With Intel’s release of their lower-end Alder Lake Core i3-12100 and Core i5-12400, high-performing CPUs are more affordable than ever before. The only downside is that if your current CPU is 11th-gen or older (or a Ryzen model), you’ll have to upgrade to a new platform–these SKUs feature the newest LGA 1700 socket type, different than the LGA 1200 socket of yore.
Don’t fret, though. We’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of the best motherboards for both the i3-12100 and the i5-12400. Boards compatible with these CPUs, especially the generation-old Intel 600-series motherboards, aren’t too expensive, so upgrading won’t break the bank too badly if you play your cards right.
The primary differences between these two CPU models are different core counts (the i3 has 4 cores while the i5-12400 has 6), clock speeds, and power consumption.
While the i3-12100 and i5-12400 have TDPs of 60W and 65W respectively, they use a lot more juice when running at higher Turbo frequencies. The i3-12100 has a maximum draw of 89W, while the i5-12400 pulls up to 117W.
Since these processors fall towards the lower end of Intel’s Alder Lake lineup, they’re best paired with motherboards in a similar performance range, namely those of the H610, B660, and H670 chipsets. Z690 was designed with the more expensive K-series line in mind, and many of the features you’re paying for would be largely wasted on an i3 or non-K i5.
While Intel’s 700-series motherboards, including B760 and H770, have already dropped, they’re a bit more expensive than equivalent 600-series boards and don’t offer many tangible benefits over the older generation. For this reason, we can’t recommend any of these at the moment for the Core i3-12100 or Core i5-12400, however we’ll reevaluate as supply becomes more widely available and prices come down.
It should go without saying that the outlined boards could also be considered the best for the Core i3-12100F and i5-12400F (these simply lack integrated graphics). These motherboards are also well-suited for other 60 or 65W Alder Lake SKUs like the i3-12300 and 12300F, i5-12600 and 12600F, i7-12700 and 12700F, and i9-12900 and 12900F.
Some of the motherboards we’ve chosen are nearly identical in functionality (such as the Asus Prime H610M-E D4 and the ASRock H610M-HDV), so often the decision will boil down to price. Because of this we’ve listed some motherboards that may appear to be redundant since at any given moment one may be a better deal than the others listed.
Our choices of the best motherboards for the i3-12100, i3-12100F, i5-12400, and i5-12400F take into consideration form-factor, expansion options, hardware limits, board quality, connectivity, and pricing, among other options.
Best Motherboards for Core i3-12100(F) and Core i5-12400(F)
Best Budget ITX Motherboard: Asus Prime H610I-Plus D4
It’s well-known that ITX boards are expensive. Asus’ Prime H610I-Plus D4 breaks this rule in a big way; it’s barely over $100. If you’re looking to build a budget mini-ITX PC build, this is hands-down your best option. There are only two competitors in this price range, Gigabyte’s H610I and ASRock’s H610M-ITX, and neither of these is of quite the same caliber.
The H610I-Plus D4 has two DDR4 RAM slots and a single PCIe 4.0 x16 slot, with room for a PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD. As limited expansion is requisite for small-form-factor motherboards, this is solid, especially for an H610 model.
In the rear are, most notably, four USB-A ports, an HDMI and DisplayPort, and a gigabit Ethernet plugin. An additional four front-panel USB ports are supported.
This mini-ITX motherboard has 5+1+1 power stages covered by the Asus Prime lineup’s signature Silver heatsink, as well as another branded heatsink over the chipset. Memory frequencies of up to 3200MHz are supported, which is the maximum supported spec for the i3-12100 and i5-12400.
Thus, for these CPUs the Prime H610I-Plus is certainly the best budget mini-ITX board. It checks all of the boxes that a cheap ITX board should, and it’s extremely affordable for a motherboard in general, let alone an ITX one.
Best Budget Motherboard: Asus Prime H610M-E D4
The H610M-E D4 is perfect for budget builds; at the time of writing it’s one of the only boards available at or under the $100 mark. To be clear, it’s nothing fancy. It only features two DIMM slots and one PCIe x16.
Even so, it has everything that’s really essential and it won’t limit your CPU’s upside. Up to 64GB of 3200MHz memory is more than users will need, and this motherboard’s target audience won’t even need that much capacity. Additionally, while the H610M-E D4 only supports the transfer speeds of PCIe 3.0 and below for M.2 drives, gen 3 storage is the best in terms of price-to-performance anyway.
DDR5 should be out of the picture for any budget rig, so this board’s DDR4-compatibility is both expected and welcome. This will allow you to opt for a dual-channel low-latency 16 or 32GB RAM kit at less than $60 or $100 bucks, respectively.
All in all, then, the Asus Prime H610M-E D4 is a fantastic bare-bones board in that it doesn’t offer excessive features, but covers everything that’s needed.
Asus also makes the Prime H610M-A D4-CSM, which is nearly identical to the H610M-E. The primary difference is a VRM heatsink and a couple more rear USB ports, so it may be worth forking over the additional $10-20 to gain the extra connectivity and minor aesthetic improvements.
Best Budget Motherboard Alternative: ASRock H610M-HDV/M.2
ASRock’s take on the lowest-end H610 motherboard is a lot like Asus’. They keep it simple with two memory slots (which support 3200MHz), a PCIe 3.0 M.2 slot, and four USB ports. Their PCIe x16 slot does support the fourth revision of the technology, so no GPU will max out its bandwidth in the foreseeable future.
