Choosing The Right Z490 Motherboard

When it comes to selecting the right motherboard for the task, it can come down to several variables. These include a personal preference for things like aesthetics, certain features which are required to do a specific job, or primarily down to budget. With more than 40 models to select from, most of the Z490 product stack comes with a competitive feature set, with some models offering Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, some offering eight SATA ports. In contrast, others offer up to three PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots.

Regardless of the combination of features required, as we have done from previous chipset overviews, we've taken some of the most common requirements and narrowed them down to allow users to choose a board based on its specific features.

One of the most improved upon things from the previous generation comes in the way of networking support. No fewer than eight models come with some form of 10 G Ethernet, with more than 60% of the current product stack featuring either Intel's new I225-V 2.5 G Ethernet, or Realtek's RTL8125 2.5 G equivalent. This marks a rise in high-speed networking capabilities, not just with wired, but in wireless too. Intel's CNVI has support for Wi-Fi 6 wireless interfaces including the AX200, and AX201 802.11ax wireless interface.

More impressively, some vendors have stepped up its game on networking with MSI in all of its models, comes with at least a Realtek 2.5 G Ethernet controller. This shows a real intent to offer better networking support than it ever has before. Some of the product stack offers three or more PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots but is typically found on the premium models, while there are more models now with Thunderbolt 3 rear panel connectivity than ever before. Only one model offers a PCIe 3.0 x4 U.2 port, which is the EVGA Z490 Dark which is surprising given its aimed at enthusiasts.

Choosing the Right Z490 Motherboard
          If You Need                  Then The Options Are          Size Price
10 Gigabit Ethernet ASRock Z490 Aqua EATX $1100
  ASUS ROG Maximus XII Extreme EATX $750
  ASUS ROG Maximus XII Formula ATX $500
  ASUS ProArt Z490-Creator 10G ATX -
  GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Xtreme WaterForce EATX $1299
  GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Xtreme EATX $799
  MSI MEG Z490 Godlike EATX $750
  Supermicro C9Z490-PGW ATX $395
  Supermicro C9Z490-PG ATX $375
 
5 Gigabit Ethernet ASUS ROG Maximus XII Hero Wi-Fi ATX $399
 
2.5 Gigabit Ethernet ASRock Z490 Aqua EATX $1100
  ASRock Z490 PG Velocita ATX $260
  ASRock Z490 Taichi ATX $370
  ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB3 mITX $280
  ASRock Z490 Steel Legend ATX $185
  ASRock Z490 Extreme4 ATX $195
  ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming 4/2.5G ATX $160
  ASUS ROG Maximus XII Extreme EATX $750
  ASUS ROG Maximus XII Formula ATX $500
  ASUS ROG Maximus XII Apex ATX -
  ASUS ROG Strix Z490-E Gaming ATX $300
  ASUS ROG Strix Z490-F Gaming ATX $269
  ASUS ROG Strix Z490-G Gaming Wi-Fi mATX -
  ASUS ROG Strix Z490-I Gaming mITX $300
  ASUS Prime Z490-A ATX $230
  ASUS ProArt Z490-Creator 10G ATX -
  Colorful iGame Z490 Vulcan X V20 ATX -
  EVGA Z490 Dark EATX -
  GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Xtreme WaterForce EATX $1299
  GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Xtreme EATX $799
  GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Master ATX $389
  GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Ultra ATX $299
  GIGABYTE Z490I Aorus Ultra mITX $269
  GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Pro AX ATX $269
  GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Elite AC ATX $219
  GIGABYTE Z490 Vision D ATX $299
  GIGABYTE Z490 Vision G ATX $199
  MSI MEG Z490 Godlike EATX $750
  MSI MEG Z490 Ace ATX $400
  MSI MEG Z490 Unify ATX -
  MSI MEG Z490I Unify mITX -
  MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon WIFI ATX $270
  MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Edge WIFI ATX $200
  MSI MPG Z490M Gaming Edge WIFI mATX -
  MSI MAG Z490 Tomahawk ATX $190
  MSI Z490-A Pro ATX $160
 
3 or more M.2 Slots ASRock Z490 Taichi ATX $370
  ASRock Z490 Aqua EATX $1100
  ASUS ROG Maximus XII Extreme EATX $750
  ASUS ROG Maximus XII Formula ATX $500
  ASUS ROG Maximus XII Apex ATX -
  ASUS ROG Maximus XII Hero Wi-Fi ATX $399
  ASUS Prime Z490-A ATX $230
  GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Xtreme WaterForce EATX $1299
  GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Xtreme EATX $799
  GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Master ATX $389
  GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Ultra ATX $299
  GIGABYTE Z490 Gaming X ATX -
  MSI MEG Z490 Godlike EATX $750
  MSI MEG Z490 Ace ATX $400
  MSI MEG Z490 Unify ATX -
 
