The Asus ROG Strix Z490-E gaming performed admirably in most tests, is a capable overclocker, and has a stylish design. However, there are equally equipped (or better) boards for approximately this price or a little less.
- VRM with 14-phase capability
- Implementation of high-quality audio
- ROG’s attractiveness
- Priced higher than comparably equipped competitors
- There are no integrated power/reset buttons.
The Asus ROG Strix Z490-E Gaming costs $299.99, making it the most expensive Z490 ROG Strix motherboard in the series. For this price,the latest in connectivity, such as Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201, 2.5 GbE LAN, front and back USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C connections, and a superior audio codec. Everything we’d expect to see at this price on this platform is here.
Asus presently offers twenty — yes, twenty — different Z490 boards with the ROG Maximus boards in the stack sitting above the Z490 ROG Strix series. Asus also sells the TUF, Prime, Creator, and ProArt lines, each with its own distinct styling, features, and pricing points. Asus offers a suitable Z490 motherboard for almost every sort of builder or setup, from Mini-ITX to E-ATX, for overclockers or pros.
The Z490-E Gaming have for review performed admirably across our whole testing suite. While it tended to be a little slower in the Office testing (the performance difference isn’t evident), it performed well in compression/decompression (7-zip), encoding (LAME), and rendering tests (Cinebench). Finally, there are no concerns about the performance of this motherboard in both its stock configuration and when your CPU is overclocked. The Z490-E Gaming pushed our i9-10900K to 5.2 GHz at 1.35V with all cores and threads active (no AVX offset); we were only limited by CPU temperature. The VRMs proved to be more than capable of handling Intel’s current mainstream flagship processor.
Other features include a 16-phase (14 for Vcore) 50A paired VRM arrangement, a SupremeFX S1220A audio codec with two op-amps, Intel I225-V 2.5 GbE, and a VRM cooling system that the connects heatsinks to the chipset area via a U-shaped heat pipe that weaves its way around the coolers’ bases. A complete list of specs is provided below.
Specifications of Asus ROG Strix Z490-E Gaming
|Voltage Regulator||16 Phase (14+2) 50A, Teamed|
|Video Ports||(1) HDMI (v1.4b),(1) DisplayPort (1.4)|
|USB Ports||(1) USB 3.2 Gen 2, Type-C (10 Gbps), (3) USB 3.2 Gen 2, Type-A (10 Gbps), (2) USB 3.2 Gen 1, Type-A (5 Gbps), (4) USB 2.0, Type-A|
|Network Jacks||(1) 2.5 GbE|
|Audio Jacks||(5) Analog + SPDIF|
|Other Ports/Jack||Wi-Fi Antenna|
|PCIe x16||(3) v3.0 (x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4)|
|PCIe x1||(2) v3.0 (x1)|
|CrossFire/SLI||AMD 3/2 Way CrossFireX and Nvidia 2-Way SLI|
|DIMM slots||(4) DDR4 – DDR4 4600(OC)|
|M.2 slots||(1) PCIe 3.0 x4 / SATA + PCIe (up to 110mm), (1) PCIe 3.0 x4 PCIe only (up to 110mm)|
|SATA Ports||(6) SATA3 6 Gbps|
|USB Headers||(1) USB v3.2 Gen 2 (Type-C), (1) USB 3.2 Gen1, (1) USB v2.0|
|Fan/Pump Headers||(7) 4-Pin|
|RGB Headers||(2) Aura Addressable RGB (3-pin), (2) Aura RGB (4-pin)|
|Other Interfaces||FP-Audio, TPM|
|Ethernet Controllers||(1) Intel I225-V (2.5 GbE)|
|Wi-Fi / Bluetooth||Intel AX201 (802.11ax, MU-MIMO, 160 MHz) / BT 5.1|
|HD Audio Codec||SupremeFX S1220A|
|DDL/DTS Connect||✗/ DTS Sound Unbound|
Asus’ accessory stack is fairly comprehensive, including the usual SATA cables, RGB extensions, support DVD, manuals, and more. To help cool the power delivery region, Asus has supplied a MOS Cooling Kit, which contains a fan mount and a 40mm fan. The following is a complete list of what is included in the package, in addition to the motherboard:
- User’s Guide, Support DVD
- ASUS Fan Mount
- SATA 6Gb/s cable (four) (s)
- Cooling kit for MOS (fan bracket and 40mm x 40mm fan)
- Stickers for the ROG Strix
- Pack of cable ties (s)
- RGB Strip Extension Cable (80 cm)
- Addressable LED extension cord
- Thermistor wire (s)
- ROG Thank you note
- Rubber cushion with two functions
- Wi-Fi antenna that moves
- M.2 SSD screw set (s)
- Keychain ROG
The Z490-E Gaming has a mostly black PCB with black heatsinks and shrouds at first glance. Heat pipes connect the chipset, M.2, and VRM heatsinks for improved cooling performance. The VRM heatsinks are large, messy, and have a modest 40mm fan for additional (optional) cooling. Aside from the stealthy black appearance, the chipset region and the shroud above the left VRM bank also include RGB LEDs. The ROG insignia and Strix are illuminated on the shroud, while the ROG letters are written on the chipset. You won’t be able to avoid this lit-up logo until you disable the onboard LEDs, but that shouldn’t get it from fitting in with most build themes.
