mid-range tuning / Motherboards

mid-range tuning / Motherboards

Following the flagship MSI MEG Z490 Godlike and albeit not so fancy, but no less interesting MSI MEG Z490 Ace, we are gradually moving on to testing more affordable MSI motherboards with Intel Z490 system logic set and LGA1200 socket. Today we have a mid-range motherboard MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi, designed for gamers who are not indifferent to the appearance of the components of the system unit. The aesthetic focus is given by areas with a special coating “like carbon” and lighting with a lot of various modes of operation. At the same time, the manufacturer did not forget to endow the board with a sufficiently powerful processor power system, high-speed interfaces, as well as comprehensive overclocking capabilities.

⇡ # Specifications and cost

Supported processors Intel Core i9 / Core i7 / Core i5 / Core i3 / Pentium Gold / Celeron Processors
performed by LGA1200 of the tenth generation of the Core microarchitecture;
Supports Intel Turbo Boost 2.0 and Turbo Boost Max 3.0 technologies
Chipset Intel Z490
Memory subsystem 4 × DIMM DDR4 unbuffered memory up to 128 GB inclusive;
two-channel memory mode;
support for modules with frequencies from 2133 to 2933 MHz and from 3000 (O.C.) to 4800 (O.C.) MHz;
support for non-ECC DIMMs without buffering;
Intel XMP (Extreme Memory Profile) support
Graphical interface HDMI video output with support for resolutions up to 4096 x 2160 pixels at 30 Hz;
DisplayPort video output supporting resolutions up to 4096 × 2304 pixels @ 60 Hz;
maximum allocated memory 1 GB
Expansion card slots 3 PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, operating modes x16 / x0 / x4 or x8 / x8 / x4;
2 PCI Express 3.0 x1 slots
Video scalability AMD 3-way CrossFireX Technology
NVIDIA 2-way SLI Technology
Storage interfaces Intel Z490 Chipset:
– 6 × SATA III, throughput up to 6 Gb / s (supports RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10, Intel Rapid Storage Technology, NCQ, AHCI and Hot Plug);
– 2 × M.2, bandwidth up to 32 Gb / s each (both support SATA and PCI Express drives from 42 to 110 and 42 to 80 mm, as well as work in RAID 0 and 1).
Intel processor:
– not.
Supports Intel Optane Memory Technology
2.5-gigabit network controller Realtek RTL8125B;
Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 wireless module (802.11 a / b / g / n / ac / ax, dual-band 2.4 and 5.0 GHz (160 MHz), support for Bluetooth 5.1);
MSI Gaming Lan Manager utility
Audio subsystem 7.1 CH HD Audio Codec Realtek ALC1220:
– Chemicon audio capacitors;
– protection against clicks;
– separation of the left and right channels in different layers of the textolite;
– PCB insulation
USB interface Total number of USB ports – fourteen, including:
1) Intel Z490 chipset:
– 6 USB 2.0 ports (2 on the back panel, 4 connected to internal connectors);
– 5 USB 3.2 Gen2 10 Gbps ports (4 Type-A on the rear panel, 1 Type-C connects to the connector on the board);
– 2 ports USB 3.2 Gen1 5 Gb / s (connected to the connector on the board);
2) ASMedia 3241 controller:
– 1 x USB 3.2 Gen2 2×2 20Gb / s (Type-C, rear)
Rear panel connectors and buttons two USB 2.0 ports and a combo PS / 2 port;
HDMI and DisplayPort video outputs;
USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C port;
two USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A ports;
two USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A ports and a 2.5G network port with indicators;
two SMA connectors for antennas of the wireless communication module (2T2R);
optical output of S / PDIF interface;
five 3.5mm audio jacks
Internal connectors on the PCB 24-pin ATX power connector;
8-pin ATX 12V power connector;
4-pin ATX 12V power connector;
6 SATA 3;
2 M.2 Socket 3;
USB Type-C connector for connecting a USB 3.2 Gen2 10 Gb / s port;
USB connector for connecting two USB 3.2 Gen1 5 Gb / s ports;
2 USB connectors for connecting four USB 2.0 ports;
4-pin connector for the CPU cooling fan;
4-pin connector for the pump LSS CPU;
6 4-pin headers for case fans with PWM support;
group of connectors for the front panel of the case;
audio connector for the front panel of the case;
connector Chassis Intrusion;
TPM module connector;
Thunderbolt module connector;
4-pin RGB LED connector;
2 3-pin Rainbow LED connectors;
3-pin Corsair LED connector;
Serial port connector;
connector RTD3;
jumper Clear CMOS;
EZ LED switch;
BIOS 256-Mbit AMI UEFI BIOS with multilingual interface and graphical shell;
support for SM BIOS 3.2, ACPI 6.2
I / O controller Nuvoton NCT6687D-M
Form factor, dimensions (mm) ATX, 305 × 244
Operating system support Windows 10 x64
Guarantee manufacturer, years old 3
Retail value, 23,999

