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How to Choose a Chipset?

With Hundreds of Chipset Combinations, Utilize Expertise to Make the Best Choice

The last article about CPU types in industrial computers talked about chipsets. In this article, we will talk about how to choose the right chipset.


Early chipsets were divided into north and south bridges according to their relative positions to the CPU. To talk about north and south bridge chipsets, we must first understand the structure and operations of the CPU. A CPU contains the algorithm logic unit (ALU) and control unit (CU). The ALU is responsible for converting analog and digital signals. The CU’s tasks include executing computer commands, communicating between the ALU and memory, and assisting hard drives in sending data and commands to the memory. The position and function of the north and south bridge chips are related to the CU and ALU. The south bridge is mainly responsible for controlling the hard drive and audio. Because the hard drive is typically located further from the CPU, the south bridge chip is often close to the hard drive. Therefore it generally is situated below the motherboard. The north bridge chip controls the system bus, graphics chips, and memory. Because of the higher requirements for processing speed, it is typically situated next to the CPU.


Many companies produced early chipsets. Aside from the CPU giants of Intel and AMD, the GPU giant Nvidia and Taiwanese companies VIA, ALi, and SiS have released related products. However, only Intel, AMD and Nvidia have remained over the years. After this, the production technologies advanced rapidly. Chip functions were integrated onto a single chip to reduce costs. The north and south bridge architecture began to disappear and become the chipsets we see today.


Chipsets have integrated many functions, such as audio, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and encryption firmware. In the past, these were all independent components on the motherboard. Now, they are all present in the chipset. In general, more advanced chipsets will have better performance in overclocking and bus speed, leading to higher prices.


Furthermore, in terms of application volume, Intel products represent the majority of industrial computer CPUs. Therefore, a complete understanding of Intel chipsets is a must when choosing a suitable motherboard chipset. Intel chipsets are divided into four main series: Z, Q, H, and B. Among the chipsets, the Z and Q series have the best performance and can support up to 24 PCIe channels and 6 USB3.1 Gen2 ports. K products in the Z series can also support CPU overclocking. H series chipsets can support up to 20 PCIe channels and only 4 USB3.1 Gen2 ports. As for the B series, the products can support up to 20 PCIe channels, but can only support USB 3.0 standards for its USB ports.


Aside from Intel, AMD has also released various chipsets for different applications. The two CPU companies offer a wide range of products in this area. Their characteristics vary greatly, and users must have sufficient knowledge of each series and model to make the best choice. Typical system suppliers do not have this expertise. DFI can provide the necessary assistance with our professional knowledge to create cost-effective industrial computer systems. You can learn more about our products on the DFI website.