Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Z490 was somewhat successful for MSI, having had a series of motherboards among the best for gamers and overclocking. With Z590, they are gearing up to repeat that success and, at launch, have three boards from the MEG family ready to go. Part of the media kit sent over from MSI included the Z590 ACE, a top-tier platform that sits alongside the Godlike and Unify.
The Z590 ACE looks to repeat, with a full-featured platform that includes some rather stunning specifications. At the top of this list is, of course, support for PCIe Gen 4.0 coming from the 11th Generation Rocket Lake processors. That said, this platform is an in socket upgrade for consumers with 10th Gen that may want to grab a board now and processor down the road. The chipset is Intel Z590, and the power design is an impressive 16+2 using 90A phases on the VCore and 75A on SoC.
Memory compatibility runs up to 5600MHz via overclocking with a base of 2133MHz JEDEC. Storage supports both Hyper M.2 in the top slot and Ultra m.2 in the remaining three. SATA 6Gbps is supported with six ports available.
Networking branches out with WiFi6e using the AX210 chipset and 2.5Gbe LAN featuring the updated i225-V from Intel. Audio comes from Realtek with the newer ALC4082 and ESS Sabre DAC.
The MSI MEG Z590 ACE carries an MSRP of $499.99 with a three-year warranty.
Packaging, Accessories, and Overview
Packaging and Accessories
The media kit from MSI housed the motherboard, K360 cooling, and 11900K CPU.
Retail packaging for the motherboard can be seen above, with a gold theme throughout.
On the backside, we have specifications at the bottom and board features noted above.
Included with the Z590 ACE, we have a Wi-Fi antenna, SATA cable, and reading materials alongside a miniDP adapter cable and RGB extensions.
MSI MEG Z590 ACE Overview
The Z590 ACE is a great-looking motherboard, black and gold theme with subtle RGB lighting on the dragon and chipset heat sinks. Much of the board is covered with heat sinks, including the four m. two slots that tuck in with the PCIe slots and the VRM up above that blends into the rear I/O. On the backside, we have an aluminum plate covering much of the motherboard, complete with branding. Do note, with this board, you may need to remove a few standoffs before installing in your chassis.
Rear I/O is packed with connectivity, starting with USB 3.2 Gen 1 at the top in blue that flows into the two USB 2.0 ports in black. We then have USB 3.2 Gen 2 in red and two Thunderbolt 4 following that. In between, we have 2.5GBE LAN, Antenna connections, and audio at the bottom of the board.
Along the bottom, we start with front panel audio and move into RGB and fan connections. A 6-pin power connection splits the motherboard, while on the right side, you will find USB 2.0 headers.
Continuing, we have LED and the dual BIOS switch followed by power and reset buttons. Around the corner, we find another fan connection next to the SATA ports and front panel USB 3.2 Gen 1.
Further down the line, we run into the USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 header, 24 Pin power, and debug LED.
We have RGB and Corsair connections, CPU and PUMP headers, and 2x 8Pin power connections across the motherboard's top.
PCB and Circuit Analysis
VRM is controlled by the Intersil ISL69269 PWM controller centered between the two banks. This is paired with ISL99390 stages for the VCore and 75A stages for the SoC.
Chipset is the focus in the image above, Nuvoton Super I/O below, along with several ASMedia controllers.
Realtek ALC4082 can be found between the two banks of filter capacitors ESS DAC down below.
UEFI, Software and Test System
MSI EFI setup includes a large overview dashboard for EZ Mode. This gives you one-click access to XMP and Game Boost features while breaking things down on the left side to include memory, storage, and fan setup. Advanced mode keeps the same layout but broadens the configuration in the center menu while main features can be found outside and include Overclocking, M-Flash, OC Profiles, and Hardware Monitor.
MSI Center was the main piece of software for the Z590 ACE, though I believe a new build of Dragon Center should now be available. This software offers insight into CPU usage, frequency, and temps, along with a voltage monitor to the right side.
MSI Center features include support for their CoreLiquid AIO solutions; the K360 was sent with the media kit and is customized in this menu.
Fans can be tuned in this software either manually with custom modes or presets such as Game Mode, Balanced and Silent.
Motherboard Testing Supporters
Sabrent supports our Intel motherboard testing with the fantastic Rocket4 Plus!
TeamGroup supports our Intel motherboard testing with their Team Xtreem DDR4 Memory!
MSI sent the CoreLiquid K360 as part of the media kit, so we deployed it for testing Z590 motherboards.
TweakTown Intel Motherboard Test System
- CPU: Intel Core i9 11900K
- GPU: ASUS TUF RTX 3080 10GB
- RAM: Team Xtreem 2x8G DDR4 4500 (buy from Amazon)
- Cooler: MSI CoreLiquid K360
- OS Storage: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 1TB (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: Corsair RM750X (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 (buy from Amazon)
Cinebench, Realbench and AIDA64
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 that uses all threads or nT of a tested CPU
Once we received our 11900K sample, we were able to go back and test the Extreme WiFi6e from ASRock. This gives us a baseline for comparing the Z590 ACE.
