Z490 review

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GIGABYTE Z490 AORUS Master Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

In anticipation of Z590 coming later this year, we are wrapping up our coverage of Z490 with two boards from GIGABYTE. On the bench today, the Z490 AORUS Master is the first and a board that lives just under the top tier AORUS Xtreme in GIGABYTE's gaming lineup.

Coming into the Z490 platform last year, A huge focus for vendors was to clean up VRM power designs to handle the new LGA1200 product stack as this generation would be the first to see HyperThreading from the Core i3-10100 to the Core i9-10900K. GIGABYTE has done this and more with an extreme VRM design, which we will touch on below, along with advanced thermal solutions with true fin stacks.

Specifications and Marketing

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VIEW GALLERY - 48 IMAGES

We kick off motherboard specifications starting with the Intel LGA1200 socket. This platform is compatible with an entire range of processors from 10th Gen Core i3 to Core i9. This board's power design is thoroughly overkill, even for the enthusiast overclocker, offering a doubled seven-phase design for the Vcore with Intersil ISL99390 stages at 90A each. SOC is powered by a single Vishay SIC651 50A stage and Intersil ISL69269 PWM controller behind it all.

3x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots handle expansion, the top slot being the only full x16 electrically. Storage starts with 6x SATAIII ports that give way to the Ultra m.2 storage configuration that includes three slots, all under the motherboard heat sink.

The Intel i225 handles LAN duties on this motherboard, with AX200 handling Wi-Fi. Audio design is one of the best we have seen ALC1220 with ESS Sabre for your DAC needs.

Pricing

The Z490 AORUS Master carries an MSRP of $399.99 with a three-year warranty. Current pricing can be found below.

Buy at Amazon

GIGABYTE Z490 AORUS Master

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago

$415.00

$415.00$415.00$410.99

Buy

* Prices last scanned on 10/17/2021 at 2:13 pm 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

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The Z490 AORUS Master is upfront about its intent, with a large AORUS logo covering the front of the box, LGA1200, and compatibility to the right.

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The box's back is quite busy, with full specification on the left and hardware overviews to the right.

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Unboxing, we have SATA cables and RGB extensions along with the user manual to round out the accessory pack.

AORUS Z490 Overview

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The AORUS Master is one heavy board, with all of this extra weight coming from the amount of armor on the board front and back, as seen above. That said, we have a fantastic aesthetic that any gamer should truly enjoy.

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Taking a closer look, we have three x16 PCIe slots, the top one x16 electrical, the second x8, and the third x4. All three are fully shielded solutions that each house an m.2 slot in between. Along the bottom, you will find front panel audio, RGB connections, along with USB 2.0 headers for accessories such as AIO Watercoolers.

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Wrapping around the corner, you will have your six SATA connections followed by two Thunderbolt 3 headers.

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Further up the same side, we have USB 3.2 headers followed by the 24-pin power connection and Debug LED.

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Across the top, you will find two more RGB headers to the left, fan headers in the middle, and 8pin power to the right.

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Rear I/O starts with CMOS and QFLash at the top, Wi-Fi, and USB 2.0 ports. HDMI starts the next line with USB 3.2 Gen 1 followed by four Gen 2 ports in red. Audio at the bottom with all gold plated connections.

PCB and Circuit Analysis

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Power design includes 14x ISL99390 power stages, one SIC651A far-right, and the PWM controller just above; ISL69269.

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Additional ICs include the Intel i225-V seen above in its B2 stepping SLNJY.

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Chipset sits alone for the most part with only the Super I/O from ITE below.

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The audio design includes the ALC1220 seen above, with high-quality capacitors and the ESS IC that can be seen at the bottom of the image.

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As mentioned in opening remarks, the heat sink package for this board is legit. A true heat pipe design with fin stacks covers the VRM area, while an aluminum plate covers the chipset and m.2 slots.

UEFI, Software and Test System

UEFI

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I must admit it has been a good amount of time since I last went through a GIGABYTE BIOS. That said, the AORUS Master has a well laid out menu system with easy mode giving an overall look at CPU, Memory, and storage status, and the advanced menus offer everything from your basic settings to overclocking in the tweaker menu.

Software and Overclocking

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EasyTune has been the software of choice for many years at GIGABYTE, and the AORUS Master is no different. From the main menu seen above, you can have smart boost auto-tune your system or choose from the available profiles.

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Moving to the advanced menu offers you the ability to fine-tune bclk frequency along with voltages and power limits.

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Memory overclocking is handled within the advanced DDR menu; from here, you can choose frequency or XMP profiles to the left and adjust timings to the right.

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Finer tuning is available through the advanced power menu with loadline calibration and PWM switch rates.

Test System

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Sabrent has been a fantastic vendor to work with over the last year, and they continue to support AMD and Intel motherboard testing with their Rocket4 Plus built on the Phison E18 platform.

WPrime, Cinebench and AIDA64

WPrime, CPUz, Cinebench, and AIDA64

WPrime

WPrime is a leading multi-threaded benchmark. In our setup, we will manually set the number of cores for the CPU under test. The ROG Maximus Extreme 12 is our baseline motherboard for all charts Z490.

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The AORUS ended up being our quickest motherboard to date, with WPrime reaching 2.28 seconds in the 32M workload. 1024M showed it a few seconds behind the pack at 61.78

Cinebench

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

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AORUS Master offered us 539 single thread and 6443 nT, nearly identical to the rest of the charted motherboards.

RealBench

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Realbench uses both video and photo workloads to benchmark your CPU. In these workloads, the AORUS was among the quickest in Encoding and Heavy Multitasking and middle of the pack for Image Editing.

Unigine and UL Benchmarks

PCMark 10

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.

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If we look at the overall score for the standard benchmark in PCMark10, the AORUS Master is right in line with all platforms tested, scoring 7508.

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We have a second chart above breaking down each workload score.

Unigine Superposition

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.

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In this scenario, the AORUS Master produced 260 FPS.

3DMark Timespy

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Looking at 3DMark Timespy, AORUS was slightly above average for graphics performance, otherwise on par in CPU.

3DMark Firestrike

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Firestrike has a little more detail, with the benchmark offering several stages. Overall the AORUS was perfect at 22592. Graphics was the highest in our charts at 25944 with Physics/CPU at 27460.

Shadown of the Tomb Raider

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Running through Tomb Raider, we find an average FPS of 100 at 4K, 165 at 1440p, and 190 at 1080p with our RTX 3080.

System I/O Benchmarks

Storage with CrystalDiskMark

Storage tests are all handled by our Sabrent Rocket4 Plus NVMe 4.0 SSD for internal testing and our WD_BLACK P50 for external testing.

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USB-C on the AORUS Master touched 1069 MB/s read and 960 MB/s write.

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Our Rocket4 Plus picked up 3567 MB/s reads and 270 MB/s write on the AORUS Master, moving to internal storage testing.

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Random performance 4KQ1 touches 78 MB/s reads and 168 MB/s write.

Networking with iPerf

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Testing the 2.5Gbe wired connection, we have 2130Mbps. Optionally we picked up a full 949Mbps testing the adapter at gigabit speeds.

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Wireless testing showed equal performance to past motherboards; 1425Mbps with the AX200.

