MSI MEG Z590 ACE review

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Final Words & Conclusion

Final words & conclusion

MSI offers a funky little dude with the MEG Z590 ACE, however, how relevant the Z590 platform over Z490 really remains a trivial debate. Most Z490 motherboards will be PCIe 4.0 compatible (with Rocket-Lake) after a firmware upgrade. The leaves as the difference an x8 lane uplink from chipset towards the CPU and vice versa, as well as USB gen 3.2. The differences end there, though. MSI did add four M2 slots; however, only the one connected directly to the CPU would offer full Gen 4.0 x4 bandwidth, as the rest is connected through the Z590 chipset; the chipset is still PCIe Gen 3.0 based.  Priced at 450 USD and above, where is the rest of the value, you might wonder?  Well, the motherboard is a bit of a beast with that excellent VRM design, as even with a 11900K, the VRM area remains just over 50 Degrees C. FLIR imaging backs up minimal heat bleed. MSI added quality components, 2.5 Gigabit jack, and really good WIFI6 (AX) had not been forgotten. Yes, the motherboards get a bump to AX WIFI and more refined Ethernet jacks starting at 2.5 Gbps. Overall, the VRM design has been beefed up a notch, but that's a necessity for Comet and Rocket Lake-S high-end processors and high PL2 states. 


DDR4 memory

For Rocket Lake-S and 10th Gen Intel procs) and DDR4, we always say, volume matters more than frequency. A 3200 CL16 to 3600 CL18 MHz kit is fast enough overall for all your needs. Higher frequency memory is more expensive and does offer better bandwidth, but the performance increase in real-world usage will be hard to find. Unless you transcode videos over the processor a lot, as always, my advice would be to go with lower clocked DDR4 memory with decent timings, but get more of it. Don't go for 8 GB; get two or four DIMMs, and in total, a minimum of 16 GB. We think the current sweet spot is 3200 MHz (CL14/CL16) or 3600 MHz CL16/CL18). Mind you that initially, we had some memory compatibility issues; this resolved itself with the latest BIOS we received from MSI. So if you purchase the board, please do upgrade to the latest build immediately. 

Performance & tweaking

Temps/TDP remains icky to judge but is manageable when you apply LCS. We recommend the same for the more high-end Ryzen 5000 processors as both brands benefit from that nicely chilled heat spreader. At the OC levels for RKL, you are looking at 1.35V and higher needed on that CPU core for a decent tweak; however, pretty similar for AMD, tweaking 8-core or higher processors is more difficult as you are bound to run into core limitations, heat, and there it is again .. power consumption. At 5300 MHz / v1.53, we're passing 450 Watts. That's not sane. All core 5200 MHz / 1.43V draws 410 Watts (PC just CPU under load). With a processor that already runs in that 5 GHz domain, you also need to wonder if you want to tweak it at all, as really, the best configuration is already there at defaults. Regardlessly, if you like to do so, LCS will probably get you to 5.2~5.3 GHz (all cores) depending on ASIC quality, cooling, mobo, and power supply. Tweaking wise you increase the CPU voltage and multiplier, and you are good to go. Another plus for the Intel platform is that over the years, they have been able to refine their memory controllers, pop in anything XMP 2.0, and you have a 98% chance it'll work straight out of the box with high-speed memories. However, the effect of speedier frequency memory is far less significant, so opt volume would be my advice. We'd always suggest going with a nice affordable 3200 or a 3600 MHz kit at low latencies. Currently, we feel 3600 Mhz is the new norm and sweet-spot, though. The infrastructure that Z590 offers is sound and has proven to be reliable and easy to use. But if pricing is a thing, I'd even recommend you Z490 over Z590.

Power consumption

With eight cores, you get a 125 Watt TDP processor. But as explained, it all is a little more complicated these days. Intel applies a secondary power stage where the processor can run twice the TDP value for a pretty long time. That with the IPC increase, Cypress cove cores get the holy grail for added threading performance; however, it makes energy consumption peak with higher values during that long boost. The idle system with a GeForce RTX 3090 installed / 16 GB memory / SSD and the Z590 motherboard hovers at roughly 70 ~80Watts. That's okay, really, but the load values are significantly different. When we stressed the processor 100% run, we reach approximately 300 Watts with this 8-core processor (for the entire PC with GPU in idle).



The MEG Z590 ACE is a lovely motherboard. It has nice features as well. However, with a price tag hovering in the 450~500 USD range, this board is way out of my comfort zone. It does offer four M2 slots, six SATA3 slots, AX WIFI, and a 2.5 GigE LAN. We would have liked to see the latter replaced by a 5 or 10 GigE jack at this price level. Of course, we should not forget to mention the motherboard has Thunderbolt 4.  And armed with a Rocket Lake proc, Intel brings the platform much-desired PCIe Gen 4.0 lanes, of which four you can utilize for a super-fast NVMe SSD. Aside from double DMI link bandwidth and USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps), there is little gain from Z590 overall. A multitude of Z490 motherboards will even support PCIe Gen 4.0 after a BIOS update (Gen 11 proc mandatory). How important the rest is to you is for you to decide. VRM wise MSI did thing right, you can tweak as far as your proc can go, but with the power signature of Rocket-lake and the corresponding thermals, you'll likely not pass 5300 MHz on all cores unless you arm yourself with a kilowatt PSU and intense cooling. In the end, the MSI MEG Z590 ACE is an engaging, feature-packed board with excellent aesthetics, performance, and overclocking options. It all comes delivered at a hefty price tag. And yes, you do get Thunderbolt 4.0. Platform wise you'll get some nice features overall. Recommended? Sure, if you find it worth the price tag, of course.

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