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Last week, we had MSI on the forums to answer everything you wanted to know about their new Intel Z490 Motherboards. In case you missed it, we have the AMA in full below. Before the digest though, take a moment to enter our MSI giveaway, which features an RTX 2060 Super, MSI Z490 motherboard Gaming EDGE WiFi Motherboard, Gungnir 100 Case, and an MSI Optix MAG272CR Gaming Monitor. To enter, head to our giveaway widget and follow our instructions there. You can enter through May 29, 2020. To view the AMA in full on our forums click here

First off, let's give a big thank you to MSI for stopping by to answer all the insightful questions presented by our community members. Scheduling this AMA took a bit of work on their end, especially during such a chaos of the pandemic, and for that, the Community Staff as well as our readers are much obliged to everyone at MSI for taking the time to engage with the enthusiastic members of our community.

And of course, we're deeply appreciative of Mark Tran, David Yee, Jorge Meza, and Manny Change for their in-depth responses to each question posted by the Community.

Q: How are you dealing with the extra power consumption from the new 10 core i9 processors? Reusing existing VRM designs? Completely new designs?

A: All of our Z490 motherboards feature Core Boost technology. It's a reserved zone of premium power delivery components on an optimized circuit layout. We designed larger heatsinks to improve VRM heat dissipation.

Q: Is there any way you can customize the small display on the "Godlike" board. Uploading custom gifs or pictures would be an incredible feature. Is there integration with mystic light?

A: Yes, you can upload your own by using free Dragon Center software. Also the new Dynamic Dashboard 2 is now in color. We also improved our mystic light from previous generations.

Q: Why did you decide to ditch RGB and are there going to be any RGB options for this lineup?

A: The only 2 models that completely has no RGB are the MEG Z490 UNIFY and MEG Z490i UNIFY. The other models still have RGB lighting.

Q: RTX or GTX?

A: Depends on your budget and the need for performance. GTX is usually for lower-mid range price and performance while the RTX is considered the upper range.

Q: Are any of the models going to have direct chipset cooling?

A: There's no direct chipset cooling but we do have larger heatsinks to improve VRM heat dissipation.

Q: What kind of cooling system do you recommend for the new Intel Ice Lake 10th gen CPUs?

A: If you're running i7 to i9 CPU, then you should have liquid cooling (AIO) at least. But otherwise for i5 and below should be okay running air cooler.

Q: When will the MSI MEG Z490 Godlike be available?

A: It is currently available now on pre-order but will be fully available on May 20th in Newegg and Amazon.

Q: What does the future of VRM cooling look like for upcoming boards. Is it leaning more toward fans or more elaborate fin technology?

A: Future VRM cooling will have a larger heatsink (extended) and probably towards fin technology.

Q: What is the fastest option for accessing data storage?

A: Probably M.2 SSD.

Q: Will you offer MSI Comet Lake Z490 motherboard in white color?

A: As of now, probably not for this generation chipset.

Q: What inspired the use of the MSI dragon?

A: Within many mythologies, dragons are the most powerful of mythical beasts, and in the hearts and minds of many people today, dragons are recognized as apex predators in video games, television, and film.

When designing the dragon component found in the MSI logo many years ago, it was recognized that an animal or creature could impart personality and distinctiveness - the same principle behind sport team identities. Within East Asian mythologies, dragons are universally recognized as the most powerful mythical beast, but the dragon in the MSI logo takes its appearance from European dragons so as to be understood internationally as a depiction of power.

Q: Are there any smaller changes that aren't really discussed to the newer motherboards from prior boards?

A: Our Z490 motherboards with RGB LEDs have an on-board dipswitch called EZ LED Switch that can turn the lighting on or off.

Q: In your opinion, which MEG Z490 Unify and the MEG Z490I Unify feature is your favorite? Also, do you think SATA III will be phased out in future motherboard releases?

A: For MEG Z490 UNIFY (ATX) specifically, I like the VRM heatsink. It has a heatpipe connecting the two pieces.

For MEG Z490I UNIFY (mini-ITX) specifically, I like that it has two M.2 connectors - one on the front and one on the underside.

SATA III is still a very relevant connectivity standard as hard drives still have bulkier storage than SSDs.

Q: Is there any release date for the Mag Core 360 coolers? I already preordered my MEG Godlike, and processor. Just need the cooler, 6 extra fans and 1 extra controller to complete the build.

A: The upcoming CORELIQUID coolers don't have a firm launch date. It falls onto regional branches to work out the logistics. For the team here in USA, we are looking at June as the time when MAG Core Liquid 360R and MAG Core Liquid 240R will begin to appear at retailers and etailers.

