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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Intel Z790 Motherboard Roundup: 11 Motherboards Examined Categorical Occasions

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At present we’re having a look at a variety of latest Intel Z790 motherboards, designed to benefit from the ‘new’ 14th-gen Core CPU collection, which as you most likely know is only a renamed Thirteenth-gen. However if you happen to’re out there for a brand new system or platform improve, and you have determined to go along with Intel’s LGA 1700 platform, these are the brand new Z790 motherboards you may want to concentrate on.

We have 11 boards in complete from the likes of Asus, Asrock, MSI and Gigabyte, going from $280 as much as $1,200, so we’ll take a look at every board individually, see what options they’ve on supply, after which check out some VRM thermal testing.

Asus TUF Gaming Z790-Professional WiFi – $280

It is sort of loopy that Z790 wanted a refresh given there have been already extra DDR4 and DDR5 Z790 boards than even we might preserve monitor of. Take the Asus TUF Gaming collection, for instance, which already had three ATX fashions, and we’re solely speaking a couple of sub-brand right here. Asus additionally provided Z790 boards beneath their ROG, Prime, and ProArt manufacturers.

Anyway, we already had the TUF Gaming Z790-Plus D4, which was obtainable with and with out WiFi, after which there was the DDR5 model, the TUF Gaming Z790-Plus WiFi. Now added to the combo is a brand new flagship, the TUF Gaming Z790-Professional WiFi.

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The board appears to be like remarkably much like the Plus, each packing the identical 16 60A energy stage vcore VRM and most of the similar options. The one actual change right here being that one of many PCIe 4.0 x1 slots has been transformed to an x16 slot, however it’s nonetheless solely wired for x1 bandwidth. Moreover, the entrance USB 20Gbps port now helps 30-watt PD fast-charging, and that is about it.

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That is positive, although; the TUF Gaming Plus was already board, however the problem proper now could be the worth. Because it stands, the Plus might be had for $205, with the costlier in-stock listings at $230. In the meantime, all listings for the brand new ‘Professional’ mannequin are at $280, making it at the least 22% costlier. Due to this fact, we should always keep away from it till the Professional and Plus pricing turns into related.

Asus ROG Strix Z790-A Gaming WiFi II – $360

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Subsequent, we’ve the Asus ROG Strix Z790-A Gaming WiFi II, coming in at $360, which is identical worth as the unique mannequin, in order that’s good. Now, stuff like energy supply stays the identical with 16 70A energy levels making up the vcore facet of the VRAM, and actually even the cooling is far the identical. Many of the adjustments listed here are purely aesthetic.

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The noteworthy adjustments embody assist for WiFi 7 with Asus’ new Q-Antenna characteristic, which is fairly easy, actually. Now you may push the WiFi antenna in to attach them, slightly than having to screw them in. It is a good contact, however for one thing you are most likely solely ever going to do as soon as, it appears a bit pointless.

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One of many PCIe 4.0 x16 slots has been eliminated and changed with a further PCIe 4.0 M.2 slot. Then, round on the I/O panel, there’s a further two USB 2.0 ports, which is good. Nonetheless, the audio has been downgraded with simply two rear jacks, leading to ROG SupremeFX 5.1 assist, whereas the unique had SupremeFX 7.1.

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Aside from that, the boards are a lot the identical by way of options. Nonetheless, this second model is a pleasant improve on the similar worth level, and it ensures 14th gen assist proper out of the field.

Asus ROG Maximus Z790 Darkish Hero – $700

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Definitely one of many coolest wanting high-end motherboards we have laid eyes on is the brand new Asus ROG Maximus Z790 Darkish Hero, and because the identify suggests, it is a revision of the unique Hero mannequin. Like most of those refreshed Asus boards, the majority of the adjustments are aesthetic, which is disappointing to study. Nonetheless, there are at the least a couple of noteworthy upgrades on supply right here, although none of them justify the worth improve.

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Talking of which, the Darkish Hero prices $700 whereas the unique model prices simply $530. So, what does the brand new mannequin supply for that 32% premium? Aside from the aesthetic adjustments, you get WiFi 7 – sooner wi-fi speeds for all these WiFi 7 gadgets you undoubtedly have. This characteristic contains the improve from Bluetooth model 5.3 to five.4.

