MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC Review
Published: 28th May 2019 | Source: MSI | Price: |
The MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC looked very similar to the Carbon Pro on paper, and in our testing there was very little to differentiate the two motherboards. Being so closely matched in price and on the acknowledged consistently-performing Intel Z390 chipset we didn't expect there to be much difference and sure enough there isn't.
What this means is that the majority of choice is about whether you like the carbon effect on the Gaming Carbon Pro, or whether you prefer the cleaner lines of the Gaming Edge. Even the £10 price differential isn't likely to be the deciding factor as even the tightest budget will struggle to buy something different with that extra tenner that will have a significant impact on your systems capabilities.
We often speak about reviewing things both in comparison to the surrounding models - to make it easier for you to have an informed decision making process - whilst also reviewing them in a vacuum to see what each one does well regardless of what else you could get for the money. After all, many people have loyalty to a particular brand, or want a certain aesthetic, and for them it doesn't matter what is available from the competition. They care solely about if this item that they have set their heart upon gets the job done. If you've looked at the MSI Z390 Gaming Edge AC and fallen in love then it definitely does get the job done. It overclocked well, taking our Core i9-9900K to the 5 GHz we know it can attain on all but the most expensive, flagship motherboards on the market who might be able to squeeze another 100 or even 200 MHz from it. The VRMs didn't overheat which is a feather in the cap of the MSI heat sink designers who have done well to bring such a robust heat sink setup to a motherboard squarely at the mid-price of the Z390 market. The performance is fairly consistent too, although it does echo the Carbon more than the Tomahawk, being either squarely in the midfield in both stock and overclocked configurations or in those tests in which the stock setup is less impressive it turns out that the overclocked one is more impressive, and a gap forms between them. Naturally we have to remind you that any and all Z390 motherboards perform well enough, such is the consistency of the underlying architecture and thus your choice is largely going to be made on aesthetic or price considerations.
That's where reviewing these three MSI offerings in such a short space of time ends up being a slight negative for the Gaming Edge AC. The Tomahawk is clearly the surprise package, being much better than its low price might have you believe but also finding itself slightly better off with its two LAN ports at the expense of Wireless and a front USB 3.1. The Carbon Pro on the other hand has both those elements and also that divisive carbon aesthetic, but costs a little more. The MPG Z390 Gaming Edge falls between these two stools giving up the pre-installed IO shield, carbon flashes and M.2 heat spreader but saving you £10 and having a more neutral design theme better suited to showing off your RGB lighting. It's the safe choice.
Often reviewers of anything can get caught up in things that are wildly different just because new equals interesting. It's why websites are full of supercar reviews rather than family runabouts, or food websites obsess with unusual food combinations rather than steak and chips. But just because something takes a straight-down-the-middle approach to its task shouldn't be taken as a negative, and that's exactly what the MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC does. It won't win any design awards but neither will it revile anyone. It isn't a flagship model but neither are you paying through the nose for features you'll never use. If you want an inoffensive motherboard that has enough bits to support all you'll plug into it, enough performance to keep you happy for the foreseeable future, and wont break the bank then the Gaming Edge AC has you covered. It's all the motherboard anyone truly needs.