MSI Z490 Motherboards, The New Pure Black Line
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MSI has announced two new members of their popular MEG series, using the new Z490 chipset from Intel, the MEG Z490 UNIFY and MEG Z490I UNIFY. As the names imply, the two boards are very similar, with an ATX version as well as a Mini-ITX version for those that like compact systems and neither have any RGBs as there are still those out there that prefer to go without.
The larger of the two Pure Black MEG boards features three PCIe 3.0x 16 slots, two from the CPU and one from the PCH, which also offers two PCIe x1 slots. This layout also allows you to have three M.2 ports which can accommodate M.2 2242 through to M.2 22110 as well as a half dozen SATA 6Gb/s ports. The USB connectivity is quite impressive, with one USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 20Gbps Type-C, four USB 3.2 Gen 2 10Gbps ports, another four USB 3.2 Gen 1 5Gbps ports and finally a half dozen USB 2.0 ports. You should definitely keep an eye on which device plugs into which port!
For network connectivity you can wire in with a Realtek 8125B 2.5G LAN controller or go wireless with the Intel AX201 WiFi 6 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax MU-MINO WiFi adapter and Bluetooth 5.1; both are provided via an M.2 module so keep that in mind when planning your storage solutions. The two boards share the same power delivery design, 16+1 phases with exclusive Mirrored Power Arrangement which ensures identical power delivery in each doubled phase. The INTERSIL digital PWMs can provide 90A and have dual CPU power connectors to ensure stability.
The cooling system incorporates a Frozr heatsink with active cooling including a VRM heat-pipe, and M.2 Shield Frozrs for your NVMe storage. They have also exhaustively tested memory compatibility so your 128GB of DDR4-4800 should run beautifully.
As for the smaller Mini-ITX MEG Z490i, it offers you both more and less simultaneously. Due to the size limitations, RAM is reduced to two slots from four and USB connectivity is trimmed down to a pair of USB 3.2 Gen2 10Gbps ports, four USB 3.2 Gen1 5Gbps ports [2 Type-A ports on the back panel, 2 USB 3.2 Gen1 5Gbps and four USB 2.0 ports. However it does have an Intel JHL7540 Thunderbolt 3 Controller attached to a USB 3.2 Gen2 10Gbps Type-C port on the back panel; which you might not actually want thanks to the news about Thunderspy.
Network connectivity remains the same, with a Realtek RTL8125B 2.5Gbps LAN controller and Intel’s AX201 WiFi 6 chip on an M.2 port. In this case that is half of your available M.2 ports as the Mini-ITX only has two 2280’s. As well, the INTERSIL digital PWM differs slightly, with 8 direct phases delivering 90A and with MSI’s Titanium Choke II. These are still cooled with the same MSI Frozr as the larger model.
Last, but not least, both of these boards are PCIe 4.0 ready, they just need an infusion of Tiger blood Lake to enable it.
NOBODY ASKED YOU, DEREK.