The ability to incorporate one of the latest ninth-generation Intel processors into eighth-generation Z370 motherboards has not stopped the new avalanche of Z390 motherboards, even with the lack of significant feature updates for this chipset.
However, there are a number of models that will make us happy to build a Coffee Lake upgrade system: Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero WiFi £ 296 is a suitable base for high-end PC, and now the MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC manages to provide extensive set features for much more affordable prices.
MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC Review: Design
This is a full-size ATX board with an Intel LGA1151 socket, so it will contain all the Coffee Lake and Coffee Lake Refresh CPUs. It's not entirely without visual talent – the rear I / O panel is hidden by a corner cover, and the bottom-right edge is embellished with controllable RGB lighting, but overall, the non-offensive black, white, and gray color schemes make it They will help to combine neutral to a reasonable size box.
MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC Comments: Features and Connectivity
There is no default heat sink cover for one of the M.2 slots, but the heat dispersion properties of this rarely improve performance in practice. The inclusion of these two ports, both capable of switching between PCIe and SATA modes, is a strength in itself, as are the three PCIe slots and the three PCIe x1 slots. The former can support two-way SLI and three-way GPU Crossfire configurations as well, and an SLI bridge is available.
Admittedly, the top two PCIe x1 slots are likely covered by a graphics card, unless it's a slim model. That can be troublesome if you want to add a lot of expansion cards, but it's often installed to make up for deficiencies on the motherboard, and there's also little reason to buy a Wi-Fi card or sound card.
First, there are the star features of integrated 802.11ac Wi-Fi, with Bluetooth 5.0 functionality coming from the same component. This only requires a few antennas screwed into the rear I / O panel, not the larger wire antennas that need to be placed elsewhere, and helps ensure your PC can stay connected without an additional adapter or adapter, if you can't use a wired Ethernet connection (although there are standard Gigabit Ethernet ports and they are also correct). Bluetooth, often ignored in the desktop space, is also useful for connecting things like wireless headphones.
Choosing an excellent audio port also reduces the benefits of special sound cards. In addition to ordinary 3.5mm in-line jack, line-out and microphone, MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC provides rear speakers and C / SUB jacks and optical S / PDIF ports, so that hi-fi and surround sound speakers can be adjusted No problem. MSI also chose the latest Realtek ALC1220 audio codec, not the older version like cheap motherboards do.
We won't be rejecting several more USB connectors – the I / O panels add up to two USB 2 ports, two USB 3 ports, a USB 3.1 port, and a USB Type-C. That would be enough for most home users, to be fair, but the slightly cheaper Gigabyte Z390 Gaming SLI has six full USB 3 ports and two USB 3.1 ports.
On the other hand, it also does not have integrated Type C, S / PDIF and Wi-Fi connectivity, so we would say that the MSI motherboard has an overall advantage.
MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC Review: performance
Performance tests show once again that if everything else is the same, the motherboard you choose will not significantly affect performance. Even with the powerful Intel Core i9-9900K, running our 4K benchmark produces an AC MPG-based Z390 Gaming Edge system that only gets one point below the ROG Maximus XI Hero WiFi mentioned above: 329 to 330.
With that said, the Asus board seems better for ambitious overclocking. With ROG Maximus XI Hero WiFi and AIO water coolers, we get Core i9-9900K up to 5.0GHz that is stable on all eight cores, but uses the same settings as the MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC, which means it crashes during benchmark.
The best we can handle is 4.9GHz with VCORE 1.39v, so if you want to take your ninth-generation Intel CPU to an extreme level, you'd better spend more money on the motherboard.
However, at least our trial and error is easy thanks to industry leading UEFI designs. There hasn't been a big switch from the Z370 generation to the Z390, which is fine with us: the network-based main menu has long felt like the easiest to use among all the major motherboard manufacturers, though there are many tuning options for experienced overclockers to dive.
Mouse control also feels much more reliable and intuitive than, for example, the Asus BIOS, which is often not too frustrating to use the arrow keys to navigate.
MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC Comments: Verdict
Best of all, the MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC is one of the lowest-priced ATX Z390 motherboards, even if more can be said about the price of the Z390 in general than about this particular model.
There are only a few that are more affordable and always incomplete, be it panel I / O connectivity, lack of Wi-Fi, or the use of older audio codecs. Therefore MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC is easy to recommend.
|2 x USB2, 2 x USB3, 1 x USB3.1, 1 x USB Type-C|
|1 x HDMI, 1 x DisplayPort|
|RTB one year|
|305 x 244 mm|
|£ 155 VAT included|