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Intel Z490 Chipset Launches: 50 Comet Lake-S Motherboards Detailed

(Image credit: Asus)

In the coming weeks, Intel’s new Comet Lake-S desktop CPUs are landing, but today the company is taking the wraps off its new Z490 chipset, with the usual board partners releasing a cadre of corresponding motherboards--some of which are likely at some point to land on our best motherboards page.

Below, we’ll detail what we know about all the new boards and the chipset so far -- including PCIe 4.0 capabilities on some models with future processors, and trends towards faster Ethernet and memory support. Additionally, there is better power delivery designed to handle the higher TDP’s of these new juiced up CPUs, which are still effectively Skylake with more cores and faster clock speeds.

Where the previous generation stopped at eight cores/16 threads (8c/16t), the new Intel CPU flagship, i9-10900K (125W), brings 10 cores and 20 threads to the table, dropping down to 4 cores and eight threads with i3-103xx SKUs at a much lower wattage. The new i9-10900K has a base clock of 3.7 GHz with thermal velocity boost listed at 5.3 GHz. At this time, all SKUs haven’t been identified, but it’s likely we’ll see 8-core/16-thread and 6-core/12-thread variants once the product line fills out. When the time comes, we’ll also have a full CPU review as well as a fully updated product list. For now, there are plenty of new motherboards to dive into, along with the updated Z490 chipset.

Intel Z490 Chipset: New Socket, (Slightly) Different Features 

There are several fine details that differentiate Z390 from Z490, but the most obvious is the socket. Whereas Z390 (and a couple of generations prior) used the LGA 1151 socket, Z490 shifts to LGA 1200 for the new Comet Lake-S CPUs. This means previous generation processors, including Coffee Lake Refresh, will not work in LGA 1200-based motherboards. The good news here is that Intel’s future architecture, Rocket Lake, is supported on this chipset and will enable PCIe 4.0 capabilities on motherboards labeled PCIe 4.0 ready. For those waiting for this implementation on an Intel platform, the boards are arriving, but the supporting CPUs aren’t yet. According to recent leaks, we expect Rocket Lake desktop processors either sometime very late in 2020, or sometime next year. 

Board partners are including next-gen PCIe support on some boards by installing clock generators and the proper re-drivers and switches. PCIe 4.0 support will vary by partner and board, but typically both the GPU PCIe slot(s) and one M.2 slot will end up capable with Rocket Lake CPUs. All of the new MSI and ASRock’s product stack supports PCIe 4.0. Gigabyte’s coverage extends to the Aorus and Vision lines, while Biostar and Supermicro boards will not support it at all--at least according to the info we have as of this writing.

Outside of the socket change and PCIe 4.0 support on some boards, other differences are more subtle. Here’s a look at how Z490 compares with Intel’s previous mainstream flagship chipsets.

(Image credit: Intel)

Intel Z490, Z390 and Z370 Chipset Comparison
FeatureZ490Z390Z370
SocketLGA 1200LGA 1155LGA 1155
PCH PCIe 3.0 Lanes (CPU/PCH)16/2416/2416/24
PCIe Configurationx16, x8/x8, x8/x4/x4x16, x8/x8, x8/x4/x4x16, x8/x8, x8/x4/x4
USB 3.2 (Gen2/Gen1)6/106/100/10
Total USB141414
SATA 3.0 Ports666
HSIO Lanes (CPU + PCH)303030
Memory ChannelsDual (DDR4 2933)Dual (DDR4 2666)Dual (DDR4 2666)
Intel OptaneYesYesYes
Intel Smart SoundYesYesYes
Intel RST Technology Port Count3 (PCH)3 (PCH)3 (PCH)
Integrated Intel Wi-fi 6YesYesNo
DMI3.03.03.0
OverclockingYesYesYes
TDP?6W6W

With the increase in TDP of the higher-end CPUs, motherboard makers have also improved power delivery, focusing on increased VRM capabilities across all models. We’ll see board partners using up to 16-phase VRMs and 90A MOSFETs for the CPU in order to support the 125W-TDP chips and any overclocking. With how Intel measures TDP and the new chips boosting as high as they are, this is a welcome sight, especially for the hardcore overclockers. Due to the higher power draw, many Z490 boards are using larger heatsinks, and some include active cooling.