Power Consumption, Thermals, and Final Thoughts

Power Consumption

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System power consumption for the AORUS Master idled at 114 watts. Under CPU load in Cinebench, we recorded 438 watts, and last, gaming showed 403 watts in Tomb Raider.

Thermals

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CPU temps were in line with past motherboards. The AORUS Master idled at 25c with the full load during testing showing a peak of 63c.

Final Thoughts

GIGABYTE has done an amazing job appealing to gamers with edgy motherboard design and superb build quality. On top of that, the AORUS Master offers what is likely the best power design I've seen on a Z490 platform with fourteen 90A power stages.

One of the biggest features often overlooked, or where corners are more often cut, even on high-end gaming motherboards, is rear I/O connectivity and most often USB ports. Gamers need USB, and most don't want to bother with hub and docks to extend this connectivity. AORUS Master delivers in this department with 10 USB ports on the rear I/O alone, another two through internal 2.0, and three more via 3.2 internal headers. Add to this that GIGABYTE is the first I've seen to offer dual Thunderbolt 3 headers, which makes this board a straight-up beast for connectivity options!

What We Like

VRM Design: Over 1300A of pure VRM power for your CPU!

Connectivity: 15 USB Ports, 3x m.2 and 4x Thunderbolt 3 if you so choose makes this board a king of connectivity.

What Could Be Better

LAN: Won't lie, I would have liked to see something better than the Intel i225-V on this motherboard.

Price: All these features come at a price.

Buy at Amazon

Performance

95%

Quality

95%

Features

98%

Value

90%

Overall

95%

The Bottom Line

The AORUS Master is a clear winner for gamers that want the ultimate in connectivity and overclocking prowess in their motherboard.

TweakTown award

GIGABYTE Z490 AORUS Master

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago

$415.00

$415.00$415.00$410.99

Buy

* Prices last scanned on 10/17/2021 at 2:13 pm CDT - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Read about TweakTown's awards!

Tyler Bernath

Tyler Bernath

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.

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SPEC OVERVIEW

PERFORMANCE

CONNECTIVITY

COOLING

LIGHTING

AUDIO

ULTRA DURABLE

GIGABYTE EXCELLENCE

1

Advanced Thermal Design with Integrated IO Armor

2

Intel® Dual Band 802.11ac WIFI

5

Realtek 8118 Gaming LAN

6

Ultra Durable PCIe Armor

9

High-End Audio Capacitors

10

Direct 11+1 Phases Digital VRM Solution with Low RDS(on) MOSFET

11

Supports 10th Gen Intel® Core™ Processor

12

Solid Pin Power Connectors

• 24 pin ATX Power Connector
• 8+4 pin CPU Power Connector

13

2-Way CrossFire™ Support

PERFORMANCE

Direct 11+1 Phases Digital VRM Solution with Low RDS(on) MOSFET

GIGABYTE UD series motherboards use a 11+1 phase digital PWM + Low RDS(on) MOSFETs design to support the latest 10-core Intel® Core™ CPUs by offering incredible precision in delivering power to the motherboard's most power-hungry and energy-sensitive components as well as delivering enhanced system performance and ultimate hardware scalability.

Benefits of Low RDS(on) MOSFETs

‧ Optimized gate charge to minimize switching losses.
‧ Lower temperature, smaller size, better thermal characteristics.

Support for DDR4 XMP Up to 4500MHz and Beyond

GIGABYTE is offering a tested and proven platform that ensures proper compatibility with profiles up to 4500MHz and beyond. All users need to do to attain this performance boost is to ensure that their memory module is XMP capable and that the XMP function is activated and enabled on their GIGABYTE motherboard.

Advanced Thermal Design with Integrated IO Armor

Enlarged heatsink surface area improves thermal performance by increasing heat dissipation surface and maintain stylish aesthetic.

Improved thickness of the thermal pad to 1.5mm, gives superior heat dissipation of MOSFETs.

Grooved for Air-Flow and Increase Total Contact Surface.

PCIe 4.0* Hardware Design

For most of prosumers and gamers, high bandwidth storage and high performance graphics card are critical for their applications. To support most cutting edge devices, this motherboard uses the groundbreaking PCIe 4.0 grade hardware design.

* Product uses PCIe 4.0 grade material, actual support varies by hardware configuration.

Dual NVMe PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 Connectors

GIGABYTE Motherboards are focused on delivering M.2 technology to enthusiasts who want to maximize their system’s potential.

Learn more about PERFORMANCE

2-Way CrossFire™ Multi-Graphics

Multi-graphics configuration offers better graphics performance for gaming enthusiasts who demand the highest frame rates without compromising on resolution.

CONNECTIVITY

Intel® Dual Band 802.11ac WIFI

The onboard 802.11ac WIFI module from Intel® supports Dual Band and up to 433 Mbps, 3x faster WIFI speed than 802.11n and also support BLUETOOTH 5.

Exclusive Realtek 8118 Gaming LAN

High Speed Gigabit LAN with Automatic Bandwidth Allocation

Realtek 8118 LAN is a high performance and friendly network chip for gaming players with automatic bandwidth allocation to ensure the highest network priority of the game or application. It can provide users the most comprehensive features and the fastest and smoothest Internet experience.

Program On Top Gets Highest Priority



Real-Time Network Monitoring

Pre-Installed I/O Shield

    With an integrated I/O shield, building an GIGABYTE Ultra Durable PC is even easier.

COOLING

Smart Fan 5

With Smart Fan 5 users can ensure that their gaming PC can maintain its performance while staying cool. Smart Fan 5 allows users to interchange their fan headers to reflect different thermal sensors at different locations on the motherboard. Not only that, with Smart Fan 5 more hybrid fan headers that support both PWM and Voltage mode fans have been introduced to make the motherboard more liquid cooling friendly.

Fan / Water Pump Connectors
Internal Temperature Sensors

Different models have different number of fan pin headers and temperature sensors. Smart Fan 5 function may vary by model.

Temperature Sensors

Hybrid Fan Headers

■ 5 Fan / Water Pump Connectors
■ 6 Temperature Sensors
■ All Fan Pin Headers Upgraded to Hybrid Fan Headers
■ Interoperable Fans and Sensors
■ Intuitive UI for Fan Control

FAN STOP

Hybrid FAN Header

Smart Fan 5 Software

Achieve fan silence. With Fan Stop, map any fan to stop completely when temperatures drop below a specified threshold. Which fan stops, based on readings from which sensor, and at what temperature—all of it can be customized to your liking.

Intelligent Fan Control Design

Hybrid Fan Pin Headers

Assume complete control over your liquid cooling setup! Smart Fan 5 receives up-to-the-second information on flow-rate and water-temperature through the Hybrid Fan Pin Headers or external thermistor sensors—giving you absolute mastery over your PC.
• All Hybrid Fan Headers can automatically detect the type of cooling device whether it be fan or pump with different PWM or Voltage mode.

New Smart Fan 5 Software

Choose from different modes, Quiet to Full Speed, to match your system usage preferences.
For each fan or pump, you can use the intuitive fan curve to define trigger thresholds and corresponding fan speeds.

