MSI's new Intel Z490 lineup has landed, and here's what's on offer

MSI has created a very full and feature rich stack for their Z490 offerings, It looks like MSI left some room to expand as the need arises.

@punx223
Published Thu, Apr 30 2020 8:10 AM CDT   |   Updated Mon, Oct 19 2020 8:19 PM CDT

With the official announcement and release of the new Comet Lake CPU's, we can now showcase all of the new Z490 boards made for the new up to 10 Core mainstream platforms from Intel. Today we look at the offerings from MSI and what they have to offer.

MEG Series

The MEG or MSI Enthusiast Gaming line is the top end or upper echelon of board offerings from MSI. This means that these will be the highest featured and best overclocking motherboards of the MSI lineup.

MEG Z490 Godlike

MSI's new Intel Z490 lineup has landed, and here's what's on offer 01 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 11 IMAGES

The MEG Z490 Godlike is the top dog or the king of the hill for the MSI lineup. It is not the only board bearing the MEG name, but it is by far the highest featured, and the best for potential overclocks, with some minor caveats such as memory, where a 1DPC (DIMM per Channel) board will dominate.

  • Price: $TBA
  • Form Factor: EATX
  • VRM Configuration 16 + 1 + 1
  • VRM controller: ISL69269
  • VRM power stages: 16x Intersil ISL99390 - 90A
  • Memory slots: 4
  • Memory Speed (MHz): 5000+
  • Memory Topology: Daisy Chain
  • M.2 Slots: 3x 2280+ (Size limit not listed)
  • LAN 1: Aquantia AQC107 - 10Gb
  • LAN 2: Realtek 8125B - 2.5Gb
  • Wi-Fi: Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201

Special Features:

  • PCIe 4 ready
  • Color dynamic Dashboard II
  • Fin array VRM heat sink
  • Massive 16x 90A SPS VRM
  • Dual Thunderbolt 3 ports onboard

We have only scratched the surface of what I think the Z490 Godlike may have in store for us. However, stay tuned as we get the Godlike in our lab, we can dive a bit deeper into this one and its massive array of features it will offer.

MEG Z490 ACE

MSI's new Intel Z490 lineup has landed, and here's what's on offer 02 | TweakTown.com

The Z490 ACE is essentially the step below the Godlike. The ACE comes in at ATX size and offers several of the same features, such as VRM and M.2 fitment. There are some changes, as you will see below.

  • Price: $TBA
  • Form Factor: ATX
  • VRM Configuration 16 + 1
  • VRM controller: ISL69269
  • VRM power stages: 16x Intersil ISL99390 - 90A
  • Memory slots: 4
  • Memory Speed (MHz): 4800+
  • Memory Topology: Daisy Chain
  • M.2 Slots: 3x 2280+ (Size limit not listed)
  • LAN 1: Realtek 8125B - 2.5Gb
  • LAN 2: Intel I219-V - 1Gb
  • Wi-Fi: Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201

Special Features:

  • PCIe 4 ready
  • Massive 16x 90A SPS VRM

The MEG Z490 ACE has a lot of the grunt that makes the Godlike a good performer. However, it is a step down in several ways. For enthusiasts, this board will be amazing, but if chasing world records is your primary reason for buying an MSI Z490, you would be better served with the Godlike. However, if you are looking for a heavy OC without the excess the Godlike offers, the MEG ACE may be the one for you.

MPG Series

The MPG or MSI Performance Gaming line is the midrange offering of the MSI gaming stack. This means that you can expect lower prices and more focused feature sets based on gamer demands at the price point and board target.

MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi

MSI's new Intel Z490 lineup has landed, and here's what's on offer 05 | TweakTown.com

The MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi is the top dog of the MPG lineup. This board has several great features that will make it an excellent high-performance gamer build option. If RGB is your thing, the Gaming Carbon has you covered, not just with onboard lighting but also pin headers and even a Corsair iCUE compatible header. The Carbon line of boards has always had a strong gamer aesthetic going as far as to follow its name with carbon fiber themes designs for the heat sink surfaces.

