ASUS ProArt Z490 Creator 10G LGA1200 Motherboard Review


Introduction

Content creator. It’s  a word handily thrown around these days, we take it as part of every day. From a business perspective, it’s an all-encompassing terms for multimedia artist from the entire spectrum whether freelance of corporate in-house. The fact of the matter is they most deal with computers and with digital content dealing with either large video formats or high-resolution images, these multimedia professionals require a more distinct solution for their use. Now, for all intents and purposes, ASUS ROG has catered to the majority of these folks for a long time now as the lineup often brings with it the niceties of high-speed connectivities and whatnot, but with the introduction of the ASUS ProArt line, that changes with ASUS offering their first content creator-specific motherboard.

ASUS ProArt Z490-Creator 10G

The ASUS ProArt Z490 Creator 10G is ASUS’ first ProArt DIY-market product obviously aimed at consumers that want something more specialized. Of course, as a motherboard, there’s really not a lot it can be specific about in terms of what it does but i does include the connectivity option that was previously only via daughter cards or onboard on more expensive HEDT options. The Z490 Creator 10G’s most notable inclusion is the built-in Thunderbolt3  ports. ASUS did a good job on being lowkey on this that we missed on the unboxing. Other than that, WIFI 6 and 10G LAN, hopes to improve workflows for some who have the infrastructure but Thunderbolt3 as well as the rich USB3.x and M.2 options make this board a fast I/O hub and ASUS hopes to capitalize on that to attract professionals.

Read on to find out more about the ProArt  Z490 Creator 10G. Let’s begin!

Intel 400 series Chipset – Z490

Let’s be honest Intel, I’d usually do a full breakdown of the chipset for this generation but truth be told, it’s pretty much the Z390 with WIFI6 and LGA1200 socket. Intel cites that the new motherboards required a new power configuration hence the new socket but then again, that’s for the socket, the chipset itself is left with just WIFI6. Intel could’ve released second-gen Z390 but it wouldn’t make motherboard makers happy, would it? For motherboard makers though, they have full freedom to explore newer power implementations. With experience from AMD’s high core-count chips, the Z490 should inherit a lot from the X570 of last-generation in the power delivery side and have some space to play around with the features.

Intel Z390, B460, Z370 and Z270 Chipset Comparison
Feature Z490 B460 Z390 Z370
Max PCH PCIe 3.0 Lanes 24 24 24 24
Max USB 3.1 (Gen2/Gen1) 6/10 ? 6/10 0/10
Total USB ? ? 14 14
Max SATA Ports 6 6 6 6
PCIe Config x16
x8/x8
x8/x8/+4
x16
x8/x8
x8/x8/+4
x16
x8/x8
x8/x4/+4
x16
x8/x8
x8/x4/+4
Memory Channels (Dual) 2/2 2/2 2/2 2/2
Intel Optane Memory Support Y ? Y Y
Intel Rapid Storage Technology (RST) Y ? Y Y
Max Rapid Storage Technology Ports 3 ? 3 3
Integrated WiFi MAC Wi-Fi 6 Wi-Fi 6 Wi-Fi 5 N
Intel Smart Sound Y ? Y Y
Integrated SDXC (SDA 3.0) Support ? ? Y N
DMI 3.0 3.0 3.0 3.0
Overclocking Support Y N Y Y
Intel vPro ? ? N N
Max HSIO Lanes 30 ? 30 30
Intel Smart Sound ? ? Y Y
ME Firmware 14 14 12 11

Table courtesy of Anandtech

Closer Look

Unboxing

ASUS ProArt Z490-Creator 10G

The ASUS ProArt Z490 Creator 10G goes back to a more traditional offering in terms of design with no I/O shroud on and no I/O backplate built-in. The color theme is a touch of light bronze for color with the majority of the board done in black. The heatsinks have a heavy touch of parallel lines, serving both a functional as well as visual purpose for the heatsinks.

The board has a stand array of six SATA ports although we would’ve expected more given the storage requirements of potential users in the creator field. Over at the back we have a number of USB3.1 and USB3.2 ports as well as multiple DisplayPort outlets with one of these serving as the input for the built-in Thunderbolt3 Type-C ports.

ASUS ProArt Z490-Creator 10G

ASUS builds this board with a 12+2 power delivery design on a non-teaming configuration that they use on their ROG boards. The VRM is cooled by a nice looking heatsink and while they look narrow and small, these heatsinks are substantially dense and can handle heat quite well.

