AMD might have had the upper hand with regards to unveiling their brand-new lineup of the Ryzen 7000 Series Processors (codenamed ‘Raphael’), based on the reinvigorated AM5 CPU Mounting Socket, which marks a historic shift for AMD from their previously proprietary PGA (Pin Grid Array) setup to an LGA (Land Grid Array) Platform, akin to almost all Intel CPUs released after 2006. Also, if you are interested in quick info, here are all our picks with a comparison table. For additional information, please make sure to read till the end.
Last update on 2022-11-27
Nonetheless, AMD’s initial bout of AM5 Processors has missed the mark, to say the least, with all CPUs ranging from the budget-oriented Ryzen 5 7600X to the monstrous Ryzen 9 7950X being plagued with incredulous pricing, especially when you consider the upgradation cost of the entire platform since the Ryzen 7000 Series Processors entirely drop support for DDR4 RAM, in what can be termed a somewhat aggressive, yet understandable industrial shift towards DDR5 Memory.
Notwithstanding, Intel wasted no time at all with respect to snatching the best opportunity for the brand’s time to shine, and a return-to-fame, if you will, following the somewhat steep price increases and still-above-average power consumption that was introduced alongside the now last-generation 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs back in 2021.
In sharp contrast, Intel’s 13th Generation Raptor Lake Processors retain the Alder Lake lineup’s LGA 1700 CPU Mounting Socket. However, power consumption figures for Raptor Lake CPUs, including, but not limited to, the initially launched Core i5-13600K, Core i7-13700K, and Core i9-13900K, with the differences varying from 12W, all the way up to 63W for the Core i7-13700K specifically speaking, as far as Maximum Turbo TDPs (Thermal Design Power) are concerned.
Raptor Lake also witnesses a minor reduction (200 MHz) in terms of Base Frequencies across the whole CPU Series (as of yet). However, at the same time, all three 13th Generation Processors introduce a minor-to-moderate bump in Turbo Frequencies, ranging from 200 MHz and 400 MHz for the Core i5-13600K and Core i5-13700K to 600 MHz (0.6 GHz) for the flagship Core i9-13900K.
We’re still awaiting the remainder of the 13th Generation Lineup, for which Intel promises a subsequent release in Q1 2023, with the total number of Raptor Lake CPUs said to be 22x.
Speaking of the processors themselves, we’re seeing a marginal price increase of about $10-30, although this will vary from retailer to retailer due to the globally prevailing semiconductor shortage.
Reportedly, Intel wanted to ramp up their monetary demands even more significantly, but AMD’s clever pricing strategy with their Ryzen 7000 Series CPUs spoiled the broth for Intel, which doesn’t want to risk more market share.
Intel has also increased the number of Efficiency Cores, from 4x for the Core i5-12600K and Core i7-12700K, and 8x for the i9-12900K, to 8x each for the Core i5-13600K and Core i7-13700K, and a staggering 16x E-Cores for the champion, i.e., the Core i9-13900K.
Keeping all of the points mentioned above in mind, it’s essential to note that we’re yet to await the ‘X3D’ variants of the Ryzen 7000 Series CPUs, i.e., the successor to the highly popular and well-received Ryzen 7 5800X3D, built on the basis of AMD’s innovative 3D V-Cache (L3 Layering/Stacking) Technology, via which, AMD was able to implement 96 MB of L3 Cache, and subsequently improve real-world gaming performance in a variety of games, as a higher quantity of L3 Cache is directly proportional to higher FPS, typically speaking.
It’s also worth remembering that AMD’s reputable AM4 Platform and corresponding components are experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime vertiginous drop in terms of price points, ranging from Motherboards and CPU Coolers to tried-and-tested DDR4 RAM, making it a suitable choice for gamers on a restricted budget who want a decent gaming rig that’ll last them at least another 3-years.
Regardless, Intel has noticeably improved from an all-rounder perspective with their 13th Generation Processors, so, for the time being, let’s focus on Raptor Lake and the best of the best that Intel has to offer with regards to chipsets, i.e., the Z790.
- Z790 Motherboards utilize the same LGA 1700 CPU Socket, making it backwards-compatible with 12th Generation Alder Lake Processors
- Z790 Motherboards support both, DDR5 and DDR4 Memory (in differing variants)
- 13th Generation Raptor Lake CPUs are more power-hungry
- Raptor Lake Processors introduce a negligible drop in Base Frequencies, compensated by the increase in Turbo Clock Speeds
- Intel’s 13th Generation CPUs also boast a higher number of Efficiency Cores across the lineup
Best Z790 Motherboards
Without any further ado, let’s progress onwards, and head towards our proprietary selection of the Z790 Motherboards, with all products being featured in accordance with every prospective buyer’s use-case scenario. As such, this article will enlighten you with regards to the Best Z790 Motherboards for Overclocking, Gaming, Value, Aesthetics, Mini-ITX (Small Form Factor), as well as the Best Overall and High-End Z790 Motherboards that we’ve extensively researched and exclusively certified/recommended.
GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS Elite AX
Best Overall Z790 Motherboard
Specifications = Chipset: Z790 | Memory: DDR5 7600 | Video Outputs: HDMI, DisplayPort | USB Ports: 2x USB Type-C, 7x USB 3.2 | Network: 1x 2.5 GbE LAN, WiFi 6E | Storage: 4x M.2, 6x SATA
- 70A Smart Power Stage support
- Sturdy 16+1+2 Digital VRM Design
- DDR5 RAM support up to 7600 MHz
- High price bracket
GIGABYTE is considered one of the leading computer hardware companies in the market and has amassed quite a fanbase worldwide due to its excellent computer products. We have listed the GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS Elite AX as the Best Overall, as it provides performance coupled with great aesthetic sense, power delivery, and connectivity links.
Packing a Twin 16+1+2 Digital VRM Design and 70A Smart Power Stage, the GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS Elite AX delivers performance great enough to compete with the best motherboards while providing MOSFET heatsinks with a 6mm Heatpipe, a 7.5 W/mK thermal conductivity pad, and an integrated IO shield to help dissipate heat efficiently. Additionally, a six-layer 2x Copper PCB design offers more headroom for CPU overclocking and effectively dissipates heat near the voltage regulators. It also uses Smart Fan 6 Technology which features 5x PWM fan headers for efficient thermal dissipation.
GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS Elite AX features a dual channel 4 DIMM DDR5 RAM, which ensures lightning-fast memory access of a total of 128GB, reaching a maximum of 7600 MHz. Comprising 4x PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots and 1x PCIe SMD 5.0 with a PCIe EZ-latch, top-of-the-line networking specifications come on board. The four PCIe M.2 connectors, paired with PCI Express 5.0 support, ensure lightning-fast storage, easy accessibility, and management.
The EZ-latch helps in easy installation with screwless functioning, which adds to the ease of the users. The motherboard uses solid pin power connectors, including a 24-pin ATX power connector and one 8+8 pin CPU power connector. It also features a fast 2.5 Gbe LAN connection and WiFi 6E support for the best competitive gaming experience, so nothing a user can need is left out.
Being one of the best and top-tier Z790 motherboards in the market, we expect that GIGABYTE AORUS Elite AX can provide up-to-par performance and overclocking ability. Having the fastest memory specifications, the latest chipset support, power delivery, and thermal dissipation mechanism, it is far from likely that Z790 AORUS Elite AX will not be able to overclock to a satisfactory level.
What We Liked:
The GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS Elite AX features a twin 16+1+2 VRM design coupled with MOSFET heatsinks to provide proper thermal conductivity; this is necessary as the flagship motherboard has a substantial power rating which results in a lot of heat produced. An efficient VRM design and out-of-the-box heatsinks are necessary for overclocking performance, and the Z790 AORUS Elite AX has them. In addition, an aesthetic design also catches the eye of a lot of users.
What We Disliked:
There is not much to complain about regarding the GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS Elite AX being the Best Overall Z790 Motherboard in the market. As this is a top-tier motherboard, it falls in a high price bracket which is the only drawback we can point out. Considering the solid hardware, a 8-layer PCB design would have been the icing on the cake.
Regarding the best-performing Z790 motherboard with top-of-the-line components, VRM specification, and thought-out architecture, we recommend our users go for GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS Elite AX as it undoubtedly falls among the best for Z790.
ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 HERO
Best High-End Z790 Motherboard
Specifications = Chipset: Z790 | Memory: 4x DIMM 128 GB, DDR5 7800+ | Video Outputs: HDMI, Intel Thunderbolt, VGA | USB Ports: 12x Rear, 9x Front | Network: WiFi 6E, LAN | Storage: 5x M.2, 6x SATA
- Fast access DDR5 7800+ MHz memory
- 2x PCIe 5.0 x16 slots
- Water Cooling Zone
- Very costly
When it comes to gaming, who hasn’t heard of the ASUS ROG series? Meaning “Republic of Gamers”, the ROG brand stands at a prestigious position in the gaming community’s hearts; it is considered one of the best hardware manufacturers of the era. Let’s discuss ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Hero in more detail as to why we listed it as the Best High-End Z790.
The motherboard will allow the CPU to reach its optimum potential, featuring 8+8 pin Dual ProCool II power connectors and 20+1 VRM Power Stages. ROG Maximus Z790 Hero comes with 4x DIMM DDR5 memory specification reaching a staggering 7800 MHz frequency at the maximum in addition to Dual Channel Memory Architecture, ensuring lightning-speed memory access. Featuring 2x PCIe 5.0 x16 slots and PCIe 5.0 M.2 card compatibility, it will be one of the fastest memory specifications found in a motherboard. For improving the gaming experience, ASUS provides its 2.5 Gbe LAN support chip and WiFi 6E compatibility for smooth competitive performance without any lagging. When mentioning high-speed data transfer, the motherboard boasts 2x Type-C ThunderBolt 4 USB ports which can deliver up to 40Gbps bidirectional data transfer.
ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Hero features VRM heatsinks with integrated IO covers and multiple 4-pin PWM fan headers. There are heatsinks for three M.2 slots and top-of-the-line thermal pads. ROG also included a water cooling zone with a water flow tachometer and water In/Out sensor. A dedicated header controls a self-contained water cooling system in addition to a pair of CPU fan headers and four chassis headers for auto-detection of PWM fans. As the ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Hero is compatible with the LGA1700 socket, it can also accommodate the previous coolers compatible with the same socket; ROG left no stone unturned to provide the most efficient heat dissipation.
Regarding overclocking, ASUS went ahead to provide AI overclocking, which allows you to optimize your performance automatically. It automatically senses the optimal configuration and suggests the system reach the settings for the best performance. The predicted values get configured automatically, another step to improve the user experience.
What We Liked:
ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Hero uses a 20+1 VRM Power Stage using an 8+8 pin DUAL ProCool II power connectors, enough to easily draw even 13th generation CPU power usage and dissipate the huge amount of heat produced as a result efficiently.
Another point worth mentioning is the support provided for 2 PCIe 5.0 x16 slots parallel to a PCIe 5.0 M.2 card slot, a feat that even most high-end motherboards fail to achieve. As the motherboard uses the LGA1700 socket used in the Z690 motherboards, the new Z790 version will still be able to use the previous coolers installed by the users.
What We Disliked:
As we call the ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 the Best High-End Z790 Motherboard, there are not a lot of points to be mentioned under this heading. However, one may assume such a high-performing, the expensive motherboard includes PCIe 5.0 x4 modes. Although PCIe 5.0 x16 modes and a PCIe 5.0 M.2 slot come alongside the motherboard, PCIe 5.0 M.2 x4 support would have been appreciated instead of PCIe 4.0 x4.
ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Hero is a solid top-performing motherboard option because of its overwhelming power draw, excellent VRM architecture, and overclocking capabilities; this motherboard may seem expensive, but it will provide its user with the best value-to-money ratio.
GIGABYTE Z790 Aero G
Best White Z790 Motherboard
Specifications = Chipset: Z790 | Memory: 4x DIMM 128 GB, DDR5 7600 | Video Outputs: HDMI, DisplayPort | USB Ports: 4x Rear, 4x Internal USB headers | Network: Intel 2.5 GbE LAN, WiFi 6E | Storage: 3x M.2, 6x SATA
- Excellent white aesthetics
- PCIe 5.0 support for x16 and x4
- DDR5 RAM support at 7600 MHz
- Q-Flash Plus technology
- Only 1x PCIe 5.0 x4 slot
- Lacks Thunderbolt 4 connectivity
Most PC enthusiasts consider aesthetics a major consideration when building a PC setup; they prefer a dark or specifically black setup; however, some may personally like a lighter color combo. For such users, GIGABYTE introduced the Z790 Aero G, which we have listed as the Best White Z790 Motherboard in the market.
