• Form Factor: ATX
  • Socket: LGA-1151
  • Chipset: Intel Z390
  • RAM Slots: 4 (dual-channel)
  • Memory: 4400/4300/4266/4200/4133/4000/3866/3733/3600/3466/3400/3333/3300/3200/3000/2800/2666/2400/2133 MHz
  • Ports: 1x Gigabit LAN, 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort, 2x Wireless Antenna, 1x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C, 1x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A, 2x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A, 2x USB 2.0, 5x Audio port, 1x Optical (SPDIF), 3x PCIe 3.0, 6x SATA 6Gb/s, 2x M.2
  • Pros:
  • Extra power connector
  • External WiFi
  • Cons:
  • Less RGB

Giving You The Edge You Need

Intel is still going strong in the high-end performance consumer CPU market, using its new Intel Z390 chipset. Among the available boards would be MSI’s MPG Z390 Gaming Edge.
Once again, you’re looking at a black-coloured motherboard with some metallic silver accents. It has a large cover that acts as a partial shroud for the back I/O ports and heat. Contrary to what some would expect, it isn’t loaded to the gills with RGB, but there are some that are lined across the length of the right edge.

The external 802.11ac wireless connector with the two antennas attached

The external 802.11ac wireless connector with the two antennas attached

In terms of board layout, you’re looking at four DDR4 DIMM slots running in dual-channel mode, three full-length PCIe 3.0 slots (two with MSI Steel Slot), two M.2 slots, six SATA ports and four internal headers for additional USB 3.1 and 2.0 ports. It supports 2-way SLI or 3-way CrossFire, while the M.2 slots share the bandwidth from the PCIe slots.

The MPG Z390 Gaming Edge is ideal for high-performance overclocking, thanks to the extra 4-pin power connector. This gives the user more juice to overclock the RAM to a maximum 4,400 MHz and feed Intel’s latest Core i9 processors. In order to keep the potentially hot system cool in PC chassis, MSI included 4-pins headers for five chassis fan, one CPU fan and another for a water pump. On the topic of headers, there’s two extra 4-pin headers for RGB LED strips, as well as two 3-pin headers for a rainbow LED and Corsair LED.

There's not much RGB lighting for once, but you can add more using the onboard headers (JRGB1, JRAINBOW1)

There’s not much RGB lighting for once, but you can add more using the onboard headers (JRGB1, JRAINBOW1)

For the rear I/O, there are a few goodies to go with the standard array of USB and Gigabit LAN ports. First, there’s video output for HDMI and DisplayPort, in case you don’t have a GPU or the one you use is down. There’s also a Wireless-AC compatible WiFi connector, which is great if you don’t want to or can’t use Ethernet cables. The only thing to note is that the external WiFi connector requires the two antennas included in the box to function properly.

In terms of overall performance, we managed safely overclock our Intel Core i7 8700K to 4.8GHz on this motherboard using an AIO liquid cooling solution. It ran stably at that frequency range, but temperatures were fairly hot at around 78 degrees Celsius. It’s possible to go over 5 GHz with some BIOS updates and utilising the extra 4-pin power connector, but the temperature can go all the way up to 89 degrees Celsius, which is too hot for comfort.

CHIP CONCLUDE: A good option if you’re looking for a board with lots of connectors, extra power for overclocking, and built-in Wireless AC.

(to be published in issue November 2018)