Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
MSI's MEG Godlike model boards have been a staple for their top-end offerings. MSI has made the Godlike moniker mean the top end of their enthusiasts level boards. These boards are made for everyone from extreme gamers to XOC enthusiasts.
The MSI Godlike model board is similar to the Aorus Xtreme, and Maximus Extreme models from the competition. These models are destined to be the delivery method for the latest and greatest feature sets that each manufacturer can place on their board stack.
The Z490 Godlike is a 2DPC, or two DIMM per channel board, unlike the XOC focused Maximus APEX, which h has a single DIMM slot per channel. This is typically required for high-speed memory, but MSI bucked this trend outfitting the Z490 godlike with the capability of up to 5000MHz+ on the DDR4 while still keeping four total slots.
MSI has stated that the Godlike with four single-rank DIMMs installed, and a capable IMC can push over 4400MHz on DDR4, which is an impressive feat. Up to four dual-rank DIMMs, which can run up to 4000MHz+.
The I/O has a vast array of connectivity from six USB 2.0 ports, eight USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps) ports, to five USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps) ports, and lastly, dual Thunderbolt 3 ports on the rear I/O. The networking is also immense, with two RJ45 ports with a 2.5Gbps Realtek LAN along with a 10Gbps solution from Aquantia. Wi-Fi is handled by the popular Intel AX201 Wi-Fi 6 controller.
The VRM is an insane 16-phase solution powered by Intersil PWM and pushing sixteen 90A power stages. The VRM has a selection of top-quality components, including the Titanium Choke III from MSI. We will dig further and show the VRM components later ion the review.
PCIe slots are totaling three full-length x16. The top slot is direct from CPU, and the one below it shares lanes with the top slot. With both slots populated, you get x8/x8, while the last x16 slot is x4 from the chipset. The x1 slot is also fed by the PCH and shares the same DMI link to the CPU.
The MSI MEG Z490 Godlike is an expensive board coming in at $749.99, similar to the other top-end enthusiasts' boards we have checked out thus far. The Godlike will have to prove its meddle in this pack, and we will check out how its feature set and performance stack to the other Z490 boards that have come through our lab.
Motherboard Features and Marketing
Here we give space to the motherboard manufacturer to talk about their marketing points, and we assess them and provide our point of view on the claims.
MSI prides themselves on their cooling features of the Godlike, and this includes the finned heat sink, which is a nice feature as it increases surface area. The I/O side o the VRM heat sink also has dual fans hidden under the I/O cover that turns on if the measured VRM temperature reaches 60C or higher. MSI also employs a 7W/mK thermal pads on the VRM cooler to ensure optimal thermal transfer. Also, something we will look at soon is the M.2 dual-sided cooling solution.
Next, we have some of what MSI considers stability components, and at the top is the previously mentioned 16-phase CPU VRM. 8-Layer PCB is the foundation upon which the Z490 Godlike is built. The steel armor is excellent for ensuring the slots have less of a chance of splitting with heavier GPUs or those with a waterblock. Also, note that instead of relying solely on metal shrouded DIMM slots, MSI also built a metal frame around the slots to help stiffen things up.
Here we have the VRM detailed a bit further to show the 16-phase VRM design using smart doublers. These doublers or phase controllers, as MSI calls them, can balance current/loading between stages, making for a more robust power delivery solution that also stays cool during operation.
Connectivity is another strong point for the Z490 Godlike. We have the previously mentioned dual NIC with 10Gbps and 2.5Gbps solutions. Wi-Fi 6 AX201 for wireless connectivity, along with the dual Thunderbolt 3 ports. MSI also included a dual M.2 card, which is PCIe 4 compatible, to ensure full speed compatibility with the next-gen CPU when it comes about.
Here we take a look at the multilayer cooling solution for the VRM. We have the thermal pad, which is a high-efficiency design, along with the stacked fin array, which connects to its adjacent heat sink with a heat pipe. Everything is kept at a robust seat pressure with the baseplates behind the two VRM heat sinks.
MSI includes full system control not just through the UEFI, but also within the OS with the Dragon Center application.
