The newly released Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 graphics card represents a massive leap in performance and power requirements compared to previous consumer GPUs. Built on the efficient Ada Lovelace architecture and packing a whopping 16,384 CUDA cores, the RTX 4090 delivers up to 2-4x the performance of the previous generation RTX 3090 TI. With a thermal design power (TDP) of 450 watts, the 4090 requires robust power delivery and cooling to achieve its full potential.
How to Choose the Right Motherboard for an RTX 4090
Choosing the optimal motherboard to match your shiny new RTX 4090 GPU requires careful consideration of the card’s power requirements, size, cooling needs and feature set. With its beefy 450W power draw and massive physical footprint, the 4090 demands a motherboard up to the task. Let’s examine the key factors when selecting the ideal foundation for Nvidia’s ultra-powerful flagship graphics card.
Power Delivery – The number one priority is robust power delivery capable of sustainably feeding the RTX 4090 under load. This starts with the 24-pin main ATX connector and 12V 4/8-pin CPU cables from your power supply. On the motherboard itself, pay close attention to the voltage regulator module (VRM). Look for boards with direct 20+2, 24+2 or even more power stages using high-quality components. More phases spread the current load to run cooler. Heatsinks and heat-pipes should directly contact these VRMs to prevent thermal throttling.
PCIe Power Connector – RTX 4090 boards need the new 12VHPWR PCIe 5.0 power connector, capable of delivering up to 600 watts of power. Some motherboards may include a 16-pin to 12-pin adapter, but native support is ideal. Positioning this connector intelligently to avoid cable interference is also important.
PCIe 5.0 Slot – To tap into the 4090’s full potential, only PCIe 5.0 slots running at 128GB/s can match its bandwidth. This gives you over 2X the bandwidth of PCIe 4.0. Multi-GPU setups demand multiple PCIe 5.0 slots, but even a single x16 slot will suffice for most.
Form Factor – The RTX 4090 measures 304.7 x 137.8 x 61.3 mm, requiring a sizable 4-slots. Only full ATX, E-ATX and SSI-EEB boards provide enough clearance. An inverted layout allows better airflow when vertically mounted.
Chipset – Intel’s Z790 with support for 13th-gen Raptor Lake CPUs is the ideal pairing for the 4090. The Z790 chipset offers up to 20 PCIe 5.0 lanes for blazing-fast SSDs and add-in cards. AMD’s X670E is likewise a great choice for Ryzen 7000 CPUs.
Power Phases – More phases means better power distribution for stable overclocking. Look for at least a 20-phase VRM optimized for your CPU and GPU’s power needs. Optimal cooling of this VRM is mandatory to avoid thermal throttling.
RAM Support – Look for boards supporting fast DDR5 RAM kits up to 6000+ MHz. This prevents RAM from bottlenecking the 4090’s 14 Gbps GDDR6X memory. At least Dual Channel DDR5 with OC options ensures peak performance.
Storage – Multiple PCIe Gen 5 M.2 slots running at 10GB/s enable you to load next-gen games at lightning speeds. Some boards also support the new ultra-fast U.2 standard for blazing external SSDs.
Cooling – Passive cooling isn’t recommended for a 450W GPU. Prioritize boards with active chipset and MOSFET cooling via large heatsinks, heat-pipes and fans. Water cooling support allows you to tap into extreme overclocks.
Overclocking – If chasing benchmark records, only an enthusiast-grade overclocking board will do. These offer advanced OC tools in the BIOS, robust power delivery, reset buttons and other extreme tuning amenities.
Connectivity – Look for the latest USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 ports, WiFi 6E, and 2.5Gb ethernet for peripherals matching the 4090’s speed. Thunderbolt 4 provides up to 40Gb/s for docking stations and external drives.
Audio – To avoid compromising immersive in-game audio, high-end boards offer upgraded audio codecs, headphone amplifiers, DACs and degree of channel separation.
Aesthetics – A flagship GPU like the 4090 deserves a matching aesthetic. Prioritize clean styling with integrated RGB lighting and companion software to customize colors and effects.
BIOS – An intuitive UEFI BIOS with easy OC tools and system monitoring provides a better experience. Dual BIOS, BIOS flashback and failsafe measures add peace of mind.
Brand Reputation – Stick with established motherboard brands like ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte and ASRock boasting strong product testing and validation for their flagship models.
The RTX 4090 is an investment, so choose the right supporting motherboard to avoid compromise. Carefully evaluate the above considerations against your budget, intended use case and PC configuration to make the optimal choice. With a robust foundation like a top-tier Z790 motherboard, you’ll be poised to fully unlock the power of Nvidia’s monster GPU for years to come.
Top 10 Motherboards for RTX 4090
ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Extreme
REASONS TO BUY
✓Extreme power delivery
✓Elaborate VRM cooling
REASONS TO AVOID
✗Massive E-ATX size
The ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Extreme sits atop the hierarchy of Z790 motherboards as a premier choice for showcasing the sheer power of the GeForce RTX 4090. ASUS pulls out all the stops to deliver extraordinary performance perfect for Nvidia’s new flagship GPU.