⇡ #

⇡ # Packing and packaging

The box for the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi board has a standard size, but is bright and catchy. On the front side there is something completely incomprehensible, but with backlighting and sparks, and on the back side it tells about the features of the board and provides its brief technical characteristics.

A standard sticker at the end of the box contains the serial number of the board and a short list of its interfaces.

The board comes with various cables, an antenna for the wireless communication module with a stand, a nameplate with a dragon, and screws for securing drives in the M.2 ports.

In addition, the box contained instructions, memos, a set of stickers for SATA cables and a disk with drivers and utilities.

In Russia, the cost of the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi manufactured in China is 24 thousand rubles. If we compare with motherboards of the previous generation, then the price increase is obvious, but if we consider models based on the Intel Z490 system logic set, then this is really an average price level. We add that the board comes with a three-year warranty.

⇡ # Design and features

MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi has an ATX form factor (305 × 344 mm) and is decorated in black and gray colors. Unlike MSI motherboards of the upper price range, here the reverse side of the PCB is not covered with protective or heat-distributing plates.

The casing of the interface panel of the board and the heatsink of the chipset have a characteristic carbon texture, thanks to which motorists, who often use this polymer material in tuning their cars, will surely like it.

The interface panel of the board combines both the old types of connectors and the most modern ones. These include a PS / 2 combo port and two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI and DisplayPort video outputs, a 20 Gigabit USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C port and four USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A ports, a wired network interface, antenna contacts and a group of audio connectors. …

The panel itself is non-removable, which some manufacturers consider to be an advantage of the board, although in reality this is not always the case. In the comments to the article, I can expand my thought.

MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi is based on a six-layer PCB and without any hinged elements looks like this.

To understand the location of the elements on the board, the diagram from the instruction manual will help.

The central part of the LGA1200 processor socket and its back side are completely filled with micro-capacitors, which is somewhat interesting, because the more expensive MEG Z490 Ace looks much simpler in this regard.

The board supports all processors released to date in the LGA1200 design, and an impressive list of them can be found on the board’s support page.

The processor power system uses 12 phases on Intersil ISL99360 “mosfets” with a current of 60A.

Thus, in total, the processor is allocated up to 720 A. One more phase is allocated to VCCSA and the power supply of the graphics core.

The processor is powered by the Renesas RAA229001 controller.

An external clock generator IDT6V4 is soldered on the reverse side of the PCB.

Power to the board and its components is supplied through three connectors: 24-, 8- and 4-pin.

The board is based on a set of system logic Intel Z490, the crystal of which contacts its heatsink through a thermal pad.

The distribution of resources on the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi is implemented in such a way that the entire main load lies on the chipset, and the processor is allocated only two PCI-Express slots and RAM.

The number of slots for DDR4 RAM on the board is four; it supports the installation of four modules with a total volume of 128 GB. Unlike more expensive MSI boards, the memory slots on the MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi do not have a metal shell.

At the same time, memory up to 4.8 GHz is officially supported, as well as XMP profiles. True, for such a high-speed memory, a voltage of 1.5 V is required, and the volume of one module should not exceed 8 GB. Let us add that the memory power supply system is single-channel.

Let’s go further. There are five PCI-Express 3.0 slots on the board and three of them are released in the full-size x16 form factor, but only the first, wrapped in Steel Armor and using processor lines, can work in this mode.

If you use the third slot at the same time (also in the metallized Steel Armor shell), then this configuration will work in x8 / x8 mode, and all three slots – in x8 / x8 / x4, but only with video cards based on AMD GPUs. True, who might need such a configuration is a big question.

To switch the operation of PCI-Express slots, Pericom PI3EQX16 multiplexers are soldered on the board.

We add that the board officially supports the PCI-Express 4.0 bus, but it can only be activated with new Intel processors that have not yet been released.