MSI has auto-sensing fan ports that work well in either mode providing either voltage scaling in DC mode for smooth fan ramping or more granular PWM control. I feel like their representation of "others" fan control is a bit dramatic, though, and needs to be called out as a certain level of marketing fluff or BS. MSI's fan control works fine and ramps well, but the dramatic representation is, well, dramatic and overdone.
Here we see another mention by MSI of their up to 10Gbps LAN along with the 2.5Gbps Realtek backer. There is also LAN management software, which usually plays with the network stack to give packet prioritization. This is often a minimal effect on gameplay, but worth mentioning, if you use such things.
MSI also touts the MU-MIMO tech along with OFDMA to allow multiple users to stare the network bandwidth stream without induced latency due to intelligent balancing and management. MSI also shows the sharkfin style antennae for the Wi-Fi 6 AX solution. One cool feature is that MSI has opted to add screw holes in the foot of the antennae allowing it to hang on a surface and serve double duty as a headset hook.
Packaging and Accessories
The packaging for the Z490 Godlike is relatively common for an MSI MEG series board. The front opens up as a flap covering various features of the board. The rear of the package has the I/O layout along with a spec list and a few other feature callouts.
The accessory stack is quite robust, and we will break it down over the next few images.
- Wi-Fi Antennae
- 3x RGB Extension cables
- 6x red and black fabric braided SATA cables
- 2x thermal provbes
- MSI Driver USB
The Z490 Godlike comes with an M.2 Xpander-Z Gen 4 S, which is a dual-port M.2 add-in card. This card slots into a PCIe slot and with bifurcation enabled can support two M.2 PCIe SSD's. There is an HDD activity LED cable along with a JSMB cable, which will allow the cards fan and LED to be controlled from the motherboard.
Here we open up the M.2 card to check out how it works, and this unit is well built, and the large cooler on top of the M.2's can likely cool even the hottest running M.2 drive. The only disadvantage of this card versus the onboard slots is that only one side of the M.2 is cooled by the card. To be fair, the NAND is perfectly fine and better being warm, as only the controller needs to stay cool.
The last part of the packaging is paper goods. Here we have the manual, a quick-start poster style guide, quick install white paper guide. Also included are sticker cable labels and a thank you card. Lastly would be something that was slipped between the paper goods, which is an MSI logo on a ball style keychain.
Now that the accessories are out of the way, let's take a look at the board itself.
MSI MEG Z490 Godlike Overview
Here we have the Z490 Godlike, and its fan headers are circled. The fan headers are primarily around the perimeter of the board, with only one mid-board to the left below the VRM heat sink. The top fan header above the VRM heat sink is a 2A header marked CPU_Fan 1. The one at the top directly adjacent to the RGB Rainbow header is a 3A header marked PUMP_Fan1. The rest of the headers are rated at 1A, and all support DC or PWM depending upon your needs.
The rear of the Godlike shows that there is not a full backplate present. MSI has opted to make thicker backplate chunks behind the VRM and Aquantial 10Gbps LAN chipset to help keep a firm and even mounting pressure across their cooling surface. MSI still did include a partial aesthetic themed backplate to the far side of the motherboard.
The I/O on the Godlike is well-appointed as follows:
- BIOS Flashback Button
- Clear CMOS Button
- Wi-Fi Antennae Connectors
- 2x Thunderbolt 3 ports (Also support DispalyPort and USB 3.2 Gen 2)
- Combo PS/2 port
- 2x USB 2 Type-A ports
- 4x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports
- 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports
- Analog 7.1ch audio with gold connectors
- Optical SPDIF port
- 2.5Gb RJ45 Dragon LAN port
- 10Gb RJ45 Aquantia LAN port
The I/O is stuffed with connectivity, but one absent feature is USB 3.2 2x2, which would be a welcome addition for a 20Gb/s solution. Yes, Thunderbolt 3 supports up to 40Gb/s, but as I have mentioned in previous reviews, USB has always been far more widely adopted, and at the price point, I would expect the newest connectivity. MSI's choice of I/O is robust but comes up just short of perfect.
Here we take a closer look at the slots, and you will see the two CPU attached slots are triple slot spaced to ensure even the thicket high-end GPUs can fit. The two slots can run x10/0 or x8/x8, while the bottom x6 runs from the PCH and is at x4 lane width along with an x1 slot above it also form the PCH.