At the heart of this board’s capabilities lie robust power delivery and advanced cooling, capable of sustaining the RTX 4090’s up to 450W power draw. An intimidating 24+2 teamed power stage VRM design provides incredible stability even when pushing the limits of overclocking. These 105A power stages use Maximus branded Super Alloy chokes and titanium alloy capacitors built for extreme durability.
Active cooling on this VRM comes in the form of two large aluminum heatsinks connected by a heat-pipe and employing a small fan. Together, these keep even relentless power loads under peak temperatures. Further cooling the PCH and M.2 slots are elaborate armor coverings linking to the main heatsinks via another heatpipe.
Feeding the monstrous power demands of an overclocked RTX 4090 is the next-generation PCIe 5.0 slot. Its 12VHPWR connector can sustain up to 600 watts of power to the GPU. The slot itself provides 128GB/s of bandwidth unleashing the true potential of the 4090. Three more PCIe 5.0 slots allow running up to four GPUs simultaneously.
Supporting next-gen graphics power extends to storage in the form of up to five PCIe Gen 5 NVMe M.2 slots each providing 10GB/s transfer speeds. For additional storage, two U.2 ports permit fast SSDs with the new USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 interface. Eight SATA ports round out ample options for drives.
Networking connectivity is equally impressive with an on-board combo port supporting incredible speeds up to 10Gbps. Wireless connectivity comes in the form of the latest WiFi 6E 802.11ax standard offering reduced latency and faster speeds than WiFi 5. For premium audio, an ESS ES9056A DAC and Savitech SV3H712 amplifier deliver lossless quality through five gold-plated jacks or optical output.
Those looking to push CPUs to the extreme will appreciate ASUS’ acclaimed AI overclocking features built into the UEFI BIOS. With just a few clicks, the AI will tune system performance to its maximum potential based on the components and cooling capability detected in your rig. For veterans, all the expected manual controls for adjusting multipliers and voltages granularly are also present.
Aesthetically, this E-ATX board exudes a high-end gaming vibe. The angular black shrouding covering the heatsinks provides an aggressive style. A 1.77-inch color OLED display also allows displaying custom logos, animations or monitoring system vitals at a glance. Four pre-installed RGB headers offer nearly endless lighting possibilities.
ASUS deploys military-grade TUF components across this board for unmatched durability. Fortifier backplates on the PCIe and DIMM slots prevent shearing, while the PCIe slots use TUF alloy housing to reinforce structural integrity. Additional metal plating reinforces the board against bending, ensuring it survives enthusiasts swapping heavy components regularly.
For overclockers and tweakers, an extensive array of benchmark-focused amenities are present. Voltage measurement points allow attaching your multimeter to tune voltages precisely. Start and reset buttons, a clear CMOS button and other physical controls are conveniently located. Fan headers capable of high amperage output ensures liquid cooling setups get strong pump speed.
Gamers can enjoy ultra-low latency and bulletproof networking with the onboard 2.5G LAN and WiFi 6E. These will fully support high-bandwidth peripherals like cutting-edge VR headsets. The latest USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 ports offer double the bandwidth of standard USB 3 for fast external SSDs and desktop docking stations.
With an MSRP of $849.99, the Maximus Z790 Extreme Fetch demanding a hefty premium. However, you are paying for the absolute apex of motherboard engineering. Every aspect is meticulously designed for enthusiasts and over-clockers with incredibly refined power, cooling and features. For those seeking the best foundation for fully harnessing the titanic power of the RTX 4090, the ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Extreme is an exceptional choice.
Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Xtreme
REASONS TO BUY
✓Quad PCIe 5.0 slots
REASONS TO AVOID
✗High price tag
Gigabyte’s flagship Z790 AORUS Xtreme motherboard provides an arsenal of enthusiast-grade features ready to fully support the powerhouse GeForce RTX 4090 GPU. With robust power delivery, advanced cooling and PCIe 5.0 galore, this board offers a premium foundation for Nvidia’s ultra-enthusiast graphics card.
An intimidating VRM design starts with 25 direct power phases for the CPU, supplemented by 2 phases each dedicated solely to the integrated GPU and system agent. This massive 25+2+2 power stage array utilizes 105A Smart Power Stage components capable of enduring Xtreme power draws. Gigabyte further over-engineers the power with tantalum polymer capacitors boasting high durability and low ESR.
Taming the substantial heat from such a beefy VRM is an equally advanced cooling system. The primary heatsink employs stacked fins with an optimized design to maximize surface area for heat dissipation. A direct-touch heatpipe quickly channels heat away from the power stages into this array. Further heat-pipes connect to secondary heatsinks covering the chipset and M.2 slots. Two small fans actively cool the assembly when needed.
Gigabyte wisely includes four full-length PCIe 5.0 slots, permitting up to four-way SLI for the most Xtreme multi-GPU setups. Able to provide 128GB/s of bandwidth, these slots will allow the RTX 4090 to stretch its legs without any bottlenecks. Three PCIe 4.0 x1 slots are also available for add-in cards.
