November 26, 2022
United Kingdom
Buyers Guides Motherboards

The Best Z790 Motherboards to Buy in 2022

Best Z790 Motherboards Feature Image

Introduction

Looking for the best Z790 motherboard to buy in 202? If so, we’ve got just the guide for you, comparing all of the latest Z790 motherboard options for Intel’s newest 13th-Gen processors. The past couple of months have seen a wide array of new launches with AMD‘s relatively lacklustre Ryzen 7000 CPUs, to Nvidia’s ground-breaking RTX 4090, and now Intel’s top-tier 13th Gen.

The launch of Intel’s 13th-Gen lineup was an overwhelming success, with Intel providing significant generational improvements when compared to their renowned 12th-Gen options. With any new range of CPUs we get access to an entire new set of motherboard chipsets for consumers to sink their teeth into. So far we’ve only got our hands on Intel’s Z790 motherboards, but their B760 and H770 chipsets are set to launch next year offering plenty of alternative options.

With all of this in mind, just how do you know which board is best, and how do you break apart the good Z790 options from the bad? Let’s answer that question, by listing the features to look for and our favourite Z790 motherboards out right now.

Suggested Article: Z790 vs B760 Motherboards – Key Differences & Expectations

Motherboards & Chipsets

Before we delve into the kind of features on offer and the sort of things you should look out for, we should first determine the difference between a motherboard and a chipset. A motherboard is the physical PCB that houses your components. This might include fancy aesthetics, beefed up cooling and great connectivity, alongside the mandatory CPU socket, RAM dimm slots and PCI-E lanes.

MSI Z790 Carbon WiFi CPU Socket

Want to skip straight to our recommendations? Take me there!

The chipset is one of the components installed onto the motherboard PCB, and acts as the major determinant for the kind of features you’ll have access to. AMD and Intel both release a range of chipsets with any new CPU launch, each with differing standard around bandwidth and connectivity, with better chipsets costing more, but delivering more in return. The Z790 chipset motherboards are the top-end 13th Gen option, and will give the beast IO connectivity, most room for GPUs and SSDs, and also allow you to overclock both the CPU and RAM. It is down to the motherboard manufacturer (e.g. ASUS, MSI or Gigabyte) to spec their motherboards with features from the chipset they deem relevant for the board design. For this reason all Z790 options are not made equal, and board manufactures will have differently priced Z790 options out there.

Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Master Rear IO
To provide a visual example, as you can see, the Z790 AORUS Master from Gigabyte has an insane amount of rear IO of which everything on the rear is a high speed USB 3 port or above.
MSI MAG B660M Mortar - Rear IO
By contrast this MAG B660M Mortar from MSI provides good connectivity, but is certainly lacking when compared to the much more pricey Z790 board. This is due to the ‘B’ chipset motherboards sitting at a cheaper place in the market.

The Z790 Chipset

We’ve covered and ins and outs of the Z790 chipset in a variety of motherboard reviews and buyers guides on our website, so we recommend you check out the coverage for more detail. The Z790 chipset is the flagship offering from Intel and the first to arrive with the launch of the brand new 13th-Gen motherboards. Z790 motherboards tend to be geared towards the mid-range and top-end of the market.

Z790 vs Z690

As we’ve alluded to in our dedicated Z790 vs Z690 motherboard breakdown, Z790 motherboards aren’t hugely different to their previous Z690 counterparts. They support 13th Gen processors out of the box (whereas Z690 designs need a BIOS update to do so), and provide more widespread PCI-E Generation 5.0 support than the previous generation. Z790 boards are also naturally more refined for use with the new 13th-Gen architecture, offering a more stable match with better overclocking support suited to 13th Gen’s increased power delivery.

Read our full Z790 vs Z690 motherboard comparison:

MSI Z790 Carbon WiFi VRMs
This Z790 Carbon WiFi from MSI has increased VRM power phases along with better cooling designed to handle higher overclocking capability with the new CPUs.
ASUS Prime Z790-A Whole Motherboard
This Prime Z790-A from ASUS supports DDR5 RAM while still keeping costs down for the motherboard, which is great for those wanting to upgrade!