Q: Among MSI staff has there ever been a sort of feature or design choice to motherboards agreed upon as "unnecessary" but still demanded by the market?

A: RGB LEDs in certain segments...the UNIFY models at the high-end segment are most obvious reaction from MSI

Overclocking capabilities. This is mentioned often within online communities often, but most individuals are nebulous on the details, supporting research that the vast majority of end users either do not know how to or do not care to learn how to overclock. The broadness of overclocking capabilities can range from easy overclocking through simply changing unlocked multiplier ratios, automated overclocking such as AMD PBO, and of course, extreme overclocking at the peak of this specific usage segment.

Q: Hi, are there numbers for how the M.2 heatsink on the motherboard increases cooling when compared to the stock heatsink that usually comes with the M.2 SSD?

A: The answer will depend on what's being compared. In any case, a heatsink on an M.2 SSD is primarily to prevent thermal throttling and thus heatsinks are preferably designed to deal with bursty heat output as opposed to sustained heat output. NVMe drives are so fast that they can probably complete a prolonged operation within a few minutes.

Q: Huge MSI fan here! My PC build is all MSI. When will the MAGCORE LIQUID coolers be released for sale worldwide?

A: A specific day cannot be given because it comes down to regional branches to plan and execute logistics. For us here in USA, we are expecting to have the first CORELIQUID coolers delivered to retailers and etailers in early June.

Q: How do you think new motherboards will be useful for next generation processors?

A: 10th gen mainstream Intel processors have higher core counts compared to the previous generations and some models can draw lots of electrical power. Our new Z490 motherboards have "larger" power delivery layouts to address this.

Q: Why do companies put out so many motherboards with only minuscule differences?

A:  Someone wants Wi-Fi, another one doesn't. Someone wants Thunderbolt 3, another one doesn't. Someone wants a white motherboard, another one wants green.

Q: Is the MSI MPG GAMING PLUS compatible with the 10600KF?

A: Yes, unless you want Wi-Fi, then get one of the MPG Z490 GAMING EDGE models which come in ATX or mATX.

Q: If using the upcoming 10 core processor at full load for extended periods (benchmarking, machine learning, etc.), will the liquid cooling be necessary for the VRMs? There's likely to be a lot of heat dumped from the processor and motherboard, and I'm curious what is required to keep everything cool enough for extended use and extended life of the system!

A: No. If dedicated VRM cooling is a concern, aim a fan straight at the heatsinks. Even a small amount of direct airflow aimed at the heatsinks works very well. If you've played with fan speed control software such as Afterburner, you may notice diminishing gains when increasing fan speed. This is because the thermal conductivity of the heatsink is limiting the rate of heat dissipation.

All our MEG-class Z490 models have a dedicated VRM cooling fan that spins on when needed. Liquid cooling is unnecessary for dedicated VRM cooling.

Q: Would you ever consider installing a mini display feature on a future motherboard that would offer readouts of temperatures and other technical information?

A: Three of our GODLIKE motherboards - MEG Z490 GODLIKE, MEG X570 GODLIKE, and MEG Z390 GODLIKE - have a small OLED display that does that.

Q: What will be the highest rated ram speed for the mobo?

A: MEG Z490 GODLIKE and MEG Z490I UNIFY (mini-ITX) are currently rated for 5000MHz.

Q: I use my air compressor with an inline moisture filter to clean out my desktop. Can these I/O fans be held from spinning out of control and possibly breaking while cleaning out the case, without having to stick a toothpick in there to hold it, and will the dust come out the other end?

A: Good question! Access to the fan within the VRM cooling solution is not necessarily easy to get to. However, in most situations the fan would not be running at all or much due to Zero Frozr technology keeping the fan off until the VRM reaches a higher temperature. This means dust should not really accumulate on this fan.

Q: From a strictly gaming perspective, are there any particular MSI Z490 motherboards that offer compelling features for gamers? Which motherboards? What features? I was looking over the MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK and MPG Z490 GAMING Plus. Thanks!

A: All of our Z490 motherboards from our more entry level boards to our enthusiast boards contain tons of features that are useful for gamers. Many of our motherboards such as the Tomahawk you mentioned have tons of peripheral connectivity support which is crucial for gamers, streamers especially, that need to have a mouse, keyboard, webcam, microphones, headsets, stream decks, VR systems, etc. connected to their PC. Reinforced PCI-Express slots help support graphics cards that keep getting bigger and bigger easier. For gamers looking to push every possible ounce of power from their systems by overclocking, we have models with powerful VRM designs and great M.2 cooling such as the Godlike and Ace. Many gamers love the RGB aesthetic and it is certainly there with the vast majority of our Z490 line-up.