The memory configuration packs 4x DIMM DDR5 specification with 128GB memory reaching a maximum frequency of 7600 MHz. Consisting of a PCIe 5.0 Express x16 slot, PCIe 5.0 x4 slot for M.2, and 2x PCIe 4.0 Express x16 slots running at x4, the GIGABYTE Z790 Aero G provides adequately fast storage options. If you require the fastest storage compatibility, there is nothing to worry about, as the M.2 slots, including a full-speed PCIe 5.0 M.2 slot, will be there to cover it. A total of 5x M.2 slots ensure that the memory accessibility is quickest all-around to improve performance and chipset utilization to the optimum level.
GIGABYTE has also paid full attention to detail when building the VRM heatsinks. The perfect aesthetic heatsinks will take care of all the overheating and heat dissipation processes to provide a smooth and undisturbed gaming experience to all its users.
Overclocking performance is the most important trait to follow when it comes to motherboards for the latest flagship chipsets. Being of the Best Z790 Motherboard present in the market, the GIGABYTE Z790 Aero G provides an overclocking performance up to par with the performance expected from a flagship motherboard. The motherboard will extract the optimum performance the Z790 chipset can provide.
What We Liked:
GIGABYTE has utilized a PCIe 5.0 M.2 card slot collaborating with PCIe 5.0 x16 and 2x PCIe 4.0 x16 slots; using a PCIe 5.0 M.2 x4 card slot was a boss move by GIGABYTE. Its Smart Fan 6 technology includes multiple temperature sensors, hybrid fan headers, and noise detectors, which implies that the manufacturer paid special attention to efficient heat dissipation. Furthermore, the GIGABYTE Z790 Aero G also supports Q-Flash Plus specification, which helps to update BIOS without installing any additional component like CPU.
What We Disliked:
Considering the powerful Z790 chipset on board, GIGABYTE Z790 Aero G lacks the cooling features required for sustained performance, especially overclocking. The lack of PCIe 5.0 x4 slots leaves a void for a powerful chipset unable to utilize fast storage options like NVMe SSDs at the fastest interface; the inclusion of Thunderbolt 4 would have been the cherry on top.
When it comes to light-themed motherboards, there are not a lot of options to choose from. After considering VRM heatsink specification, fastest memory support, network connectivity, video and IO compatibility, and overclocking performance, the GIGABYTE Z790 Aero G comes second to no other motherboard. We recommend this motherboard if they prefer a light-themed PC system.
MSI PRO Z790-A WiFi
Best Value Z790 Motherboard
Specifications=”Chipset: Z790 | Memory: 4x DIMM 128 GB, DDR5 | Video Outputs: HDMI, DisplayPort | USB Ports: 8x Rear, 7x Front | Network: Intel 2.5 GbE LAN, WiFi 6E | Storage: 4x M.2, 6x SATA
- Robust 16+1+1 VRM
- It comes in DDR4 and DDR5 versions
- No PCIe 5.0 M.2 card slot
- Low DDR5 frequency compared to competitors
MSI is one of the leading tech hardware manufacturers committed to developing top-of-the-line computer and gaming hardware for its clientele. It has recently launched the MSI PRO Z790-A WifI motherboard, which comes into the limelight as the Best Value Z790 Motherboard for the latest Z790 chipset.
MSI PRO Z790-A WiFi features a 4x DIMM DDR5 memory with a total capacity of 128GB with a maximum frequency reaching up to 7200 MHz. The motherboard comprises 4x PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots and one PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, resulting in the users obtaining optimum performance and gaming potential coupled with the fastest DDR5 memory accessibility. Utilizing a 6-layer 2oz copper PCB Layout reduces component temperatures and improves heat conductivity. MSI can provide such top-tier performance from a budget motherboard to present the gaming community with the best value option for their Z790 chipsets.
A 16+1+1 power design combined with dual power connectors and Core Boost technology for the motherboard demands a good cooling solution. Considering the massive power delivery and its consequential heat production, MSI has also given much consideration to the motherboard’s thermal conductivity. M.2 Shield Frozr technology is supported with an extended heatsink to provide the most efficient heat dissipation from the M.2 slots. A pre-installed IO shield, PWM fans, and pump fan support ease the dissipation process considerably for the motherboard to utilize the chipset to its optimum potential.
MSI PRO Z790-A WiFi also comes in a DDR4 version, with most of its specifications similar to those of the DDR5 version. It features 4x DIMM DDR4 memory, totaling 128GB and providing a maximum frequency of 5333 MHz. Besides this memory specification, everything else matches its DDR5 version, including PCIe ports and M.2 card slots.
As the motherboard is designed for the latest flagship Z790 chipset, it requires efficient overclocking performance. MSI has taken good care of it as well; the staggering power delivery supported by an efficient VRM heatsink structure ensures proper heat dissipation meaning that your motherboard will be more than capable to overclock the chipset and extract the best performance out of it.
What We Liked:
MSI PRO Z790-A WiFi does not compromise memory speed and provides DDR5 support and a PCIe 5.0 x16 port. Due to this, the users can enjoy an optimum gaming experience even after spending a comparatively small amount of money on their motherboard for a flagship chipset. A VRM 16+1+1 Power Stage design is opted, which is quite substantial for a budget category motherboard. A top-quality performance from a motherboard with such a low price tag is unlikely to be expected; still, MSI managed to gain this feat.
What We Disliked:
As a motherboard falls in a budget category, many high-tech features are not expected. Although MSI opted for a PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, they did not consider using PCIe 5.0 M.2 slots and instead decided to stick with the PCIe 4.0 M.2 layout, which could be a letdown for users seeking PCIe 5.0 x4 support. Secondly, MSI PRO Z790-A WiFi features DDR5 with 7200 MHz which is less RAM frequency compared to the competitors providing 300 MHz to 400MHz more.