U.2 Port EVGA Z490 Dark EATX -
 
8 or more SATA Ports ASRock Z490 Taichi ATX -
  ASRock Z490 Aqua EATX -
  ASRock Z490 PG Velocita ATX -
  ASUS ROG Maximus XII Extreme EATX $750
  ASUS ROG Maximus XII Apex ATX -
  EVGA Z490 Dark EATX $926
 
4 or more USB 3.2 G2 Type-A ASUS ProArt Z490-Creator 10G ATX -
  EVGA Z490 Dark EATX $926
  EVGA Z490 FTW WiFi ATX -
  GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Xtreme WaterForce EATX $1299
  GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Xtreme EATX $799
  MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon WIFI ATX $270
 
Thunderbolt 3 ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming ITX/TB3 mITX $280
  ASRock Z490 Aqua EATX $1100
  ASUS ProArt Z490-Creator 10G ATX -
  GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Xtreme WaterForce EATX $1299
  GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Xtreme EATX $799
  GIGABYTE Z490 Vision D ATX $299
  MSI MEG Z490 Godlike EATX $750
  MSI MEG Z490I Unify mITX -
 
BIOS Flashback Button ASRock Z490 Taichi ATX $370
  ASRock Z490 Aqua EATX $1100
  ASUS ROG Maximus XII Extreme EATX $750
  ASUS ROG Maximus XII Hero Wi-Fi ATX $399
  ASUS ROG Strix Z490-E Gaming ATX $300
  GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Xtreme WaterForce EATX $1299
  GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Xtreme EATX $799
  GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Master ATX $389
  GIGABYTE Z490I Aorus Ultra mITX $269
  MSI MEG Z490 Godlike EATX $750
  MSI MEG Z490 Ace ATX $400
  MSI MEG Z490 Unify ATX -
 
E-ATX ASRock Z490 Aqua EATX $1100
  ASUS ROG Maximus XII Extreme EATX $750
  EVGA Z490 Dark EATX -
  GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Xtreme WaterForce EATX $1299
  GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Xtreme EATX $799
  MSI MEG Z490 Godlike EATX $750
 
Micro-ATX ASUS ROG Strix Z490-G Gaming mATX -
  ASUS ROG Strix Z490-G Wi-Fi Gaming mATX -
  ASUS Prime Z490M-Plus mATX $150
  GIGABYTE Z490M Gaming X mATX -
  MSI MPG Z490M Gaming Edge WIFI mATX -
 
Mini-ITX ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB3 mITX $280
  ASRock Z490M-ITX/ac mITX $160
  ASUS ROG Strix Z490-I Gaming mITX $300
  Biostar Racing Z490GTN mITX $199
  GIGABYTE Z490I Aorus Ultra mITX $269
  MSI MEG Z490I Unify mITX -

Usually we would also note which boards include a Realtek ALC1220 HD audio codec in the table, but it's quicker and easier to list which boards don't have it, as it's now a regular feature across Z490 boards. Only a minimal selection of models in the entry-level segment feature a non-ALC1220 codec.

Z490 Motherboard Audio
Codec Boards
Realtek ALC1220 Almost Everything, Except The Following
Realtek ALC1200 ASRock Z490 Steel Legend
  ASRock Z490 Extreme4
  ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming 4SR
  GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Elite AC
  GIGABYTE Z490 Gaming X
  GIGABYTE Z490M Gaming X
  MSI MAG Z490 Tomahawk
Realtek S1200A ASUS TUF Z490-Plus Wi-Fi
Realtek ALC892 ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming 4
  ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming 4/2.5G
  ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming 4/ac
  ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming 4/ax
  Colorful iGame CVN Z490 Gaming Pro V20
Realtek ALC887 ASUS Prime Z490-P
  ASUS Prime Z490M-Plus
Realtek ALC1150 Biostar Racing Z490GTA Evo
  Biostar Racing Z490GTA


Wi-Fi 6 For Everyone: Well Almost

One of the primary updates on the Z490 chipset over Z390 is in its CNVi support. Intel now offers support for Wi-Fi 6 wireless interfaces via the CNVi within the chipset and allows vendors to use its own CRF modules such as the Intel AX200 and AX201. While this does increase the cost a little, it's still cheaper than implementing its own dedicated controller and using HSIO lanes from outside of the chipset. With more than half of the current Z490 product stack equipped with a Wi-Fi 6 CRF module, it's now become a regular feature as wireless technologies improve beyond 802.11ac. The Intel AX200 and AX201 also include support for BT 5.1 devices, while it should be made clear that these interfaces are backwards compatible with older Bluetooth versions.

