MSI MPG Z490 Carbon EK X Review 12

MSI MPG Z490 Carbon EK X Review

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Introduction

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Ten months ago, AMD released the Ryzen 3000 series desktop processors in one of the most monumental hardware launches of the modern era. This final step completed the Red brand's ascent back into the forefront of the desktop processor market that began with the launch of the first generation of Ryzen CPUs. Today, Intel is finally firing back with the launch of the 10th Generation Intel Core processors, along with a new motherboard standard to drive them.

As should be no surprise, the focus will remain on the new motherboards. While the 10th Gen Intel Core processors will not support PCIe 4.0 connectivity because of signal integrity issues, many Z490 motherboards are designed to support the PCIe 4.0 specification. This is accomplished by adding clock generators to help clean up the signal. Generally speaking, when it comes to long-term platform support, AMD has been the trendsetter. Has AMD's long support of the AM4 socket on its newer generation processors inspired Intel to take similar steps?

So what is Z490 offering right now? For starters, there has been a large focus on VRM and VRM cooling design. With the top-level Intel Core i9-10900K featuring 10 cores along with HyperThreading, the ability to deliver clean, continuous power is going to be one of the primary factors that separates a good Z490 board from the competition. With the introduction of HyperThreading on Intel's mid-range line-up, power delivery is going to be vital in all segments.


The MSI Performance Gaming line, or "MPG" for short, from MSI is generally pitched as the middle ground between the no holds barred MEG line and more value-oriented MAG line. The MSI MPG Z490 Carbon EK X is an exception. Developed in partnership with and distributed by EKWB, the MSI MPG Z490 Carbon EK X features a monoblock for CPU and VRM cooling as well as all the tools you need to integrate it into your custom water-cooling build.

The MSI MPG Z490 Carbon EK X features a 12-phase Vcore VRM on a 6-layer PCB. There is also 2.5 Gb/s LAN and built-in WiFi 6, as well as two M.2 slot heatsinks and even a physical RGB LED off switch. EK is including a leak test kit with the MSI MPG Z490 Carbon EK X, so you can build with confidence.

Let's take a closer look at what the MSI MPG Z490 Carbon EK X has to offer.

Specifications

Specifications
CPU Support:Intel 10th Gen or later processors
Power Design: CPU Power: 14 phase
Memory Power: 2 phase
Chipset:Intel Z490
Integrated Graphics:Dependant on installed CPU
Memory:4x DIMM, supports dual-channel DDR4-4800 (OC) MHz
BIOS:AMI UEFI BIOS
Expansion Slots: 3x PCIe 3.0 x16 (x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4) slots
2x PCIe 3.0 x1 slots
Storage: 6x SATA 6 Gb/s port
2x M.2 port (SATA3/PCIe 3.0 x4)
Networking:1x Realtek RTL8125AG 2.5G LAN
1x Intel 802.11ax WiFi module
Rear Ports:2x Antenna ports
1x PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard port
1x DisplayPort
1x HDMI port
1x Optical SPDIF out port
1x LAN (RJ45) port
1x USB 3.2 (Gen2x2) Type-C port
4x USB 3.2 (Gen2) Type-A ports
2x USB 2.0 ports
5x 3.5 mm audio jacks
Audio:1x Realtek ALC1220 Codec
Fan Headers:8x 4-pin
Form Factor:ATX Form Factor: 12.0 in x 9.6 in, 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm
Exclusive Features:
  • Custom EK monoblock
  • EK leak test kit
  • Nahimic 3 Audio
  • 2.5 Gb/s Realtek LAN
  • Intel WiFi 6
  • Mystic Light
  • Frozr heatsink design
  • M.2 Shield Frozr
  • NVIDIA SLI support
  • PCIe Steel Armor
  • Pre-installed I/O shielding
  • Dragon Center
  • Click BIOS 5
  • EZ DEBUG LED
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