Starting on the top half of the board, the shroud covering the left VRM bank is largely plastic and houses some of the previously stated RGB LEDs.The ROG logo is frosted, while the Strix is illuminated by LEDs that shine through the plastic. The shroud and VRM heatsinks are powered by 8-pin and 4-pin EPS connectors (4-pin optional).
The four DIMM slots up to 128GB of RAM @ DDR4 4600 speeds (OC).Your mileage may vary because reaching these speeds is dependent on the IMC of the processor and the memory package used.
Two (of seven) fan headers are located above the DIMM slots. Except for the W PUMP header, which is 3A/36W, all fan headers support 1A/12W of power. The first of four total RGB headers, one 3-pin (addressable) and one 4-pin, is located to the right of these fan headers.
The Q-LED code region is located on the right edge of the board, directly above the 24-pin ATX power connector. These four LEDs (named Boot, VGA, DRAM, and CPU) illuminate based on where your system is during POST. If there is an issue in one of these areas, the LED will remain on. This, in conjunction with the Q-Code LED, greatly aids in no-boot circumstances. The front-panel USB 3.2 Gen 2 and USB 3.2 Gen 1 (USB 3) headers are located beneath the 24-pin connection.
Asus employs a partnered system for power delivery, with 14-phase 50A SIC639 MOSFETs controlled by the Digi+ VRM chip, and an 8-channel ASP1900B module operating in 7+1 mode. We had no trouble operating our Core i9-10900K @ 5.2 GHz with all cores and threads with 700A available to the CPU. Even without activating the supplied (optional) VRM fan, temperatures throughout this testing were in the middle of the pack.
The bottom half of the board, but mostly near the chipset location and above the M.2 sockets. The audio component is totally visible on the far left side of the board. On top of the S1220A codec, we see several premium Nichicon audio capacitors, a Texas Instruments RC4580I op-amp, and the SupremeFX EMI cover. Most users should be satisfied with the integrated audio solution.
Six PCIe slots, three full-length and three x1 sizes are located in the center. The top two GPU slots are strengthened to prevent shearing from big video cards. Both slots are powered by the CPU and can be configured as x16/x0 or x8/x8. This configuration supports 2-Way SLI and, with the bottom full-length PCIe slot configured to x4, AMD 3-Way CrossfireX. The chipset provides bandwidth to all x1 slots.
Two M.2 sockets are sandwiched between PCIe slots. The top socket, M2 1, accepts PCIe and SATA modules up to 110mm in length. The lowest socket, M2 2, only supports PCIe. As is customary for this platform, some lane/port sharing is unavoidable. If M2 1 is in SATA mode, the SATA6G 2 port is disabled. M2 2 and SATA 6G 5/6 share bandwidth. Those ports are deactivated when M2 2 is populated. Furthermore, if something is inserted in the second PCIe slot, the bandwidth of M2 2 lowers from x4 to x2.
The six SATA ports on the far right edge of the board support RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10. Aside from that, there is nothing more worth writing about in this area.
Several headers, buttons, and switches cover a range of purposes along the bottom border of the board. The following is a complete list of these headers, listed from left to right.
- Audio on the front panel
- LED Q-Code
- RGB 4-pin header
- RGB 3-pin header
- Thunderbolt connector
- (2) USB 2.0 connectors
- Remove the CMOS jumper.
- Temperature detector
- (3) Headers for fans
- The header for thermal sensors (between fan headers)
- (2) USB 2.0 connectors
- The header of the System Panel
The back IO area has ten USB ports in total, including four USB 3.2 Gen 2 (one Type-C and three Type-A) connectors, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, and four USB 2.0 ports. The number of ports should be sufficient for the majority of users. If you intend to use the integrated video card, the board has DisplayPort and HDMI visual outputs. With five connectors and SPDIF, the audio stack is typical. The Intel 2.5 GbE port is located above the USB Type-C port. Last but not least, there is a BIOS Flashback button on the integrated rear IO for flashing your BIOS without a CPU.