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The M.2 configuration has additionally modified, although it is onerous to say it is an improve. The unique Hero relied on a PCIe growth card for 2 further M.2 slots, one PCIe 5.0 and the opposite 4.0, with three extra 4.0 M.2’s on board, giving the board 5 in complete: three on board and two through an growth card. The Darkish Hero does away with the growth card and now contains all 5 M.2’s on board, with the first 5.0 slot above the first PCIe x16 slot.

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You continue to get two PCIe 5.0 x16 slots with the Darkish Hero, so it is a greater configured board in our opinion. It does drop two of the six SATA ports, however that is most likely going to be a non-issue for many.

Aside from that, it contains the identical 2.5Gbit LAN, similar USB configuration, similar ROG SupremeFX 7.1 sound utilizing the Realtek ALC4082 codec, similar again panel I/O configuration, and the identical VRM configuration utilizing 20 90A energy levels for the vcore.

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General, it is a great-looking board with a powerful characteristic set, however we expect the unique mannequin at $530 is a a lot better purchase proper now, so most likely get that.

MSI Z790 Tomahawk Max WiFi – $300

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Transferring on to take a look at the brand new MSI Z790 boards, we’ll begin with the Tomahawk Max WiFi, an upgraded model of the favored Tomahawk board, which at the moment sells for simply $205 for the DDR5 model. The brand new ‘Max’ model can at the moment be discovered on sale for $240, although it is extra sometimes discovered at $300, which is an enormous premium over the unique.

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Each boards bodily look the identical, apart from the yellow highlights which have been added to the brand new ‘Max’ model.

Fortunately, MSI hasn’t simply added a splash of shade to the Max and referred to as it a day. There are some bodily adjustments right here, although most of them are fairly delicate. The first M.2 slot has been upgraded to assist PCIe 5.0 from the CPU, whereas the earlier mannequin was restricted to 4.0. That mentioned, if you happen to do set up an SSD within the major M.2, it’s going to scale back the first PCIe slot to x8 bandwidth.

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Stuff like USB assist and wired networking all stay the identical, as does the onboard audio. However like we have seen with many of those refreshed boards, you’re getting WiFi 7 right here with Bluetooth 5.4. Aside from that, they’re the identical, so if you happen to do not require WiFi 7 out of the field, then paying a premium for this new Max mannequin actually will not be value it over the unique.

MSI Z790 Edge Ti Max WiFi – $390

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Subsequent from MSI, we’ve the Z790 Edge Ti Max WiFi, so that they’ve squeezed ‘Ti Max’ in there, simply to make it that little bit extra sophisticated. Now, the unique mannequin can nonetheless be had for $300, whereas the brand new Ti Max prices $390, which is one other large premium for the refreshed mannequin.

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Once more, each fashions look very related, although this time it is the newer model that is slightly extra sedate, removing the orange highlights of the unique. Additionally, as soon as once more the I/O panels are equivalent, so no adjustments there.

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Slightly, the adjustments can as soon as once more be seen when wanting on the M.2 and WiFi assist. The first M.2 has once more been upgraded from the PCIe 4.0 spec to five.0, however there are nonetheless 5 M.2’s in complete. Then the WiFi answer has been up to date from 6E to 7, however apart from that, every part else stays a lot the identical, if not precisely the identical.

MSI Z790 Ace Max – $700

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MSI additionally up to date the Ace, and it is value noting that the unique model can at the moment be had for $500, making this up to date Max model a tough tablet to swallow at $700. Bodily, we expect they give the impression of being equivalent, apart from the ‘Max’ branding on the newer, costlier mannequin.

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So far as we will inform, the one replace on supply right here is WiFi 7, however apart from that, the Max is just about the identical as the unique. The one different adjustments embody assist for 14th gen out of the field and MSI’s declare of some slight tweaks to reminiscence efficiency.

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That being the case, except you require WiFi 7 out of the field, saving $200 on the unique could be the best way to go.

MSI Z790 Godlike Max – $1,200

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It appears to be like to be the same story with the Godlike Max, which at the moment prices $1,200, although that’s the similar asking worth as the unique. The Godlike is clearly an insane overkill motherboard and there is actually no method to enhance it proper now, apart from to incorporate WiFi 7, so clearly MSI has completed precisely that with the Max revision.

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The whole lot else, although, stays the identical, and meaning you get onboard Thunderbolt assist for switch charges as much as 40Gbps, seven M.2 slots, 10 Gbit LAN with 2.5 Gbit LAN, 7.1 channel audio, a great deal of USB ports on the I/O panel, and a boatload of different options.

