This week at CES 2021, a bit below the radar, Asus and different main motherboard makers introduced their lineups of recent Intel Z590 motherboards, set to launch on January 27. That’s properly forward of Intel’s upcoming 11th Gen Core “Rocket Lake-S” desktop CPUs, that are slated for cabinets someday in March. Asus wasn’t the primary board maker to formally acknowledge the existence of Z590 boards (that honor goes to Gigabyte). However now that Intel has pulled again the curtain on Rocket Lake, producers are free to observe swimsuit with their very own corresponding bulletins.
However what is Z590 precisely, and what enhancements does it promise over the Z490 platform (which itself launched a mere nine months ago)? Is it a must have for modern players and content material creators, or simply one other minor improve for Intel, which finds itself in a pitched, relentless battle with AMD and its long-running Socket AM4-compatible motherboards?
From Z490 to Z590: An Evolutionary Step Up
One sticking level throughout Intel’s launch of its 10th Technology Core (“Comet Lake-S”) chips final 12 months was the improve to the Z490 platform, which, whereas succesful of supporting PCI Specific 4.Zero in principle, has to this point solely utilized PCI Specific 3.Zero in observe. (On the time of launch, some motherboard distributors tagged a few of their Z490 boards as PCI Specific 4.0 “prepared”; what that can imply, as soon as the precise 11th Technology Core chips hit, stays to be seen.)
PCI Specific 4.Zero in the meanwhile is especially of curiosity to people deploying the most recent high-speed SSDs. The brand new Z590 platform will bake that in, bringing with it a bunch of enhancements, together with assist for 16 accessible PCI Specific 4.Zero lanes, in addition to DDR4-3200 (up from a restrict of DDR4-2933 on Z490) as a regular reminiscence pace. The boards can even throw in assist for each Thunderbolt Four and Wi-Fi 6, whereas sure fashions will look ahead with assist for USB Four and the cutting-edge Wi-Fi 6E.
Additionally out within the open now are specs for the “lesser” 500 collection chipsets under Z590. For some extra granular element, let’s take a look at how the latest Intel chipsets form up in opposition to each other…
As you possibly can see above, on the entire, most of the enhancements from Z490 to Z590 are incremental, and so they symbolize one of many shorter leaps in expertise that Intel has taken between chipsets in a while.
We do not know a complete lot concerning the Intel Core i9-11900Okay, apart from what little morsels Intel let drop at its CES 2021 presentation (or about the remainder of the 11th Technology stack, for that matter; the Core i9-11900Okay was the one Rocket Lake chip mannequin that Intel recognized by identify). According to a report from Anandtech, each Z490 and Z590 chipsets will assist the 10th Technology Comet Lake-S and 11th Technology Rocket Lake-S chip households. Issues will get a bit stickier as you go down the road of the 400 Collection chipsets, although, with assist for Rocket Lake dropping off with B460 and H410 motherboards, whereas anybody on H470, Q470, or Z490 might want to replace their motherboard BIOS to make use of an 11th Technology chip on the platform.
The predictable array of Z590 motherboards hit the wires this week, with the same old main makers (Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, Asrock) all releasing particulars about their respective choices coming down the pipeline. Board makers like Asus have gone the additional mile with a few of their options, with one flagship board (Asus Maximus XIII Extreme Glacial Z590) including an inside liquid-cooling block masking the whole lot of the chipset parts and hot-running board bits like VRMs. The novel design makes it simpler than ever for overclockers to get absolutely the most quantity of energy and thermal regulation out of their programs, whereas additionally giving chips just like the Core i9-11900Okay the form of cooling they’re going to have to carry out at their greatest if overclocked. Different makers are additionally pouring on the high-end options of their established top-end collection, with MSI providing Godlike and Ace fashions, and Asrock its traditional Taichi. After all, lesser, and more cost effective, Z590 boards are additionally within the offing, too.
In case you’re upgrading from, say, an already top-end Z390 or Z290 board from a couple of years again, Z590 in excessive boards just like the Maximus XIII Glacial or MSI MEG Z590 Godlike are most likely the following logical step in a top-tier efficiency arsenal. Nonetheless, many people who simply purchased a Z490 board will discover themselves completely okay with the tech they have already got, and the price of upgrading to Z590 will simply be an excessive amount of to justify the minimal function beneficial properties that one thing like a boosted VRM or barely upticked Wi-Fi, USB, and Thunderbolt options may supply.
However even with all these new options and tech being introduced as part of the Z590 launch, and the brand new buzz surrounding Intel’s coming top-end chips, we should all the time come again to query of AMD…and, particularly, the corporate’s AM4 Socket.
Will Z590 Make AMD Blink?
AMD continues to grandfather in as many motherboards as it might to the consumer-level Ryzen household of CPUs, and Intel asking potential consumers to pony up for but one other motherboard improve appears untenable by comparability except you are upgrading from a number of generations again. Socket AM4 and its surrounding, successive chipsets have held sturdy as some of the versatile desktop platforms that AMD has ever launched, with cheap compatibility stretching all the way in which again to B350, as much as the present technology of X570 motherboards.
That stage of compatibility is necessary when discussing the prospect of how a lot your subsequent system improve may cost a little, and whereas an older AMD chipset just like the B350 might not have common assist for all the most recent USB protocols, uncooked spec bumps aren’t every thing on the planet of most PC house owners. Desktop PC consumers fall into many alternative classes, however some of the populous is the “upgrader” class. It is a class of PC house owners who, somewhat than buying a model new desktop each time there is a product refresh, usually tend to tack newer components onto getting older motherboards with a purpose to squeeze out as a lot worth over time as they’ll.
Intel did flash a couple of “Rocket Lake” benchmarks throughout its CES presentation, which confirmed some choose video games working sooner on an Intel Core i9-11900Okay than an AMD Ryzen 9 5900X, by a few share factors.
Now thoughts you, citing Intel’s personal numbers, even in titles the place Intel is favored, at most gamers can count on only a 4% distinction in video games like Far Cry: New Daybreak? Abruptly the price of upgrading to a Z590 motherboard and an Intel Core i9-11900Okay would not look so good when a bleeding-edge CPU just like the Ryzen 9 5900X can slot into a B450 board, if want be (pending, maybe, a BIOS replace at most).
For PC builders and upgraders who’re watching each greenback of their Amazon, Microcenter, or Newegg procuring carts, the Z590 could seem largely overkill. The launch of Z590 is promising a few of the boldest designs we have seen in motherboards but. (Take the Maximus XIII Excessive Glacial as Exhibit A.) However the added worth of upgrading to Z590 from Z490 will not possible translate to efficiency that outdoes the Ryzen 5000 Collection in a sufficiently big solution to encourage most consumers who aren’t upgrading from one thing previous and ditching all their supporting parts.
If the Core i9-11900Okay, the Z590 chipset, and imperceptibly higher body charges on Gears of Struggle 5 at 1080p are the perfect Intel can do proper now, AMD is about to pull out a protracted winter for the corporate even additional. With AMD doing most of what Intel can within the mainstream fanatic area sooner or cheaper, even probably the most innovatively cooled motherboards do not appear to be they’re going to change the bigger stability of that equation in early ’21. That stated, we’re wanting ahead to placing Rocket Lake silicon to the check and seeing the way it shapes up.