The Best Z490 Motherboards in 2021

best z490 motherboard

For anyone who is thinking about getting their hands on a new motherboard for their system, Intel’s Z490 makes a lot of sense as it allows you to get some of the best features on the Intel side of things. While I am aware that the Z590 is just around the corner, a lot of people are going to go for the Z490 because of the now-lowered prices.

If you are looking in the market for the best Z490 motherboards, there is a gold mine waiting to be explored but in the goldmine, there are a lot of options that are simply not worth the money, and that is what we have to explore and be careful about.

The motherboards that we are going to feature are top-tier in whatever price they are catering; which means we are only listing motherboards that fit the category and give the best possible performance in the giving category.

List of Best Z490 Motherboards

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MSI MEG Z490 GODLIKE

MSI MEG Z490 GODLIKE

The first motherboard we chose is from MSI; a brand that we are all familiar with and have been for a long time. MSI has managed to solidify its name in the market as the leading brand when it comes to computer hardware, and for all the right reasons because when you are talking performance, the company does not hold back.

The MSI MEG Z490 GODLIKE is their top-shelf motherboard that money can buy and it commands the top shelf price, as well. But that does not mean that this goes over the radar as we have to look at just how good this motherboard is, in the first place. There is a lot to love, and we are going to explore everything.

Product Specs

  • E-ATX form factor.
  • LGA 1200 socket.
  • Up to 128 GB DDR4 RAM support.
  • Intel Z490 chipset.
  • Three M.2 slots.

Now that we have the basics out of the way, it is time to get down to the business. The Z490 Godlike made its way to our list for a few simple reasons. For starters, you are getting a motherboard with an incredible set of features that will keep you occupied for the longest time. The onboard OLED panel might look like a gimmick at first but the more you use it, the more used you become.

MSI has put a very stable BIOS with this motherboard that also happens to be one of the easiest to use BIOS. A great addition in a market with confusing and non-intuitive BIOS setups. You are also getting super-fast 10Gbit LAN so if you are someone who has a knack for faster networking performance, this is the one that you should be investing in.

The motherboard comes with three M.2 slots present by default, but if you want more storage, the motherboard ships with an added M.2 expander card which will allow you to use more. Last but not the least, the rear I/O panel is equipped with more or less everything you could want in a good motherboard including two Thunderbolt 3 ports.

There is not a lot to hate, to be honest. I just wish that MSI had this offering available in the standard ATX form factor because having it in an E-ATX reduces the number of case options you can go with but that should not be an issue for most people at this price.

Overall, the MSI MEG Z490 GODLIKE is a bargain if you ask us because of the features that it brings, you are getting everything that you could want in an all-powerful motherboard that also looks great.

Pros
  • One of the strongest set of features on any motherboard.
  • The BIOS is not only stable but also a charm to use.
  • The fast network makes it great for all tasks.
  • The bundled M.2 expander is great to have.
  • The I/O panel is well equipped with everything you could ask for.
Cons
  • E-ATX form factor case is necessary at this point.

ASUS Prime Z490-A

ASUS Prime Z490-A

When you are talking about good quality hardware, Asus has never been the one to shy away from their offerings. I have been using Asus products for as long as I can remember how every component that they have offered so far has been great in every sense of the way. So, it is safe to say that there are hardly any exceptions.

With that said, the ASUS Prime Z490-A is the one that is on the table today; and while it is not as popular, the Prime series has always been known for having a great price to performance ratio and some great looks to serve, which it does because of how good it looks in the white theme. But does is it prime enough to live up to its name? That is what we are here to find out.

Product Specifications

  • ATX form factor.
  • LGA 1200 socket.
  • Up to 128 GB DDR4 RAM support.
  • Intel Z490 chipset.
  • Two M.2 slots.

Now that we have the basics out of the way, I am glad to report that this motherboard does bring a decent set of features. This means that if you are stressed over not being able to get good enough performance out of the features you are getting access to, that will not happen.

In addition to that, the well-known Asus BIOS has made a return; it is intuitive, simple, and straightforward, making it an absolute walk in the park in terms of overall functionality. More importantly, it is also one of the more stable BIOS offerings that you are going to find in the motherboard market.

Not to mention, the setting up process remains as flawless as you could imagine, and installing the necessary drivers and other software packages go without any crashes or unexpected behavior. Asus has knocked this out of the park in terms of how good of an experience this provides.

My only complaint here is that the motherboard could have used more white accents, but that is an issue of personal preference and not something I would hold against Asus.

Overall, if you are looking to build a new PC that focuses on black, white, and silver accents, and you want a good motherboard without sacrificing any functionality or overspending, then getting the Asus Prime Z490-A is the motherboard that you should be going for. The best part is that it is going to deliver everything you need without costing an arm and a leg. That is what makes this such a great offering at the price.

Pros
  • Has all the necessary features that you could want.
  • The BIOS is one of the finest in terms of usability.
  • Setting up the process is a walk in the park.
  • Great performance and stability.
  • The white/silver/black theme looks great.
Cons
  • None at the price.

ASUS ROG Strix Z490-I

ASUS ROG Strix Z490-I

The thing that I love about Asus the most is that they are never shy of giving you something different. The computer hardware market has become redundant to a point that most of the products that we are seeing in the market look a lot similar to one and the other with very few differences. Asus, on the other hand, is constantly looking for a change that is better in every sense of the way.

With that said, the ASUS ROG Strix Z490-I is the motherboard that has paid us a visit and the reason why this is a different one is that this is the first ITX motherboard that we are looking at in our list. Perhaps this is the only ITX motherboard on the list, which is a good way to get started, but don’t worry, this motherboard is anything but a disappointment.

Product Specifications

  • ITX form factor.
  • LGA 1200 socket.
  • Up to 64 GB DDR4 RAM support.
  • Intel Z490 chipset.
  • Two M.2 slots.

Now, it is important to know that this motherboard is small. So much so that it fits the palm of my hand and I can almost wrap my fingers around it but then again, I have massive hands. But that is me digressing. I would highly suggest that you have the right case because putting it in a full-sized tower, or even a mid-tower is going to look the motherboard look like something out of The Hobbit.

The motherboard delivers the top-the-line performance we have come to expect from the Strix series of motherboards. Not just that but even after being this small, you are looking at the design and set of features that are going to put the more expensive motherboards to shame.

Asus has understood the need for more connectivity on smaller motherboards, and therefore, has added better connectivity including wireless offering straight out of the box, which makes this motherboard a great option.

You are also getting a handful of accessories out of the box, which only makes this motherboard a more compelling option. But then again, Asus is not the company that would want you to scramble around trying to figure out which part is missing and which one you already have.

My only concern here is that the motherboard could have used a few more fan headers, but you can always get an expansion fan controller and install it somewhere inside your case.

If you are genuinely looking for a different motherboard but at the same time, does provide you with all the important aspects that you would normally want, the Asus ROG Strix Z490-I is one of the most compelling options. It is also the best option that you can get in the ITX market because you cannot get a better deal than this in a small form factor.

Pros
  • The motherboard delivers excellent performance.
  • Great design and feature list.
  • The connectivity options are top-grade.
  • You get a lot of bundled accessories.
Cons
  • The motherboard could have used more fan headers.

ASUS TUF Gaming Z490-Plus

ASUS TUF Gaming Z490-Plus

If you have been witnessing a pattern here in terms of the motherboard selection, you will not be the only one. Asus has been the fan-favorite for a long, long time, and therefore, adding motherboards that they have is a great way to get started because we want our readers to have the best possible option they can go for.

This means that by default, the ASUS TUF Gaming Z490-Plus is a great motherboard for anyone who is in the market. I know that it is one of the more affordable offerings in the market but don’t worry. This motherboard is not shoehorned here for the sake of an affordable price. It genuinely offers great performance and an even better value for money. Meaning you will not be let down.

Product Specifications

  • ATX form factor.
  • LGA 1200 socket.
  • Up to 128 GB DDR4 RAM support.
  • Intel Z490 chipset.
  • Two M.2 slots.

With that said, there is enough to love about this motherboard that is going to keep you occupied and using this. For starters, you are getting a unique visual design that is not very common in the market. The subtle yellow and gunmetal grey complement each other.

Not just that, the motherboard is also excellent in terms of performance as it manages to outpace or match several motherboards that cost more than this. Not to forget, you are looking at great overclocking potential as well, you just need to get yourself a good processor to match and you are good to go.

You even have some degree of RGB lighting and a Thunderbolt 3 header while we are at it. Despite the motherboard being a value offering, Asus has made sure that it is taking care of the users. You are also getting USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C for the front panel, reinforced PCI-Express slots, and plenty of storage expansion available to you.

As far as the downsides are concerned, I honestly cannot think about a lot but I would have preferred an additional M.2 slot, but then again, it does fall in line with most of the motherboards at the same price point.