  • Price: $TBA
  • Form Factor: ATX
  • VRM Configuration 12 + 1 +1
  • VRM controller: RAA229001
  • VRM power stages: 12x Intersil ISL99360 - 60A
  • Memory slots: 4
  • Memory Speed (MHz): 4800+
  • Memory Topology: Daisy Chain
  • M.2 Slots: 2x 2280+ (Size limit not listed)
  • LAN : Realtek 8125B - 2.5Gb
  • Wi-Fi: Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201

Special Features:

  • PCIe 4 ready
  • Unique carbon aesthetic

The MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi is a solid looking board and has some decent specs for a solid gaming build. One thing to note is that the power stages quantity and rating drop quite a bit, so I would not expect maximum overclock on this board without it getting a bit warmer doing the job. Also in regards to the VRM, do note that while the MEG boards have smart phase doublers, the MPG series run in parallel which means you do not have as much finite control over every power stage which will not be as efficient as the MEG series and also the transient response will likely suffer. As I said on the ACE, if you are looking for a top of the line overclocker, then choose something like the Godlike. If you are just looking to build a capable gamer that can pull excellent performance, and likely a robust overclock, the Gaming Carbon, might fit the bill.

MPG Z490 Gaming Edge Wi-Fi

MSI's new Intel Z490 lineup has landed, and here's what's on offer 06 | TweakTown.com

The MPG Z490 Gaming Edge Wi-Fi is the next tier down on the MPG stack. The Edge Wi-Fi, obviously per the name, has Wi-Fi and has a similar VRM to the Gaming Carbon with PArallel 6 phase with 12 60A power stages. The board styling is far more subdued with black texture coated metal chunk heat sinks.

  • Price: $TBA
  • Form Factor: ATX
  • VRM Configuration 12 + 1 +1
  • VRM controller: RAA229001
  • VRM power stages: 12x Intersil ISL99360 - 60A
  • Memory slots: 4
  • Memory Speed (MHz): 4800+
  • Memory Topology: Daisy Chain
  • M.2 Slots: 2x 2280+ (Size limit not listed)
  • LAN : Realtek 8125B - 2.5Gb
  • Wi-Fi: Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201

Special Features:

  • PCIe 4 ready

The MPG Z490 Gaming Edge Wi-Fi is hard to judge at this point, which is why I am interested to see it come across my testbench in my lab so I can dig into it for more useful info. As it stands, I do not have enough data to make a decision. One major consideration when it comes to midrange boards is the price; without that data, I do not know if the features I am somewhat ok with omitting are considered a requirement for the price point. MSI has always been fairly reasonable with their pricing, and if this is anything like the Z390 Gaming edge I have on my shelf presently, it will be a solid value and performer, but time will tell.

MPG Z490M Gaming Edge Wi-Fi

MSI's new Intel Z490 lineup has landed, and here's what's on offer 07 | TweakTown.com

The MPG Z490M Gaming Edge Wi-Fi is the smaller mATX version of the preceding Z490 Gaming Edge Wi-Fi we checked out above. MSI embraces the mATX crowd with what looks like a pretty nice board on paper. This will earn MSI some points as mATX has become the less served audience of the PC community, and having good board at that form factor could pay dividends of you outfit it right and price it well. One thing to note is that the mATX version does not use the same power stages we saw on the ATX version. The Z490M uses discrete MOSFETs, which, of course, makes for a more complex VRM and also in many cases, less efficient. However, I do not think anyone will really be pushing the mATX board hard enough that it would be a concern.

  • Price: $TBA
  • Form Factor: mATX
  • VRM Configuration 12 + 1 +1
  • VRM controller: RT3609BE
  • VRM power stages: 12x ONSEMI NTMFS4C029NT1G/NTMFS4C024NT1G
  • Memory slots: 4
  • Memory Speed (MHz): 4800+
  • Memory Topology: Daisy Chain
  • M.2 Slots: 2x 2280+ (Size limit not listed)
  • LAN : Realtek 8125B - 2.5Gb
  • Wi-Fi: Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201

Special Features:

  • PCIe 4 ready

The MPG Z490M Gaming Edge Wi-Fi has the potential to be a good option for an mATX gamer. If the price is right, I can look past the lack of proper smart power stages, but it's not a board I would recommend to someone looking to push the overclock limits of their rig for 24/7 use.

MPG Z490 Gaming PLUS

MSI's new Intel Z490 lineup has landed, and here's what's on offer 08 | TweakTown.com

The MPG Z490 Gaming PLUS is the last in the stack of the MPG series. It, too, like the mATX Gaming Edge, uses discrete MOSFETs for its 12 CPU phases but in a full ATX form factor. The board has large solid block heat sinks with ridges cut out for the cooling surface area. At this level, the board is looking a bit more mainstream, but for a gaming build, it can still easily pass muster and looks good enough that it will not be unappealing in most builds. For those who could care less about the aesthetic, and just wants a board that can browse the web and game, the Gaming PLUS may be a preferential option.