 

ASUS ProArt Z490-Creator 10G

The M.2 slots also have heatsink covers except for the expose one on th lower part of the board. I would just like to note that these heatsinks -ehem- look like chocolate bars.

ASUS ProArt Z490-Creator 10G
ASUS ProArt Z490-Creator 10G
ASUS ProArt Z490-Creator 10G

BIOS Walkthrough

ASUS’ BIOS for its mainstream products starts off with Easy Mode but switching to advanced offers the same full features that you can see in most of their enthusiasts boards sans in-depth OC features but otherwise it is a robust UEFI BIOS interface and allows good control of the motherboard’s features. ASUS did yet skin this UEFI BIOS for ProArt as the ProArt line still uses the traditional ASUS blue touch.

Software

ASUS forgot to include their ProArt software in their driver installation disc so we think this is an online install. Still, the marketing slides suggests that ASUS will be using a different software than Armory Crate for the ProArt boards dubbed Creator Hub which will give uses at-a-glance overview of their systems as well as control. GameFirst will find its ProArt counterpart in CreationFirst, a network management software that intelligently manages your inbound/outbound traffic so your network is optimized to your priorities.

Test Setup & Methodology

Test Setup: Intel “10th-Gen”
Processor Intel Core i9-10900K, Intel Core i7-10700K (both engineering samples)
Motherboard ASUS ProArt Z490 Creator 10G
RAM Gskill TridentZ RGB DDR4-3600 32GB (8GB)x4 CL16
VGA NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition
Storage Seagate FireCuda 510 1TB
Power Supply Seasonic Platinum 1050w

Test Setup: Intel “9th-Gen”
Processor Intel Core i9-9900K, Intel Core i7-9700K
Motherboard ASUS ROG MAXIMUS XI EXTREME
RAM Gskill TridentZ RGB DDR4-3600 32GB (8GB)x4 CL16
VGA NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition
Storage Seagate FireCuda 510 1TB
Power Supply Seasonic Platinum 1050w

Test Setup: AMD
Processor AMD Ryzen 9 3900X, AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
Motherboard ASRock X570 Steel Legend
RAM Gskill TridentZ RGB DDR4-3600 32GB (8GB)x4 CL16
VGA NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition
Storage Seagate FireCuda 510 1TB
Power Supply Seasonic P1000 Platinum 1000w

Cooler: ROG Ryujin 360mm AIO Cooler

Monitor: ROG PG27UQ 4K 144hz HDR10 Gsync Monitor

All tests are performed in an open bench with ambient room temperature kept at 35*C (Because its summer in the Philippines.)

Motherboards are updated to the latest BIOS during time of testing kept at their out-of-box settings aside from XMP frequencies when running stock benchmarks.

As many already know, most motherboards will have varying frequency multipliers and this may affect performance overall. As this is part of their out of the box configuration we see it fit to use them as is. All data presented here in are with the default motherboard settings for stock performance. Overclocked performance will be indicated where needed. For non-Z series motherboards, all benchmarks are performed on DDR4-2133 default settings.

As always, we’ll let the numbers do the talking.

Best Practices

  • Same thermal paste and same application method used on all cooler mounting. A pre-benchmark stress test is performed to let the TIM settle. We use Noctua NT-H1 for all our testing.
  • A fresh install of Windows 10 Pro is used for every sample testing. The OS image contains all benchmarks and games. Drivers are installed after image is installed.
  • An average of 3 benchmark runs is used for test sampling.

Benchmarks Used

  • Maxon Cinebench R20 – Multi-threaded CPU benchmark
  • Blender 3D – BMW 2.7 CPU Render benchmark
  • POV-Ray 3.7.1 – Multi-threaded Render benchmark
  • HWBot x265 – 4K x265 CPU encoding benchmark
  • 7zip Benchmark – a compression benchmark
  • wPrime 1024M – multi-threaded prime benchmark
  • SuperPI 32M – single-threaded prime benchmark
  • PugetBench for Photoshop – an Adobe Photoshop benchmark developed by PugetSystems
  • Adobe Media Encoder – an encoding benchmark
  • Corona Bench 1.3 – a rendering benchmark
  • V-ray 4.10.07 – a raytracing benchmark
  • 3DMark Time Spy – a DirectX12 gaming benchmark
  • 3DMark Fire Strike – a DirectX 11 gaming benchmark
  • PCMark10 Extended – a complete system benchmark
  • PCMark10 Digital Content Creation – the content creator sub-score from the Extended test

Other Software

  • Latest LAN Speed Test via LST Server
  • Latest AIDA64 (Stress Test) -or-
  • Prime95 26.6 non-AVX version – Custom 12K (Stress Test)
  • Latest CPU-Z
  • Latest GPU-Z
  • Latest HWnfo 64-bit

Test OS Environment

  • Windows 10 Pro 1909
  • Latest NVIDIA GeForce Game-Ready drivers
  • Latest AMD Chipset/Radeon drivers (when applicable, AMD boards)
  • Latest DirectX end-user runtime

Measuring Equipment:

  • Flir One USB Thermal Camera via Thermal Imaging+ app
  • HP-9800 AC wattmeter with USB interface for app logging
  • Sound level meter

Network Hardware

  • ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 Router

We would like to thank the following for our reviews:

Thanks to UL Benchmarks for providing access to their benchmarks for our reviews.

Understanding Intel CPU Behavior Based on Motherboards

For the past couple of years, Intel has introduced Turbo Boost and Turbo Max and now we have Turbo Boost Velocity. While Intel sets a defined standard on how these values affect CPU performance and how long they stay active, motherboard makers were always given rights to comply with these standards. With quad-core CPUs, this wasn’t much of a concern but with newer 6-cores and more-cores CPUs, this has exponentially added to the power draw of these CPUs.

You see, the way this works is that Intel sets the TDP or Thermal Design Power for CPUs at a certain level, in the case for the 10th-gen 10900K, 125W. With Turbo Boost 2.0 active, that will increase until a workload is finished or the CPU meets certain thresholds. On top of this, there is also Turbo Boost Max and Turbo Velocity Boost. These values are set by Intel for the CPU and will take advantage of lifting performance if certain conditions are met. In most cases, especially for gaming or enthusiast boards, companies assume that gamers will be using more exotic cooling that meets or exceeds the TDP rating of the CPU. This means,  gaming boards from ASUS, AORUS/GIGABYTE, ASRock, MSI, EVGA, and everyone else that markets themselves as a performance board, in assuming the user has good cooling, will set their own values for Turbo.

Now this has a direct effect on benchmark results, temperatures and power draw, of course. With the higher clocks, power drawn from the outlet increases as the TDP rating increases and so does temperatures. This are usually out-of-box settings for specific boards hence their default settings. While advanced overclockers used to tuning these timings and values can configure the boards to meet a satisfactory setting, most casual consumers will just set XMP and go. This means that in exchange power absolute performance, these boards are assuming users can meet the cooling standards that their settings induce.

Here in Back2Gaming, I test motherboard with out-of-box settings, noting in our conclusion if the BIOS is tuned right, etc. In reading these reviews, we highly urge readers to have an understanding of this behavior as they are not directly Intel’s decision to make which may lead to misinformation about the power draw and temperatures of these CPUs. This, in turn, has its upside besides performance as it shows us a good balance of how much confidence a board maker has on its products if and they do implement an unrestrained Boost on motherboards that are relatively lighter on its VRM cooling, VRM design, lower price, etc. but we will be critical if board makers are just doing this to increase review scores

Arithmetic Test

SuperPI 32M (Single-threaded)

wPrime  1.55 1024M (Multi-threaded)

Encoding Test

HWBOT x265 Benchmark

7zip

Rendering Test

CineBench R20

POV-Ray 3.7.1

V-Ray Benchmark 4.10.07

Corona Renderer Benchmark 1.3

Blender 2.87 – BMW 2.7 CPU Benchmark

Content Creation Test

PugetBench for Photoshop

Adobe Media Encoder

Memory Performance

System Performance – PCMark 10

3DMark Benchmarks

Gaming Test – Rainbow Six: Siege

Power and Temperatures

To measure power draw, we hook-up our power meter on another system via USB. Our power meter is capable providing a chart of power the watts currently being consumed by the unit plug into it. We take the average of 15 minutes idle and 15 minutes load to show our power daw. Our load test is SuperPI 12K. A power virus scenario which you will never encounter on regular use. This is a worst-case scenario but is lighter on power than our previous AIDA64 stress test which is an AVX test, which draws more power than normal. The raw data from app is gathered and we get our results.  Temperatures are also captures during this time.