Here we have the two lower M.2 slots; there are three total as one is below the topmost section. All of these are PCIe 3 as they are from the chipset, and none of them come from the CPU. This means that if you were to use the Godlike for a future PCIe 4 compliant CPU, you would want to use the add-in card for a gen 4 enabled SSD; otherwise, you would be limited to the DMI link between the PCH and the CPU.
One thing worth noting is the thermal pads and cooling plates on the coolers along with on the board side to help cool both sides of the SSD. This is of marginal importance as NAND likes to run warm, so the top cooler is far more critical for keeping the controller cool.
The lower edge of the board carries various connectivity as follows:
- Front panel audio header
- 12V RGB Header
- LN2 Jumpers
- Thermal probe header
- 3x system Fan headers
- JTag header for programming (Not for consumer use)
- Bios toggle switch
- 2x USB 2.0 headers
- 6-pin GPU power connector (For PCIe slots)
- LED Toggle switch (Shuts off onboard LEDs)
- JSMB connector for M.2 Add in card LED/fan control
- OC Safe boot button
- TPM Header
- BCLK up header
- Ratio up header
- Retry Button
- Water flow sensor header
- Front panel switch/LED header
- Chassis intrusion header
- Clear CMOS Jumper
- Power/Reset button (bottom of PCH cover)
- 5V ARGB header
- Slow mode Jumper
All I can say is damn; the Godlike has a ton of things going on at the bottom. Not just for connectivity either as there are a lot of unique features down here, which I will quickly mention. There are two-pin headers for both ratio and BCLK up, which allows on for an on-the-fly bump to either the BCLK or CPU ratio. There is also a safe boot button that allows the board to boot into a safe mode while retaining your settings so that you do not need to start over if you did not save it in a profile.
There is a slow mode jumper that tosses the CPU onto its lowest divider of 8x, which allows you to eat less LN2 when in between benchmark runs. The LN2 jumpers allow for a preset of voltages to be loaded, which will help with booting at very low temperatures. Otherwise, you would have to torch your LN2 pot to bring the temps up to boot, which is not much fun. The Godlike may be a highly features and sometimes bloated board to some; it is showing to have the chops to be useful for competitive overclocking.
The 24-pin side of the board hosts various connectivity as follows:
- 4x system fan 1A headers
- 6x SATA 6Gb ports
- USB 3.2 Gen 2 header
- 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 headers
- 24-pin main ATX connector
- Corsair ARGB header
I do like that MSI did this a while back and still supports the Corsair specific ARGB connector as that means you do not need another USB powered controller. You can control a hub of Corsair fans ARGB directly from the motherboard.
The VRM is powered by two 8-pin 12V EPS connectors to ensure you have more than enough amperage to feed a high-end CPU under LN2 cooling. Under most use cases, a single connector will work fine, but if you are planning to overclock or push the limits, it's better to install both if you have them. Even running stock, installing both connectors if your PSU offers two, is fine and will not adversely impact performance or anything for that matter.
The top right or what I usually call "overclockers corner" is where there typically are a ton of XOC features. In the case of the Godlike, this is where you find the OLED dashboard and a grouping of RGB and fan headers. Here, we do see the voltage read points which you can use with DMM probes to get hardware-level voltage readings. To the right of the 24-pin connector, MSI includes four LEDs to show post position, which is admittedly weird since the screen above also has a Q-code readout a mere 20mm from it. I am ok with redundancy; it just seemed strange with the proximity of the two redundant post indicators.
Here we see the CPU socket area and the large inductor lines surrounding the socket. We also see a vast array of Aluminum polymer caps in place for output filtering, and these models are extremely good for ESR and will help tighten up transient response. These are a costly option, but for the level of the motherboard we are looking at, I am happy to see them.
Here we see the backplate aesthetic piece removed, and it has a few foam pads where it can help stabilize it against the back of the PCB. Also, here we have the heat sinks all stripped from the board and laid out. All of the component imprints show that the heat sinks make great contact and should keep thermals well under control.
One of the things worth noting here is the dual fans on the side heat sink for the VRM and Aquantia chipset. These fans, if the VRM happens to somehow get above 60C in use will spin up to help cool the VRM, even though the VRM is so massive, I don't see a scenario where it could realistically overheat.
