motherboards below, along with compatible CPU coolers and memory. OEM-only chipsets that are not available on retail motherboards are outside the scope of this article.
For AMD's Zen 2-based Ryzen 9 3950X processor, you'll need a motherboard with an AM4 socket and a compatible chipset.
Motherboards for AMD processors are made with chipsets provided by AMD. Each chipset offers a unique set of capabilities. However, motherboards must explicitly support features and capabilities for you to use them. Verify that a motherboard supports the features and capabilities you desire.
Ryzen 3000-series CPUs without Radeon Graphics, which includes the Ryzen 9 3950X, are compatible with all 400 and 500-series consumer chipsets. Supported chipsets include the X570, B550, A520, X470, and B450.
The older X370 and B350 300-series chipsets are generally not compatible, out of the box, with Ryzen 3000-series CPUs without Radeon Graphics. However, the 300-series chipsets may be supported by some motherboard manufacturers, when using a specific compatible BIOS. This CPU is not compatible with the A320 300-series chipset.
The X570 is our recommended chipset for the Ryzen 9 3950X CPU, as it provides the most functionality and full support for PCIe 4.0. The Ryzen 9 3950X CPU also supports PCIe 4.0.
Only the X570 chipset provides PCIe 4.0 lanes via the chipset.
When using motherboards with the B550 chipset, you still have PCIe 4.0 lanes from the CPU for PCI-Express slots; however, all PCIe or M.2 slots connected via these chipsets will run at PCIe 3.0 speeds.
For a detailed comparison of these chipsets and PCIe speeds, check out my article Which Chipsets Work With AMD's Ryzen 9 3950X CPU?.
Find Zen 2 X570 Motherboards on Amazon (affiliate link).
Find Zen 2 B550 Motherboards on Amazon (affiliate link).
Find Zen 2 A520 Motherboards on Amazon (affiliate link).
Check out my Recommended Motherboards for the 3950X below.
In addition to selecting a motherboard with a socket type and chipset compatible with the 3950X, here are a few other things to consider when picking a motherboard. Some of these considerations will help determine the best chipset to use.
Video Output Port
The lack of a "G" in the 3950X model name indicates that the CPU does not have integrated graphics support and requires a separate graphics card. Because it doesn't have integrated graphics support, you won't need a motherboard with a video output port (e.g., HDMI).
Storage: M.2 Slots and SATA Ports
NVMe M.2 cards are the latest and fastest form of SSD storage. However, you need to ensure that your motherboard includes enough slots.
The X570 and B550 chipsets support the most PCIe lanes, which means that motherboards with these chipsets are likely to have the most x4 NVMe M.2 slots available. Keep in mind that the X570 is the only one of the two that supports PCIe 4.0 via the chipset.
Learn more about storage types in my article Storage Type Comparison: M.2, U.2, NVMe, SATA, SSDs, HDDs.
Make sure that the motherboard provides enough USB ports at your desired speeds. The X570 can support the most USB ports at USB 3.2 2x1 (10 Gbps) speeds. Motherboards with the X570 chipset can support up to 12 of these ports. The B550, in comparison, only supports up to 6 at these speeds. The devices that are likely to need the high bandwidth rates will typically be limited to storage devices and high-resolution video devices.
Make sure that the motherboard has your desired audio outputs.
For example, if you have a surround sound system, ensure that it comes with rear and center speaker ports.
If your audio equipment requires an optical input, consider getting a motherboard with this port.
Alternatively, you can purchase a separate PCIe or USB sound card to add additional port types such as optical or RCA.
Motherboards typically come in one of three form factors. ATX is the most common motherboard form factor for a desktop PC.
You might also consider Mini-ITX or MicroATX form factors to build a mini-PC. Keep in mind that these smaller form factors typically have fewer PCIe card slots, fewer RAM slots, and can not support as many storage devices.
These smaller Mini-ITX and MicroATX motherboard form factors are backward compatible with standard ATX cases. They use a subset of the ATX mounting holes. You can also use Mini-ITX motherboards in MicroATX cases.
You will need a computer case compatible with your motherboard form factor.