In addition, our motherboards are compatible with MSI Dragon Center software that has hardware optimization software with Game Boost and Gaming Mode to get a customized experience on a per game basis. It can even pick out in game highlights for you to share with others if you so desire.

Q: Will any of the new Z490 boards have watercooled VRMs or something to that effect?

A:  We don't have an onboard watercooler VRM. But we're working with EKWB and Bitspower. There'll be customized water blocks for GODLIKE, ACE and Gaming Carbon covering both VRM and CPU.

Q: How many x16 slots will be on the new ATX boards?

A: It depends on the model. Godike/ACE/Unify/Gaming Carbon has 3 PCIe x16 slots. Edge/Tomahawk/Gaming Plus/A Pro has 2 PCIex16 slots.

Q: First off, what is the difference between the B450 MAX Series motherboards and the Z490 Series motherboards. Secondly, would you say the Z490 gaming edge wifi motherboard is superior to the B450 Tomahawk Max motherboard?

A: B450 is the mainstream chipset for AMD and Z490 is the enthusiast chipset for Intel processors. These two are different segmegments. Price and feature wise, Z490 Gaming Edge Wifi is more expensive than B450 Tomahawk Max.

Q: In terms of future CPU generation compatibility, do you guys at MSI have any inside information on how long the new platforms will last? What are the CPU power delivery capability figures (in watts) for Z490 motherboards' line-up?

A: Z490 will support a new CPU in the feature, so it'll last at least 1 year. MSI GODLIKE/ACE/Unify have 16phase, 90A VRM , that's 1440A(16x90A), overkill VRM for overclocked i9-10900K. MPG series has powerful 12-phase 12x60A or 12x50A VRM too.

Q: Will the coronavirus pandemic cause a long delay before any of the new Z490 motherboards are delivered?

A:  Z490 production is smooth. There will be no delay.

Q: The Titan series is labeled as a desktop killer. In my mind that would indicate we could condense the benefits of a desktop (customization, swappable components and more space for components) into a laptop package. Is it just the performance or are there other things about the newest laptops that make them a desktop killer? Would killing desktops even be a desired outcome?

A: It's performance. Titan series laptops use desktop CPUs and have very good CPU performance. This is why it's labeled as a desktop killer. Titan offers a good choice for desktop performance and mobility.

Q: Will MSI ever release every possible pc component for a complete system? For example, like MSI RAM. I always wanted to make a PC with just MSI parts!

A: As of now, no plan for RAM and other PC components. But we have chassis products and will offer liquid coolers.

Q: Real question: Can we expect to see any improvements to base clock overclocking on these new boards?

Joke question: When can we expect to see RGB VRMs, resistors, capacitors, and ports on your boards? When I want an RGB motherboard I want it all over.

A: To my knowledge MEG Z490 GODLIKE has a clockgen.

About RGB, the closest you can have is to connect RGB devices to the RGB pin headers and you'll have full internal lighting.

Q: Why do CPU companies need to change the socket from time to time? What is the difference between PCI Express generations and is the difference in interface type or in speed?

A: 1. Very simply, it's for seamless compatibility. Sockets change so to allow for either or even both increased data transmission and increased power delivery.

2. That is a topic beyond the scope of this AMA, but is rather easy to look up. The most important update on PCI-E for motherboards is bandwidth.

Q: How can an extra panel connector possibly aid on any type of overclock? They do not provide power. They are mainly there to provide connections for the on/off and reset switches,  and led connectors for the case.

A: There is a bit of misconception here that you were referring to the two 8pin ATX power supply connectors for CPU power. Our motherboards only really have one system panel connector section split into two parts JFP1 and JFP2. JFP1 has headers for your conventional connectors (Power, Reset, HDD LED, PLED) while JFP2 is just a row of 4 pins used for debugging speakers in order to hear beep codes if you wish to do so.

Regarding TPM modules, you can definitely find them online at places like Amazon.

Q: What do you think about current RTX technology? Do you think we finally will be able to get high refresh rates at 1080p with ray-tracing enabled in the next 3000 series? What about the myth that raytracing is a gimmick or a fraud?

A: To keep it short since we are mostly focusing on our Z490 boards for this AMA, personally Raytracing technology is great experience in games, and as technology moves forward more amazing things will come from it. FPS is mostly what takes a hit with Raytracing enabled at the moment, not necessarily monitor refresh rate.