A little about the interfaces for drives. MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi is equipped with six SATA III ports with up to 6Gbps bandwidth, realized with the capabilities of the Intel Z490 chipset and arranged horizontally. Conveniently, the ports are signed directly on the PCB, you don’t have to look into the instructions.

There are only two ports for SSD drives on the board, both are connected to the chipset and can work with both SATA and PCIe drives. In the upper one you can install a device up to 110 mm long, and in the lower one only up to 80 mm

Limitations on sharing M.2 and SATA ports are shown in the table.

Unlike MSI M series boardsEG, y MPThe G Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi is just one wired network controller, but fast enough, 2.5 Gigabit. It is implemented by the Realtek RTL8125B chip.

It is complemented by the Intel AX201 wireless module with support for Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1, which is quite enough for organizing a fast home network.

The total number of USB ports on the board is 14. They are implemented by the capabilities of the chipset and the ASMedia controller. The former provides six ports on the front panel and seven ports on the PCB, while the latter (ASMedia 3241) is responsible for the fastest 20 Gigabit USB 3.2 Gen2 (Type-C) on the rear panel.

About the audio path. Despite using the exact same Realtek ALC1220 digital audio processor, the sound on the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi is significantly simpler than on the MSI MEG Z490 Ace or Godlike. There’s no separate D / A converter, no separate headphone amplifier, fewer audiophile capacitors, and no gold-plated connectors.

In fact, along with the nine Chemicon capacitors, there is only protection against clicks when connecting the cable and isolation of the audio component area from the rest of the PCB with a non-conductive strip in order to reduce pickup and for additional protection against interference.

Support for Nahimic 3 surround sound technology is also not stated in the specifications. However, we have no complaints about the quality of the sound output by the board as a whole: it is quite typical built-in sound.

Multi I / O and on-board monitoring functions are implemented by the Nuvoton NCT6687D-M controller.

In total, the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi can control the speed of eight fans via PWM or voltage variation. They are placed on the PCB quite competently. Unfortunately, there are no connectors for connecting external temperature sensors on the printed circuit board, just as there is no POST indicator. It should be partially replaced by four LEDs, which can indicate the stage of loading in case of an error, but are not able to specify it.

But the “carbon” model has a backlight. The Nuvoton NUC126NE4AE controller is responsible for its adjustment.

The backlighting modes are countless, the ability to connect LED strips is available (4-pin + 2 × 3-pin + Corsair LED).

We conclude our review of the technical layout of the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi with a photo of the bottom edge of the PCB.

As for the cooling, the unusually huge heatsink of the chipset is striking here, which, of course, does not require such cooling. The VRM circuits are equipped with a dual radiator with a 6 mm heatpipe and high-performance thermal pads (7 W / (m K).

For drives in the M.2 ports, Shield Frozr heatsinks with thermal pads are also provided. There are no fans in the cooling system of MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi.

⇡ # UEFI BIOS features

MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi is equipped with one 256-bit AMI BIOS chip. Before testing, we have flashed the latest version 7C73v12 available at that time on the official website dated May 25, 2020. The proprietary shell is called Click BIOS 5 and, as you probably remember, it has two modes of operation: simplified EZ Mode and extended Advanced. Switching between them is realized with the F7 function key.

A distinctive feature of the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi shell is the placement in the center of the main screen of the same picture as on the box, and here you can already recognize that this is the back of some futuristic-looking sports car.

Otherwise, the BIOS is configured the same as the BIOS of other MSI motherboards. It includes an information bar at the top and six main sections with settings.

The main section, Settings, contains general settings for the board, peripheral controllers, boot and security parameters, as well as a subsection with options for saving parameters.

The overclocking section does not differ from the similar section on the previously tested Ace and Godlike boards.

Most of the same voltages are available for change as on Ace or Godlike, but it can be noted that their ranges are slightly atthe same as on more expensive boards. However, the voltage regulation capabilities of the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi are more than enough for successful overclocking. We will list them in the table.

Voltage Minimum value, V Maximum value, V Step
CPU Core 0.600 1,720 0.005
CPU VCCSA 0.600 1,850 0.010
CPU VCCIO 0.600 1,750 0.010
CPU PLL OC 0.600 2,000 0.010
CPU PLL SFR 0.900 1,500 0.015
RING PLL SFR 0.900 1,500 0.015
SA PLL SFR 0.900 1,500 0.015
MC PLL SFR 0.900 1,500 0.015
DRAM 0.600 2,200 0.010
PCH 0.600 2,000 0.010

The only thing I would like to note is a rather large step of voltage change on the processor core (0.005 V instead of the ideal 0.001 V) and for the RAM (0.010 V instead of 0.005 V).

