The Intel Z490 Overview: 44+ Motherboards Examinedby Gavin Bonshor on April 30, 2020 10:00 AM EST
MSI MEG Z490 Unify
Coming later on during the X570 product cycle, MSI debuted the Unify series catering to enthusiasts and gamers with an all-black aesthetic and improved power delivery. Now a staple range in its arsenal, the MSI MEG Z490 Unify is part of its MEG range of enthusiast and premium desktop models. It includes an RGB-less all-black design, with a 16-phase power delivery for the CPU, three PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots, and a Realtek 2.5 G Ethernet controller.
Looking at the design of the MSI MEG Z490 Unify, it has a regimented all-black design with no RGB LEDs for users that don't care for flashy styling. It has an elegant MSI Dragon embossed onto the rear panel cover, with black metallic heatsinks, on a black PCB. For expansion cards, there are three full-length PCIe 3.0 slots which operate at x16, x8/x8, and x8/x8+4, with two PCIe 3.0 x1 slots. A total of three PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots each with heatsinks, and four SATA ports make up the storage, with four memory slots with support for up to 128 GB of DDR4-4800 memory. It uses a beefy 16-phase power delivery for the CPU, with ISL based 90 A power stages, with two 8-pin 12 V ATX CPU power inputs.
While it has an enthusiast-level flavor, it has plenty on the rear panel for gamers and content creators. The rear panel has a single Realtek RTL8125B 2.5 G Ethernet port, connectors for the Intel AX201 Wi-Fi 6 and BT 5.1 wireless interface, and a BIOS Flashback and CMOS reset button pairing. There is a single USB 3.2 G2 20 Gbps Type-C, three USB 3.2 G2 10 Gbps Type-A, two USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, and two USB 2.0 ports. For onboard audio, the Z490 Unify is using a Realtek ALC1220 HD audio codec which powers the five 3.5 mm audio jacks and the S/PDIF optical output.
The MSI MEG Z490 Unify represents its enthusiast Z490 product stack. With a Realtek 2.5 G Ethernet controller, Wi-Fi 6 support and three PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots, it has plenty for users to sink their teeth into that are looking for a more modest and simplistic design. The large 16-phase power delivery will please users looking to push Intel 10th generation Comet Lake desktop processors through overclocking, and its design makes it one of the best-looking motherboards on the Z490 chipset without RGB LEDs. At present MSI hasn't provided pricing information.