Motherboard makers pounce on new and cheaper 300-series chipsets for Coffee Lake

Intel has finally introduced some additional chipsets for its Coffee Lake processors, which will widen the field of motherboard options when building a new system. Just as importantly, if not more so, the new chipsets pave the way for cheaper options in the marketplace.

It always seemed weird to pair, say, a lower end Core i3-8100 CPU with a top shelf Z370-chipset motherboard. Sure, you could readily find Z370 motherboards in the $110 range, but it's still a flagship chipset. 

Now Intel is offering a handful of additional chipsets that support Coffee Lake—H370, H310, Q370, and B360. Here is an outline of features for each one:

These new chipsets open the door for more affordable builds that are more price competitive with AMD's less expensive options. We'll have to wait for things to flesh out a bit more in the retail sector, but in the early going, here's a Gigabyte H370 HD3 motherboard selling for $100 on Amazon.

It's obviously a small sample size, but the above listing suggests that motherboards based on the highest end of the new chipsets (H370) will cost roughly the same as the least expensive Z370 motherboards. That means we should see some affordable options priced well below $100, when utilizing the other chipsets.

That will depend on the specific model, of course. Asus introduced a handful of new models under its Strix branding, including three full-size ATX motherboards, a micro-ATX model, and two mini-ITX boards. Prices range from $110 to $140. It also unveiled two TUF branded models priced at $130 and $135, and a Prime H370M Plus micro-ATX board for $100.

ASRock, Gigabyte/Aorus, and MSI all have new models on tap as well, though there is not much in the way of pricing details. However, we did spot Gigabyte's new H370M D3H selling for $90 on Newegg.

The Z370 remains Intel's flagship solution, and it offers the most PCI 3.0 lanes (40) to accommodate graphics cards and high-speed storage. It's also the only one of the bunch to support overclocking. So, it's still the go-to option for an enthusiast build. That said, the new chipsets support things like wake-on-voice and Optane memory, the latter of which Intel seems to be pushing pretty aggressively with today's announcements. It's also worth noting that Intel baked in support for Wireless-AC 2x2 160MHz. With a compatible router, speeds can hit up to 1,733Mbps.

These new chipsets and motherboards coincide with the expansion of Intel's desktop Coffee Lake processor family. Here are the new additions: 

Now Intel has more than a dozen total Core i3, i5, and i7 chips based on Coffee Lake to choose from, including lower power options. Everything from the Core i3-8100T to the Core i7-8700T has a 35W TDP, with prices ranging from $117 to $303. Sitting above those are three 65W chips, the Core i3-8300 ($138), Core i5-8500 ($192), and Core i5-8600 ($213).

Intel is also pushed out a spattering of Pentium Gold and Celeron processors, all of which are dual-core chips. The Pentium Gold takes over from the previous generation Core i3 parts, and offers Hyper-Threading to double the number of threads, while the Celeron chips remain 2-core/2-thread options for extreme budget builds.

Between the new CPUs and chipsets, builders now have plenty of options for piecing together a Coffee Lake system.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).