Intel’s 9th generation of CPUs has officially hit the market and along with it the new backwards compatible Z390 chipset. It’s enough to have many of us considering whether it’s time for an upgrade. We’ve got you covered a pair of motherboards early this week beginning with the ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming. Available now for $239.99, is this the Z390 motherboard for you? Join us as we find out!
As always, these are long so be sure to click to enlarge the image for the full breakdown.
When it comes to motherboards, ASUS has a remarkable reputation. Much of this comes down to even mid-range boards like the Z390-E Strix Gaming offering a remarkable amount of features, including items like thermal probe and water pump headers usually only found on more expensive boards. Ask anyone who’s experimented with overclocking across multiple vendors and they’ll also be quick to tell you just how well done and detailed their BIOS is for dialing in stable, advanced overclocks.
The Z390 chipset, however, is actually fairly close to the Z370 chipset which preceded it. As a platform, it adds support for USB 3.1 Gen 2 (speeds up to 10 Gb/s) and integrated wireless A/C connectivity which the Strix Gaming takes advantage of. Compared to the Z370-E ROG Strix Gaming, we also find support for higher DRAM speeds, all the way up to 4266MHz XMP (Hyper DIMM) profiles.
Taking a look at the full board (sorry, I took pictures of different parts of the board but in my haste neglected to snap a shot of the full thing), we can see that ASUS has really opted for a slick design language here. It’s universally dark, which makes the addressable RGB above the rear IO and chipset really pop. I could personally do without the extra lettering on the PCB but definitely like the aesthetic they’ve gone with here.
The Strix Gaming offers a couple of nice features right off the bat. First, they’ve opted for heavy-duty heatsinks across the board. Coming from the Maximus X Hero on the Z370 platform, I really like that they’ve included heatsinks each of the two M.2 ports. They’re necessary to avoid throttling given how close they are to the CPU and GPUs and work quite well. It also features shielding on each PCI-e ports designed to house a video card, which is a nice safeguard if you’re running any kind of modern, massive GPU.
Another important thing to note is that this board features Supreme FX 8-Channel Audio Codec. This has provided excellent results for us in the past. It supports playback up to 32-bit/192kHz and shielding for both the left and right channels to ensure clear separation. Playback is also rated for an impressive 120 dB SNR. It also features dual op-amps and impedance sensing from the front jack, ensuring that it can drive mid-to-high impedance headphones with no problem. Content creators should also be quite happy with the 113 dB SNR recording input which provides much more silent mic capture than lower tier boards.
Spec-wise, the Strix Gaming supports up to 64GB of RAM in dual channel mode. It shares lanes between its six SATA 6 Gb/s ports and the dual M.2 sockets, though this shouldn’t present much of an issue unless you’re running a ghastly amount of hard drives/SSDs. Your PCI-e slots are rated for x16, x8, and x4, expectedly, and running two in SLI will match them in an x8/x8 configuration. We also have Bluetooth support out of the box, which is great if you have a nice pair of bluetooth headphones and game-optimized Gigabit LAN.
Click through to page two to see how the board did when overclocking and in our suite of tests!