Asrock Phantom Gaming Z790 Riptide WiFi – $250

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Okay, shifting on to the brand new Asrock Z790 motherboards, we discover the Phantom Gaming Z790 Riptide WiFi at $250, which is an affordable premium over the $190 Z790 PG Riptide. As you’d anticipate, the WiFi mannequin will get WiFi 7, however there are another noteworthy upgrades on supply right here.

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The VRM, for instance, has been considerably overhauled with 16 90A energy levels for the vcore, which is an enormous enchancment over the 14 50A energy levels used beforehand, so a very nice improve there. They’ve additionally ditched the Realtek ALC897 codec for the higher-end ALC1220 codec.

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There are another good touches as effectively. The cooler for the first M.2 is now tool-less, and all M.2 slots characteristic a heatsink. It is a better-looking board for certain, and we expect the $60 premium is justified right here, so good job, Asrock.

Asrock Phantom Gaming Z790 Nova WiFi – $280

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Asrock has additionally launched a brand new flagship Z790 Phantom Gaming motherboard often called the Nova WiFi. For $280, it gives quite a bit. For simply $30 greater than the Riptide WiFi, you are getting a extra sturdy 20 90A energy stage vcore VRM, which is overkill for certain, however a pleasant improve all the identical.

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You are additionally getting a bigger 256 Megabyte BIOS, which permits for a greater graphical consumer interface. The audio has been upgraded to the Realtek ALC4082 codec, and there is a further PCIe 4.0 enabled M.2 slot, although 4 SATA ports have been sacrificed.

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USB assist has additionally been upgraded from a complete of 16 ports to 19, with twice as many USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports. General, the Nova is a great-looking board and a powerful sub-$300 contender.

Gigabyte Z790 Aorus Elite X WiFi7 – $280

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Lastly, we’ve the Gigabyte boards, and we’ll begin with the Z790 Aorus Elite X WiFi7, which, you guessed it, is a WiFi 7 enabled model of the unique Aorus Elite AX. Now, the AX mannequin prices $240 whereas the brand new WiFi 7 model prices $280, so a fairly small $40 premium there. However all you are getting is the upgraded WiFi, effectively that, and assist for 14th gen CPUs out of the field with out having to replace the BIOS. However apart from that, it is the identical board.

Gigabyte Z790 Aorus Grasp X – $530

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Then we’ve the Aorus Grasp X, which is an costly board, given the usual Z790 Aorus Grasp might be had for $390. Each boards look very related and pack most of the similar options. For instance, each use Realtek ALC1220-VB audio, Marvell 10 Gbit LAN, three PCIe growth slots, 5 M.2 slots with the identical association, the very same USB configuration, and the identical 20 105A energy stage vcore.

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So apart from the inclusion of WiFi 7 over 6E, we’re simply taking a look at some minor beauty adjustments to the board’s heatsinks, so we doubt that is value paying a 36% premium for.

Check System

For testing these motherboards, we have constructed a devoted system contained in the Corsair iCUE 7000X case. Powering it, we’ve the HX1000 energy provide and for cooling, the iCUE H170i Elite Capellix.

The iCUE 7000X has been configured with a single rear 140mm exhaust fan and three 140mm consumption followers, which is the inventory configuration for this case. Then, within the high of the case is the H170i 420mm radiator with three 140mm exhaust followers. It is a fairly high-end configuration; airflow is sweet, and in a 21-degree room, we would say that is an optimum setup.

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For recording temperatures, we’re utilizing a digital thermometer with Okay-Sort thermocouples, and we’ll be reporting the height rear PCB temperature. Lastly, we’re not reporting Delta-T over Ambient. As an alternative, we keep a room temperature of 21 levels and to make sure a constant ambient temperature, a thermocouple is positioned subsequent to the take a look at system.

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As for the stress take a look at, we’re utilizing Cinebench R23 which has been looped for an hour, at which level we’re reporting the utmost PCB temperature, once more recorded utilizing Okay-type thermocouples.


Time to have a look at how every board performs out of the field, utilizing the default energy profiles with XMP loaded. Straight away, you’ll discover a obtrusive problem with the fashions marked as ‘Restricted’ with the orange bars. These boards, specifically Asus and Gigabyte boards, although there’s an Asrock mannequin right here as effectively, all restrict the facility of the Core i9-14900K for prolonged workloads.