LIGHTING

RGB FUSION 2.0

With Z490 UD AC Motherboard , RGB Fusion 2.0 is even better with Addressable LEDs.* RGB Fusion 2.0 offers users the option to control onboard RGB and external RGB / Addressable LED light strips for their PC. Already feature filled with colors and patterns, RGB Fusion 2.0 on Z490 Series Motherboards are now upgraded with Addressable LED support. With external Addressable LED strips*, where each LED is digitally addressable, users can experience even more patterns, styles, and illuminations.

With Z490 UD AC Motherboard will support either 5v or 12v Addressable LED lighting strips and up to 300 LED lights. RGB Fusion 2.0 with Addressable LEDs comes with new patterns and various speed settings with more to come.

* Addressable LEDs are available only on select Motherboards, external LED Strips, Addressable LED Strips are not included with Motherboard purchase.


RGB Fusion 2.0 Software

RGB Fusion APP

With an integrated intuitive user interface, the RGB Fusion 2.0 provides you a better solution for customizing the lighting effects across all supported devices. From motherboards, graphics cards to the peripheral products, you can personalize your gaming rig with your own style and show off your build by sharing the profiles. In addition, the new gaming mode makes the lighting effects interactive with selected games to bring you the most immersive gaming experience.

Sync with one click

Individual control as you wish

GIGABYTE RGB Fusion APP

Don't just make your PC shine, make it a work of art that friends will envy. With the GIGABYTE RGB Fusion mobile app users can watch as they control the lighting within their gaming PC. This gives users ease of access as they try and adjust colors and speeds for different modes, all this can be achieved away from the keyboard and monitor of their PC.

New Smart Fan 5 Software

Choose from different modes, Quiet to Full Speed, to match your system usage preferences.
For each fan or pump, you can use the intuitive fan curve to define trigger thresholds and corresponding fan speeds.

AUDIO

High-End Audio Capacitors

GIGABYTE motherboards use high-end audio capacitors. These high quality capacitors help deliver high resolution and high fidelity audio to provide the most realistic sound effects for gamers.

Audio Noise Guard

GIGABYTE motherboards feature an audio noise guard that essentially separates the board’s sensitive analog audio components from potential noise pollution at the PCB level.

ULTRA DURABLE

GIGABYTE Patented Double Locking Bracket

Ultra Durable™ PCIe Armor

Industry Leading Ultra Durable™ PCIe Armor

The innovative one piece stainless steel shielding design from GIGABYTE reinforces the PCIe connectors to provide the extra strength required to support heavy graphics cards.

Solid Pin Power Connectors

Z490 motherboards feature solid plated ATX 24pin & ATX 12V 8pin + 4pin power connectors for offering stable power supply while CPU overloading.

Solid Pin Power connector advantages

  1. Larger contact area for electricity
  2. More metal quantity to sustain higher power and generated heat
  3. Ultra durable and longer lifespan

START SULFURIZATION PROTECTION

Sulfur compounds in the air can penetrate tiny onboard resistors creating chemical change and causing these resistors to open or short. If either of these occurs the motherboard will fail to function. By equipping resistors with an Anti-Sulfur Design GIGABYTE gives Ultra Durable Motherboards a whole new meaning.

Q-Flash Plus

Update the BIOS easily without installing the CPU, memory and graphics card.

With GIGABYTE Q-Flash Plus, you don’t need to install the CPU, memory and graphics card nor enter the BIOS menu to flash the BIOS. Just download and save a new BIOS file (rename to gigabyte.bin) on the USB flash drive, then press the dedicated Q-Flash Plus button and you’re good to go!


GIGABYTE EXCELLENCE

GIGABYTE BIOS & Applications

BIOS

APP CENTER

EasyTune

@BIOS

System Information Viewer

Refreshed BIOS

The BIOS is essential for users during initial setup to allow for the most optimal settings. With a new GUI and easier to use functionalities, GIGABYTE has been able to reinvent the BIOS to give users a better experience while setting up their new system.

* Photos are for reference only. Product features may vary by model.


APP CENTER

GIGABYTE APP CENTER is an useful portal of all GIGABYTE MB utilities and drivers, you can choose any utility you want to install from APP CENTER and keep you updated with latest utilities and drivers version.

EasyTune™

GIGABYTE's EasyTune™ is a simple and easy-to-use interface that allows users to fine-tune their system settings or adjust system and memory clocks and voltages in a Windows environment. With Smart Quick Boost, one click is all it takes to automatically overclock your system, giving an added performance boost when you need it the most.

@BIOS

The GIGABYTE @BIOS app allows you to update your system’s BIOS from within Windows using a simple and slick graphical user interface. @BIOS can automatically download the latest version from the GIGABYTE servers or you can update your BIOS from a file on your computer. @BIOS also allows you to save your current BIOS to a file, recover your previous BIOS from an image and backup your BIOS to an image.

System Information Viewer

GIGABYTE System Information Viewer is a central location that gives you access to your current system status. Monitor components such as the clocks and processor, set your preferred fan speed profile, create alerts when temperatures get too high or record your system's behavior; these are the possibilities of the System Information Viewer.

XSplit Gamecaster + Broadcaster: Cast Your Game Anytime, Anywhere

Now set up your stage and share the greatest gaming moments with XSplit Gamecaster + Broadcaster! Fully optimized social media integration is ready for real-time chats—keeping you notified yet focused in the game. It takes just one click to stream your gameplay to Twitch. Host your game like a pro!

* Free 14 days XSplit Gamecaster + Broadcaster Premium License.

4K Ultra HD Support

4K resolution is the next technological milestone in high-definition content delivery, utilizing approximately 4,000 pixels on the horizontal axis, more than four times today's standard HD pixel density. GIGABYTE motherboards provide native 4K support with integrated Intel® HD Graphics via HDMI.

HDMI™ - The Next Generation Multimedia Interface

HDMI™ is a High-Definition Multimedia Interface which provides up to 5Gb/s video transmitting bandwidth and 8-channel high quality audio all through a single cable. Able to transmit superior, uncompressed digital video and audio, HDMI™ ensures the crispest rendering of digital content up to 1080p without the quality losses associated with analog interfaces and their digital-to-analog conversion. In addition, HDMI™ is compatible with HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection), allowing the playback of Blu-ray/HD DVD and other protected media content.

* Product specifications and product appearance may differ from country to country. We recommend that you check with your local dealers for the specifications and appearance of the products available in your country. Colors of products may not be perfectly accurate due to variations caused by photographic variables and monitor settings so it may vary from images shown on this site. Although we endeavor to present the most accurate and comprehensive information at the time of publication, we reserve the right to make changes without prior notice.

Sours: https://www.gigabyte.com/Motherboard/Z490-UD-AC-rev-10
  1. Painted bear skull
  2. Metal earth easy
  3. Overdose love quotes

Asus Prime Z490-A

An ATX motherboard for Intel's 10th-Generation "Comet Lake-S" processors, Asus' Prime Z490-A sits apart from the company's ubiquitous Republic of Gamers (ROG) family of components and has a wholly different, less edgy look and feel—one meant to attract a more professional audience with a cooler aesthetic. Priced at $229.99, it also undercuts some of Asus' ROG boards. The Prime would work fine as the foundation for a new gaming PC, but this motherboard is also a fitting solution for shoppers who want to build or upgrade to a powerful productivity computer or a Core- rather than Xeon-based workstation.


