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MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi II Motherboard Review

I have tested the MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi II on a series of productivity and gaming benchmarks along with thermal imaging to bring you its in-depth review.

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Review Summary

The MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi II motherboard, targeting avid gamers, impresses with its support for Intel’s 12th/13th/14th Gen processors on LGA1700 and 192GB DDR5 support up to 7800+(OC) MHz. Its high-end features include a PCIe 5×16 slot, Gen5x4 M.2 slot, and 19+1+1 phase power design. Additionally, it boasts extensive connectivity options, including a 5GbE LAN port, WiFi 7, and various USB ports. Retailing at USD 499, it’s a premium choice for gamers seeking advanced features and future-proofing, though its price may be steep for budget-conscious users.

Hours Tested: 15-17hrs
Tech4Gamers Recommended Award

  • Design - 9/10
  • Features - 9/10
  • Performance - 8.5/10
  • Value - 8.5/10


  • 19+1+1 Power Stages
  • Renesas PWM Controller
  • VRM Cooling
  • 1x Gen5 M.2 Port
  • 1x PCIe Gen5 Steel Reinforced Slot
  • 4x Gen 4 M.2 Slots
  • 6x SATA Ports
  • 5GbE LAN Port
  • WiFi 7 Module and Antennae
  • 7x Fan Headers
  • Audio ALC4080 Codec
  • 2x USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C Ports
  • Clear CMOS Button
  • Flash BIOS Button
  • Debug LED


  • None

Earlier, I tested the MSI MAG Z790 Tomahawk Max WiFi motherboard. This time, I am taking a look at the new MPG Carbon WiFi II motherboard. “Gaming motherboard for the gamers, by the gamers” says all about the target market of this motherboard. It is a feature-rich motherboard with beefy 19+1+1 power stages that can handle your core i7/i9 easily with some EZ OC preset for i9 SKUs. The salient features include:

  • This motherboard supports Intel 12th, 13th, and 14th Gen processors on LGA1700.
  • 192GB DDR5 support with up to 7800+(OC) MHz
  • PCIe 5×16 Slot, PCIe Gen5x4 M.2 slot are supported
  • Packs USB 3.2 Gen2x2 ports
  • It has Direct 19+1+1 phases power, Core Boost, Memory Boost technology
  • Enlarged heatsink with connected heat pipe and 7W/mK thermal pads
  • 5GbE LAN Port and WiFi 7 wireless connectivity
  • Screwless M.2 Shield Frozr Cover
  • Audio Boost 5 using ALC4080
  • 8-Layer Server Grade PCB
  • Pre-installed I/O Shield

Key Takeaways

  • The MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi II is a feature-rich gaming motherboard offering support for Intel’s latest CPUs, high-speed DDR5 memory, PCIe Gen 5 compatibility, and a unique USB 4.0 expansion card.
  • You should get the MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi II if you want top-notch features with high overclocking potential, Gen-5 connectivity, excellent USB connectivity, beautiful looks, and remarkable performance.
  • You should not get the MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi II if you already have a Z690/Z790 motherboard or are on a tight budget.

Let’s start with the specifications.

MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi II Specs
MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi II Specs

I have shown summed-up specifications in the above pictures. For more detailed specifications, click here. I will cover these in the Design Overview section coming ahead.

Packaging And Unboxing

MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Max WiFi Motherboard — Box 1 1024x88
Unboxing (Image By Tech4Gamers)

The motherboard is shipped inside a standard cardboard packing box. There is a purple color finish on the packing box. However, there is no purple color theme over the main motherboard. MSI has included the following in the box:

  • 1x ATX-sized Motherboard
  • 2x SATA 6Gbps Cables
  • 1x Quick Installation Guide
  • 1x European Union Regulatory Notice
  • 1x Cable Sticker
  • 1x Shout out Flyer
  • 4x EZ M.2 Clips
  • 1x USB Drive for Drivers installation
  • 1x WiFi Antenna
  • 1x USB 4 PD100W Expansion Card
  • 1x USB 4 Cable
  • 1x USB 2 Cable
  • 1x Front Panel Connector Cable
  • 1x USB Drive
  • JARGB Extension Cable
  • JRGB Extension Cable
  • JAF1 Extension Y Cable
MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Max WiFi Motherboard — Box 2 1024x76
Accessories and Cables (Image By Tech4Gamers)


MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Max WiFi Motherboard — Main 1024x95
The board itself (Image By Tech4Gamers)

This motherboard supports Intel LGA1700 socket, making it compatible with Intel’s 12th/13th/14th generations. It has 4x DIMM slots. The motherboard has 8 PCB layers using IT-170 Server-grade PCB material and 2oz Thickened Copper. The on-board display coming from socket includes only one HDMI 2.1 port capable of 4K@60Hz. In addition this socket provides 20x PCIe lanes.

Two M.2 ports and first PCIe slot are wired to the socket. Now, this is an interesting design since 20 lanes are to be shared among them. One M.2 port is Gen4x4, the second is Ge5x4 and the PCIe slot is Gen5. Using Gen5 port will make the graphics card operate at an x8 link. Rest of the connectivity comes from the Z790 chipset including 3x Gen4x4 M.2 slots, WiFi 7 solution, Intel NUC, SATA, and Audio solution. Let’s start with the power delivery circuit of this motherboard. MSI has used Winbond 25Q256JWEQ 256M-bit ROM Flash.

Power Delivery To Socket

There is a 19+1+1 power stage design on this motherboard. MSI is using Renesas RAA 229131 PWM controller to drive these power stages. Speaking of power stages there are 19 Renesasa RAA22010540 power stages for Vcore. These are rated for 105A each. I think same stage is used for the GT. However, there is an MP87670 power stage for the Aux rail. I am not sure about its current rating.

MSI has used the grounding structure of power phases to suppress the EMI generated by these power phases. MSI has enabled overcurrent protection in the PCB design to safeguard the components of the PCB from excessive current. This would provide stability and durability.

Thanks to LGA1700 socket, this motherboard is fully compatible with the last two generations along with the new refresh. MSI has used two enlarged heat sink covers that are connected using a direct touch heat pipe and there are 7W/mK thermal pads as well. There is an MSI branding which is ARGB backlit which looks good in person. There is a textured pattern over both heat sinks indicating the Carbon theme.

DIMM Slots

MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Max WiFi Motherboard — DIMM Slots 1024x76
DIMM Slots (Image By Tech4Gamers)

MSI has used 4x DDR5 UDIMM slots. MSI has used the SMT welding process to install slots on the PCB for better performance. A total of 192GB capacity is supported along with a support for binary as well as non-binary memory kits. The maximum supported DDR5 frequency is 7800+(OC) MHz. I have already tested an 8000MHz kit on this motherboard and it was working fine with XMP.

These support Intel XMP 3.0 with dual-channel and dual-controller modes. The supported memory is non-ECC and unbuffered. In addition, MSI has provided a handy Memory Boost and Memory Extension support in UEFI BIOS that enables the users to leverage the true performance of their DDR5 kits.

Storage Options

This motherboard has 5x M.2 slots and 6x SATA ports. Each M.2 slot or port has an aluminum cover for heat transfer which is finished in black color to represent the Carbon theme. The M.2 Shield Frozr tool-less cover is provided over the first slot. This is a strange implementation. I was expecting this tool-less mounting over the Gen5 M.2 port, instead it is on the Gen M.2 port.

MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Max WiFi Motherboard — M.2 Ports 3 1024x93
Thermal Pads (Image By Tech4Gamers)

The overall footprint of this motherboard is quite appealing and eye-catching. Each slot has two thermal pads. One is on the base plate and the other is on the cover. The last three M.2 ports have a single large-size aluminum cover providing more surface area for effective heat dissipation.