Storage gets cutting-edge support as well via four PCIe 5.0 M.2 slots supporting blistering 10GB/s NVMe SSDs. Six SATA ports provide options for large legacy hard drives or SSDs. Front panel USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 connectors offer double the bandwidth of standard USB 3 for ultra-fast external storage and devices.
Networking is handled by an Aquantia 10GbE LAN port delivering ultra-low latency and max bandwidth essential for gaming. Wireless duties are managed by WiFi 6E with speeds up to 2.4Gbps. For immersive audio, a high-end ESS SABRE 9231 DAC feeds audio output through five gold-plated jacks plus optical S/PDIF.
Aesthetically, the AORUS Xtreme provides an understated, sleek look. A stylized rear panel cover houses the pre-installed I/O shield. Integrated RGB LEDs in the cover allow for programmable lighting effects. Further LEDs hidden below the audio circuitry, chipset and around the right VRM heatsink permit flashy but refined accent lighting.
For overclocking, a serious 22-phase digital power design optimized for both AMD and Intel CPUs gives freedom to push clock speeds to their limit. Jumpers allow adjustment of voltage levels. Physical buttons include power, reset, clear CMOS and BIOS mode selection. Fan headers support high power output for large liquid cooling pumps and radiator configurations.
Gamers will appreciate ultra-low latency across peripherals and displays provided by the 10GbE networking and PCIe 5.0 slots. Front panel USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 permits leveraging cutting-edge VR headsets, while four video outputs allow surround gaming. Hi-Res audio output enhances immersion in games and media.
In line with its enthusiast aspirations, Gigabyte outfits this board with a slew robust extras. Thermal guards help protect sensitive PCIe slots from hot GPUs. Integrated I/O shield prevents damaged ports. Smart Fan 6 enables advanced fan control through the UEFI BIOS. DualBIOS provides backup protection from firmware failures.
With an MSRP of $699, the AORUS Xtreme demands a premium price. However, you are paying for what is arguably the most capable Z790 motherboard Gigabyte offers. Everything about this board is designed for power users, overclockers and performance seekers craving the ultimate home for Nvidia’s powerhouse RTX 4090 graphics card.
Boasting robust power, bleeding-edge PCIe 5.0 readiness and advanced cooling, the Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Xtreme deserves consideration among discerning enthusiasts building their dream rig around the mighty GeForce RTX 4090. This board provides a rock-solid foundation ready to fully harness everything Nvidia’s new flagship has to offer.
MSI MEG Z790 Godlike
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
✗Overkill for many
MSI’s MEG series represents the pinnacle of its motherboard engineering, designed for enthusiasts craving ultimate performance. The MEG Z790 Godlike epitomizes this vision, delivering the robust power delivery, cooling and expandability ideal for the powerhouse GeForce RTX 4090.
The Godlike derives its name from the truly divine power design. An astounding 22-phase direct power delivery design feeds both the CPU and system agent for record-breaking stability even under brutal loads. MSI utilizes its premium SPS DrMOS components rated for a whopping 110 amps on the CPU VCore phases. Titanium chokes and military-grade 10K capacitors complete the premium build.
Cooling this extreme VRM is the largest surface area heatsink ever outfitted on an MSI board. The two-piece aluminum fin stack spans the full length of the board covering both the CPU and system agent power circuitry. A heat-pipe connects the assemblies, with a premium Thermal Pad 2.0 interface designed for optimal heat transfer.
Feeding the hungry RTX 4090 GPU is a full-length PCIe 5.0 slot with the cutting-edge 12VHPWR connector capable of delivering up to 600W of power. Three more PCIe 5.0 x16 slots support multi-GPU configurations, while two PCIe 4.0 x1 slots provide expandability for add-in cards.
Storage gets bleeding-edge support thanks to four PCIe Gen 5 M.2 slots supporting blistering 10GB/s NVMe SSDs. Support for RAID 0/1/5 provides the option to link multiple drives for increased speed or redundancy. Six SATA ports allow incorporating legacy HDDs and SSDs.
Network duties are handled by a premium 2.5G LAN controller providing low latency and high bandwidth critical for gaming. Wireless connectivity comes via WiFi 6E for reduced congestion and faster speeds compared to WiFi 5. Premium audio hardware includes audio capacitors and an ESS DAC feeding gold-plated jacks.
Easily capable of handling the E-ATX Godlike’s expanded size, the Zero Frozr heatsinks with heat-pipes ensure the PCH and M.2 SSDs stay cool under load. Top-tier chokes, capacitors and connectors stand up to demanding enthusiasts swapping components frequently.
Extensive RGB implementation lets builders show off their skills with exotic lighting effects. Mystic Light Sync controls four zones including the rear panel cover, chipset heatsink, right side panel and a customizable accent bar. External RGB headers enable advanced lighting configurations.
Dedicated overclocking knobs allow adjustment of base clock and CPU ratios directly from the motherboard. Onboard power and reset buttons plus a CMOS clear jumper aid in testing overclocks. Fan headers are designed for high power output to drive complex liquid cooling setups.