Maximum memory support on Z490 receives a slight increase from DDR4 2666 to DDR4 2933 for the new Core i7/i9 CPUs. While this is still less than AMD’s maximum official DDR4 3200 support, headroom on Z490 increases as well, with many boards supporting DDR 4700(OC) and several premium boards listing support for up to DDR4 5000. As usual, your mileage may vary, and choosing the correct CPU (or luck with a good IMC) and memory kit are critical in that quest for high memory clocks. Overclockers will like the increased headroom on the memory front, but keeping some of the High Core Count (HCC) CPUs cool will likely be a challenge.

A common denominator on many of the new Z490 boards is the use of 2.5 Gb NICs. In fact, we find most Z490 boards not in the value segment will include 2.5 Gb NICs. Most users don’t have a fast enough internet connection to saturate 1 Gb (that’s 125MB per second). But faster ethernet is still valuable for transfers within your own network (assuming your other hardware is capable of similar speeds). Along these lines, the Z490 PCH also supports Intel Wireless CNVi (802.11ax) natively, as does Z390, for ultra-fast Wi-Fi 6 capabilities.

On the USB front, Z490 supports up to six USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) ports. In addition to the USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, support for up to 10 USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) ports carries over from Z390, along with six native SATA3 ports. Some Z490 boards include USB 3.2 Gen 2 2x2 (20 Gbps) as well, but those ports are managed with a 3rd party controller (ASMedia) and aren't native to the chipset. Intel IRST 17 for PCIe storage and RAID and CPU (and PCH support) is also baked in.

For many enthusiasts, the most-exciting new feature with these boards will support for PCIe 4.0 with future CPUs (again, on many but not all models). Maximum memory speed has also increased, and many of the new motherboards support even higher speeds than the previous generation. 

That said, PCIe lane counts do not change, nor do HSIO lanes -- which is fine for most users, but still behind X570 on the AMD side. If you need that kind of flexibility, your choice is either to jump to Intel HEDT, or move over to AMD. Beefing up the VRMs is more of a requirement than it is anything else, but it’s good to know most boards should be able to handle Comet Lake-S CPUs from the top down, including overclocking. The introduction of 2.5 GbE LAN ports is a plus for those able to utilize the bandwidth.

Now that Z490 has arrived, we still have to wait a bit to see how impressive the new CPUs are. And lesser H- and B-chipset boards are of course also likely to arrive down the road. But at the time of this writing, there are roughly 50 Z490 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.

Z490 Motherboards: The Full List (So Far) 

With the chipset details out of the way, below is a list of all Z490 motherboards that have been announced. Many will be available shortly, while others will come out over the coming weeks and months. Board partners provided the information listed in the following tables. Prices listed with a “~” denotes approximate price (in MSI’s case, they said pricing would be similar to X570 boards). On the following page, we’ll break things out by company and offer up some thoughts on the respective launch lineups. 

Z490 Motherboard Product Stack by Partner
Model
SizePrice (MSRP)Price (Amazon/Newegg)
ASRock Z490 TaichiATX?TBD
ASRock Z490 PG VelocitaATX?TBD
ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming-ITX TB3mITX?TBD
ASRock Z490 Steel LegendATX?TBD
ASRock Z490 Extreme 4ATX?TBD
Asus ROG Maximus XII ExtremeE-ATX$750.00 TBD
Asus ROG Maximus XII FormulaATX$500.00 TBD
Asus ROG Maximus XII ApexATX?TBD
Asus ROG Maximus XII HeroATX$399.99 TBD
Asus ROG Strix Z490-E GamingATX$299.99 TBD
Asus ROG Strix Z490-F GamingATX$269.99 TBD
Asus ROG Strix Z490-A GamingATX?TBD
Asus ROG Strix Z490-H GamingATX?TBD
Asus ROG Strix Z490-G Gaming (Wi-Fi)mATX?TBD
Asus ROG Strix Z490-G GamingmATX?TBD
Asus ROG Strix Z490-I GamingmITX$299.99 TBD
Asus Prime Z490-AATX$229.99 TBD
Asus Prime Z490-PATX$159.99 TBD
Asus Prime Z490M-PlusmATX$149.99 TBD
Asus TUF Gaming Z490-PlusATX?TBD
Asus TUF Gaming Z49-Plus (Wi-Fi)ATX$199.99 TBD
Asus ProArt Z490-Creator 10GATX?TBD
Biostar Z490GTA EvoATX?TBD
Biostar Z490GTAATX?TBD
Biostar Z490GTNmITX?TBD
Evga Z490 DarkE-ATX?TBD
Evga Z490 FTWATX?TBD
Gigabyte Z490 AORUS Xtreme WaterforceE-ATX$1,299TBD
Gigabyte Z490 AORUS XtremeE-ATX$799TBD
Gigabyte Z490 AORUS MasterATX$389TBD
Gigabyte Z490 AORUS UltraATX$299TBD
Gigabyte Z490 AORUS Pro AXATX$269TBD
Gigabyte Z490 AORUS Elite ACATX$219TBD
Gigabyte Z490-I AORUS UltramITX$269TBD
Gigabyte Z490 Vision D (Designare)ATX$299TBD
Gigabyte Z490 Vision G (Gaming SLI)ATX$199TBD
Gigabyte Z490 Gaming XATX?TBD
Gigabyte Z490 UD ACATX?TBD
Gigabyte Z490 UDATX?TBD
Gigabyte Z490 M Gaming XmATX?TBD
MSI MEG Z490 GodlikeATX~$699.99TBD
MSI MEG Z90 AceATX~$369.99TBD
?ATX?TBD
?mITX?TBD
MSI MPG Gaming Carbon Wi-FiATX~$259.99TBD
MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Edge Wi-FiATX~$209.99TBD
MSI MPG Z490 Gaming PlusATX~$169.99TBD
MSI MAG Z490 TomahawkATX~$119.99TBD
MSI Z490-A ProATX~$159.99TBD
Supermicro C9Z490-PGATX$395.99 TBD
Supermicro C9Z490-PGWATX$375.99 TBD
  • damianrobertjones
    "PCIe 4 support--for future CPUs. "