In the list of the Top Z790 Motherboard available in the market, MSI PRO Z790 is the best option for users looking for a motherboard for their Z790 chipset but do not wish to spend a lot of money on it. It will be a decent option for them as it provides up-to-par performance, heat dissipation, and power delivery for a flagship chipset such as Z790 at a substantially lower price bracket.
ASUS ROG STRIX Z790-I Gaming WiFi
Best Mini-ITX Z790 Motherboard
Specifications=”Chipset: Z790 | Memory: 2x DIMM , 64 Gb DDR5 | Video Outputs: HDMI, ThunderBolt | USB Ports: 9x Rear, 3x Front | Network: 2.5 Gbe LAN, WiFi 6E | Storage: 2x M.2, 6x SATA
- 10-layer PCB layout
- ThunderBolt 4 Type-C connectivity
- PCIe 5.0 x16 slot
- VRM isn’t that powerful
Being one of the most popular hardware manufacturers, ASUS launched a Mini-ITX motherboard for the specific audience looking for a mini motherboard to run their Z790 chipset. We consider the ASUS ROG STRIX Z790-I Gaming WiFi the Best Mini.
Obtaining fast memory access from the motherboard will not be a problem as the ASUS ROG STRIX Z790-I Gaming WiFi features a 2x Dual Channel DIMM DDR5 RAM module with a maximum frequency reaching up to 7600 MHz. It consists of 2x PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots, one PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, and a PCIe 5.0 M.2 x4 card slot, ensuring that the motherboard can optimally utilize maximum speed. In addition, a maximum of 64GB DDR5 memory is provided, which is substantial for a Mini-ITX motherboard. It also features an 8-pin ProCool II power connector with 10+1 VRM Power Stages, delivering 105A of power delivery, enough to run a 13th-generation PC system smoothly. A 10-layer PCB layout conducts heat efficiently and ensures system stability, allowing for better overclocking performance.
ASUS opted for a quiet thermal dissipation system that diverts heat from a ventilated loop from the core to keep the VRM cool even after vigorous performance. The M.2 slots are also put between thermal pads in a space-saving arrangement; a 4-pin VRM fan header and an AIO header pump are included for proper heat dissipation from the chipset. A clever yet efficient VRM design is chosen, providing optimal heat conductivity and becoming a factor for optimum chipset performance. 2x ThunderBolt 4 Type-C ports are provided for dual bidirectional fast data transfer.
ASUS managed to keep the smart AI overclocking in this mini motherboard which is quite a feat; the motherboard profiles the CPU on its own and suggests the best configuration for overclocking, pushing the system to its limits. You can make the suggested configuration the basis for launching high-end experiments to improve the gaming experience. WiFI 6E support is provided in addition to 2.5 GbE Ethernet LAN connectivity to provide the users with the best gaming experience.
What We Liked:
ASUS opting to stick to its AI overclocking in a Mini-ITX motherboard can be considered a big feat. A motherboard scanning and providing optimum configuration for optimum overclocking performance is a treat for the users. A 10-layer PCB layout in a Mini-ITX motherboard is unforeseen, provides system stability, and creates headroom for overclocking. Moreover, not making a compromise in PCIe 5.0 slots, M.2 slots, Thunderbolt USB, and DDR5 specifications was a must, considering that these are necessary for the latest flagship Z790 chipset.
What We Disliked:
Keeping in mind that we are discussing a Mini-ITX motherboard designed for a flagship chipset, there is not much left to raise fingers at; the motherboard provides all necessities for the job. A Mini-ITX motherboard cannot accommodate a large heatsink; however, a brilliant display of space saving does the job as the M.2 slots are sandwiched between the thermal pads. However, a notch up in VRM rigidity would have been great for a motherboard of this caliber.
The ASUS ROG STRIX Z790-I Gaming WiFi is the top contender for the Best Mini-ITX Motherboard for the Z790 chipset. Top-notch performance, with clever space-saving VRM heatsink architecture and the fastest DDR5 memory specification, makes it a top priority for users looking for a Mini-ITX Z790 motherboard.
MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi
Best Overclocking Z790 Motherboard
Specifications: Chipset Z790 | Memory: 4x DIMM, 128GB, DDR5 | Video Output: HDMI, DisplayPort | Connectivity: 2.5 Gbe LAN, Wi-Fi 6E | Storage: 5x M.2
- 19+1+1 VRM design
- Multiple USB 3.2 Gen2x2 and USB 3.2 Gen2 ports
- Very expensive
MSI does not need an introduction to computer hardware manufacture; it is debatably one of the most popular tech brands, having a large fanbase. MSI launched the MSI MSP Z790 Carbon WiFi, which tops our list as the Best Overclocking. Let’s take a further look into specifics.
Z790 Carbon WiFi features a flagship VRM design with a total of Digital 19+1+1 Power Phases with a 105A Smart Power Stage, which is quite a substantial power delivery even for a Z790 chipset. However, such a huge power draw can easily cause overheating. To counter this, MSI introduced an efficient VRM design with an 8-layer PCB design and extended MOS heatsinks, increasing the surface area for better heat dissipation. In addition, the MOSFET thermal pads ensure high performance and a better user experience. The M.2 Shield Frozr plays a vital part in combination with the extended VRM design for a much more efficient thermal conductivity. M.2 Frozr Shield is a piece of aluminum with thin sliced thermal pads manufactured to cover the M.2 slot with thermal insulation of 7 W/mK.
A 4x DIMM 128 GB DDR5 memory that can reach a maximum frequency of 7600 MHz means that the chipset can benefit from the fastest memory access. Paired with 5x PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots and one PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, users can expect faster storage compatibility and GPU data transfer rates from the motherboard; this ensures optimal performance and user experience not matched by a lot of other motherboards in addition to its significant overclocking ability.
Listing as the Best Z790 Motherboard For Overclocking, the MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi is not matched by any motherboard when it comes to overclocking. A substantial power draw, cooled by an innovative VRM design, coupled with the fastest DDR5 memory specifications and the fastest PCIe 5.0 and M.2 slots, makes it quite obvious that MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi can overclock the system better than any motherboard available in the market.
MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi features 6x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type C, 2x USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type C, and 4x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type A which are the main highlights when talking about connectivity. The board supports a 2.5 Gbe LAN port and Wi-Fi 6E capable of providing faster networking and low network latency.
What We Liked:
Besides performance, MSI focused a lot on the design of the MPG Z790, making it look great and fierce. Their second concern is to enhance thermal pads’ capabilities that provide thermal protection and add flexibility when you are concerned about overclocking the CPU. Using PCIe 5.0 M.2 specification and PCIe 5.0 x16 slots was another feature that complies with the 19+1+1 VRM Power Stages to provide a kickass performance; the same goes for overclocking performance too.
What We Disliked:
Being one of the Best Z790 Motherboard, MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi, should have included PCIe 5.0 M.2 x4 card slots instead of PCIe 4.0 M.2 x4 slots. The PCIe 5.0 M.2 specification and the PCIe 5.0 x16 expansion slot setup would have been a huge attraction for the gaming community.
When looking for an Overclocking Z790 Motherboard, MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Wi-Fi is one the latest and most advanced motherboards, with better flexibility due to its enhanced VRM overall circuitry performance. The price can be concerning, but if we look at its robust, sustained overclocking performance, it is worth the high price bracket.
Z790 vs. Z690
Unfortunately, there’s not much to discuss regarding differences in the Z790 vs. Z690 comparison. Both chipsets are very similar, save for an extra USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C port for the Z790, bringing the total number of USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Ports up to 5x, from 4x in the Z690.
Both chipsets support DDR4 and DDR5 Memory in different variants, where a majority of the DDR4 Z690 and Z790 Motherboards will carry an entry-level/budget-segmented price tag, with most of the Best Z790 Motherboards enabling support for DDR5 RAM only.
As far as other critical areas of the chipsets are concerned, both the Z790 and Z690 have identical Power Consumption figures (6W) and the same number of PCIe 5.0, 4.0, and 3.0 Lanes (28x, collectively), DMI Lanes (8x), the total number of USB ports (14x), and the number of SATA III 6 Gb/s ports (8x). Of course, both motherboards make use of the same CPU Mounting Platform, I.e., the LGA 1700 Socket. Hence, both chipsets are inter-compatible and, subsequently, interchangeable with 12th Generation Alder Lake and 13th Generation Raptor Lake Processors.
However, it’s pertinent to mention that production prices for Z790 Motherboards are lower than they were for the Best Z690 Motherboards at the time of launch of both Chipset Platforms, respectively speaking, courtesy of high-volume production scales, and thus, higher efficiency in terms of production lines.
For the same reason, even comparably low-end/mid-range Z790 Motherboards will sport a higher number of PCIe 5.0 Lanes, and Thunderbolt 4 ports, in addition to 60W or higher super-fast USB charging via usually the front panel I/O. Also, the Z790 Chipset automatically introduces a lower overall platform cost, as we’re starting to see price points for DDR5 RAM to stabilize (somewhat), even though the newer memory standard is still no match for DDR4 Memory in terms of the price-to-performance ratio, strictly speaking.
As such, we’d only recommend purchasing one of the Best Z790 Motherboards if you intend to pursue rigorous overclocking sessions or indulge in competitive eSports Gaming Championships/Tournaments since manufacturers will strive to outfit the newer chipset with top-of-the-line VRMs (Voltage Regulator Modules), Power Delivery Mechanisms, and state-of-the-art thermal dissipation algorithms to sustain peak performance for extended periods of time.
Otherwise, sourcing a decent Z690 Motherboard at discounted prices, along with midrange DDR5 RAM Kits and a Raptor Lake CPU, will be a combination that is bound to go comparatively easy on your wallet.
DDR5 vs. DDR4
With regards to the spec sheet, DDR5 downright demolishes DDR4 Memory in terms of pure RAM frequencies, with even the slowest and cheapest DDR5 Memory Modules offering stock speeds of at least 4800-5600 MHz with theoretical overclocking potential all set to transcend the 8000 MHz barrier, in theory, as compared to DDR4 RAM Kits which range between a relatively meagre 2400-4266 MHz as far as stock speeds are concerned, with maximal custom/manual overclocking stretching these frequencies to a capped threshold of 5500 MHz, at best. However, the (roughly) 50% difference in RAM speeds doesn’t automatically construe to improved PC Gaming performance in real-world scenarios.
The very ideology regarding DDR5 Memory at this point in time seems to induce a certain degree of boredom as soon as we begin to discuss CAS (Column Address Strobe) Latencies and RAM Timings. That’s because DDR5, courtesy of its presence as a recently introduced and comparably new technological standard, completely fails to match, let alone outperform DDR4 RAM modules in terms of latencies and timings, with even the fastest and most expensive DDR5 Kit struggling intensely to fetch a CL (CAS Latency) number below 30. Comparably cheaper, entry-level/budget-oriented DDR5 RAM modules like the Samsung DDR5-4800 Kit struggle to achieve better RAM Timings than 36-36-36-76, even after considerable manual overclocking.
On the other hand, mainstream DDR4 RAM easily achieves CAS Latencies varying between a range of CL 14-18, with factory-default RAM Timings hovering around 14-14-14-34, equating to a 50-75% difference in these two variables when compared to generic DDR5 RAM Kits. As such, the vast advantage with respect to DDR5 frequencies is negated by the equally, if not worse, difference in RAM Latencies and Timings. Therefore, gamers can expect zero-to-slight improvement in real-world performance as far as gaming and overclocking scenarios are concerned and may even experience a performance dip relative to DDR4 RAM due to the latency issues spotlighted above when undertaking systematically taxing workflows.
Notwithstanding, it’s not all over for DDR5 yet. DDR5 RAM modules boast lower power consumption (1.1V vs. 1.2V for DDR4), with all DDR5 RAM Kits sporting built-in, on-die ECC (Error Correction Code). This advanced feature, in yesteryears, used to be typically reserved for server-grade buffered DDR4 RAM, where system stability was of the utmost importance. Furthermore, DDR5 brings higher density per module, with a theoretical maximum support of 256 GB, compared to 64 GB for DDR4. As a result, we can expect to see consumer-grade Intel and AMD CPUs support a maximum of 256 GB very soon (up from 128 GB at the time of writing), with a potential to enable support for a staggering theoretical maximum of 512 GB – 1 TB of DDR5 RAM.
