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MSI MEG Z490I Unify

Black Haru

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MSI has stuffed a lot of power into a small package with the MSI MEG Z490I Unify. Featuring a stealthy black aesthetic and a VRM configuration with 90 A power stages, the MSI MEG Z490I Unify could be a top choice for overclockers. Just how much can MSI pack into the Mini-ITX footprint?

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Thanks for the write up. For those of us who are older than 25, SFF, ITX shopping, No RGB is a total positive in my mind, not a negative :)
 
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Thanks for the review. Looks like a competent board, however I was interested in this board before, but have some gripes with MSI's implementation of features so I probably will wait for review of other Z490 boards as well.

That said, I found some small errors on the front page and spec sheet of the review:
  • CPU Power in page 1 is listed as 9 phases in the specs table, but the main paragraph says 8 phases
  • In the same table, Memory section is listed as 2x DIMM but somehow has support for quad channel memory (copy paste error?)
Thanks for including high resolution photos of the board, I appreciate being able to see where things are and how the connectors are arranged (especially relevant for ITX boards where potential buyers may have size/position constrants for board connectors/SATA ports etc...)

Also the inclusion of long duration VRM temperature testing is quite useful. I hope future board reviews on this site continues offering this test.
 
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Excellent review. I hope that Audio Quality, Fan Control, Storage benchmarks, etc, page remain permanent for future motherboard reviews. It really does make TechPowerUp one of the most in-depth sites.

Just one typo though - on the conclusion page you have "No RGB" under "Negative" (thumbs down column). That should be under "Positive" (thumbs up column). Thanks.
 
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What are the specs on the Z390 comparison systems? These reviews show things like Blender getting a 30% improvement on the Z490 10900K boards vs the Z390, but I find no specs on the Z390s in the comparison. I would assume it is an 9900K based on some of the other benchmarks, but 30% is a lot and unexpected here.
 
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What are the specs on the Z390 comparison systems? These reviews show things like Blender getting a 30% improvement on the Z490 10900K boards vs the Z390, but I find no specs on the Z390s in the comparison. I would assume it is an 9900K based on some of the other benchmarks, but 30% is a lot and unexpected here.
25% more cores and threads + increased clock speeds is my guess. ;)
 

Black Haru

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Thanks for the review. Looks like a competent board, however I was interested in this board before, but have some gripes with MSI's implementation of features so I probably will wait for review of other Z490 boards as well.

That said, I found some small errors on the front page and spec sheet of the review:
  • CPU Power in page 1 is listed as 9 phases in the specs table, but the main paragraph says 8 phases
  • In the same table, Memory section is listed as 2x DIMM but somehow has support for quad channel memory (copy paste error?)
Thanks for including high resolution photos of the board, I appreciate being able to see where things are and how the connectors are arranged (especially relevant for ITX boards where potential buyers may have size/position constrants for board connectors/SATA ports etc...)

Also the inclusion of long duration VRM temperature testing is quite useful. I hope future board reviews on this site continues offering this test.
CPU power is accurate, in that it also includes SOC (iGPU) phase. this reflects in the other reviews as well.

What are the specs on the Z390 comparison systems? These reviews show things like Blender getting a 30% improvement on the Z490 10900K boards vs the Z390, but I find no specs on the Z390s in the comparison. I would assume it is an 9900K based on some of the other benchmarks, but 30% is a lot and unexpected here.
Z390 testing used a 9900k, and the latest BIOS for each board (as of 3 or so weeks ago when I did the back testing). Everything else is exactly the same.
 
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What are the specs on the Z390 comparison systems? These reviews show things like Blender getting a 30% improvement on the Z490 10900K boards vs the Z390, but I find no specs on the Z390s in the comparison. I would assume it is an 9900K based on some of the other benchmarks, but 30% is a lot and unexpected here.
There's nothing unexpected here, Blender scales basically perfectly with core/threads and very well with frequency (though not quite perfectly).

With the 10900K packing 25% more core/threads and each of those core running at a higher clock, 30% is around where I'd expect the performance advantage to be.
 
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There's nothing unexpected here, Blender scales basically perfectly with core/threads and very well with frequency (though not quite perfectly).

With the 10900K packing 25% more core/threads and each of those core running at a higher clock, 30% is around where I'd expect the performance advantage to be.
Right. So no thermal throttling on 10th gen i9 despite having 25% more cores and higher frequency on same process tech.
 
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@Black Haru not sure how long it's been like this, but the AIDA64 memory tests are living on the "CPU performance" page - maybe you should rename that page to "General performance" or similar?

