MSI is launching no less than 14 motherboards supporting Intel’s top-tier Z790 chipset in sizes from Mini-ITX up to E-ATX.
With Intel having revealed its 13th Gen Raptor Lake CPU lineup during an Innovation event held in San Jose, motherboard manufacturers are lining up to show off their latest and greatest toys. For MSI, over a dozen boards span four ranges: MEG, MPG, MAG, and Pro.
MSI’s entire line-up of Z790 boards will support DDR5-5600 out of the box, with up to DDR5-7600 possible using XMP 3.0 on the upper echelon offerings. The power delivery system sees a nice upgrade, going from 16 DRPS (Duet Rail Power System) CPU power phases using 80A SPS on the low end, up to a massive 26 DRPS using 105A SPS on the flagship MEG Z790 Godlike.
Additionally, some M.2 ports will include an M.2 Shield Frozr cooling system which could help drop temperatures by 5 per cent according to MSI, useful atop one of those hot PCIe 5.0 NVMe SSDs. Not to forget Wi-Fi 6E, front USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C with power delivery up to 60W, and support for aRGB Gen 2 devices.
Representing the best of the best from MSI, we have two contenders, the MEG Z790 Godlike and MEG Z790 Ace. The former boasts an insane 26+2 DRPS CPU power phase design using 105A SPS, cooled by a direct touch heatpipe connected to an aluminium heatsink, where the latter includes 24+1+2 105A phases. Fast Gen 5 PCIe and M.2 slots are also available offering higher bandwidths and transfer speeds on the latest PCIe 5.0 M.2 SSDs.
Both models will feature MSI’s screwless/magnetic M.2 Shield Frozr offering a fast and easy way of fixing the M.2 cooler, so no need to mess about with that tiny screw. And for those using it, the M-Vision screen has been upgraded from 3.5in to 4.5in, meaning an increased touch capacitive area, and a larger surface to display system info.
Expansion-wise, the Godlike seems to have only two PCIe 16x plus seven M.2 slots, while the Ace has three PCIe 16x (the last one running at PCIe 4.0 speed) plus five M.2 slots (one at PCIe 5.0). For I/O the Ace gets two Type-C Thunderbolt 4 ports supporting 8K video output, seven USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, two Mini DisplayPort, and dual 2.5GbE.
This series will feature four variants, MPG Z790 Carbon WIFI, MPG Z790 Edge WIFI, MPG Z790 Edge WIFI DDR4 and the Mini-ITX MPG Z790I Edge WIFI. These models will have up to 19+1+1 power phases (in the Carbon variant), again cooled via a direct touch heatpipe connected to a heatsink. The Magnetic/screwless M.2 shield is also included.
The ATX version of these boards will support up to five M.2 slots, one of which operates at PCIe 5.0 speed on the Carbon model. The Mini-ITX however will have to make do with only three M.2 because of its limited surface area.
For connectivity, the Carbon gets two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, six USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C plus one USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C, and a single 2.5GbE, while the Mini-ITX MPG Z790I Edge WIFI gets four USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, one USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C, HDMI, DisplayPort, and 2.5GbE.
The MAG series presently consists of a Tomahawk WIFI model available with either DDR5 or DDR4 memory support. Very popular among gamers for its good built quality and features at reasonable prices, this generation’s Tomahawk board will include 16+1+1 DRPS power phases using 90A SPS, alongside four PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots plus one PCIe 4.0 x16, one PCIe 4.0 x4, and one PCIe 3.0 x1.
As for I/O, this board offers four USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, four USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, one USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C, HDMI 2.1, DisplayPort 1.4, and 2.5GbE.
This one will almost certainly prove popular this generation.
To finish up, we have the entry-level Pro models, of which MSI is planning six, Pro Z790-P, Pro Z790-P DDR4, Pro Z790-P WIFI, Pro Z790-P WIFI DDR4, Pro Z790-A WIFI, and Pro Z790-A WIFI DDR4.
The Pro Z790 series will be paired with up to 16+1+1 DRPS power phase, four PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots, one PCIe 5.0 x16, one PCIe 4.0 x4, and two PCIe 3.0 x1. Add to that two USB 2.0, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, three USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, one USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C, and 2.5GbE for external connectivity. Note that all Pro Z790-P models trade two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports for two USB 2.0.
Finally, MSI indicates that its Z790 motherboards are backwards compatible with Intel 12th Gen CPUs, if for some reason you need a new board to prolong the life of a last-gen CPU.