In a Nutshell
The ASUS ROG Strix Z490-I Gaming is a well-made mini-ITX motherboard that features great overclocking capabilities, as well as cool additional features such as on-board Wi-Fi 6 module, and RGB lighting. Provided that you want to build a powerful mini-ITX gaming PC with Intel CPU, this motherboard will greatly fulfill that purpose.
The ASUS ROG Strix Z490-I Gaming is a compact mini-ITX motherboard designed primarily for users who have a limited budget, but want to experience the full power of the latest 10th Gen Intel Core CPUs. Despite lacking some features which ordinary ATX motherboards have, this little motherboard is a perfect foundation for building a powerful gaming computer, especially if you want to put it into a mini-ITX case.
ASUS ROG Strix Z490-I Gaming Specs
|Processor Support||10th Gen Intel Core i9/i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron Processors|
|Memory Support||2 x DDR4, 4800 MHz (OC), up to 64GB|
|PCIe Connectors||1 × PCIe 3.0 x16 (CPU)|
|SATA / M.2||4 × SATA 3, RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 (chipset)|
2 x M.2 to 2280 NVMe x4
|Networking||1 × 2.5 Gb/s Intel LAN Chip|
1 x Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax + Bluetooth 5.1
|Audio||ROG SupremeFX 8-Channel HD Audio|
|Rear Connectors||1 × LAN (RJ45)|
1 × HDMI
1 × DisplayPort
2 x USB 2.0
2 x USB 3.2 Gen1
3 x USB 3.2 Gen2
1 x USB 3.2 Type-C Gen2
3 x audio jacks
Performance and capabilities
Thanks to the powerful voltage regular module (VRM), this board can provide enough power to ensure stable operation of the latest Intel processors. The 8+2 phase power stages system implemented into this board uses separately controlled power modules, and comes with MOSFET switches on both upper and lower ends. Thanks to this design, an increased efficiency of the power system is achieved, which means that this motherboard is well-suited for overclocking. The DIGI+ voltage stabilizer on this board is highly efficient, and is reliable and stable under any load. This motherboard also uses selected chokes and capacitors that can last longer, and can operate under more difficult conditions than the standard components. Like all the other motherboards made by ASUS, the Z490-I Gaming also features the ProCool II power connector found which ensures reliable cable connections, as well as lower electrical resistance and improved heat dissipation than standard ones.
The motherboard supports the installation of up to 64 GB of DDR4 RAM memory in two slots. OptiMem II technology optimizes processor and memory track routing to reduce pickup and crosstalk. This allows for higher operating frequencies when using memory module kits. Thanks to the unique layout of the memory slots on the motherboard, each of the two slots can accommodate modules with a double capacity of up to 32 gigabytes. Thus, despite the compact form factor, the total amount of supported memory is a solid 64 GB.
Being a high-end motherboard, the Z490-I Gaming also features a new generation of Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) wireless interface, which is characterized by increased stability and speed in situations where a large number of clients is simultaneously connected to the router. The built-in 2.5G Ethernet controller also allows you to increase the networking speed even further by connecting to your Internet infrastructure via wired cable. It is also worth to mention the SupremeFX audio system featured on this motherboard which can boast with incredibly detailed sound reproduction. The front headphone output is served by two operational amplifiers at once, providing the required parameters for connecting gaming headphones. Two operational amplifiers automatically adjust the parameters of the audio system in accordance with the impedance of the headphones (32-600 ohms), while the high quality Japanese capacitors provide a warm and natural sound.
Design and features
The back panel of this motherboard includes one button for BIOS firmware flashing, one DisplayPort and one HDMI video output, two USB 2.0 ports, five USB 3.2 ports, one USB 3.2 Type-C port, one LAN socket, three audio ports and two jacks for connecting Wi-Fi antennas.
A specially designed low-noise fan reduces the temperature around the voltage regulator module by around 12°C, thus increasing overclocking options. It uses a high-strength bearing with a rated life of 60,000 hours. The L-shaped heat pipe provides fast and even heat transfer, and the power supply heatsink has a large contact area with transistors and chokes. Together with a metal I/O shroud, it covers a third of the motherboard, providing efficient cooling in a compact mini-ITX case.
The innovative modular heatsink consists of three heatsinks, with two heatsinks for devices in the M.2 slots located above the heatsink of the chipset. The three-tiered heatsink design maximizes the use of motherboard space without compromising cooling performance by reducing the temperature of M.2 SSDs by 25 ° C. A highly efficient thermal interface is used to transfer heat from the power elements to the radiator. The board is equipped with two M.2 connectors supporting both interfaces (SATA and PCIe 3.0 x4). This solution provides the flexibility to choose a high-speed M.2 drive.
The Z490-I Gaming is also equipped with a built-in Aura lighting system with flexible parameters adjustment. In addition, you can connect additional LED strips to it and synchronize visual effects with other Aura-compatible ASUS devices. The addressable LED strip connector used on the motherboard is capable of detecting the number of LEDs on the second generation addressable strips, allowing software to automatically adjust lighting effects for specific devices. The new connectors also provide backward compatibility with existing devices that support Aura lighting.
When speaking of software support, this motherboard comes with multiple software utilities. Besides ASUS’ Armory Crate app which functions a one-stop shop for ASUS’ gaming products, the software package also includes RAMCache app, Sonic Studio software suite, and AI Overclocking and AI Cooling utilities. The RAMCache allows you to allocate a portion of the system memory for use as a super-fast cache for your hard disk or NVMe storage. This can greatly speed up the loading times of commonly used applications, which is a nice addition. The included Sonic Studio software suite helps you to reproduce virtual surround sound when using a VR headest, and offers very rich equalizer control panel for fine-tuning output audio. Finally, the AI Overclocking utility helps you to easily and automatically overclock your CPU according to different profiles, without having to take care about voltages or frequencies.
The ASUS ROG Strix Z490-I Gaming is a fine mini-ITX motherboard that fits perfectly in most small form factor PC cases. Featuring support for 10th Gen Intel Core CPUs, as well as DDR4-4800 (O.C.) memory, this is a great little motherboard for performing some serious overclocking operations. Speaking of its layout and features, it is nice to see that such a compact board comes with two M.2 slots, as well as on-board Wi-Fi 6 module.
This board, however, has a few flaws. Firstly, the M.2 heatsinks on this board seem to be quite inefficient, so you’ll have to take them off and install dedicated NVMe heatsinks if you want to achieve better cooling performance. Another problem with this board is that the memory slots are positioned very close to the CPU socket, which means there isn’t enough clearance for installing bigger CPU coolers. Other than these two things, the ASUS ROG Strix Z490-I Gaming is a great motherboard that will be the most appealing to users who want to build a mini-ITX gaming PC.