MSI MEG Z490 Godlike Review
The introduction of the Godlike to the MSI arsenal has been an unqualified success so far. Having seen what it brought to the Z370 and, on the AMD platform, the X570, it's fair to say we were very interested in discovering how the flagship model in the MSI range transferred its talents to the Z490 platform.
We could start in many areas, but we think we'd be foolish to begin anywhere other than the aesthetics. It's always one of those things where you know that you should buy your motherboard based upon its capabilities, or connectivity, rather than just how it looks, but with so much of it visible through our case windows - particularly in these days when most of us run an AIO rather than a massive air cooler - the looks have to be on point. Most of us, for better or worse, buy with how something looks uppermost in our minds and then decide whether we can compromise other areas to get one that pleases our eye. The Godlike definitely sits in the pleasing category. With a huge MSI Dragon in RGB on the left hand side, surrounded by a mirror effect, it is perfect for showing off your product choice as well as reflecting any LED strips you have installed. Meanwhile on the opposite side we have a full colour OLED display, a big step up from the monochrome ones we might have got used to. It seems a bit of a gimmick until you've used one and been able to monitor your temperatures simply by glancing into your case, rather than having another application open on a second screen.
Looks are all well and good, but nobody is splashing this kind of cash on a motherboard which doesn't also bring a lot of other bells and whistles to the party. With the Godlike there are enough whistles to make you think you'd travelled back to a 90s rave party. The slots are fully reinforced to help provide the longevity a product at this price point requires. For those of you with a lot of storage on hand there are three M.2 sockets, also capable of supporting the Intel Optane memory if you wish, and they sit alongside six SATA ports for your regular SSDs. With plenty of USB connectors, both internal and on the IO section, even those of you who have a full HOTAS setup alongside your wheel and pedals to stream your gaming exploits to the world. The days when we wanted a couple of ports for our mice and keyboard with maybe one more for our audio are long behind us. Particularly as we're all transferring data between our PCs and mobile devices so often. Speaking of transferring data the Godlike has a 10G LAN from Aquantia - the AQC107 - sitting alongside the 2.5G Realtek 8125B for cable networking, and the Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 with Bluetooth 5.1 handles all your wireless needs.
Performance is very impressive, and indeed the solidity of the Intel Core i9-10900K is ably demonstrated, hitting high boost clocks if you leave everything at stock, and overclocking up to 5.2 GHz across all ten cores thanks to the 16+1+1 power phase with 90A SPS. No matter how desperately you try and break world records the power section won't be the limiting factor. The Godlike might have the warmest VRM temperatures of the three flagship models we've tested today, but it's still by no means hot. The performance differences between the three big Z490s is slight, but the overclocked MSI MEG Z490 Godlike came out on top more often than the others.
There is no denying that you're paying a small fortune to obtain any of the flagship Z490 motherboards, and the MSI MEG Z490 Godlike is no exception. With beefy performance allied to a plentiful connectivity options and all wrapped up in a gorgeous design, the Godlike is an uncompromising motherboard.