Intel Z590 Motherboard and Chipset Overview: 45 Rocket Lake Boards Detailed

Intel Z590 Motherboard
(Image credit: Intel)

In conjunction with Intel’s Rocket Lake CPU announcements, board partners pulled back the curtain on several new Z590-based motherboards to go along with the upcoming chip. The new motherboards promise native PCIe 4.0 support (with Rocket Lake CPUs), USB 3.2 Gen2x2 support from the chipset and upgraded power delivery. Best of all, we’ll get to see some new board designs. All of the major board partners have released a slate of options based on the new chipset -- many of which we’ll eventually review -- and a select few may even make it to our best motherboards page. 

On the CPU front, the Rocket Lake CPUs took a step backward on core count at the top end, with the flagship  Core i9-11900K set at 8-core/16-threads (like the i9-9900K had in 2018), while  the Core i9-10900K was a 10-core/20-thread part. But the reality is, that change won’t affect a lot of users. At this time, there aren’t many (possibly any) games that show a marked performance improvement above an 8-core/16-thread setup. And if your work needs more, you can step up to the HEDT platform or buy an AMD Ryzen 5000 series/X570 combination.

Helping to make up for the core count deficit, the new CPU architecture is supposed to bring significant IPC improvements as well as AVX-512 support, faster base memory speed (up to 3200 MHz), 20 CPU-connected PCIe 4.0 lanes, Intel Xe integrated graphics and more. As with previous launches, Intel will certainly fill out the product stack with other variants such as 6-core/12-thread processors down to 4-core/8-thread parts. When the time comes, we’ll have a full CPU review as well as an updated product list. Until then, we have some high-level information about the new Z590 chipset and the motherboards that go along with it to tide you over.

Intel Z590 Chipset: Same Socket, Different Features  

At the time of this writing, Intel has not released the full details of the Z590 chipset. However, we do know a few things that differentiate Z590 from the previous-gen Z490. Unlike Z390 to Z490, the LGA 1200 socket remains the same, which in this case means both Rocket Lake-S and Comet Lake-S chips will work with Z590 based motherboards; Z490 requires a BIOS update to work with Rocket Lake processors. In addition to the flagship Z590 chipset, Intel is also releasing B560 and H510 chipsets. Typically these lesser chipsets are locked to prevent overclocking. However, there are rumors of B560 overclocking. Stay tuned on that front.

The most significant difference between the two chipsets is native PCIe 4.0 support when using a Rocket Lake processor. A Rocket Lake CPU shares 20 PCIe PCIe 4.0 lanes between the PCIe slots/GPU and M.2 socket/storage. It feels like Intel has finally caught up to AMD’s B550 chipset, at least, but still isn’t close to the lane count and flexibility of X570.

Another significant difference with Z590 is the DMI link between the chipset and CPU. On Z590, Intel has doubled the link speed, going from PCIe 3.0 x4 to x8. The jump to x8 effectively doubles the amount of bandwidth available for any chipset-connected devices (storage and networking for example). Additionally, the chipset now has native support for USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (20 Gbps), so we should see these ultra-fast USB Type-A and Type-C ports on most Z590 motherboards.

Other differences are more subtle, outside of the native PCIe 4.0 support on all boards. Here’s a look at how Z590 compares with Intel’s previous mainstream flagship chipsets. Keep in mind some details are still uncertain as we wrote this.