The Board Design

The Prime Z490-A features a black PCB with white strips running across it. The rear I/O shield, as well as the chipset heatsink on this board, are also colored white. The bright, contrasting color on this otherwise dark component is eye-catching and draws your attention to these two areas on the board.

Asus Prime Z490-A overhead view

Other than that, the board isn't particularly decorative. The rear I/O panel and chipset heatsink are plainly adorned and not much to look at. This changes when you power up the system and RGB LEDs embedded in these two items illuminate, but even then the Z490-A has to be one of the least flashy premium boards I've reviewed lately.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. Some people don't want any extra flair inside their PCs, and I wouldn't mind seeing a few more boards like this tastefully reserved platform in the high-end market.

Asus Prime Z490-A diagonal view

Asus equips the Z490-A with a 12+2 DrMOS power design. The power-phase components are passively cooled by a trio of fairly large metal heatsinks that circle the LGA1200 CPU socket. These heatsinks sport a simple polished-metal finish. The shine adds to the board's aesthetic and gives the PCB a high-quality, industrial look.

Asus Prime Z490-A diagonal overhead

Storage support on this board consists of the usual six SATA 3.0 ports, along with two M.2 Key-M slots. One of these is hidden underneath a metal heat spreader to help keep any device you place here cool. The heat spreader is also lightly decorated with a few white accent stripes emblazoned over the same metal finish that we see on the other heatsinks.


A Brief Look at the Networking and Audio

In addition to the Key-M slots, the Prime Z490-A has a M.2 Key-E slot that can be used to add a wireless networking adapter, but it does not ship with Wi-Fi built into the board. It does feature a capable wired Ethernet controller, though. The Intel I225-V can support up to a 2.5Gbps Internet connection, which should be more than fast enough for the needs of most users.

Any techies want to take a guess what's driving audio on this board? If you said Realtek's S1220A, then congratulations, you're right! Nowadays, the majority of premium motherboards I see make use of this Realtek chip, and it's been that way for a while. Lower-end boards tend to use a wider selection of chips, but at the high end the Realtek S1220A audio codec is almost always what anchors the audio hardware. It's hard to fault motherboard OEMs for this, either—the S1220A is known to provide a fairly high signal-to-noise ratio, and it works without any major known issues.

Asus Prime Z490-A diagonal closeup

It's a case of OEMs not fixing what isn't broken. Nobody that wants a true Hi-Fi audio experience is going to settle for an integrated audio controller no matter how good it is. At the same time, a lot of people nowadays use S/PDIF or HDMI audio, both of which bypass the onboard DAC entirely. Overall, there isn't much need for a better audio controller than the S1220A, and tossing money at a more expensive one would be just a waste of resources that could be better spent elsewhere. The really audio-serious folks would just buy better dedicated hardware, anyway.


The Rear I/O Panel

The rear I/O panel on the Prime Z490-A is reasonably well stocked, with a total of seven USB Type-A ports. As most things connect through USB now, you can fairly well judge one of these panels based merely on the type and number of USB ports, and seven is a decent number. 

Two of these ports are legacy USB 2.0 ports, suited for a keyboard and mouse. The remaining five are all USB 3.2 ports, two of which are Gen 1 and three Gen 2. An eighth USB port on the rear I/O panel is a Type-C USB 3.2 Gen 2 port.

Asus Prime Z490-A rear I/O

Directly below the USB ports is the usual set of five 3.5mm audio jacks, as well as an S/PDIF port. You can also find an RJ-45 Ethernet jack beside the lower USB ports, and at the top of the rear I/O panel are an HDMI port and a DisplayPort connector for video output. These last two are key in the event that you mean to rely in any way on the onboard Intel UHD Graphics of any of the 10th-Generation chips. 


The Building Experience

Building up a system with the Prime Z490-A proved painless and straightforward. One of the biggest stressors when building any system is usually routing, stretching, and plugging in the CPU's power cable, but that's not a major problem here. The heatsinks covering the board's VRMs are big, but they are spaced far enough away from the CPU power connector to make getting the plug in place easy and painless—well, about as easy and painless as it gets. Calling the job of plugging in a CPU power connector on any system "easy" would be a bit of an overstatement. But I've experienced far worse.

Asus Prime Z490-A overhead closeup

The CPU fan headers are a bit more problematic, but you'll manage them. These two are offset from the VRM heatsinks to give you a small margin of clearance on all sides. If you use a water cooler with the radiator mounted at the top of your case, as I did for this build, then you will likely have the radiator partially obstructing your access to the fan headers. The experience here will vary widely, though, depending on your selection of CPU cooler and the dimensions of your particular chassis. In general, this placement of the headers is fairly common, and it's not terribly difficult to get the fans plugged in, but the placement could be a little better.

There's not much to say about plugging in video and add-on cards, as that's essentially the same on every ATX motherboard, so let's move on to storage. As mentioned above, you get two M.2 slots on this board. The lower of the two sits close to the right side of the board, directly below the chipset heatsink, which makes it relatively easy to access. PCI Express cards installed in the bottom two card slots shouldn't get in the way of adding an M.2 device here. If you are going for a multi-GPU setup, however, you will need to remove any graphics cards installed in the middle PCIe x16 slot in order to reach the screw holes for the M.2 slot.

Asus Prime Z490-A PCIe slots

The upper M.2 slot is covered by a heat spreader that is held on by two screws. As this is set directly below the primary PCI Express x16 slot, accessing this M.2 slot will be impossible with any graphics card installed. This isn't a flaw of the Prime Z490-A per se, as most motherboards that have M.2 slots place one of the slots here, nor does it prove to be a vexing issue in the long run. Just install your M.2 storage device before you build your system, and you'll be fine.


A Brief Look at the BIOS

The Asus Prime Z490-A comes equipped with a version of Asus' typical UEFI BIOS. Though a few things change from board to board, this BIOS should be readily familiar to anyone who has used a late-model Asus motherboard. 

Asus Prime Z490-A EZ Mode BIOS

Upon first entering the BIOS, we are greeted by an EZ Mode menu, which is a little lacking in my opinion. It displays all the info you need about your system configuration, and it has controls for setting the memory profile and adjusting the boot order. The major feature I found missing here is an option for flashing the BIOS to a new version.

Asus Prime Z490-A Main Tab BIOS

After entering the BIOS, you load into the Main tab, which displays core information on the motherboard itself, as well as the CPU and RAM. From here you can adjust the time and date, but that's about it. The My Favorites tab is significantly more useful, as it can be customized to create your own one-stop shop of settings for all your UEFI BIOS needs. Essentially any option available throughout the BIOS can be replicated on this tab, a super-useful feature in general for inveterate tweakers.

Asus Prime Z490-A Favorites BIOS

If you don't want to deal with the My Favorites tab, most BIOS functions can be adjusted through the Advanced tab. This tab is something of a catch-all for anything that doesn't fit in one of the other predefined sections of the BIOS. It's full of more functions than I could possibly discuss here without making this review a mile long to scroll through. The real enthusiast-minded fun is found in the AI Tweaker tab, so let's discuss that instead.

Asus Prime Z490-A AI Tweaker BIOS

The AI Tweaker tab houses all of the overclocking options on this board, with basic info shown at the top of this section. The main AI Tweaker page has few options, but you can activate the board's auto-overclocking feature from here and set memory profiles. You will find a few more options, such as multicore enhancements, but the fine-tuned controls are in subfolders under this menu. This was done to try to give you a more organized overclocking experience, with items such as DRAM timings, VRM controls, and CPU overclocking tools all separated out into their own designated folders.