Now, I think it's about time we move on to the PCB and circuit analysis of the Z490 Godlike.
PCB and Circuit Analysis
The Z490 godlike is stuffed with components as we look at the board stripped down. Let's dig in and see what makes the Godlike tick.
Here we have the main VRM of the Z490 Godlike. The CPU VRM is powered by an ISL69269 PWM and is a 12-phase controller. MSI runs this in 8+1+1, with the eight being for the CPU ISL99390 90A smart power stages with ISL6617 smart doublers. The first +1 is at the top right of the VRM and is a single phase iGPU VRM with the same 90A power stage as the CPU. The second +1 is the VCCSA or system agent rail, which uses discrete components.
I think it is important to note that the Z490 Godlike much like the Maximus Extreme and the Z490 Aorus Xtreme we have reviewed recently, is massive levels of overkill. Don't get me wrong, the 10900K silicon can pull some real power when you push it, but the level of overkill for this VRM tells me that you could likely push water-cooled overclock with Prime95 AVX load and the VRM would likely stay within spec without a heat sink at all. If I come up with the time, I may try it if I have a board to sacrifice to such an endeavor, but this VRM, like the other flagship boards, is built to the hilt, and I don't think VRM thermals will be much of an issue at all.
Here we have the ASMedia ASM1074 USB 3.2 Gen 1 controller/hub. Also, here is the Realtek RTL8125B, which is the 2.5Gbps network controller. Also visible is the Intel Titan Ridge controller for the dual rear Thunderbolt 3 ports.
Next up, we have the Aquantia 10Gbps network controller. This is easily identified by its telltale metal shield/IHS. Also, we have the audio solution, which has a separated PCB portion, as indicated by the clear colored PCB separation. Here we have the Realtek ALC1220 audio codec backed by ESS Sabre DAC. Also present is a sizeable array of gold Nichicon audio capacitors.
Next up, we have the Nuvotron NCT6687D-M SuperIO chip, which is used for fan control and monitoring interface. Also, we have the ASMedia ASM1074 again near the far edge of the board feeding the dual 20-pin USB 3.2 Gen 1 headers.
The memory VRM is next up, and it is more than sufficient, comprised of Onsemi 4C024 and 4C029 N-channel MOSFETs. One cool feature to see on the Godlike is something I have not seen on another board to date. This is tabbed traces for the memory, as you can see the traces have little tabs coming off of them to the side and this is a technology pioneered by intel and is supposed to help eliminate crosstalk for cleaner DDR4 signaling. This may be some of the secret sauce that MSI applied to achieve the claimed memory performance we mentioned previously.
Moving to the rear of the board, and first, we see that on the backside of the CPU VRM, we have the aforementioned smart doublers. Also, the back of the CPU socket has a mass of multilayer ceramic caps in place. This is one area I expected to see a few Aluminum polymers or even tantalum caps to help stiffen things up, but with what we observed upfront, it merely may not be necessary.
BIOS/UEFI and Software
Moving into the UEFI, and you are greeted by the very user-friendly easy mode interface. Of course, we will be moving directly to the advanced mode. We will show you several screenshots of the UEFI below.
The UEFI on the Z490 Godlike is as simple as you want it to be if you stay within the easy mode. However, if you choose to dive into the advanced mode allows for a ton of tweaking to make the Godlike do whatever you want it to. This level of tuning and tweaking will be a welcome addition to the arsenal of overclocking enthusiasts along with XOC competitors.
For software, since the Dynamic Dashboard II is controlled by the MSI dragon center, we went ahead and made a video of the installation process of the MSI dragon center software. We also show a quick overview of the software and the Dynamic Dashboard II function.
Test System and Configuration
My testbench is strictly controlled with a fresh OS for any platform or component change. The system uses all the same components whenever possible to maintain comparable results between platforms. The ambient in the test lab is rigorously controlled at 22C +/- 1C. All tests are run a minimum of three times, and any outliers are discarded, and a replacement test run will be completed to achieve our average results. The use of a TITAN RTX for the testing is to ensure that the GPU is not the bottleneck for performance results, and will best represent the scaling across CPU and platforms. Every tested platform uses the same control thermal paste (Arctic Cooling MX-4) and spread application to ensure as fair and comparable results as possible.