Alas, DDR4 still lives on to see the daylight. DDR5’s exorbitant price point proved to be the final nail in its coffin (for now). Enthusiasts can easily pick up 32 GB (16×2) of 3200 MHz CL16 DDR4 RAM for under $85, whereas you’d need to spend at least $120-150 to get your hands on the same quantity of DDR5 RAM with far worse RAM Timings and CAS Latencies.
With Intel primed to support good ol’ DDR4 RAM for at least another year, there’s no logical reason to splurge on some fancy DDR5 RAM Modules which will yield your net gaming performance gain null and void. The only exception to this statement is if you plan to upgrade to AMD’s brand-new lineup of Ryzen 7000 Series CPUs and AM5 Motherboards, including, but not limited to, the Best X670 and X670E Motherboards, which, for better or for worse, only support DDR5 Memory.
All in all, retro-gamers will be able to relate these events to the DDR4 vs. DDR3 conundrum era, where the embryonic DDR4 offerings proved themselves to be a waste of money due to much higher latencies and stability issues, unlike the tried-and-tested DDR3 1600-2133 MHz kits with much lower CL figures and an equally lower price tag to match.
However, just like DDR4 in the past epoch, DDR5 RAM will substantially improve in all aspects as manufacturers continue vying with each other to reduce latencies as much as possible, which, in turn, promotes healthy competition and, ultimately, buying a DDR5-equipped system will become a no-brainer thanks to much higher gaming and productive performance, as well as low-cost prices due to voluminous production scales. Nevertheless, that time is still a few years away. Still, DDR5 RAM Kits with sub-CL 30 figures are starting to hit the marketplaces. Innovation has never been faster.
It’s pertinent to remember that Intel might drop support for DDR4 Memory next year with the advent of 14th Generation CPUs (codenamed Meteor Lake) and 800-Series Chipsets. Consequently, prospective buyers would be well-advised to start considering the consumer-grade uptake of DDR5 RAM since, sooner or later, all of us will be forced to adopt the newer memory standard, as manufacturers are globally aiming to phase out DDR4 RAM as swimmingly as possible. For more information, read our DDR5 vs DDR4 Guide.
Intel B660 Vs Z790 Chipset
The Intel B660 chipset was released in the first quarter of 2022, whereas the Z790 was released in the last quarter of 2022. The Intel B660 comes from the Intel 600 series Desktop chipsets specifically made for the 12th Gen Alder Lake processor series, whereas the Intel Z790 comes from Intel’s 700 series Desktop chipsets, which were made for the 13th Gen Raptor Lake processors, the current hype in the market.
These chipsets use a TDP of 6W and support overclocking, making them a good option for gamers. You get more overclocking options in the Intel Z790 chipset that supports IA, BCLK, and memory overclocking, whereas the B660 chipset supports only memory overclocking.
Both the chipsets provide support for dual channel Non-ECC memories and PCIe 3.0 and PCIe 4.0 ports, but the Z790 chipset has a maximum number of 14 PCIe express lanes, and the B660 has 28 PCIe express lanes. The B660 has 12x USB 2.0 and 3.2 ports in multiple configurations, whereas the Intel Z790 has 14x USB 2.0 and 3.2 ports in multiple configurations. Also, the Intel Z790 chipset has a maximum of 8 SATA ports, and the Intel B660 chipset has a maximum of 4 SATA ports, with a data transfer speed of 6.0 Gb/s.
Read More About B660 Motherboards.
Intel Z790 vs B760 Chipset
Intel released the Intel Z790 chipset in the last quarter of 2022, whereas the Intel B760 chipset has yet to be released and is rumored to launch in the next Intel Convocation in January 2023. The detail provided here is subject to change as these are just some leaks from reliable sources. The B760 chipset supports the 13th Gen Raptor Lake processors, which means they will use the LGA-1700 socket like the Z790 chipset. The B760 will not be overclocking unlocked, unlike the Z790 chipset but will be able to provide clock speeds of up to 6 GHz.
Also, due to an unintentional mistake on Intel’s side, they released more specifications as they forgot to remove the specifications of their incoming chipset. According to those specifications, the B760 will have around 20 PCIe 3.0 and 4.0 lanes, less than Z790, as it provides 28 PCIe 3.0 and 4.0 lanes.
The Z790 has 8 SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports; on the other hand, the B760 chipset has 4 SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports. The Z790 has 14x USB 2.0 or 3.2 ports in multiple configurations, whereas the B670 is said to have 12x USB 2.0 and 3.2 ports.
How We Tested
All of our objectively featured picks for the Best Z790 Motherboards in 2022 undergo comprehensive research here at Tech4Gamers, after which we account for our proficient analytics, combined with in-house reviewing and testing (if feasible). We also compare real-world performance benchmarks under idle, typical, and heavy gaming/overclocking workflows.
Not to forget, we crossmatch relative performance to extrapolate the Best Z790 Motherboards for a multitude of unique scenarios and form factors, such as overclocking, gaming, and the Best Overall Z790 Motherboard, for which we specifically highlight the compatibility of every particular CPU, which, in this case, would refer to Intel’s complete lineup of 13th Generation Raptor Lake Processors, as well as the preceding 12th Generation Alder Lake CPUs.
How We Picked
Choosing the Best Z790 Motherboards is a time-consuming job deemed unsuitable for the faint-hearted since you’ll need to take into consideration several factors. Nevertheless, you’re the one who has to make the ultimate decision. Therefore, for your convenience, we’ve explained several vital elements to pay the utmost attention to while attempting to select the Best Overall Z790 Motherboard that optimally aligns with your personally customized workloads.
It’s essential to ensure that the CPU you’re planning on using has a socket that complements the Best Z790 Motherboard you’ve chosen for yourself. Intel’s new Raptor Lake Processors and supplementary 700-Series Motherboards (B710, B760, H770, and Z790) use the same LGA 1700 Mounting Socket which debuted with Intel’s last-generation Alder Lake (12th Generation) CPUs and corresponding 600-Series Chipsets, i.e., the H610, H670, B660, and Z690. As such, consumers may also opt to pair a Z790 Motherboard with an Alder Lake Processor.
