Choosing The Right Z390 Motherboard: Features vs Price

With more than 55 motherboards at launch and more certainly to follow, actually whittling down the list can be a bit of a challenge, as there are quite of lots of different factors to consider. Of course, for a lot of users it comes down to the best feature set for the lowest price, but other variables include the quality of core components (networking, audio, Wi-Fi, etc). So just like our Z370 motherboard round-up from last year, we've taken the most specific of requirements and narrowed them down below to a smattering of options to make the task easier. 

Before we get too deep here, there are a few notable trends across the board (sorry) in Z390 board designs. The general feeling is that Z390 is the chipset Z370 should have been, as not only does the newer Z390 'feel' a lot better quality from the perspective of an outsider-looking-in, but feature selection among boards benefits greatly from the Z390 chipset's native USB 3.1 Gen 2 support along with the now-integrated 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity.

From looking at the specifications of all of the available Z390 motherboards at launch, it seems a lot of the manufacturers have taken advantage of this fact. Some of the higher-end boards offer up to three USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C ports, with an accompanying USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port to boot. In fact quite a few Z390 motherboards have completely done away with USB 2.0 on the rear panel; though there are still headers available, which is handy for users who make use of them for front panel connectors on cases.

Choosing the Right Z390 Motherboard
If You Need               Then The Options Are                                                          Size   Amazon   Newegg 
10 Gigabit Ethernet ASRock Z390 Taichi Ultimate
Supermicro C9Z390-PGW
Supermicro C9Z390-CGW
ATX
ATX
ATX
$335
-
-
$300
$335
$277
5 Gigabit Ethernet ASUS ROG Maximus XI Extreme
ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula
EATX
ATX
-
$450
-
$450
2.5 Gigabit Ethernet ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming 9
ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming 6
ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming SLI
ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming SLI/ac
ATX
ATX
ATX
ATX
$270
$196
$160
$170
$270
$196
$160
$170
Integrated Wi-Fi

(vs. non-Wi-Fi)
ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac
ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming 9
ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming SLI/ac
ASRock Z390M-ITX/ac
ASRock Z390 Taichi
ASRock Z390 Taichi Ultimate
ASUS ROG Maximus XI Extreme
ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula
ASUS ROG Maximus XI Code
ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero WIFI
ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero COD4
ASUS ROG Maximus XI Gene
ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming
ASUS ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming
ASUS TUF Z390 Plus Gaming WIFI
ASUS TUF Z390M Pro Gaming WIFI
GIGABYTE Z390 Aorus Pro WIFI
GIGABYTE Z390 Aorus Ultra
GIGABYTE Z390 Aorus Master
GIGABYTE Z390 I Pro WIFI
MSI MPG Z390I Gaming Edge AC
MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge AC
MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC
MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Pro Carbon AC
MSI MEG Z390 ACE
MSI MEG Z390 GODLIKE
NZXT N7 Z390
Supermicro P9Z390-PGW
Supermicro P9Z390-CGW
Supermicro P9Z390-CG-IW
mITX
ATX
ATX
mITX
ATX
ATX
EATX
ATX
ATX
ATX
ATX
mATX
ATX
mITX
ATX
mATX
ATX
ATX
ATX
mITX
mITX
mATX
ATX
ATX
ATX
EATX
ATX
ATX
ATX
mITX
$190
$270
$190
$150
$240
$300
-
$450
$350
$290
-
-
$245
$210
-
-
$200
$250
$290
$165
$165
$180
$190
$230
$290
$600
-
-
-
-
$190
$270
$190
$150
$240
$300
-
$450
$350
$290
-
-
$245
$210
-
-
$200
$250
$290
$165
$165
$180
$190
$230
$290
$600
-
$335
$277
$204
Using the Z390 CNVi

(with CRF)

