NZXT N7 Z490 Conclusion

It's quite late into the Z490 product cycle but NZXT has gone with an October launch for its latest N7 model. Whether this is just an internal cycle, or it allows more time for the development of its N7 series, only NZXT knows this. The NZXT N7 Z490 is geared towards the mid-range, and on paper, it seems quite reasonable for a sub $250 board with Wi-Fi 6, 2.5 GbE, and dual PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots, but it's not the board we expected in our testing.

It seems NZXT has focused primarily on aesthetics, which is fine for a case manufacturer looking to create a solution that fits in with its current chassis range (NZXT's own H series). It still has to get things correct in regards to the componentry for end-users to make use of. Things are acceptable performance-wise at default settings, with a very aggressive profile that makes it competitive with other models we've tested. NZXT has also added a variety of RGB headers with NZXT's CAM software doing much of the lifting regarding control. An integrated fan controller has also been added, which can also be controlled by CAM, with a total of seven 4-pin headers available to use. 

The NZXT N7 Z490 will be available in black or white.

It offers two full-length PCIe 3.0 slots that operate at x16/+x4, with three additional PCIe 3.0 x1 slots. Memory support is a tad lower than most brands on the market, with DDR4-4266. However, it does support up to 128 GB of memory, with two PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots and four SATA ports. Four is somewhat low, considering this is an ATX board at a mid-range price point. The rear panel is also a little lackluster, with just two USB 3.2 G2 ports (Type-A and Type-C, with two USB 3.2 G1 Type-A and two USB 2.0 ports. NZXT does include a single USB 3.2 G1 header (two ports), and three USB 2.0 headers in which users can add another six USB 2.0 ports. Still, this is frankly unacceptable for a board in this price point.

Touching on the performance, our test suite shows that the N7 Z490 is competitive in all of our system tests, with all-around mid-level performance in our power, system POST, and DPC latency testing. We didn't highlight any anomalies in our computational and gaming tests, but overclocking was a different story...

Overclocking? Not Yet

In our overclocking tests, we hit a bit of a snag. We weren't able to locate the exact problem in time for the review, but NZXT is aware. The board works perfectly fine at stock settings, but manually overclocking on the board caused both an overzealous load voltage on the CPU, and throttling issues beyond 5.0 GHz. These weren't thermal throttling issues, as our CPU temperatures were still within reason and the VRMs seemed to be cool enough. We were told (and confirmed) that the N7 uses a 4-layer PCB, which is very low number of layers for a Z490 model; in fact, you would likely see this this number of layers used on a H-series board. As a result, it could be a fundamental issue relating to tracing crosstalk around the power delivery area. Ultimately, with the current firmware situation on the N7 Z490, we can't recommend it with an overclocked CPU until the issues are fixed.

From an aesthetics standpoint, it's a good looking board with the armor covering up much of the PCB, but adding cost to some areas and detracting from others such as rear panel connectivity and PCB quality is something that cannot be ignored. NZXT has set an MSRP of $230 for the N7 Z490, which on paper, looks a good proposition. But the competition the N7 Z490 is up against is strong. It's not too harsh to say that every other model at the $200-250 price point appears to offer something more (which NZXT has swapped for aesthetics). If NZXT want to get into this market, it might be worth having two variants, one more competitive and one more styled, in future.

Power Delivery Thermal Analysis


View All Comments

  • Woomn 44 - Monday, October 19, 2020 - link

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  • mrvco - Sunday, October 11, 2020 - link

    RGB powa I expect. Reply
  • SlashZerov - Friday, October 9, 2020 - link

    My system has
    2x USB keyboards one gaming and one for typing
    1x USB mouse
    1x USB headset Logitech g430
    2x USB occulus rift sensors
    1x USB data to USB for moving data on/off drives
    I also have a couple phone chargers hanging off so yes 6 isn’t enough for the average person.
  • YB1064 - Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - link

    Nobody is going to buy this board at the listed price. I'd pay $75-90 for it, tops. 4 layer PCB? Man this aint 1990. Reply
  • Operandi - Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - link

    Wrong platform.

    Also, those heatsinks have very little surface area, more like heatbanks.

    Also, also there is clean design and then there is boring. These are boring.
  • s.yu - Thursday, October 8, 2020 - link

    I call this a clean design, half-assed clean is what's boring, this is actually so refined that the issue is getting other hardware to match them. Reply
  • Tomatotech - Friday, October 9, 2020 - link

    For all its many fault, I do like the clean design. Reminds me a little of the various Mac Pro designs. Would be suitable for an exposed mobo mod project.

    I personally would prefer an even more clean look, for example removable coverings over the unused PCIe slots, both for aesthetics and to keep dust out. This mobo was made to be on display and not all mod projects use enclosed cases.
  • Polaris198321 - Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - link

    Looks good. however no 6 SATA data ports for fully taking advantage of 2 laptop HDDs and desktop HDDs here. needs buttons for CMOS and bios resetting on io panel found on many Asus high end for the mobo and specially made self-recharging materials and censor on the chips for built-in ups battery backup for 30 minutes in case of blackouts to run in the energy-saving mode for basic needs like the internet and phone usage on a desktop and laptop. 4g LTE - 6g is a must as well if you decide to ditch cable internet for an alternative with both of them soon having yearly cable and internet/phone plans.

    wireless PSU ports on the mobo from the PSU might be tested for ditching the nightmare of cable management in such pc powers here once the light beam mirroring bounce and data/power reception effect is perfected without frying the PSU and mobo that both self-heal and self cool like the DPU and CPU and GPUs to come and ssds and HDDs doing the same thing with fans also on the side like on the haf x tower for vertical GPU mounting for the RTX 3090 and CPU fan mount that also rotate to go vertical to give a bigger CPU fan more breathing space to properly cool an RTX 3090 and intel i9 11 gen desktop CPU/AMD ryzen x3950 CPU with custom DDR 5/ssds from intel at 1 TB each for the ram slots here for hybrid custom video sound music creation editing and data science and gaming at 8k going foward as the bios uefi needs to have the ability for multiboot os for macOS windows OS Linux OS and chrome/andriod OS and iOS here for seamless easy file transfers to and from said devices and for network and usb/microsd backups of the mobo and oses from the mobo bios itself. tb 4 ports for any module CPUs from AMD or ryzen to boot up a dead pc for recovery on the i/o panel with 8k 2.1 HDMI ports and display ports are needed as well for connection to an lg/sony 8k tv theater system with sound systems that can handle live music/video/audio editing and recordings like seen and found on many movie and music recording stations.
  • firewrath9 - Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - link

    wat Reply
  • Operandi - Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - link

    Huh...... don't do drugs I guess? Reply

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