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These days each chipset can be found on a ton of different motherboards. The Z490 chipset isn’t any different from the bunch. It powers dozens of different motherboards spanning every price point. The only thing they all share in common is the support for the Intel LGA 1200 socket, along with the usual selection of connection and expansion ports. Everything else varies greatly from board to board.
Because of this, finding the best Z490 motherboard can be a bit frustrating. With so many models out there, getting a dud or a model that doesn’t do it for you can be relatively easy. So, before you go out and buy a new board explore this list and find the board that fulfills your requirements. We included boards from every price range along with the best mATX and Mini-ITX Z490 picks. Check them out below.
You don’t need an expensive board in case you’ve got yourself the Core i5-10600K. This particular CPU is great for gaming, and the 6-core/12-thread design keeps the CPU cooler and less power-hungry than its larger cousins, the 10700K, and the 10900K.
So, if you don’t require a bunch of connectivity options and if you don’t plan on upgrading to a more powerful CPU down the line, the best Z490 motherboard for you is the MSI Z490-A Pro. This model comes with a quality, 8+4 phase VRM and is capable of running a fully overclocked 10600K (up to 5.0 GHz) without issues. The board supports memory up to 5000 MT/s DDR4.
When it comes to storage options, you have six SATA III ports along with two M.2 slots, one of which includes a heatsink. There are two PCIe x16 slots and CrossFire support. We wouldn’t run two GPUs since the second PCIe x16 slot runs at x4 speed. The board also features three PCIe x1 slots, which is more than enough for most users. The audio section is basic, with the Realtek ALC892 Codec behind the helm.
Price cuts are also visible on the rear panel, which includes just two USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, one of which is USB-C, and two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports. The board includes two USB 2.0 ports, a PS/2 port, one 2.5Gb LAN connector, one DisplayPort, and one HDMI, along with audio ports. The design combines dark grey and black coloring of the board with black elements, creating an industrial look that perfectly suits the board.
SI MAG Z490 Tomahawk: Best value Z490 board for 10900K
Overclocking the 10900K requires at least a mid-range board since the flagship Intel CPU is a power-hungry beast that runs pretty hot when going over stock clocks. It also requires a powerful VRM and a high-end cooler. If you’re looking for an adequate 10900K cooler, we recommend reading our list of the best CPU coolers for i9-10900K.
Anyway, back to the best Z490 motherboards. There’s a ton of quality mid-range Z490 boards sitting just above budget models. Each of them is capable of running an overclocked 10900K, with a wide range of extra features depending on the particular model.
The best mid-range board for the 10900K is the MSI Z490 Tomahawk. This is a great mid-range option. The 12+2 power design is enough for a moderate overclock. Support for 5000 MT/s DDR4 memory is overkill, but hey, it’s better to go overkill than to under-deliver.
This is another board that features two PCIe x16 where the second slot runs at just x4 speed. The two PCIe x1 slots complete the expansion slot offering on the Z490 Tomahawk. As for the storage, you get six SATA III ports and two M.2 slots, both of which come with thermal shields.
The audio section runs via the Realtek ALC1200 codec. The rear panel hosts two USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports (one of which is USB-C), four USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, and two USB 2.0 ports. There’s also one HDMI and one DisplayPort, a PS/2 port, dual LAN ports (1Gb+2.5Gb), and a selection of audio ports. As for the design, it’s mostly black with a few white details and a bit of RGB LEDs found around the chipset.
ASRock Z490 Taichi: Best mid-range Z490 motherboard
The upper mid-range market includes lots of quality boards. They are great for overclocking, contain more connectivity and storage options, have high-end VRMs along with hi-def audio support and bigger heatsinks. The best mid-range Z490 model of the bunch is the ASRock Z490 Taichi.
The board includes a massive armor that covers most of the lower half of the PCB while the heatsink and I/O shroud dominate the upper half. There are also lots of RGB effects all over the board. When it comes to actual specs, you get a 15-phase VRM which should be enough for pushing the 10900K to its limit. The memory support goes up to 4666 MT/s. The storage options include eight SATA III ports and three M.2 slots.
There are three PCIe x16 slots in total, one working at x16, one at x8, and one at x4. There are also two PCIe x1 slots. The board comes with full SLI and Crossfire support. When it comes to the audio section, it’s pretty good with the Realtek ALC1220 codec at the helm, coupled with the ESS SABRE9218 DAC.
