Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
NZXT has been releasing motherboards for the last few years focusing on Intel Z series platforms. Past releases were done in partnership with ECS, but the latest platform release, the N7 Z490, has ended that partnership in favor of a new solution designed with ASRock.
This should result in a much higher quality motherboard, with EFI features that rival the Taichi, Extreme4, and Pro4 lineups from ASRock.
The design aesthetic stays nearly the same, with a full armor covering the motherboard, the CPU socket area the only bare PCB to be seen. As for its design, let's catch up with that below!
Specifications and Marketing
Hardware support starts with 10th Generation Intel Core processors; this includes Core i3, i5, i7, and i9. Of course, we are on the Intel Z490 chipset that includes DDR4 -4266MHz memory support across four slots. We continue down to include 4x SATA III ports and 2x PCIe 3.0 m.2 for storage while the popular RTL8125 gives us 2.5Gbe support and the Intel AX200 gives us Wi-Fi 6.
The NZXT N7 Z490 carries an MSRP of $229.99 with a one-year warranty.
Packaging, Accessories, and Overview
Packaging and Accessories
Board packaging is mostly white in appearance, with the image of the motherboard centered. Above, we have the model number.
The back of the packaging offers a full rundown on the board specs in several languages.
Included in the box we have the Wi-Fi antenna, SATA cables, and manual.
NZXT N7 Z490 Overview
As we mentioned, a large part of this board is covered in armor. You can choose between white or black colorways.
Diving in for a closeup, the N7 Z490 offers front panel audio and RGB connections along the bottom, while further to the right, we find USB headers and fan connections. Far right, we have the power and reset buttons.
Around the corner, you will find a USB 3.2 Gen 2 header and the 24-pin power input.
At the top, you have two more fan connections along with NZXT RGB connections, followed by two more fan connections and CPU power in 4-pin and 8-pin form factors.
The rear I/O starts with CMOS and antennas. This is followed by HDMI, USB 2.0, and USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, including a Type-C. Lastly, we have USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports and 2.5Gbe above audio.
PCB and Circuit Analysis
The VRM of the N7 Z490 is a 10 Phase design that includes 8x Vishay SiC632A power stages for CPU vCore and 2x Vishay SiC632 stages for SOC. System Agent uses a pairing of Sinopower 4337 for the high side and 4436 for the low side.
Next up, we have the chipset hiding between PCIe slots.
Sliding to the left of the chipset, we find the AX200 and Nuvoton Super I/O.
VRM cooling is handled by a pair of aluminum blocks, while the chipset is handled by the flat square block to the right.
UEFI, Software and Test System
EFI for the N7 Z490 is clean, the main page showing the installed CPU and memory. Overclocking has its own section supporting CPU and cache ratio changes along with AVX2. The advanced menu offers configuration for storage devices and onboard solutions, such as Wi-Fi, LAN, and USB.
The tool menu offers a proper erase function for SATA and NVMe drives with BIOS flashing options.
A huge part of the software platform includes NZXT CAM. This software offers a full monitoring suite that provides for CPU, GPU, and memory.
The second menu item is system specs, which shows you installed memory and storage devices along with GPU.
Lighting control is big with CAM, and this allows you to sync RGB devices, including cooling solutions in NZXT's lineup.
CAM does include overclocking software for your GPU. This includes core, memory, and power limit options.
- Motherboard: NZXT N7 Z490 (buy from Amazon)
- CPU: Intel Core i9 10900K (buy from Amazon)
- RAM: ADATA XPG 2x16GB Spectrix (buy from Amazon)
- Cooler: EK Quantum Power Kit (buy from Amazon)
- Case: Primochill Wetbench (buy from Amazon)
- OS Storage: Sabrent Rocket NVMe 4.0 (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: Corsair RM750 (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 (buy from Amazon)
WPrime, Cinebench and AIDA64
WPrime, CPUz, Cinebench, and AIDA64
WPrime is a leading multi-threaded benchmark. In our setup, we will manually set the number of cores for the CPU under test.
