MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review

MSI's MEG Z790 Godlike Max motherboard is a top-tier offering with a top-tier price. If you've got the funds for this product, you'll likely be impressed.

Published
Updated
Manufacturer: MSI
7 minutes & 2 seconds read time
TweakTown's Rating: 94%
TweakTown award

The Bottom Line

MSI's MEG Z790 Godlike Max is a feature packed motherboard that can be anything you want it to be - if you can afford it.

Pros

  • + 24-phase VRM
  • + 8000MHz+ DDR5 memory support
  • + Seven NVMe slots and Thunderbolt 4
  • + Networking includes 2.5Gbe, 10Gbe, and Wi-Fi 7

Cons

  • - Price

Should you buy it?

AvoidConsiderShortlistBuy

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 03

The Godlike has made a name for itself over the years as one of the premier motherboards within MSI's Intel lineup; what started as a HEDT offering years ago has almost become mainstream and serves as MSI's flagship offering within its MEG series. With the launch of Intel's 14th Generation CPUs in October, we expected several motherboards to get revamped. The Godlike was not one of them, but here we are, Godlike Max on the bench, so let's see what makes this better than the OG Z790 Godlike.

Off the top, I will save some of you some time reading and tell you this board is 99% identical to the Z790 Godlike that was released in late 2022, all the way down to the board aesthetics.

The Godlike Max is a Z790 chipset motherboard with Intel's LGA1700 socket for those wanting more detailed information. This gives this board support all the way back to 12th Gen CPUs through 13th Gen and includes the newly released 14th Gen. Memory support includes four slots, DDR5 supported with speeds up to 7800MHz+, while capacity goes up to 192GB with support for 48GB modules including support for XMP 3.0. The expansion includes two PCIe slots supporting PCIe Gen5, the top slots at x16 and the bottom at x8. Storage includes a massive seven m.2 slots, one and four, pull from the CPU and offer Gen5 support, while the other five slots support Gen4 from the chipset. SATA, too, is included for legacy storage, with six ports in total at 6GB/s.

Connectivity starts with dual Thunderbolt 4 at 40Gb/s, which also supports DisplayPort at 8K. USB support includes four USB 2.0 ports via internal headers, four USB 3.2 Gen 1, and two USB 3.2 Gen2x2 via internal headers. The rear I/O includes eight USB 3.2 Gen2. Network connectivity includes the Marvell AQC113 for 10Gbe and the Intel i226 for 2.5Gbe, while Wi-Fi 7 is the single upgrade for the Godlike Max over the original.

Pricing

As for pricing, the MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max demands a hefty $1239.99 price tag, but at the time of writing it was on sale for $1194.99 at Amazon and Newegg.

Buy at Amazon

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
Buy at Newegg
$1196.99$1198.99$1198.99
$1196.99$1198.99$1198.99
* Prices last scanned on 4/23/2024 at 9:27 am CDT - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Packaging, Accessories, and Overview

Packaging and Accessories

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 05

The Godlike Max arrived in retail packaging, slightly different from the original board in late 2022. This gives chipset and socket information across the top with an image of the board below.

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 06

On the back, we have features listed on the right and the I/O diagram below.

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 07

The Godlike Max includes a Wi-Fi antenna, SATA cables, and an OLED display alongside drivers and reading materials on USB.

Motherboard Overview

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 08

Godlike Max is an EATX motherboard. This board offers full heatsinks on the VRM and chipset, while the board armor covers the M.2 slots, too.

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 09

On the back of the board, we have armor as well.

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 10

The rear I/O is packed. Starting on the left, we have a button for clear CMOS, flash BIOS, and a smart button that can be programmed. We then move into the ports, including 2.5Gbe and eight USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports. This gets us to the 10Gbe and dual Thunderbolt 4 ports. Further down, we have the antenna connections and 7.1 channel audio.

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 11

The board layout includes front panel audio on the far left, followed by two RGB and six fan headers.

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 12

Continuing down the bottom of the motherboard, we have two USB headers and the power/reset buttons. Far-right, we have front panel chassis connections.

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 13

Connections are hidden on the side of the motherboard, including six SATA ports, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 headers, and two Gen 2 headers. Further up, you will find the 24-pin power and additional fan headers.

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 14

At the top of the board, we have more fan headers and dual 8-pin CPU power living just above the memory slots.

UEFI, Software and Test System

UEFI

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 20MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 21
MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 22MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 23
MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 24

This Godlike BIOS follows the same design we have seen in past MSI platforms with the Click BIOS 5. This includes full mouse support for navigation. At the top, the settings menu offers configuration for PCIe, Thunderbolt, and Power Management. MSI does include a Secure Erase option in this menu as well.

OC is where you will find all the manual voltage and clock ratios; most multipliers will also be found here. This BIOS also supports fan tuning within the hardware monitor.

Motherboard Software

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 25

MSI Center is the software of choice for MSI motherboards currently. This includes a hardware monitor on the main page that offers additional information to the right.

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 26

The support tab gives information on the motherboard to the left.

Intel Motherboard Test System

Benchmarks in Charts

Cinebench 2024

Cinebench is a long-standing render benchmark that has been heavily relied upon by both Intel and AMD to highlight their newest platforms during unveils. The benchmark has two tests: a single-core workload utilizing one thread or 1T. There is also a multi-threaded test that uses all threads or nT of a tested CPU.

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 30

Testing the Godlike Max, we pulled a 129-point single-core score while multi-core landed at 2024.