The rear panel includes an HMDI and DisplayPort ports, three USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports (one of which is USB-C), five USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, two LAN ports (2.5Gb + 1Gb) and a selection of audio ports. When it comes to the OC-friendly features, you get the BIOS flashback button on the rear panel, POST code, and power and reset buttons installed on the PCB. The ASRock Z490 Taichi also comes with wireless connectivity options that include Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1.
ASUS ROG Maximus XII Extreme: Best high-end Z490 motherboard
The high-end Z490 market is dominated by the three models from ASUS, MSI, and Gigabyte. Out of the three, the best high-end motherboard is the ASUS ROG Maximus XII Extreme. This is one thick board. The chipset and M.2 shroud lay over the better part of the bottom while the I/O shroud and two massive heatsinks cover most of the upper part of the board.
The VRM includes 16 power stages, which is enough for extreme overclocking. The board supports DDR4 memory up to two 4800 MT/s, and it comes with eight SATA III and three M.2 slots. You get three PCIe x16 slots (one of which runs at x8 with the third working in x4 mode) and support for both SLI and Crossfire.
Connectivity options include both 10Gb LAN and Wi-Fi 6 wireless card that also supports Bluetooth 5.1. The audio section includes the Realtek S1220 audio codec that’s coupled with the ESS ES9023 DAC and RC4580 OP-AMP, providing a high-end audio solution. The rear I/O port is quite rich.
You have 12 USB ports in total (two USB 2.0, six USB 3.2 gen1, four USB 3.2 gen2), two of which are USB-C. There’s also the dual LAN port, the usual selection of audio ports, and the clear CMOS and BIOS flashback buttons. On the flip-side, the board doesn’t have any Thunderbolt 3 port, which is a huge omission on a mobo this expensive.
The Maximus XII Extreme also includes stuff like debug LEDs, POST code, power and reset buttons on the PCB, and more. The design includes a bit too much RGB. But hey, that’s the usual business when it comes to high-end gaming boards. On the other hand, we really like the OLED screen found on the board that can show all kinds of info about the system.
ASUS ROG Strix Z490-G Gaming WiFi: Best micro-ATX Z490 motherboard
The Z490 mATX market is rather poor since mATX form factor is the middle child of the motherboard form factor family. Luckily, we’ve found an excellent Z490 micro-ATX model. The best micro-ATX Z490 board is the ASUS ROG Strix Z490-G Gaming WiFi. The VRM features a 12+2 phase design which should be enough even for an OCed 10900K.
The board supports DDR4 memory up to 4800Mhz and comes with six SATA III and two M.2 slots. You have two PCIe x16 slots, but the second one works at just x4 speed. There’s also one PCIe x1 slot.
The connection options include a 2.5Gb LAN, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.1. The rear I/O hosts two USB 3.2 gen2 (one of which is USB-C), four USB 3.2 gen1 ports, and two USB 2.0 ports. You also have one HDMI and one DisplayPort output, a BIOS flashback button, and a selection of audio ports.
The only other OC-friendly function is debug LED array on the right edge of the board. Design-wise the board looks in line with other ROG Strix models. It features lots of RGB and an all-black PCB that looks rather cool.
MSI MEG Z490I Unify: Best Mini-ITX Z490 motherboard
Last but not least, we have an excellent Mini-ITX Z490 motherboard for fans of SFF builds. The MSI MEG Z490I Unify is a high-end ITX choice and the best Z490 board with the ITX form factor. Now, if you’re looking to complete your ITX build we recommend checking out our best Mini-ITX case guide.
The motherboard features 8-phase VRM, two M.2 slots, and four SATA III ports. You also get just one PCIe x16 slot, but that’s the standard on Mini-ITX motherboards.
Next, the Z490I Unify comes with support for up to 5000 MT/s DDR4 memory. As for the connectivity options, you have Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 capable wireless chips along with 2.5Gb LAN ports.
The audio section is based on the Realtek ALC1220 audio codec. The rear panel includes one USB 3.2 gen2 port, two USB 3.2 gen1 ports, and two USB 2.0 ports. You also get one Thunderbolt 3 port. The I/O panel also hosts one DisplayPort and one HDMI along with the usual selection of audio ports and the clear CMOS button.
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