Another Intel Z790 Refresh motherboard has landed on ALKtech's desk, and this time it's from ASUS, in the form of the TUF Gaming Z790-PRO WIFI that sits squarely in the middle of ASUS's Z790 Refresh motherboard stack.
For the unaware, Intel's 13th Generation Raptor Lake processors were launched back in October 2022, alongside the 700-series of chipsets (i.e. the B760, H770 and Z790). Then, 13th Gen was supposed to be the final generation of processors to be offered on the LGA1700 socket, where Intel would have introduced its next generation of processors on an entirely new platform.
Fast forward to today, and the above has come to naught due to a multitude of reasons, where as a result, Intel has given the LGA1700 socket a new lease of life with its decision to release its 14th Gen offerings, ccodenamed "Raptor Lake Refresh", on the very same platform. As a quick history lesson, LGA1700 was originally introduced back in October 2021 with Intel's 12th Generation Alder Lake processors, alongside the 600-series of chipset offerings such as the Z690. In view of this turn of events, motherboard manufacturers have taken this as an opportunity to refresh their line-up of LGA1700 motherboard offerings, in anticipation for the arrival of Intel's 14th Generation processor offerings.
For today's article, we'll be taking a look at a Z790 Refresh motherboard offering that sits right smack in the middle of ASUS's Z790 Refresh product stack - the TUF Gaming Z790-PRO WIFI.
Summary of Specifications
Processor Support: Intel 13th Gen Core processors & 12th Gen Core, Pentium Gold and Celeron processors, 14th Gen Raptor Lake Refresh processors supported as well
Chipset: Intel Z790
Memory: 4x DDR5 slots, max 192GB, up to DDR5 7800+ (OC) support
Audio: Realtek S1220A audio codec
LAN: Intel I226-V 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet
WIFI: Intel AX211 WIFI 6E module with built-in Bluetooth 5.3
Expansion Slots: 1x PCIe 5.0 x16, 1x PCIe 3.0 x16 (x1 mode), 1x PCIe 4.0 x4, 1x PCIe 3.0 x1, 1x PCIe 4.0 x16 (x4 mode)
Storage: 4x SATA III, 3x PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 (NVMe drives only), 1x PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 (NVMe & SATA drives)
Form Factor: ATX
Packaging & Contents
Being from the TUF Gaming series of motherboard offerings, the TUF Gaming Z790-PRO WIFI places below the ROG Maximus and ROG STRIX series of boards, and above the value-oriented PRIME series of motherboard offerings by ASUS. This means that the Z790-PRO WIFI can be considered a motherboard offering that sits in the middle of ASUS's Z790 Refresh product stack.
In keeping with the design language of the TUF GAMING series of products, the Z790-PRO WIFI comes in a box sporting a silver-on-black colour scheme, with touches of yellow thrown in for contrast.
The board comes with the following accessories:
- WIFI Q-Antenna
- 2x SATA III cables
- M.2 drive screw and standoff pack
- 2x packs of M.2. drive rubber pads (adds height clearance for single-sided M.2 SSDs)
- Quick start guide
- DVD driver disc
- TUF Gaming Certificate of Reliability
- ASUS WebStorage promotional leaflet
- TUF Gaming sticker sheet
It's interesting to note that ASUS has redesigned the WIFI antenna that comes included with its motherboards - termed "Q-Antenna", the said antenna comes with female connectors that snap into place onto the male WIFI antenna connectors found on the rear I/O area of the Z790-PRO WIFI, instead of the typical screw-down connectors that we've grown accustomed to. A neat quality-of-life detail here on the part of ASUS.
In terms of aesthetics, ASUS has gone for a black, grey and silver colour scheme with touches of yellow, where its gaming/military-inspired motifs are very much in-line with the TUF Gaming brand identity.
As a mid-range Intel Z790 motherboard offering, the Z790-PRO WIFI comes with an integrated I/O shield design, where the I/O shield shroud that integrates with the VRM heatsink comes adorned with a bunch of "gamer-speak" text embellishments. It's interesting to note that the "ULTIMATE FORCE" section of the I/O shield shroud is actually a raised rubber insert, which I suppose adds some visual interest to the overall appearance of the motherboard.
As can be seen above, the Z790-PRO WIFI comes with a small illuminated "TUF" logo located at the top right hand corner of the motherboard. Needless to say, the board also comes with a smattering of RGB headers as well, to satisfy the needs of even the most ardent of RGB junkies.
The heatsink for the Intel Z790 chipset is a passively-cooled affair, and ASUS has included heatsinks for three out of the four M.2 slots that the board comes with, where the third and fourth M.2 slots share a common heatsink.
Over on the rear of the motherboard, we see that ASUS has included a TUF Gaming motif on the PCB - a nice touch that unfortunately might go unappreciated once the motherboard is installed inside of a PC case.
VRM & Memory Support
The board comes with 16+1+1 power stages that are rated for up to 60A each, and has four DDR5 slots with support for up to 192GBs of RAM, and the DDR5 7800+ standard when overclocked. The memory slots are of a single-tabbed design - what ASUS calls "Q-DIMM", which facilitates the removal of memory modules especially when a lengthy graphics card is installed, where such graphics cards might block the lower retention tabs of the memory slots.
Front Panel USB Connectivity
For front panel USB connectivity, ASUS has included a USB 3,2 Gen 2x2 Type-C front panel header that supports Power Delivery 3.0 and fast charging of up to 30W. Also included is a single USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A front panel header that provides for up to two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports.
While still on the topic of front panel USB connectivity, we get two front panel USB 2.0 headers located along the bottom edge of the motherboard, with each header providing support for up to two front panel USB 2.0 Type-A ports, for a total of four USB 2.0 ports.
Expansion Slots & Storage Options
A single PCIe 5.0 x16 slot with the ASUS SafeSlot and Q-Release features are included with the TUF Gaming Z790-PRO WIFI. SafeSlot reinforces the slot for use with heavy graphics cards, whilst Q-Release is a handy feature that makes the removal of a graphics cards from a build a hassle-free process - simply depress the Q-Release button as pictured above, where the graphics card retention tab will then move away, thereby facilitating the easy removal of your installed graphics card from the motherboard.
As can be seen, expansion slots are in no short supply with the Z790-PRO WIFI, where ASUS has also included a full-length PCIe 3.0 x16 slot that operates at x1 mode, a PCIe 4.0 x4 slot, a PCIe 3.0 x1 slot as well as a full-length PCIe 4.0 x16 slot that operates at x4 mode.
In terms of storage features, the board comes with four SATA III ports, with two ports in a right-angled configuration so as to aid with cable management, and two ports in a straight-angled configuration, M.2 drive support is by means of four PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, with the fourth slot (M.2_4) supporting both NVMe and SATA M.2 drives.
All four M.2 drive slots feature Q-Latch, which replaces the traditional screw and standoff arrangement with plastic latches that facilitate a tool-less M.2 drive installation and removal experience.
Audio & Internet Connectivity
The TUF Gaming Z790-PRO WIFI comes with Realtek's S1220A audio codec, which can be considered a premium audio offering. Internet connectivity on the other hand, is courtesy of Intel's I226-V controller that serves up support for the 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet standard.
As a board with built-in WIFI, ASUS has included Intel's AX211 module that provides support for the WIFI 6E standard and Bluetooth 5.3.
Fan & RGB Header
The TUF Gaming Z790-PRO WIFI comes with plenty of fan headers, seven to be precise:
- 1x CPU_FAN
- 1x CPU_OPT
- 4x CHA_FAN
- 1x AIO_PUMP
Also included are three addressable RGB headers and a single 12V standard RGB header.
Near the bottom edge of the board is a serial port header, an unexpected feature that could come in useful in business settings that still use legacy PC hardware.
While the TUF Gaming Z790-PRO WIFI does not come with built-in Thunderbolt ports. It does come with a Thunderbolt 4 add-on card header that is to be used in conjunction with an add-on card that is sold separately by ASUS. The said add-on card adds Thunderbolt 4 ports and additional DisplayPort connectors to the PC.
A set of LEDs termed Q-LED are included near the top edge of the board - Q-LED is a feature that helps end-users troubleshoot Power On Self Test issues.
The TUF Gaming Z790-PRO WIFI comes with the following rear I/O ports:
- 1x DisplayPort 1.4 (max 4K resolution @ 60Hz)
- 1x HDMI 2.1 (max 4K resolution @ 60Hz)
- 4x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A (5Gbps)
- 1x USB 3,2 Gen 2 Type-C (10Gbps)
- 1x 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet port
- 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (10Gbps)
- 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type-C (20Gbps)
- WIFI Q-Antenna connectors
- Audio jacks
To sum up, the ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-PRO WIFI shapes up to a decent mid-range Intel Z790 Refresh motherboard offering, where it comes with a decent VRM setup, PCIe 5.0 support for a graphics card, plenty of USB 3.2 connectivity options, a premium audio codec and so on.
I do wish though, that ASUS had included WIFI 7 with this board, seeing as competitor Intel Z790 Refresh motherboards from other manufacturers do tend to come with WIFI 7 modules as standard. It's worth noting too that the TUF Gaming Z790-PLUS WIFI, which the Z790-PRO WIFI is almost certainly a replacement for, have very similar specifications - if one were to compare both boards side-by-side in terms of features, we see that the Z790-PRO WIFI serves up support for faster DDR5 memory, a slightly different PCIe slot arrangement, a front panel USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type-C port that supports 30W fast charging, as well as ASUS's new Q-Antenna. With this in mind, the inclusion of WIFI 7 would have further burnished the Z790-PRO WIFI's credentials both against the Z790-PLUS WIFI that it replaces and against other competitor Z790 Refresh motherboards from other brands.
As of the time of writing this article, the TUF Gaming Z790-PRO WIFI will be available to purchase for a MSRP of $549 Singapore dollars (in Singapore).
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The motherboard featured in this article was a review unit provided on loan from ASUS Singapore.