The 7 best Z490 motherboards of 2020

Get the most out of Gen-10 processors with the best Z490 motherboards.

Image via Aorus

Intel’s 10th generation processors are the latest to hit the market and offer superior speed and processing power compared to older iterations. They’re also the best gaming processors but need a Z490 motherboard that supports Socket LGA 1200 to work. 

The new socket design features 49 more pins than the previous LGA 1151 and can support 10 cores. They also support modern technology like VP9 10-bit encoding, HDR, and HEVC.

Apart from supporting the Z490 chipset, most motherboards have different speeds, connections, and expansion ports. They also differ in price, with some costing just a couple of hundred and others almost a thousand dollars. Here are some of the best Z490 motherboards for gaming. 

MSI MEG Z490 GODLIKE Gaming Motherboard

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The name says it all. The MSI MEG Z490 GODLIKE stands head and shoulders above anything else on the market but has a price to match. This motherboard supports most Gen 10 processors, including the new Core i9-10900K. Intel’s Core i9-10900K is touted as the most potent gaming processor with 10 cores and 20 threads.

This motherboard supports up to 128Gb DDR4 RAM in 4 slots and comes with 10G super LAN, Wi-Fi-6, and 2.5G LAN. It also has two Thunderbolt 3 ports and three PCIe 3.0 x16 slots. The VRM has dual fans in its heatsink because it was designed for high-end gaming,  and there are also other cooling solutions surrounding major components. The MSI Godlike is one of the best Z490 motherboards available, but it might be too much for casual gamers playing Rainbow 6.

ASUS ROG Maximus XII Extreme Z490

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The Asus ROG Maximus XII Extreme Z490 is another top-of-the-range motherboard with 16 power stages and an insane price. This motherboard comes with four DDR 4 RAM slots, two PCIe 3.0 x 16 slots, and a PCIe 3.0 x 4 slot. It also has Wi-Fi 6 compatibility and dual 2.5 GB ethernet ports. An exciting feature is AI-controlled cooling, overclocking, and networking. This software allows you to safely configure your motherboard to the optimum settings based on its performance and environment.

As befitting a board of this caliber, there’s dedicated water cooling zones, as well as many fan controls and heatsinks. The logo and other parts of the Z490 feature prominent RGB lighting that can be synchronized with other Asus products like lighting kits and gaming chairs to create a stunning effect. Most people will be turned away by the high price, but those that go for it won’t be disappointed.

GIGABYTE Z490 AORUS Xtreme

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The Gigabyte Z490 Aorus Xtreme rivals the previous two motherboards when it comes to performance and price. This high-end motherboard has all the features you’d expect, like a digital VRM with 16 phases and lots of thermal protection, including a Nanocarbon coating, cooling fins, and direct touch heat pipe. It also has four DDR4 RAM slots and has two Thunderbolt 3 ports.

When it comes to connectivity, there’s Wi-Fi 6, Aquantia 10GbE Base-t LAN, and Intel 2.5Gbe LAN for the fastest speed possible. There are also three PCIe 3.0 slots that are compatible with the forthcoming version 4.0. All this comes in an attractive design featuring configurable RGB lighting. The price of this motherboard is very high, but it should be relevant for at least a couple of years since it supports next-gen processors.

MSI MAG Z490 Tomahawk

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The MSI MAG Z490 Tomahawk sits on the opposite end of the spectrum than the previous motherboards on this list as a more affordable option. That said, it still has support for up to 128GB RAM in its four DDR4 slots. It also comes with four PCIe slots, Intel 1219-v 1G LAN, and Realtek RTL8125B 2.5G LAN.

There’s no shortage of USB ports with eight rear ports, including a USB 3.1 10Gbps port and a USB 2.3 Gen 2×2 Type-C port. The VRM features a thermal readout and produces six phases under the colossal heatsink. MSI had to cut corners to keep the price down, so there’s no Wi-Fi, and the VRM can get hot when put under strain. 

ASUS TUF Gaming Z490-Plus

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Asus brings the affordable Z490-Plus as part of its TUF gaming line. This motherboard has a VRM with 12 + 2 power stages covered with a large heatsink for thermal protection. Asus has also included what they call a Procool socket, a modified EATX 8-pin with 25 percent faster speeds.

It also has four DDR4 slots, a PCIe 3.0 x16 slot, a PCIe 3.0 x4 slot, and three 3.0 x1 slots. There’s also Wi-Fi 6 wireless connectivity and Intel 1219-V 1Gb LAN. There are also many connectors to add extra fans, as well as Aura RGB strip headers. This motherboard has fewer USB ports than many rivals, but it still has excellent gaming performance and can easily handle Overwatch or CS:GO.

GIGABYTE Z490 AORUS Master

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The Z490 Aorus Master from Gigabyte offers incredible performance without a ridiculous price tag. It has a 14-phase VRM chip supporting up to 12 channels. As with most boards in this league, it has four DDR 4 slots, Wi-Fi 6 compatibility, and Intel 2.5 GbE LAN. Most of the components are covered by stylish plates and heatsinks featuring the Aorus logo. 

This motherboard also comes with three M.2 connectors with PCIe 3.0 x 4 compatibility and a dual BIOS system, and Q Flash Plus for overclocking options. There are also enough USB ports and RGB headers for most gaming enthusiasts. This motherboard stands out at this price point and is a superb option for your Gen-10 processor. 

MSI MPG Z490 Carbon

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The MSI MPG Z490 Carbon is another impressive motherboard with a decent price tag. It comes with a 12-phase power supply and the usual four DDR4 Slots. It also has dual M.2 slots, which both have MSI Shield Frozr heatsinks for added cooling. This motherboard also comes with Wi-Fi 6 and 2.5G LAN network capabilities. 

The Z490 Carbon also has six SATA 6Gb/s ports and USB Type-A ports ranging from USB 2.0 up to USB 3.2 G2 2×2. The lone USB-C port has speeds of up to 20Gbps. There is also RGB lighting, which can be controlled using MSI Mystic Light software. This motherboard is perfect for getting the best out of Call of Duty but doesn’t cost a fortune.

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