PCIe Expansion Slots
The X570 and B550 chipsets provide the most flexibility in the 500-series, allowing multiple graphics cards in the dual x8 configuration at PCIe 4.0 speeds.
The A520 chipset, on the other hand, is very limited, allowing for only a single graphics card via the slower PCIe 3.0 x16 slot.
|PCIe 3.0||PCIe 4.0|
|x1 Bandwidth||1 GB/s||2 GB/s|
|x2 Bandwidth||2 GB/s||4 GB/s|
|x4 Bandwidth||4 GB/s||8 GB/s|
|x8 Bandwidth||8 GB/s||16 GB/s|
|x16 Bandwidth||16 GB/s||32 GB/s|
Best Value Motherboard: ASUS TUF Gaming X570-Plus (Wi-Fi)
- Our recommended value motherboard to pair with the Ryzen 9 3950X is ASUS's TUF Gaming X570-Plus (Wi-Fi) Motherboard:
- High-quality components
- PCIe 4.0 support
- One Gb Ethernet port is faster than most Internet speeds.
- Two NVMe M.2 slots both run at PCIe 4.0 speeds.
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi provides the convenience of connecting to a Wi-Fi router.
- USB 3.2 Gen 2 offers 10 Gbps USB speeds.
- Check the latest price of the ASUS TUF Gaming X570-Plus (Wi-Fi) Motherboard on Amazon (affiliate link).
Best Feature Motherboard: MSI MAG X570 TOMAHAWK WIFI
- Our recommended feature-rich motherboard to pair with the Ryzen 9 3950X is MSI's MAG X570 TOMAHAWK WIFI Motherboard:
- PCIe 4.0 support
- One 2.5 Gb Ethernet port is faster than most Internet speeds, with room to spare for file transfers.
- Two NVMe M.2 slots both run at PCIe 4.0 speeds.
- Wi-Fi 6 provides great Wi-Fi speeds (not Wi-Fi 6E, but still really good).
- USB 3.2 Gen 2 offers 10 Gbps USB speeds.
- Check the latest price of the MSI MAG X570 TOMAHAWK WIFI Motherboard on Amazon (affiliate link).
A CPU cooler's TDP (Thermal Design Power) rating indicates how much heat it can dissipate in watts. If the cooler can't keep your CPU cool enough, your CPU may throttle (slow down), and your cooler will constantly run at full speed.
The Ryzen 9 3950X has a TDP of 105 watts.
A CPU cooler can still work with a lower TDP rating than the TDP of a CPU. However, the CPU will eventually throttle itself to a lower frequency to allow itself to cool.
The CPU may not achieve or maintain maximum boost speeds without adequate cooling.
Types of Coolers
Air coolers use a combination of heatsinks and fans. They are the cheapest, but also the loudest.
A Closed-Loop Cooler (CLC), also called an All-in-One (AIO) cooler, is a type of liquid cooler. All-in-one liquid coolers provide a more straightforward setup in a single pre-built package.
Liquid cooling can provide even better TDP performance at lower noise levels but are more expensive and take up more room. The noise level and ability to cool your CPU will depend on the liquid cooling solution's radiator size and the number and size of the fans.
Find AM4 AIO Coolers on Amazon (affiliate link).
Open-Loop Coolers are also a type of liquid cooler, except you construct them yourself. They allow for more flexibility in building your perfect cooling solution but can also be more complicated to set up. Open-loop systems give you the flexibility to cool additional devices, such as your graphics card's GPU.
More fans typically mean better cooling. However, they also mean more noise.
Larger fans are typically quieter than smaller fans, as they can move the same amount of air at lower speeds.
If a cooler is struggling to cool a CPU, it will run at its maximum speed, which will be louder.
Fan noise levels are measured a dB. Lower dB values are quieter.
You can often configure your motherboard's BIOS to use specific fan speeds at particular temperatures. This configurable fan speed allows you to have a near-silent computer while your computer is idle.
CPU coolers can have various mounting brackets to work with different socket sizes. Make sure that your cooler comes with a compatible mounting bracket.
The easiest way to find a CPU cooler that will work for your computer is to search by socket type. For example, the 3950X uses an AM4 socket, so you would search for an AM4 CPU cooler.
