For most consumers, the concept of a motherboard that supports running two CPUs at the same time exists might seem a bit weird. But, these things have been around for some time now; they just have been targeted at server/workstation users.
However, with the introduction of affordable and consumer high-core CPUs such as the Intel i9-12900K and AMD Ryzen 5950X, dual CPU motherboards have started showing up on the second-hand market for a cheaper price.
Whether you want to use one for gaming or productivity work, we will explain everything surrounding this topic to figure out whether buying a dual CPU motherboard is worth it.
Let’s delve right into it!
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What Is A Dual CPU Motherboard?
The name of this type of product is pretty self-explanatory: a motherboard that has two sockets, i.e., supports two processors.
Of course, there are some limitations to what you can fit in it. The processors need to be the exact same model, otherwise, users may face a variety of issues.
Technically, it doesn’t have to be the same CPU, but it needs the same number of physical and logical cores, the same TDP, and the same RAM speed.
It’s best just not to mix and match processors.
What Are Dual CPU Motherboards Used For?
By putting two processors in one system, you’re effectively combining the power of the two. You would get more processing power, more cores/threads, more RAM slots, more PCIe lanes, etc.
For people requiring heaps of storage, a dual CPU motherboard is a good solution because it allows systems to fit up to a dozen or more HDDs/SSDs. This could increase the storage by up to several hundred terabytes.
Software utilizing parallel processing (two CPUs) can also see benefits. Things like research, science, medicine, drug development, image/video processing, and more all rely on parallel computing.
Anyone in graphic design or video editing can utilize those several dozen cores to render images or videos in just a few minutes compared to several hours.
Can Dual CPU Motherboards Be Used For Gaming?
If combining two processors in one motherboard delivers so many advantages, can this power be used for gaming?
Yes! You can definitely use these things to game. But, you won’t get what you’re expecting out of it.
The short answer is no. You shouldn’t aim to buy a dual CPU motherboard if you plan on using the system for gaming only.
Here’s a video from Linus Tech Tips running a game on a dual-socket 16-core system.
The reason behind this is that video games are not developed to utilize all those extra cores and threads or for parallel processing. Those extra PCIe slots, SATA connections, and RAM slots will be useless to you.
You won’t be getting any kind of extra performance from that second CPU. In fact, you might even face FPS loss or other issues such as stuttering, jittering, etc. To get a normal gaming experience, you would have to disable the second CPU to resolve your issues.
And even after that, the performance will be subpar.
Dual CPU Motherboards For Productivity Tasks
If, on the other hand, you are looking at these motherboards to boost your productivity for work, this might not be such a bad idea. More cores can help you speed up your video editing process.
However, you still have cheaper, faster, and more power-efficient options from AMD and Intel. Intel’s 12900K or AMD’s Ryzen 5950X and 3950X are great options. Although these don’t go above 32 threads.
If you need more than that, you could go for Threadripper processors, which do get a bit expensive (up to $4000). In that case, you could try searching the second-hand market to get a dual CPU motherboard with two processors and RAM.
You could probably grab such a system for less than $1000.
Even if you do manage to find a really cheap two-CPU system, there are some disadvantages you’ll have to consider.
- No real advantage in processes that can’t utilize parallel processing
- Much higher power draw than a consumer PC
- If it’s cheap, it’s an old and outdated platform
- Worse performance in games
These disadvantages are not something to scoff at. It can impair your overall PC experience.
Dual CPU motherboards had their uses over the years, and it was a cheaper alternative to buying a $10,000 high-core processor.
However, the purpose of these motherboards has dropped significantly because CPUs like the Threadripper line have up to 128 threads and are considerably faster, easier to set up, and draw less power.
Overall, dual CPU motherboards are not worth it and should only be considered in the unique case when they are extremely cheap.
Keep in mind these types of motherboards are still produced for newer server processors like the Epyc series. But these processors, motherboards, and DDR4 LRDIMMs cost substantially more than older Xeon (now cheap) systems.