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Intel Z590, Z490 and Z390 Chipset Comparison
SocketLGA 1200LGA 1200LGA 1155
PCH PCIe 4.0 Lanes  (CPU/PCH)20/?16/24 (PCIe 3.0)16/24 (PCIe 3.0)
PCIe Configurationx16, x8/x8, x8/x4/x4x16, x8/x8, x8/x4/x4x16, x8/x8, x8/x4/x4
USB 3.2 (Gen2/Gen1)?/??6/106/10
Total USB??1414
SATA 3.0 Ports6(?)66
HSIO Lanes (CPU + PCH)??3030
Memory Channels (Max. Supported Speed)Dual (DDR4 3200)Dual (DDR4 2933)Dual (DDR4 2666)
Intel OptaneYesYesYes
Intel Smart SoundYesYesYes
Intel RST Technology Port Count-3 (PCH)3 (PCH)
Integrated Intel Wi-fi 6YesYesYes

Intel hasn’t shared too many details on the Rocket Lake CPU, including TDP. We know it will have a TDP/PL1 of 125W with a PL2 (turbo) power limit of 250W, with a 56-second duration. With fewer cores and threads to cool, perhaps thermal mitigation will be less of an issue on the new CPUs. But we’ll see the continued use of formidable VRMs and large heatsinks to keep these power-hungry CPUs in check. Some Halo products may include active cooling on the VRMs or even integrate water blocks to cool the VRMs and CPU. 

Memory support for the new CPUs also gets a small bump from DDR4 2933 to DDR4 3200 when using the new Rocket Lake-based processors. The new value now matches AMD’s official maximum for memory support. Some of the new boards support overclocked DDR4 to speeds well over 5000 MHz - similar to what we saw with Z490. As usual, your mileage will vary, and working with the correct CPU (with a good integrated memory controller) and memory kit is critical when chasing high memory clocks. That said, the sweet spot for memory speeds and performance per dollar is likely around where it currently is, DDR4 3600-3800 with CL14/16. Much beyond that and the kits’ price goes up sharply while performance doesn’t follow linearly.

The networking situation doesn’t change too much on Z590. The chipset continues integrated support for Intel CNVi Wi-Fi (Wi-Fi 6) and Wireless-AX. All the board partners need to do is add the Wi-Fi card to the board. You’ll find 2.5 Gb NICs on most boards on the wired front, while some flagships go higher with 5 GbE or 10 GbE. The budget boards will use 1 GbE, which is still acceptable for most users. Since most of you don’t have 1 Gb-plus internet service in the first place, the faster ports are still valuable for transfers within your network (assuming the slowest part is up to the task).  

Little is known about the USB configuration far, but we know that the USB 3.2 Gen2x2 (20 Gbps) is supported natively. Port counts for USB USB 3.2 Gen1/2 (5/10 Gbps, respectively), haven’t been confirmed either, but we don’t expect it to change much from the six (Gen2) and 10 (Gen1) ports already supported.

No details were shared on the SATA3 6 Gbps port count, but we expect that to remain the same at six as well. Any motherboards with more than six ports use a third-party controller, typically from ASMedia. As mentioned earlier, the most significant difference is simply PCIe 4.0 support from the CPU. Intel has finally caught up to AMD on that front, at least with CPU-connected lanes. All of the fancy new PCIe 4.0 video cards have a native home on an Intel-based system. The performance difference with current-generation video cards usually isn’t much, but still worth having if only for faster storage capabilities. 

While Z590 has arrived, we still awhile to wait to see how the new CPUs fare, which is rather unfortunate. At some later point, lower-priced B560 and H510 chipset-based motherboards will be available. But at the time of this writing, there are over 45 Z590 boards to choose from. So if you’re looking to build a new system based on Intel’s latest, there should be something for everyone.  

Z590 Motherboards: The Full List (So Far)  

With the chipset details out of the way, we’ve provided a list of all Z590 motherboards announced and found on the various company websites. Board partners provided the information listed in the following tables. We’ll break things out by the company on the following page and offer some thoughts on the respective launch lineups. 

Sadly, US pricing is an essential piece of information that vendors haven’t provided yet, but we’ll fill in the chart as we receive the information. That said, early pricing info from Europe indicates that prices will be high, especially for flagship boards. 