Ultimately, the differences between Z790 and Z690 motherboards aren’t gigantic, but the refreshed and refined board designs might be worth upgrading to if you’re looking for a newer aesthetic or some better features.

Motherboard Compatibility

The myriad of chipsets and socket types can be a major point of contention for a first-time builder based on compatibility issues. Although ensuring you choose the right chipset is important when picking of feature sets for your PC build, it is also vital that you choose a supported chipset so you don’t end up damaging your CPU and losing some money.

Fortunately, all of the new 13th-Gen CPUs are supported on the Z790 motherboards. And even better news, all of the 12th-Gen CPUs are also supported on the Z790 chipset. So if you’re looking to build a PC with a cheaper CPU, but with one of the new 13th-Gen motherboards, this is an option. But be aware, these are the only CPUs that are supported on the Z790 chipset. Unfortunately 11th and 10th-Gen ranges are not supported because the CPU socket is entirely different. You can find a full Z790 CPU compatibility table below:

Motherboard Form Factors
CPU RangeCPU SocketCompatible Chipset
Intel 13th-Gen CPUsLGA 1700Z790, B760, H770

Z690, H670, B660, H610 (with a BIOS update)
Intel 12th-Gen CPUsLGA 1700Z790, B760, H770 (with a BIOS update)

Z690, H670, B660, H610
Intel 11th-Gen CPUsLGA 1200Z590, H570, B560, H510
Intel 10th-Gen CPUsLGA 1200Z590, H570, B560, H510

Motherboard Pricing

One of the major concerns that comes with any new launch is of course the price. A significant problem with new releases is suffering from buyers remorse when you’re an early adopter. This is something we’ve seen with AMD‘s most recent Ryzen 7000 boards, and the general consensus is that consumers should wait for AMD to refine the new AM5 architecture so that the upgrade becomes worth it. Fortunately, we’re on the latter half of Intel’s LGA1700 platform, so many of these new motherboards are refined when it comes to features, and the prices are better if not the same as the previous 12th-Gen boards.

Establishing a budget is important when assessing what motherboard you should buy, but for the most part you won’t need to reassess this for motherboards on the Z790 chipset. Even DDR5 boards seem to have significantly dropped in price, and this is ideal for those looking to upgrade to this new generation of RAM. Below we’ve created a rough pricing table which highlights around how much you should spend with different levels of motherboards.

Motherboard LevelCost Estimation
Budget$200 – $300
Mid-Range$300 – $500
High-End$500 & above
Table of Motherboard Budgets

These prices are a rough estimate based on US prices, and may change based on country. Price may also change subject to availability.

How Much Should You Expect To Spend For A Z790 Board?

While Z790 motherboards cater to a fairly wide range of budgets, being the highest-end chipset naturally creates a price-based barrier to entry. Boards start from $200 or so, and range right through to the MSI Z790 GODLIKE design which costs a sweet $1200!

Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Elite AX Whole Motherboard

Features To Keep An Eye Out For

Once you’ve taken a look at chipsets and assigned yourself a budget, you’ll want to take a look at the kind of features on offer. Intel 12th-Gen opened up loads of new options for consumers to sink their teeth into including PCI-E 5.0, Thunderbolt 4, and support for DDR5 memory. The Z790 chipset has access to the most amount of PCI-E lanes, USB ports and more, making it the best chipset for users wanting the most amount of features. We’ve broken down a list of the best features and specs to look out for when choosing your motherboard.

1. VRMs & Overclocking

The new 13th-Gen CPUs come with incredible clock speeds out of the box, giving you the keys you need to build a very powerful gaming or workstation PC. If you’re looking to overclock you’ll need to double check the amount of VRM power phases on the board, along with cooling. If the board you’ve picked up has plenty of power phases but weaker cooling, you may thermal throttle your CPU or at the worst cause some damage.

Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Master VRMs

With VRMs, more power phases does usually equate to better, but take this with a pinch of salt. High VRM power phases means that you’ll have more power that can be supplied to your CPU to sustain an overclock. However, if these power phases aren’t entirely optimised, you may suffer stability issues. We’d recommend checking out more in-depth guides to see if your chosen motherboard can deal with a high overclock.