 
ASUS ROG Maximus XI Extreme
ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula
ASUS ROG Maximus XI Code
ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero Wi-Fi
ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero COD4
ASUS ROG Maximus XI Gene
ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming
ASUS ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming
ASUS TUF Z390 Plus Gaming Wi-Fi
ASUS TUF Z390M Pro Gaming Wi-FI
MSI MEG Z390 ACE
MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Pro Carbon AC
MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC
MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge AC
MSI MPG Z390I Gaming Edge AC
NZXT N7 Z390
EATX
ATX
ATX
ATX
ATX
mATX
ATX
mITX
ATX
mATX
ATX
ATX
ATX
mATX
mITX
ATX
-
$450
$350
$290
-
-
$245
$210
-
-
$290
$230
$190
$180
$165
-
-
$450
$350
$290
-
-
$245
$210
-
-
$290
$230
$190
$180
$165
-
3 or more M.2 Ports ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming 9
ASRock Z390 Taichi
ASRock Z390 Taichi Ultimate
ASUS ROG Maximus XI Extreme
ASUS ROG Maximus XI Gene
ASUS WS Z390 Pro
GIGABYTE Z390 Aorus Ultra
GIGABYTE Z390 Aorus Master
GIGABYTE Z390 Aorus Xtreme
MSI MEG Z390 ACE
MSI MEG Z390 GODLIKE
ATX
ATX
ATX
EATX
mATX
ATX
ATX
ATX
EATX
ATX
EATX
$270
$240
$300
-
-
-
$250
$290
-
$290
$600
$270
$240
$300
-
-
-
$250
$290
-
$290
$600
4 or more USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A (Rear Panel) ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac
ASRock Z390M-ITX/ac
NZXT N7 Z390
mITX
mITX
ATX
$190
$150
-
$190
$150
-
HDMI 2.0
(via LSPCon)
ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac
ASUS ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming
ASUS WS Z390 Pro
GIGABYTE Z390 Aorus I Pro WIFI
Supermicro P9Z390-PGW
Supermicro P9Z390-CG-IW
ATX
mITX
mITX
mITX
ATX
mITX
-
$210
$190
$165
-
-
-
$210
$190
$165
$335
$204
Thunderbolt 3 ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac mITX $190 $190
Micro-ATX ASRock Z390M Pro4
ASUS ROG Maximus XI Gene
GIGABYTE Z390M Gaming
MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge AC
MSI MAG Z390M Mortar
mATX
mATX
mATX
mATX
mATX
$135
-
$145
$180
-
$135
-
$145
$180
-
Mini-ITX ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac
ASRock Z390M ITX/ac
ASUS ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming
GIGABYTE Z390 I Aorus Pro WIFI
MSI MPG Z390I Gaming Edge AC
Supermicro C9Z390-CG-IW
mITX
mITX
mITX
mITX
mITX
mITX
$190
$150
$210
$165
$165
-
$190
$150
$210
$165
$165
$204
U.2 Port ASUS WS Z390 Pro
MSI MEG Z390 GODLIKE
Supermicro P9Z390-PGW
ATX
EATX
ATX
-
$600
-
-
$600
$335
8 or more SATA ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming 9
ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming 6
ASRock Z390 Taichi
ASRock Z390 Taichi Ultimate
ATX
ATX
ATX
ATX
$270
$196
$240
$300
$270
$196
$240
$300
3 or more x16 Slots
(x8 bandwidth or better)
ASUS WS Z390 Pro
MSI MEG Z390 GODLIKE
Supermicro P9Z390-PGW
ATX
EATX
ATX
-
$600
-
-
$600
$335

Normally we would note which boards include a Realtek ALC1220 HD audio codec in the table, but it's actually quicker and easier to list which boards don't have it, as it's now a regular feature on Z390 boards. Only a limited number of boards in the entry-level segment feature a non-ALC1220 codec.