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Z590 Motherboard Product Stack by Partner
ModelSizePrice (MSRP)Price (Amazon/Newegg)
ASRock Z590 TaichiATX?TBD
ASRock Z590 PG VelocitaATX?TBD
ASRock Z590 Steel LegendmITX?TBD
ASRock Z590 Steel Legend WiFi 6EATX?TBD
ASRock Z590 Phantom Gaming 4ATX?TBD
ASRock Z590 Pro 4ATX?TBD
ASRock Z590M Pro 4mATX?TBD
ASRock Z590 Phantom Gaming 4 ACATX?TBD
ASRock Z590 Extreme WiFi 6E??TBD
ASRock Z590 Extreme??TBD
ASRock Z590M Phantom Gaming 4ATX?TBD
Asus ROG Maximus XIII Extreme GlacialE-ATX?TBD
Asus ROG Maximus XIII ExtremeE-ATX?TBD
Asus ROG Maximus XIII HeroATX?TBD
Asus ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WiFiATX?TBD
Asus TUF Gaming Z590 Plus WiFiATX?TBD
Asus Prime Z590-AATX?TBD
Biostar Z590 Valkyrie 5.0ATX?TBD
Biostar Z590I Valkyrie 5.0mITX?TBD
Biostar Racing Z590GTA 5.0ATX?TBD
Evga Z590 DarkE-ATX?TBD
Gigabyte Z590 AORUS Xtreme WaterforceE-ATX?TBD
Gigabyte Z590 AORUS Xtreme  TBD
Gigabyte Z590 AORUS MasterE-ATX?TBD
Gigabyte Z590 AORUS TachyonATX?TBD
Gigabyte Z590 AORUS UltraATX?TBD
Gigabyte Z590 AORUS Pro AXATX?TBD
Gigabyte Z590 AORUS Elite AXATX?TBD
Gigabyte Z590 AORUS EliteATX?TBD
Gigabyte Z590I AORUS UltraATX?TBD
Gigabyte Z590 Vision GATX?TBD
Gigabyte Z590 Vision DATX?TBD
Gigabyte Z590I Vision DATX?TBD
MSI MPG Z590 Gaming Carbon WiFiATX?TBD
MSI MPG Z590 Gaming ForceATX?TBD
MSI MPG Z590 Gaming Edge WiFiATX?TBD
MSI MPG Z590 Gaming PlusATX?TBD
MSI MPG Z590M Gaming Edge WiFimATX?TBD
MSI MAG Z590 Tomahawk WiFiATX?TBD

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Joe Shields
Motherboard Reviewer

Joe Shields is a Freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He reviews motherboards.

  • kopite833
    Is the 'Gigabyte Z590 AORUS Xtreme Waterforce' a thing? I don't think Gigabyte announced a 'Waterforce' variant, is Tom's Hardware confirming it?
  • Co BIY
    PCIe 4.0 eh .... DDR5 I want.
  • pjmelect
    One of the problems with many of these motherboards is that to change the CMOS battery you have to remove the shroud and to remove the shroud you have to remove the motherboard from the case (or cut the shroud) Toms hardware should mark down a motherboard where you have to do this.
  • jpe1701
    I love that the motherboard manufacturers have stepped up their game with the power delivery lately. I was hoping to see what Intel did with their chipset cooling for pcie 4.0 but they went with 3.0. I wanted to see if it required active cooling like x570.
  • Conahl
    forget the cmos battery, the shrouds on the IO ports on the back are just.... to big. i wonder how the clearance will be for cpu coolers...............................................
  • ericepp
    Your charts show 8 SATA 6gb/s ports on the Asus ROG Maximus XIII Hero board and also the ASRock Z590 PG Velocita. The manufacturer's website shows only 6 for each of these. I wish there were more of these available with 8 Sata Ports. I have a plex server with 8 Hot Swap Bays on my main PC. I have some PCIe 1x controller cards, but I would rahter not have to use them.

    I hope more of these boards are available before Rocket Lake launches. I'd like to have everything ready to go when the chips hit the shelves.