ASUS Prime Z490-A

MOTHERBOARD ASUS Prime Z490-A
FORM FACTOR ATX
VOLTAGE REGULATORS 12+2 Dr.MOS
MEMORY SUPPORT 4x / 128 GB
M.2 & SATA PORTS 2x, 6x SATA 3.0
USB PORTS USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C, USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A
PCIE SLOTS 6x

The Asus Prime series of motherboards always comes with a very affordable price but exceptional features, making them viable options for budget gamers. They are mainly targeted for budget builds, but their features and performance are similar to the mid-range competitors. The company took these motherboards to more professional while other series to gaming.

The one that comes compatible with this processor is Asus Prime Z490-Aw which cuts most of the Z490 motherboards under the same price bracket. The great thing about this motherboard is its compelling price and overclocking support for Comet Lake processors, especially for i5 10600K. Even though other cheap options are available but aesthetically, performance & features-wise, this board stands top of the list. 

Aesthetically this motherboard is straightforward, but for complete white builds or black and white builds, this motherboard serves a great consideration. We've not seen that Asus changed the looks of this series of motherboards from the past two generations as they still come in black-colored PCB with some white-colored shinny heatsinks and diagonal lines coming from one end to another.

The IO cover of this motherboard also comes in white and has RGB lights with Prime series branding on it, which chipset heatsink and Asus branding and RGB underneath it. There are four memory slots on this motherboard, allowing you to install 128 GB of RAM clocked at 3200 MHz. There are two M.2 slots where one M.2 heat spreader is available for storage, and it's up to you either you install it on primary or secondary and; additionally, there are 6x SATA 3.0 slots for further storage expansion.

You will miss the integrated Wi-Fi on this motherboard, but amazingly you will have 2.5G NIC, which is a norm in the latest motherboards, and it also has M.2 E Key slot for M.2 Wi-Fi Modules. A few users' claims that their Ethernet port doesn't work and I personally faced that with one of my Gigabyte motherboard but for many persons, there is no problem with this board.

An ATX motherboard with such an amazing feature set and a reasonable price makes nothing more we expect from motherboards like it. Even for some reason, this motherboard doesn't satisfy you; some other great options are available too, which you can consider for your build.

Pros
  • Very easy to setup.
  • BIOS is easy to use.
  • Supports overclocking for Comet Lake CPUs.
Cons
  • Slightly expensive.

MSI MAG Z490 Tomahawk

MOTHERBOARD MSI MAG Z490 Tomahawk
FORM FACTOR ATX
VOLTAGE REGULATORS 14 Phase
MEMORY SUPPORT 128 GB / 4x
SATA & M.2 PORTS 6x 3.0, 2x
USB PORTS USB 3.1 Gen2/Gen1 Type-A & Type-C
PCIE SLOTS 4x

MSI Tomahawk series of motherboards are well known for their low price and excellent overclocking performance. They are a step-down variant of Unify series, which you know comes with premium features but for a little expensive price. You may already hear about the B450 Tomahawk, which is an excellent motherboard for overclocking because of its VRM and extended heatsinks over it.

Aesthetically this motherboard doesn’t give many premium looks, but it doesn’t look bad because of the black-colored base and grey stripes running from right to left diagonally. There is MSI and MAG branding on IO and VRM heatsinks and Tomahawk on the heatsink with RGB lights underneath it. Looks-wise there’s nothing bad in this motherboard, not the features, but a price cut would be appreciated.

There are two M.2 slots on this motherboard with heat spreaders on both of them and six SATA6 slots for further storage expansion. This motherboard has two Ethernet ports on the rear IO side and 2.5G NIC, but it lacks Wi-Fi6 support. The first Ethernet port runs at 1G while the other one at 2.5G, and both use different controllers them.

The rear side of this motherboard has a lot of other ports, which include USB 3.2 Gen2 and Gen1 and both Type-A and Type-C ports. The only bad side of this motherboard is moderate VRM cooling when overclocking the processor. There are two PCIe x16 slots on this motherboard where the top one comes with PCI Steel Armor for better support for large graphics cards while the bottom one lacks it.

The CPU section of this motherboard is powered by a single 8-pins and a 4-pins power connector and has 14 phase power design voltage regulators. The MSI MAG Z490 Tomahawk allows the users to enjoy the overclocking power of other Z490 motherboards for a low price. Those users looking for something more powerful can even get the MSI MEG Z490 UNIFY, which is a step-up variant.

Except for integrated Wi-Fi, there is nothing that this motherboard lacks, and that’s what makes users consider it for their builds. The Unify and Tomahawk are great options to consider, and I would consider them the best motherboard for i5 10600K in 2021 or beyond. I do not include the others in this list because their core features are much the same, while this one comes at a slightly lower price.

Pros
  • Very affordable price.
  • Premium features.
  • Dual Ethernet ports.
  • Pair of M.2 with heat spreaders.
Cons
  • Moderate VRM temps.