- Motherboard: MSI MEG Z490 Godlike (buy from Amazon)
- CPU: Intel Core i9 10900K
- Thermal Paste: Arctic Cooling MX-4 (buy from Amazon)
- Cooler: Alphacool Eisbaer LT 360mm (buy from Amazon)
- Memory: Corsair Dominator RGB 3600MHz 16GBx2 (buy from Amazon)
- Video Card: NVIDIA TITAN RTX (buy from Amazon)
- Storage - Boot Drive: Corsair MP600 (PCIe 4) 2TB (buy from Amazon)
- Network Switch: Buffalo Multi-Gigabit BS-MP2008 (buy from Amazon)
- Testbench: DimasTech Easy XL (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: Thermaltake 1200W (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 (buy from Amazon)
- Monitor: ASUS XG438 43" 4K (buy from Amazon)
- Video Capture: Elgato 4K 60 Pro (buy from Amazon)
- Keyboard: Logitech G910 Orion Spectrum (buy from Amazon)
- Mouse: Corsair Logitech G502 (buy from Amazon)
WPrime, SuperPi, Cinebench, and AIDA64
WPrime is first up and being a multi-threaded benchmark. We know it will scale with any CPU we throw at it. You can manually set the number of workers or threads you want to allocate to the calculation, which we did the total thread count for each CPU to ensure we measure the maximum performance the CPU can offer.
With WPrime, we see that the Z490 Godlike can hold a good position but does trail the other top-end boards by less than 1%, and therefore it is equivalent, albeit a sliver slower at out of the box speeds.
SuperPi is a much older test, but it's worth including as it is a single-threaded computation workload that really can show in granular detail differences in the computational ability of the silicon being tested. One thing to note is that this is an aging application that tends to favor intel architecture, so don't be surprised when you see much better results by some chips, as those same chips you will see get beaten in other tests.
With SuperPi, it is a single-threaded workload, which can show the base efficiency of a platform. Here we see the Godlike takes the chart-topper position by a few tenths of a second or less than a single percent once again. I think we can start to see something I have said for a long time, and that is that most top-end boards and even midrange for that matter fall in line within striking distance to each other. With that being said, it comes down to a features race.
Cinebench is a long-standing render benchmark that has been heavily relied upon by both Intel and AMD to showcase their newest platforms during unveils. The benchmark has two tests, a single-core workload that will utilize one thread or 1T. There is also a multi-threaded test which uses all threads or nT of a tested CPU
Cinebench shows more of the same with all top-end boards within mere points of each other and well within the margin for error.
Moving to Aida64, we start with memory performance. Here the Godlike performs well, in the mid-pack, but topping charts in write performance. The latency falls off the pace a bit and could be due to more relaxed tuning of secondary and tertiary timings beyond what the XMP profile specifies.
The AES encryption test gives a result in MB/s, and all of the Z490 boards are within .002% from top to bottom, so I think it's safe to say this is within the margin for error. However, it is worth noting that the Godlike is the lowest-performing even by this tiny sliver.
For FPU testing, we have 32-bit single-precision first. Here we see the pack start to diverge a bit with the Godlike still hanging on to the top end boards, but it is at the tail end by once again at .002%, not enough to consider it a detriment.
Now with the next level, we have the 64-bit double-precision test. Here the result shows once again a .002% detriment for the Godlike board. This is a repeatable result and shows that future UEFI tuning may be necessary to close this gap.
Lastly, we have 80-bit extended precision where the results tighten up, and once again, the results are in lockstep with other tests. I feel like responsibility requires me to mention that these .002% detriments would be imperceptible in most cases by end-users.
Handbrake, Blender, POV-Ray, CoronaRender, 7-Zip, and WebXPRT
Handbrake is up next, and we are transcoding a 4K MKV to MP4. Here we see the Godlike pull ahead of the Aorus Xtreme model by less than half a second, and the spread from top to the godlike is ten seconds. This is a measurable difference, but when you break it down, it is still a .01% difference.
Moving to Blender, and the Godlike jumps ahead to the top of the chart. Just keep in mind that this is still a .02% difference between the Godlike at the top and the 4th place Taichi model.