Gamers will love the low latency and high bandwidth provided by bleeding-edge connectivity like WiFi 6E, 2.5G LAN and USB 3.2 Gen 2×2. Multiple PCIe x16 slots permit running SLI for the ultimate in graphics power. High-end HD audio enhances immersion.
Security-conscious users will appreciate the Godlike’s integrated hardware cryptographic module providing full AES-256 disk encryption. Other extras include a bundled 10G Super LAN PCIe card and unique MSI Mid-Plate for structural reinforcement.
With a substantial MSRP starting at $799, the MEG Z790 Godlike commands a lofty price befitting its heavenly design and feature set. However, for enthusiasts and overclockers seeking to build the ultimate dream machine around Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 4090, this board delivers on every front.
Boasting bleeding-edge power design and cooling along with a stacked spec sheet, the MSI MEG Godlike is a heavenly motherboard purpose-built to showcase everything Nvidia’s new powerhouse graphics card offers. This divine foundation lets you chase benchmark records without compromise.
Asrock Z790 OC Formula
REASONS TO BUY
✓Strong overclocking focus
REASONS TO AVOID
✗Weaker CPU VRM
✗No WiFi 6E
ASRock’s Z790 OC Formula represents the pinnacle of its Z790 motherboard lineup, built specifically for overclocking enthusiasts and housing the mighty GeForce RTX 4090 GPU. Meticulous power design, robust cooling solutions and a loaded feature set make this board a strong contender.
An impressive 20-phase teamed power design handles CPU power delivery using premium 60A Dr.MOS components. Split between 18+2 stages for the CPU and system agent, this VRM can readily power even the most demanding Intel 13th-generation CPUs. The two-piece alloy heatpipe heatsinks covering this array use a convex shape to maximize surface area contact.
Unique and versatile cooling extends to two ultra-responsive fans that can operate individually or joined as a push-pull configuration via included rubber mountings. Fan direction can even face inward or outward for flexibility based on your setup. Further heatsinks cover the dual NVMe M.2 sockets and PCH.
Supporting the powerhouse RTX 4090 is a full-length PCIe 5.0 x16 slot with the new 12VHPWR connector. Three more PCIe 4.0 x16 slots allow multi-GPU setups, while a PCIe 4.0 x1 slot accommodates add-in cards. Quad DIMM slots support up to 128GB of blistering DDR5 memory overclocked beyond 6000 MHz.
Storage options are plentiful with four PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots supporting drives up to 2TB. ASRock’s M.2 heatsinks have the unique advantage of using double-sided thermal pads to ensure tight contact and cooling performance. Eight SATA ports allow supplementary HDDs or SSDs.
Networking comes courtesy of an Intel 2.5Gbit LAN controller providing low latency critical for gaming. Wireless connectivity includes the latest WiFi 6E standard for less interference and fast wireless speeds. Arrangements of five audio ports powered by a premium codec ensure pristine audio.
The OC Formula caters to overclocking enthusiasts with robust controls. An onboard POST code display aids debugging failed boots. LN2 mode switches can adjust power delivery for liquid nitrogen cooling. Voltage measurement points facilitate dialing-in voltages. Other amenities include Power/Reset buttons, a Clear CMOS button and BIOS selection switches.
Aesthetics aren’t forgotten with integrated Polychrome RGB LEDs controllable through the RGB software. The angular black I/O shroud and chipset heatsink accentuated with integrated lighting give this board serious gamer appeal. A transparent acrylic zone shows off your system build.
Gamers are well served by the low latency 2.5G LAN, WiFi 6E wireless and collection of USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports. The HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 1.4 outputs even allow using integrated graphics as a backup. High-end Japanese audio capacitors and audio shielding provide crisp, immersive sound.
Durability is impressive thanks to premium components like multiple layers of 2oz copper inner layers in the PCB, Japanese solid-state capacitors, and improved soldering processes. Steel reinforcement slots prevent PCIe slots from warping under heavy GPUs.
With a very attractive MSRP of $529.99, the ASRock Z790 OC Formula delivers extreme performance and versatility at a more affordable price point than other high-end Z790 boards. Flexible cooling options, premium build quality and overclocking amenities make this a stand-out choice.
For PC enthusiasts seeking a robust foundation for their Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 build, the ASRock Z790 OC Formula checks all the boxes. With capable power delivery, PCIe 5.0 support and refined engineering, it lets you fully tap into the power of Nvidia’s flagship GPU.
ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Apex
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
✗No onboard video
The ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Apex represents the pinnacle of ASUS engineering for overclocking enthusiasts. Every aspect of this board is tailored specifically for shattering benchmark records, from the 10-layer PCB to the teamed power stages to the condensed layout. This makes it a perfect match for overclocking Nvidia’s ultra-powerful GeForce RTX 4090.
That 10-layer PCB employs a unique configuration designed for maximum signal integrity with minimal noise. The inner layers utilize a pure ground plane and several shielding layers for incredibly precise power delivery to sensitive components. This aids pushing both the CPU and GPU past their limits.
