This article will discuss choosing a motherboard for Intel's Core i5 11600KF processor. Check out my Recommended Motherboards below, along with compatible CPU coolers and memory.
For Intel's 11th generation Core i5 11600KF processor, you'll need a motherboard with an LGA 1200 socket and a compatible 500-series or 400-series chipset.
Motherboards for Intel processors are made with chipsets provided by Intel. 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.
The "K" in the model name 11600KF means it's an unlocked processor that supports overclocking. You will need a motherboard with the Z590 or Z490 chipset to support CPU overclocking.
For compatiblity with Intel's 11th generation Core processors, you can use any of the 500-series chipsets: Z590, H570, B560, H510. These are roughly sorted from most to least functionality. The W580 and Q570 chipsets are also compatible, but are intended for workstation and business use cases; their availability in stand-alone motherboards is limited.
While the budget-friendly 400-series B460 and H410 won't work with the 11th generation Core processors, the Z490 and H470 400-series chipsets are compatible. However, these chipsets were originally designed for the 10th generations Core processors, and will limit the capabilities of your system. The W480 and Q470 chipsets are also compatible, but are intended for workstation and business use cases; their availability in stand-alone motherboards is limited.
For a detailed comparison of these chipsets, check out my article Which Chipsets Work With Intel's Core i5-11600KF CPU?.
Find Z590 Chipset 11th Gen Motherboards on Amazon (affiliate link).
Find H570 Chipset 11th Gen Motherboards on Amazon (affiliate link).
Find B560 Chipset 11th Gen Motherboards on Amazon (affiliate link).
Find H510 Chipset 11th Gen Motherboards on Amazon (affiliate link).
Find Z490 Chipset 10th Gen Motherboards on Amazon (affiliate link).
Find H470 Chipset 10th Gen Motherboards on Amazon (affiliate link).
Check out my Recommended Motherboards for the 11th Gen 11600KF below.
In addition to selecting a motherboard with a socket type and chipset compatible with the 11600KF, here are a few other things to consider when picking a motherboard. Some of these considerations will help determine the best chipset to use.
To be able to overclock DDR memory, such as via an XMP profile, your motherboard chipset needs to support memory overclocking. Find which chipsets support overclocking in my article, Which Chipsets Work With Intel's Core i5-11600KF CPU?.
Video Output Port
The "F" in the 11600KF 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 Z590, Z490, and W480 chipsets support the most PCIe 3.0 lanes, which means that motherboards with these chipsets are likely to have the most x4 NVMe M.2 slots available.
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 Z590 can support the most USB ports at USB 3.2 2x2 (20 Gbps), USB 3.2 2x1 (10 Gbps), and USB 3.2 1x1 (5 Gbps) 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 Z590 chipset provides the most flexibility, allowing multiple PCIe 4.0 graphics cards in the dual x8 configuration.
The H510 chipset, on the other hand, is very limited, with only a single PCIe 4.0 x16 slot.
Best Feature Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero
- Our recommended feature-rich motherboard to pair with the Core i5-11600KF is ASUS's ROG Maximus XIII Hero:
- Four NVMe M.2 slots, which is great! (two @ PCIe 4.0 speeds, two @ PCIe 3.0 speeds).
- This board includes various headers for accessories, including 3 ARGB headers for lighting control and separate liquid pump header.
- Audio noise canceling and an optical audio output port
- Z590 chipset supports overclocking for K-prefixed CPUs.
- PCIe 4.0 support
- Wi-Fi 6E makes it easy to reach the fastest speeds and future-proof your Wi-Fi system.
- Bluetooth 5.2 is great for streaming music to Bluetooth headphones.
- Two 2.5 Gb Ethernet ports are faster than most Internet speeds with room to spare for file transfers.
- USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 offers 20 Gbps USB speeds!
- Check the latest price of the ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero on Amazon (affiliate link).
Best Value Motherboard: ASUS TUF Gaming Z590-Plus WiFi
- Our recommended value motherboard to pair with the Core i5-11600KF is the ASUS TUF Gaming Z590-Plus WiFi motherboard:
- Three NVMe M.2 slots, which is excellent (one @ PCIe 4.0 speeds, two @ PCIe 3.0 speeds).
- PCIe 4.0 support
- Wi-Fi 6 makes it easy to reach the fastest speeds and future-proof your Wi-Fi system.
- One 2.5 Gb Ethernet port, which is faster than most Internet speeds with room to spare for file transfers.
- USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 offers 20 Gbps USB speeds!
- Check the latest price of the ASUS TUF Gaming Z590-Plus WiFi 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.
Intel CPU specifications indicate this power dissipation number as "Processor Base Power" and "Maximum Turbo Power."
The Core i5-11600KF has a TDP of 125 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 turbo 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 LGA 1200 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 11600KF uses an LGA 1200 socket, so you would search for an LGA 1200 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.
Locked Intel CPUs may come with a stock CPU cooler. These CPU models do not have a "K" in the name. While stock coolers will prevent your CPU from overheating, your CPU will throttle its performance during games and other intensive tasks. Higher TDP coolers will keep your CPU at turbo speeds for longer durations. Stock coolers are often quite loud at their maximum speed.
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 LGA 1200 CPUs.
- 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 Stock-Speed DDR4
- At an effective frequency of 3200 MHz, this memory hits the fastest DDR4 speed supported by Intel's Core i5 11600KF CPU without overclocking.
- The low-profile form factor ensures that the heat spreaders don't get in the way of other devices, including your CPU heatsink.
Recommended DDR4 for Overclockers
- This DDR4 memory is designed for overclocking to an effective frequency of 3600 MHz.
- Supports XMP 2.0.
- Compact heat spreaders avoid conflicting with a CPU cooler.
- Which Chipsets Work With Intel's Core i5-11600KF CPU?
- Choosing the Best CPU Cooler for Intel's Core i5-11600KF
- Choosing the Best Power Supply for Intel's Core i5-11600KF
- Is the Core i5-11600KF CPU Good for Gaming?
- Choosing the Best RAM for Intel's Core i5-11600KF CPU
- Choosing the Best Motherboard for Intel's Core i5-11600KF
- How Many Cores Do Intel Core i5-11600KF CPUs Have?
- What Is the TDP of the Core i5-11600KF CPU?
You can find detailed 11600KF specifications on Intel's site.
Want to brush up on other new technologies to consider when building a computer? Check out these articles:
- CPU Coolers:
- Graphics Cards:
- Power Supplies: