Best Z390 Motherboards of 2021: Complete Reviews With Comparisons


We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
Spread the love

Many people looking to build their first Intel-based computer might think that the 10th Generation Intel Core processors can still be quite way over budget.

Both the 8th and 9th Gen processors are far from obsolete, and they can still deliver stability and exceptional performance.

The best Z390 motherboards can provide a reliable platform for any of the 8th and 9th Gen Intel Core processors.

The following shortlist contains hand-picked and benchmark-tested products that can work well on any computer build for several years.

Be sure to check our guides on motherboard replacement if you plan to get one of these samples.

Comparison Chart

Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero Gaming Motherboard

MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC Motherboard

Gigabyte Z390 Designare Motherboard

ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac Motherboard

Gigabyte Z390 Gaming X Motherboard

Best Z390 Motherboard Reviews

1. Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero Gaming Motherboard

The Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero is a great-looking Intel Z390 ATX motherboard packed with extra features for smooth-sailing day-to-day operations.

It is a mid-range motherboard capable of supporting single and dual-GPU setups with some processor overclocking.

Review

Although Asus listed the Maximus XI Hero under the ROG brand, other boards in the same price range are better leaders in the gaming field.

Nevertheless, the Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero is a well-balanced motherboard for different sorts of computer systems.

Connectivity features include an Intel I219V Gigabit LAN Controller and an Intel Wireless-AC 9560 dual-band Wi-Fi controller.

The Wi-Fi controller also allows Bluetooth 5.0 connections.

  • Memory Slots

The Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero has four DIMM slots supporting up to 128GB of system memory.

Memory overclocking speeds can go as high as 4400MHz.

  • Expansion Options

This motherboard has three PCIe 3.0 x16 expansion slots and three PCIe 3.0 x1 slots.

It supports NVIDIA 2-Way SLI and AMD 3-Way CrossFireX multi-graphics technologies.

  • Storage Interface

The Maximus XI Hero has two M.2 sockets and six SATA 6Gbps ports.

Both M.2 sockets are Intel Optane Memory Ready and support RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10.

  • Internal Connectors

If you look at the motherboard, options for cooling are quite extensive.

Internal connections for cooling include a water-pump header, two extension fan headers, two CPU fan headers, and three chassis fan connectors.

The board also packs several options for RGB lighting.

It has two addressable strip headers and two Aura RGB strip headers.

  • Rear Panel Connectors

Looking at the rear panel, you will find two USB 3.2 Gen1 ports, four USB 3.2 Gen2 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a PS/2 port, a BIOS flashback button, and a Clear CMOS button.

For audio, the rear panel has five gold-plated audio jacks and an Optical S/PDIF Out port.

Display connectors include an HDMI port and a DisplayPort.

You will also find the Ethernet port and the Asus Wi-Fi module on the rear panel.

PROS

  • Well-balanced performance out of the box
  • Excellent audio
  • Includes a Wi-Fi module
  • User-friendly BIOS
  • Attractive neutral design
  • Good RGB lighting aesthetics

CONS

  • VRMs are adequate, but Asus can do better
  • Not the best board to overclock an i9-9900K

2. MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC Motherboard

Although MSI has a wide range of Z390 motherboards to choose from, it clearly delineates each model.

The MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC is a more restrained board when it comes to lighting aesthetics, but it stands out with wireless connectivity features.

If you want a board that has a more pronounced RGB appeal, you might want to check out the MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Carbon Pro.

Review

At its price point, the Gaming Edge AC has a lot of competition.

However, it can hold up better against other similarly priced motherboards.

The Gamine Edge AC carries plenty of features, and it packs VRMs that can deliver the performance power requirements.

If you check the available features, you’ll soon realize that the Gaming Edge AC offers the best value for its price.

  • Memory Slots

Like the Maximus XI Hero, the Gaming Edge AC has four DDR4 memory slots that can support 128GB of maximum system RAM.

  • Expansion Options

The Gaming Edge AC motherboard has three PCIe 3.0 x16 slots and three PCIe 3.0 x1 slots.

You can use the three PCIe 3.0 x16 slots in either x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4 mode.

These expansion slots are enough for 2-Way NVIDIA SLI or 3-Way AMD CrossFire multi-graphics technologies.

  • Storage Interface

The MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC storage interface allows up to six SATA 6Gbps connections and two M.2 Key M slots.

You can use all of the storage connectors simultaneously, but keep in mind that all of your storage devices will share the bandwidth.

  • Internal Connectors

The Gaming Edge AC allows enough peripheral cooling devices to keep your system running smoothly.

It has a CPU fan connector, a water pump connector, and five system fan headers.

Additionally, this motherboard has enough internal connectors for RGB lighting.

It has two 4-pin RGB headers, one addressable RAINBOW LED header, and one CORSAIR LED connector.

Internal connections also allow an additional USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port, four USB 3.1 Gen1 ports, and four USB 2.0 ports.

The board also has a TPM connector so that you can secure your device.

  • Rear Panel Connectors

The back panel of the Gaming Edge AC has a PS/2 combo port, Ethernet port, and wireless antenna connectors.

It also carries five audio jacks and a S/PDIF Out port.

Display output connectors include an HDMI port and a DisplayPort.

While the rear panel has a single USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port, you will only find three USB 3.1 Gen1 ports and two USB 2.0 ports.

Even with the additional front panel USB connectors, we think that the rear panel USB ports are not enough.

PROS

  • One of the more affordable Z390 options
  • Feature-packed gaming motherboard
  • High-quality audio ports
  • Decent heatsinks
  • Exceptional audio implementation
  • Reliable network interface controllers

CONS

  • Could use more USB headers
  • Some issues with overclocking

3. Gigabyte Z390 Designare Motherboard

The Gigabyte Z390 Designare offers better value than the Gigabyte Z390 Aorous Master.

While it comes cheaper, the Gigabyte Z390 Designare offers excellent performance than many similar motherboards.

Review

The Gigabyte Z390 Designare comes packed with high-bandwidth interfaces that make it one of the best choices for content creators.

Although it is quite expensive compared to many Z390 motherboards, the Designare justifies its price with an incredible feature set.

  • Memory Slots

The Gigabyte Z390 Designare has four DDR4 DIMM sockets capable of holding up to 128GB of system RAM.

The ultra-durable memory sockets can protect any memory module from bending during installation.

  • Expansion Options

The Gigabyte Z390 Designare comes with three very durable PCIe 3.0 x16 sockets, two PCIe 3.0 x1 slots, and a single M.2 socket for expansion options.

Using the first two PCIe x16 slots switches the first slot to run only x8 lanes, and the third PCIe x16 slot only uses x4 lanes.

The expansion slots allow multi-graphics operations using 2-Way NVIDIA SLI, NVIDIA Quad-GPU SLI, 3-Way AMD CrossFire, or AMD Quad-GPU CrossFire.

Finally, the M.2 socket is intended for the included Intel CNVi wireless module.

With it, the motherboard allows dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth5 connections.

  • Storage Interface

Like most modern ATX motherboards, the Gigabyte Z390 Designare has six SATA 6Gbps connectors and two M.2 slots.

Both M.2 slots allow the connection of SATA and PCIe x4 or x2 storage devices.

  • Internal Connectors

The Gigabyte Z390 Designare allows up to five peripheral cooling devices.

You will find connectors for a CPU fan, a CPU water cooler, two system fans, and one water cooling pump.

While the board has a great design with built-in LEDs on the heatsinks, a single internal connector also allows an RGB LED strip.

  • Rear Panel Connectors

Display connections include a DisplayPort and an HDMI port.

Audio connectors include five audio jacks and an optical S/PDIF Out port.

The rear panel also holds a PS/2 port, two Wi-Fi antenna connectors, and two Ethernet ports, one of which offers ultra-high-speed connections.

For USB, the rear panel has two Thunderbolt3 ports, two USB 3.1 Gen2, four USB 3.1 Gen1, and two USB 2.0.

PROS

  • High-performance motherboard
  • Includes a high-speed LAN port
  • With a built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • Supports USB charging boost
  • Has Dual BIOS
  • Reasonably priced for its feature set
  • The third x16 slot is switchable between PCH and CPU lanes

CONS

  • One of the more expensive options
  • Mediocre CPU overclocking

4. ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac Motherboard

If you want a Z390 motherboard with a high-end feature set and a small type of form factor, the ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac might just be what you need.

Like the Gigabyte Z390 Designare, the ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac offers similar wireless connectivity options.

Review

The ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac has an impressive feature and solutions set, even for its smaller size.

If you are looking to shift to a small Z390 motherboard, the ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac is an amazing choice.

The board’s appearance, however, can improve a lot better.

  • Memory Slots

The ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac only has two DDR4 DIMM slots capable of holding up to 64GB of RAM.

Maximum overclocking speeds can go over 4500MHz.

  • Expansion Options

The small type of form factor also only allows a single PCIe 3.0 x16 expansion slot and a single vertical M.2 socket.

You can use the lone x16 slot with a PCIe riser card to accommodate two x8 connections.

The vertical M.2 socket is designed for the included CNVio1 Wi-Fi module.

  • Storage Interface

Since it is a smaller motherboard, it also has fewer storage connections, including four SATA 6Gbps sockets and two M.2 slots.

Using the first M.2 slot disables the third SATA socket.

  • Internal Connectors

Even if the ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac is a smaller motherboard, it includes one RGB header and an addressable LED header.

These added aesthetic connectors can make up for the rather simple design of the motherboard.

Cooling connectors allow a CPU fan, a water pump, and a system fan.

  • Rear Panel Connectors

The rear panel of the ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac has five audio jacks and a S/PDIF Out port.

It also has a PS/2 port, an HDMI port, and a DisplayPort.

Network connectors include two Wi-Fi antenna ports and a single RJ-45 LAN port.

For USB, the rear panel has a single Thunderbolt3 port, four USB 3.1 Gen2, and two USB 3.1 Gen1.

PROS

  • Includes a Wi-Fi adapter
  • Mini-ITX form factor allows smaller PC builds
  • Gaming oriented motherboard
  • High-quality performance
  • Thunderbolt3 port easily accessible on the rear panel
  • Highly competitive price
  • Includes a TPM connector

CONS

  • Minimal expansion slots
  • Only two memory slots

5. Gigabyte Z390 Gaming X Motherboard

The Gigabyte Z390 Gaming X is more affordable than the Z390 Gaming SLI, but they are quite similar in performance.

That said, the Gaming X has two USB 2.0 ports where the Gaming SLI has USB 3.0, and the Gaming SLI has better cooling options.

Review

One of the cheapest ways to overclock an Intel Core i9 processor is with the Gigabyte Z390 Gaming X motherboard.

However, pairing it with a 9900K may require more cooling peripherals that the board itself won’t allow.

  • Memory Slots

Each of the four DDR4 DIMM sockets on the Gigabyte Z390 Gaming X can hold up to 32GB of system RAM, amounting to a total of 128GB.

Gigabyte recommends maximum overclocking speeds of 4266MHz.

  • Expansion Options

In addition to the four memory sockets, the ATX form factor Gigabyte Z390 Gaming X motherboard has two PCIe 3.0 x16 sockets and four PCIe 3.0 x1 slots.

The first x16 socket uses all 16 lanes, while the second one can only run using four lanes.

The expansion slots allow multi-graphics switching with AMD Quad-GPU CrossFire or 2-Way AMD CrossFire.

Since the board does not come with built-in Wi-Fi, you should use one of the smaller expansion slots for a third-party wireless module.

  • Storage Interface

Unlike the mini-ITX ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac, the ATX Gigabyte Z390 Gaming X includes more storage interface options.

It includes six SATA 6Gbps connectors and two M.2 sockets.

  • Internal Connectors

Internal connectors for cooling include a CPU fan header and three system fan headers.

Unfortunately, the Gigabyte Z390 Gaming X does not afford additional connectors for water cooling systems.

However, it includes a single LED strip header for RGB aesthetics.

While it is quite inconvenient to find a matching computer enclosure to accommodate all internal connectors, the board includes more connectivity features.

You will find an internal S/PDIF Out header, a TPM header, a Thunderbolt add-in card connector, and a serial port header.

Additionally, the board has a Clear CMOS jumper.

  • Rear Panel Connectors

Since most of the additional connectors are internal, the rear panel doesn’t have much to offer.

It only has a single HDMI port for a display, although you won’t be using it if you plan to install a graphics card with display connectors.

Other rear panel connectors include a PS/2 port, an Ethernet port, and six audio jacks.

USB ports include one USB 3.1 Gen2, five USB 3.1 Gen1, and two USB 2.0.

PROS

  • Budget-friendly Z390 motherboard
  • With USB charging boost technology
  • Includes a backup BIOS
  • Reliable overclocking
  • Supports i9-9900K

CONS

  • Does not include Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Only four PCH lanes on the 2nd PCIe x16 slot
  • Voltage regulator heats up easily
  • No high-speed USB on the front panel

Final Recommendation

If you are looking to upgrade to a CPU that requires the LGA 1151 socket, you might also want to check out the best Z370 motherboards.

That said, the best Z390 motherboards can provide you with the latest USB 3.2 Gen2 ports if you add just a few more bucks.

We highly recommend the Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero.

It may be a bit pricey for some consumers, but its feature set more than justifies its price tag.

If your budget won’t allow it, then the MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC is the more affordable option.

It costs just a little more than half the price of the Maximus XI Hero and provides everything you could possibly need, including Wi-Fi and multi-graphics support.