In R23, the ACE brought in 1612 for single thread and 15299 for nT.
Realbench uses both video and photo workloads to benchmark your CPU. We use all three workloads in this scenario.
Image Editing was completed in 22.2 seconds, while Encoding took 25.2 seconds.
AIDA64 has stayed as our means of testing memory bandwidth.
Read bandwidth topped 58K with 57K in write and 52K in copy.
Memory Latency came in at 57.8ns.
Moving to CPU tests, we see 171977 for the Z590 ACE in AES.
SHA3 brings in 5579.
PCMark10 and PugetSystems 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.
The overall score for the Z590 ACE comes in at 8273, slightly higher than the Extreme.
Moving into applications, we have an overall score of 13360 for the ACE.
PugetBench comes from the fantastic people over at Puget Systems that have done countless hours and years benchmarking hardware. For our testing, we will utilize their Davinci Resolve, Photoshop, and Lightroom benchmarks, you can look into them more here.
Puget for Photoshop showed a score of 943 points.
In Lightroom, we see a score of 894.5 for the Z590 ACE.
Last, in Davinci Resolve, we see a score of 1143 for the ACE.
FCND shows an average of 150 FPS for the Z590 ACE, which's 8 FPS over the Extreme with its early BIOS revision.
Gears 5 had the Z590 ACE at 153.3 FPS with our RTX 3080.
Flight Simulator is a bit more challenging to set up, but I have been able to get some pretty good consistency by running the exact flight path and settings with AI.
For this benchmark, we run 1080p High-End and Brisbane to Archerfield Runway 22L. In this test, the average frames came out to 63 FPS average for the Z590 ACE.
System I/O Benchmarks
Storage with CrystalDiskMark
Storage tests are all handled by our Sabrent Rocket Plus NVMe 4.0 SSD. Secondary storage tests are conducted with our WD_Black P50 SSD.
Starting our sequential storage performance, we see 6539 MB/s read and 5301 MB/s write from the Z590 ACE.
50 MB/s read and 191 MB/s write are reached for 4KQ1.
In our external storage testing, we see 461 MB/s from Gen 1, 1065 MB/s from Gen 2, and 2006 MB/s from Gen 2x2.
Audio - Dynamic Range
Testing audio, we setup RMAA with a 3.5mm cable from the line-in to speaker out (green to blue) and set both to 24Bit 192KHz. The Z590 ACE produced 92.5 dBA.
Testing networking, we have 2360 Mbps for the 2.5Gbe and 1296Mbps for the WiFi6e.
Power, Thermals and Final Thoughts
Wrapping up testing, we have power consumption at 124 watts idle and 426 CPU load.
Thermals for the Z590 ACE gave us an idle around 24-26c and peak load between 78-83c with the CoreLiquid.
Using our thermal camera, we were able to get a look at the motherboard under load. We have peak temps near 41c with a few hot spots under the VRM and CPU regions.
Intel has pushed 11900K to get the highest possible clocks out of it without overclocking. That said, we were able to get 5.2 All Core with the Z590 ACE at 1.35v. This boosts single-core performance by ~55 points and threaded performance by ~600 points in R23.
Wow! The Z590 ACE is a robust platform packed with every feature enabled by the new Z590 chipset. On top of that, this board likely sets records, as it has one of the most substantial VRM power stages I've seen to date, with an impressive 1400A of capacity available! Adding to this, MSI is already advertising DDR4 5600 in its official specifications for this board, albeit with OC, and we should see kits capable start to hit the market as we move closer to DDR5 next year.
Connectivity is endless on the Z590 ACE, with everything from USB 2.0 to Thunderbolt 4 on the rear I/O, and for consumers with a Gen 2x2 portable SSD like the P50, SE900G, or FireCuda, the internal USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 header will give you the 20Gbps speed you are looking for.
BIOS and software are full-featured as well; I'm not well versed with MSI Click BIOS, so it does feel a bit awkward, but navigation works well with EZ Mode able to guide you through the most commonly used features.
What We Like
Socket Compatibility: In-Socket upgrade for 10th Gen users.
Connectivity: Ample amount of ports that include USB 3.2 and Thunderbolt 4.
PCIe 4.0: Gen 4 opens the door for higher bandwidth for GPUs and storage.
What Could Be Better
Limited PCIe 4.0: Only 1 Lightning Gen4 and 1 x16 Slot available.
Price: $499 MSRP puts this board at the high-end for consumers ona budget.
The Bottom Line
MSI starts the Intel Z590 era with a legit platform in the Z590 ACE - fully featured and overbuilt for anything you want to get into!