With Wi-Fi 6 being so commonly featured across much of the Z490 product stack, below is a list of models either without Wi-Fi completely, or with a lesser variant such as 802.11ac. 

Z490 Wi-Fi Support
Wireless Interface Boards
802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) Almost Everything, Except The Following
802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming 4/ac
  ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming 4SR
  Biostar Racing Z490GTA Evo
  GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Elite AC
No Wi-Fi ASRock Z490 PG Velocita
  ASRock Z490 Steel Legend
  ASRock Z490 Extreme4
  ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming 4
  ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming 4/2.5G
  ASUS ROG Strix Z490-F Gaming
  ASUS Prime Z490-A
  ASUS Prime Z490-P
  ASUS Prime Z490M-Plus
  ASUS ProArt Z490-Creator 10G
  Biostar Racing Z490GTN
  Colorful iGame Z490 Vulcan X V20
  Colorful iGame CVN Z490 Gaming Pro V20
  GIGABYTE Z490 Gaming X
  GIGABYTE Z490M Gaming X
  GIGABYTE Z490 Vision G
  MSI MAG Z490 Tomahawk
  MSI Z490-A Pro
  Supermicro C9Z490-PG

It's great having a stacked set of features, but generally, these come at a higher price point. Not overlooking the value aspect for users on a budget, motherboard pricing has surged far beyond itself in recent times. Where a couple of years ago a flagship model would cost around $400-500, that is considered more upper mid-range now, with some flagship desktop models exceeding $1200 (Looking at you GIGABYTE). All of this needs to be factored in, with some vendors pushing non-RGB models when in recent times, RGB was one of its main marketable points. Virtually every vendor has its own RGB ecosystem now with fancy software, some more intuitive than others, while some of that focus could be aimed at areas where performance counts, and aesthetics are secondary.

From all of the motherboards, we've not distinguished between the different world zones, so some models may be region locked to the USA, others for Europe. In contrast, other markets such as China have a completely different scope of sales.

ASRock Z490 Product Stack

Starting alphabetically, ASRock offers one of its smallest Intel-based product stacks in terms of previous launches. It has boards of a different pedigree within its Z490 stack, with the ASRock Z490 Taichi currently sitting (at the time of writing) as its flagship model. ASRock has also launched its favorable mini-ITX Z490 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB3 which offers a solid feature set including Thunderbolt 3, a 2.5 G Ethernet controller, and dual PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots. The ASRock Z490 sits as the brand's flagship model, with a full custom monoblock and a plethora of features including 10 G and 2.5 G Ethernet, with a set of hardline fittings included in its accessories bundle.

Availability and Pricing of ASRock Intel Z490 Motherboards (04/30)
Model Size AT
Overview
Price
ASRock Z490 Aqua EATX Link $1100
ASRock  Z490 Taichi ATX Link $370
ASRock Z490 PG Velocita ATX Link $260
ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB3 mITX Link $280
ASRock Z490 Steel Legend ATX Link $185
ASRock Z490 Extreme4 ATX Link $195
ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming 4 ATX Link $150
ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming 4/2.5G ATX Link $160
ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming 4/ax ATX Link -
ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming 4/ac ATX Link -
ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming 4SR ATX Link -

The ASRock Z490 Steel Legend and Z490 Extreme4 are identical in features, but offers users two different aesthetics as the foundation of a Comet Lake system, also with 2.5 G Ethernet. The ASRock Z490 PG Velocita is an entirely new model, adding something that sounds fast and readily marketable to its already established gaming series. ASRock will undoubtedly release new models between now and launch, a couple we know about but can't discuss, and likely something to take over the Taichi as its flagship model.

ASUS Z490 Product Stack

ASUS has the most extensive product stack at the time of writing, with models stretching across its key ranges including its ROG Maximus XII, ROG Strix, Prime, and TUF series. All of these are marketed at gamers, with the Maximus XII models including premium controller sets with multiple functionalities for enthusiasts, and content creators. The flagship ROG MaximusXII Extreme is a true flagship with 10 G Ethernet, plenty of PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots, and is one of the most significant models with its EATX form factor. The ROG Maximus XII Formula is geared up with 10 G Ethernet and 2.5 G too while offering EKWB Hybrid CrossChill III MOSFET heatsinks for water coolers looking to create a stable water-cooled system. 