The Utility Software

After I got Windows 10 booted up, installing drivers for the Asus Prime Z490-A proved a straightforward and easy process. All of the drivers installed just fine without the need to perform Windows 10 updates first. For some odd reason, though, Asus includes drivers on its support page for this board for a Wi-Fi controller and a Bluetooth device, though this board doesn't come with either of these preinstalled. Don't bother downloading those when you go to set up one of these boards yourself.

Asus Prime Z490-A ArmouryCrate

The Z490-A doesn't come with much in the way of software utilities, but the two that are here are useful. The first is Asus' ArmouryCrate app. It has controls for any RGB LEDs that are connected to the system, and it can be used to check for driver updates.

The other application is a free copy of Daemon Tools Lite. Technically, this software is always free, but the public free version has ads, and the version included with the Prime Z490-A doesn't, so that’s a plus. You will need to get Windows 10 updated before you will be able to install it, but once you do, you'll find Daemon Tools Lite to be a relatively useful application that can virtually mount disc images. It can also rip images from physical discs to store backup copies, and you can pay to upgrade it to burn discs, as well, if you want to.


Verdict: A Solid Z490 Starter for the Mid-Road Shopper

Judging products positioned like the Prime Z490-A can be difficult. After testing the Prime Z490-A and building a system around it, I can't find any complaints to make about the board. Everything works without issue, the BIOS is cleanly laid out and easy to use, and the overall feature set is competitive at its $229.99 price point. The board may look a little bland, with its lack of color, but some sober shoppers, weary of RGB excess, will find the monochrome look to be quite attractive and professional-looking.

Asus Prime Z490-A CPU socket

In spite of all these positive aspects, the board feels just a few strokes short of stardom. Take Asrock's Z490 Phantom Gaming Velocita, which is available for the same price and very competitive with the Prime Z490-A in terms of features. The Velocita has a substantially better thermal solution for the VRM heatsinks. It also has a second Ethernet jack and heat spreaders for both M.2 slots. The Prime Z490-A has advantages of its own, but if I had to choose between the two, I'd tip toward the Asrock. That's not to say that the Asus won't work perfectly fine as the main board in your new Intel LGA1200 PC, but it would be a more tempting solution if it were priced slightly lower.

Sours: https://sea.pcmag.com/motherboards/39396/asus-prime-z490-a
Intel Z490 Motherboard VRM Temp Test, Sub $200 Roundup

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NZXT is a company better known for cases, coolers and power supplies, but the company previously released a Z390 motherboard, and now it’s back with its first on Intel’s latest platform, the N7 Z490. Like the previous generation (N7 Z390), it’s adorned with all-metal covers hiding the PCB and all but the necessary slots, headers and buttons, akin to much-more expensive (even flagship class) motherboards. While the N7 matches NZXT’s cases really well, the black or white versions should fit in well with most build themes and other cases as well. Will NZXT’s offering find a place on our best motherboards list?

With an MSRP of $229.99, the N7 lands in the value-oriented Z490 realm, yet is still well-equipped. NZXT says it worked with ASRock as their vendor for the N7 Z490 to “...ensure we were able to create a motherboard that supports the newest generation of Intel’s CPUs with the proper connectivity and strong BIOS support,” and they have delivered on that front. The N7 includes premium Realtek audio, 2.5 Gb Ethernet, integrated AX200 Wi-Fi, and more. About the only thing it’s missing is integrated RGB lighting -- though it’s hard to see where it would go given the vast majority of the board is covered.

On the performance front, our review sample did well in most tests, and on the MS Office section in particular. It was a bit slower in Handbrake, adhering to Intel’s specifications a bit more closely on these longer-running multi-threaded loads. 3DMark and gaming performance was indistinguishable from the other Z490 models we’ve tested so far. Overclocking was a breeze, with the 10-phase VRM running our Intel Core i9-10900K at 5.2 GHz and memory at DDR4 4000 without issue.

In addition, the N7 Z490 sports dual M.2 sockets, four SATA ports, onboard power/reset buttons, and several 4-pin fan/pump headers. For those who are yearning for RGB lighting, the board includes multiple headers for standard RGB (3/4-pin) as well as two of NZXT’s headers. Below is a complete list of specifications from NZXT. Read on for details!

Specifications - NZXT N7 Z490 

SocketLGA 1200
ChipsetZ490
Form FactorATX
Voltage Regulator10 Phase (8+2) 50A MOSFETs
Video Ports(1) HDMI (v1.4)
USB Ports(1) USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (10 Gbps), (1) USB 3.2 Gen 2, Type-A (10 Gbps), (2) USB 3.2 Gen 1, Type-A (5 Gbps), (2) USB 2.0
Network Jacks(1) 2.5 GbE
Audio Jacks(5) Analog + SPDIF
Legacy Ports/Jacks
Other Ports/JackWi-Fi Antenna
PCIe x16(2) v3.0 (x16, x16/x4)
PCIe x8
PCIe x4
PCIe x1(3) v3.0 (x1)
CrossFire/SLIAMD 2-WayCrossfireX
DIMM slots(4) DDR4 4266+(OC)
M.2 slots(1) PCIe 3.0 x4 / SATA + PCIe (up to 80mm), (1) PCIe 3.0 x4 / PCIe only (up to 80mm)
U.2 Ports
SATA Ports(4) SATA3 6 Gbps
USB Headers(1) USB v3.2 Gen 2 (Type-C), (1) USB 3.2 Gen1, (3) USB v2.0
Fan/Pump Headers(7) 4-Pin (24W/2A ea, PWM/DC supported)
RGB Headers(1) Addressable RGB (3-pin), (1) RGB (4-pin), (2) NZXT RGB
Legacy Interfaces
Other InterfacesFP-Audio
Diagnostics Panel
Internal Button/SwitchPower and Reset
SATA Controllers
Ethernet Controllers(1) Realtek RTL8125BG (2.5 GbE)
Wi-Fi / BluetoothIntel AX200 Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax, MU-MIMO) / BT 5.1
USB Controllers
HD Audio CodecRealtek ALC1220
DDL/DTS Connect✗ / ✗
Warranty4 Years

NZXT’s N7 Z490 comes with a few accessories to get the system up and running, including SATA cables, screws, and more. Below is a list of what is included in the box with the board.

  • User manual
  • Four SATA cables
  • WiFi antenna
  • Two M.2 screws
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Taking a look at the N7 Z490 for the first time, it’s clear the vast majority of the board is covered with metal shrouds, leaving only slots, sockets, and headers exposed. The N7 is available with black or white shrouds, both with a flat matte finish. The covering above the VRM and chipset area are vented to help with cooling.

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NZXT chose to forgo integrated RGB lighting, instead using two proprietary headers for NZXT devices, along with agnostic aRGB (3-pin) and RGB (4-pin) headers. Overall, the board matches well with NZXT’s H Series cases and would be a good fit for most build themes and chassis. If you like shrouds covering the PCB, the N7 has you covered -- literally. 