    -What's the likleyhood of THAT every happening?!
    Reply
  • namad7
    This quoted sentence is not a sentence and has no meaning.

    "While many of these boards are feature-rich, it is worth noting none of these Z490 launch motherboards from Asus will not support PCIe 4.0 with Rocket Lake. "

    It has a double negative none of these will not support. There's no way to have any idea what the author means here. I would GUESS he means none of these will support. Or perhaps all of these will not support. However there is no way to know. Please edit this typo, to fix it.
    Reply
  • PCWarrior
    namad7 said:
    This quoted sentence is not a sentence and has no meaning.

    "While many of these boards are feature-rich, it is worth noting none of these Z490 launch motherboards from Asus will not support PCIe 4.0 with Rocket Lake. "

    It has a double negative none of these will not support. There's no way to have any idea what the author means here. I would GUESS he means none of these will support. Or perhaps all of these will not support. However there is no way to know. Please edit this typo, to fix it.
    It means that ALL of these boards from ASUS will support PCIe4 with a Rocketlake cpu. It is also reflected on the price. The Z490 boards will be 20-50 dollars more expensive than the equivalent branded tier of Z390 boards, exactly because of the PCIe4.0 support
    The Z390 TUF Gaming Plus (Wi-Fi) had an MSRP of $179. Now the Z490 TUF Gaming Plus (Wi-Fi) has an MSRP of $199, i.e 20 dollars higher.
    The Prime Z390-A had an MSRP of $190. Now the Prime Z390-A had an MSRP of $230, i.e. 40 dollars higher.
    The Z390 Formula had an MSRP of $450. Now the Z490 Formula has an MSRP of $500, i.e. 50 dollars higher.
    Reply
  • mdd1963
    Page 1 chart:
    Intel Z490, Z390 and Z370 Chipset Comparison
    lists Z370 and Z390 as socket 1155....oops!
    Reply
  • Darkbreeze
    I meant to ask this LAST gen, on the Z390 Dark, but it looks like EVGA has continued it with the Z490 Dark. Why in the name of God did they put the DIMM slots at the top of the motherboard when most every modern CPU air cooler is designed to have memory clearance to the right of the heatsink, not on top. Top DIMM slot designs pretty much rule out everything that is a halfway decent aftermarket cooler unless it's an AIO or custom loop.

