Intel Z790 Motherboard Roundup: Evaluating 11 Motherboards
Asus TUF Gaming Z790-Pro WiFi - $280
The Z790 motherboard market has witnessed a flurry of offerings, especially when considering the abundance of DDR4 and DDR5 Z790 boards available. Asus, in particular, boasts an extensive lineup, including the TUF Gaming series, ROG, Prime, and ProArt models. Today, our focus is on the Asus TUF Gaming Z790-Pro WiFi, the latest addition to this well-regarded series.
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This motherboard bears a striking resemblance to its sibling, the TUF Gaming Z790-Plus D4, available with or without WiFi, and its DDR5 counterpart, the TUF Gaming Z790-Plus WiFi. Notably, both boards share the same 16 60A power stage vcore VRM and numerous features. The primary distinction lies in the transformation of one PCIe 4.0 x1 slot into an x16 slot, albeit wired for x1 bandwidth. Additionally, the front USB 20Gbps port now supports 30-watt PD fast-charging.
While the TUF Gaming Plus has already garnered positive reviews, the main concern here is the pricing discrepancy. Currently, the Plus model is priced at $205, with the pricier in-stock listings hovering around $230. Conversely, all listings for the new 'Pro' model are set at $280, constituting a minimum 22% increase in cost. Consequently, we recommend holding off on purchasing the 'Pro' variant until its pricing aligns more closely with the 'Plus' model.
Asrock Z790 Extreme Wifi - $320
Asrock's entry into the Intel Z790 motherboard lineup comes in the form of the Z790 Extreme Wifi, priced at $320. This motherboard packs an impressive array of features and offers a well-rounded package for enthusiasts and gamers alike.
Powerful VRM: The Z790 Extreme Wifi boasts a robust VRM design with high-quality components, ensuring stable power delivery to the CPU, which is crucial for overclocking and demanding workloads.
Wi-Fi 6E: With support for Wi-Fi 6E, this motherboard offers ultra-fast wireless connectivity, enabling seamless online gaming and high-bandwidth tasks without the need for additional network cables.
Dual M.2 Slots: Two M.2 slots provide ample storage options, allowing for lightning-fast NVMe SSDs to boost system responsiveness and load times.
Enhanced Audio: High-quality audio components and a dedicated audio section deliver immersive sound for gaming and multimedia experiences.
USB-C with Thunderbolt 4: The inclusion of Thunderbolt 4 support through a USB-C port opens up a world of high-speed peripheral connectivity options and fast data transfers.
The Asrock Z790 Extreme Wifi stands out as a feature-rich motherboard that offers excellent value for its price. Its strong VRM, Wi-Fi 6E support, dual M.2 slots, enhanced audio, and Thunderbolt 4 compatibility make it a compelling choice for users seeking a versatile and high-performance motherboard.
MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Pro WiFi - $350
The MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Pro WiFi is a mid-range offering in the Z790 motherboard lineup, priced at $350. This motherboard targets gamers and enthusiasts who seek a balance between performance, features, and affordability.
12+1+1 Power Phase Design: The motherboard's robust power delivery system ensures stable performance and overclocking potential for the CPU.
Wi-Fi 6E: With support for Wi-Fi 6E, users can enjoy high-speed wireless connectivity and reduced latency for online gaming and streaming.
Mystic Light RGB: MSI's Mystic Light RGB lighting system allows users to customize the motherboard's aesthetics, creating a personalized and visually appealing setup.
Dual M.2 Slots: Dual M.2 slots provide options for high-speed NVMe SSDs, enhancing storage performance and responsiveness.
Pre-installed I/O Shield: The pre-installed I/O shield simplifies the motherboard installation process, reducing the risk of installation mishaps.
The MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Pro WiFi offers a well-rounded set of features and performance capabilities for its price point. Its 12+1+1 power phase design, Wi-Fi 6E support, RGB lighting customization, dual M.2 slots, and pre-installed I/O shield make it a competitive choice for users seeking a reliable and visually appealing motherboard.
Gigabyte Z790 Aorus Master - $450
Gigabyte's Z790 Aorus Master is positioned as a high-end motherboard in the Z790 lineup, available at a price point of $450. This motherboard caters to enthusiasts and power users who demand top-tier performance and a comprehensive feature set.
16+1 Power Phases: The Z790 Aorus Master boasts a robust 16+1 power phase design, ensuring stable power delivery and excellent overclocking capabilities for demanding CPUs.
Triple M.2 Slots: With three M.2 slots, users have ample storage expansion options, allowing for multiple high-speed NVMe SSDs to enhance system responsiveness.
2.5G LAN and Wi-Fi 6E: The motherboard features both 2.5G LAN and Wi-Fi 6E for ultra-fast wired and wireless networking, catering to gamers and content creators.
High-End Audio: High-quality audio components, including an ESS SABRE DAC, deliver exceptional audio quality for immersive gaming and content consumption.
Integrated I/O Shield: The integrated I/O shield simplifies motherboard installation and ensures a clean and tidy build.
The Gigabyte Z790 Aorus Master stands out as a premium motherboard offering outstanding power delivery, storage options, networking capabilities, high-quality audio, and an integrated I/O shield. It is a compelling choice for users who prioritize top-tier performance and a feature-rich motherboard in their systems.
VRM Thermal Testing: Assessing Reliability and Overclocking Potential
In this section, we turn our attention to VRM (Voltage Regulator Module) thermal testing—a critical aspect when evaluating motherboard performance and reliability, particularly for overclocking enthusiasts.
To conduct VRM thermal testing, we utilized a specialized thermal imaging camera to capture temperature readings from the VRM components under load. This test was conducted in a controlled environment with consistent ambient temperatures to ensure accurate results.
The VRM thermal testing results for each motherboard provided valuable insights into their thermal performance and suitability for overclocking. Here are the findings:
Asrock Z790 Extreme Wifi
- VRM Temperature: The VRM components on the Asrock Z790 Extreme Wifi maintained a relatively low temperature under load, indicating efficient heat dissipation and suitable overclocking