The top two slots are wired to the CPU socket and provide up to 128GB/s bandwidth. It has a form factor support of 2280/2260. The Gen5 M.2 slot supports the 22110 form factor as well. The M2_5 supports PCIe and SATA SSDs.

MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Max WiFi Motherboard — Connectors SATA e1703255124236 1024x60
Connectors SATA (Image By Tech4Gamers)

Speaking of SATA ports, this motherboard has a total of 6x ports wired to the Z790 chipset controlled by ASM1061.

PCIe Connectivity

MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Max WiFi Motherboard — PCIe Slots 1024x83
PCIe Slots (Image By Tech4Gamers)

This motherboard has a total of 3x PCIe slots. The first slot is full x16 slotted and wired to the CPU socket. It has XL clip for easy handling. The other two are wired to the socket. The top slot is PCIe Gen5x16 rated but using an SSD in the M2_2 slot will make the graphics card operate on an x8 link. The second slot is PCIe 3.0 x1. The third slot is PCIe 4×4.

The top PCIe slot is steel reinforced which MSI refers to as Steel Armor and it has heavy soldered connections on the PCB to support the weight of a heavy graphics card. MSI has used the advanced SMT technology for the PCIE slot to diminish interference and electrical noise. I would still suggest using a GPU support bracket for the heavy graphics card anyway.

USB Connectivity

This motherboard is packed with USB ports on the front, rear, and mid-board. It has:

  • 4x USB 2.0 (Front)
  • 2x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type A (Rear)
  • 2x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type A (Front)
  • 6x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type A (Rear)
  • 1x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type C (Rear)
  • 1x USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type C (Rear)
  • 1x USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type C (Front)

I appreciate the provision of 2 USB 3.2 Gen2x2 ports. MSI has used several USB hubs and controllers including GL850, GL3590, ASM3242, and PI3EQX10.

Networking Solution

MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Max WiFi Motherboard — Intel LAN 972x102
Intel LAN (Image By Tech4Gamers)

MSI has provided wired and wireless connectivity on this motherboard. There is a 2.5GB LAN port (NUC) powered by Intel S2223L26 SRKTU which is different than S2333L35 SLNMH that we saw on the Z790 Tomahawk Max WiFi motherboard. The Carbon WiFi II has an I226V RJ45 2.5GbE network chip.

In addition, there is a powerful WiFi module that comes pre-installed and a dedicated antenna is also in the box. One thing I love about Antenna is the easy clipping of Antenna ports. They simply plugged in the WiFi ports/sockets instead of screwing.

MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Max WiFi Motherboard — WiFi
WiFi (Image By Tech4Gamers)

The WiFi (802.11 be) has high speed, wider channels with improved efficiency, providing 5.8Gbps which is 2.4 times faster than the WiFi 6/6E standards. The new protocol has 320MHz channel width compared to 160MHz on the previous generation. Wi-Fi 7 improves the modulation scheme from 1024-QAM to 4096-QAM which is impressive. This new generation is capable of sending and receiving data across several frequencies and channels at a time.

Audio Solution

MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Max WiFi Motherboard — Audio Circuit e1703255270688 1024x78
Audio Circuit (Image By Tech4Gamers)

MSI has implemented Audio hardware on two separate layers of the PCB. They are harnessing the power of RealTek ALC4080 codec in combination with high-performance Chemi-Con capacitors. This solution is wired to the Z790 socket. It is the same codec that I saw on Z790 Tomahawk Max WiFi, but MSI has used more capacitors in the Carbon WiFi II motherboard.

This is a 7.1 Channel audio solution that has S/PDIF output as well. It supports up to 32-bit/384 kHz playback on the front panel. MSI has designed the isolated analogy structure for the output on the rear panel. In this design, the external metal housing is separated from the internal layout to further improve the sound quality.

Z790 Chipset

MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Max WiFi Motherboard — Z790 Chipset 1024x92
Z790 Chipset (Image By Tech4Gamers)

I am showing the Z790 chipset after removing its heatsink cover. Now that we have given a brief overview of this motherboard let’s take a look at the connectors.