CrossMark

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 31

Crossmark finished at 2640 overall, creativity being the strongest workload.

AIDA64 Memory

AIDA was recently updated to version 7, which improved performance in both AES and SHA3 workloads for Alder Lake CPUs. You will notice this performance jump in the charts below compared to earlier Intel Z790 reviews.

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 32

In AES, we picked up 263K, on par with the Xtreme X.

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 33

SHA3 comes in at 7812.

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 34

Memory bandwidth is tested at DDR5 7600MHz, the Godlike offering 112K read, 96K write, and 101K copy.

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 35

Memory latency finished at 66.1ns.

UL Procyon and 3DMark

UL Procyon Suite

The UL Procyon Office Productivity Benchmark uses Microsoft Office apps to measure PC performance for office productivity work.

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 36

UL Procyon Office gave us an overall score of 9786.

3DMark

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 37

CPU Profile for one and two threads offered 1191 for a single thread and 2374 for two threads.

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 38

Looking at four, eight, and sixteen threads, we have the Godlike Max finishing up the workload with a score of 11974, nearly 300 points higher than the Xtreme X.

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 39

With our 7900XTX, we picked up an overall of 28711 with the Godlike.

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 40

Speed Way scored 6047 overall, giving the Godlike Max the edge at this point.

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 43

Gaming was fantastic on the Godlike Max. Running through Cyberpunk 2077 Phantom Liberty, we picked up a huge 195 FPS at 1080p, 136 FPS at 1440p, and 77 FPS at 4K, all using the Ultra preset.

Storage Benchmarks and Final Thoughts

3DMark Storage Benchmarks

UL's newest 3DMark SSD Gaming Test is the most comprehensive SSD gaming test ever devised. It is superior to testing against games themselves because, as a trace, it is much more consistent than variations that will occur between runs on the actual game itself. This test is the same as running the real game without the inconsistencies inherent in application testing.

In short, this is the world's best way to test an SSD's gaming prowess and accurately compare it against competing SSDs. The 3DMark SSD Gaming Test measures and scores the following:

  • Loading Battlefield V from launch to the main menu.
  • Loading Call of Duty Black Ops 4 from launch to the main menu.
  • Loading Overwatch from launch to the main menu.
  • Recording a 1080p gameplay video at 60 FPS with OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) while playing Overwatch.
  • Installing The Outer Worlds from the Epic Games Launcher.
  • Saving game progress in The Outer Worlds.
  • Copying the Steam folder for Counter-Strike Global Offensive from an external SSD to the system drive.
MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 41

Storage performance was good on the Godlike Max; we picked a bandwidth of 903 MB/s.

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard Review 42

Testing the motherboard's Gen 5 NVMe cooling solution, we have deployed our T700 from Crucial. The Godlike Max kept our drive cool, hovering near 30c the entire test.

Final Thoughts

Like the original Godlike, the Max is one hell of a motherboard, packing in nearly every feature a consumer could ask for; this includes a massive VRM, support for 8000MHz+ DDR5, and expansion and storage that is unseen on current platforms, not to mention connectivity that really can't be beaten. That said, we do have to go in on MSI a bit because this is a $1250 motherboard, and they did nothing besides swapping an M.2 Wi-Fi module and giving it a new box.

That's not to say we expected a complete redesign, but I would hope for something more to differentiate it from the original; I mean, the aesthetics of the board itself don't even say "Max," giving light to this just being the original board with a new Wi-Fi card. Further, Wi-Fi 7 isn't a ratified specification, so features like MLO that are at the base of the technology do not work yet.

That all out of the way, the performance of the Godlike Max was quite good, though our current comparisons are numbered. The single-core performance in Cinebench 2024 landed a solid score of 129. Looking at single-thread performance in 3DMark, we landed at 1191, a touch better than the Xtreme X from AORUS. System benchmarks started with Crossmark; this gave us a 2640 overall score, a few behind the Xtreme X, and the same was true for UL Procyon, the Godlike picking up 9786, nearly 1000 points under our Xtreme X in testing.

Gaming performance gave us an overall score of 28711 in Time Spy and 6047 in Speed Way, both solid scores. But even better in our real-world testing with Cyberpunk 2077, the Godlike Max offered a blistering 195 FPS at 1080p Ultra.

Pricing is a touchy subject with the Godlike Max garnering a $50 premium over the original, making it once again the most expensive motherboard available on Z790. That said, it does have competition in the market, as the Z790 Xtreme X from AORUS, a board that launched our refresh series, comes in at $949 and offers nearly identical connectivity.

Photo of product for sale

Performance

95%

Quality

95%

Features

99%

Value

85%

Overall

94%

The Bottom Line

MSI's MEG Z790 Godlike Max is a feature packed motherboard that can be anything you want it to be - if you can afford it.

TweakTown award
94%

MSI MEG Z790 Godlike Max Motherboard

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
Buy at Newegg
$1196.99$1198.99$1198.99
$1196.99$1198.99$1198.99
* Prices last scanned on 4/23/2024 at 9:27 am CDT - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Tyler joined the TweakTown team in 2013 and has since reviewed 100s of new techy items. Growing up in a small farm town, tech wasn't around, unless it was in a tractor. At an early age, Tyler's parents brought home their first PC. Tyler was hooked and learned what it meant to format a HDD, spending many nights reinstalling Windows 95. Tyler's love and enthusiast nature always kept his PC nearby. Eager to get deeper into tech, he started reviewing.

Newsletter Subscription
We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.