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  • Post published:09/05/2021
  • Post last modified:09/05/2021

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MSI MEG Z490 UNIFY review
RGB-less, all-black and very impressive.

Meet the MSI Z490 UNIFY, a new series targeted to be a high-end solution. Interesting to see that this is an RGB-less all-black design. Priced at 299 USD, it comes with AX WIFI and has a 2.5 Gbps ethernet jack and a 16-phase power design. And that makes it one of the cheapest enthusiast-class boards with 16 CPU phases backed by 90A power stages. 

MSI motherboards these days are sorted into four categories: the MEG series, MPG series, MAG series, and there’s a PRO series as well. The MEG being short for ‘MSI Enthusiast Gaming’. This MPG board is positioned in the mainstream to a higher-end region of the DiY PC desktop segment. That and some pretty fancy design choices from an aesthetic point of view. Ready for 10h Gen processors this board is about performance and aesthetics, the CPU socket has dual 8-pin ATX power connectors. The pin connectors indicate a strong VRM, and this motherboard as such has 16 phases backed by 90A power stages (!). MSI applies a super nice dark-colored PCB. It has hidden/cooled M2 slots, three of them. The motherboard has been fitted with the usual suspects and then some, including a 2.5 Gigabit ethernet and then WIFI6 in the form of AX. When it comes to the audio you will run into a Realtek ALC1220 Codec. 

With the new Comet Lake-S you can expect a handful of K model processors predominantly become popular in demand for the PC gamer, as each and every one of the processors will offer proper gaming performance if your graphics card is fast enough. Intel is able to boost the Turbo frequencies towards that 5.3 GHz domain for the flagship processor, the Core i9 10900K. Intel is releasing these series processors initially with a spread of CPU core choices:

  • Core i5-10500K (4 Core / 8 Threads)
  • Core i5-10600K (6 Core / 12 Threads)
  • Core i7-10700K (8 Core / 16 Threads)
  • Core i9-10900K (10 Core / 20 Threads)
For this review, we’ll check out this Z490 motherboard with a ten-core / twenty threads Core i9 10900K and take it through our benchmark paces. You’ll be able to tweak this proc towards at least 5.2 GHz on all ten cores with this motherboard.
The board tested as stated is positioned in an enthusiast region, it not only is the hardware just that, it looks premium as well with a very unique style, stuff we like of course. Also, the new board has some interesting new features. Have a peek, and then let’s head onwards into the review. 
  
 
Form factorATX
ChipsetIntel Z490
VRM8 real phases, 17 virtual phases (16+1), PWM-Controller: ISL69269 (max. 8 phases)
MOSFETs CPU16x 90A
RAM4x DDR4 DIMM, dual PC4-38400U/DDR4-4800 (OC), max. 128GB (UDIMM)
Extension slots3x PCIe 3.0 x16 (1x x16, 1x x8, 1x x4), 2x PCIe 3.0 x1, 1x M.2/M-Key (PCIe 3.0 x4/SATA, 22110/2280/2260/2242), 1x M.2/M-Key (PCIe 3.0 x4/SATA, 2280/2260/2242), 1x M.2/M-Key (PCIe 3.0 x4, 2280/2260/2242)
External connectors1x USB-C 3.2 (ASM3241), 3x USB-A 3.1 (Z490), 2x USB-A 3.0, 2x USB-A 2.0, 1x 2.5GBase-T (Realtek RTL8125B-CG), 5x jack, 1x toslink, 1x PS/2 Combo
Internal connectors1x USB-C 3.1 Key-A Header (Z490), 1x USB 3.0 Header (2x USB 3.0), 2x USB 2.0 header (4x USB 2.0), 6x SATA 6Gb/s (Z490), 1x TPM-Header, 1x Thunderbolt-Header 5-Pin, 1x RTD3-Header
Header Cooling1x CPU fan 4-Pin, 6x fan 4-Pin, 1x pump 4-Pin
Header Lighting1x RGB-Header 4-Pin (5050), 2x RGB-Header 3-Pin (WS2812B), 1x Corsair-RGB-Header
Buttons/SwitchesPower-Button (internal), Reset-Button (internal), clear-CMOS-Button (external), USB BIOS Flashback (external), LED switch (internal)
Audio7.1 (Realtek ALC1220), DAC (ESS 9018Q2C Sabre)
RAID level0/1/5/10 (Z490)
Multi-GPUNVIDIA 2-Way SLI (x8/x8), AMD 3-Way-CrossFireX (x8/x8, x8/x8/x4)
Power connections1x 24-Pin ATX, 2x 8-Pin EPS12V
Special featuresaudio+solid capacitors, Diagnostic LED (segment indication), Diagnostic LED (LED indicators), I/O-shield integrated, 3x M.2-passive cooler, voltage measurement points, Bluetooth 5.1 + WLAN 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2×2, Intel AX201)
Warrantythree years

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