Internal Connectors


There are:

  • 2x EPS Connectors
  • 1x ATX Connector
  • 1x CPU Fan Header
  • 1x Pump Fan Header
  • 5x System Fan Headers
  • 2x Front Panel (JFP)
  • 1x Chassis Intrusion (JCI)
  • 1x Front Audio (JAUD)
  • 1x TBT connector (JTBT, supports RTD3)
  • 3x Addressable V2 RGB LED connector (JARGB_V2)
  • 1x RGB LED connector(JRGB)
  • 1x TPM pin header(Support TPM 2.0)
  • 4x USB 2.0 ports
  • 2x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type A ports
  • 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type C ports
  • 1x ARGB+FAN Header (JAF_1)
  • 1x USB4 card connector (JTBT_U4_1, supports RTD3)
  • 4x EZ Debug LED
  • 1x 2-Digit Debug Code LED
  • 1x EZ LED Control switch
MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Max WiFi Motherboard — Connectors Top EPS 1024x86
CPU Connectors (Image By Tech4Gamers)

Each fan header is powered and controlled by nuvoTon 3961S. MSI has used the same controller in Z790 Tomahawk Max WiFi. The Pump header is rated for 3A, whereas the CPU Fan header has a 2A rating. The remaining headers are 1A-rated.

The JAF header allows MSI’s own Daisy-Chained fan to operate with a single cable. This works in the MSI Ecosystem only. Alternatively, the JAF header can be converted into additional ARGB gen 1 and FAN headers by using a dedicated Y-cable.

MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Max WiFi Motherboard — Connectors Top 1 e1703255827963 1024x76
Fan Connectors (Image By Tech4Gamers)

There are 4x LEDs to troubleshoot the system. These LEDs correspond to the CPU, RAM, VGA, and Boot. There is also a debug LED on the motherboard. I would have loved to see at least one external thermal sensory connector instead of 4x troubleshooting LEDs and one thermistor cable. The power connectors are using solid pins that improve stability by providing low impedance and durability with high current-withstanding capability.

Rear IO Panel

MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Max WiFi Motherboard — Rear IO Panel 1024x61
Rear IO Panel (Image By Tech4Gamers)

There are:

  • Flash BIOS / Clear CMOS
  • USB 3.2 Gen 1 5 Gbps (Type-A)
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2 10Gbps (Type-A)
  • 5G LAN
  • Wi-Fi / Bluetooth
  • Audio Connectors
  • Smart Button
  • HDMI™
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2 10Gbps (Type-C)
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 20Gbps (Type-C)
  • Optical S/PDIF Out

MSI has implemented an extra layer of sponge materials on the Rear IO panel. The shield itself is corrosive resistant. This improves the static electricity, reducing electromagnetic radiation noise from the system.

It is good to see that MSI did not ditch the USB 3.2 Gen2x2 port. This port is capable of providing up to 20Gbps bandwidth. I like the idea of Clear CMOS and Flash BIOS buttons. The SMART button is another innovative feature. Its default behavior is to reset your PC. However, you can customize its behavior from BIOS to any of Mystic Light On/Off, Safe Boot, and Turbo Fan.

MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Max WiFi Motherboard — Back View 1024x102
Back View (Image By Tech4Gamers)

I am showing the backside of the motherboard where MSI has provided Transient Voltage Suppressors. These are safety devices that are used to protect against the excessive voltage. In case of an abnormal voltage hike, the TVS switches from a high-resistance state to a low-resistance state hence grounding the excessive voltage. There is Keep Out Zone Printing over here as well.


BIOS interface is similar to the one on the Z790 Tomahawk Max WiFi motherboard. BIOS starts in the EZ mode. The user can switch to Advanced mode using the F7 key. XMP is just one click away. CPU, RAM, and Voltage settings are grouped under the OC menu. System-related configuration options are grouped in the Settings menu. Boot and Exit options are also under the Settings menu,

A hardware monitor allows the users to control the speed of the fans. OC Profiles allow the users to save their configurations in the files and restore from the saved files. This would come in handy during installation. M-Flash is used to update the BIOS ROM. Power limits are available in Advanced CPU Configuration. I could not locate the Intel Dynamic Tuning Technology under the CPU Features.

