ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte and others unveiled the first Intel Z590 Series motherboards at CES 2021. These motherboards will be backwards compatible with the current intel Comet Lake-S processors of the tenth generation but introduce all the new features of the next eleventh generation chips.
It is not yet clear whether Intel Rocket Lake CPUs will be launched on the same day as the Z590 motherboards. During the CES press conference, Intel simply stated that Rocket Lake is still on track to arrive this quarter as previously announced.
MSI presents the Z590 with 14 SKUs between its MEG, MPG, MAG and Pro lines. There are three high-end SKUs in the MEG series, Godlike, Ace and Unify. The flagship Godlike will have 20 power phases with 90A MOSFET.
MEG class boards have the highest memory support at DDR4 5333 Mhz. All MEG boards have six SATA ports and three M.2 sockets, while the Godlike model will have 4 M.2 sockets on the board and two from the M.2 Expander board, for a total of 6. They also include 2.5 and 10 Gbit NIC and Wi-Fi 6. Finally, MEG Ace also includes a USB port 3.2 Gen 2 (20 Gbps) Lightning.
The MPG line consists of 4 boards. We find Gaming Carbon WiFi, Gaming Force, Gaming Edge WiFi and Gaming Plus. ATX size have 6 SATA ports (mATX 4) and have 3 M.2 slots. All MPG with "WiFi" in the name have built-in Wi-Fi 6 features. All MPG also include a USB port 3.2 Jan 2 (20 Gbps).
MAG Tomahawk, MAG Torpedo and A Pro serve different markets: players and creators, respectively. However, their hardware configuration is similar, sharing the same power design and the same number of SATA ports and M.2 slots. Both have 2.5 Gbit NICs.
Gigabyte introduces 8 different SKUs initially, ranging from the games-centric Aorus line, to the new Tachyon SKU. Power delivery in the Aorus line ranges from 21 to 13 power phases with MOSFET up to 100A (Extreme and Tachyon). Cooling is completely passive. Some of the notable differences between Aorus lie in VRM power phases, MOSFET capacity and M.2 slot count (3 or 4). The boards include 6 SATA ports, apart from the Ultra, with 4.
In addition, all Gigabyte motherboards use 2.5 Gbit ethernet or higher. All listings listed outside the Z590 Aorus Elite include Wi-Fi 6.
Vision motherboards and the more entry-level Ultra Durable line are missing from this initial list. All boards use a Realtek solution on the audio side, the premium CODEC ALC1220 or the new ALC4080 codec.
ASRock's Z590 range of motherboards consists of 12 SKUs: 10 ATX, a Micro ATX (mATX) and a Mini-ITX (mITX). Taichi appears to be the flagship, followed by Velocita and Extreme. Next, the Phantom Gaming line occupies the mid-range, while the Extreme 4 and Steel Legend fill the entry-level points.
From a networking perspective, each motherboard has a 2.5 GbE port (based on Killer or Realtek) while other more budget-oriented boards include a single 1 GbE port. Any motherboard that includes Wi-Fi supports WI-Fi 6.
The Z590 Taichi will include 8 SATA ports. Multiple boards, including Taichi, Extreme, and PG Velocita, offer 3 M.2 ports. The smaller Phantom Gaming-ITX TB3 and ATX Taichi and Velocita include active cooling on VRM heatsinks to keep temperatures low under strain. ASRock chose the Realtek ALC1200 and ALC1220 codecs for audio, along with Nahimic software support.
Asus initial lineup consists of 6 motherboards. Samples from almost all segments of the company's internal market are available, including ROG Maximus (XIII Extreme/Hero), ROG Strix (Z590-E Gaming), TUF Gaming Z590-Plus (Wi-Fi) and Prime Z590-A. What is currently missing is the Pro Art series. The premium ROG Maximus XII (MXII) series focused on gaming and overclocking continues to deliver the best of what the platform has to offer. Large passive heatsinks help cool VRMs to 18+ 2 power phases below, with the exception of Glacier, which includes a waterblock for CPU and VRM. ASUS includes AI overclocking from the BIOS or AI suite that tests the processor to see which cores are the best.
All Maximus boards include at least one 2.5Gb LAN, with Extreme using Marvell AQtion AQC107 10GbE. Up to 8 SATA ports and 4 M.2 slots in this range will be available. The ROG Strix series historically spans several boards of various sizes, including ATX, Micro ATX, and Mini-ITX. All employ a robust VRM design. The Strix Z590-E Gaming WiFi uses a 14+ 2 configuration, the same as Maximus XIII Hero and TUF Gaming. All motherboards include the Supreme FX S1220A codec and will have multiple RGB LED connectors. A little lower in the product stack, the ASUS Prime motherboards.
TUF series boards are geared more toward players with more modest budgets and needs. Users can still have Wi-Fi 6 integrated on Plus (Wi-Fi), USB 3.2 and USB 3.2 Gen2 (10 Gbps) Type-C ports. The audio is managed by a Realtek ALC S1200A.
The EVGA Z590 boards consist of the Z590 Dark and Z590 FTW. Dark is the flagship board in an E-ATX form factor, with a robust 18-power phases VRM. The FTW uses a power supply of less than 17 power phases, but still interesting.
The FTW has 6 SATA ports on the storage front, 4 of which come from the chipset, while two come from an ASMedia controller. The Dark includes 8 total SATA ports, 6 from the chipset and the other 2 from ASMedia. Both boards have 2 M.2 PCIe ports (one of which is PCIe 4.0 x4) and fit up to 110 mm units.
Realtek ALC12220 codecs handle audio on both motherboards with the support of NU Audio software. Both FTW and Dark include a Gen2x2 (20 Gbps) Type-C USB port and several standard Gen2 and Gen1 ports.
Intel is trying to catch up AMD on the platform front, but adding PCIe 4.0 support makes the feature set compared to AMD much closer than launching the X570 chipset, plus, with the shortage of Ryzen 5000 processors, consumers could give another big boost to the next Intel platform.