Q: As a newbie to PC building, does a good quality motherboard really make a massive difference to anything? Do they just support more RAM than a more premium board, or are there other features to consider?

A: The type of motherboard you get can certainly make a difference depending on your use case and what you are looking to get out of it. Enthusiast motherboards have a plethora of features that more budget boards do not to accommodate people with higher or more advanced requirements. For a simple example, say you want a build with lots of fans or custom liquid cooling that requires connectivity for cooling pumps, RGB, and such. A higher end motherboard will have let's say six fan headers in comparison to a budget board which may only have two. If you have tons of peripherals to connect to your PC because you are streaming, a higher end board will typically also have more USB ports than a budget board.

Now let's say you want to overclock your CPU to get as much FPS as possible when gaming. A more enthusiast board will have a robust VRM system and cooling solution that you won't find on a budget board.

At the end of the day, a budget board can be perfectly good for gaming if you don't need all the bells and whistles offered on the higher end stuff.

Q: What CPUs will this new generation of mobos be compatible with?

A: This new Z490 chipset will support Intel 10th gen Core processors such as the i9-10900K processor and should also support the generation of processors after these. Anything older will not be supported due to the chipset using a new LGA 1200 socket compared to the LGA 1151 socket from the last generations.

Q: How confident are you in your Z490 VRM designs? You have made bad reputed and greatly reputed boards before, but the VRMs on the new X570 Tomahawk was an impressive design. I hope you can bring something like this down into the Z490 Tomahawk, or better yet trickle it down to the A Pro.

A: We are quite confident with our VRM design. We have even added active VRM cooling to our MEG series motherboards, something some may argue may even be overboard :)

Extended heatsink designs have been implemented throughout the entirety of our product line from the Godlike down to the A-Pro to provide enhanced VRM cooling solutions for every model.

Q: I've noticed on a lot of the mid-grade boards like the B450 Tomahawk/Max (the most popular B450 around) that there's limited bells and whistles, like lack of even more standard things like 3/4 pin argb/rgb ports (has 2x 5050 strip ports). So my question is: Is that trend going to continue with the low-mid grade boards, or is there going to be more emphasis on what's currently in demand by users like multiple NVMe capable or argb headers?

A: We're offering as much as possible on the mid-grade and entry Z490 boards. We have at least 2 ARGB headers and 2or 1 RGB headers for mid and entry boards. For fan headers, we have 1 CPU fan header+1 AIO pump header+6 system fan headers for the ATX MPG/MAG and A PRO boards. 2 M.2 slots are available on MPG/MAG and A-Pro boards. We also offer front Type-C header on all Z490 models and pre-installed I/O shield on all Z490 models except A PRO. We offer a lot on all Z490 boards.

Q: How much can a motherboard impact a system’s performance? And what causes this impact?

A: VRM will impact system performance. With a weak VRM, high-end CPUs may have a throttling problem due to weak VRM. For memory, especially with XMP loaded, better optimization will bring some performance difference. And with faster connection, like10/2.5GbE LAN and Wi-Fi6 connection, it performs better than boards with only 1GbE LAN and WI-Fi AC. I/O matters too. Some MSI Z490 models feature 20Gbps USB and Thunderbolt 3 ports, and it offers faster I/O speed.

Q: More companies are now offering sound cards or external DAC/Amps for improved sound. What are we going to see as the next evolution for onboard sound? Or have we plateaued on what can reasonably be done within the constraints of a motherboard?

A: Audio is a challenge for motherboards. For onboard audio, we implement ESS audio DAC, headphone amplifier, and audio-oriented capacitors on GODLIKE, and have seperate audio circuit from the rest circuit on the motherboards. This is to get a cleaner signal. We're also working to reduce noise as much as possible. We'll keep working with our partners like DAC, amplifier companies to offer the latest and best audio solutions.

Q: Where is the Z490 Mobo (and your other components) manufactured? Is it possible to streamline and future proof your supply chain by expanding your manufacturing to the USA?

A: Expanding motherboard manufacturing to the US can get a little tricky due to a number of reasons. I do not see it being feasible in the near future.

Thanks again to everyone who participated! If you haven't yet, now is your final chance to enter our giveaway for the MSI system starter bundle. New to the Tom's Hardware Community? Head to the forums and sign up to become a member of the largest hardware enthusiast community on the planet. 

  • MisterToe
    No thank you.
  • aakashd93
    thank you for holding this giveaway and for also an in-depth Q&A which I learned a lot from I have been wanting to get a PC build for a while but due to financial obligations I have had to consistently delay that. Hopefully, I am lucky with this. Thanks!