7-Zip is an open-source and free compression application. It works well with multi-threading and also can see gains from clock speed as well.
Moving to the 7-Zip compression suite, we see that the Godlike is on the tail of the Taichi, which takes the top spot.
WebXPRT is a browser-based test, and we like this test as this is one of the areas not many think to test. This also happens to be a real-world usage test that can be impacted by the mitigations which have recently rolled through and were patched.
WebXPRT sees the Godlike get a surprising jump on the competition, taking the chart-topper spot at 269pts, which is quite sizable since that's a test which usually favors efficient boards with fewer features latched on to get in the way potentially.
Unigine and UL Benchmarks
Superposition from Unigine is a DX12 based benchmark. We test with the 720P LOW preset as this removes all but the most basic GPU loading, and all of the FPS performance comes from the CPUs ability to push frames to the GPU. This test is far more efficient and speed based rather than being highly threaded.
Unigine Superposition is one of our 3D gaming loads, and we test it at the 720P low preset to remove the GPU from the equation as much as possible and show the impact of the system on graphical performance. Here we see the Godlike take a nearly top spot, which speaks well to its gaming prowess and performance.
PCMark is a benchmark from UL and tests various workload types to represent typical workloads for a PC. Everything from video conferencing, image import, and editing, along with 3D rendering, are tested.
The overall result shows the Godlike at a mid-pack positioning, and well within line of the other boards. It does falter a bit on the essentials, and productivity score, but has a bit of a rebound on Digital content creation.
3DMark Firestrike is our second graphics or synthetic gaming test. Here Godlike shows a solid mid-pack result with the Physics CPU based result showing it gaining some ground.
3DMark Time Spy
Time Spy is another 3DMark test variant, but this one is for DX12 based systems. This test can be quite stressful, and since its an entirely different load, you may be surprised to see how the results shuffle when compared to Firestrike.
Moving to the newest graphical and gaming benchmark in the UL suite, and Time Spy shows the Godlike right on the heels of the Taichi for the top spot.
System I/O Benchmarks
For storage performance, we test the platform using a PCIe 4.0 Corsair MP600 2TB M.2 NVMe drive. It is tested in CrystaldiskMark 7.0.0 x64, and we average the results to ensure a good cross-section of expected performance. Do note that some platforms do not support the new PCIe gen 4, and therefore will cap out around 3400-3500MB/s.
M.2: MP600 2TB
Here, with the MP600, we see the Godlike is at the lower edge of the top end board results, but it's not to such a level that it causes significant concern. The random write speed is interestingly high compared to many of the other boards, though.
SATA: T-Force 2350GB SSD
SATA performance shows the middle of the pack results. However, random read and write results show the Godlike jumping ahead again.
USB: WD P50 1TB
For the external storage, we select the fastest port to test the P50, which is the USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, which means we have the limit of 10Gbps, and the Godlike maxes this out in sequential. However, not having USB 3.2 2x2 implies that we lose out on the almost 2x performance potential.
Network testing: Iperf
We use IPerf for network throughput testing; the server is an 8700K based DIY rig with an Aquantia 10Gb interface.
Here we see that the Godlike takes the top spot for IPerf network throughput but only by a few Mbps.
The next part of network testing is a file transfer test. We use the same endpoint, but we are transferring data from the internal SanDisk Extreme Pro 1TB NVMe SSD.
Here we see the file transfer test, which took 52.42 seconds to complete and falls in line with the other 10Gbps equipped Z490 boards.
Here we see the actual throughput from windows reporting at 1.06-1.08GB/s during the transfer.
Clocks, Overclocking, Thermals, and Power Consumption
Here we will look at the physical and functional performance metrics for the new Z490 motherboards. This includes out of the box clocks, thermals, power consumption, and of course overclocking.
Out of the Box Clocks
First up is a frequency plot for the 10900K on the Z490 Godlike, and we see the clocks fluctuating between 4.9Ghz and 5.1GHz. The Godlike did blip up to 5.3GHz on several occasions, but it was such a fast transition; it did not show up on our plot, but it does perform TVB as expected. When under the Time Spy stress test, we see the clock lock-in at 4.9GHz across all cores for the duration of the run.
