With the intel 10th Gen range now fully released, there are some great Asus motherboards available now, built to take advantage of the latest hardware.
Today we’re reviewing one of the most affordable Z490 gaming motherboard options with AX WiFi built-in, the excellent ASUS TUF Gaming Z490-Plus.
All Z490 motherboards are pretty good, we therefore took the practical approach: we looked at what is really important when you are considering a motherboard, seeing if it can tick the boxes required to run the most powerful CPU, with the ports needed to properly fit a modern PC chassis.
For what is positioned to be a relative entry-level player, the new Asus TUF Z490 Plus is a pretty rich board. We can see some decent heatsinks, with long covers on the board that all come together to give it a thick look, without being clunky, so you’ll still have easy access to ports.
Being a TUF Gaming Alliance series product, it has the small yellow details in four locations, none of which are particularly prominent, the largest among them is the one near the IO shield, and that gets mostly blocked by the installation of a 120mm rear fan. Visually the board PCB is black, with a tech looking grey pattern that runs in alignment to the plates and cut lines within the heatsinks. The DDR4 RAM slots also alternate in colours from black to grey. Also, getting less and less common nowadays, the motherboard still has an old-fashioned IO shield for me to forget to install, or potentially cut my finger on.
It is geared to handle the latest unlocked CPUs with a 8 pin + 4 pin power input system typical of the Z490 series, so you’ll need a power suppy with two 8 pin CPU power connectors, the 8 pin will work just fine in the 4 pin slot, these often pull apart into two fours to keep things tidy too.
This is just more power for those who want to push things to the limit, and with a board like this you’ll be ready to do some overclocking. The good news is it does very well in that respect also, we enjoyed slightly warm VRMs even with an i9 10900KF in overclock, with CM Water Cooling Kit fitted reaching 60 degrees in furmark burn - really quite good!
How about inputs and outputs, cables and connections?
On the inputs and outputs feature side it finds itself somewhere between adequate and just enough.
More than sufficient with two M.2 slots and 6 fan headers, with a USB 3.2 Gen2 header making it compatible with modern chassis that have a front mounted Type-C port.
But don’t get caught out with only 2x USB 2.0 headers, this will cause slight hassles if your trying to build with a case that has several front USB ports, a card reader, or lighting and water cooling kits from NZXT or Corsair which also consume these plugs, you could quickly find yourself running out and in need of an internal USB header hub to expand with.
The rear IO has everything we look for, there are six USB ports in total including one Type-C. You do get WiFi 6 with the Asus TUF Z490 which is great, the ALC1200A audio has optical, and it’s got a gigabit lan port too, that could be faster, but the uses of that would be few for most.
RGB wise it’s looking good with a single aRGB Header and twin RGB headers at the ready, ideal for those using Asus ROG or Cooler Master water cooling kits and fans.
Is it the right motherboard for you?
If you’re shopping the Intel K series of unlocked 10th generation CPUs you should definitely consider the Asus TUF Z490 Plus (the plus is for WiFi), it’s a good looking, inexpensive and not too blingy option that can handle 1.35V for a 5.2 GHz all-core. Moreover, if you’re shopping in the cases with Type-C on the front IO, this motherboard fits the case.
Once you’re in the TUF ecosystem of products, you’ll find everything fits together rather well, but the design is subtle enough to give you the freedom to in build whatever you would like to.
TUF Gaming Alliance is a collaboration between ASUS and trusted PC-component brands to ensure compatibility with a wide range of parts including memory kits. With more partnerships and components being added regularly, it’s cool to see all the new parts like this one from Asus directly, and with the impressive quality of the Z490 TUF Plus Motherboards, they’ve sure got a good base to work with!