MSI MEG Z590 ACE Review

👤by David Mitchelson Comments 📅28-04-21
Board layout, features and RGB

ACE conforms to the ATX form factor and follows a traditional layout. This Z590 variant of ACE isn’t all that dissimilar to last seasons Z490 in terms of the overall look and feel.

Being a Z590 motherboard, we have support for the Intel 11th Gen. Processors (as well as support for 10th Gen. too) with LGA1200. ACE comes in with a 16 digital phase design with digital PWM and 90A power stages (CPU power comes in the form of 8+8). Two large heatsinks with an interconnecting copper heatpipe cover the VRM section, with backplate cooling and active cooling too – the fan is tucked away out of sight and benefits from Zero Frozr (ceases to spin when idle). There are 8 fan headers spread out at the top, side, bottom and middle of ACE with designated compatibility for water pumps. 4 RGB LED headers are also present for lighting strips and other devices. MSI kindly include a Corsair header on the board too, for use with Corsair’s lighting system.

Memory support sees us able to use up to 128GB of DDR4 and up to 5400MHz. In the memory region there is also EZ Debug LED which is a handy disagnostic feature identifying any problems on bootup with a simple LED pinpointing the problem area. Voltage check points are also present for those wanting advanced features.

Connectivity for your computer cases comes in the form of 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 header and 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 header for the front panel. In terms of storage, there are up to 6 SATA 6GB/s ports and 4x PCIe M.2 slots. One of these is PCIe 4.0 x4 ready (the top slot) while the other three are PCIe 3.0 x4 – it’s brilliant having such an abundance of M.2 storage, it means that users no longer have to make compromises.

For graphics delivery there is a 1x PCIe 4.0 X16 slot, 2x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots and 2x PCIe 3.0 x1 slots. As usual the uppermost X16 is wired for the full 16 lanes and should be used for a single GPU configuration. The second and third slots are wired for 8 and 4. These slots benefit from MSI’s “Steel Armor” which has soldered connectors and has been strengthened to withstand heavy graphics cards.

Underneath the expansion area there are some additional features which we expect on a board of this class. There are physical buttons for power/reset – making this offering a nice choice if you do happen to be making use of a test bench. A dual BIOS switch and LED switch are also present – giving the ability to kill off lighting from that onboard power button (which glows white). Auxiliary PCIe power has been provided at the bottom too – supplying the graphics region with supplementary 6-pin power should this be required.

For audio, while others may stick with the ALC 1220, MSI are using the new Realtec ALC 4082 processor. The audio package itself includes:

- ESS® Audio DAC
- Gold-plated audio jacks
- Rear optical S/PDIF out port
- Premium audio capacitors
- Dededicated headphone AMP (600&#937 ;)
- Isolated circuitary

ACE’s RGB lighting is quite a toned down affair with just the rear IO shield and chipset heatsink using illumination – this and the RGB headers can tap into MSI’s Mystic Light for synchronisation.

One of ACE’s strong points is the rear panel which is loaded with functionality.:

Clear CMOS Button
4x USB 3.2 Gen1 5Gbps (Type-A)
2x USB 2.0
1x 2.5G LAN
2x Thunderbolt 4 40Gbps (Type-C)
2x Wi-Fi / Bluetooth
HD Audio Connectors
Flash BIOS Button
1x HDMI 2.0
2x USB 3.2 Gen2 10Gbps (Type-A)
2x Mini DisplayPort Input (for Thunderbolt passthrough)
Optical S/PDIF-Out

The inclusion of the slower USB 2.0 and USB 3.2 Gen1 is somewhat disappointing – especially when there are only 2x USB 3.2 Gen2 ports. On a high-end model like this, we expect to receive more Gen2 ports.

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