Availability and Pricing of ASUS Intel Z490 Motherboards (04/30)
Model Size AT
Overview
Price
ASUS ROG Maximus XII Extreme Glacial ? Link -
ASUS ROG Maximus XII Extreme EATX Link $750
ASUS ROG Maximus XII Formula ATX Link $500
ASUS ROG Maximus XII Apex ATX Link -
ASUS ROG Maximus XII Hero WiFi ATX Link $399
ASUS ROG Strix Z490-E Gaming ATX Link $300
ASUS ROG Strix Z490-F Gaming ATX Link $269
ASUS ROG Strix Z490-G Wi-Fi Gaming mATX Link -
ASUS ROG Strix Z490-G Gaming mATX Link -
ASUS ROG Strix Z490-A Gaming ATX Link -
ASUS ROG Strix Z490-I Gaming mITX Link $300
ASUS TUF Z490 Plus WiFi ATX Link $200
ASUS TUF Z490 Plus ATX Link -
ASUS Prime Z490-A ATX Link $230
ASUS Prime Z490-P ATX Link $160
ASUS Prime Z490M-Plus mATX Link $150
ASUS ProArt Z490-Creator 10G ATX Link -

Moving down is the ROG Strix series with its plethora of alphabet models, going from E to I, with at least one model in each form factor (ATX, mATX, mITX), while still offering premium controllers, but with a lower cost. The TUF series is still ASUS's entry level gaming brand, with an upgrade over the previous Z390 models. The Prime series is set into a premium model and an entry-level model, with more neautral aesthetics, while the new ProArt Z490-Creator 10G which targets content creators with a solid feature set, includes Thunderbolt 3 connectivity.

GIGABYTE Z490 Product Stack

When comparing GIGABYTE's Z490 to its previous Z390 product stack, many of its range reappear including the Aours branded models, which goes from the really high-end, all the way to the mid-range segment. The award to the most outrageous Z490 price goes to the Xtreme WaterForce, with its premium feature set and custom full cover monoblock. Users with less wallet and more sense could pick up the equally impressive Z490 Aorus Xtreme for $500 less and drops the waterblock. The Aorus Ultra, Master, Elite all make a reappearance, with 2.5 G Ethernet due to the Z490's integrated 2.5 G MAC, with the vast majority of its range also benefiting for the Wi-Fi 6 MAC too.

Availability and Pricing of GIGABYTE Intel Z490 Motherboards (04/30)
Model Size AT
Overview
Price
GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Xtreme WaterForce E-ATX Link $1299
GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Xtreme E-ATX Link $799
GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Master ATX Link $389
GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Ultra ATX Link $299
GIGABYTE Z490I Aorus Ultra mITX Link $269
GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Pro AX ATX Link $269
GIGABYTE Z490 Aorus Elite AC ATX Link $219
GIGABYTE Z490 Gaming X ATX Link -
GIGABYTE Z490M Gaming X mATX Link -
GIGABYTE Z490 Vision D ATX Link $299
GIGABYTE Z490 Vision G ATX Link $199

The GIGABYTE Z490 Vision D is a Designare in all but name, and has the branding to match, with a solid feature set at a very good price. Also replaced is the Gaming SLI series which is now the Z490 Vision G, while the Z490 and Z490M Gaming X offers different form factors, with very similar entry level feature sets for users on a budget. 

MSI Z490 Product Stack

Something which is impressive, is MSI has used the integrated 2.5 G MAC within the Z490 chipset on all of its current Z490 range, with the flagship and even the entry level Z490-A Pro getting 2.5 G Ethernet at the very least. The MSI MEG range is stacked with the flagship MEG Z490 Godlike, the slightly lesser Z490 Ace, while the Z490 Unify and Z490I Unify offer more performance based features, but with more elegant and neutral aesthetics. The MSI MEG Z490I Unify is the brands only mini-ITX model, and is built upon an impressive 10-layer PCB.