Focusing on the top half of the board, we get a closer look at all the shrouds that cover it. There is a cover for the IO area, and the two large VRM heatsinks form a clean right angle around the exposed socket area. Just above the VRMs is an 8-pin (required) and 4-pin (optional) EPS connector for sending power to the CPU.

Across the top, just above the VRMs, are the CPU and AIO/PUMP 4-pin headers. In total, the board has seven 4-pin fan headers, each capable of driving PWM and DC controlled fans. Output on all headers is listed at 12W/2A, which should be enough for most pumps and piggybacking a couple of fans on the same header. Fan control is handled through the BIOS or the company’s CAM software.

To the right of the socket area are four DIMM slots that lock the RAM down on one side. The N7 Z490 supports up to 128GB of RAM, with speeds listed to 4266(OC). While that supported speed is a bit lower than most high-end Z490 motherboards, unless you are benchmarking competitively, this shouldn’t be a concern.

Located just above and to the right of the memory slots are two NZXT RGB headers for using NZXT devices, along with two more 4-pin system fan headers. To the right of the RAM is a vertically oriented 24-pin ATX plug, delivering power to the motherboard, and the USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C header.

NZXT lists the N7 Z490 as a 10-phase (8+2) configuration. The EPS connectors send power to a Renesas ISL6269 PWM controller that feeds it to 50A Vishay SiC632A integrated MOSFETs for Vcore and SOC. The VRMs ran warmer than several other motherboards we’ve tested recently, but were well within operating specifications. While the 50A bits are not the most robust we’ve seen, the N7 Z490 handled our Intel Core i9-10900K at stock speeds and while overclocked without issue. 

The bottom half of the board is covered almost entirely, with only the headers across the bottom and the PCIe slots visible around the covers. On the far left is where the Realtek ALC1220 premium audio codec is hidden, along with Nichicon Fine Gold Series audio capacitors. Most users will find this solution sufficient for their needs.

In the middle of the board, popping out between the cover, are five PCIe slots: two full-length slots and three x1. The top full-length slot runs at x16 (CPU sourced) while the second full-length slot runs at a maximum of x4 (chipset sourced). This configuration allows for 2-Way AMD CrossfireX if you’re still into that sort of thing these days. For the x1 slots (chipset sourced), NZXT placed these well, with one above the primary (top) PCIe slot, and below the secondary slot. This configuration allows all three to be used when there is a single video card.

The two M.2 sockets are found hidden under removable covers just above the primary full-length PCIe slot and next to the two x1 slots on the bottom. Both sockets support up to 80mm modules, with the top slot running PCIe 3.0 x4 & SATA modes while the bottom slot is PCIe 3.0 x4 only. Just to the right of the chipset heatsink, again hidden under shrouds, are the four SATA ports (supporting RAID0, 1, 5 and 10) and a USB 3.2 Gen 1 port, all of which are angled horizontally for better cable management.

The bottom edge of the board is completely free of any covering, allowing easy access to all of the headers and buttons. Unlike the EVGA Z490 FTW, all headers are oriented vertically. Here we find audio/fan/USB headers and more. Below is a list of all the headers and buttons ordered from left to right.

  • Front panel audio
  • UART
  • 3-pin ARGB header
  • 4-pin RGB header
  • (3) USB 2.0 headers
  • (3) System fan headers
  • Clear CMOS jumper
  • Power/Reset buttons
  • Front panel header

The rear IO and its integrated IO plate have enough connectivity for most users, but may fall short on the USB side. In total there are six USB portsL two USB 2.0, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports and one each USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C and Type-A ports. Six USB ports are about the minimum most users would like to see, but if you need more, you’ll have to use an add on card to get them or use the front panel. Video output is handled by a single HDMI (v1.4b) port. Additionally, there are antenna mounts, a clear CMOS button, the LAN port, a 5-plug plus SPDIF audio stack, and a PS/2 port for ancient devices. 

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Sours: https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/nzxt-n7-z490

Review z490

TUF H370 Plus GamingTUF H370 Plus Gaming
  • DisplayPort

  • HDMI

  • 2x USB 2.0

  • 4 x USB 3.2 Gen 2
    (3 x Type-A + 1 x USB
    Type-C®)

  • Intel® I225-V 2.5G
    Ethernet

  • 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1

  • 8-ch Audio

  • 2 x PCIe 3.0 x16
       ● 2-Way SLI® & 3-Way
          CrossFireX™ Support
       ● ASUS SafeSlot

  • Crystal Sound 3
       ● Realtek® S1220A Codec
       ● Power Pre-Regulator
       ● De-Pop Circuit
       ● Audio Shielding
       ● Premium Japanese
          Audio Capacitors
       ● Dedicated Audio
          PCB Layers
       ● DTS:X® Ultra

  • 2 x AURA RGB headers

  • 2 x AURA Addressable
    Gen 2 headers

  • ProCool Connector

  • DrMOS

  • Optimem II

  • DDR4 4600(O.C.)/2933/2800/2666/2400/2133 Support

  • Intel® Socket LGA 1200 for 10th Gen Intel® Core™, Pentium® Gold and Celeron® processors

  • USB 3.2 Gen 1 header

  • USB 3.2 Gen 2 TypeC® Connector

  • 6 x SATA 3.0 Ports

  • Intel® Z490 Chipset

  • 2 x M.2 22110 PCIe 3.0 x4 mode
       ● Intel® Optane™ Memory
          Ready
       ● Flexible M.2 Heatsink

  • Thunderbolt header

  • USB 2.0 headers

Prime

ASUS Prime series is expertly engineered to unleash the full potential of 10th Gen Intel® Core™ processors. Boasting a robust power design, comprehensive cooling solutions and intelligent tuning options, Prime Z490 series motherboards provide daily users and DIY PC builders a range of performance tuning options via intuitive software and firmware features.

Power at Your Command

Tune It Your Way

Comprehensive controls form the foundation of the ASUS Prime series. The Prime Z490 motherboard packs flexible tools to tune every aspect of your system, enabling you to tweak performance settings to perfectly match the way you work – maximizing your productivity.

5-Way Optimization

ASUS 5-Way Optimization makes your PC smart, taking care of complex tuning with just one click. It dynamically optimizes essential aspects of your system, providing overclocking and cooling profiles that are tailored for your rig.

  • 5-Way Optimization is an automated tuning utility that optimizes overclocking and cooling profiles for your unique system configuration.
  • Fans stay whisper-quiet for everyday computing, and deliver optimal airflow when the system is crunching through CPU- or GPU-intensive tasks.
  • A stress test feature allows you to optimize and overclock for CPU- or memory-centric workloads.

CPU Performance Boost

The TurboV Processing Unit (TPU) is an intelligent system-tuning utility that automatically fine-tunes voltages, monitors system stats, and adjusts overclocking parameters for optimal performance.

All-Around Energy Efficiency

The Energy Processing Unit (EPU) automatically optimizes power consumption and maximizes energy savings with Away mode — a smart setting that creates an extreme energy-saving scenario by shutting down unused I/O controllers.

Flexible Air- and Liquid-Cooling Controls

Fan Xpert 4 software provides comprehensive control over fans, water pumps and all-in-one (AiO) coolers. Whether cooling with air or water, an Auto-Tuning mode intelligently configures all parameters with a single click. There’s also an Extreme Quiet mode that reduces all fan speeds to below the default minimum to keep your system whisper-quiet when performing light tasks. Fans, water pumps and AiO coolers can also be controlled via the UEFI BIOS.

