Intel introduced its new 9th-gen Core CPUs earlier this week. You can preorder those now if you can find them. But alongside that new chip, hardware manufacturers are rolling out new motherboards with the Intel Z390 chipset.
This is the followup to the Z370 chipset that was the previous high-end standard for Intel’s gaming CPUs. The difference is definitely incremental, but you’ll get support for Coffee Lake-R CPUs out of the box. With the Z370s, you’ll need to upgrade your BIOS. Otherwise, you’ll get support for USB 3.1 Gen 2, integrated Wi-Fi, and SDXC 3.0 means motherboards can now
The USB 3.1 Gen 2 connection is a faster USB-C connection that can handle up to 10 Gbps. That’s twice as fast as USB 3.1 Gen 1. Integrated Wi-Fi should mean that every Z390 motherboard has integrated Wi-Fi 5 (the new name for 802.11ac Wi-Fi). And SDXC 3.0 means you can support up to 2TB SD cards on a Z390 motherboard with a compatible SD-card slot.
Of course, you’ll still get dual channel memory, Intel Optane Memory support, and unlocked overclocking.
Who is making Z390 mobos?
Everyone. Or at least all of the big-name component manufacturers. NZXT, MSI, EVGA, Gigabyte, Asus, and ASRock all have at least one Z390 motherboard. Many of those companies, however, have multiple options.
Since these are the overclocking boards with all of the extra features, they start in price at around $130. That doesn’t guarantee quality, though.
Some notable options include Gigabyte’s z390 UD, which is selling for $130 on NewEgg. MSI has updated its MEG line with the MEG Z390 Ace for $290 on NewEgg, and it also has the $600 MEG Z390 Godlike option as well.
NZXT is also returning to the motherboard fight with the Z390 version of its N7. That board sells for $280 in the U.S. and $250 for the rest of the world. That sure does seem like it’s the result of the 10 percent tariff tax that rolled out October 1.
It’s a relief to see NZXT get right back into this space. I’m using the company’s Z370 N7 right now on our test system, and I really like it. But that was its first ever motherboard. And it seems like the company is already listening to feedback. For example, its attractive, NZXT-style shrouds cover the hexadecimal POST code indicator on the N7 Z370, so NZXT put that on the I/O panel this time. Now, it’s always visible. The N7 Z390 also has the integrated Intel Wi-Fi. Wireless connectivity was noticeably missing on the $250 N7 Z370.
But while NZXT continues to create new competition, we’ll have to see how the motherboards shake out in testing to get an idea of which ones stand above the rest.