An impressive 20-phase teamed power stage design delivers pristine power to the CPU for stabilizing record-setting overclocks. These SPS power stages use alloy chokes and durable capacitors built for high amperage output. Two large VRM heatsinks connected by a heatpipe keep temperatures in check even under LN2 cooling.
The PCIe slot arrangement is condensed down to just a single full-length PCIe 5.0 x16 slot in the first position. This provides direct access to the CPU lanes for the RTX 4090, skipping any multiplexer chips that could affect signal quality. Two PCIe 4.0 x16 slots and a PCIe 4.0 x1 slot provide minimal expansion.
Storage is focused on max sequential throughput, ideal for moving huge files when benchmarking. Four M.2 slots support blistering PCIe 4.0 NVMe drives in RAID 0 array. Eight SATA 6Gb/s ports allow supplementary HDDs or SSDs to augment this array.
Networking relies on a well-proven Intel 2.5G Ethernet controller preferred by overclocking enthusiasts for many generations. Wireless duties are handled by WiFi 6E delivering reduced latency and fast multi-gigabit speeds. The HD audio codec feeds five gold-plated jacks plus S/PDIF optical output.
The stripped-down, open layout is tailored for liquid nitrogen cooling, with vRM points easily accessible. An angled 24-pin ATX socket improves cable routing. A POST code display, Start and Flex keys allow easy benchmarking. Additional OC amenities include voltage measurement points, LN2 mode jumper, Slow Mode switch and Trigger buttons.
Integrated RGB lighting zones on the I/O cover, chipset heatsink and audio trace path allow flashy but refined accent lighting. Two RGB headers permit connecting RGB strips or peripherals. The NU Audio ALC4082 Codec and headphone amp deliver premium sound.
Gaming prowess comes courtesy of CPU PCIe lanes routed directly to the primary GPU slot unimpeded. The 2.5G LAN and WiFi 6E offer uncompromising multiplayer connectivity. USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 ports enable high-speed peripherals and storage.
Priced around $750, the Maximus Z790 Apex fetches a premium reflecting its no-compromise design and niche focus on overclockers. However, it remains an incredible value within that niche given the sheer quality of components and engineering throughout this board.
For those obsessed with benchmarking and overclocking Nvidia’s RTX 4090 to its absolute limits, no motherboard is purpose-built for the job quite like the ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Apex. Everything about this board is crafted to achieve new performance heights with unlocked CPUs and GPUs.
EVGA Z790 Dark K|NGP|N
REASONS TO BUY
✓Extreme 22 phase VRM
✓Dedicated OC features
✓Reinforced PCIe slot
REASONS TO AVOID
✗Very high price
When only the absolute pinnacle of overclocking performance will suffice, enthusiasts turn to EVGA’s legendary Dark series. The EVGA Z790 Dark K|NGP|N represents the cutting edge of this lineage, offering an incredible 22-phase power design and specialized features purpose-built for breaking records with Nvidia’s ultra-powerful GeForce RTX 4090.
EVGA turns to extreme overclocker Vince “K|NGP|N” Lucido to help tune the Dark for peak performance. His influence shows in the 22 teamed power stages solely for the CPU VCore, far exceeding even the most demanding CPUs. A separate 4-phase system agent VRM powers the PCIe lanes and memory controller.
This impressive VCore VRM relies on tantalum polymer capacitors chosen specifically by K|NGP|N for their low ESR and high-temperature tolerance. The PWM controller running this array is the renowned Renesas RAA229131, proven capable of up to 2000 Amps per phase.
Advanced cooling for this extreme power design comes from a large plate-style heatsink using fins and heat-pipes to distribute heat efficiently. A dedicated blower fan ensures focused high-velocity airflow directly through this VRM heatsink array under heavy loads. Further heatsinks cool the Z790 chipset and M.2 SSDs.
A full-length PCIe 5.0 x16 slot handles flagship graphics cards like the RTX 4090 effortlessly, while a secondary PCIe 5.0 x16 slot supports SLI. Three PCIe 4.0 x1 slots provide expansion for capture cards or audio interfaces. Quad DIMM slots support overclocked DDR5 memory.
Storage options include four SATA ports for legacy hard drives or SSDs, plus four ultra-fast PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots. While not PCIe 5.0, these provide ample bandwidth for the fastest consumer NVMe SSDs to avoid storage bottlenecks.
A premium Intel i225-V 2.5Gbit LAN controller offers low latency and high throughput for multiplayer gaming. EVGA also throws in an 802.11ax WiFi 6E module for wireless connectivity up to 2.4Gbps. The integrated audio codec powers five min-jack outputs plus S/PDIF.
Dedicated overclocking amenities include an onboard POST display, BIOS selection switches, voltage measurement points and a reset button. The UEFI BIOS interface developed with K|NGP|N provides every tuning option imaginable for overclocking CPUs and memory.
Triple BIOS SafeBoot support provides redundancy if a bad flash occurs. The main BIOS chip is socketed and can be replaced by users. Further redundancy comes from a dual 8-pin + 12-pin CPU power input able to sustain over 2000 watts.
