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Review motherboard MSI MEG Z390 ACE: overclocking the 8-core Coffee Lake ready!

YYC2-821660511060 Lenovo ThinkPad T430 Laptop PC - Intel Core i7-3520m 2.90GHz, 8GB RAM, 500GB HDD, 14" 1366x768(HD), Intel HD Graphics 4000, DVD-RW, GigE, Bluetooth, Win 10 Pro 64-bit, Refurbished - 821660511060

I think it is unlikely for someone will be a secret that the newly released 8-core processors Coffee Lake will be affordable not for all computer enthusiasts. And if so, it is very unlikely that the potential owners of the Core i7 and Core i9 9700K-9900K going to save on other components — including the motherboard. For such chips requires a solid device, especially if you plan on overclocking these CPUs. Recently we reviewed the ASUS ROG STRIX model Z390-E GAMING, which belongs to the middle price range. In this review we will talk about one of the most clever devices — MEG Z390 ACE. Let’s see what the flagship solution of the company MSI.



#Specifications and packaging

At this time steeper MEG Z390 ACE in the list of MSI motherboards on base of chipset Express Z390 is only a model of the MEG Z390 Godlike, which we have been told in the news. However, personally, I can’t call Junior MEG version deprived of any features. Take a look at the basic specifications of the device to start.


Supported processors
Intel 9-th and 8-th generations (Core, Pentium and Celeron Gold) for LGA1151 platform-v2
Intel Z390 Express
Memory subsystem
4 × DIMM slots, up to 64 GB of DDR4-2133-4500 (OC)
Expansion slots
3 × PCI Express x16
3 × PCI Express x1
The storage interface
1 × M. 2 (Socket 3, 2242/2260/2280/22110) with support for SATA 6 Gbps and PCI Express x4
1 × M. 2 (Socket 3, 2242/2260/2280), support a SATA 6GB/s and PCI Express x4
1 × M. 2 (Socket 3, 2242/2260/2280) with support for PCI Express x4
6 × SATA 6GB/s
RAID 0, 1, 10
Killer E2500, 10/100/1000 Mbps
Wireless network
Intel Wireless-AC 9560
ALC1220 Realtek 7.1 HD
Interfaces on the rear panel
1 × RJ-45
1 × optical S/PDIF
5 × USB 3.1 Gen2 Type A
1 × USB 3.1 Gen2 Type C
4 × USB 2.0 Type A
5 × 3.5 mm audio
Form factor ATX
Price 25 000 rubles

The motherboard is Packed in a large and colorful cardboard box. In addition to the cost, it was a lot of both useful and not-so accessories:

  • User manual, sticker with the logo of the dragon stickers for your SATA cables, and a CD with software and drivers.
  • Antenna for the wireless module.
  • Four SATA cable.
  • Extension cables to connect the RGB strips.
  • Additional screws for securing the SSD.
  • HB SLI-bridge to connect two graphics cards NVIDIA GeForce.

#Design and capabilities

Unlike MEG Z390 Godlike, hero of today’s review is of the ATX form factor. Used full-size for the standard PCB, and other devices with the prefix “top”.

The design of the motherboard, if you compare MEG Z390 ACE, for example, Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC, in my opinion, is somewhat changed, although once it is clear that before us the device MSI.

The model has six expansion slots: three PCI Express x16 and x1. The first (most proximal to the CPU socket) there is a PEG port to which 100% of cases will be installed graphics card. So the adjacent PCI Express x1, you will always be available. Primary slot for video cards pretty seriously removed from the LGA socket, but because MEG Z390 ACE without problems shelter air cooler of any size. So, the monster Noctua NH-D15 and its Archon SB-E X2 without any problems fit in the designated place for them.

All three PCI Express x16 reinforced — in Lenovo call it the gain ports of call technology Steel Armor. As stated by the manufacturer, the connectors get more soldering points on the PCB, which avoids damage to the Board if you install a massive graphics. Also in the product card States that these ports operate in three modes: x16/x0/x0, x8/x8/x0, or x8/x4/x4. MEG Z390 ACE supports technologies NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFire.

“Chained” and the DIMM slots necessary for the installation of RAM. Technology Steel Armor and DDR4 Boost protect the motherboard from both mechanical damage and from overcurrent due to additional ground points. Electrical memory circuit is completely isolated strip is not conducting current of the PCB, which, according to MSI, ensures excellent stability and the performance of the RAM. In his performance the manufacturer indicates that MEG Z390 ACE supports even sets of RAM with effective frequency of 4500 MHz. In the list of compatible kits DDR4-4500 listed products of the companies Corsair and G. Skill.

It’s nice that on the Board are soldered six connectors for fans connection. The photo above shows the location of 4-pin connectors on the whole successful. The ports automatically detect the mode of operation of the connected systems — DC or PWM that allows you to adjust the fan speed with PWM and without.

One of the features of MEG Z390 ACE is the presence of three M. 2 slots. One of the ports, the bottom, even has a aluminum radiator, which is in contact with the SSD when using the pads. It is made specifically — for additional cooling M. 2 Shield Frozr will save the SSD from overheating if the system will use the second graphics card.

The primary M. 2 slot, in my opinion, is perfect, and it is between the PEG port and the CPU socket. In this case, the installed SSD there will be further cooled by the cooler fan. This M. 2 socket supports the installation of a storage device with a length of 42, 60, 80 and even 110 mm and works in both PCI Express x4 3.0, and SATA 6 GB/c. Similar characteristics has a second M. 2 port — it only supports installing SSDS with a maximum length of 80 mm. Finally, the third M. 2 port — one that is equipped with a heatsink — only works in mode PCI Express 3.0 x4, it is possible to install SSD with a length of 42, 60 or 80 mm.

Note that M. 2 connectors and pads SATA 6 GB/s, which charges as many as six pieces, share bandwidth with each other.

Among the internal connectors note the presence of two internal connectors USB 3.1 Gen2, which are wired next to 24-pin power connector of the motherboard. In the bottom of the Board there are pads for connecting the F-audio, 12 – and 5-volt RGB strip, two USB 2.0 and one USB 3.1 Gen1. In the upper part of PCB, next to the indicator POST-signal, there is another module for connecting 12-volt RGB tape. And near ports SATA 6 GB/s ports — one internal USB 3.1 Gen 1, this port was rotated 90 degrees relative to the PCB. Well, we face a very functional device.

It seems that you have two or three connectors to connect the RGB strip and other modding accessories has become a real trend. This topic is in detail disclosed by us in this article. I will simply note that a plastic cover of MEG Z390 ACE is also equipped with RGB led, which during operation creates a mirror effect. MSI has called this feature Mystic Light Infinity. Backlight supports 16.8 million colors and 29 different modes.

And that’s what (for me) turns out to be really useful — so it’s extra overclocking “gadgets”. In the bottom of the Board are the power button and reboot, and the drum, activating the automatic overclocking Game Boost. More in detail I will tell about it in the second part of the article.

At the top of the Board there was a place for the indicator POST-codes — the thing is in many cases very useful. Here is a block EZ Debug LED showing at what stage the download is computer, and next to it there are pads applied to him the probe of the multimeter and watch the real indicators of stress such as CPU, DDR4, VCCSA, VCCIO, and PCH.

And on the I/O panel ACE MEG Z390 there are buttons that reset the BIOS settings and firmware updates via USB stick. In the second case, you only need to connect to the motherboard and power cables to install into the slot of USB 2.0, red frame, an external drive that has written the correct version of the program and press the corresponding key on the interface panel.

In General, the presence of such buttons next to the motherboard I think is a useful thing. However, very often to the ports of the device have to reach blindly — slash, and all the settings of your system dropped one accidentally press the button Clear CMOS. So it is better to place such keys, for example, directly on the PCB. Or equip them with any protective caps, cautionary accidental operation.

In addition to buttons will highlight, first, the presence of the I/O panel from the five ports USB 3.1 Gen2 A-type and one USB 3.1 Gen2 Type C. second, focus your attention on the fact that MEG Z390 ACE devoid of any video outputs. But if discrete graphics system unit “screw” and will have some time to use built-in Coffee Lake core? Third, the interface does not require plug — a trend I fully support!

Sound subsystem Audio Boost HD based on the chip Realtek ALC1220. It is composed of capacitors, Chemi-Con and ESS DAC SABRE9018. Tract detached from other elements of the motherboard, and divorced each channel on a separate layer of the PCB.

For a wired connection meets a familiar Gigabit controller the Killer E2500, while wireless communication is implemented with built-in chipset controller Wireless-AC 9560, which, in addition to the standard Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac with a capacity of up to 1733 Mbps, and supports Bluetooth 5.0.

I’m sure many readers have already noticed that MSI MEG Z390 ACE is equipped with two 8-pin connectors for CPU power. In my opinion, this wiring diagram useful for those who want to overclock an 8-core Coffee Lake in extreme conditions — for example, using liquid nitrogen.

The power subsystem of the motherboard consists of six dual phase and operates according to the scheme 5+1. Each channel has two chokes and four field-effect transistor (used Assembly ON Semiconductor NTMFS4C029N and NTMFS4C024N). The remaining elements are soldered around the socket LGA1151-v2, are responsible for voltage-CPU IO/SA. The stabilizer of the processor voltage based on eight-channel PWM controller from International Rectifier IR35201.

Cooled FETs two large aluminum heatsinks connected by a copper deplorable. Looks like that WITH, admittedly, very reliable. However, how effective are the radiators, I’ll tell you next.


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PC / Laptop

Which processor is needed for GeForce RTX 2060 1660 and GeForce GTX Ti: Ryzen vs AMD Intel Core

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In this article we will talk about what is often called the potential of the GPU, or, to speak more correctly, on processorepiemonte in games. On our website, and in other sources, you can find a lot of reviews of processors and graphics cards that explore the relative performance of different types of CPU and GPU. However, the question of what types of processors and graphics better suited to each other, often remains unanswered. Meanwhile, the buyers are forced to look for the answer on it: having a fixed amount, they should optimally allocate it between the processor and the graphics card, and here on this subject there is a clear shortage of some ready and well-reasoned prescriptions.

It is worth Recalling that during the reign on the market with Quad core processor was a popular theory with the conditional name “the potential revealed”, in which it was assumed that for each card there is a ceiling in processor performance, above which rise does not make sense – all the same frame rates in games then have will not grow. The explanation of this effect was based on the assumption that at some point the card stops to display the time frames with the speed with which they are preparing for her CPU, and at this point you can stop chasing faster CPU – better performance to achieve still does not work.

But later in the manifest fallacy of this theory has convinced many of her followers. The fact that the CPU and GPU in modern games are responsible for different stages of the training image. The CPU handles the reaction of the player, recalculation of internal game logic and behavior of the secondary characters, as well as modeling of the whole game environment and physics of the environment. In addition, one of the most important tasks of the CPU in most games is also flow control and transmission of necessary information to the GPU. The GPU is thus engaged exclusively on visualization based on the data received from the CPU the data it builds a picture, which then appears on the screen. Obviously, this is largely the successive stages of one process, so ultimately the frame rate in any case should affect the power of the graphics card and CPU.

However, this does not mean that by increasing the CPU power, you can compensate for a weak GPU, and Vice versa. The optimal ratio between performance Central and graphics processor exists precisely because these components meet in the games for different things. Therefore, in order to obtain adequate performance of the system and deal with sudden FPS dips, if you have any specific game situations, with its design should seek to maximize the characteristics of both GPU and CPU. The limit here in most cases is allocated for the purchase of the equipment budget, which makes selection of suitable processors and graphics cards in the optimization problem with multiple criteria.

Proponents of the theory of “potential” can bring here the argument that in practice at some point, gaming performance with increasing CPU power to grow almost stops. But, if you do not take into account any exorbitant cases with the installation of ultra-high resolution in which the performance of the SRI securely masked behind a lack of GPU performance, it will be connected not with the fact that above a turn of the performance of the processor becomes quite important. In reality, the fact is that “CPU power” is too abstract and collective term, which many people associate with a model number or price of the chip. In fact, it consists of many factors such as number of cores, clock speed, amount and speed of the cache memory, the speed of the memory controller and so on. More powerful processors better less powerful only for some part of these parameters, while from the point of view of other characteristics of any improvement when driving on the lineup up may not be observed. The result is some of the features in the various families of processors can become a bottleneck, which does not allow them to show higher performance in games, despite the fact that the other options are much better.

A good illustration for the given thesis can be the situation with the gaming performance of the members of the family Ryzen. Even the most senior and the most expensive models of AMD processors almost always give significantly lower frame rate in comparison with what provide offers from Intel, and to fix it until AMD could not increase the frequency or increase number of cores or roomy L3-cache. Performance Ryzen, obviously, depends on some other characteristics such as the speed of the memory subsystem, latency, or inter-core interaction in single-threaded performance. In other words, if the power increase of processors does not increase the number of FPS in games, it’s just talking about what we felt the bottleneck of the architecture and not ran into a limit that is predefined by the system-installed graphics card.

Unfortunately, all these arguments systematically lead us to the conclusion that the selection of a balanced combination of CPU and video card is a very trivial task. After all, no universal table that describes the performance of all possible combinations of configurations of CPU and GPU does not exist in nature. While there was such a fanatical researchers, not frightened would be a huge number of options to be included in such a comparison. And we also do not belong to them. Therefore, under the present experimental material, we will reply only to private question about which processor is better to choose NVIDIA’s latest generation mid – RTX 2060 and GeForce GeForce GTX Ti 1660. And then, if the results of this study will be useful to our audience, we will conduct similar tests and some other common graphics cards.

#Why GeForce RTX 2060 1660 and GeForce GTX Ti

Video card average level is one of the most popular options for use in modern gaming systems. Performance is enough for to run modern games with maximum quality settings in the standard Full HD resolution, which, according to statistics collected by the digital distribution system Steam, choose two-thirds of the total number of players.

It is therefore not surprising that, according to the same statistics, the most popular discrete graphics card is still the GeForce GTX 1060 – a mid-level solution from the previous generation of NVIDIA accelerators. Now replaced Pascal Turing come, and if you start from the positioning, it is 2060 and RTX GeForce GeForce GTX Ti is 1660 should gradually take the place of the most common graphics cards.

It is quite natural that now GeForce RTX 2060 1660 and GeForce GTX Ti are the three accelerators with the fastest growing shares. Only last month the user base of these cards increased by almost 40 %. In absolute terms, the share of owners GeForce RTX 2060 1660 and the GeForce GTX Ti is still not too noticeable, but the background of how a growing number of systems with other graphics cards of the family of Turing, no question remains that these GPUs will soon become the most popular choice of the gamers.

It should be noted that the positions of the GeForce RTX 2060 in this case look a bit better, although this card and a quarter as much. However, buyers apparently willing to pay $70 more for the possession of a special RT-kernel, allows the graphics hardware to accelerate algorithms for ray tracing.

#Optimal processor for GeForce RTX 2060 1660 and GeForce GTX Ti: I advise usually

The lack of detailed and thorough tests of processorepiemonte popular graphics cards has led to the fact that buyers have developed a number of empirical approaches to how to relate spending on basic components of the game system. The most popular rule of this kind suggests that the price of the video card and the price of the processor should be as two to one, that is, in a balanced system the graphics card should be roughly twice as expensive as the CPU.

If you apply this rule to video cards, which we are going to talk about today, that is GeForce RTX 2060 1660 and GeForce GTX Ti with manufacturer’s recommended price of $349 and $279, respectively, it turns out that they need to look for processors that stand about $175 and $140. In the price list Intel for these amounts are available Core i5-and Core i3 9400-9300 and AMD, with a similar budget, you can choose considerably cheapened recently Ryzen Ryzen and 5 2600 5 2500X.

Almost the same recommendations formulated in his “Computer of the month” and our resident expert, Sergey Plotnikov. For several months in optimal Assembly 3DNews uses the GeForce RTX 2060 the system with which it is proposed to install processors Ryzen 5 2600X or Core i5-9400F.

In other words, almost all estimations indicate that for medium level graphics cards need a six-core processor, but not necessarily senior – will go and the easier option. However, convincing illustrations, how fair are the assumptions still did not exist. That’s why we undertook detailed tests GeForce RTX 2060 1660 and GeForce GTX Ti in combination with different processors AMD and Intel. Try to use a practical approach and understand what the CPU is the best choice for medium gaming configurations.

#Description of test systems and test methodologies

To study processorepiemonte GeForce RTX 2060 1660 and GeForce GTX Ti was chosen graphic cards in the performance of the NVIDIA (Founders Edition) and Gigabyte (1660 GTX Ti OC). The tests were conducted in two resolutions relevant to these GPU – 1080p and 2560p. Paired with these video cards we tried to test the widest possible range of processors for platforms LGA 1151v2 and Socket AM4. Therefore, tests were selected for major and minor modifications within each class of CPU that made it possible to gather very heterogeneous and representative company of a variety of Core ninth-generation and second-generation Ryzen with the number of cores from two to eight nominal frequencies from 2.9 GHz to 4.0 GHz and the amount of L3 cache from 4 to 16 MB.

In the end, the list involved in the testing of components were as follows:

  • Processors:
    • AMD Ryzen 7 2700X (Pinnacle Ridge, 8 cores + SMT, 3,7-4,3 GHz, 16 MB L3);
    • AMD Ryzen 5 2600X (Pinnacle Ridge, 6 cores + SMT, the 3.6-4.2 GHz, 16 MB L3);
    • AMD Ryzen 5 2500X (Pinnacle Ridge, 4 cores + SMT, 3,6-4,0 GHz, 8 MB L3);
    • AMD Ryzen 3 2300X (Pinnacle Ridge, 4 cores, 3.5-4.0 GHz, 8 MB L3);
    • Intel Core i9-9900K (Refresh Coffee Lake, 8 cores + HT, 3,6-5.0 GHz, 16 MB L3);
    • Intel Core i7-9700K (Refresh Coffee Lake, 8 cores, the 3.6-4.9 GHz, 12 MB L3);
    • Intel Core i5-9600K (Lake Coffee Refresh, 6 cores, 3.7 V-4.6 GHz, 9 MB L3);
    • Intel Core i5-9400F (Lake Coffee Refresh, 6 cores, a 2.9-to 4.1 GHz, 9 MB L3);
    • Intel Core i3-9350KF (Lake Coffee Refresh, 4 cores, 4.0 to 4.6 GHz, 8 MB L3);
    • Intel Core i3-8100 (Coffee Lake, 4 cores, 3.6 GHz, 6 MB L3);
    • Pentium Gold G5600 (Coffee Lake, 2 cores + HT, 3.9 GHz, 4 MB L3).
  • CPU cooler: Noctua NH-U14S.
  • Motherboard:
    • ASRock X470 Taichi (Socket AM4, AMD X470);
    • ASRock Z390 Taichi (LGA1151v2, Intel Z390).
    • Memory: 2 x 8 GB DDR4-SDRAM 3466, 16-16-16-36 (G. Skill Trident Z RGB F4-3466C16D-16GTZR).
  • Graphics card:
    • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 (TU106, 1365/14000 MHz, 6 GB GDDR6 192-bit);
    • Gigabyte GeForce GTX Ti OC 1660 (TU116, 1500/12000 MHz, 6 GB GDDR6 192-bit).
  • Disk subsystem: Samsung 960 PRO 1TB (MZ-V6P1T0BW).
  • Power supply: Thermaltake Toughpower DPS G RGB Titanium 1000W (80 Plus Titanium, 1000 watts).

All Intel CPUs were tested with enabled Multi-Core Enhancements, that is, without any restrictions on energy consumption. We are aware that this mode is somewhat at odds with the specifications of Intel, but most users Willy-nilly uses the processors that way. The fact is that without exception, all motherboard manufacturers will activate the Multi-Core Enhancements by default, and some even hide the settings to disable it, and any shift in this trend is not expected.

Testing was performed in the operating system Microsoft Windows 10 Enterprise (v1809) Build 17763.503 installed patches against the vulnerabilities of Meltdown and the Spectre, and using the following set of drivers:

  • AMD Chipset Driver 19.10.0429;
  • Intel Chipset Driver;
  • Intel Management Engine Interface Driver;
  • NVIDIA GeForce 430.64 Driver.

To check gaming performance of the platforms used the following games and settings:

  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. The 1920 × 1080 Resolution: Graphics Quality = Ultra High. The Resolution Of 2560 × 1440: Graphics Quality = Ultra High.
  • Ashes of the Singularity. Resolution 1920 × 1080: DirectX 12, Quality Profile = Extreme. The Resolution Of 2560 × 1440: DirectX 12, Quality Profile = Extreme.
  • Civilization VI: the Gathering Storm. Resolution 1920 × 1080: DirectX 12, MSAA = 4x, Performance Impact = Ultra, Memory Impact = Ultra. The resolution of 2560 × 1440: DirectX 12, MSAA = 4x, Performance Impact = Ultra, Memory Impact = Ultra.
  • Far Cry New Dawn. The 1920 × 1080 resolution: Graphics Quality = Ultra, HD Textures = On, Anti-Aliasing = TAA, Motion Blur = On. The resolution of 2560 × 1440: Graphics Quality = Ultra, HD Textures = On, Anti-Aliasing = TAA, Motion Blur = On.
  • Grand Theft Auto V. the Resolution of 1920 × 1080: DirectX Version = DirectX 11, FXAA = Off MSAA = x4, NVIDIA TXAA = Off, Population Density = Maximum Population Variety = Maximum Distance Scaling = Maximum Texture Quality = Very High, Shader Quality = Very High, Shadow Quality = Very High Reflection Quality = Ultra, Reflection MSAA = x4, Water Quality = Very High Particles Quality = Very High, Grass Quality = Ultra, Soft Shadow = Softest, Post FX = Ultra In-Game Depth Of Field Effects = On Anisotropic Filtering = x16 Ambient Occlusion = High, Tessellation = Very High, Long Shadows = On, High Resolution Shadows = On, High Detail Streaming While Flying = On, Extended Distance Scaling = Maximum Extended Shadows Distance = Maximum. The resolution of 2560 × 1440: DirectX Version = DirectX 11, FXAA = Off MSAA = x4, NVIDIA TXAA = Off, Population Density = Maximum Population Variety = Maximum Distance Scaling = Maximum Texture Quality = Very High, Shader Quality = Very High, Shadow Quality = Very High Reflection Quality = Ultra, Reflection MSAA = x4, Water Quality = Very High Particles Quality = Very High, Grass Quality = Ultra, Soft Shadow = Softest, Post FX = Ultra In-Game Depth Of Field Effects = On Anisotropic Filtering = x16 Ambient Occlusion = High, Tessellation = Very High, Long Shadows = On, High Resolution Shadows = On, High Detail Streaming While Flying = On, Extended Distance Scaling = Maximum Extended Shadows Distance = Maximum.
  • Hitman 2. Resolution 1920 × 1080: DirectX 12, Super Sampling = 1.0, Level of Detail = Ultra, Anti-Aliasing = FXAA, Texture Quality = High Texture Filter = Anisotropic 16x, SSAO = On, Shadow Maps = Ultra Shadow Resolution = High. The resolution of 2560 × 1440: DirectX 12, Super Sampling = 1.0, Level of Detail = Ultra, Anti-Aliasing = FXAA, Texture Quality = High Texture Filter = Anisotropic 16x, SSAO = On, Shadow Maps = Ultra Shadow Resolution = High.
  • Kingdom Come: Deliverance. Resolution 1920 × 1080: Overall Image Quality = Ultra High. The Resolution Of 2560 × 1440: Overall Image Quality = Ultra High.
  • Metro Exodus. Resolution 1920 × 1080: DirectX 12, Quality = Ultra, Texture Filtering = AF 16X, Motion Blur = Normal, Tesselation = Full, Advanced PhysX = Off, Hairworks = Off, Ray Trace = Off, DLSS = Off. The resolution of 2560 × 1440: DirectX 12, Quality = Ultra, Texture Filtering = AF 16X, Motion Blur = Normal, Tesselation = Full, Advanced PhysX = Off, Hairworks = Off, Ray Trace = Off, DLSS = Off.
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Resolution 1920 × 1080: DirectX12, Preset = Highest, Anti-Aliasing = TAA. The resolution of 2560 × 1440: DirectX12, Preset = Highest, Anti-Aliasing = TAA.
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The 1920 × 1080 Resolution: Graphics Preset = Ultra Postprocessing Preset = High. The Resolution Of 2560 × 1440: Graphics Preset = Ultra Postprocessing Preset = High.
  • Total War: Warhammer II. Resolution 1920 × 1080: DirectX 12, Quality = Ultra. The Resolution Of 2560 × 1440: DirectX 12, Quality = Ultra.
  • Watch Dogs 2. The 1920 × 1080 resolution: Field of View = 70°, Pixel Density = 1.00, Graphics Quality = Ultra, Extra Details = 100%. The resolution of 2560 × 1440: Field of View = 70°, Pixel Density = 1.00, Graphics Quality = Ultra, Extra Details = 100%.
  • World War Z 1920 × 1080: DirectX 11, Visual Quality Preset = Ultra. The Resolution Of 2560 × 1440: DirectX11, Visual Quality Preset = Ultra.

In all gaming tests as the outcome is the average number of frames per second and the 0.01-quantile (first percentile) for the values of FPS. The use of 0.01-quantile instead of the minimum FPS due to the desire to clear the results from the random bursts of productivity that was triggered not directly associated with the operation of the main components of the platform causes.


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Overview of ASRock Z390 Steel Legend: simplicity is not to the detriment of

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Until April this year, the company ASRock has released 15 motherboard on chipset Intel Express Z390. One of them was as advanced level pattern Z390 Taichi Ultimate, and very simple and affordable kind of Z390 Pro4. In other words, fans of ASRock to pick up cost according to the specifications, form factor and the wallet did not work. However, in mid-April, the company announced a new model – ASRock Z390 Steel Legend, part of a series of “Steel of legends”, where now there are three boards, two of which are based on chipset Intel B450.

The company is positioning the boards in this series as the basis for gaming systems, since these products have improved reliability, improved cooling and is based on durable components. This warranty period is still limited to three years rather than five, as the products of competitors with similar positioning. Let’s see, why do we need ASRock Z390 Steel Legend, and to whom it is interesting?

#Specifications and cost

Supported processors Intel Core i9 / Core i7 / Core i5 / Core i3 / Pentium / Celeron
performed LGA1151v2 eighth and ninth generation microarchitecture Core
Chipset Intel Z390 Express
Memory subsystem 4 × DDR4 DIMM UN-buffered memory up to 128 GB;
dual channel mode memory;
support modules with frequency of 4266(O. C.)/4133(O. C.)/4000(O. C.)/3866(O. C.)/3800(O. C.)/
3733(O. C.)/3600(O. C.)/3200(O. C.)/3000(O. C.)/2933(O. C.)/2800(O. C.)/2666/2400/2133 MHz;
modules support for ECC UDIMM memory (does not work in ECC);
15-micron gold-plated contacts in the connectors;
support for Intel XMP 2.0 (Extreme Memory Profile)
GUI The integrated graphics core processor allows you to use the HDMI port is version 1.4 and Display Port version 1.2;
supports resolutions up to 4K inclusive (4096 × 2304 at 60 Hz);
supports Auto Lip Sync, Deep Color (12bpc), xvYCC and HBR (High Bit Rate Audio) via HDMI 1.4 Port (you need a compatible HDMI monitor is required);
support for the HDCP 2.2 with HDMI 1.4 and DisplayPort 1.2 Ports
Connectors for expansion boards 2 PCI Express 3.0 x16 modes x16, x16/x4;
3 PCI Express x1 slots, Gen 3
The scalability of the video AMD 2-way CrossFireX Technology
The storage interface Intel Z390 Express:
– 6 × SATA III throughput up to 6 Gbps (supports RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10, Intel Rapid Storage Technology 16, NCQ, AHCI and Hot Plug);
– 2 x Ultra M. 2, bandwidth of each up to 32 GB/s (both connectors support SATA and PCI Express drives, М2_1 length from 30 to 110 mm, М2_2 length from 30 to 80 mm);
– support Intel Optane Memory
Intel Gigabit LAN I219-V (10/100/1000 Mbps):
– supports Wake-On-LAN;
– protection from lightning and electrostatic discharges;
– supports energy efficient Ethernet 802.3 az;
– supports PXE
Audio 7.1 CH HD audio codec Realtek ALC1220:
– supports Premium Blu-ray audio;
– protection against power surges;
audio capacitors Nichicon Fine Gold Series;
– 110dB SNR DAC with Differential Amplifier;
– insulation of the printed circuit Board;
– separate layers on the PCB for the left and right channel;
gold – plated audio plugs
USB interface Intel Z390 Express:
– 5 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (2 on back panel, 3 connected to the connectors on the system Board);
– 6 ports USB 3.1 Gen 1 (2 on back panel, 4 connected to the connectors on the system Board);
– 2 ports USB 3.1 Gen 2 (rear panel, Type-A and Type-C).
All ports are protected against electrostatic discharges.
Connectors and buttons on the rear panel Two port USB 3.1 Gen 1 and a combined PS/2 port;
the HDMI and DisplayPort;
single port USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A and one USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C;
two USB 2.0/1.1 network LAN-socket RJ-45 with led (ACT/LINK LED and SPEED);
optical S/PDIF output interface;
five 3.5-mm 15-mm gold-plated audio connectors
Internal connectors on the PCB 24-pin ATX power connector;
8-pin ATX 12V power;
6 SATA 3;
2 M. 2;
4-pin connector CPU fan with PWM support power up to 1A (12 W);
4-pin connector for pumps DLC power up to 2A (24 W);
3 4-pin connectors for case fans with PWM support;
connector for addressable RGB LED-lines;
2 connector for RGB LED-lines;
a group of connectors for the front panel;
audio connector for the front panel;
SPI connector TPM;
COM connector;
the power led and speaker connector;
Thunderbolt AIC connector (5-pin);
2 USB 2.0/1.1 connection 3 ports;
2 USB 3.1 Gen 1 for connecting 2 ports
BIOS 128 Mbit AMI UEFI BIOS with multilingual interface and the graphical user interface;
ACPI 6.0 wake-up;
support SM BIOS 2.7;
Controller I/O iTE I/O Controller Chip IT8688E
Corporate functions, technologies and features ASRock Super Alloy:
– XXL aluminum radiator;
– chokes Premium 60A Power Choke;
capacitors Nichicon 12K Black (100% Japan made polymer capacitors high quality and conductivity);
– shaped PCB Design;
black frosted printed circuit Board;
– High Density Glass Fabric PCB;
Technology ASRock Intel POOL (Planes on Outer Layers);
Steel socket ASRock;
ASRock Full sized radiator for M.2;
ASRock Ultra M. 2 (PCIe Gen3 x4 & SATA3) ASRock andthe indicator POST of the codes;
ASRock Full Spike Protection (all USB, Audio and LAN);
ASRock Live Update & APP Shop
Form factor, dimensions (mm) ATX, 305 × 244
Operating system support Windows 10 x64
The warranty of the manufacturer, years 3
The estimated retail value for you! ~10 000

#Packaging equipment

ASRock Z390 Steel Legend comes in a very large cardboard box, decorated mostly in dark colors. The front side of the package contains only the name of the Board and icons of supported technologies.


The reverse side talks about the key features of the product, there you can find the brief characteristics of the Board.

Inside colored sheath inserted box of cardboard, where the pallet is made of polyethylene foam fixed fee, additionally sealed in antistatic bag. On the bottom of the box there were a few screws in the bag, the cover on the rear panel, one SATA cable and instructions with DVD.


Of course, any bonuses are not included, since the Board belongs to the budget class and will cost about $ 150, or about ten thousand rubles at the current rate. Warranty – three years.

#Design and features

ASRock Z390 Steel Legend performed at almost black PCB on the front side of which there are three silver radiator. No plastic casings here, which can not but rejoice. The reverse side of the Board, by and large, is empty, which once again confirms its modest budget level.


Aluminum radiator large area for power supply circuits of the processor modeled by the casing, so it looks quite original. Echoes and chipset combined with a plate heat spreader of the second M. 2 port. Coupled with another heat sink at the first M. 2, these elements give the Board a modern and even to some extent aggressive look.


The elements of design can be attributed to the inscription STEEL LEGEND at the edge of the PCB, which gets highlighted along with the logo of the series.

We add that the dimensions ASRock Z390 Steel Legend are 305 × 244 mm, that is, it refers to the standard ATX.

The particular location of the motherboard components on the PCB shown in the diagram from the instruction manual.


On the interface panel displayed only a basic set of connectors. Here you can find a combo PS/2 port, video outputs HDMI and DisplayPort, network LAN-socket, six USB and audio outputs.

To the left there is a mounting bracket for antennas of the wireless communication module, although the module included with the cost there, but the connector for it M. 2 (Key E) in the center of the Board is present — it allows you to set module 2230 WiFi/BT and Intel CNVi.

Despite the low price of the Board, all the radiators are fastened with screws, not plastic studs, so they are removed without difficulty.

Note that the fee is based on the PCB of high density, more resistant to thermal stress and humidity. But the double thickness of copper layers, the product is ASRock, not here. However, it is quite predictable.

Any brand features CPU socket LGA1151 design-v2 does not have the holes for the temperature sensor in its center and no. In this case, it is possible to install any Intel eighth and ninth generation of the Core microarchitecture.

CPU power is organized according to 8-phase scheme with assemblies Dr. MOS, durable capacitors Premium 60A Power Choke and Nichicon 12K. In this case directly on the CPU core only have six phases.

For power management meets PWM controller uP9521P production uPI Semiconductor.

Power to the Board and its components is supplied in two standard housing with 24-and 8-contacts.


They have no needles high density or metallic sheath. All standard.

Chipset Intel Z390 here too, the most usual, however, something special he can be, in principle, can not.

ASRock Z390 Steel plastic Legend is equipped with four DIMM slots for memory modules of standard DDR4.

The total amount of RAM on the Board can reach 128 gigabytes, and the maximum frequency of 4266 MHz. Of course, the Board supports XMP profiles, and a list of certified modules it takes a few pages.

In terms of PCI-Express fee, can be called poor. She has only one full PCI Express 3.0 x16, connected to the processor lines. He has a metallic shell to amplify and additional electrical protection.

The second slot of this form factor can only work in x4 mode, therefore, NVIDIA SLI technology is not supported, and the combination of the two AMD graphics cards will work in CrossFireX at x16/x4. In addition, the Board has three PCI Express x1 slots with open ends for the installation of long expansion cards.

Six SATA III ports with a throughput of up to 6GB/s implemented by the chipset. Four ports are located horizontally, and two vertically.


High speed storage, there are two Ultra M. 2 port, throughput can reach up to 32 GB/s. it is Convenient that both connectors support both SATA and PCI Express drives, and uncomfortable that М2_1 divides chipset line ports SATA3_0 (if you install a SATA drive) or SATA3_1 (if you install a PCI-E drive), and М2_2 shares lines with SATA3_5 connector.

In port М2_1 you can install drives in length from 30 to 110 mm, and in М2_2 – length from 30 to 80 mm. Feature ASRock Z390 Steel Legend: both M. 2 port is equipped with a plate-radiator with pads. To budget models of motherboards that do not meet often.

All 13 of the USB ports on the motherboard are implemented by the capabilities of the chipset Intel Z390, additional controllers, no. On the back panel, 6 ports, including two high-speed USB 3.1 Gen 2 (Type-A and Type-C) with data transfer rate up to 10 GB/s. Four ports USB 3.1 Gen 1 can be connected to the two connectors on the PCB, and similarly with fees can take the three USB 2.0 ports.

Network controller on ASRock Z390 Steel Legend single Gigabit Intel I219-V.

Claimed protection from lightning and electrostatic discharges, Protocol support PXEand energy efficient Ethernet 802.3 az.

Based on the audio Board lies 7.1 CH HD audio codec Realtek ALC1220, complemented by five audiophile Nichicon Fine Gold audio caps in Japan.

The audio room is isolated from other elements on the PCB of the multiple conductive stripes for the left and right channels are different layers of the PCB, and the connectors for the connectors are covered with 15 micron layer of gold. Except for the last one is more of a marketing move, it’s quite a standard set for budget Board.

For monitoring and fan control on the motherboard is provided by controller Nuvoton NCT6791D.

Only the Board can control six fans with PWM or voltage changes, and one of the connectors is designed to connect energy-consuming pumps cooling system and could provide up to 2 A (24 W). Setting fans available in the BIOS or in the signature Annex A-Tuning.

Unfortunately, the fee is devoid of the indicator POST-codes, and partly to replace it offers four status LEDs CPU/DRAM/VGA/BOOT in the bottom right corner of the PCB.

ASRock Z390 Steel Legend supported proprietary illumination system Polychrome RGB SYNC. On the Board itself highlighted area of the chipset and the entire reverse side of the right edge of the PCB.

To connect led strips lighting on ASRock Z390 Steel Legend has three connectors, including one addressing mode (5 V, 3 A, 15 watts). Backlight control implemented in the BIOS or through the app ASRock RGB LED.

The set of connectors on the bottom edge of the PCB is quite usual and does not stand out with some unique solutions.

In conclusion, we note quite a decent cooling system of fees, consisting of a massive aluminum heatsink on the power circuits, chipset, combined with plate-radiator of the second M. 2, a separate heat spreader for the first M. 2.

After the first inspection ASRock Z390 Steel Legend can be quite a simple Board, with an average power of the power supply system of the processor and a basic set of controllers and functions. All pretty standard and no interesting features. Now look at your BIOS.


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PC / Laptop

The Intel Core i3-9350KF: ashamed to have four cores in 2019

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With the advent of the processors generations of Coffee Lake Coffee Lake and Refresh by Intel, following the lead of a competitor, is systematically studied with increasing number of computational cores in their proposals. The result of this process was the fact that in the mass of the platform LGA1151v2 formed a new OCTA-core chip family of Core i9, and the family of Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 has significantly increased its Arsenal of compute cores. Less fortunate series Core i5: processors, Quad-core former in the past, eventually became shestidennomu. But today’s Core i7 processors feature eight and Core i3 processors – four cores, making them twice as attractive in comparison with the predecessors, offered just two years ago.

About how well developed the evolution of the senior consumer Intel processors, we have already recounted, when tested new fosmidomycin Core i7-9700K and Core i9-9900K, as well as new six-core Core i5-9600K. However, the representative of the family of Core i3, belongs to a generation of Coffee Lake Refresh, we have not discussed. Many of you probably think that it should be, because at first glance, the transition from design to Coffee Lake Coffee Lake Refresh Core i3 series never happened: the processors of the tenth thousands offer exactly the same four cores without support Hyper-Threading as their predecessors. And it seems that no significant difference in performance and consumer qualities between them. But not so simple.

The fact that a new series of Core i3, in contrast, for example, Core i5, yet it was clearly better. And it’s not in the growth of clock frequencies, which, judging by face value, has not increased at all. Most importantly, what happened to Core i3 new generation — they support Turbo Boost technology 2.0, which still remained the prerogative of the processors series Core i5, i7 and i9. The result is a real working frequency of fresh Core i3 increased significantly, making the first representative of the updated series in the face Core i3-9350KF noticeably faster offer compared to the older Quad-generation Coffee Lake, Core i3-8350K.

    Kaby Lake (2017) Coffee Lake (2018) Coffee Lake Refresh
Core i9 The number of cores     8
L3 cache MB     16
Hyper-Threading     +
Turbo Boost 2.0     +
Core i7 The number of cores 4 6 8
L3 cache MB 8 12 12
Hyper-Threading + +
Turbo Boost 2.0 + + +
Core i5 The number of cores 4 6 6
L3 cache MB 6 9 9
Turbo Boost 2.0 + + +
Core i3 The number of cores 2 4 4
L3 cache MB 3-4 6-8 6-8
Hyper-Threading +
Turbo Boost 2.0 +

Thus, today’s processors Core i3 become full heirs of the members of the series Core i5 generation Kaby Lake: they have exactly the same set of basic capabilities, and the clock frequency at least as good. And that means Core i3-9350KF with a price of $173 allows you to performance even better than the provided Core i5-7600Kthat cost (and, incidentally, continues to cost, according to the official price list) $242.

However, according to popular belief, the formation of which took an active part in the first place fans of AMD with four cores today are suitable only for office computers and modern games supposedly require the CPU more developed multithreading support. Where did this judgment is not difficult to guess: AMD price range from $150 to $200 today do you can offer not only six, and even eight cores with SMT support. But that doesn’t make Quad Core i3-9350KF absolutely worthless and a priori, not worthy of attention.

In order for arguments to decide whether the right to existence of the Quad surrounded by rivals heavyweights, we conducted a special test. In this review we will answer the questions buyers have when dealing with the modern Core i3. That is, check whether the Core i3-9350KF to compete in the actual games and how its performance looks at the background of the performance of AMD CPU that you can buy in the same price category.

#Core i3-9350KF in detail

When meeting with Core i3-9350KF and then there is the feeling that somewhere in all this we have already seen. It is not surprising. More recently roughly the same characteristics of the processors was proposed in a series of Core i5 and new Core i3-9350KF really like some Core i5-6600K or Core i5-7600K. Since Intel switched to the 14-nm process technology in the desktop segment, no micro-architectural improvements, the processors do not undergo, and therefore between Skylake and today’s Coffee Lake Refresh there identity equality in terms of IPC (the number of executable per clock cycle instructions). Thus the Core i3-9350KF, as well as its ancient predecessors series Core i5 has four cores, does not support Hyper-Threading technology, but has technology avtoradgona Turbo Boost 2.0.

But the Core i3-9350KF even better than the previous Core i5. First, the capacity of the cache memory of the third level in the processor is 8 MB, that is, each core is allocated 2 MB, while the Intel Core i5 generations to Coffee Lake for each core relied only 1.5 MB of L3 cache. Secondly, Core i3-9350KF, which produced a third version of the 14-nm process technology, could reach substantially higher clock frequencies. So, it has a nominal frequency defined by the interval of 4.0-4.6 GHz, and Core i5-7600K maximum frequency in turbo mode accounted for only 4.2 GHz.

Thus in reality even at full load on all cores Core i3-9350KF able to hold its frequency at around 4.4 GHz.

Load on one core allows you to display the frequency on the promised specification 4.6 GHz.

The intermediate frequency is 4.5 GHz, you can see that if the load is on 2 or 3 cores.

It is understood that, formally, the specified frequency of the processor holds in that case, if its power consumption does not go beyond 91 W – the boundary defined by the characteristics of the TDP. But in fact, motherboard manufacturers have not pay attention on such trifle as a heat pack. The Multi-Core Enhancements, which eliminates the energy monitoring on modern motherboards is enabled by default. However, in fairness it should be noted that specifically at Core i3-9350KF even at maximum load work using AVX2 instructions (Annex Prime95 29.6) power consumption is about 80 watts. In other words, the declared TDP Core i3-9350KF fit without any restrictions on working frequencies.

In the family of processors Core thousandth series Core i3-9350KF is the only product belonging to the class Core i3. Although officially it was also announced on other models, including the Core i3-9350K, Core i3-9320 Core i3-9300 Core i3-9100 and Core i3-9100F, sales, as well as in the official price list, they have not yet appeared.

Why is it so easy to understand: the explanation suggests the letter F at the end of the reporting processor. It means that this CPU is deprived of the integrated graphics core, allowing Intel to use for its production of defective crystals that were not able to get into serial Core i3 before. Indeed, stepping Core i3-9350KF – B0, this means that the basis of such processors on the same silicon crystal, used in the composition of the Core i3 series eight. In other words, the Core i3-9350KF – twin brother Core i3-8350K without integrated graphics Graphics 630 UHD, but enhanced with Turbo Boost technology 2.0. Moreover, these processors have not even vary the nominal frequency, so that the entire gain of the product is provided exclusively turbo, which, however, in this case, fairly aggressive and is able to accelerate the work of the CPU by 10-15 %.

For clarity, we give a table which compares the characteristics of the Core i3-9350KF and actively mentioned by us like processor previous generations Core i3-8350K and Core i5-7600:

Core i3-9350KF Core i3-8350K Core i5-7600K
Code name Coffee Lake Refresh Coffee Lake Kaby Lake
Production technology 14++ nm 14++ nm 14+ nm
Socket LGA1151v2 LGA1151v2 LGA1151v1
Cores/Threads 4/4 4/4 4/4
Base frequency, GHz 4,0 4,0 3,8
Maximum frequency in turbo mode, GHz 4,6 4,2
L3 cache MB 8 8 6
TDP, watts 91 91 91
Memory support DDR4-2400 DDR4-2400 DDR4-2400
PCI Express 3.0 16 16 16
Graphics core No UHD Graphics 630 HD Graphics 630
Price (official) $173 $168 $242

It remains to add that the Core i3-9350KF as Core i3-8350K, refers to the number of proposals overclocking Intel. Its multiplier is not locked, which allows you to freely change its motherboards based on chipsets Z370 and Z390.


No reason to expect Core i3-9350KF any significant acceleration there. Don’t forget: at the heart of such CPU are semiconductor crystals of the old B0 stepping, and not selected, and Vice versa — rejection with broken graphics. In other words, the Core i3-9350KF waste from the production of Core i3-8350K, and, based on this logic, the novelty is unlikely to accelerate better than Quad core overclocking CPUs present in the market so far.

A practical test largely confirmed this assumption. When setting the voltage at 1.25 V Core i3-9350KF was able to work steadily at a frequency of 4.8 GHz. Increasing this voltage to 1,275 In the situation with the maximum frequency did not improve, and at a voltage of 1.3 V we had to deal with CPU overheating at high AVX2-load.

By the way, here the negative role played and the fact that the Core i3-9350KF architectural refers to the generation of Coffee Lake Coffee Lake and not Refresh. Newer processors have learned to push the temperature that turns on the throttle, up to 115 degrees. But with Core i3-9350KF is impossible: for him to say only heat to 100 degrees. In addition, will have to forget about the solder between the heat-spreading lid and the chip in Core i3-9350KF is polymer thermal interface, that is thermal grease.

Thus, if we judge by our instance CPU, then overclocking the senior Quad without the use of special cooling methods can be overclocked by about 10% relative to the nominal mode. And this relatively low increase in operating frequency is unlikely to help them fundamentally improve productivity. In other words, as in the case of other Core processors thousandth of the series, overclocking continues slowly over here. With the release of new generations of CPU limits overclocking is almost relegated, but the nominal frequency each year increased quite markedly, each time stronger and stronger narrowing overclockers.


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