The Intel Z490 Overview: 44+ Motherboards Examinedby Gavin Bonshor on April 30, 2020 10:00 AM EST
MSI MEG Z490I Unify
Not content with just the ATX sized Z490 Unify, MSI has opted to release a mini-ITX version too, with the MSI MEG Z490I Unify. Following the same all-black theme but more condensed into a small form factor, the Z490I Unify incorporates an 8-phase CPU power delivery, with two PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots, and includes a Thunderbolt 3 Type-C port on the rear panel. It also has a 10-layer PCB which is superb for a mini-ITX motherboard.
Being the only mini-ITX board at launch from MSI, it has opted to release it under its MEG enthusiast-level range under the Unify series. With this brings its subtle all-black design with a small MSI Dragon at the bottom of the rear panel cover, with a combined chipset and M.2 heatsink at the bottom. It has a single full-length PCIe 3.0 x16 slot, with two PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots, one on the front and one located on the rear of the board. This adds onto the four straight-angled SATA ports which include support for RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 arrays. It is using an 8-phase power delivery for the CPU with high-end 90 A ISL power stages, with a single 8-pin 12 V ATX power input for the CPU.
On the rear panel is a Thunderbolt 3 compliant USB Type-C port, which does offer support for DisplayPort 1.4 too. Also featured is a single USB 3.2 G2 10 Gbps Type-A, two USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, and two USB 2.0 ports. Powering the five 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical output is a Realtek ALC1220 HD audio codec, while a Realtek RTL8125B 2.5 G Ethernet port and Intel AX201 Wi-Fi 6 wireless interface provides wireless networking as well as BT 5.1 device support. For users looking to leverage the Intel integrated graphics onboard the 10th Gen Comet Lake desktop chips, there's an HDMI and DisplayPort video output.
The MSI MEG Z490I Unify represents the enthusiast-level small form factor market. It has all the bells and whistles expected from a top-level mini-ITX model with Thunderbolt 3 support, dual PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots, and benefits from Wi-Fi 6, BT 5.1, and a 2.5 G Ethernet controller. MSI hasn't provided pricing at this time.