With an MSRP of $599, the EVGA Z790 Dark K|NGP|N costs a pretty penny, but delivers performance, capabilities and overclocking margins simply unattainable with any other board. Its overbuilt 22-phase VRM, refined design touches and stellar feature set make it the ultimate board for unleashing an RTX 4090’s full potential.
When only the best will do for extreme overclockers and benchmarkers, the EVGA Z790 Dark K|NGP|N stands in a league of its own. Meticulously engineered for record-breaking performance, this board helps realize the untapped limits of Nvidia’s flagship RTX 4090 GPU.
Gigabyte Z790 Aero G
REASONS TO BUY
✓PCIe 5.0 support
✓WiFi 7 and Thunderbolt 4
REASONS TO AVOID
✗No advanced OC features
The Gigabyte Z790 Aero G delivers a tantalizing blend of next-generation connectivity and bleeding-edge performance at an enticing price point. For PC builders seeking a more affordable foundation for a powerful RTX 4090 rig, this board warrants a close look.
Core performance starts with a capable 16+1+2 power phase VRM design utilizing high-quality components ideal for Intel’s demanding 13th-Gen Raptor Lake CPUs. The main 16-phase CPU VCore is supplemented by single phases for the iGPU and memory controller. Large aluminum heatsinks prevent thermal throttling under heavy loads.
A full-length PCIe 5.0 x16 slot supports the RTX 4090 with adequate power delivery and bandwidth, thanks to 128Gbps throughput. Two more PCIe 4.0 x16 slots accommodate SLI setups, while three PCIe x1 slots provide expansion for audio cards, capture cards and more.
Storage options include four ultra-fast PCIe 4.0 M.2 sockets supporting cutting-edge NVMe SSDs. While not PCIe 5.0, these deliver ample bandwidth up to 7000 MB/s. Eight SATA ports allow connection of HDDs or SATA SSDs for bulk storage.
One of the Aero G’s biggest selling points is built-in support for next-generation connectivity. An Intel WiFi 7 module provides incredibly fast wireless access exceeding 3Gbps. Thunderbolt 4 support enables high-speed external drives and docking stations.
Wired connectivity comes courtesy of ultra-low latency 2.5G Intel LAN ideal for lag-free online gaming. The latest Bluetooth 5.2 further enhances wireless versatility for peripherals. Audio output relies on a mid-range Realtek ALC897 codec powering five 3.5mm jacks and S/PDIF.
Gigabyte includes a slew of refinements for a smoother user experience. Ultra Durable armor protects the PCIe slots from shearing. Q-Flash Plus allows BIOS flashing without a CPU installed. Intel BIOS Guard prevents BIOS corruption and tampering for security.
Integrated RGB headers allow builders to add customized lighting controlled through RGB Fusion software. While not flashy, the matte black PCB silkscreening and accented heatsinks provide an upscale, understated look.
Priced around $299, the Z790 Aero G costs over $100 less than most premium Z790 boards. Despite the cost savings, it retains PCIe 5.0 support, WiFi 7 and Thunderbolt 4 along with a capable 16-phase VRM adequate for gaming rigs. This makes the board an incredible value.
For PC enthusiasts seeking a more affordable foundation for showcasing Nvidia’s flagship GeForce RTX 4090 GPU, without compromising on next-gen connectivity, the Gigabyte Z790 Aero G checks all the boxes. It provides a well-rounded blend of price, performance and features.
Boasting PCIe 5.0, WiFi 7, Thunderbolt 4 and excellent engineering, the Gigabyte Z790 Aero G succeeds in delivering a premium user experience at a mid-range cost. This helps make Nvidia’s ultra-powerful RTX 4090 more accessible to value-focused upgraders.
MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi
Best for Most
REASONS TO BUY
✓Capable power design
✓WiFi 6E included
REASONS TO AVOID
✗No PCIe 5.0 storage
✗Only 16 CPU phases
MSI’s MPG series targets premium quality and performance for discerning enthusiasts. The MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi delivers on this promise with PCIe 5.0 support, blazing-fast networking and robust power design ideal for harnessing Nvidia’s ultra-powerful GeForce RTX 4090 GPU.
A high-quality 18+1+1 phase power delivery subsystem effectively meets the needs of Intel’s demanding 13th gen Core processors. The 18 CPU phases use MSI’s Military Class 770 Titanium chokes and Pro Caps capacitors built for maximum durability and performance. Large aluminum heatsinks prevent thermal throttling.
Feeding the RTX 4090 or multi-GPU setups is a full-length PCIe 5.0 x16 slot wired directly to the CPU. This delivers 128GB/s of bandwidth unleashing the true potential of top-tier GPUs. Three PCIe 4.0 x16 slots and a PCIe 4.0 x1 slot provide expansion for other cards.
Next-generation storage comes courtesy of four ultra-fast PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots supporting NVMe SSDs up to 7000 MB/s. While not PCIe 5.0, these deliver ample bandwidth for the fastest consumer SSDs. Six SATA ports allow supplementary HDDs or SSDs to augment storage.
