MSI MPG Z490 Motherboard Review

The Intel Z490 chip powers the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon wifi. The 10th generation Comet Lake CPUs from Intel are supported since it uses the company’s brand-new LGA 1200 socket. Even though the motherboard is relatively affordable compared to other Z490-based motherboards, it has a lot of things going for it. It provides a respectable feature set with a few features I wouldn’t have imagined, considering the high prices Z490 motherboards can command. Read more about GIGABYTE X570 gaming motherboard.

Pros:

  • 10 USB ports
  • 2.5 GbE / Wi-Fi 6E
  • Monoblock cooling for VRM/CPU
  • Solid 16-phase 75A VRM

Cons:

  • No thunderbolt ports, just a header

Motherboard Layout

The MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon wifi’s layout is pretty decent, with no prominent or noticeable defects that I can notice. I would instead have relocated the CMOS battery somewhere else, but that’s a minor quibble. The majority of the connections are pretty adequately put out. Read more about GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS motherboard.

There is 6x 4-pin headers for connecting fan, 1x 4-pin headers for CPU fan connection, and 1x 4-pin connector for water pump that are available on this board. All of them feature PWM and DC control modes. The fan header arrangement is fantastic. Read more about ASUS ROG Strix B550-F motherboard.

The majority of these may be located on the motherboard’s bottom right-hand corner, which is my favourite place for them. You also have extra connections in strategic locations to cover practically any chassis and system layout. You have one at the rear I/O shield for ventilation systems and two near the far left side of the motherboard for fans towards the bottom of your chassis. Read more about ASUS X570 ROG Crosshair VIII HERO motherboard.

MSI provides RGB LED illumination for those of you that appreciate it. There are 4 RGB headers in total. If you prefer Corsair’s standard, one of them is the Corsair 3-pin connection. If you dislike RGB lighting, you’ll be relieved to hear that MSI has you covered.

A dip switch near the PCH on the PCB allows you to turn off all RGB LED illumination without ever having to run any software or enter the UEFI. MSI has heard the cries of those who do not want to ever see an RGB LED light again. Read more about MSI MPG X570 GAMING PLUS motherboard.

Overclocking

New chips often have a somewhat high learning curve when it comes to overclocking. However, it’s not too difficult to find out because Comet Lake is an iteration of Skylake and its descendants. For the best results, I believe you should keep the voltages between 1.25 and 1.3 volts. However, I had to go above and beyond to obtain stability with our test CPU.

The processor may be overclocked by just adjusting the voltage. Because the board enables offset modes and manual override, there are several approaches to achieve the same goals. In any event, the Z490 platform seemed sophisticated regarding CPU overclocking in MSI’s capable hands.

It was with memory clocking that everything went wrong. I had no trouble getting 4x DIMMs to 3866MHz. However, shortly after I finished my tests, the machine crashed and refused to run overclocked anymore. That RAM has now tested well on another PC, indicating that the problem was not with the RAM. After performing the testing suite first, the RAM I utilised would operate only at JEDEC speeds on this board.

Using a few different kits never yielded the same overclocks, but they all worked ok. I believe this is a firmware glitch that will be resolved over time.

Memory Support

When used in the double memory mode, the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon can accommodate up to 128GB of DDR4 RAM. Overclocking allows for DDR4 rates of up to 5000MHz. Memory modules are retained in these slots by using double-sided locking tabs. However, the DIMM slots are sufficiently separated from the principal PCI-Express x16 slot to prevent clearance concerns.

Power Delivery

MSI’s power phase “duet” approach is described as being 12+1+1 (VCore, VCCGT, VCCSA). The MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon wifi sports a 6+1 phase Renesas RAA229001 controller. It most likely uses phase doublers (though I’m not sure which ones) because it employs 12x ISL99360 MOSFETs rated at 60A apiece.

While far beefier and more costly VRMs are available, they are adequate for overclocking most CPUs, even the Core i9-10900K. Indeed, we never felt severely hampered by the VRM when overclocking this motherboard. However, you can unlikely achieve world records with LN2 on this board.

MOSFETs may get pretty hot. They are kept cool by a small heat sink with an integrated heat pipe. Nonetheless, this VRM displayed idle temps of 39 degrees Celsius and load temperatures of 49.7 degrees Celsius (121 degrees Fahrenheit). It becomes even hotter when overclocked.

Dual power connections feed these. It employs both an 8 and a 4-pin CPU power connection. This enables over 400 watts of input power, significantly more than even an overclocked 10900K will require.

Frequently Asked Questions

How reliable is MSI mpg Z490 Gaming carbon WIFI?

The ATX-sized Gaming Carbon wifi has always been a popular model since it incorporates various factory features without exceeding the budget. It ranks higher than Gaming Edge, Tomahawk, Gaming Plus, and plain old Pro but lower than the Z490 Godlike, Ace, and Unify versions.

Is the MPG Z490 suitable for gaming?

It will give you the most sophisticated performance and support additional features as a high-end chipset. Furthermore, this chipset is primarily beneficial for gamers because it allows you to overclock both your RAM and CPU speeds.

Is the MSI MPG Z490 11th Gen compatible?

MSI’s Z490 systems now integrate PCIe 4.0 with eleventh gen Rocket Lake-S CPUs with just a simple BIOS update.

Conclusion:

If I had to make one technical criticism, the VRM heat sinks on this motherboard run a bit hot. Based on my previous experiences, there shouldn’t be a problem with enough ventilation. If you’re looking for a Z490 motherboard but don’t want to crush your kids’ piggy banks or steal college fun, the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon wifi is worth a serious look. 

Despite having an overly long name, the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon wifi is a good motherboard and deserving of our silver award. We would have given it the gold medal if it hadn’t had any issues or if the VRM heatsinks had been somewhat better.

Mathew Robinson
Mathew Robinson is an IT professional who has worked for 5 years in gaming PC industry. He has completed his MSc from Australia in advanced manufacturing and has a good grip in his field. He currently works on websites related to computer components to provide valuable information to buyers.