Right. So no thermal throttling on 10th gen i9 despite having 25% more cores and higher frequency on same process tech.
There isn't going to be any thermal throttling at stock clocks with the test cooling setup that Haru is using (custom 360mm loop).
 
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Right. So no thermal throttling on 10th gen i9 despite having 25% more cores and higher frequency on same process tech.
I know it's popular to bash on Intel at the moment, but in this particular case it's very simple. Thermal throttling happens when the cooling solution at hand is incapable of dissipating the thermal output of the CPU. For Intel CPUs, this is typically done on the basis of a temperature threshold (modern AMD CPUs also take into account power draw amongs other things).

If the cooling solution being used can adequately dissipate the thermal load, then you're not going to see thermal throttling, it's as simple as that. Based on the Intel documentation so far, the die packaging itself also saw some updates to make sure the heat load is dissipated away from the chip more efficiently by die itself being slimmer compared to previous gen CPUs.

Thermal throttling is not some sort of black magic (i.e. PACKING MORE CORES USING THE SAME PROCESS NODE MEANS IT MUST BE THROTTLING!!!!). It's all down to physics. Having more cores in the same process node means that the physical die is larger so you've got a bit more surface area to interface with the heatspreader, offers a little bit of offset. They've made the die thinner, and could also be binning the higher end SKUs more aggressively for low leakage. We don't know how true this is yet until there are more samples.

It's understandable to be skeptical, and I encourage you to read more reviews and compare the results from other publications in order to ascertain whether 30% performance bump in this specific CPU workload is to be expected or is an outlier (based on the reviews I've read so far, a 30% bump in well scalable workloads like Blender is well within the realms of possibility
 
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I know it's popular to bash on Intel at the moment, but in this particular case it's very simple. Thermal throttling happens when the cooling solution at hand is incapable of dissipating the thermal output of the CPU. For Intel CPUs, this is typically done on the basis of a temperature threshold (modern AMD CPUs also take into account power draw amongs other things).

If the cooling solution being used can adequately dissipate the thermal load, then you're not going to see thermal throttling, it's as simple as that. Based on the Intel documentation so far, the die packaging itself also saw some updates to make sure the heat load is dissipated away from the chip more efficiently by die itself being slimmer compared to previous gen CPUs.

Thermal throttling is not some sort of black magic (i.e. PACKING MORE CORES USING THE SAME PROCESS NODE MEANS IT MUST BE THROTTLING!!!!). It's all down to physics. Having more cores in the same process node means that the physical die is larger so you've got a bit more surface area to interface with the heatspreader, offers a little bit of offset. They've made the die thinner, and could also be binning the higher end SKUs more aggressively for low leakage. We don't know how true this is yet until there are more samples.

It's understandable to be skeptical, and I encourage you to read more reviews and compare the results from other publications in order to ascertain whether 30% performance bump in this specific CPU workload is to be expected or is an outlier (based on the reviews I've read so far, a 30% bump in well scalable workloads like Blender is well within the realms of possibility
You got me wrong. My comment was sarcasm about no thermal throttling in response to all the negativity to intel and its purported heat generation simply due to something most (including me) don't fully understand (7nm vs 14nm). It turns out that this is not really the case, gen 10 10900K transfers heat more efficiently and thus gets full use of its extra 2 cores and 4 threads.

Having said that, I'm actually more interested in the 600/600K, and 700/700K.
 
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I could just buy this board, for the looks alone. Put it inside a glass shelf to exhibit tge inner geek in me even if I won't use an Intel cpu. Well done MSI.
 
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Could someone please explain why the ASRock boards are getting 10-20fps more in BFV than the MSI boards? Thanks
 
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Could someone please explain why the ASRock boards are getting 10-20fps more in BFV than the MSI boards? Thanks
Have seen that in the past whereby vendor sneals in a BIOS tweak where BCLK Frequency gets a teeny boost or something along those lines usually resulting in charges of 'cheating" by not dosclosing it or the tester, not checking it.

CPU Power in page 1 is listed as 9 phases in the specs table, but the main paragraph says 8 phases
8 for the VRM + 1 for SOC
 
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Have seen that in the past whereby vendor sneals in a BIOS tweak where BCLK Frequency gets a teeny boost or something along those lines usually resulting in charges of 'cheating" by not dosclosing it or the tester, not checking it.



8 for the VRM + 1 for SOC
Yeah I've noticed it before. Would like to see someone with the resources to confirm it.
 
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