To put that into perspective, AMD’s brand-new Ryzen 7000 Series (Raphael) Processors are based on AMD’s new AM5 CPU Platform, which uses the modernized Zen 4 architecture, and as such, only supports AMD 600-Series Chipsets.
Speaking of AMD, the hugely successful and long-standing AM4 CPU platform has finally reached the zenith of its pinnacle. The Ryzen 7 5800X3D is the last processor to be manufactured on the Zen 3 architecture of the reputable AM4 socket. AMD’s AM4 socket is also compatible with a complete suite of various Ryzen processors, ranging from Ryzen 1000, 2000, and 3000 to the now last-generation and subsequently retired Ryzen 5000 (codenamed ‘Vermeer’) Series Desktop CPUs.
Even so, the last-gen Ryzen 5000 Series processors still maintain compatibility with just about all the recent AMD motherboards on the market, ranging from the much older A320, B350, and X370 to the B450, X470, A520, B550, and finally, the Best X570 Motherboards, which champions and rounds off the hierarchy in AMD’s AM4 chipsets.
That being said, it’s worthwhile to mention you’ll want to stay away from lower-end motherboards such as the H610 and B710 for Intel’s 12th and 13th Generation CPUs and the A320/A520 for the Ryzen 5xxx Series processors since these entry-level chipsets tend to emphasize monetary savings, consequently cutting back on VRMs and thermal efficiency amongst other limitations, such as zero-to-limited PCIe 5.0 Lanes, and lack of DDR5 support, which restrict gamers from eking out the full potential of their respective processors.
As for the Ryzen 7000 Series Processors, AMD is yet to launch lower-end/entry-level/budget-oriented AM5 chipsets, so we’re still awaiting the opportunity of witnessing the release of AMD’s 600/A-Series Motherboards, which will represent the bottom of the barrel if we’re being brutally honest, as far as the Cheapest AM5 Motherboards are concerned.
VRM and Overclocking Potential
A VRM (Voltage Regulator Module) is one of the essential components of a motherboard, as it is solely responsible for controlling the voltage delivered to all the electrical components of your gaming PC, adjusting the voltage accordingly to make sure no part of your PC is operating at a dangerously high voltage, which would put the particular components at risk of damage, shortening their lifespan.
Beefy VRMs are essential for CPU and GPU overclocking scenarios and general optimal performance. As such, it’s necessary to keep a keen eye out since inefficient VRMs would result in your 13th Generation Raptor Lake CPU and GPU bottlenecking, i.e., your Intel-based PC would undergo thermal throttling, rendering it incapable of delivering its theoretical potential power, thanks to an incompetent VRM design.
Moreover, a faulty/defective VRM algorithm will also provide unstable power, putting your entire Z790 Motherboard, along with the Raptor Lake CPU, GPU, and RAM, to name a few vital electrical components, at risk.
It is also worth noting that some of the Best Z790 Motherboards in 2022 also offer active fans paired with positively oversized passive heatsinks to cool down the VRMs on your Motherboard, which is something you’ll want to keep in mind if you’re looking for the Best Gaming or Overclocking Z790 Motherboards. Resultantly, an effective heat transfer is conducted consistently, reducing thermal throttling and allowing for beefier CPU and GPU performance.
Principal Budget and Relative Affordability
While building a gaming PC centralized around Intel’s 13th Generation CPUs and 700-Series Chipsets, it’s best to stick with full-sized ATX or E-ATX Z790 motherboards if you’re looking to save some money, as manufacturers offer a variety of Z790 Motherboards in these form factors. At the same time, holding your horses while choosing from the Flagship E-ATX Z790 Motherboards is essential since these boards tend to overcharge you for features you’ll probably never use in a lifetime, like overclocking.
For the SFF (Small Form Factor) fans out there, we hate to say this, but you’ll encounter some trouble, generally speaking, when it comes to sourcing an adequate Mini-ITX Z790 Motherboard since the Z790 Chipset itself typically requires a certain amount of room, i.e., a physically larger footprint in order to showcase its full potential in terms of overclocking headroom, PCIe Gen 5.0 connectivity, and super-fast USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C Ports, to name a few perks.
Suppose you aren’t going to pursue rigorous overclocking sessions or stress your 13th Generation Raptor Lake CPU in any way. In that case, there’s no need to overspend on the Best Overclocking Z790 Motherboard in 2022 with massive, thermally optimized VRMs since these top-of-the-line motherboards will undoubtedly make a noticeable and, more importantly, unnecessary monetary impact on your wallet.
That being said, a Z790 Motherboard itself isn’t what we would term a reasonable choice if you’re someone who’s looking to comply with a financially capped budget. Instead, we’d recommend checking out the Best B710, B760, and H770 Motherboards, all of which pale in comparison to the Z790 as far as pure performance is concerned but, nevertheless, outshine the latter for their value orientation, i.e., their price-to-performance ratio.
Each Motherboard varies in terms of the expansion slots and connectivity it offers. Some Z790 Motherboards may offer multiple PCI-e 5.0×16 slots, which the latest GPUs in our world can utilize, courtesy of Nvidia SLi or AMD CrossFire coupling technologies. At the same time, some miniature motherboards will only provide a solitary PCI-e 4th Gen (x16) slot.
Z790 Motherboards on a budget would probably forgo the opportunity of adding extra PCIe 5.0 Lanes, instead sticking with good ol’ PCIe Gen 4.0 for the most part. If you’re in the mood to connect more than one M.2 SSD, you’ll obviously need to select a motherboard with at least two or more M.2 SSD slots for utilization, which you might struggle to find in Mini-ITX Z790 Motherboards.
That being said, Intel’s aiming to make PCIe Gen 4.0 a thing of the past, or completely obsolete, in simpler words. Bolstering an industrial-level adoption of PCIe Gen 5.0 and DDR5 RAM more than a year ago with its lineup of 12th Generation Alder Lake CPUs; 13th Generation Raptor Lake Processors are mainly targeting an improvement in the number of PCIe 5.0 Lanes available while still giving budget-oriented consumers the option of sticking with DDR4 RAM, which helps significantly to ease the monetary constraints induced when contemplating the purchase of computer components for a Raptor Lake Gaming PC, including, but not limited to the processors themselves, suitable motherboards, RAM, and GPUs, to name a few.