  • Price: $TBA
  • Form Factor: ATX
  • VRM Configuration 12 + 1 +1
  • VRM controller: RT3609BE
  • VRM power stages: 12x ONSEMI NTMFS4C029NT1G/NTMFS4C024NT1G
  • Memory slots: 4
  • Memory Speed (MHz): 4800+
  • Memory Topology: Daisy Chain
  • M.2 Slots: 2x 2280+ (Size limit not listed)
  • LAN : Realtek 8125B - 2.5Gb
  • Wi-Fi:N/A (M.2 E-Key)

Special Features:

  • PCIe 4 ready

MAG Series

The MAG or MSI Arsenal Gaming series is the mainstream lineup, which is what I usually call "builder boards." These boards are basic and have the needed features that are required to make a reliable rig, and the frills are far less prevalent.

MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK

MSI's new Intel Z490 lineup has landed, and here's what's on offer 09 | TweakTown.com

The MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK is the only board in the MAG series for Z490 at launch. The Tomahawk, while being considered a basic board, actually carries some defined aesthetic flair, which helps make it feel like an MPG board. The MAG being a builder series board will overclock decently and will make an overall reliable gamer, but overall frills will be less prevalent.

  • Price: $TBA
  • Form Factor: ATX
  • VRM Configuration 12 + 1 +1
  • VRM controller: ON/NCP81229
  • VRM power stages: 12x NCP302155 DrMOS - 55A
  • Memory slots: 4
  • Memory Speed (MHz): 4800+
  • Memory Topology: Daisy Chain
  • M.2 Slots: 2x 2280+ (Size limit not listed)
  • LAN 1: Realtek 8125B - 2.5Gb
  • LAN 2: Intel I219-V - 1Gb
  • Wi-Fi: N/A

Special Features:

  • PCIe 4 ready
  • 2.5G LAN

The MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK was a bit of a surprise at least on paper as it employs DrMOS 55A units for the VRM, which in my opinion are a better solution than the discrete fets on the MPG PLUS and mATX Gaming Edge boards. The inclusion of competent yet straightforward RGB will make this board a great option depending upon the price, of course.

Pro Series

The PRO series from MSI is precisely as its name says, it ditches a lot of the gamer features in favor of being a business/productivity-focused motherboard. This is the board you get when you don't want the flash and simply want something you can plugin and get running.

MSI Z490-A PRO

MSI's new Intel Z490 lineup has landed, and here's what's on offer 10 | TweakTown.com

The Z490-A PRO is exactly what I said about the PRO series; it is a simple, clean board without a lot of the gaming frills or aesthetic. While the board is simple and blacked out, it is worth noting that it still does have RGB for users who desire such a thing. Otherwise, this is another board running discrete MOSFETs in a 12+1+1 configuration. For the intended workload, I think this board checks a lot of the right boxes.

  • Price: $TBA
  • Form Factor: ATX
  • VRM Configuration 12 + 1 +1
  • VRM controller: RT3609BE
  • VRM power stages: 12x NTMFS4C029NT1G/NTMFS4C024NT1G
  • Memory slots: 4
  • Memory Speed (MHz): 4800+
  • Memory Topology: Daisy Chain
  • M.2 Slots: 2x 2280+ (Size limit not listed)
  • LAN 1: Realtek 8125B - 2.5Gb
  • Wi-Fi: N/A

Special Features:

  • PCIe 4 ready
  • 2.5G LAN

The Z490-A PRO is a board built to plug in and go, that is the long and short of it. The board will not really gain any internet cred for aesthetics or insane bleeding-edge features, but it has it where it counts. Depending on the price point, I could see this board slipping into many workstation style rigs to crunch away doing work.

That is everything MSI has to show for the launch of their Z490 stack, I do have words that a few more boards may come shortly after launch, but we will have to wait and see what comes from that.

Buy at Amazon

MSI MEG Z390 ACE (MEG Z390 ACE)

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$243.72-$210.68
* Prices last scanned on 10/25/2020 at 8:34 pm CDT - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Shannon started his PC journey around the age of six in 1989. Now till present day, he has established himself in the overclocking world, spending many years pushing the limits of hardware on LN2. Shannon has worked with design and R&D on various components, including PC systems and chassis, to optimize the layout and performance for enthusiasts.

Related Tags

Newsletter Subscription
Latest News
View More News
Latest Reviews
View More Reviews
Latest Articles
View More Articles