Extremely fast wired and wireless connectivity starts with an Intel 2.5G LAN delivering low latency and high throughput essential for gaming. More importantly, MSI includes a blazing-fast WiFi 6E card enabling wireless speeds over 2.4Gbps.
Premium sound comes from MSI’s Audio Boost technology including high-end audiophile-grade components like gold-plated jacks and physical PCB isolation. Five outputs can drive high-impedance headphones with crystal clarity.
Aesthetically, the Carbon looks the part of a premium gaming motherboard. Cybertext printed on the PCB, angular carbon fiber accents on the chipset heatsink, and integrated Mystic Light RGB provide understated gamer flair.
MSI’s proprietary Lightning Gen 5 tech ensures signal trace integrity for stable overclocking. Robust power connectors include a 12-pin GPU auxiliary input. Fan headers are designed for high-amperage output to handle water cooling pumps and radiator fans.
Gamers will appreciate the lag-free multiplayer connectivity of WiFi 6E and 2.5G LAN. High-end HD audio enhances immersion, while ample USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports support the latest gaming peripherals and VR headsets.
With an affordable MSRP of $299, the MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi provides a compelling blend of next-gen PCIe 5.0 performance, premium networking and refined styling under $300. This makes it an exceptional value for high-end gaming PCs.
For PC builders seeking a well-rounded Z790 foundation to tap into everything Nvidia’s powerful RTX 4090 offers, without breaking the bank, the MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi ticks all the boxes. It melds capable power delivery, robust connectivity and valued features masterfully.
ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-Plus WiFi
REASONS TO BUY
✓PCIe 5.0 support
REASONS TO AVOID
✗No advanced OC
✗No PCIe 5.0 M.2
ASUS’s TUF Gaming series brings military-grade durability and reliability to value-focused gaming motherboards. The ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-Plus WiFi delivers PCIe 5.0 support, capable power design and robust cooling at an enticing price point, ideal for builders seeking an affordable RTX 4090 foundation.
A 14+2 teamed power stage design handles CPU power delivery using DrMOS components rated for 60 amps on the CPU VCore phases. While not overkill, this VRM design can readily power even Intel’s most power-hungry 13th-generation processors under gaming loads. The two SoC phases ensure stable power for onboard components.
TUF’s signature military-grade TUF capacitors boast extreme durability and heat tolerance thanks to their 10K hour lifespan rating. Chokes utilize alloy cores and ferrite bars for low impedance and power loss. VRM cooling comes from two low-profile heatsinks joined by a heat-pipe.
The PCIe slot arrangement includes one full-length PCIe 5.0 x16 slot wired directly from the CPU for top-tier GPUs like the RTX 4090. Two PCIe 4.0 x16 slots support multi-GPU setups, while two PCIe 4.0 x1 slots accommodate add-in cards.
Storage is handled by four PCIe 4.0 M.2 sockets supporting the fastest NVMe SSDs on the market today. While not bleeding edge PCIe 5.0, these deliver ample bandwidth up to 7000 MB/s for lightning game loads. Six SATA ports allow adding hard drives or 2.5” SSDs.
Network duties are handled by Intel’s reliable 2.5G Ethernet controller for low latency that gamers require. Wireless connectivity comes courtesy of WiFi 6 support and Bluetooth 5.2. Five polish audio jacks powered by Realtek provide immersive gaming audio.
In line with TUF Gaming’s mission of rugged dependability, the Z790-Plus uses only premium components. TUF capacitors, chokes, MOSFETs, slots and ports are all designed for military-grade certification. SafeSlot reinforcement prevents PCIe slot damage, while ESD guards protect USB ports.
With an affordable MSRP of $269, the TUF Gaming Z790-Plus WiFi might lack some bells and whistles, but provides PCIe 5.0, robust power delivery and leading connectivity essentials at a compelling value. This helps make blazing-fast RTX 4090 gaming more accessible.
For PC builders seeking a dependable foundation for showcasing Nvidia’s flagship performance without breaking the bank, the ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-Plus checks all the boxes. Robust build quality, capable power design and leading connectivity make this board a well-rounded choice for high-end gaming.
Boasting PCIe 5.0 support, a 14+2 power stage VRM and military-grade components, the ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-Plus WiFi succeeds in delivering essential performance for the RTX 4090 GPU at an attractive price point. This achieves the ideal balance of value and quality.
ASRock Z790 Steel Legend
REASONS TO BUY
✓Quad M.2 slots
REASONS TO AVOID
✗No support for OC
The ASRock Z790 Steel Legend offers a compelling blend of performance, connectivity and style for builders seeking an affordable yet capable foundation for showcasing Nvidia’s ultra-powerful GeForce RTX 4090 graphics card.
A 12+1+1 Digi Power phase design provides stable power delivery for Intel’s demanding 13th gen Core CPUs. While not extreme, the 12 CPU power stages use premium 60 amp Dr.MOS components that can readily handle gaming and moderate overclocking loads. The VRM uses alloy chokes and durable capacitors built for longevity.