Z390 Motherboard Audio
Codec Boards
Realtek ALC1220 Almost Everything, Except The Following
SupremeFX S1200 ASUS TUF Z390 Pro Gaming
ASUS TUF Z390M Pro Gaming Wi-Fi
ASUS TUF Z390 Plus Gaming Wi-Fi
Realtek ALC892 ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming SLI/ac
ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming SLI
ASRock Z390 Pro4
ASRock Z390M Pro4
ASRock Z390M-ITX/ac
GIGABYTE Z390 Gaming X
GIGABYTE Z390M Gaming
Realtek ALC887 ASUS Prime Z390-P
ASUS Prime Z390M Plus
GIGABYTE Z390-UD

Another important aspect of choosing between motherboards is of course the cost; or really how much of the total system budget it's going to swallow. Because so many of the baseline features of a board are just that – baseline and found in every board – many motherboard manufacturers are now using fancy fluffy features (TM) as key differentiating factors to up-sell users into more expensive boards. Aesthetics are one of the most common (and least frugal) examples, as vendors are fond of putting in RGB lighting for this reason. And while there's nothing wrong with a beautiful system, it won't add to performance nor to ease of use. Judging from the Z390 boards we're seeing today, RGB lighting is starting to become more common than not, as those boards not equipped with it are typically either considered 'basic' or designated as professional boards

Moving on, as part of this Z390 motherboard roundup, most of the boards listed in the tables throughout this overview are available for purchase. Though some models listed many either be only available for pre-order, not officially announced, or region locked – such as the MAXSUN iCraft Z390, which can only currently be purchased in the Asian market.

Starting in alphabetical order, ASRock offers 12 different motherboards, with two of those coming in the smaller mini-ITX form factor, and a single micro-ATX offering rounding out the collection. As noted in our overviews, the ASRock boards are likely to be popular with gamers after dropping the Fatal1ty brand in favor of the Phantom Gaming series. Some of the higher-end Z390 Phantom Gaming based models feature the brand new Realtek RTL8125AG Gaming 2.5 G NICs, and the Z390 Taichi Ultimate goes one step further with a triple LAN setup composed of 2 x Intel Gigabit LAN and an Aquantia 10G port.

Availability and Pricing of ASRock Intel Z390 Motherboards (10/08)
Model Size AT
Overview
Amazon Newegg
Z390 Taichi Ultimate ATX Link - $300
Z390 Taichi ATX Link - $240
Z390 Phantom Gaming 9 ATX Link - $270
Z390 Phantom Gaming 6 ATX Link - $196
Z390 Phantom Gaming 4 ATX Link - $140
Z390 Phantom Gaming SLI/ac ATX Link - $170
Z390 Phantom Gaming SLI ATX Link - $160
Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac Mini-ITX Link - $190
Z390M-ITX/ac Mini-ITX Link - $150
Z390 Exteme4 ATX Link - $180
Z390 Pro4 ATX Link - $135
Z390M Pro4 mATX Link - $135

The vast majority of the ASRock Z390 stack is available for under $200, with the only four of their models above this. These include the Z390 Phantom Gaming 6, the flagship Z390 Phantom Gaming 9, and the Z390 Taichi & Taichi Ultimate motherboards.

Onto the ASUS models, there are 17 new models to choose from, with the vast majority including integrated Wi-Fi. ASUS also has one of only three extended-ATX motherboards on the Z390 chipset, in the form of their flagship ROG Maximus XI Extreme.

Availability and Pricing of ASUS Intel Z390 Motherboards (10/08)
Model Size AT
Overview
Amazon Newegg
ROG Maximus XI Extreme EATX Link - -
ROG Maximus XI Formula ATX Link $450 $450
ROG Maximus XI Code ATX Link $350 $350
ROG Maximus XI Hero (Wi-FI) ATX Link $290 $290
ROG Maximus XI Hero ATX Link - -
ROG Maximus XI Gene mATX Link - -
ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming ATX Link $245 $245
ROG Strix Z390-F Gaming ATX Link - -
ROG Strix Z390-H Gaming ATX Link $190 $190
ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming Mini-ITX Link $210 $210
TUF Z390 Pro Gaming ATX Link $170 $170
TUF Z390M Pro Gaming mATX Link $180 $180
TUF Z390 Plus Gaming ATX Link $170 $170
WS Z390 Pro ATX Link - -
Prime Z390-A ATX Link $190 $190
Prime Z390-P ATX Link $150 $150
Prime Z390M Plus mATX Link - -