The subsection with the ability to adjust RAM timings in the motherboard BIOS is as large as that of the flagship versions of MSI motherboards based on Intel Z490.

The BIOS settings section with adjusting the voltage stabilization level on the processor core contains eight LLC levels – from the minimum, eighth, to the maximum, first. You can also disable LLC altogether.

In addition to various settings for the processor and RAM, the board provides the most complete information about these components.

To save BIOS settings, there are six slots for profiles, as well as the ability to upload them to an external USB drive or boot from it.

Any of the eight fans connected to the board can be individually configured by controlling it using pulse width modulation or voltage and linking it to one of the four temperature sensors of the motherboard or processor.

The overview of the software shell of the board is completed by an embedded component browser.

The BIOS runs smoothly, POST takes less than 4 seconds, although we haven’t even enabled Fast Boot. No errors were found during BIOS setup and further overclocking of the processor with memory.

⇡ # Overclocking and stability

The stability, overclocking potential and performance of the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi motherboard were tested in a closed system case at a room temperature of 26.8 to 27.2 degrees Celsius. The test bench configuration consisted of the following components:

  • motherboard: MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi (Intel Z490, LGA1200, BIOS 7C73v12 from 05/25/2020);
  • processor: Intel Core i9-10900K 3.7-5.3 GHz (Comet Lake-S, 14 + ∞ + nm, Q0, 10 × 256 KB L2, 20 MB L3, TDP 125 W);
  • CPU cooling system: Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black (two 140 mm Noctua NF-A15 fans at 840-1480 rpm);
  • thermal interface: ARCTIC MX-4;
  • video card: MSI GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER Ventus XS OC GDDR6 6 GB / 192 bit 1530-1815 / 14000 MHz;
  • RAM: DDR4 2 × 8 GB G.Skill TridentZ Neo (F4-3600C18Q-32GTZN), XMP 3600 MHz 18-22-22-42 CR2 @ 1.35 V;
  • system disk: Intel SSD 730 480 GB (SATA III, BIOS vL2010400);
  • disk for programs and games: Western Digital VelociRaptor 300 GB (SATA II, 10,000 rpm, 16 MB, NCQ);
  • archive disk: Samsung Ecogreen F4 HD204UI 2 TB (SATA II, 5400 rpm, 32 MB, NCQ);
  • sound card: Auzen X-Fi HomeTheater HD;
  • case: Thermaltake Core X71 (six 140mm be quiet! Silent Wings 3 PWM [BL067], 990 rpm, three – for blowing, three – for blowing);
  • control and monitoring panel: Zalman ZM-MFC3;
  • PSU: Corsair AX1500i Digital ATX (1.5 kW, 80 Plus Titanium), 140mm fan.

Testing was conducted under Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (1909 18363.900) operating system with the following drivers installed:

We checked the stability of the system during overclocking with the stress utility Prime95 29.4 build 8 and other benchmarks, and monitoring was carried out using HWiNFO64 version 6.28-4200.

First, we present the main characteristics of the board from the AIDA64 Extreme utility.

With the XMP RAM enabled in the BIOS and no other changes, we ran the first test of the board and processor under Prime95 load.

The test took place in normal mode, the processor frequency was briefly increased to 5.3 GHz, and during the simultaneous load of all cores it was kept at 4.9 GHz. The maximum TDP level reached 220 watts, which tells us that all restrictions have been lifted with automatic BIOS settings. You can see the monitoring data in the screenshot below.

⇡ #Automatic settings BIOS (AVX off)

As for the voltages and temperatures, we did not register their excessive overestimation, as on some models from other manufacturers. Так, напряжение на ядре процессора во время теста было равно 1,184 В, VCCIO держалось на уровне 1,195 В, а VCCSA – 1,272 В. Последнее для номинального режима работы процессора и оперативной памяти всё же высоковато и требует ручной корректировки. Пиковая температура наиболее горячего ядра процессора составила 83 градуса Цельсия, а цепи VRM – 62 градуса Цельсия. Если же запустить Prime95 с активированными инструкциями AVX, то процессор греется сильнее сразу на 14-15 градусов Цельсия, а VRM — на 4 градуса Цельсия.

