ASRock, ASUS And Gigabyte Tease Z490 Motherboards
Yes Virigina, There Is PCIe 4.0 Support
To lead with the biggest news and to answer the question posed by the extra pins, Z490 does bring PCIe 4.0 to the Intel platform thanks to the inclusion of additional clock generators. That said you will still need a processor that supports the new PCIe specification, which Intel does not yet offer, however that shouldn’t stop you from considering a new motherboard as this chipset breaks the mould and will support at least two different generations of processors.
The other big change incorporated into this chipset is improved VRMs and VRM cooling design as the new generation of chips are a bit more power hungry than previous generations. This does not just reference the 125W TDP of the high end i9 processors; the fact that the entire line of Core processors from i3 through i9 offer multi-threading even the lower end parts will appreciate the improved power delivery. The memory system is somewhat familiar, quad-channel DDR4-4666 support at the high end, DDR4-2666 on the lower end before overclocking; many boards offer memory overclocking higher than that.
Looking at the specific models, you can see the Gigabyte Z490 Aorus Master that Kitguru took a look at. Combined with the 16 PCIe channels from the processor you get a total of 40 PCIe 3.0 lanes to apportion between your peripherals. These include a trio of M.2 ports, five USB 3.2 Gen 2 and four USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports as well as the built in Intel 2.5 Gb NIC and Intel 2×2 WiFi 6. They also take a look at the Gigabyte Z490 Aorus Xtreme WaterForce, an E-ATX motherboard which adds a pair of USB 3.2 Gen 2 Thunderbolt ports in addition to matching the Aorus Master’s other USB offerings. It also adds a Aquantia 10Gb NIC in addition to the 2.5 Gb and WiFi 6 NICs and as you can see in the picture below they have incorporated watercooling right into the chipset.
They take a look at several other boards, including the MSI MEG Z490 Ace, ASUS’s ROG Maximus XII Hero (Wi-Fi), the MSI MEG Z490 Godlike and several more which you can see here.
If you want to know more about the various options ASUS will be offering you should check out Hardware Asylum as they have provided the full list. At launch you will be able to chose from the ROG Maximus XII HERO (Wi-Fi), ROG STRIX Z490 E-Gaming, TUF GAMING Z490 PLUS (Wi-Fi), PRIME Z490-A, PRIME Z490-P and ProArt Z490 Creator 10G. If you wait a bit your choices become greater as they will add the ROG Maximus XII FORMULA, EXTREME and APEX, the ROG STRIX line will include the Z490-H Gaming, ROG STRIX Z490-G Gaming, ROG STRIX Z490-G Gaming (WiFi), ROG STRIX Z490-A Gaming, ROG STRIX Z490-I Gaming and ROG STRIX Z490-F Gaming. They will wrap up their offerings with the TUF GAMING Z490-PLUS and PRIME Z490M-PLUS.
They dive deeper into five models, including the ProArt Z490 Creator 10G which supports up to three GPUs, making it the best choice from ASUS for content creators, though there are still a few gamers that like multiple GPUs at hand. It also sports a discrete 10Gb NIC so you can effectively work from remote storage assuming you can get your hands on a internet connection with the bandwidth to match this cards speed.
Next on our journey through these new Comet Lake motherboards, which will support the upcoming Rocket Lake as well, is a close look at ASRock’s Z490 PG Velocita by TechPowerUp. The design follows the Phantom Gaming line with a total of two PCIe 3.0 x16 slots and three PCIe 3.0 x1 slots along with a pair of M.2 ports, a single USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port, a single 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port as well as four USB 3.2 Gen1 ports. The memory subsystem can support up to 128GBs of quad channel DDR4-4666, all located to the right of the CPU socket.
As with the other Z490 boards, the Velocita has 12 power phases, 10+(1×2), and to mitigate any thermal issues caused by delivering up to 50A of continuous current there are a total of three fans on the motherboard actively cooling your VRMs. It also incorporates Intel’s 1Gigabit NIC as well as a Realtek RTL8125AG 2.5G NIC. Realtek also provides the Nahamic audio with their ALC1220 codec.
No results yet folks, but be patient as they are coming up soon and we can see how Intel’s new chips measure up against the current generation of Ryzen chips, both in overall performance as well as the very important performance per dollar measure.
So what is Z490 offering right now? For starters, there has been a large focus on VRM and VRM cooling design. With the top-level Intel i9 10900K featuring 10 cores along with HyperThreading, the ability to deliver clean, continuous power is going to be one of the primary factors that separates a good Z490 board from the competition. With the introduction of HyperThreading on Intel's mid-range line-up, power delivery is going to be vital in all segments.