ASUS's varied range stretches across all of the three main motherboard segments, with the Maximus XI models occupying the high-end, the Strix catering for gamers in the mid-range, and the TUF Gaming for the entry-level gamers looking to build a budget gaming system. Meanwhile the entry-level and prosumer Prime series offers a good value for the money, and the WS Z390 Pro is one of two Z390 models to offer four PCIe x16 slots.

GIGABYTE has the fewest new boards of the big four motherboard vendors (ASRock, ASUS, GIGABYTE and MSI), coming to market with 10 models. The chief of these is the flagship E-ATX Z390 Aorus Xtreme, which is expected in late October or November.

Availability and Pricing of GIGABYTE Intel Z390 Motherboards (10/08)
Model Size AT
Overview
Amazon Newegg
Z390 Aorus Xtreme EATX Link - -
Z390 Aorus Master ATX Link $290 $290
Z390 Aorus Elite ATX Link $180 $180
Z390 Aorus Ultra ATX Link $250 $250
Z390 Aorus Pro WIFI ATX Link $200 $200
Z390 Aorus Pro ATX Link $190 $190
Z390 I Aorus Pro WIFI Mini-ITX Link $165 $165
Z390 Gaming SLI ATX Link $160 $160
Z390 Gaming X ATX Link $150 $150
Z390M Gaming mATX Link $145 $145
Z390 UD ATX Link $130 $130

GIGABYTE has gone a different direction with its branding, with a more wordy naming scheme as opposed to numbering their models. When multiple manufacturers call their boards Gaming 3, Gaming 5 etc, it's not great for brand awareness or consumer clarity. The highest spec of GIGABYTE's Z390 arsenal isn't due to be released right away (Z390 Aorus Xtreme), but the Z390 Aorus Master holds its own feature-wise and offers a blend of Aorus inspired aesthetics and plenty of RGB LED lighting.

Lastly from the big four is MSI, which usually releases a ton of boards to the market. However this time they have taken a more modest approach, starting out with just 10 new models. The most notable of these is the new feature-packed EATX MEG Z390 GODLIKE, which not only includes an M.2 Xpander card, but also includes dual Realtek ALC1220 HD audio codecs and support for three-way SLI and up to four-way CrossFire. But perhaps the most interesting feature of the Z390 GODLIKE is the addition of a dedicated capture and streaming card. Though this means the flagship board costs an arm and a leg; its $600 price tag makes it the most expensive Z390 board at launch.

Availability and Pricing of MSI Intel Z390 Motherboards (10/08)
Model Size AT
Overview
Amazon Newegg
MEG Z390 GODLIKE EATX Link $600 $600
MEG Z390 ACE ATX Link $290 $290
MPG Z390 Gaming Pro Carbon AC ATX Link $230 $230
MPG Z390 Gaming Pro Carbon ATX Link $200 $200
MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC ATX Link $190 $190
MPG Z390M Gaming Edge AC mATX Link $180 $180
MPG Z390I Gaming Edge AC Mini-ITX Link $165 $165
MPG Z390 Gaming Plus ATX Link $150 $150
MAG Z390 Tomahawk ATX Link $160 $160
MAG Z390M Mortar mATX Link $145 $145
Z390-A PRO ATX Link $140 $140

Meanwhile the entry-level MSI Z390-A PRO has an MSRP of $140, while the rest of the range costs between $145 and $290. And the ATX form factor MEG Z390 ACE, which is essentially a slightly scaled down version of the GODLIKE, halves its price down to $290.