    Anybody have any insights on why those were moved, because I haven't found much on it. I know they rotated the CPU socket and eliminated two DIMM slots, moving them to the top of the motherboard, but that's about all I can find for both the Z390 and Z490 dark. Seems like stepping on your own junk to me.
    Reply
  • xyriin
    PCWarrior said:
    It means that ALL of these boards from ASUS will support PCIe4 with a Rocketlake cpu. It is also reflected on the price. The Z490 boards will be 20-50 dollars more expensive than the equivalent branded tier of Z390 boards, exactly because of the PCIe4.0 support
    The Z390 TUF Gaming Plus (Wi-Fi) had an MSRP of $179. Now the Z490 TUF Gaming Plus (Wi-Fi) has an MSRP of $199, i.e 20 dollars higher.
    The Prime Z390-A had an MSRP of $190. Now the Prime Z390-A had an MSRP of $230, i.e. 40 dollars higher.
    The Z390 Formula had an MSRP of $450. Now the Z490 Formula has an MSRP of $500, i.e. 50 dollars higher.
    Incorrect, none of the launch ASUS boards will support PCIe 4.0 even if you get a Rocket Lake CPU a year from now. Asus clearly shows this on their launch site, no need to guess.

    https://www.asus.com/us/site/motherboards/Intel-Z490/
    Reply
  • PCWarrior
    xyriin said:
    Incorrect, none of the launch ASUS boards will support PCIe 4.0 even if you get a Rocket Lake CPU a year from now. Asus clearly shows this on their launch site, no need to guess.

    https://www.asus.com/us/site/motherboards/Intel-Z490/
    An official announcement clearly stating PCIe4 support would be disclosing information about a future product, something that is forbidden by Intel. It would also cause confusion and potentially be perceived as false advertsing as you would be unable to use PCIe4 with any cpu you can currently buy to use with these motherboards. But just because they don't officially say it on their product page it doesn't mean they don't support PCIe4. All big 4 motherboard vendors have confrimed to tech reviewers that all the necessary hardware to support PCIe4 (namely PCIe 4.0 timers, drivers, and redrivers, low loss PCBs) is baked into their Z490 motherboards. For ASUS, ASRock and MSI that spans across their entire Z490 lineup. For Gigabyte it is their entire Aorus and Vision lineups. Only Biostar and Supermicro will not support PCIe4 with their current Z490 boards.
    Reply
  • xyriin
    PCWarrior said:
    An official announcement clearly stating PCIe4 support would be disclosing information about a future product, something that is forbidden by Intel. It would also cause confusion and potentially be perceived as false advertsing as you would be unable to use PCIe4 with any cpu you can currently buy to use with these motherboards. But just because they don't officially say it on their product page it doesn't mean they don't support PCIe4. All big 4 motherboard vendors have confrimed to tech reviewers that all the necessary hardware to support PCIe4 (namely PCIe 4.0 timers, drivers, and redrivers, low loss PCBs) is baked into their Z490 motherboards. For ASUS, ASRock and MSI that spans across their entire Z490 lineup. For Gigabyte it is their entire Aorus and Vision lineups. Only Biostar and Supermicro will not support PCIe4 with their current Z490 boards.

    Are you just making stuff up at this point?

    The article clearly states:

    "All of the new MSI and ASRock’s product stack supports PCIe 4.0. Gigabyte’s coverage extends to the Aorus and Vision lines, while Biostar and Supermicro boards will not support it at all--at least according to the info we have as of this writing." (NO MENTION of Asus which you conveniently added all on your own)
    "While many of these boards are feature-rich, it is worth noting none of these Z490 launch motherboards from Asus will not support PCIe 4.0 with Rocket Lake. That’s quite surprising considering multiple other board partners implemented this feature."

    If you use context clues it was obviously a simple grammar error. Asus is not supporting PCIe 4.0 while the other manufacturers are.
    Reply
  • PCWarrior
    xyriin said:
    Are you just making stuff up at this point?

    The article clearly states:

    "All of the new MSI and ASRock’s product stack supports PCIe 4.0. Gigabyte’s coverage extends to the Aorus and Vision lines, while Biostar and Supermicro boards will not support it at all--at least according to the info we have as of this writing." (NO MENTION of Asus which you conveniently added all on your own)
    "While many of these boards are feature-rich, it is worth noting none of these Z490 launch motherboards from Asus will not support PCIe 4.0 with Rocket Lake. That’s quite surprising considering multiple other board partners implemented this feature."

    If you use context clues it was obviously a simple grammar error. Asus is not supporting PCIe 4.0 while the other manufacturers are.
    Sigh. First, my earlier response was to you citing the absence of PCIe4 being mentioned on ASUS’ webpage as a supposed ‘proof’ to back up the claim of absence of PCIe4 support on ASUS motherboards with Rocket lake. I just pointed out that this was no proof. Absence of confirmation is not confirmation of absence. As for me supposedly making stuff up and “conveniently adding ASUS to the text”, perhaps you need to read again what I wrote. I wrote “as the big 4 confirmed to tech reviewers”. You see I get my information from other sources as well. Perhaps you need to do that too.