In some cases, such as when a new socket size is released, there may not be many compatible coolers. In these cases, you can often purchase a separate mounting/retention kit to work with the new dimensions.
Before buying the biggest cooler possible, ensure that your case and motherboard configuration have room.
Also, ensure that other components on your motherboard won't interfere due to size constraints. For example, do your memory modules (DIMMs) have tall heat spreaders?
Dual-fan coolers often take up quite a bit of room. Liquid cooling solutions typically position fans at the top or bottom of the case.
Some CPU cooler fans come with LED lighting. Similarly, liquid cooling pump heads can also come with LEDs or even LCDs!
If you want to turn off the lights when they get annoying, make sure your CPU cooler has that option.
In general, air-based coolers will be lower cost than liquid cooling systems.
CPU coolers that support a higher TDP are also typically correlated with a higher price.
The more advanced lighting features tend to also come at an extra cost. You can decide between a practical, low-cost solution and a dazzling light show.
The boxed version of the Ryzen 9 3950X CPU does not come with a CPU cooler, so you'll need to purchase one separately.
Best AIO Liquid Cooler: Enermax Liqmax III 360
- This Enermax liquid cooler has an excellent cooling capability with a 360-watt TDP (Thermal Design Power).
- Supports a variety of CPU sockets, including Intel LGA 2066, 2011-3, 2011, 1700, 1200, 1366, 1156, 1155, 1151, 1150 and AMD AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, FM1.
- Quiet operation at 14-27 dBA.
- Make sure your computer case dimensions support this, as it will take up a decent amount of space!
Best Dual-Fan Air CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D15
- Dual 140 mm fans provide 220-watt TDP (183 NSPR) of cooling capability.
- Supports a variety of CPU sockets, including Intel LGA 1700, 1200, 1156, 1155, 1151, 1150, 2011, 2066 and AMD AM4, AM3, AM3+, AM2, AM2+, FM2, FM2+.
- Quiet operation at 24.6 dBA.
Runner Up - Dual-Fan Air CPU Cooler: Thermaltake TOUGHAIR 510
- This CPU cooler doesn't have any fancy LED lights, but the dual 120 mm fans do a great job of cooling AM4 CPUs.
- Supports a variety of CPU sockets, including Intel LGA 1700, 1200, 1156, 1155, 1151, 1150 and AMD AM4, AM3, AM3+, AM2, AM2+, FM2, FM1.
- Suppose you think this cooler will take up too much space. In that case, Thermaltake has a few single-fan TOUGHAIR variants which use different orientations.
- This CPU cooler has a 2000 RPM max speed for optimal cooling.
- 180-watt TDP (Thermal Design Power).
Before purchasing memory, review your motherboard specification to verify which speeds are supported. For example, if a DDR4 motherboard stated that it supports "DDR4 3400(O.C.) / 3333(O.C.) / 3300(O.C.) / 3200 / 3000," that would mean that it could support DDR4-3400, DDR4-3333, and DDR4-3300 with memory overclocking, and DDR4-3200 and DDR4-3000 at stock speeds. Motherboard specifications also indicate the maximum capacity per stick of RAM (DIMM) and across all slots.
Recommended DDR4: Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4
At an effective frequency of 3200 MHz, this memory hits the fastest supported stock DDR4 speeds.
It is also available in other (effective) frequencies for overclockers, including 3600 MHz and 4000 MHz.
The low-profile form factor ensures that the heat spreaders don't get in the way of other devices, including your CPU heatsink.
- Which Chipsets Work With AMD's Ryzen 9 3950X CPU?
- Choosing the Best Power Supply for AMD's Ryzen 9 3950X CPU
- Choosing the Best Motherboard for AMD's Ryzen 9 3950X
- Choosing the Best RAM for AMD's Ryzen 9 3950X CPU
- Choosing the Best CPU Cooler for AMD's Ryzen 9 3950X
- What Is the TDP of the Ryzen 9 3950X CPU?
- How Many Cores Do AMD Ryzen 9 3950X CPUs Have?
Want to brush up on other new technologies to consider when building a computer? Check out these articles:
- CPU Coolers:
- Graphics Cards:
- Power Supplies: