The i9-10900k is the best single-threaded gaming and overclocking CPU on the market. You are here for one reason, and one reason only: to unlock it’s full potential.
The only way that happens is with the best z490 motherboard. Which one you choose will ultimately depend on how much you want to spend (and possibly case size).
On opposite ends of the spectrum, MSI will bestow upon you Godlike powers for $700 or let you live among mortals for just $200. ROG will take care of everyone else in between. So, let’s see what your future holds.
Best Z490 Motherboards for i9-10900K
Best Budget Motherboard for i9-10900K
Overall the under $200 class is a tough category and the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Edge Wifi definitely did not disappoint.
Despite falling into the budget category of the z490 motherboards for the i9-10900k, the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Wifi is still aimed at gamers and you can’t ask for much more at $200. It definitely offers good value for money with a great feature set and sits just below the Z490 Gaming Carbon Wifi in the MSI MPG lineup. You could also consider both the Asus Prime Z490-A (if you don’t need Wifi) or the Gigabte Elite Aorus Elite, but the MPG Z490 Gaming Wifi is just an excellent performing product that checks all the boxes in the budget category.
With a 14 Phase (12+1+1) VRM power delivery at 60A, you’ll have no problems overlocking your i9-10900k. The VRM was specifically designed to handle i9-10900k Comet Lake load. Which also means it will be a more than capable gaming rig with adequate cooling.
However, there are some reports that cooling isn’t great in some places which can affect the VRM. But it does come with the Dragon Center App which will optimize fan speeds and cooling options according to your cpu temperature to boost your i9-10900k core performance. The Wifi 6 also allows you to prioritize internet speed specifically for gaming apps to minimize lag. That’s cool, right Jenkins?
Best High Performance Air Cooled Motherboard for i9-10900K
If you’re looking for a high performance z490 motherboard to overclock your i9-10900k without an elaborate water cooling setup, this hero is it.
The Maximus XII Hero is your long awaited entry into the premium ROG Maximus line of z490 motherboards for the i9-10900k. It has many premium components and features that will serve as a strong base for any build, overclocking or not. It has great boot time, power consumption, and competitive CPU and GPU scores.
It was definitely built with overclocking in mind. The variety of options to tweak to overclock the i9-10900k is seemingly endless. We were able to achieve 5.2Ghz without too much effort, but 5.3Ghz was a bit out of reach. Even at 5.2Ghz we began to see some throttling. We would definitely recommend taking a look at the Maximus XII Formula if you have a liquid cooling setup to squeeze more performance out of it. However, the 14+2 Phase VRM design shared with the ROG Strix Z490-E is still more than capable of producing some serious power.
Asus also has one of the best set of bios features that will no doubt keep you entertained for hours unlocking the full potential of your i9-10900k. They even offer two boot options on launch: Intel Recommended or ASUS Optimized. According to our benchmarks, the optimized settings boosted performance by 2% with less power consumption.
Best High Performance (Liquid Cooled) Motherboard for i9-10900K
Don’t worry, its ready to throw down some Aura Sync RGB at that pool party as well.
The Maximus XII Formula z490 motherboard was designed for the i9-10900k cpu with a singular purpose in mind: high performance water cooled systems. It is no doubt considered a premium motherboard, but we wouldn’t go as far as to call it Luxury (like the Maximus XII Extreme). If you have no intention of water cooling your system in the near feature then you can squeeze the same value out of the Maximus XII Hero (Wifi) for $100 less. But for that extra $100 you’re already thinking of blowing on Shadowlands, you get a z490 motherboard that will take your i9-10900k overclocking to the next level with its unparalleled VRM cooling. And don’t worry, its ready to throw down some Aura Sync RGB at that pool party as well.
The defining feature of this z490 motherboard is definitely the CrossChill EK III VRM cooling. It’s hybrid design meant for a custom watercooling loop that includes both flow rate headers and in/out water sensors. This helps manage higher VRM loads when overclocking the i9-10900k (or any Comet Lake CPU). The 16 Infineon Power Phase VRM design is the same used in the Maximus XII Apex which provides more than enough power when pushing hte i9-10900k to the limit.
In terms of its overlocking capabilities, we’ve heard mixed reports of success at 5.3GHz, which is what the i9-10900k turbo promises. Some enthusiasts have been able to push their i9-10900k overclocking up to 5.3Ghz, while others haven’t been able to make it past 5.2Ghz for some benchmarks. But we’re pretty sure they just spent too much time at the pool bar instead of diving deep. Either way, the one thing that stood out was the low CPU voltage it was able to consistently perform at.
Best Extreme Motherboard for i9-10900K
There’s nothing it can’t handle. At least we couldn’t find anything. So if you have the budget, this puts you in the mile high club. Congratulations.
If you’re looking for a god like motherboard capable of maximizing every last Mhz of your i9-10900k then the MSI MEG Z490 Godlike is undoubtedly where that path ends. It is the best Z490 motherboard on the market. None would question it’s omnipotence. The Godlike series from MSI have broken performance benchmark records in both the CPU and memory speed classes. In short, its the best in the world right now.
Multiple reports put it ahead of the Maximus XII Extreme for gaming and that’s not even counting those thunderbolt 3 ports the Extreme doesn’t have. Even though it costs more than the i9-10900k itself, it supports PCIe 4 so once Rocket Lake is released you’ll still be able to overclock it to it’s limit.
It has the best possible VRM with every feature imaginable and will take your DDR4 up to 5000 Mhz. There was no throttling in sight overclocking the i9-10900k at 5.3Ghz. It’s pretty much overkill in every way with a 16 digital power phase running at 90A on 10k Japanese black capacitors.
Best Micro ATX Motherboard for i9-10900K
If you’re looking for a z490 mATX motherboard for your i9-10900k that can handle some solid overclocking and won’t break the bank.
There is no single defining feature of this z490 motherboard, it’s just epic all around. The performance, aesthetics, and i9-10900k overclocking capabilities deliver 90% of the features of the full size ATX boards in the $400 to $500 bracket do. Considering the other mATX options like the MSI MEG Unify, the ROG Strix z490-G definitely has exceptional value for money. It effectively bridges the GAP between the budget conscious ROG TUF line and the higher end ROG Maximus line.
It features a robust VRM cooling system with 16 Power Stage at 50 Amps. Along with AI Suite 3, the OS overlocking and hardware monitoring software, and a decent cooling system, this should be more than enough to get your i9-10900k up to at least 5.2Ghz with decent thermals. We saw a few runs at 5.3Ghz but they didn’t last long.
Best Mini ITX Motherboard for i9-10900K
If you’re set on a mini ITX, the ROG Strix z490-I is the best overall z490 motherboard for the i9-10900k you can get.
If you have no choice but a mini ITX, there’s really only one option: the ROG Strix z490-I Gaming. Fortunately, this board has one of the best price to performance ratios in the market. Honestly, when the case is closed its hard to tell the difference. Being part of the STRIX line it was designed and tuned for gaming and overclocking. ASUS managed to pack a lot of features and performance into this compact mini ITX z490 motherboard.
Despite the size, it manages an 8+2 VRM Power Phase with 2 huge heatsinks surrounding the CPU. The thermals were comparable to the full size 9 Phase Gigabyte Aorus Ultra. Due to this exceptional VRM cooling and power delivery it can easily hit 5.2Ghz on all cores. Just because you’re running a mini ITX doesn’t mean you can’t join the i9-10900k overclocking club.
The only downside to mention at this class is that there’s only 2 memory slots with support up to 64gb. But honestly that should be more than enough unless you’re building deep learning networks on Kaggle.