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Z490 vs Z590: Which Intel MB chipset is right for you?

Since the motherboard is an essential part of your computer, you shouldn’t rush when purchasing one. So, ensure that you compare all the features to find out which one suits your needs. In this article, we compare two Intel chipsets — Z490 vs Z590. Keep reading to find out all similarities and differences between the two! 

Z490 vs Z590 – General Overview

Although these two chipsets come from the same manufacturer, they belong to different chipset series. Z490 belongs to Intel 400 Series, whereas Z590 belongs to Intel 500 Series. Because the 500 Series is more recent, there are some enhancements when it comes to the Z590. 

Even though they seem similar in features, the Z590 is more advanced. Keep reading to find out whether these differences will affect your decision. Let’s dive into a more detailed Z490 vs Z590 comparison. 

Intel Z490

Intel Z490

Pros:

  • Wide range of supported processors
  • Wi-Fi compatible
  • Large RAM capacity
  • Supports overclocking

Cons:

  • No USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 ports
  • Only four DMI lanes

Intel Z590

Intel Z590

Pros:

  • Eight DMI lanes 
  • PCIe 4.0
  • High data transfer speed – 20 Gb/s
  • 3200 MHz memory speed

Cons:

  • No support for DDR5
  • Doesn’t support the 12th-generation Intel Core processors

Z590 vs Z490: Socket and CPU Compatibility

Socket type supported

Almost all computer components are connected via the motherboard. This primarily refers to the CPU. However, in order to connect a CPU to a motherboard, it needs to have a corresponding socket.

In this case, both of these chipsets support the same socket type – the LGA 1200 socket. This means that if you have a Z490 or Z590 motherboard, you can connect the 10th or 11th generation of Intel Core processors to it. 

CPU support/compatibility

As we mentioned above, these chipsets support the same socket type, which in this case, basically means they are compatible with the same series of Intel processors. 

Intel Core 10th Gen
Intel Core 10th Gen

Therefore, both Z490 and Z590 chipsets are compatible with the following CPUs:

  • 11th Generation Intel Core i9 Processors
  • 10th Generation Intel Core i9 Processors
  • 11th Generation Intel Core i7 Processors
  • 10th Generation Intel Core i7 Processors
  • 11th Generation Intel Core i5 Processors
  • 10th Generation Intel Core i5 Processors
  • 10th Generation Intel Core i3 Processors
  • Intel Pentium Gold Processor Series

Can’t decide which is the best processor? Make sure to compare all Intel Core processors to find out which is the best choice for you.

Form Factor

When we compare these two chipsets based on their form factor, we can conclude that both of them are very diverse. So, they come in a variety of form factors, ATX, Micro ATX, and Mini ITX.

Form Factor Types
Types of Form Factors

If you are limited by space, you can opt for the smallest Mini ITX or Micro ATX. However, if space is not an issue, you can always go with the ATX, such as the Gigabyte Z590 Aorus Elite AX, or MSI Z490-A PRO. Also, keep in mind that the ATX form factor is suitable for overclocking. 

Z490 vs Z590: GPU Compatibility

SLI / Crossfire compatibility

To use two or more GPUs simultaneously, you should consider Nvidia’s SLI or AMD’s Crossfire technology. In this Z490 vs Z590 comparison, you can find motherboards that support either one or even both technologies. 

AMD Crossfire Technology
AMD Crossfire Technology

For example, the Asus Prime Z590-A supports both technologies, whereas the Gigabyte Ultra Durable Z590 UD supports only Crossfire. 

NVIDIA SLi Multi-GPU Technology
NVIDIA SLi Multi-GPU Technology

One thing is for sure, these technologies can enhance the performance of your computer. However, many people find them outdated. The main reason is that today’s GPUs are pretty advanced and can handle the most demanding tasks. 

Z590 vs Z490: Performance

Overclocking

Modern video games and programs usually demand high performance. Sometimes, it is difficult to achieve this with your existing computer components. It seems that we always need to upgrade our configurations to run demanding games or programs. 

However, there is always the option of tweaking our computer system. In other words, there is a way to achieve higher component speeds over the limit set by the manufacturer. This is called overclocking, and you can use it to enhance your RAM, GPU, or CPU.

However, not every component is unlocked for overclocking. In this particular case, the motherboard and its chipset need to support overclocking if you want to take advantage of this feature. 

Luckily, both Z490 and Z590 support overclocking. So, either of them will work if you want to overclock components. 

If you opt for overclocking, make sure to get familiar with the risks that come with it. The biggest problem is the motherboard overheating. If you don’t already have a good cooling system set in place, consider investing in one. 

Another risk is the potential damage to the component. Manufacturers don’t usually cover overclocking damage with their warranty. So, be prepared to fully cover the costs of any damage you do to your components while playing around with overclocking. 

If you want to learn more about overclocking, check out the Intel 10th Gen Z490 Overclocking Guide with Gigabyte BIOS.

Data transfer speed

The number of USB ports is the same when it comes to both of these chipsets. They each have 14 USB ports. But not all of them offer the same speed.

Chipset2.03.2 Gen 1×13.2 Gen 2×13.2 Gen 2×2Total number of USB ports
Z49014 portsUp to 10 portsUp to 6 ports14
Z59014 portsUp to 10 portsUp to 10 portsUp to 3 ports14

Even though USB 2.0 is slowly becoming outdated, modern technology still comes with these ports. However, since the newer generation of USB ports offers higher speed, we will focus more on them. 

USB 3.2 has three main variations — USB 3.2 Gen 1×1 offers a speed of 5 Gb/s, and USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 offers a speed of 10 Gb/s. But the third variation is the fastest. USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 has a speed of 20Gb/s

In our Z490 vs Z590 comparison, the Z590 offers much better data transfer options. Both chipsets have USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 ports. But Z590 comes with up to ten ports, unlike Z490, which has up to six of these ports. 

The biggest difference between the two is in 3.2 Gen 2×2 ports. The Z490 doesn’t even offer these ports, but Z590 has up to three of these ports. What this means is that Z590 has a data transfer speed of up to 20 Gb/s, whereas Z490 maxes out at 10 Gb/s.

Memory speed / Compatibility

These chipsets have some similarities when it comes to memory. They both have two DIMMs per channel, the maximum capacity is 128 GB, and they typically have four memory slots. They, however, differ when it comes to speed. 

The Z490 motherboard’s memory speed goes up to 2933 MHz. The Z590 motherboards, on the other hand, offer a higher memory speed which is 3200 MHz

Read More: 3200 vs 3600 RAM: Which DDR4 speed should you buy?

Z490 vs Z590: Other Features

Wi-Fi compatibility

Wi-Fi compatibility comes in handy if you want to avoid extra cables or dongles with your internet connection. The good news is that both of these chipsets support Wi-Fi. 

Each of these comes with integrated Wi-Fi 6 AX201CNVi solution or Wi-Fi 6 AX200 solution. What this means is that you can connect up to Gigabit Wi-Fi speed (max speed 2.4 Gb/s). But we need to emphasize that you should check this info on each individual motherboard since some manufacturers leave out Wi-Fi support

Connectivity options 

As we mentioned earlier, the Z490 supports speeds of up to 10 Gb/s via USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 ports. The Z590 supports a higher speed of up to 20 Gb/s via USB 3.2 Gen 2×2. 

Both chipsets have up to six SATA ports supporting up to 6 Gb/s transfer rates. Additionally, they allow SATA ports to be enabled or disabled as you need them. 

Connectivity OptionsZ490Z590
Number of USB ports1414
Transfer SpeedUp to 10 Gb/sUp to 20 Gb/s
SATA 6.0 Gb/s Ports66
PCI Express Lanes2424
PCI Express Port Configurations1×16 or 2×8 or 1×8+2×41×16+1×4 or 2×8+1×4 or 1×8+3×4
Ethernet YesYes
DMI lanes48
PriceCheck Price on AmazonCheck Price on Amazon

They have the same number of 3.0 PCI Express lanes which is 24. The bus speed of these lanes is up to 8 GT/s. 

If you are unfamiliar with PCIe lanes, here is a short explanation of this topic. 

The x16 slots are the largest slots on the motherboard, but they are also the fastest slots in each PCI generation. For example, x1 in PCIe 3.0 generation can reach 1 Gb/s, whereas x16 of the same generation can reach the speed of 16 Gb/s. 

For that reason, x16 slots are most suitable for cards that require lots of power and high bandwidth. Therefore, x16 slots are mainly used for graphics cards. Accordingly, if you want to use Crossfire or SLI technology, you need to have more than one of these slots. 

Another major difference is that Z590 supports PCI-e 4.0. You may have noticed that some Z490 motherboards also support PCI-e 4.0. However, the older motherboards got the support after they were launched, via updates. But, their PCI-e 4.0 support is not as good as on Z590. Users report that it lacks certain features and doesn’t work well overall. 

Therefore, if PCI-e 4.0 support is an important aspect of a motherboard for you, the far better choice is a Z590 motherboard.  

Each of them also supports Intel Ethernet Connection I219-V. Also, Z490 has only four DMI lanes, whereas Z590 has eight DMI lanes, meaning it can handle two m.2 SSDs running at full speed. But keep in mind that this feature is available only on the 11th generation of Intel Core processors. 

BIOS

Some motherboards can run without a BIOS update, but you need to update your BIO in most cases. As a matter of fact, when it comes to Intel 400 Series of chipsets, they recommend that you update your BIOS

Future-proofing

In this segment of our comparison, we give a slight advantage to Z590 motherboards. They come with a faster USB data transfer speed of 20 Gb/s via USB 3.2 2×2 ports. 

Also, they have twice as many DMI lanes when compared to Z490 and fully support PCI-e 4.0 without any issues, unlike Z490. Additionally, they come with faster RAM speeds. 

MSI Z490-A PRO

MSI Z490-A PRO
MSI Z490-A PRO

The MSI Z490-A PRO comes with DDR4 memory that supports a memory speed of 5000 MHz. The maximum capacity is 128 GB and the motherboard has four memory slots. It has an ATX form factor, meaning it is large in size. 

Since it has two PCIe x16 slots, it supports Crossfire technology. However, since this is a Z490 motherboard, it doesn’t come with USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 ports. Instead, it has only a USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 port. 

MSI MPG Z590 Gaming Plus

MSI MPG Z590 Gaming Plus
MSI MPG Z590 Gaming Plus

The MSI MPG Z590 Gaming Plus also has DDR4 memory but supports higher speeds of 5333 MHz. The capacity is 128 GB, and it comes with four slots. The form factor of this motherboard is ATX. However, it has three PCIe x16 slots and is Crossfire capable. It also has a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 port.

Conclusion

So, which chipset prevails in this Z490 vs Z590 comparison? They are somewhat similar and share a lot of the same features. However, the Z590 is slightly advanced, mostly due to the fact it is more recent than the Z490. 

The Z490 has all the basic motherboard features at an affordable price. It is compatible with the 10th and 11th generations of processors. They support overclocking and DDR4 RAM, have plenty of USB and SATA ports and come with Wi-Fi connectivity. 

But if you want more advanced features, then the Z590 is a better choice. Faster USB data transfer of 20 Gb/s, more DMI lanes, more complete support for PCI-e 4.0, and a faster memory speed are the main advantages of these motherboards. The Z590 chipset might be a great choice if you want to build a fast configuration!

About Alex

Hello, I'm Alex and this is my website, Spacehop. I started the site as a way to talk about myself, and a few years later we're now a team of 6! I still work full time at a major PC retailer in the UK, and I'm a bit of a tech whizz (self-proclaimed, unfortunately!).

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