MSI Z490-A PRO ProSeries

MOTHERBOARD MSI Z490-A PRO ProSeries
FORM FACTOR ATX
VOLTAGE REGULATORS 12+2 Dr.MOS
MEMORY SUPPORT 128 GB 4800 MHz
SATA & M.2 PORTS 6x, 2x
USB PORTS USB 3.2 Gen1/2 Type-A, Type-C
PCIE SLOTS 5x

The MSI Z490-A Pro Series motherboard is no different than the aforementioned Asus Prime series board as both of them offer the same features for a very reasonable price. The company itself targeted this motherboard for professional use and content creators because of entry-level features. At the same time, you can also use it for budget gaming machines, but some better option from MSI is always recommended if you can afford.

The ProSeries motherboard comes in a much identical design as the X570-A ProSeries also has similar looks to this one, but they revamped it with 12 phase design voltage regulators. Many things on this motherboard would make this motherboard much more appealing to the users, like the IO cover, Wi-Fi, and a couple of other features but still for this price is a good option. 

Not many premia look on this motherboard as it comes in a black-colored PCB with some great accent while the heatsinks have metallic black colored shine on them. More interestingly, this motherboard comes with a 2.5G NIC, which has become a norm these days, and a pair of M.2 slots with M.2 heat spreader over the primary slot and four right-angled and two straight angled SATA slots.

You can install memory up to 128 GB with a clock speed of 4800 MHz, which is pretty good in entry-level motherboard across the four DIMMs, and it excites the users. This motherboard supports multiple graphics card configurations as it has two full-length PCIe x16 slots with PCIe STEEL Armor on the primary slot and three PCIe x1 slots. The heatsink on the primary M.2 slot gives decent cooling to the NVMe SSD and allows you to run it at its full potential.

When it comes to overclocking the Comet Lake processors, this motherboard will never disappoint you, but the PCIe 3.0 slots might be disappointing for future Rocket Lake processors. This motherboard’s back IO has one USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C port, two USB 3.2 Gen1, and two USB 2.0 ports. This motherboard also has a pair of display output ports, including the one HDMI and Display Port.

Target as professional, but the NIC, M.2, and 4800 MHz memory support make it more premium and attractive. This motherboard’s good is its budget-friendly, 12 Phase Power Design VRM and plenty of storage and connectivity options. While the disappointing things in this motherboard are one USB 3.2 Gen2 port, missing IO cover, no extended heatsink over VRM, and straightforward aesthetics.

Pros
  • 12 Phase Design VRM.
  • Very budget-friendly price.
  • USB 3.2 Gen2 port and header.
  • 4800 MHz memory support.
  • 2.5G NIC in the budget-friendly motherboard.
Cons
  • Only one USB 3.2 Gen2 port.
  • Missing IO cover.
  • No extended heatsink over VRM.
  • Straightforward aesthetics.

ASRock Z490 Extreme4

MOTHERBOARD ASRock Z490 Extreme4
FORM FACTOR ATX
VOLTAGE REGULATORS Dr.MOS 11 Phase
MEMORY SUPPORT 128 GB
SATA & M.2 PORTS 6x, 2x
USB PORTS USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C, Gen1 Type-A, USB 2.0
PCIE SLOTS 5x

ASRock has some of the best motherboards in their nine different series, and when it comes to their price to performance value, they all are good enough. Even though their premium motherboards are too good, their mid-range and budget motherboards are also great options to consider. The one we’ve on this list seems to be quite expensive compared to its competitors but best in its class.

Like always, Extreme4 motherboards have a lot to like, while the one we have Z490 Extrene4 also gets a sweet spot in mid-range motherboards because of its features, but we’ve seen Phantom or Taichi series has a lot more to offer. The great thing about ASRock motherboards is their durability, as the company claims they have high-density fiber used in their PCB, which prevents that from humidity.

Starting with the overclocking support of this motherboard as it comes with a stable Dr.MOS 11 Phase design voltage regulators which can overclock almost every Comet Lake processor. Another great thing about this motherboard is its support for highly overclocked memory modules. It supports 128 GB of DDR4 memory clock at 4266 MHz which is exceptional in any mid-range board.

The RGB lights and 2.5G NIC makes this motherboard more premium, but that’s a norm for modern motherboards; however, it’s a plus point because some lack that too. The storage options on this board are pretty the same as others as it has two M.2 with a heat spreader on the bottom one, and it connects with the chipset heatsink while six SATA3 slots are also available for further storage expansion.

The rear side of this motherboard has an IO cover with ASRock branding on it, while the IO panel has a couple of USB 3.2 ports, including both Type-A and Type-C. There are nice-looking 45 Degree cuts on the edges of this motherboard, while the black and blue colored PCB makes it more appealing. There is a lot of RGB lights on this motherboard which makes it more compelling.

You can nearly install any Comet Lake processor on this motherboard, and it will be compatible with Rocket Lake CPUs. Around the CPU socket, you will find the voltage regulators, as mentioned before, and 50A chokes with Nichicon capacitors and all covered with two large sizes of extended heatsinks. Overall this motherboard is a great option for an i5 10600K build, but only if you have a good budget to spend. The downside of this motherboard is missing Wi-Fi and minimal USB ports on the rear IO panel.

Pros
  • Very attractive design.
  • Still affordable for its features.
  • PCIe Gen4 slots for Rocket Lake CPUs.
  • Will support 11th Gen CPUs.
  • Pair of M.2 with heatsink over them.
Cons
  • Doesn't have integrated Wi-Fi.
  • Minimal USB ports on rear IO.