After almost a decade of total market dominance, Intel has spent the past few years on the defensive. AMD’s Ryzen processors continue to show improvement year over year, with the most recent Ryzen 5000 series taking the crown of best gaming processor: Intel’s last bastion of superiority.
Now, with a booming hardware market, Intel is preparing to make up some lost ground with the new 11th Gen Intel Core Processors. Intel is claiming these new 11th Gen CPUs offer double-digit IPC improvements despite remaining on a 14 nm process. The top-end 8-core Intel Core i9-11900K may not be able to compete against its AMD rival Ryzen 9 5900X in heavily multi-threaded scenarios, but the higher clock speeds and alleged IPC improvements could be enough to take back the gaming crown. Along with the new CPUs, there is a new chipset to match, the Intel Z590. Last year’s Z490 chipset motherboards are also compatible with the new 11th Gen Intel Core Processors, but Z590 introduces some key advantages.
First, Z590 offers native PCIe 4.0 support from the CPU, which means the PCIe and M.2 slots powered off the CPU will offer PCIe 4.0 connectivity when an 11th Gen CPU is installed. The PCIe and M.2 slots controlled by the Z590 chipset are still PCI 3.0. While many high-end Z490 motherboards advertised this capability, it was not a standard feature for the platform. In addition to PCIe 4.0 support, Z590 offers USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 from the chipset. The USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 standard offers speeds of up to 20 Gb/s. Finally, Z590 boasts native support for 3200 MHz DDR4 memory. With these upgrades, Intel’s Z series platform has feature parity with AMD’s B550. On paper, Intel is catching up to AMD, but only testing will tell if these new Z590 motherboards are up to the challenge.
The MSI Enthusiast Gaming, or MEG for short, line of motherboards represents the best of the best MSI has to offer. Last year’s Z490 MEG line offered some of the best overclocking available on an Intel platform. Memory overclocking was particularly noteworthy due to such innovations as MSI’s tabbed memory trace layout. Those same innovations return on MSI’s new Z590 lineup with even more refinement. The MSI MEG Z590 ACE features a massive 19-phase VRM with top of the line 90 A power stages and a robust VRM cooling solution, four M.2 slots, Thunderbolt 4, and a plethora of overclocking features. The MSI MEG Z590 ACE has a premium spec sheet, let’s see if there is premium performance to match!
|CPU Support:||10th Gen and 11th Gen Intel Core Processors|
|Power Design:|| CPU Power: 18-phase
Memory Power: 2-phase
|Integrated Graphics:||Dependent on installed CPU|
|Memory:||4x DIMM, supports dual-channel DDR4-5600 (OC) MHz|
|BIOS:||AMI UEFI BIOS|
|Expansion Slots:|| 3x PCIe x16 slots (x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4)
2x PCIe x1 slots
|Storage:|| 6x SATA 6 Gb/s ports
4x M.2 ports (SATA3/PCIe x4)
|Networking:||1x Intel I225V 2.5 Gb/s LAN
1x Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX210
|Rear Ports:||1x BIOS Flashback button
1x Clear CMOS button
2x SMA antenna connectors
1x HDMI port
2x USB Type-C® Thunderbolt ports
2x Mini DisplayPort input
2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports (red)
4x USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports
2x USB 2.0 ports
1x RJ-45 port
1x optical S/PDIF Out connector
5x audio jacks
|Audio:||1x Realtek ALC4082 Codec|
|Fan Headers:||8x 4-pin|
|Form Factor:||ATX Form Factor: 12.0 x 9.6 in.; 30.5 x 24.4 cm|
Testing for this review was conducted using a 10th Gen Intel Core i9-10900K. Stay tuned for an 11th Gen update when the new processors launch!