Cooling this capable VRM is handled by two large aluminum heatsinks connected by a heat-pipe. ASRock implements an innovative inverted design with these heatsinks nearest the bottom of the board for more efficient airflow from CPU coolers. Further heatsinks cool the dual M.2 sockets and chipset.
The PCIe slot configuration includes one PCIe 5.0 x16 slot wired directly from the CPU for top-tier GPUs like the RTX 4090. Two PCIe 4.0 x16 slots support multi-GPU setups, while a PCIe 4.0 x1 slot allows add-in cards. Quad DIMM slots support up to 128GB of DDR5 memory overclocked beyond 6000 MHz.
Storage is a highlight, with four PCIe 4.0 M.2 sockets supporting the latest high-speed NVMe SSDs. While not PCIe 5.0, these deliver ample bandwidth up to 7000 MB/s. Six SATA ports allow connection of hard drives or 2.5” SSDs to augment storage.
Networking comes courtesy of a high-quality Intel 2.5Gbit LAN controller for low latency and lag-free multiplayer gaming. For wireless, a WiFi 6E module brings improved performance and less congestion compared to WiFi 5. The HD audio codec supports 5.1 surround sound over five audio jacks.
Aesthetics are gamer-focused, with integrated Polychrome RGB lighting across two zones – the I/O cover and PCH heatsink area. These RGB LEDs can be customized using the Polychrome Sync software. The black PCB silkscreening and gray accents give this board an upscale, understated look.
ASRock includes some unique extras like an POST Code Debugger for troubleshooting boot issues and diagnosing overclocking problems. The boards sleek black I/O cover integrates the pre-attached rear I/O shield for seamless installation.
With an affordable MSRP of $209, the Z790 Steel Legend gaming motherboard delivers PCIe 5.0 support, capable 12+1 power stages, robust connectivity and customizable RGB lighting at an exceptional value. This helps make Nvidia’s powerful RTX 4090 more accessible.
For gamers seeking a well-built foundation that won’t break the bank, yet has all the essentials covered for harnessing Nvidia’s ultra-powerful GeForce RTX 4090, the ASRock Z790 Steel Legend checks all the boxes. It blends next-gen performance and features at an attractive price point.
With its immense power unlocking performance up to 2-4X faster than previous generation GPUs, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 demands an equally capable motherboard foundation. The right board plays a crucial role in allowing the 4090 to reach its full potential. After covering the top Z790 and X670E options, some clear recommendations emerge.
For most builders, the MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi strikes the ideal balance of price and performance. It delivers the essential PCIe 5.0 support, capable 18+1+1 power phase VRM, robust cooling and leading connectivity like WiFi 6E and 2.5G LAN. Integrated M.2 heatsinks, BIOS Flashback and excellent USB versatility provide a smooth out-of-box experience. At just $299 MSRP, the Carbon WiFi provides tremendous value without compromising performance.
Gamers seeking a more affordable option can save further with the $209 ASRock Z790 Steel Legend. Though not as premium, it still packs PCIe 5.0, a decent 12+1+1 power phase VRM, four M.2 sockets, WiFi 6E, 2.5G LAN and customizable RGB lighting. The Steel Legend covers all the essentials for a high-end gaming rig at an entry-level price.
For ultra-reliable performance under any conditions, the $269 ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-Plus Warranty deserves consideration. Its 14+2 teamed power stages, military-grade components, PCIe 5.0 support, built-in WiFi 6 and abundant storage make this board a tank – able to withstand years of demanding use.
Enthusiasts who plan to heavily overclock their RTX 4090 GPU and push benchmarks to the limits should choose a board purpose-built for extremes. The $599 EVGA Z790 Dark K|NGP|N stands atop this category, with its insane 22 power phases, bespoke design touches and unmatched bench-friendly amenities. For liquid nitrogen overclocking, the $750 ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Apex is purpose-built for breaking world records.
Builders aiming to showcase the 4090 as the centerpiece of a cutting-edge dream rig deserve the best possible foundation. For holding nothing back across the board, three options stand above the rest:
The $849 ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Extreme truly lives up to its name, providing everything imaginable from 24+2 teamed power stages, elaborate cooling, PCIe 5.0, advanced networking and exotic lighting in an E-ATX powerhouse.
If money is no object in the pursuit of performance, the $799 MSI MEG Z790 Godlike and its 22 direct power phase VRMs, refined styling and stacked features checks every box on the wishlist of a power user.
Finally, Gigabyte’s flagship Z790 AORUS Extreme at $699 offers similar overkill power delivery and connectivity supplemented by quad PCIe 5.0 slots ideal for 3-4 way SLI rendering. Its unique inverted heatsink layout also optimizes cooling performance.
Ultimately, choosing the right Z790 or X670E motherboard for the RTX 4090 GPU comes down to identifying your must-have features, performance targets and budget. Carefully weigh the options covered to select a board that best aligns with your build goals. Focus on PCIe 5.0 support, capable power delivery and advanced cooling above all else. With a robust foundation like one of these recommendations, you’ll be able to fully harness the performance Nvidia’s impressive new ultra-enthusiast graphics card offers. Your awesome RTX 4090 build starts here!