3DMark confirms Intel Z390 backwards compatibility, but will Z370 support the 8-core?

Intel Coffee Lake 8th Gen specs

Intel’s Z390 chipset has made an appearance on 3DMark. The Supermicro C9Z390 motherboard is fitted with an Intel i7 8700T, which confirms support for the current Intel Coffee Lake lineup with the Z390 chipset – expected to launch in Q3, 2018.

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While the Z390 chipset from Intel is all but officially announced, we don’t yet know what the motherboard chipset will entail in terms of features. All that is suspected so far – and recently confirmed by new leaks – is that this new mobo will offer support for Intel’s supposed eight-core Coffee Lake chip.

Thanks to the 3DMark result, spotted by VideoCardz, we now know that the top-end enthusiast chip will also support the current six-core, and below, Coffee Lake lineup.

The use of an Intel i7 8700K processor with the Z390 board confirms that the Z390 and eight-core chips will feature the same LGA 1151 socket design. However, this doesn’t necessarily guarantee backwards compatibility, as evident by the compatibility cut-off between Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake CPUs with the 300-series motherboards.

Intel Z370 chipset

Whether or not this enthusiast motherboard will be required for these chips is currently unknown. Last year, an Asus representative implied the future eight-core chips were partially to blame for the lack of backwards compatibility between 100 / 200-series and 300-series mobos – indicating that Z370 mobos should (in theory) be able to support eight-core chips. This is not confirmed, however, and could change due to further power-limitations and Intel’s dastardly ME (management engine).

Even if you can’t get official eight-core chip support for the Z370, there have been numerous instances recounted online of ASRock Z170 boards being capable of running Core i7 8700 processors.

A Eurocom representative (yep, the same company that sparked initial rumours of an incoming eight-core chip) recently suggested in a forum post that the upcoming Z390 chipset will support both 8th Gen Intel Coffee Lake CPUs, and 9th Gen processors. This move could add a bit more longevity to the otherwise late-in-the-day motherboard release for the current 8th Gen chips.

Intel Z370 motherboard chipset

The top-end Z390 chipset may be a dubious, and needlessly expensive, choice for current chip owners, however. The only rumoured feature beyond the eight-core support has been the inclusion of native USB 3.1 Gen 2. Yippee…

While it is unlikely many users will buy the top-end Z390 mobo for anything but an eight-core chip, it is far more likely users with Z370 mobos will want to upgrade to the higher core-count CPU. This is especially likely as all recent Intel customers, including those purchasing budget i3 chips, were forced to buy the enthusiast Z370 motherboard for the first six months of Coffee Lake’s life – making an eight-core chip a massive upgrade for some.