MSI's Intel Z490 boards have arrived and they're all armed to the teeth (Updated with price)
MSI's new Intel Z490 boards are here and they're all armed to the teeth
Note: This article was first published on 30th April 2020 and is now updated with local pricing for models available in Singapore.
MSI has taken the wraps off its brand new Intel Z490 motherboards, designed for Intel's 10th Gen Comet Lake processors. The boards appear to be designed with a focus on improved thermal and overclocking performance, and they all feature a multi-layer PCB – featuring anywhere from six to 10 layers – for higher bandwidth and reliable circuit transmission.
Other highlights include 2.5G Ethernet and support for Wi-Fi 6, addressable RGB LED support across the board, and pre-installed I/O shields for slightly easier installations. And as with its Z390 boards, the entire range is divided into its flagship MEG series, the more mainstream MPG series, and the MAG series for the budget-minded. Finally, the Pro series brings up the rear, targeting more business-oriented users with stability and more muted designs, as its name suggests.
All of MSI's Z490 motherboards are also ready for PCIe 4.0, even though you won't be getting that support from even this generation of Intel chips.
The flagship MEG series is available in these options:-
- MSI MEG Z490 Godlike - S$1,299
- MSI MEG Z490 Ace - S$699
The MSI MEG Z490 Godlike represents the highest echelon of MSI's Z490 motherboards. This E-ATX board has nearly every feature an enthusiast could want and is bristling with a wide range of high-speed ports and connectors. For starters, it utilizes a 16+1+1-phase power design, a built-in fan in the heatsink, and comes with support for 10G Ethernet and Wi-Fi 6. These aren't 16 true phases though, and MSI has utilised phase doublers to achieve this.
Elsewhere, you'll find dual Thunderbolt 3 ports and up to five USB 3.2 (Gen 2) ports, the latter made up of two Type-A and three Type-C ports. There are a further eight USB 3.2 (Gen 1) Type-A and six USB 2.0 ports, which is more USB ports than you can realistically use.
In addition, you get a colourful OLED panel that can display helpful system information or be set to display a custom graphic, making for an added degree of personalisation.
But the Godlike really stands out because of its thermal design, comprising a hefty MOSFET baseplate, thermal pads, a dedicated heat pipe, and a dense, stacked fin array to aid in heat dissipation. It also has three M.2 sockets, each equipped with an M.2 Shield Frozr heatsink. Finally, there's a rigid metal backplate round the back to shore up the integrity of such a large board, aptly referred to as the Chest Plate.
Then there's the MEG Z490 ACE, which is an ATX-sized board and is a slightly pared-down version of the Godlike. It retains a similar VRM design and M.2 configuration, but its thermal design isn't as beefy as the latter board. It's also missing the dynamic OLED display and is missing support for 10G LAN. Instead, you get a Gigabit Ethernet port and a second 2.5G Realtek jack.
MSI has announced four boards in the MPG series:
- MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi - S$439
- MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Edge Wi-Fi - S$359
- MSI MPG Z490M Gaming Edge Wi-Fi - no local pricing yet
- MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Plus - S$299
All MPG series boards come with Mystic Light LEDs that support up to 29 lighting presets and can be configured using MSI's Dragon Center software. These are MSI's mainstream models, and there's also a micro-ATX board to cater to those looking to put together a more compact system.
The MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi represents one of MSI's most popular board variants to date. The flagship of the MPG line-up, it offers an attractive combination of performance and affordability, featuring extensive LED lighting and a striking aesthetic with copious amounts of carbon fibre.
It uses a more modest 12+1+1-phase power design and features two M.2 sockets, one less than the MEG series boards. For networking, it offers a single Realtek 2.5Gb LAN port and support for Wi-Fi 6.
Finally, the MAG series doubles down on the essentials with a no-frills approach. MSI has only announced the MAG Z490 Tomahawk and the Tomahawk Wi-Fi variant so far, and it's a pretty simple ATX motherboard that lacks much of the so-called PCB armour found on its higher-end siblings. That said, it's no slouch either, featuring a 12+1+1-phase power design, two M.2 sockets, and one Intel Gigabit Ethernet port and one 2.5G Realtek port. Wireless support is lacking however, and you'll need to use this board with a wired LAN connection.
The lone Z490-A Pro board stands out from the pack as the only productivity-focused motherboard. If you don't want lights or a gamer-oriented aesthetic, this is the board for you. It hews to a simple and stealthy aesthetic and only has a single metal-reinforced PCIe slot. The others are comparatively unprotected, so MSI clearly doesn't expect you to use more than one graphics card.
Other features include an M.2 Shield Frozr heatsink for one of the two M.2 sockets, 2.5G LAN, and support for 2-way AMD Crossfire.