It’s priced much like the H610M-E D4, retailing at about $100. This makes it an extremely functional board that makes up for its basic aesthetics with a hard-to-beat cost. We wouldn’t recommend pairing either i5 CPU with this motherboard due to its fairly low power limits, but it can easily accommodate the Core i3-12100 and 12100F without compromising performance.
Best Budget B660 Motherboard: ASRock B660M-HDV
ASRock is well-known for their affordable motherboards so it should come as no surprise that they appear twice on our list. Their B660M-HDV features a similar design to its H610 counterpart, with six power phases and support for two DIMMs.
What sets it apart is its additional M.2 slot (which is PCIe gen 4 compatible) and memory overclocking support. These features increase the maximum supported memory speeds to upwards of 5000MHz and storage drives that transfer data at speeds of over 7000MB/s. The B660M-HDV also includes one additional USB port (for a total of five).
If its price remains near $110, this is one of the better value buys for the Core i3-12100. However, note that its 95W PL1 limit makes it suboptimal for the i5-12400 or other 65W chips that have higher turbo power draw. This is just fine for Core i3s, however, as their maximum boost TDP of 89W is still safely below this threshold.
Best Mid-Range B660 Motherboard: Asus Prime B660M-A D4
With the Prime B660M-A D4 we progress from entry-level budget board to a product that’s honestly pretty fancy. This make features a black-and-silver design that’s quite appealing, with a shiny VRM heatsink, another over the top M.2 slot, and silver lining on the main PCIe slot to boot.
Like the B660M-HDV this board supports memory overclocking with a maximum official speed of 5333MHz. DDR4 compatibility keeps RAM costs reasonable. Speaking of memory, this motherboard is the first in our list to feature four DIMM slots (for a total capacity of up to 128GB). The B660M-A continues this trend of maximum connectivity with a total of three PCIe x16s, four SATA ports, and six USB plugins.
Best Mid-Range B660 Motherboard Alternative: ASRock B660M Pro RS
ASRock’s B660M Pro RS is a fully-featured motherboard at an extremely solid price; at the time of writing it’s nearly as cheap as many of our recommended H610 boards, at $120 on Newegg.
The B660M Pro RS has eight power phases, two M.2 slots (one of which is PCIe 4.0-equipped), a full four DIMM slots, and plenty of expansion room with two PCIe x16 slots and a PCIe x1 for good measure.
The top PCIe slot is reinforced with metal and has gen 4 speeds. The board’s design makes extensive use of black heatsinks, using them over the VRMs, primary M.2 slot, and chipset.
The rear I/O offers six USB-A ports, an HDMI and DisplayPort, and gigabit Ethernet plugin. While not necessary, support for memory clocks up to 4800MHz is a nice bonus.
These features make the B660M Pro RS one of the best motherboards for both the Core i3-12100 and i5-12400. It’s well-rounded, cheap, and looks pretty nice to boot. If pricing is similar when you’re looking to buy, we’d recommend this mainboard over the Prime B660M-A D4.
Best Budget ATX B660 Motherboard: Asus Prime B660-Plus D4
With yet another Asus Prime motherboard, you may be convinced we’re being paid off by Asus themselves to market their products. Rest assured, this isn’t the case. Rather, there aren’t that many affordable motherboards at the moment, and ASRock and Asus currently combine to make up what feels like 90% of the market share for that segment.
So, here we are recommending the Asus Prime B660-Plus, what’s essentially the ATX equivalent of the Micro-ATX B660M-A. Aside from its larger form-factor, the Plus model distinguishes itself with a more robust heatsink (it covers the top VRMs as well as those to the left of the CPU socket) and an additional M.2 slot. All three of these boast PCIe 4.0 connectivity.
Officially, the B660-Plus tops out at memory speeds of 5000MHz. This won’t really come into play with the 3200MHz-capped i3-12100 or i5-12400, but it doesn’t hurt to have this support for CPU upgrades down the line.
Lastly, the B660-Plus opts to swap one PCIe x16 slot for two x1s, so unfortunately you won’t be able to run triple graphics cards on this board. This shouldn’t present any issue for most users, so if you’re in the market for a full-sized motherboard, the B660-Plus’ $140-ish price tag makes it one of the best ATX motherboards for 12th-gen i3 and 400-series i5 processors.
Best Budget H670 Motherboard: Asus Prime H670-Plus D4
Last but not least, we have the Prime H670-Plus D4 made yet again by Asus. It’s another full-ATX model with more or less the same feature set as the B660-Plus or B660M-A.
That’s not to say they’re identical. This board differs from the others in a few ways: Seven USB ports are the most of any board listed thus far. Compared to the B660-Plus, the H670-Plus packs in an additional PCIe x16 slot while retaining the two x1s. It loses the top VRM heatsink but still looks pretty solid with a branded chipset heatsink as well as one on the primary M.2 drive and the VRMs west of the CPU.
The H670 chipset lends PCIe 4.0 support to an additional x16 slot, although the prospects of this ever coming into play are dubious at best. Aside from these paltry differences not much separates the H670-Plus from the B660-Plus. If you’re the type of person that likes the maximum number of USB ports it may be possible to justify the additional $20 that the H670-Plus requires. Otherwise we’d recommend sticking with one of the many others we’ve recommended.