Best Budget Z490 Motherboard

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With the release of Intel 10th gen processors, we also saw brands releasing their Z490 motherboards as well that are compatible with these CPUs. Therefore, we have reviewed the best budget Z490 motherboards, because not everyone wants to spend hundreds of dollars on a motherboard.

We will be taking a look at a couple of ATX options, as well as micro and mini ITX, so you’re covered in just about any scenario. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best budget Z490 motherboards.

Best Budget ATX Z490 Motherboards

1. ASUS TUF Z490-Plus

Even though people seem to dismiss most of ASUS’s motherboards that aren’t part of the ROG lineup, the TUF Gaming Z490-Plus is reason enough to reconsider. At a reasonable price, you get a Z490 motherboard that more than covers all the important aspects, and then some.

To begin with, the motherboard comes with a simple, if not understated look. It’s all black (save for the yellow stripe near the TUF Gaming logo) and has two RGB lights and a couple of addressable strips as well if you want to add more. It comes with a couple of heatsinks, of which the most important is the one going over the VRM section, and the one covering the bottom M.2 drive.

While we’re at the VRM section, you’re looking at 12+2 DrMOS power stages, and a 6-layer PCB, so it’s obvious ASUS did pay attention to this quite a bit. The Digi+ VRM adds a bit of durability and increases performance, while the heatsink keeps things cool.

You also have four DIMM slots, as well as a few other neat features, such as a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C front header that also supports Thunderbolt 3, as well as a Realtek S1200A codec that does miracles when it comes to audio. Overall, if you’d prefer an understated look and don’t need flashy lights, this might be a great choice.

2. ASUS Prime Z490-P

If you’re going to be building a black and white system, the ASUS Prime Z490-P is probably one of the best motherboards to fit that design. It comes with all the features you could need for a great experience on Intel’s LGA 1200 platform, and it manages to look nice while keeping the price reasonable.

The black and white design is all over the motherboard, from the PCB to the heatsinks on the VRM and the chipset itself. It does look nice, but the only RGB light is a subtle line in the bottom left corner. You do have a couple of RGB headers, though, so you can add as many lights as you want to, yourself.

You have four DIMM slots in total, and they take up to 128GB of RAM at up to 4800MHz. This should have you more than covered. The two M.2 slots are a nice addition, but we would’ve liked to see a heatsink on at least one of them. You have a variety of ports, including USB 3.2 Gen 2, so connectivity and expansion won’t be a problem.

What’s also great is Realtek’s ALC887 audio codec, which gets you excellent audio quality from the get-go. Pair this with Gigabit Ethernet and an overall well-thought-out feature set, and it’s easy to see why this is a great pick.

3. MSI Z490-A PRO G

MSI’s budget boards tend to get you some great bang for the buck, and the Z490-A PRO is a great example of that. This motherboard comes with everything you need to build a great system around it and comes at a price tag that’s cheaper than most of the competition.

The design is all-black, which is pretty neat, with no bright logos to destroy the subtle touch. There are beefy VRM heatsinks, as well as one on the chipset and one of the M.2 slots, so everything is kept cool. The four DIMM slots can take up to 128GB of RAM, and at up to 4800MHz, which is quite impressive. There are two M.2 slots in total, so you can add plenty of storage as well.

In terms of connectivity, you have 2.5GB LAN and Wi-Fi 6 that you can use as well. There are plenty of fast USB ports at the back, too, including a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C connector, something you don’t see on many budget boards.

Unfortunately, you don’t get MSI’s sweet Mystic Light RGB, but something had to go to keep the price reasonable. If you don’t mind this, you’re looking at an excellent motherboard that could be at the core of your blacked-out 10th gen Intel build.

4. Gigabyte Z490 Gaming X

If you aren’t keen on spending a lot on the AORUS series, the Gigabyte Z490 Gaming X is the highest-end motherboard you can get from Gigabyte. And while budget-oriented, it still manages to check a surprising amount of boxes and get you an excellent experience.

To begin with, you’re looking at four DIMM slots with support for up to 4600MHz memory, and up to 128GB of memory in total. There are two M.2 slots, one of which has its heatsink. To add to this, the VRM section has a passive heatsink, and so does the chipset itself. Paired with plenty of fan and water pump headers, you can have cooling that’s as extensive as you want it.

Connectivity is great, with Intel Gigabit Ethernet LAN getting you high speeds when wired. No Wi-Fi, unfortunately, but this is a budget board after all. The audio section is great thanks to an ALC1200 DAC, and you will get great quality.

Last but not least, while the motherboard itself doesn’t have any RGB, you do have headers that support you adding RGB Fusion 2.0 compatible lights. This, along with the black and silver design, makes the Z490 Gaming X one of the best subtle motherboards for users on a budget who don’t care about RGB too much.

5. MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Plus

When it comes to the most budget-friendly Z490 boards, we would have to say the Z490 takes the cake. It comes at a price that’s lower than all the other options on our list, yet it doesn’t cut corners where you don’t want it to. Nothing is lacking, and there are some impressive things that you get for this price, so let’s take a closer look at it.

The first impressive thing we must mention is the RAM situation. Yes, you get four DIMM slots, dual-channel memory, the usual. What’s not usual is the maximum of 128GB of RAM and the support for 4800MHz chips. That’s something you won’t find with many other non-MSI motherboards.

Then, you have the heatsinks that are all over the motherboard. They help keep crucial elements such as one of the M.2 SSDs, and more importantly the VRM section, cool. The VRM section is another one of the highlights of this motherboard, as it’s one of the most durable and reliable solutions out there. The digital power design also helps with overclocking, too.

Last but not least, you also have some of the more “standard” features – 2.5GbE LAN, Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax, Twin Turbo M.2 slots, and a pre-installed I/O shield. Overall, it’s an excellent choice for people looking to save a few bucks.

6. ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming 4

ASRock’s Z490 Phantom Gaming 4 is one of those motherboards that doesn’t care too much about good looks but instead focuses on performance and features for the price. Of course, that doesn’t mean it looks bad – the black and silver design is interesting if you’re after subtle and understated. But you won’t find RGB lights, nor will you find massive, fancy heatsinks and logos.

You do have heatsinks on the VRM and the chipset itself, but unfortunately not on the M.2 slot. There are four DIMM slots for a total of 128GB of memory supported, at up to 4400MHz when overclocked. The great VRM section and 10 power phase design make sure power delivery to the CPU is stable and reliable, even when you’re pushing the CPU hard under load. 

You do have two PCIe 3.0 slots at x16, so you could do CrossFireX, but that’s not something anyone does anymore. Nice of ASRock to include it, though. And while there is no Wi-Fi built-in, there is a Key E M.2 slot so you can add a Wi-Fi card if you want to.

There are a few nice things on the motherboard, such as an ALC1200 codec with 7.1 channel audio, as well as Gigabit LAN and both RGB, and ARGB headers, which makes this an overall great motherboard on a budget.

Best Budget Micro ATX Z490 Motherboard

7. Gigabyte Z490M Gaming X

If you’re going with a micro ATX motherboard, that doesn’t have to mean you’ll be losing features, right? Well, Gigabyte agrees, which is why their Z490M Gaming X is our recommendation for the best budget micro ATX Z490 motherboard.

To begin with, you have Gigabyte’s Direct 11+1 phase digital VRMs with DrMOS stages. This is an excellent solution, made even more reliable by the MOS heatsink that keeps the VRM section cool even when you’re stressing the motherboard. This makes for a quality and reliable solution in just about any scenario.

Furthermore, you’ve got four DIMM slots that take non-ECC, unbuffered DDR4 memory, which is pretty much on par with what you’d expect. There’s also a heatsink on the M.2 slot that will keep things cool, which is a nice addition. While there’s no Wi-Fi, you do get Intel GbE LAN, so fast networking shouldn’t be a problem.

The audio section of the Z490M Gaming X is also well taken care of, by Gigabyte’s AMP UP audio chip with a Realtek ALC1200 codec, and you get pretty good quality audio. Add to all of this the USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, and you’ve got yourself a pretty nice micro ATX solution that’s compact, but doesn’t cut any corners. Well, except for Wi-Fi. But that can be solved.

Best Budget Mini ITX Z490 Motherboard

8. ASRock Z490M-ITX/ac

Not everyone wants a full-size build, and if you’re after one that’s as compact as possible, you might find it hard to get a motherboard that doesn’t cut any corners and comes in a mini ITX form factor. When it comes to Intel 10th gen processors, the ASRock Z490M-ITX/ac is a great pick.

For starters, even though compact, you get two M.2 sockets, and both of them are covered with a heatsink which should keep things cool when necessary. Unfortunately, there’s no heatsink on the VRM section, but on such a compact motherboard, can you complain about that?

When it comes to memory, you’re looking at two DIMM slots, which is standard for this kind of motherboard. What is not standard is that you can go up to 4400+MHz (OC) with memory, much higher than most of the competition. You also get support for up to 64GB of memory.

The audio is taken care of by a 7.1 channel Realtek ALC1200 codec, which does give you pretty decent quality audio. You get 2.5GbE LAN as well, and an Intel 802.11ac Wi-Fi module. While there’s no Wi-Fi 6, this is a budget motherboard and there’s not much to complain about.

Overall, if you’re looking for the best compact motherboard for your next mini ITX build that’s based on a 10th generation Intel processor, the ASRock Z490M-ITX/ac could very well be the best way to go about it.

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