We are nearing the launch of the 11th Gen Core desktop processors, otherwise known as Intel Rocket Lake, and depending on what motherboard you currently own, a BIOS update might be all you need to support one of the next-gen CPUs. That's because Intel is recycling its LGA1200 socket for one more round. However, not every single 400-series chipset is compatible with Rocket Lake.
Contrary to what an MSI customer service representative purportedly wrote on a support forum last month, Intel's B460 and H410 chipsets are not destined to support Intel's next-gen CPUs. A recent support document from Intel clarifies this in no uncertain terms.
"Motherboards based on Intel B460 or H410 chipsets are not compatible with upcoming 11th Gen Intel Core processors," Intel states.
That leaves the Z490 and H470 as beneficiaries of backwards compatibility, by way of a BIOS update. As is often the case in these situations, dropping a next-gen CPU into a last-gen motherboard without an updated BIOS may result in the system not booting, which is another thing the document clearly warns.
Fortunately, Intel's hardware partners are on the ball with BIOS updates supporting Rocket Lake. If you plan to upgrade, you should apply the latest BIOS before dropping in the new CPU. You can find these firmware files by navigating to your motherboard model's product page and peeking the support section.
If you're building a gaming PC around Rocket Lake from the ground up, however, it's a better idea to go with a 500-series motherboard. The latest generation chipsets offer improved power delivery, chipset-based USB 3.2 Gen2x2 support (rather than offloading to a separate controller chip), and native PCI Express 4.0 support (some Z490 motherboards will support PCIe 4.0 when paired with a Rocket Lake CPU as well). Intel designed its 500-series chipsets for Rocket Lake, whereas the 400-series was designed for desktop Comet Lake silicon.
Some 500-series motherboards are already available, though Rocket Lake has yet to see a retail launch. Barring any unforeseen events, Rocket Lake will arrive at retail next month, with a 19 percent IPC (instructions per clock) boost in tow.