Availability and Pricing of MSI Intel Z490 Motherboards (04/30)
Model Size AT
Overview
Price
MSI MEG Z490 Godlike EATX Link $750
MSI MEG Z490 Ace ATX Link $400
MSI MEG Z490 Unify ATX Link -
MSI MEG Z490I Unify mITX Link -
MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon WIFI ATX Link $270
MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Edge WIFI ATX Link $200
MSI MPG Z490M Gaming Edge WIFI mATX Link -
MSI MAG Z490 Tomahawk ATX Link $190
MSI Z490-A Pro ATX Link $160

Although not with pricing as of yet, the MSI range also includes its MPG gaming-focused series, with the Z490 Gaming Carbon WIFI, and Z490 Gaming Edge both including a Wi-Fi 6 wireless interface and Realtek 2.5 G Ethernet controllers While typically found on its more budget based chipsets such as AMD B550, and Intel's new B460, the MAG Z490 Tomahawk offers a solid feature set, likely at a good price as previous iterations have provided. The MSI Z490-A Pro is the entry-level model and will likely be the cheapest, but it still includes 2.5 G Ethernet which is impressive.

Other Z490 Product Stack Options

Outside of the big four vendors, Biostar, EVGA and Supermicro all have models for the launch of Z490. Biostar typically aim its sights lower in the grand scheme of things, with more budget-focused offerings which generally cost less in comparison. The EVGA Z490 is geared for overclockers and memory performance afficandos with its two memory slots on an EATX sized board, with a transposed socket for better sub-zero overclocking support with CPU LN2 pots, while the EVGA Z490 FTW WiFi caters to the general market. Supermicro also has two new models, the C9Z490-PGW and C9Z490-PG which are the only boards currently on Z490 to include a PLX chip, the Broadcom PEX8747 to be exact for PCIe lane bifurcation.

Availability and Pricing of Other Intel Z490 Motherboards (04/30)
Model Size AT
Overview
Price
Biostar Racing Z490GTA Evo ATX Link $239
Biostar Racing Z490GTA ATX Link $209
Biostar Racing Z490GTN mITX Link $199
Colorful iGame Z490 Vulcan X V20 ATX Link -
Colorful iGame CVN Z490 Gaming Pro V20 ATX Link -
EVGA Z490 Dark EATX Link -
EVGA Z490 FTW WiFi ATX Link -
Supermicro C9Z490-PGW ATX Link $395
Supermicro C9Z490-PG ATX Link $375

 

So, who wants a Z490?

 

Supermicro C9Z490-PG & C9Z490-PGW
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  • DanNeely - Thursday, April 30, 2020 - link

    I really hate when new articles are inserted below the lead spot because it's hit or miss if I ever notice them. I missed this one during several visits to the site and only found it when Google suggested it in response to a search I made. Reply
  • Jedibeeftrix - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    agreed, i found this by accident, and check AT twice or more a day. Reply
  • sunshinerevans55 - Sunday, May 3, 2020 - link

    I basically make about $12,000-$18,000 a month online. It’s enough to comfortably replace my I was amazed how easy it was after I tried it . This is what I’ve been doing old jobs income, especially considering I only work about 10-13 hours a week from home… ­w­w­w.i­Ⅽ­a­s­h­6­8.Ⅽ­o­m­ Reply
  • YB1064 - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    This must have taken some writing. Kudos to the author(s). A good one stop article for anybody planning on going the Intel route. Intel seem to be adept at packaging old milk (not wine) in a new bottle. At least increase the number of PCIe lanes... Reply
  • boozed - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    I recommend using the RSS feed, then you get everything and you get it chronologically. Reply
  • Exodite - Wednesday, May 6, 2020 - link

    +1 on RSS!

    The "magazine layout" that plagues many sites and makes it impossible to distinguish between old articles, new articles and commercials can thankfully still be avoided through RSS.
    Reply
  • Wardrop - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    Funny that ASRock are the only manufacturers to have a mATX X570 motherboard for AMD's platform, yet for Intel they're the only one's NOT to have a mATX motherboard. Reply
  • Beaver M. - Saturday, May 2, 2020 - link

    You mean they are relevant again, because they have fixed their stereotypical USB issues? Reply
  • Marlin1975 - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    So in other words a re-spin of previous chipset with little to no real useful extra features but will require a new board. Classic intel. This is one of many reasons my last system was Intel and my new system is AMD now.

    Unless you are a intel fanboy why keep supporting this?
    Reply
  • regsEx - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    New networking controllers, support for PCIe 4 CPUs (RKL-S that will be released in future).
    Some boards also have USB Gen 2x2 support with external ASMedia controller. I know no any X570 board with USB Gen 2x2 support. Only Gen 2x1.
    Reply

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