Разгон тестового экземпляра Intel Core i9-10900K на плате MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi прошёл в штатном режиме — процессор достиг своего максимума в 5,0 ГГц. Правда, на этой плате, имеющей другую силовую цепь, нежели Ace или Godlike, напряжение на ядре при LLC 4 пришлось поднять до 1,255 В (1,238 В по данным мониторинга), а не до 1,230 В.

Иначе процессор не был стабилен и тест периодически выдавал ошибки. Итоговый результат разгона приведён на следующем скриншоте.

⇡ #Разгон до 5,0 ГГц при 1,255 В (AVX выключены)

В таком режиме работы температура процессора повысилась до 95 градусов Цельсия, а температуры элементов VRM достигли 67 градусов. Это вполне типичные значения при разгоне Intel Core i9-10900K с использованием воздушного охлаждения. Дальнейший разгон при таких рабочих параметрах уже невозможен, к тому же этот экземпляр десятиядерного процессора даже 5,1 ГГц уже не тянет.

Пара восьмигигабайтных модулей G.Skill TridentZ Neo номиналом 3,6 ГГц со штатными таймингами 18-22-22-42 CR2 на данной плате стабильно работали на 3,8 ГГц при снижении основных таймингов до 18-21-21-43 CR2.

Такой же результат (за исключением вторичных таймингов) мы получали ранее — ещё на пяти платах с набором системной логики Intel Z490.


Производительность MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi мы сравнили с показателями точно такой же платформы, ранее собранной на MSI MEG Z490 Ace. Обе платы работали с абсолютно идентичными настройками процессора и оперативной памяти и с одинаковым программным обеспечением, а результаты всё же получились немного различающимися, причём не в пользу героини сегодняшнего тестирования.

MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi
Intel Core i9-10900K 5,0 ГГц, ring 4,7 ГГц
DDR4 2 × 8 Гбайт G.Skill TridentZ Neo tweak
(3,8 ГГц 18212143 CR2)
MSI MEG Z490 Ace
Intel Core i9-10900K 5,0 ГГц, ring 4,7 ГГц
DDR4 2 × 8 Гбайт G.Skill TridentZ Neo tweak
(3,8 ГГц 18212143 CR2)
AIDA64 Extreme 5 cache & memory benchmark
WinRAR 5.91 beta 1
7-Zip 2000 alpha
HandBrake v1.3.1
EZ CD Audio Converter 9.1 (1,85 Гбайт FLAC in MP3 320 Кбит/from)
Blender 2.90 Alpha
Corona 1.3
3DMark 2.12.6964 s64, Time Spy CPU test

Во всех без исключения тестах немного впереди более дорогая MSI MEG Z490 Ace. Отставание MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi небольшое, но оно есть в каждом тесте, что, при прочих равных, позволяет нам сделать следующий вывод: старшая плата из серии MEG всё же способна на чуть большее. Другое дело, что такая разница в производительности не стоит переплаты в 60 и более процентов за версию Ace. Справедливости ради отметим, что различиями в одной только производительности эти две платы не ограничиваются.

⇡ #Conclusion

Материнская плата MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi сегодня предстала перед нами довольно крепким середняком, у которого есть всё необходимое для создания игровой системы и её разгона, но в то же время нет различных дополнительных фишек, присущих материнским платам более высокого класса. Если они вам не нужны и возможностей чипсета Intel Z490 будет достаточно, то данная модель может стать одним из кандидатов на покупку.

При сравнительно невысокой стоимости плата получила мощную систему питания процессора, которая хорошо охлаждается и позволяет разгонять самые производительные процессоры Intel, выпущенные в конструктивном исполнении LGA1200. Поддержка PCI-Express 4.0, 128 Гбайт оперативной памяти и способность работы с модулями на частоте 4,8 ГГц позволят владельцам MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi не переживать о будущих модернизациях. Быстрые сетевые контроллеры, пара M.2 с радиаторами, более чем достаточный для игр звук, обилие разнообразных портов USB, способность работать сразу с восемью вентиляторами и подсветка делают эту модель привлекательной не только для фанатов тюнинга карбоном, но и для большинства других пользователей.

Из недостатков мы, пожалуй, посетуем на отсутствие индикатора POST-кодов, а также на глобальное повышение стоимости материнских плат (не только для Intel), которое делает приобретение даже подобной модели среднего класса довольно накладным для семейного бюджета.

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