    ASUS on PCIe 4.0: “ASUS has not proactively marketed PCIe 4.0 support, because information pertaining to Intel’s next-gen processors is under NDA. Full validation cannot be performed until those chips are available to motherboard vendors. Please rest assured that many of our ASUS Z490 motherboards have been engineered for PCIe 4.0 readiness.”
    Source:
    Andreas Schilling editor of German site Hardwareluxx. Here are this tweets: 1, 2.
    And here is a summary about PCIe4 support on Z490 boards on OC3D.

    Besides, as the experience with AMD X470 boards has shown PCIe4 support on the primary x16 slot closest to the cpu socket is possible even without forward thinking about PCIe4 support and installation of dedicated PCIe4 hardware. The advantage of the Z490 boards with dedicated support for PCIe4 is:
    (a)their capability of supporting the other slots as well (this is done through an additional external base clock generator and through re-drivers that boost PCI-E 4.0 signals to longer lengths),
    (b) their capability of PCIe4 bifurcation i.e. splitting the PCIe 4.0 x16 signal into x8/x8 design
    (c) their capability of enabling one of the M.2 slots to get x4 PCIe4 direct lanes (since Rocket-lake will have 20 direct PCIe4 lanes (4 for the M.2) instead of 16).

    In other words PCIe4 hardware is for pretty much enabling full PCIe4 support on the PCIe slots and for some even on one M.2 slot. So the “many ASUS boards” that are confirmed to support PCIe4 will get full support and those that few (lowest end) that don’t will most likely get the primary x16 slot.

    Anyway I rest my case. I wasted enough of time arguying with you already.
    Reply
  • xyriin
    PCWarrior said:
    Sigh. First, my earlier response was to you citing the absence of PCIe4 being mentioned on ASUS’ webpage as a supposed ‘proof’ to back up the claim of absence of PCIe4 support on ASUS motherboards with Rocket lake. I just pointed out that this was no proof. Absence of confirmation is not confirmation of absence. As for me supposedly making stuff up and “conveniently adding ASUS to the text”, perhaps you need to read again what I wrote. I wrote “as the big 4 confirmed to tech reviewers”. You see I get my information from other sources as well. Perhaps you need to do that too.

    ASUS on PCIe 4.0: “ASUS has not proactively marketed PCIe 4.0 support, because information pertaining to Intel’s next-gen processors is under NDA. Full validation cannot be performed until those chips are available to motherboard vendors. Please rest assured that many of our ASUS Z490 motherboards have been engineered for PCIe 4.0 readiness.”
    Source:
    Andreas Schilling editor of German site Hardwareluxx. Here are this tweets: 1, 2.
    And here is a summary about PCIe4 support on Z490 boards on OC3D.

    Besides, as the experience with AMD X470 boards has shown PCIe4 support on the primary x16 slot closest to the cpu socket is possible even without forward thinking about PCIe4 support and installation of dedicated PCIe4 hardware. The advantage of the Z490 boards with dedicated support for PCIe4 is:
    (a)their capability of supporting the other slots as well (this is done through an additional external base clock generator and through re-drivers that boost PCI-E 4.0 signals to longer lengths),
    (b) their capability of PCIe4 bifurcation i.e. splitting the PCIe 4.0 x16 signal into x8/x8 design
    (c) their capability of enabling one of the M.2 slots to get x4 PCIe4 direct lanes (since Rocket-lake will have 20 direct PCIe4 lanes (4 for the M.2) instead of 16).

    In other words PCIe4 hardware is for pretty much enabling full PCIe4 support on the PCIe slots and for some even on one M.2 slot. So the “many ASUS boards” that are confirmed to support PCIe4 will get full support and those that few (lowest end) that don’t will most likely get the primary x16 slot.

    Anyway I rest my case. I wasted enough of time arguying with you already.
    Using your very own source "Please rest assured that many of our ASUS Z490 motherboards have been engineered for PCIe 4.0 readiness." Keep in mind this is a tweet without a source, still does not promise full lineup support, and only talks about "engineered for readiness". If you're using that as fact...you should probably buy the Asus Z490 board now for your future Rocket Lake CPU =D
    Reply