Notwithstanding, even though PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 support ensues for the latest Intel CPUs, you’ll need to watch for higher-end Intel motherboards, such as the Best Z790 or B760 motherboards, since these pricier features will be reserved for premium motherboard offerings.
However, regardless of whether you intend on pursuing an AMD-based or Intel-based system, the benefits of PCIe Gen 5.0 and even DDR5, to a certain extent, are nothing to write home about, best-case scenario, at the time of writing, due to limited/negligible support in terms of compatible peripherals.
As far as connectivity is concerned, we’re glad to assure you that even the Best Budget Z790 Motherboards present vast options for connectivity without breaking the bank.
Nevertheless, you should have an estimated idea of how many and which type of USB ports you’d like to utilize, such as USB 2.0, USB 3.2 Gen 1×1, USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 and USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (Type-C) since a few of the Cheapest Z790 Motherboards in 2022 will cut down on the comparatively faster USB connections to drive prices down.
Also, every Z790 Motherboard contains a different selection of USB ports, so it is crucial to crossmatch the number of I/O connections available with your unique needs. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the type and number of audio ports you’d like to use as well.
Coalesced with overall Thermal Efficiency and general Heat Dissipation, heatsinks are a few of the most important aspects of a Z790 Motherboard since they can reduce or boost your CPU, GPU, and overall performance depending on how well they conduct a typical heat transfer. They will also determine whether your 13th Generation Intel-based PC would undergo a case of thermal throttling to keep temperatures down or perform consistently.
The general rule of thumb is to choose one of the Best Z790 Motherboards with advanced heat dissipation techniques while ideally incorporating multiple heatsinks for optimal heat radiation away from your Motherboard’s components.
Adding on, the thicker your Motherboard’s PCBs (Printed Circuit Boards), the lower your temps. Your Z790 Motherboard comprises multiple PCBs sandwiched together, which generally produce excessive heat. So, unless your PCBs are sizeably thick with several layers, your Intel-based Gaming PC will struggle with heat conductance, eventually leading to thermal throttling and bottlenecked performance.
Therefore, you’ll find that most of the Best Z790 Motherboards comprise an 8-Layer PCB built out of twice the usual amount of copper for optimal thermal sustenance.
Form Factor and Compatibility
Z790 Motherboards are usually manufactured in four sizes; ATX, E-ATX, Micro-ATX, and Mini-ITX. Generally speaking, ATX and E-ATX motherboards are the biggest of the bunch, featuring several massive heatsinks with comparatively thicker PCB layers, commonly offering the most features alongside plentiful expansion slots and ports for unimaginable connectivity.
As a side effect, the ATX and E-ATX Z790 Motherboards towards the premium end of the spectrum will unsurprisingly be the most expensive motherboards on the market, and you often end up paying excessively for over-the-top perks you will never use in day-to-day tasks.
On the contrary, Micro-ATX and, specifically, Mini-ITX will be the Smallest Z790 Motherboards you can find on the planet, paving the way for miniature gaming PC builds. These Z790 Motherboards will usually sacrifice a few over-the-top features and have slightly worse results in terms of heat radiation.
However, manufacturers are constantly working hard to bridge this gap between the four form factors. Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX Z790 Motherboards would also typically have fewer PCI expansion slots and a restricted number of PCIe 5.0 Lanes since there isn’t a lot of space to utilize, offering limited connectivity.
Nonetheless, Mini-ITX Z790 Motherboards will also stage themselves at jaw-dropping prices since these boards, while making certain compromises, still manage to provide you with the same power and capabilities as a monstrous gaming tower would.
Manufacturer Support and Brand Reputation
We make it a habit of closely scrutinizing each of the Best Z790 Motherboards listed in terms of after-sales customer service care provided by each company while also keeping in mind past experiences (procured via both internal and external sources) and track records while also scrutinizing each and every component of the particular Z790 Motherboard itself in terms of the longevity and durability, such as the rated lifespan of the capacitors and chokes, or the MTTF (Mean-Time-To-Failure) of integrated chipset fans.
Of course, we don’t let warranty periods slide by, with Tech4Gamers actively encouraging companies to stand by their products for an extended period, reassuring prospective buyers with legitimate concerns regarding their Z790 Motherboard’s future-proofing and life-cycle.
Why Should You Trust Our Judgement
With over twelve years of experience in the technology and gaming industry, our stalwart team has been refined persistently to produce a potent group of cultivated individuals who are known to relay the most accurate information to our valued consumers, thanks to the extensive research and thorough reviewing we conduct before we publish every piece of journalism.
In addition, we have been explicitly featured on most industry-leading gaming and tech brands, such as Gigabyte, MSI, Asus, and DeepCool, to name a few, as reliable and trusted sources for Hardware and Technology. These and other reputed manufacturers such as Noctua, Thermaltake, Xigmatek, Corsair, EKWB, Cooler Master, Antec, and many others regularly send samples to us, based on which we formulate unbiased reviews to give our readers a genuine representation of the product from an objective perspective.
Subsequently, we instill confidence in our esteemed audience, which may rely on us to impart the best advice for building, customizing, and modifying their personal gaming computers.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Z790 sports the LGA 1700 CPU Mounting Platform, the same as the preceding Z690 and accompanying 600-Series Motherboards.
Yes. Both 12th Generation (Alder Lake) and 13th Generation (codenamed Raptor Lake) Intel CPUs utilize the same CPU Mounting Socket, i.e., the LGA 1700. Subsequently, the Core i9-13900K is complementary to the Z790 in terms of compatibility.
Since the Alder Lake Core i9-12900K is based on the LGA 1700 CPU Socketing Mechanism, it is usable with any of the Best Z790 Motherboards. However, we wouldn’t recommend such an unorthodox pairing as far as the value proposition is concerned.
Yes, the Z790, in a similar fashion to its predecessor, the Z690 chipset, enables full support for DDR5 RAM. However, different (relatively budget-oriented) variants of Intel’s 700-Series Chipsets, including the Z790, will also be compatible with good ol’ DDR4 Memory.
Thank you! Please share your positive feedback. 🔋
How could we improve this post? Please Help us. 😔