MSI MEG Z490 Unify Review 7

MSI MEG Z490 Unify Review

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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 MEG Unify line from MSI is tailored for enthusiasts and overclockers, featuring a completely black aesthetic and focus on VRM thermal design and power delivery. The new Z490 Unify line aims to take this philosophy to the next level with active cooling that pulls fresh air in through the rear I/O panel to help maintain optimal VRM temperatures, as well as top of the line 90 A power stages to help drive even the most power hungry of Intel's new 10th-generation CPUs.

The MSI MEG Z490 Unify is PCIe 4.0 ready and features a 16-phase VRM on a 6-layer PCB. There is also 2.5 Gb/s LAN and built-in WiFi 6, as well as triple M.2 slot heatsinks and even a physical RGB LED off switch.

Let's take a closer look at what the MSI MEG Z490 Unify has to offer.


CPU Support:Intel 10th Gen or later processors
Power Design: CPU Power: 17 phase
Memory Power: 2 phase
Chipset:Intel Z490
Integrated Graphics:Dependant on installed CPU
Memory:4x DIMM, supports Dual-channel DDR4-4400+(OC) MHz
Expansion Slots: 3x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots
2x PCIe 3.0 x1 slots
Storage: 6x SATA 6 Gb/s port
3x 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 Clear CMOS button
1x BIOS Flashback button
1x Optical SPDIF out port
1x LAN (RJ45) port
1x USB 3.2 (Gen2x2) Type-C port
2x USB 3.2 (Gen1) ports
3x 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:
  • 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
  • 16 Phase VRM design
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