The N7 Z490 scored quite well in WPrime, 2.3 seconds for 32M and 58.7 seconds for 1024M.
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
We haven't made the switch to R23 quite yet with our Intel test platform. That said, R20 scores 540 1T and 6410 nT with the N7 Z490.
Realbench uses both video and photo workloads to benchmark your CPU. We use the Heavy Multitasking workload in this setup. N7 scores 32 seconds in this scenario.
AIDA64 has stayed as our means of testing memory bandwidth. In this scenario, the N7 is equal to the two previous platforms we have tested.
Unigine and UL Benchmarks
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.
Looking at our scores, the N7 does well 11885 in Digital Content, 10620 for essentials, and 9798 productivity.
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, with all of the FPS coming from the CPU.
With this test, we see 261 FPS from the N7 Z490.
3DMark Time Spy gives us a CPU score of 13663, the highest to date.
NZXT scores 28543 in CPU tests and 9476 in Combined.
Running through Tomb Raider with our N7 Z490, we see 197 FPS at 1080p and 100 FPS at 4K.
System I/O Benchmarks and Power Consumption
System I/O Benchmarks
Storage with CrystalDiskMark
Storage tests are all handled by our Sabrent Rocket NVMe 4.0 SSD.
Starting testing, we hit the rear panel USB 3.2 ports to see how well they perform. Utilizing our WD Black P50, the N7 hits 1085 MB/s read and 991 MB/s write.
With CDM, moving to NVMe storage with our Sabrent Rocket. We see a peak of 3567 MB/s read and 2704 MB/s write.
4KQ1 reaches 78.3 MB/s read and 168 MB/s write.
Networking with iPerf
Next up, we run through testing for Wired and Wi-Fi networking. The N7 peaks at 2316Mbps for wired and 1395Mbps for Wi-Fi 6.
System Power consumption idled at 129 watts for the N7. CPU load peaked at 479 watts, and gaming showed 421 watts.
Overclocking, Thermals and Final Thoughts
Similar to past Z490 platforms we have tested, I run the ratio up until the board didn't boot. After that, we hit the last known good ratio and run the voltage down as low as we can go at that clock. For the NZXT N7 Z490, we were able to run all-core 5GHz on our 10900K at 1.21v.
Firing up our thermal imager, we grabbed an image of the motherboard while under test. From here, we see a bit of heat building on the top VRM heat sink at 30+c and M.2 slot under the CPU socket.
Intel platforms have almost become a niche as AMD has stolen a lot of market share over the last few years. NZXT combats this with a fantastic looking motherboard, complete with thermal armor available in black and white colorways. On past solutions, we did note NZXT offered special edition motherboard plates, so we hope to see some of those come over to the Z490 platform as well.
The move to ASRock as the manufacturer has increased the build quality of the NZXT motherboard platform as a whole, the biggest difference coming in BIOS/EFI where we now have a legit solution for overclocking.
This board will be especially good when used in conjunction with parts from the NZXT ecosystem. Above, I built up this board for testing in the H710i and paired it with an X73 to make for a sweet looking blackout build.
What We Like
Aesthetics: For those that enjoy themed builds, the N7 Z490 offers a fantastic looking board in two colorways.
Features: NZXT fills all the basics with a board supporting 2.5Gbe, Wi-Fi 6, and USB 3.2 Gen 2.
Layout: NZXT put some thought into its Z490 board's layout, angling the internal headers for USB 3.2 to make for a cleaner build interface.
Price: For a premium solution, NZXT has priced the N7 Z490 very competitively at $229.
What Could Be Better
USB Ports: The N7 Z490 fails to utilize space on the rear I/O, making for a solution with just 4x superspeed ports.
The Bottom Line
NZXT has put together a decent gamers board that offers all of the basics you would need for the 10th Gen Intel platform.