Precise Digital Power Control

The Digi+ voltage-regulator module (VRM) delivers real-time control over voltage droop, automatically switching frequency and power-efficiency settings. It also allows you to fine-tune your CPU for ultimate stability and performance.

App-Specific Optimization

Turbo App allows you to define CPU overclocking, apply fan profiles, prioritize network data and optimize audio settings at the app level, so your system is set up exactly as needed.

ASUS AI Overclocking

ASUS AI Overclocking is an intelligent utility that helps you get the most out of your build by automatically profiling your CPU and cooling system to predict optimal voltage and frequency settings.

Accessible via the AI Suite software in Windows or directly through the UEFI, the intuitive AI Overclocking user interface enables users of all levels. A range of customizable settings are available for seasoned overclockers, and an auto-tuning option is available for beginners.

AI Overclocking at a Glance

Designed by Experts

At the heart of AI Overclocking is a proprietary algorithm developed by ROG R&D engineers who worked with world-renowned overclockers to create a tool for users of all levels.

Predictive Edge

The algorithm analyzes your CPU and cooling system, and based on what it finds, predicts optimal settings. The software then uses these settings to automatically guide the clocking process, balancing frequency and voltage.

Real-time Adjustments

The software monitors workload, system temperature, fan speed and power draw every minute and it makes real-time adjustments to ensure ongoing optimal performance.

Load, save and reboot

Go to BIOS by pressing the Delete key during system boot-up.
Press F5 to load the UEFI defaults, then press F10 to save and reboot. Boot into operating system.

Run a stress test

A stress test assesses system performance in order to estimate system potential as well as voltage needs for overclocking. To run a test, choose from any of these benchmarks
Blender / Prime95 / Aida64/ ROG real Bench
Alternatively, you can run the test by using Intel® Extreme Tuning Utility.

Apply AI OC

Return to BIOS.
Navigate to the AI Tweaker section and set CPU Core Ratio to AI Optimized.
Hit F10 to save and reboot.

Turn on your PC and put on a load on the processor to get a baseline reading of your CPU, cooling system capabilities.

AI Overclocking Guide

The AI Overclocking Guide provides detailed information and instructions about how to tune your system manually. It can be accessed by hitting the F11 hotkey.

Core Group Loading

For high-core count processors like the Z490, AI Overclocking lists data according to core group. This gives you adaptive control based on the status of core groups (3 / 5 / 8 / all cores), and it provides target frequency and voltage estimations needed for manual tuning.

AI Overclocking in AI Suite

Onboard intelligence lets you automated overclocking with full, flexible control available via 5-Way Optimization within AI Suite (in Windows).

AI Cooling

ASUS AI Cooling function will automatically manage and control motherboard-connected fans to ensure optimal settings based on current system load and temperature.

Self-Adaptive Fan Tuning

CPU Temperature Detection

AI Cooling detects CPU temperatures and uses a proprietary algorithm to calculate the lowest fan speed required to effectively cool the system and keep fan noise down.

Automated Optimization

Under stable system loads, the software then automatically lowers fan* speed to the optimal setting, decreasing fan noise without compromising performance. *Fans need to be connected to the following headers for AI Cooling control: CPU_FAN / CPU_OPT / CHA_FAN / M.2_FAN / H_AMP / RAD_FAN

Ongoing Monitoring

AI Cooling continues to monitor the system and adjust fan speed based on current load.

One-click Activation

AI Cooling can easily be activated via the Fan Xpert 4 dashboard in ASUS AI Suite 3. Once activated, it will override all manual controls.

Fan Speed References

For those who prefer manual control, AI Cooling provides reference points on a graph that details fan speed in relation to temperature, providing a guide for fan settings.

UEFI BIOS

The renowned ASUS UEFI BIOS provides everything you need to configure, tweak and tune your system. It offers intelligently simplified options for PC DIY beginners, as well as comprehensive features for seasoned veterans.

Advanced Tuning for Serious Tweakers

An intuitive Advanced mode offered via the UEFI lets you take complete control. A built-in search feature makes it easy to find options, and various Advanced functions let you intelligently make nuanced adjustments so you can dial in performance just the way you want.

Prediction
AI Overclocking monitors system vitals such as temperature, fan speed, and power draw to estimate overclocking performance.

AI Overclocking Guide
Refer to the guide offered in the UEFI BIOS for step-by-step instructions detailing how to use AI Overclocking.

Search Function
Quickly and easily find the option or setting you need.

ASUS User Profile
Port configuration settings between different BIOS versions or share them with friends.

FlexKey
Remap the reset button on the chassis to toggle Aura lighting, activate the DirectKey to go straight to the UEFI BIOS, or reset the system.

Quick and Simple Setup

EZ mode displays vital settings and stats and also offers guided wizards, drag-and-drop functionality, and one-click application of important settings — all to help you get your rig up and running in no time.

AI Overclocking
Enable AI Overclocking via a shortcut.

Intuitive Graphical Fan Control
Fine-tune individual fan settings simply by dragging a curve with the mouse.

EZ XMP
Improve DRAM performance with one click.

Aura On/Off mode (Stealth)
Easily enable or disable Aura RGB lighting or every onboard LED, for a subdued aesthetic touch.

Back to Tune It Your Way

Cool to the Core

Prime Z490 series is engineered with multiple onboard heatsinks and an array of hybrid fan headers to ensure your rig stays cool and stable under intense workloads.

M.2 Heatsink

An M.2 drive sits under a passive heatsink to ward off the throttling that can occur with sustained transfers. The heatsink is held in place by easily-removable captive screws, giving you the flexibility to move it to another M.2 slot.

Removable captive screws reduce risk of drops or loss during heatsink removal.

VRM Heatsink and Thermal Pads

Two massive VRM heatsinks with underneath thermal pads improve heat transfer from the MOSFETs and chokes for better cooling performance. A bundled fan holder provides additional cooling options.

Stack Cool 3+

2-ounce copper layers draw heat away from critical components to keep them at their optimal operating temperatures.

Back to Cool to the Core

Cooler by Design

Prime Z490 series features comprehensive cooling controls that are configurable via Fan Xpert 4 software or via the UEFI BIOS.

  • Multiple Temperature Sources
  • Dual Pump Headers
  • Smart Protection
  • 4-Pin PWM/DC Fan
  • Each header can dynamically reference three thermal sensors. Fan Xpert 4 allows you to map the temperature of supported ASUS graphics cards to optimize cooling for GPU- and CPU-intensive tasks.

  • A dedicated header supplies over 3 amps for high-performance PWM or DC water pumps, plus a second dedicated header for AiOs.

  • A dedicated integrated circuit protects each fan header from overheating and overcurrent.

  • Each onboard header supports auto-detection of PWM or DC fans.

Back to Cool to the Core

Build on a Solid Foundation

Prime Z490 series is built to handle the additional cores and increased bandwidth of 10th Generation Intel® Core™ processors. A Z490 motherboard provides all the fundamentals to boost daily productivity, so your system will be ready for action with stable power, intuitive cooling and flexible transfer options.

