After almost a decade of total market dominance, Intel has spent the past few years on the defensive. AMD's Ryzen processors continue to show improvement year over year, with the most recent Ryzen 5000 series taking the crown of best gaming processor: Intel's last bastion of superiority.
Now, with a booming hardware market, Intel is preparing to make up some of that lost ground with the new 11th Gen Intel Core Processors. Intel is claiming these new 11th Gen CPUs offer double-digit IPC improvements despite remaining on a 14 nm process. The top-end 8-core Intel Core i9-11900K may not be able to compete against its Ryzen 9 5900X AMD rival in heavily multi-threaded scenarios, but the higher clock speeds and alleged IPC improvements could be enough to take back the gaming crown. Along with the new CPUs, there is a new chipset to match, the Intel Z590. Last year's Z490 chipset motherboards are also compatible with the new 11th Gen Intel Core Processors, but Z590 introduces some key advantages.
First, Z590 offers native PCIe 4.0 support from the CPU, which means the PCIe and M.2 slots powered off the CPU will offer PCIe 4.0 connectivity when an 11th Gen CPU is installed. The PCIe and M.2 slots controlled by the Z590 chipset are still PCI 3.0. While many high-end Z490 motherboards advertised this capability, it was not a standard feature for the platform. In addition to PCIe 4.0 support, Z590 offers USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 from the chipset. USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 standard offers speeds of up to 20 Gb/s. Finally, Z590 boasts native support for 3200 MHz DDR4 memory. With these upgrades, Intel's Z series platform has feature parity with AMD's B550. On paper, Intel is catching up to AMD, but only testing will tell if these new Z590 motherboards are up to the challenge.
The TUF Gaming Alliance is a collaboration spearheaded by ASUS to produce a family of hardware with a common visual theme and exceptional quality and durability. The TUF Gaming aesthetic is typified with neutral blacks and grays with yellow accents for flavor, offering peace of mind to those looking for compatibility and stability along with a perfectly matched theme. ASUS TUF Gaming motherboards focus on balancing a rich feature set with a reasonable price tag.
The ASUS TUF Gaming Z590-Plus WiFi features a massive VRM cooling solution, all paired with no less than 16 power stages. The ASUS TUF Gaming Z590-Plus WiFi also offers good connectivity with WiFi 6 and 2.5 Gb/s Ethernet and is a promising entry point for affordable performance, so let's dive in and see how the ASUS TUF Gaming Z590-Plus WiFi stacks up against the competition!
Intel 10th Gen or later processors
CPU Power: 16-phase Memory Power: 2-phase
Dependent on installed CPU
4x DIMM, supports dual-channel DDR4-5133 (OC) MHz
AMI UEFI BIOS
2x PCIe x16 slots (x16/X4) 2x PCIe 3.0 x1 slots
6x SATA 6 Gb/s ports 3x M.2 ports (SATA3/PCIe x4)
2x Intel® I225-V 2.5 Gb Ethernet 1x Intel Wi-Fi 6
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 port (1 x USB Type-C®) 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports (2 x Type-A) 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports (2 x Type-A) 2x USB 2.0 ports (2 x Type-A) 1x DisplayPort 1x HDMI™ port 1x ASUS Wi-Fi Module 1x Intel® I225-V 2.5 Gb Ethernet port 5x Audio jacks 1x Optical S/PDIF out port 1x PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse combo port
The front of the ASUS TUF Gaming Z590-Plus WiFi box features a black background with a shot of the board on the right. "ASUS TUF Gaming Z590-Plus WiFi Gaming Motherboard" is in the center-left, with the TUF Gaming logo in the bottom right. "ASUS" is in the top left, and the brand badging is in the bottom left.
The back of the box has all the highlights: a top-down shot of the board, several panels detailing prominent features, a shot of the rear I/O, and the specifications list. The box design is well executed and matches the board perfectly.
The accessories are standard-fare; the full list includes:
2 x SATA 6 Gb/s cables
ASUS Wi-Fi moving antenna
2 x M.2 rubber packages
M.2 SSD screw package
TUF Gaming sticker
TUF certification card
While the ASUS TUF Gaming Z590-Plus WiFi is instantly recognizable as a TUF Gaming product, the colors have been toned down and made more neutral than past iterations. Overall, the ASUS TUF Gaming Z590-Plus WiFi looks like a more sensible and grown up motherboard.
The CPU socket is open enough for most air coolers.
There are three M.2 slots on the ASUS TUF Gaming Z590-Plus WiFi; all featuring full-coverage heatsinks.
Note that the top M.2 slot will only function with an 11th Gen CPU installed.
The ASUS TUF Gaming Z590-Plus WiFi offers two PCI Express x16 slots, with the top slot steel-reinforced and PCIe 4.0 compatible. There are also two PCI Express 3.0 x1 slots. The board has a total of six SATA 6 Gb/s ports, two on the side, angled 90 degrees from the board, and four more on the bottom-left edge facing straight out.
The ASUS TUF Gaming Z590-Plus WiFi has a good I/O offering that includes an optical S/PDIF Out port and Wi-Fi 6.
USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 port (1 x USB Type-C®)
2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports (2 x Type-A)
2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports (2 x Type-A)
2x USB 2.0 ports (2 x Type-A)
ASUS Wi-Fi module
Intel® I225-V 2.5Gb Ethernet port
5x Audio jacks
Optical S/PDIF out port
PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port
Networking on the ASUS TUF Gaming Z590-Plus WiFi is handled by a pair of Intel® I225-V 2.5 Gb/s controllers. For wireless connectivity, there is an Intel Wi-Fi 6 module.