If you’re building a gaming PC right now, then you will still need to primarily look at the single-core performance of your chosen CPU. Whilst some games still only utilise single-core, there are a LOT of games – such as recent Battlefield and Forza Horizon releases - that can use up to 6 cores. Similarly, with the proliferation of gamers making their own montage videos, using Photoshop and other “workstation” tasks, the performance of multi-core is also a tick in the column ‘things gamers need’.
This being the case, Intel’s 11th Gen Rocket Lake processors have excellent single-core performance, and some of the CPUs hold their own in multi-core benchmarks against the increasingly rare AMD equivalents too, which makes them not only the logical current choice for gaming builds, but for mixed use builds, too.
The “Budget” Rocket Lake Gaming Build
Believe the hype. It is possible to build a budget gaming rig with an 11th Gen Rocket Lake processor and slide that money in the direction of a GPU purchase.
It’s true, Intel’s Rocket Lake CPUs have taken some heat in benchmark tests, but very little negative hyperbole has been levelled against the Core i5 11400/11400F. The ‘F’ suffix relates to the lack of integrated GPU, but here is where it gets weird. Generally speaking, an integrated GPU will end up costing more on a CPU, but the Core i5 11400 with Intel UHD 730 integrated graphics actually costs around 5% - 10% less. We’ve said it a few times before in other articles, but with the price of GPUs through the roof, saving money on a CPU is the starting point of most PC gamers building rigs right now.
Image Courtesy CPUBenchmark.net
Where the 11400/F starts to look most attractive, however, is when you consider it can perform at 4.2GHz with all-core Turbo clock speed. At this point, the motherboard will be in control, and to get this constant power, you’ll need a solid mainboard to take the reins.
PC Gamer recently benchmarked the 11400/F and with an ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero Z590 at the helm controlling power limits, were able to use the chip to its full potential:
“Letting our Asus test board take care of the power limits, however, means a constant 4.2GHz under full load. That blows the old Core i5 10400F out of the water in multi-threaded performance and means it's not far off either the 11600K or the 5600X.”
Motherboards with B560, H570 and Z590 chipsets support Turbo Boost, allowing you to take advantage in “always on” all-core situations. This makes budget gaming sound almost like high-end gaming under the right circumstances. You can increase these power limits in the BIOS or if you don’t see this option (or prefer a GUI), you can use ThrottleStop to increase the power limits. All motherboards/BIOS will display these power unlock aspect differently, so it’s always best to look up your model number for exact instructions.
B560 vs H570 vs Z590 Specifications
Back to the motherboard comparison, and we see that some things remain the same across the three chipsets: -
- PCIe Specification – PCIe 4, double the bandwidth of the previous version, PCIe 4 interfaces with the B560/H570/Z590 motherboard allowing high-speed transfer of data from installed NVMe SSDs, GPU, and RAID cards, as well as other expansion cards
- Intel ME Firmware Version – Version 15 of Management Engine, which performs tasks while the system during the boot process, or in sleep mode, and when your system is running
- SATA Ports – 6 port maximum on all chipsets
- Intel Optane Memory Support – Each chipset includes Optane support, allowing maximum speed from this high-spec memory
- Intel HD Audio Technology – Available on all chipsets
- Intel Smart Sound Technology - Available on all chipsets
- Intel Rapid Storage Technology (RST) – An Intel technology which automatically stores the most frequently used applications & data on your system on SSD and gives full access to the large storage capacity of a SATA HDD
- Intel Platform Trust Technology (PTT) – Intel’s trust platform solution which secures a computer system against low-level attacks; PTT implements cryptographic verification algorithms of a hardware-based TPM (Trusted Platform Module) within the system firmware itself
- TDP – 6W Thermal Design Power on all three chipsets.
- Bus Speed - 8 GT/s on all three chipsets.
Side By Side Specification Comparison
|Model ||B560 ||H570 ||Z590 |
|DMI Gen 3 Lanes ||x4 ||x8 ||x8 (RKL), x4 (CML) |
|Overclocking Support ||Memory only ||Memory only ||Memory & CPU |
|Max PCIe 3.0 Lanes ||12 ||20 ||24 |
|PCIe Configuration ||1x16, 1x4 ||1x16, 1x4 ||1x16, 1x4 or 2x8, 1x4 or 1x8, 3x4 |
|Max USB 3.2 (3.2 Gen 2x2) ||2 ||2 ||3 |
|Max USB 3.1 (3.2 Gen 2x1) ||4 ||4 ||10 |
|Max USB 3.0 (3.2 Gen 1x1) ||6 ||8 ||10 |
|Max USB Ports ||12 ||14 ||14 |
|RAID Configuration ||N/A ||0, 1, 5, 10 (SATA) ||0, 1, 5, 10 (SATA) |
|Possible Integrated Wi-Fi ||Wi-Fi 6 AX201 ||Wi-Fi 6 AX201 ||Wi-Fi 6 AX201 |
Low-End vs Mid-End – B560 vs H570
The most significant difference between the B560 and H570 is the number of PCIe lanes available. In gaming machines, this will make a difference, but only at the top end of the scale. For example, there isn't a huge difference between 8 PCIe lanes and 16 PCIe lanes when it comes to GPUs at 1080p (or less) gaming. For 4K gaming you will have access to 16 lanes for a GPU. The difference between 12 and 20 lanes is most noticeable in builds that have more than one GPU, especially in builds that include SLi/Crossfire setups.
For comparison’s sake, there are also two extra USB 3.2 ports on the H570 if you need this functionality over a USB hub. The H570 also has RAID support for those needing to control large storage more efficiently.
If the decision is going to be based on budget, then a B560 will suit your needs until you want overclocking and more diverse PCIe configs with the Z590 chipset.
High-End – Z590
Practically speaking, you will have a big jump in specification from the B560 to the Z590 in terms of overclocking capability. The Turbo Boost options aside, overclocking takes you to the next level. The 11th Gen offers a lot of options in this department, and if you were overclocking and 11th Gen Intel Core i9-11900K, you would see incredible results – this CPU has been clocked at 7048MHz, using 1.873 volts in an Asus ROG Maximus XIII Apex motherboard.
Z590s are also compatible with 10th Gen Intel chips, too, so if you are looking to balance the books with a great value processor like the Core i5 10400F, then you will not be left wanting.
With the Z590 you are getting the same PCIe 4.0 support, but with plenty of config options: 1×16+1×4, 2×8+1×4 or 1×8+3×4. While PCIe 4.0 isn’t cause for much celebration in terms of GPU performance, those who wish to improve SSD performance can definitely make the most of a Z590 board. SSD performs incredibly well on PCIe 4.0, utilising NVIDIA's RTX IO and of course, Microsoft's DirectStorage - something we’ll hear a lot more about with Windows 11.
The price difference between the low-end and high-end motherboards is as expected, with budget motherboards in the B560 range costing around half the price of a Z590. The price will vary based on little extras like ARGB support and even the colour of the board itself (paging Asus ROG…).
The Most Popular B560 Motherboard
MSI B560-A PRO Intel Socket 1200 Motherboard
The Most Popular H570 Motherboard
ASRock H570M-ITX/ac Intel Socket 1200 Motherboard
The Most Popular Z590 Motherboard
ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero Intel Motherboard