2. DDR4 vs DDR5 Support

One of the major benefits of picking Intel’s current LGA1700 platform is that you have the choice between DDR4 and DDR5 memory. DDR4 memory still holds up very well when it comes to performance, and you can save a fair amount of money by picking up DDR4 DIMMs.

ASUS Z790 Hero DDR5 DIMMs

Having the option to choose DDR5 memory is consumer friendly, and as the memory tech matures we’ll start to see significant returns in performance metrics. For the time being DDR5 is still very expensive and doesn’t bring a significant enough upgrade to warrant the price. But for those future proofing their PC, supporting this generation of memory will prove to be useful in the years to come.

3. Front and Rear IO

Motherboards on the Z790 chipset can host as many USB ports that the architecture can handle. This means if you’re the kind of person that needs extra ports for peripherals and accessories, then you’ll likely be picking up a Z790 board. Unfortunately, you will be constrained based on how much you’re willing to spend, but for the most part, even some of the cheaper boards have a relatively bountiful set of rear IO.

ASUS TUF Gaming Z790 Rear IO

The front IO offers a similar situation with many of the new boards supporting USB 3.2 Gen2x2 in the Type-C format, with extra headers for USB 3.2 Gen1 or Gen2. Again, the amount of IO you have will be determined by how much you’re willing to spend and the manufacturers choices, but generally there’s plenty on offer in this area.

4. WiFi and Ethernet

With many of the new motherboards we’ve started to see a high influx of boards that support onboard WiFi and have very strong ethernet capabilities. The kind of networking you want will ultimately be down to your use-case. If you’re a casual gamer, a Gigabit LAN will be perfectly fine, and you might not even care about your board supporting WiFi.

MSI MEG X670E ACE WiFi Antenna

If you’re the kind of user that wants to maximise their productivity 2.5 or 10 Gigabit LAN will be a likelihood here, with a WiFi 6E capable module to ensure the best connectivity options. Keep in mind, if this is you, you’ll definitely be paying a premium for these features as they don’t appear on your ‘run of the mill’ budget boards.

Factors to Consider

I wanted to briefly talk about extraneous factors that you should consider on top of the features. Features are definitely important and are the main driving point for the price of your motherboard. But there are important points to think about in terms of what motherboard size you would like, how many DIMM slots will you need, do you plan on using multiple GPUs etc. We’ve noted down the most important factors that we’d recommend considering below:

Form Factor

Form Factor is arguably the most important thing to think about when buying any component. This is because, if you buy something too big or too small, it could drastically affect the compatibility of other components. Some motherboards only support standard ATX boards, and not E-ATX designs, while others are built solely for the smallest ITX designs.

If you’re ever unsure about whether your motherboard will be supported, or other components will fit, you’ll want to consult the manufacturers website and look at the dimensions. If your motherboard length is more than the size of your internal case space, unfortunately its not going to fit.

ROG Strix Z690 I - Motherboard Form Factors VS
Mini-ITX motherboards tend to be more widely supported than larger boards. We would still recommend double checking the form factor support even if you are sure!
MSI MEG Z690 GODLIKE
Although an extreme instance, this Z690 GODLIKE is a gigantic board. And even if your case manufacturer says it supports E-ATX, they might not support this board based on its sheer size.

DIMM Slots

The amount of RAM DIMM slots you have and motherboard factor somewhat go hand in hand. For those using an ATX or E-ATX motherboard, you can continue reading. But for those looking at a smaller motherboard design, you’ll want to have a think. Due to the nature of smaller motherboards, much of the PCB is trimmed down, so you end up losing some features.

ASUS TUF Gaming Z790 DIMM Slots

On these smaller boards you’re normally limited to 2 slots. Most Mini-ITX and Micro ATX boards can only support 64GB in total, which is somewhat limited in terms of capacity. You’re losing out on around 64GB if you’ve picked out a smaller motherboard, but I’d argue that 64GB is more than enough for most users.

Multi-GPU Configurations

We’ve seen a significant increase in the power and performance of GPUs over the most recent years removing the need for SLI. However, if you’re building a workstation PC that requires more power, then you’ll want a motherboard that has multiple GPU slots. These slots can also come in handy for SSD add-in cards or high-end networking cards.

Gigabyte AORUS RTX 4090 Master

Smaller motherboards only tend to have one slot, and cheaper motherboards only tend to have one full x16 slot meaning you’ll have limited bandwidth on these boards. If you’re building a multi-GPU PC you’ll want to take a look at top-end motherboards like the Gigabyte AORUS Master, or the MSI MEG ACE range.

Usability Features

If you’re a first-time builder, having access to extra usability features that make the building process much easier. Extras like an M.2 latch, or a PCI-E Q-Latch make removing and installing components so much easier. I would highly recommend looking into how DIY-friendly your motherboard is to ensure that your building experience doesn’t suffer.

MSI MEG X670E ACE Latchless M.2
This MSI motherboard features a tool-less M.2 SSD design which requires no extra screws, allowing you to easily fasten down your drives without any extra hassle.
Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Master PCI-E Slot Latch
The Q-Latch seen on many Gigabyte boards allows you to easily remove your GPU without having to cram your fingers into your case.

Our Recommendations

We understand and appreciate that choosing a motherboard for your PC build can be a frustrating and time consuming process. Getting the best price to performance margins is a vital part of building a cost effective PC. For this reason we’ve compiled a list of our recommendations that we believe offer varied choice for different budgets, aesthetics, and features!

Best Z790 Motherboards

1. ASUS Prime Z790-P D4

ASUS Prime Z790-P WiFi D4

The Prime Z790-P D4 from ASUS is one of the best (and cheapest) Z790 motherboards that you can currently buy. Sporting a PCI-E 5.0 slot for the next generation of GPUs, multiple PCI-E 4.0 M.2 slots, giving you access to blazing fast SSDs. The rear IO features a bountiful amount of high speed USBs, including a 20GB/s Type-C port, along with WiFi 6 for those looking for a high speed wireless connection, or 2.5 Gigabit LAN for something a little bit more stable.

Key Specs:

  • Form Factor: ATX
  • Supported Memory: DDR4 128GB 5333MHz
  • PCI-E x16 Slots: 1x PCI-E 5.0, 3x PCI-E 4.0
  • PCI-E x4 Slots: 3x PCI-E 4.0
  • Rear IO: 1x USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C, 1x USB 3.2 Gen2, 2x USB 3.2 Gen1, 4x USB 2.0
  • Networking: WiFi 6, 2.5 Gigabit LAN

Buy the ASUS Prime Z790-P WiFi D4 on:

2. Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Elite AX

Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Elite AX Whole Motherboard

Gigabyte’s Z790 AORUS Elite AX is one of the cheapest DDR5 motherboards that we’ve been able to review on the website. This board is loaded with features, from numerous PCI-E 4.0 SSD slots, to a high quality audio codec providing crystal clear quality for all your audiophiles out there. If you’re looking to build a relatively low cost DDR5 gaming PC we’d definitely recommend looking at this board from Gigabyte, it has an awesome design that suits many different build styles while sporting plenty of features for you to sink your teeth into.

Key Specs:

  • Form Factor: ATX
  • Supported Memory: DDR5 128GB 7600MHz
  • PCI-E x16 Slots: 1x PCI-E 5.0, 2x PCI-E 4.0
  • PCI-E x4 Slots: 4x PCI-E 4.0
  • Rear IO: 1x USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C, 2x USB 3.2 Gen2, 3x USB 3.2 Gen1, 4x USB 2.0
  • Networking: WiFi 6E, 2.5 Gigabit LAN

Buy the Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Elite AX on:

3. ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-Plus WiFi D4

ASUS TUF Gaming Z790 Whole Motherboard

The TUF Gaming Z790-Plus WiFi D4 from ASUS is one of the best looking boards on the Z790 chipset. The industrial theme contrasts really well with the shades of yellow, I’m a big fan! Not only that, but this board has an insane amount of USBs. If you’re looking for a motherboard that can handle an excessive amount of accessories and peripherals, I’d definitely recommend this TUF board. Not to mention you’ve got a great amount of expansion options for SSDs, and support for the next generation of PCI-E 5.0 graphics cards.

Key Specs:

  • Form Factor: ATX
  • Supported Memory: DDR4 128GB 5333MHz
  • PCI-E x16 Slots: 1x PCI-E 5.0, 1x PCI-E 4.0
  • PCI-E x4 Slots: 4x PCI-E 4.0
  • Rear IO: 1x USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C, 3x USB 3.2 Gen2, 4x USB 3.2 Gen1
  • Networking: WiFi 6, 2.5 Gigabit LAN

Buy the ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-Plus WiFi D4 on:

4. MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi

MSI Z790 Carbon WiFi Whole Motherboard

MSI‘s MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi is another DDR5 motherboard that we’ve reviewed in full offering a wide range of features perfect for a mid-range or high-end gaming PC build. On the overclocking front you’ve got a 22 phase power design with plenty of cooling on the VRMs to push your CPU to the next level. This board also sports two Gen5 slots ready for the next generation of graphics cards and storage. On the rear IO you’ve also got access to a wide variety of high speed USB ports designed bringing optimal connectivity and transfer speeds.

Key Specs:

  • Form Factor: ATX
  • Supported Memory: DDR5 128GB 7600MHz
  • PCI-E x16 Slots: 1x PCI-E 5.0, 1x PCI-E 4.0
  • PCI-E x4 Slots: 1x PCI-E 5.0, 4x PCI-E 4.0
  • Rear IO: 2x USB 3.2 Gen1, 6x USB 3.2 Gen2, 1x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C, 1x USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C
  • Networking: WiFi 6E, 2.5 Gigabit LAN

Buy the MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi on:

5. ASRock Z790 Taichi Carrara

ASRock Z790 Taichi Carrara

ASRock‘s Z790 Taichi Carrara is one of the best motherboards for overclocking sporting a 27 phase power delivery system, ideal for a Core i9 or i7 CPU. On the board itself you’ll notice a marbled metal design which looks awesome and is perfect for alternative and sleek lighter-themed builds. In terms of connectivity and expansion this board has it all, two PCI-E 5.0 slots for GPUs, with one for your SSD, two Thunderbolt 4 ports, more rear IO than I can count on one hand along with dual 2.5 and 1 Gigabit networking and WiFi 6E. If you’re looking to build a high-end PC, this might be your board of choice!

Key Specs:

  • Form Factor: E-ATX
  • Supported Memory: DDR5 128GB 7000MHz
  • PCI-E x16 Slots: 2x PCI-E 5.0, 1x PCI-E 4.0
  • PCI-E x4 Slots: 1x PCI-E 5.0, 4x PCI-E 4.0
  • Rear IO: 2x Thunderbolt 4 Type-C, 2x USB 3.2 Gen2, 6x USB 3.2 Gen1, 2x USB 2.0
  • Networking: WiFi 6E, 2.5 Gigabit LAN

Buy the ASRock Z790 Taichi Carrara on:

6. MSI MEG Z790 ACE

MSI MEG Z790 ACE

MSI’s MEG Z790 ACE is one of my favourite top-end boards, and although this board is rather expensive, you definitely get what you pay for. The matte black finish with the gold inlays contrast nicely against each other while adding plenty of customisation with the RGB located on the rear IO plate and towards the bottom left of the board. Connectivity, expansion, and networking are bountiful giving you plenty of options for upgrading and offering up numerous different ports and headers for a variety of accessories and peripherals. This board is perfect for a workstation or a high-end gaming PC build geared towards those looking for all of the features they can get their hands on.

Key Specs:

  • Form Factor: E-ATX
  • Supported Memory: DDR5 128GB 7800MHz
  • PCI-E x16 Slots: 2x PCI-E 5.0, 1x PCI-E 4.0
  • PCI-E x4 Slots: 1x PCI-E 5.0, 4x PCI-E 4.0
  • Rear IO: 2x Thunderbolt 4 Type-C, 7x USB 3.2 Gen2, 1x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C
  • Networking: WiFi 6E, 2x 2.5 Gigabit LAN

Buy the MSI MEG Z790 ACE on:

editor
Jay joined Geeka Media in April of 2022, bringing with him a wealth of technical knowledge and a background in Computer Science. Jay is an avid gamer, keyboard-builder and tech wizz with years of PC-building passion under his belt.