For power consumption tests, we use a wall meter to test the full system draw. The reason for this is it will represent what the entire system pulls versus our meter, which shows power draw on each PSU cable. The reason for this is that measuring the power draw from the EPS cable, for example, does not take into account VRM losses and, therefore, can show a much higher power draw for the CPU or other device due to an inefficient VRM design or loading range.
Idle power with the full system and TITAN RTX discrete GPU in place, we see the 10900K pulling 71W idle, which is in line with most of the boards we have tested.
Loading up the CPU with a full FPU load and the Godlike has a reasonably good result at 278W just above the Taichi, which is much lighter in the feature department.
Testing synthetic GPU stress only is an excellent way to show the overhead the CPU adds, as the GPU does not pull more power after it reaches steady state. Here we see the godlike pulls a reasonable amount of wattage and in line with several other boards.
Idle temps for the 10900K in the Godlike is 1C higher than the rest, but this falls within our margin for error as a fluctuation of a single degree can be from a minor humidity difference. Overall nothing crazy out of the ordinary here.
Loading each CPU up with a full burn-in FPU load, and we see the Godlike drop to the lowest of the top-end stack thus far. Most of the boards, as you see, are in the 73C range while the Godlike achieved a steady-state average of 71.4C.
Here we see the Godlike under our thermal imager with a full load on the CPU for over an hour. The VRM surface felt similarly to how it felt sitting idle. The surface measured 38 and 37C. You can see the CPU is at full burn as the PCB power plane is lit up at 48C between the socket and the VRM. This reaffirms what I said before, that the Godlike VRM, like some of the others we have seen, is so massively overbuilt, it will take more than you can do on ambient cooling to make it work.
Overclocking with Comet Lake has been a lesson in limitations, both thermally and architecturally. As intel squeezes the 14nm node for all it has, the frequency is now under several boosting algorithms, which help enhance single or dual-core performance to the nth degree. However, it does not leave much on the table for overclocking.
The Godlike achieved the same 5.2Ghz clock that we have met on other boards thus far but did so with an actual voltage a bit lower than we have seen. The Godlike was able to tweak down to an actual CPU VCore measured at the inductor line of 1.318V. This leads to an excellent result for nT, but being that you omit the TVB function, you do lose out on that extra boost for 1T loads.
The MSI MEG Z490 Godlike motherboard was a monster when I first got it in hand, and I was excited to give it a run. From our testing and analysis, the board does not disappoint in regards to relative performance and feature sets. However, like any product, it is not infallible, so let's jump into the bad/good of the new Godlike entry form MSI.
What we like
Thermals: The Z490 Godlike has great thermals for the VRM, CPU, and the M.2 and other components.
Color OLED Dashboard: I know it may seem gimmicky, but when the boards are separated by feature set instead of performance, you have to call out the neat things people may like to have or look at.
Overbuilt: The Z490 Godlike is massively overbuilt in every way I can think of from PCB quality to cooling parts.
Dual onboard Thunderbolt 3: For those who will use Thunderbolt 3, this is not an inexpensive feature to add, and it is on board, which means no add-in cards as some other boards require.
What do we think could be better?
Minor tuning: The Z490 Godlike is a strong contender, but I do think that with a few UEFI updates, they could tighten things up to make the out of the box experience far more cohesive and strong for a top-end board.
USB 3.2 2x2: The Godlike being a top-end model with the price point to match, I think it needs all of the top-end features. While I love the inclusion of Thunderbolt 3, I do know that USB is far more widely adopted, and the newest 20Gbps standard would have been a very welcome addition.
Value: The Godlike requires a $750 cost of entry, which is a tough pill to swallow on a HEDT part, let along mainstream chipset. I will admit that the three top-end models from MSI, GIGABYTE, and ASUS are similarly priced, but this fact does not make them easier to recommend. This means that users will have to desire the specific feature set or capability to fit into such a niche product.
The MSI MEG Z490 Godlike is a feature-rich board that edges on perfection for those looking for a balls to the walls candidate for their Z490 based build.
The Bottom Line
MSI has built one hell of a board with the Z490 Godlike. It is not perfect, but it has a robust feature stack. If you have a need for an extreme motherboard, the Z490 Godlike should make your short list.