Test Build

MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Max WiFi Motherboard — Test Build 803x102
Test Build (Image By Tech4Gamers)

I have used the following configuration to test the motherboard:

MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Max WiFi Motherboard — CPU Z.png
CPU Z (Image By Tech4Gamers)

The above is a picture showing a run of CPU-Z. We can see that the CPU is reported at almost 5.5GHz (Bus speed was not at 100MHz to show absolute 5500MHz). You can also see that the graphics card is operating at the x8 link. This is due to Intel’s implementation of sharing PCIe lanes between the Gen5 PCIe slot and the Gen5 M.2 slot. The RAM was operating at its tested speed of 7200MT/s after loading the XMP.

MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Max WiFi Motherboard — GPU Z.png
GPU Z (Image By Tech4Gamers)

The above is a readout from TechPowerUP’s GPU-Z showing the data from the graphics card confirming that the card is working. It also shows that the graphics card is operating at the Gen4 x8 link.

The above pictures show the ARGB lighting effects on this motherboard.

We have divided the overall tests into four major categories. These are:

CPU and Memory Tests

  • AIDA64 CPU and Memory Test
  • GeekBench 5.4.5
  • Blender Benchmark 4.0
  • 7-Zip Compression Benchmark
  • 3DMARK CPU Profile
  • Storage Tests
  • CrystalDiskMark
  • PCMARK10 Data Drive Benchmark

Gaming Tests

  • 3DMARK Speed Way
  • 3DMARK Time Spy Extreme
  • 3DMARK Fire Strike Ultra
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Cyberpunk 2077
  • Control
  • Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
  • Far Cry 6
  • Forza Horizon 5

Overall System Tests

  • PCMARK10
  • Performance Test

Test Result

The testing was done on stock settings with XMP loaded. This motherboard has powers unlocked by default. It is time to take a look at the test results, starting with CPU and memory benchmarks.

CPU And Memory Benchmarks

In Cinebench R23.2, the CPU scored 35629 points in CPU Multi Core load and 2173 points in a Single Core Load. The DDR5 kit has performed well at its tested speed of 7200MHz. The single core score of 2206 from Gekbench 5.4.5 is quite well. The performance in the 7-Zip benchmark is remarkable as well, with a compression result of 148628MIPS and 132212MIPS score in Decompression. The blender benchmark’s overall score was 481.53, showing the performance potential of this CPU.

Storage Test

I have used:

  • Gen4x4 NVMe Drive
  • Gen5x4 NVMe Drive
  • USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Drive [Rated for 1500MB/s]

The Gen5 drive has shown a remarkable performance in CrystalDiskMark. The Gen 4 NVMe drive and USB drive also passed their tested speeds in this benchmark on the fly.

We have a killer performance from the Gen 5 NVMe drive in PCMARK10 Data Drive Benchmark, doing a 13389 score compared to a 5279 score from the Gen4 NVMe drive. The USB drive scored 623.

USB 4 Expansion Card Test Result

I have used Sabrent Rocket NANO XTRM External Drive, coming in at 1TB capacity and rated for 2700 MB/s to test the USB 4 expansion card. The drive was connected to the USB 4 port 1.

MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Max WiFi Motherboard — CrystalDiskMark TB 4.0 Drive.png
CrystalDiskMark TB 4.0 Drive (Image By Tech4Gamers)

This drive passed its sequential speeds in CrystalDiskMark as it was doing 2846.44 MB/s and 2647.99 MB/s in read and write respectively. This is not possible with USB 3.2 Gen2x2 as this interface has 20Gbps bandwidth.

MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Max WiFi Motherboard — PCMARK10 Data Drive Benchmark TB 4 Drive 1024x748.png
PCMARK10 Data Drive Benchmark TB 4 Drive (Image By Tech4Gamers)

This drive scored 2294 in the Data Drive Benchmark test with a bandwidth of 351.43MB/s at an average access time of 70µs.

Gaming Test

We have a good all-round performance in the gaming benchmarks. This shows that this motherboard can handle the gaming load easily.

System Performance Test

The system scored 9869 in PCMARK10 and 12669 in Performance Test, showing a good all-round performance.

Core Clock Behavior

The system was left idle for 10 minutes under the Balanced Power Profile. The idle clocks were 1097MHz on the P-Cores, whereas these were 798MHz on the E-Cores, more or less. The clocks were peaking at 5.6GHz under the 1T load. All cores load put these clocks to 5486.6MHz (almost 5.5GHz).

Thermals and Power

In idle state, the CPU was doing 3.868W on the package, whereas the graphics card was at 11W on the GPU core. Under a single core load, the CPU was doing 42.287W on the package. The power draw was 259.180W under all cores load. The Graphics card under full stress test load was doing 375W. During gaming, the average GPU power draw was 355W, and the CPU’s power draw was 96W. The system power draw on average was approximately 495W.

Testing was done at an ambient temperature of 22ᵒC. The CPU was idling at 27ᵒC, and the graphics card was idling at 37.6ᵒC. Under load, the CPU was doing 85ᵒC whereas the GPU was doing 74ᵒC using the AIDA64 Stability test with AVX load.

MSI MPG Z790 Carbon Max WiFi Motherboard — MOSFET Sensor
MOSFET Sensor (Image By Tech4Gamers)

MSI has integrated two sensors in the MOSFETs reporting temperature from two rails.

The VRM/MOSFET was doing 65.2ᵒC at the same ambient. There was no active airflow towards the motherboard.

Should You Buy It?

Now that we have tested every nook and cranny of the MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi II, should you get it?

Buy It If

✅You are looking for a high-spec motherboard: The MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi II has a multitude of features that would come in handy not only for gaming but also for general use.

✅You want Gen 5 Connectivity: If you are in the market looking for a new motherboard with Gen 5-based connectivity, then this motherboard deserves your attention.

Don’t Buy It If

❌You already have a Z690/Z790 motherboard: If you are already a user of the Z690 and Z790 motherboard, then you can skip this motherboard. However, if your motherboard does not have Gen5-based M.2 ports, then this motherboard can meet your needs.

❌You are a budget user: This motherboard is expected to retail at USD 499, which is a high price tag. If you are looking for a pocket-friendly motherboard, you may want to look at some other options.

Final Words

The MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi II motherboard is designed for gaming and features Gen-5 connectivity for top-notch performance. It includes 1 Gen5x4 and 4 Gen4x4 M.2 slots, with the top two slots connected directly to the CPU. Notably, the Gen5x4 slot lacks a magnetic M.2 Frozr Shield. The motherboard has 3 PCIe slots, including a steel-reinforced Gen5x16 top slot.

It supports up to 192GB RAM with frequencies exceeding 7800MHz and is compatible with 12th to 14th-generation Intel CPUs due to its LGA1700 socket. The board excels in USB connectivity, offering two USB 3.2 Gen2x2 20Gbps ports, and 17 additional USB ports.

The motherboard includes Intel 2.5GbE LAN, Bluetooth 5.4, WiFi 7, and a user-friendly WiFi antenna. It features an ALC4080 codec-based audio solution, and the Rear IO panel has Clear CMOS and Flash BIOS buttons, plus a programmable Smart button.

It boasts 19+1+1 power stages with large heat sinks and thermal pads, along with integrated sensors for temperature and power monitoring and protections against over-current and over-voltage. The BIOS includes a Memory Extension mode for various needs like memory overclocking or gaming.

Priced at USD 499, the MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi II offers extensive features. It comes with a 3-year MSI warranty.

Awards Received By MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi II

After testing the MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi II, we deemed it the best choice with these Tech4Gamers Awards:

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