To put it simply, the ASUS TUF Gaming Z490-Plus is the motherboard that you should be going for if you are looking for something that provides great value but in addition to that value, the motherboard also presents you with a good set of specifications and performance to match. Granted, you are not getting the flagship features, but the specs remain the same, and that is what makes this motherboard as special as it is.

Pros
  • The motherboard looks great.
  • You are getting top of the line overclocking.
  • Stable performance across the board.
  • Good VRM cooling.
  • Tastefully done RGB lighting.
  • Lots of connectivity options.
Cons
  • Nothing at the given price.

MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Plus

MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Plus

When I reviewed the first MSI motherboard on the list, it is the Z490 Godlike, the motherboard of all motherboards, and at that point, I thought to myself that many readers might find themselves believing that MSI is not going to cater to those who are looking for something affordable, but that is not the case.

The MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Plus is here to prove that thought. This is one of the more affordable motherboards that are available in the market. Not just that, this is also one of the best budget offerings that we could have listed here. It still is Z490 at its heart but does provide an insane value for your money.

Product Specifications

  • ATX form factor.
  • LGA 1200 socket.
  • Up to 128 GB DDR4 RAM support.
  • Intel Z490 chipset.
  • Two M.2 slots.

So, with all the basics out of the way, what makes this motherboard have a spot on this list? Well, a lot. You are getting a great sound quality on this motherboard thanks to the ALC1200 codec. The overall power delivery is decent, to say the least despite having a lower price tag.

When I first saw the price of this motherboard, I was expecting a simpler look but this motherboard does not hold back as far as the looks are concerned, and manages to be one of the better-looking options in the market. The overclocking feature set is also great in terms of CPU and memory. You are getting 2.5Gbit networking, so you are not losing anything here.

As far as the downsides are concerned, I just wish there were more USB ports on the rear I/O but even without that, the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Plus delivers great performance overall.

If you are looking to get your hands on a good budget motherboard that satisfies most of your needs without costing you an arm and a leg, then buying the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Plus is the right decision. It is a great motherboard when paired with the right CPU.

Pros
  • The sound quality is great.
  • The motherboard offers good power delivery.
  • Looks great with the implemented RGB lighting.
  • Offers decent memory and CPU overclocking.
Cons
  • The rear I/O panel does not have enough USB ports.

ASUS ROG Maximus XII Extreme

ASUS ROG Maximus XII Extreme

It is safe to say that Asus often finds itself with enough aces up its sleeve, and for all the right reasons. The ROG Maximus series is considered the pinnacle of computer engineering as we rarely see any motherboard that gets better than that. Asus knows how to deliver the groundbreaking without really going out of their way.

With that said, the ASUS ROG Maximus XII Extreme is the motherboard that we are looking at, and first look at this motherboard and I thought to myself just how extreme this motherboard is. But that does mean it is good enough too or are you just paying for a name and the looks? Let’s find out.

Product Specifications

  • E-ATX form factor.
  • LGA 1200 socket.
  • Up to 128 GB DDR4 RAM support.
  • Intel Z490 chipset.
  • Two M.2 slots.

Now that we have the basic specifications out of the way, the next step is to start looking at what the motherboard is all about. You are getting an insane level of attention to detail in terms of features as this motherboard is no slouch as far as the features are concerned.

There is Thunderbolt 3 as well as an add-in DIMM.2 module that will allow you to add more M.2 drives. The cooling loadout is one of the finest and you are getting fantastic memory support as well. Asus has decided the layout carefully and cleverly, which makes it easier to manage every aspect of the board without any issues. The PCB is sturdy and rigid, this makes the motherboard have an exceptional build quality.

Honestly, my only issue here is how limiting the E-ATX form factor can be for those with large enough cases, this motherboard is a definite hit and something that you should not miss out on.

Pros
  • The motherboard has an insane list of useful features.
  • Has plenty of connectivity and storage expansion options.
  • Great cooling across the board.
  • One of the best looking motherboard in the market.
  • Plenty of fan headers.
  • One of the best build qualities.
Cons
  • E-ATX form factor can limit the case options.

Final Verdict

Simply put, the Z490 is still a very relevant platform for a lot of reasons, as well. If you are in search of something that you can use to build your next PC, getting this platform is not going to be a regretful decision. If you do not have the top dollar to invest in the Z590 platform, you are still future-proof with the older generation and you can get some great performance out of these boards as well.

You will need the right CPU, of course, and once you have combined that with everything else this chipset has to offer and a good graphics card, there is no stopping. The purpose of this roundup was to provide users with enough understanding of the market and choose the best possible Z490 motherboard they could pick across all the price brackets there are.

Related:

Best X570 Motherboards in 2021

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