Which Z490 Motherboard Should You Get? Here’s a Guide from MSI


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The release of Intel’s 10th generation processors ushered the era of Z490 motherboards. These offer improvements over its predecessors which include more powerful CPU power delivery, higher memory frequency support, and high-speed connectivity, among others.

Our friends at MSI have put together a guide for the premium, gamer, and budget gamer builders in choosing which MSI Z490 motherboard to get.

Premium motherboard

For a premium builder, it’s more about getting the best.

The Intel Core i9-10900K has 10 cores and 20 threads which means it does require a powerful VRM (Voltage Regulator Module). For high-end Z490 motherboards, VRM phases range from 14 phases to 16 phases and the MOSFET rating current is 50A to 90A.

Three of MSI’s MEG series motherboards clocks in at 16-phases and 90A MOSFET offering more flexibility. MSI also offers active cooling solution for all MEG series which keeps the VRM temperature lower.

In the premium segment, memory support goes from DDR4-4666 to DDR4-5000. DDR4-5000 is clearly the best option.


10GbE LAN port and the IO of the MSI MEG Z490 Godlike

Z490 motherboards are equipped with at least 2.5GbE LAN and Wi-Fi 6 connections. Some are even equipped with 10GbE +2.5GbE dual LAN in addition to Wi-Fi 6.

In the I/O department, Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.2 GEN 2×2 (20Gbps) can be found on some motherboards. MSI is among those that offer onboard Thunderbolt 3 for its flagship or mini-ITX models.

MSI offers USB 20 Gbps even on its mainstream MPG and MAG products and claim to be PCIe Gen 4 ready for all its Z490 models.

If you have no budget limit, MSI Z490 GODLIKE is MSI’s top of the line. If you don’t want to spend USD 700 (around PHP 34,930) on a motherboard, choose the MSI Z490 ACE or Unify.

Flagship – MSI MEG Z490 GODLIKEmsi-z490-meg-z490-godlike

  • Overkill power delivery
  • Incredible memory performance at DDR4-5000+
  • Great connectivity – 10GbE+2.5GbE dual LAN, WiFi 6 & dual Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • PCIe Gen 4 ready for future upgrades
  • Active thermal solution

MSI MEG Z490 ACE/Unifymsi-z490-meg-z490-ace-unify-1

  • Overkill power delivery
  • Good connectivity – 2.5GbE LAN, WiFi 6 & USB 20Gbps
  • PCIe Gen 4 ready for future upgrades
  • Active thermal solution


Mainstream gaming system

From premium, we move to the mainstream gaming system. This is around the USD 200-300 (around PHP 10,000 – 15,000) mark. These are still impressive but, clearly, not as a maxed out as the premium level.

The power delivery at this price point is enough for a Core i7 and even a Core i9. You won’t get Wi-Fi 6, well except with the MSI Z490 Gaming Carbon WIFI and Gaming Edge WIFI. In addition, networking goes down to 2.5 and even 1GbE.


The IO of the MSI MEG Z490 Ace

Likewise, you won’t get a Thunderbolt 3 Port, but MSI still provides the USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (20Gbps) for the Z490 Gaming Carbon WIFI, Gaming Edge WIFI, and Tomahawk. The MAG Z490 Tomahawk is priced at less than USD 200 but still able to compete at this level.

The 3200Mhz/3600Mhz memory kit is still a good balance here for its performance and price. You can push the limit and overclock, which is why getting a board with DDR4-48000 support may help you here.

In this segment, there are more options. For the overclockers, you’ll want better power delivery. If you don’t overclock much, then better connectivity will be the better choice.

If you haven’t guessed, the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon WIFI and MSI MAG Tomahawk are what MSI suggests. Gaming Carbon WIFI has better power delivery and Wi-Fi 6 while the MAG Tomahawk comes at a cheaper price but still able to offer a front Type C header and USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (20Gbps)

MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon WIFImsi-z490-mpg-gaming-carbon-wifi

  • Powerful VRM – 12 phases for CPU core with 60A MOSFET
  • All-round connectivity – 2.5GbE LAN, Wi-Fi 6, USB 3.2 GEN 2×2 (20Gbs), front Type C
  • DDR4-4800 memory support
  • M.2 Shield Frozr for both slots

MSI MAG Tomahawkmsi-z490-mag-z490-tomahawk

  • Good connectivity – 2.5GbE/GbE dual, USB 3.2 GEN 2×2 (20Gbs) & front Type C
  • Sub-200 price with abundant features
  • DDR4-4800 memory support
  • M.2 Shield Frozr for both slots


Budget gaming system

The budget gaming segment is where the price and feature ratio is most important.

One perk with the MSI motherboards is that even the budget gaming motherboards, you still get a 2.5GbE LAN port.

As far as power delivery goes, MSI offers 12 phases for its budget motherboards as well as 6-layer PCB.

In addition, you’re able to get pre-installed I/O shield on the Z490 Gaming Plus and Z490M Gaming Edge WIFI.

MSI suggests three models at this segment, the Z490 Gaming Plus, Z490M Gaming Edge WIFI, and the Z490-A. They’ve put the Gaming Plus on top of that list.

MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Plusmsi-z490-mpg-z490-gaming-plus

  • 2.5GbE LAN & front Type C connection
  • Pre-installed I/O shield
  • Extended heat sink
  • M.2 Shield Frozr


Ram found his love and appreciation for writing in 2015 having started in the gaming and esports sphere for GG Network. He would then transition to focus more on the world of tech which has also began his journey into learning more about this world. That said though, he still has the mentality of "as long as it works" for his personal gadgets.

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