Other manufacturers launching boards outside of the first-tier motherboard vendors include EVGA with a pair of ATX sized refreshed models, which are the Z390 Dark and Z390 FTW. NZXT plans to launch a new version of their previous N7 Z370, the new N7 Z390, where NZXT has stuck with ECS as their OEM of choice. And highly renowned enterprise-level manufacturer Supermicro has a quartet of new models launching. The most notable of the four is the Supermicro C9Z390-PGW, which includes a Broadcom PEX8747 PLX chip allowing for four-way SLI across four full-length PCIe 3.0 slots.

The other obscure offering comes from Chinese manufacturer MAXSUN, which is refreshing their Z370 board with the new Z390 chipset and giving us the iCraft Z390. In terms of aesthetics this is one of the most unique boards I've seen thus far, with waves of overkill RGB LED lighting all over the board. This model is designed for the Asian market and I don't expect will be sold in other regions.

Availability and Pricing of Other Intel Z390 Motherboards (10/08)
Model Size AT
Overview
Amazon Newegg
EVGA Z390 Dark ATX Link - -
EVGA Z390 FTW ATX Link - -
MAXSUN iCraft Z390 ATX Link - -
NZXT N7 Z390 ATX Link - -
Supermicro C9Z390-PGW ATX Link $335 $335
Supermicro C9Z390-CGW ATX Link $277 $277
Supermicro C9Z390-CG-IW Mini-ITX Link $204 $204
Supermicro C9Z390-CG ATX Link - -

 

Supermicro C9Z390-CG-IW
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  • Chaitanya - Monday, October 08, 2018 - link

    That video advert on pages is stupid pain in rear side to say the least when reading through all those pages. Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Monday, October 08, 2018 - link

    The "How to pick a CPU" video? If you pay close attention to it, it's actually Anandtech content.

    That being said, they'll probably be fine with you ad-blocking it. Blocking content doesn't affect ad revenue, right? ;)
    Reply
  • leexgx - Monday, October 08, 2018 - link

    I just opened the site in edge now so I could block them as very distracting and annoying (as well as the scam ads between the article and comments section that I have to scroll past ) Reply
  • edwpang - Wednesday, October 10, 2018 - link

    I tried not to block ads, but I cannot bear the sight of some pictures and videos. Reply
  • imaheadcase - Wednesday, October 10, 2018 - link

    I don't understand how anandtech would allow the scam ads to appear on here, its prob the #1 reason i use a adblock in the first place. The only reason i know about it is from phone, when i first saw them i was like "wtf is this shit".

    I guess anandtech doesn't think its ads reflect its site.
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, October 11, 2018 - link

    If you guys are encountering issues with the ads, please reach out to me and let me know. Ads fall under a different department in Future, but if there are specific problems then I can at least pass those along to get them addressed. Reply
  • Ananke - Thursday, October 11, 2018 - link

    The ads /the video/ are super annoying - its the same style as Tom's Hardware, apparently as business has been merged. The slotted video, or the minimized video screen upon changing the tab size for example makes me avoiding Anandtech and Tom's alltogether, after reading it for 20 years /yeah, since Anand was a teenager and started it as a blog/. I am multitasking, and I can't read when screen is smaller, and I use smaller screen at work, because you know, I work. Reply
  • hoohoo - Thursday, October 11, 2018 - link

    Hi Ryan,

    The Choose a CPU video is auto-play. On a phone or mobile device this is obnoxious for two reasons: (1) it uses a lot of bandwidth and mobile plans usually have a cap on data above which the reader must pay extra; (2) when the video plays it either pauses any already playing media (mp3 player on the phone) or just plays in addition to the existing media, both are irritating.

    Please explain to your ad people that auto-play video is not nice.
    Reply
  • Valantar - Monday, October 08, 2018 - link

    It's likely the camera/render angle playing tricks on me, but the VRM heatsink/rear I/O shroud on the ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming looks like it'll interfere with GPUs with backplates ... Reply
  • The Chill Blueberry - Monday, October 08, 2018 - link

    It's most likely just the camera angle. see how the top of the rear I/O is sticking out over the board. A big company like Asus couldn't forget about such an important detail. Reply

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