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Most of those boards don’t have any restrict for what Intel calls PL1, a short lived energy state. After a sure interval, round a minute sometimes, PL2 kicks in, which is a decreased energy state. The Asus and Asrock boards revert to a 253-watt energy restrict, whereas the Gigabyte boards restrict to 280 watts. MSI, then again, has no energy restrict for PL1 or PL2, and Asrock has determined to do that with their Nova board, however not the Riptide.

So, as regular, the Intel platform is a little bit of a large number with regards to energy configurations, and that is one thing we have been advocating Intel to repair for years now. The first problem with this being that all-core efficiency, particularly for prolonged workloads, can fluctuate fairly considerably relying on the board used, assuming you do not go and manually regulate energy parameters.

For instance, in our hour-long Cinebench take a look at, the Asus and Asrock boards noticed a mean clock frequency of three.75 GHz on the P-cores, whereas the MSI boards sustained a clock frequency that was nearly 50% larger at 5.52 GHz, which is an insane distinction.

Due to this fact, the VRM temperatures you see right here very a lot make for an apples-to-oranges comparability. So, let’s take away the PL2 energy restrict and re-test.

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Now the 14900K is clocking between 5.4 and 5.6 GHz, relying on the board, so nonetheless some variance there however now we’re speaking about 4% and never over 40%. What we’re ideally in search of listed here are temperatures beneath 100°C, and to make sure cheap working temperatures beneath all situations, sub-80°C temps are excellent. For our testing, we keep an ambient room temperature of simply 21°C, and take a look at inside an ATX case with the doorways closed.

No boards failed our take a look at, and all had been acceptable, although some actually did carry out higher than others. The Gigabyte fashions, for instance, had been the perfect, adopted by the Asus Darkish Hero and MSI Godlike. The MSI Ace ran surprisingly heat at 80°C whereas the Tomahawk Max and Edge Ti Max had been surprisingly heat at 82°C and 86°C respectively, although they did additionally obtain among the highest common clock speeds.

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Now, with all boards locked at a 1.3V vcore at 5.3 GHz, whereas externally monitoring energy utilization, these are essentially the most apples-to-apples outcomes we’ve. The MSI Ace is performing extra just like the Godlike now, whereas the Asus TUF Gaming has fallen down the order. The Gigabyte boards are nonetheless the best, although the Asrock fashions are actually rating a lot better. General, although, acceptable outcomes throughout the board, with no VRM points with any of those Z790 fashions.

Backside Line

For those who’re out there for a brand new Intel Z790 motherboard, any of those fashions will work effectively – simply purchase based on your funds and decide the mannequin that gives the options that finest fit your wants. That mentioned, it is effectively value testing the unique variations for a lot of of those, as normally, VRM efficiency would be the similar, however we noticed quite a lot of cases the place the unique mannequin was less expensive.

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It is potential these pricing discrepancies will go away over time, however because it stands proper now, many of those refreshed WiFi 7 boards simply do not make sense by way of worth. Sadly, we did not get time to do an enormous Z790 roundup when the boards first got here out, as an alternative prioritizing our time to cowl the brand new X670 and B650 AM5 boards, as extra of you have an interest in AM5, and with future assist on the desk, it simply made sense to put money into that testing because the content material will probably be helpful for years to come back.

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There most likely is not an excessive amount of level in making any suggestions right here, as it’s going to finally come all the way down to pricing, and we anticipate Intel Z790 mobo pricing to maneuver round quite a bit within the coming months, probably invalidating any suggestions we make now.

The excellent news is there are not any unhealthy boards that you must keep away from, so merely examine the options of the fashions in your goal worth vary and go from there.

Purchasing Shortcuts:
  • Asus TUF Gaming Z790-Professional WiFi on Amazon
  • Asus ROG Strix Z790-A Gaming WiFi II on Amazon
  • MSI Z790 Tomahawk Max WiFi on Amazon
  • MSI Z790 Edge Ti Max WiFi on Amazon
  • Asrock Phantom Gaming Z790 Riptide WiFi on Newegg
  • Asrock Phantom Gaming Z790 Nova WiFi on Newegg
  • Gigabyte Z790 Aorus Elite X WiFi7 on Amazon
  • Gigabyte Z790 Aorus Grasp X on Amazon
  • Intel Core i9-14900K on Amazon

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