Robust Power Design

Stable power is essential to extract every last bit of performance out of 10th Generation Intel Core processors, Prime Z490 motherboard is geared to cater to the demands of these high-core count CPUs.

ProCool Connectors

Proprietary connectors augment the motherboard's link to the PSU with 8+4 pin connectors that pass 12 volts of power directly to the processors. Each jack features solid pins that can handle more current than hollow-pin connectors.

12+2 DrMOS Power Stages

A VRM with 12+2 DrMOS power stages delivers the power and efficiency that the latest Intel processors demand.

Back to Build on a Solid Foundation

ASUS OptiMem II

Revisions to the motherboard’s trace routing provide the latest Intel processors with unrestricted access to memory bandwidth. ASUS OptiMem II technology carefully maps memory signal pathways across different PCB layers to reduce vias and adds shielding zones that significantly reduce crosstalk.

Top layer – ground ring to prevent lateral interference

ASUS OptiMem II benefits:

  • Improved memory stability and compatibility
  • Allows lower memory latencies at equivalent voltages
  • Improved memory frequency margin

Motherboards with OptiMem II technology were tested with Synopsys HSPICE simulation software

Back to Build on a Solid Foundation

Dual M.2 (up to 32 Gbps)

Dual M.2 slots support data-transfer speeds of up to 32 Gbps via x4 PCI Express® 3.0 bandwidth, enabling quicker boot-up and app load times with OS or application drives.

* Actual transmission speeds will be lower than the theoretical maximum speed.

Back to Build on a Solid Foundation

USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A & Type-C

Numerous USB ports support high-end rigs loaded with peripherals, including a front-panel USB Type-C® connectors with fast USB 3.2 Gen 2 connectivity for compatible cases.

Back to Build on a Solid Foundation

Thunderbolt™ 3 Support

Prime Z490-A supports ThunderboltEX 3-TR, an Intel certified Thunderbolt™ 3 add-on card that enables bi-directional speeds of up to 40 Gbps via a single cable. Additionally, an integrated Thunderbolt 3 header can support up to six devices in a daisy-chain and provide up to 100 watts of power to fast-charge devices.

Back to Build on a Solid Foundation

Aquantia AQC-111C 5G Ethernet

Accelerated, built-in networking

Prime X299-A II has 5Gbps Ethernet onboard to deliver up to 5X the bandwidth of standard gigabit Ethernet. You'll enjoy streaming uncompressed 4K UHD videos without stutter, and backups and file transfers that are faster than ever before. There's also support for intermediate connections, so it's easy to choose your ideal bandwidth and benefit from ultra-low latency at any speed up to 5Gbps.

* Actual speed varies, and depends on networking conditions.

LANGuard

ASUS LANGuard is a hardware-level network protection feature that integrates advanced signal-coupling technology and premium anti-EMI surface-mounted capacitors to improve throughput and ensure a more reliable connection.

Turbo LAN

Turbo LAN with cFosSpeed traffic-shaping technology reduces network lag and allows you to adjust application network transmission priorities in just one click.

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Little Things Make a Big Difference

Prime Z490 series adds the nuanced details that improve every experience, from exclusive codecs that provide pristine audio quality to intuitive RGB lighting controls that let you customize your system to create a uniquely personal look.

SafeSlot

Protect Your Graphics Card

SafeSlot is the PCIe slot reinvented by ASUS and engineered to provide superior retention and shearing resistance. Manufactured in a single step using a new insert-molding process, SafeSlot integrates fortifying metal for an inherently stronger slot, which is then firmly anchored to the PCB through additional solder points.

FlexKey

The Chassis Reset Button – Reassigned

FlexKey is a front-panel header that lets you customize the reset button on the front-panel of your chassis to provide quick access to Aura lighting controls, DirectKey or system reset.

BIOS FlashBack™

Update Your BIOS Without CPU and DRAM

BIOS FlashBack is the simplest and safest (UEFI) BIOS update method. Simply drop the (UEFI) BIOS file onto a FAT32-formatted USB stick, plug it into the USB BIOS FlashBack port and press the button. Updates can even be performed without having memory or a CPU installed.

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Realtek Codec and Unique Design Features for Pristine, Powerful Audio

Prime Z490-A utilizes a unique audio codec designed in close collaboration with Realtek — the Realtek S1220A. It also features an unprecedented 120 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the stereo line out and a 113 dB SNR for the line in, providing pristine audio quality. Additionally, an impedance-sensing circuit automatically adjusts gain to ensure an optimal volume range for your headphones.

DTS:X® Ultra adds a spatial audio feature to boost headphones and speakers for enhanced gaming, VR, and extended-reality experiences. DTS:X Ultra supports sound based on channels, scenes, and objects to allow for deeper sonic immersion in enabled content. It also provides post-processing enhancements and device-level tuning for DTS® codecs.


Flawless Audio that Immerses You in the Game

Power Pre-Regulator

Reduces power-input noise to ensure consistent performance.

Audio Shielding

Separates analog/digital signal domains, significantly reducing multi-lateral interference.

Separate Layer for Left and Right Tracks

Ensures minimal crosstalk between audio paths.

Integrated Amplifier

Capable of driving high-impedance headphones, without rolling-off high or low frequencies.

De-Pop Circuit

Reduces start-up popping noise to all audio outputs.

Premium Japanese Capacitors

Premium parts provide an immersive sound signature, with exceptional fidelity.

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Aura Sync

Outshine the Competition

A well-tuned enthusiast system deserves a matching aesthetic. ASUS Aura offers full RGB lighting control with a variety of functional presets for the built-in RGB LEDs as well as strips and devices connected to the onboard RGB headers - and it can all be synced with an ever-growing portfolio of Aura-capable hardware.

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Addressable Gen 2 RGB Header

Two addressable Gen 2 RGB headers are now capable of detecting the number of LEDs on second-gen addressable RGB devices, allowing the software to automatically tailor lighting effects to specific devices. The new headers also offer backward-compatibility with existing Aura RGB gear.

Armoury Crate

Armoury Crate is a new software utility designed to give you centralized control of supported products. From a single intuitive interface, Armoury Crate allows you to easily customize RGB lighting and effects for every compatible device in your arsenal. The software also provides control of settings for an ever-growing number of ASUS products, including keyboard and mouse preferences. Armoury Crate even features dedicated product registration and highlight to help you stay in touch with the ASUS community.


  • Aura Sync

  • Driver & Manual Download

  • Account Management

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Sours: https://www.asus.com/Motherboards-Components/Motherboards/PRIME/PRIME-Z490-A/
Best Intel Z490 Motherboards from $150 to $750: i5-10600K, i7-10700K, i9-10900K

Z490

As we get closer to the launch of Intel's Alder Lake, built on the Intel 7 process node, users looking to upgrade or build a new system might elect to wait another couple of months. While playing the waiting game can be frustrating, it will depend on how much stock Intel puts to the market, and if you're in the queue at the right time. Alternatively, Intel does have its Rocket Lake (11th gen) or Comet Lake (10th gen) processors available to purchase today. This includes many different LGA1200 motherboard options to select from across many different price points, chipsets, with many different levels of features on offer. We've make our picks for September 2021 for Intel-based options in our latest Intel motherboard buyers guide.

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TWEETS

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Sours: https://www.anandtech.com/tag/z490

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