MSI MEG Z790 Ace Motherboard Review: Fully Loaded, Overpriced

A good-looking, well-equipped Z790 motherboard. But it’s expensive.

MSI MEG Z790 Ace
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

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MSI’s BIOS for the Ace is the same as other Z790 we’ve seen before. The menus reside on the sides and information up top, a unique look compared to others. For Z790, the only updates were functionality for the new processors and chipset. It still has a black background with red highlights, making it easy to read. It also has an informative Easy Mode that displays various information about the system and allows for some changes (boot order and XMP enable). Though different than other UEFIs, it is easy to get around; everything has a place, and many frequently used options are readily available, not buried within sub-menus.


MSI has a single utility, MSI Center, that covers quite a bit of functionality. From hardware monitoring to RGB control with Mystic Light, there are many applets to choose from within the software and a one-stop shop to download all of their utilities. I wish there were some overclocking options, however. But for those looking to use the Gamebar feature, Super Charger, or any other utilities MSI offers will all be at your fingertips in MSI Center.

Test System / Comparison Products

We’ve updated our test system to Windows 11 64-bit OS with all updates applied. We kept the same Asus TUF RTX 3070 video card from our previous testing platforms but updated the driver. We also updated to F1 22 for our games and kept Far Cry 6. We use the latest non-beta motherboard BIOS available to the public unless otherwise noted. The hardware we used is as follows:

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Test System Components
CPUIntel Core i9-13900K
MemoryKingston Fury Beast DDR5-6000 CL36 (KF560C36BBEAK2-32)
 GSkill Trident Z DDR5-5600 CL36 (F5-5600U3636C16GX2-TZ5RK)
GPUAsus TUF RTX 3070
CoolingCoolermaster MasterLiquid PL360 Flux
PSUEVGA Supernova 850W P6
SoftwareWindows 11 64-bit (22H2)
Graphics DriverNvidia GeForce Driver 522.25
SoundIntegrated HD audio
NetworkIntegrated Networking (GbE or 2.5 GbE)

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

EVGA supplied our Supernova 850W P6 power supply (appropriately sized and more efficient than the 1.2KW monster we used previously) for our test systems, and G.Skill sent us a DDR5-5600 (F5-5600U3636C16GX2-TZ5RK) memory kit for testing.

Benchmark Settings

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Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings 
ProcyonVersion 2.1.459 64
 Office Suite (Office 365), Video Editing (Premiere Pro, Photo Editing (Photoshop 23.5.1, Lightroom Classic 11.5)
3DMarkVersion 2.22.7359 64
 Firestrike Extreme and Time Spy Default Presets
Cinebench R23Version RBBENCHMARK330542
 Open GL Benchmark - Single and Multi-threaded
BlenderVersion 3.3.0
 Full benchmark (all 3 tests)
Application Tests and Settings 
LAME MP3Version SSE2_2019
 Mixed 271MB WAV to mp3: Command: -b 160 --nores (160Kb/s)
HandBrake CLIVersion: 1.2.2
 Sintel Open Movie Project: 4.19GB 4K mkv to x264 (light AVX) and x265 (heavy AVX) 
Corona 1.4Version 1.4
 Custom benchmark
7-ZipVersion 21.03-beta
 Integrated benchmark (Command Line)
Game Tests and Settings 
Far Cry 6Ultra Preset - 1920 x 1080, HD Textures ON
F1 2022Ultra Preset - 1920 x 1080, Ultra High (default) Bahrain (Clear/Dry), FPS Counter ON

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Joe Shields
Motherboard Reviewer

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

  • Friesiansam
    A "mid-range" motherboard for £732.55 @ Amazon UK? And they say AM5 motherboards are over-priced...
  • PlaneInTheSky
    The price of motherboards is just as bad as the price of GPU.

    Both Taiwanese monopolies.
  • Ogotai
    PlaneInTheSky said:
    The price of motherboards is just as bad as the price of GPU.
    the prices for GPUS, yes, still way too much, mother boards, not so much, about the same price for the same "model " regardless if it is intel or amd
  • AgentBirdnest
    And I considered the X570 ACE to be a huge splurge at $330, just three and a half years ago... Jeez... I gotta admit that I love the looks of it, at least.
    Odd that this doesn't have an M.2 X-Pander card (or whatever it's called) like the X670E version of the ACE does, but both boards are $700.

    Thanks for the review, Joe. Was a good read.
    I'm surprised at the Far Cry 6 results. About 5% faster than the Gigabyte board? What can that be attributed to?
  • KwazyIvan
    For such an overpriced mainboard, its sad that its not really up to spec.
    The mainboard specifications from MSI website states the following:

    EXPANSION SLOT3x PCI-E x16 slot
    PCI_E1 Gen PCIe 5.0 supports up to x16 (From CPU)
    PCI_E2 Gen PCIe 5.0 supports up to x8 (From CPU)
    PCI_E3 Gen PCIe 4.0 supports up to x4 (From Chipset)
    *PCI_E1 slot will run at x8 speed when installing device in the PCI_E2 slot or M2_4 slot.
    **M2_4 slot will be unavailable when installing device in the PCI_E2 slot.

    STORAGE5x M.2
    M.2_1 Source (From CPU) supports up to PCIe 4.0 x4 , supports 22110/2280/2260 devices
    M.2_2 Source (From Chipset) supports up to PCIe 4.0 x4 , supports 2280/2260 devices
    M.2_3 Source (From Chipset) supports up to PCIe 4.0 x4 / SATA mode, supports 2280/2260 devices
    M.2_4 Source (From CPU) supports up to PCIe 5.0 x4 , supports 2280 devices
    M.2_5 Source (From Chipset) supports up to PCIe 4.0 x4 / SATA mode, supports 22110/2280/2260 devices
    6x SATA 6G
    *M2_4 slot will be unavailable when installing in the PCI_E2 slot.
    **SATA7 will be unavailable when installing M.2 SATA SSD in the M2_5 slot.

    Notice what happens to the PCI_E1 Gen PCIe 5.0 x16 if one uses the M.2_4 PCIe 5.0 x4 slot.
    So how is one supposed to make the most with PCIe 5.0 x4 NVME, when the GPU then runs at x8 speed ?
  • Ogotai
    KwazyIvan said:
    So how is one supposed to make the most with PCIe 5.0 x4 NVME, when the GPU then runs at x8 speed ?
    welcome to the joy of not enough pcie slots to go around so you cant use all they put on the boards at the same time. amd or intel. they need to increase the pcie lanes on boards. part of the reason why its so difficult for me to let my x99 based comp go, and upgrade it. what used to be in my main comp, is partly in that 2nd comp now.