This article will discuss choosing a motherboard for Intel's Core i9 9900K processor.
Motherboards for Intel's 9th Gen CPUs are no longer being manufactured and have limited availability.
Find newer CPUs in the list below.
For Intel's 9th generation Core i9 9900K processor, you'll need a motherboard with an LGA 1151 socket and 300-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 9900K means it's an unlocked processor that supports overclocking. You will need a motherboard with the Z390 or Z370 chipset to support CPU overclocking.
For compatiblity with Intel's 11th generation Core processors, you can use any of the 300-series chipsets: Z390, Z370, H370, B365, B360, H310. These are roughly sorted from most to least functionality.
The Q370 chipset is also compatible, but is intended for business use cases; its 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 i9-9900K CPU?.
- Find Z390 Chipset Motherboards on Amazon (affiliate link).
- Find Z370 Chipset Motherboards on Amazon (affiliate link).
- Find H370 Chipset Motherboards on Amazon (affiliate link).
- Find B365 Chipset Motherboards on Amazon (affiliate link).
- Find B360 Chipset Motherboards on Amazon (affiliate link).
- Find H310 Chipset Motherboards on Amazon (affiliate link).
In addition to selecting a motherboard with a socket type and chipset compatible with the 9900K, 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 i9-9900K CPU?.
Video Output Port
The lack of an "F" in the 9900K model name indicates that the CPU has integrated graphics support. You will need to make sure that your motherboard also has a video output port (e.g., HDMI) if you want to use the integrated graphics.
Even if you primarily connect your monitors to a graphics card, integrated graphics can be beneficial when troubleshooting and fixing graphics card problems.
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 Z390, Z370, and Q370 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 Z390 and Q370 can support the most USB ports at 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 Z390, Z370, and Q370 chipsets provide the most flexibility, allowing multiple PCIe 3.0 graphics cards in the dual x8 configuration.
The other chipsets, on the other hand, are very limited, with only a single PCIe 3.0 x16 slot.
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 i9-9900K has a TDP of 95 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 1151 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 9900K uses an LGA 1151 socket, so you would search for an LGA 1151 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: Be Quiet! BK022 Dark Rock Pro 4
- Quiet operation at 12.8-24.3 dB.
- The dual fans (120 mm and 135 mm) do a great job of cooling LGA 1151 CPUs with a 250-watt TDP (Thermal Design Power).
- Supports a variety of CPU sockets, including Intel LGA 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011(-3) square ILM, 2066 and AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, AM4, FM1, FM2, FM2+.
- Smaller models are available if you don't need as much cooling ability.
- You can even add another 120 mm fan to it for more cooling!
Runner-Up - 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, 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 2011, 2066 and AMD AM4, AM3, AM3+, AM2, AM2+, FM2, FM2+.
- Quiet operation at 24.6 dBA.
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 2666 MHz, this memory hits the fastest DDR4 speed supported by Intel's Core i9 9900K 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 i9-9900K CPU?
- Choosing the Best CPU Cooler for Intel's Core i9-9900K
- Choosing the Best Power Supply for Intel's Core i9-9900K
- Is the Core i9-9900K CPU Good for Gaming?
- Choosing the Best RAM for Intel's Core i9-9900K CPU
- Choosing the Best Motherboard for Intel's Core i9-9900K
- How Many Cores Do Intel Core i9-9900K CPUs Have?
- What Is the TDP of the Core i9-9900K CPU?
You can find detailed 9900K 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: