The C9Z490 comes in a typical for ATX motherboards box, which contains everything we may need for installation. Inside, we can find a manual, driver’s DVD, I/O shield, cable stickers, WiFi antennas, SATA data cables, and screws for M.2 SSD.
The motherboard looks typical, but somehow it looks high-end. Some components are more related to workstation or server motherboards rather than gaming series. Even though there are many additional controllers like double LAN, WiFi, audio, PLX PCIe bridge, and some more, then we can’t feel that everything is tight or causes any interference with other devices. There is enough space to install four graphics cards or any other cards. We can also install two M.2 SSD that should be enough for any gaming PC.
Power design is based on 12 phases, which should be able to deliver enough power for higher overclocked CPU and memory. There were no problems achieving 5.3GHz on the i9-10900K processor. As far as the motherboard could handle that, then our cooling was on the edge of its possibilities.
Going back to the motherboard’s design, the C9Z490-PGW is one of the not many gaming motherboards based on the Z490 chipset that doesn’t have active cooling. It means two things. The first is that the motherboard’s power section can handle a high CPU load without overheating. Still, it’s recommended to use good airflow or air cooling to keep optimal temperatures around the CPU. The second thing worth mentioning is that we don’t have to worry about unnecessary noise, which may come from active cooling. It’s not hard to spot Z490 motherboards with even three small coolers on their heatsinks. During all tests, there were no problems with CZ490-PGW’s power section or its temperature. There were no issues with throttling or anything else worth mentioning.
The motherboard also supports two M.2 PCIe sockets what already became a standard in motherboards based on higher chipset series. We can set two M.2 SSD in RAID 0/1 what sounds good. However, as you will be able to see a bit later, RAID 0 is not helping in performance on the Intel Z490 chipset. It works about the same as on the Z370 or Z390 motherboards so that we will see a maximum bandwidth limit at about 3.5GB/s. SuperO did a good job and setting everything is easy and quick, but if we really want to use RAID on M.2 drives, then RAID 1 seems the only reasonable option.
The C9Z490-PGW has four PCIe x16 slots, which can work at 8x8x8x8 mode due to the use of PLX chip. I don’t think we will find many motherboards like that, so I can say it’s pretty unique, and as SuperO says, the latency is lower than we may remember from previous configurations with PLX bridges. Since we don’t have four the same graphics cards, then we have to believe SuperO.
The C9Z490-PGW is equipped with a high-speed dual-band Intel WiFi controller and Bluetooth 5.0. This is what AMD chipsets were offering for about a year, so it’s about a time to see it on Intel chipsets.
There are also two LAN, RJ45 ports – 1Gbps Intel 219-v and 10Gbps Aquantia. I will tell you some more about these LAN controllers during performance tests.
On the motherboard, we will also find multiple USB ports, including the latest 3.2 Gen 2 standard, audio and COM headers, and many more. As I mentioned earlier, everyone will find something interesting.
I’m glad to see a diagnostic LED display and a set of power, reset, and clear CMOS buttons on the motherboard. Not every previous SuperO motherboard had that, and it’s convenient while overclocking or simply to diagnose any issues with the hardware.
What we won’t find and it can be a bit weird is a lack of RGB lighting, which just flooded the market recently. Depends on the user, it can be an advantage or not. For me, the most important is the motherboard, not the lighting, but some users just require flashy effects. The motherboard still has white LEDs under the IO cover with the SuperO logo what actually gives a nice, not to flashy effect.