Various configurations will play a factor on how much you are consuming and the same applies to our test. We try to keep our test bench uniform at all times (same memory, graphics card, board if possible, etc). All tests are done with the motherboard or CPU on out-of-box settings as indicated in our Test Setup page with only XMP applied.

When tested on motherboards, this shows how motherboard companies tune their BIOS to affect performance which in turn affects power draw and temperatures.

Overclocking

We’ve already seen our processor do 5.1Ghz easily and the experience is the same here. Overclocking Comet Lake is pretty much standard Set Multiplier > Set Voltage > Stabilize kinda fare and while that doesn’t change in the ProArt Z490 Creator 10G, the idea of overclocking on a professional scenario just doesn’t do right with me. If you’re rendering client projects for hours and you are dealing with deadline-sensitive materials, you want stability and an overclock is simply a gamble in this sense. Still, I should be free to do what I please with my motherboard and ASUS does not hold back. Despite the relatively slimmer VRM cooling, we tested our ProArt Z490 Creator 10G in AIDA64 stress loads versus our Prime95 12K to stress the VRMs.

This is board is capable of overclocking if and should you want to and the power delivery on the board is decent enough to handle reasonable loads but again, as mentioned this board, if used on a professional case, I highly suggest sticking with a moderate overclock or keeping unrestrained Turbo on a more agreeable voltage.

Conclusion

I highly urge readers to read through our review of the Core i9 10900K and Core i7 10700K before reading these motherboard reviews to get an idea on how the processors place themselves and how much value a board holds for this release.

Let’s break it down for the ASUS ProArt Z490 Creator 10G:

Talking about performance, in terms of actual CPU performance, ASUS ships this board with power limits enabled, meaning your 10th-gen Comet Lake CPU will run on their rated TDP. In our case 125W for the Core i9 10900K and as you can see in the charts, this affects the CPU by limiting clock speeds to 4.1/4.0Ghz on all-core loads especially in prolonged CPU-only benchmarks.  This is not ASUS’ limitation and you can freely remove the power limit but that decision is yours to make and while its not dangerous, per se, unless cooling is considered, then your CPU may deteriorate a bit more quickly. That said, in itself, the motherboard does not limit the CPU in any way and ASUS did a fine job going with a default power limit versus junking voltages to bump power out of the box.

Build quality is superb in this board and while we certainly feel that a built-in I/O shield would’ve been a nice little extra, it’s a nitpick I can probably let go once the system is buiilt. The aesthetics on this board are subdued but bold and the lines manages to capture the eye in  a way that’s hard to put in words. The overall look is simple yet not overdone compared to more mainstream boards like ASUS’ Prime line which is struggling if the series style is straight or curves. There is no shroud to deal with in this board making the M.2 heatsinks stand on their own. The aesthethic benefit of a shroud is nice to have but this board is pure and clean just the way I like it.

In terms of extras, much like with the Maximus XII Extreme and our dislike of having the Thunderbolt3 card as an extra instead of being built in, the same goes for the ProArt Z490 Creator 10G. Having Thunderbolt3 connectivity is nice and offers a lot of options in terms of high-speed bulk storage thanks to the numerous direct-attached NAS devices out there. With 40Gbps of bandwidth per line, there’s a lot of options there which is why video professionals go with solutions like this versus  a faster NAS. The option for 10G is there though with the Hyper 10G LAN card, and while ASUS should’ve just built this thing in, it’s a nice extra but not as readily usable as Thunderbolt3. Despite the cost of Thunderbolt3, it’s easier to implement and use whereas 10G LAN requires a new network which is why its not a plug and play solution your home or office has at least CAT6a cables as well as compatible routers already setup which is not a cheap option and obviously will also need 10G devices on the network particularly storage. Still, 10Gbps vs 40Gbps, I’d rather go with a DAS storage array. While the 10G card makes it optional, I do hope ASUS is keen on making a non-10G variant of this package without the 10G card to improve pricing.

We’re not sure how much ASUS prices this board and this review will be updated post-launch after we hear back from them about pricing. We’re estimating around a premium $500 /Php25k mark and while it is premium, the 10G and Thunderbolt do add up cost to this board and Z490 is a pricey affair already. Still, from a professional standpoint, Thunderbolt3 commands it especially if your workflow revolves heavily around larger files.

As it is, the ProArt Z490 Creator 10G works as a functional, foundation for Intel-based creators. Again, barring the argument of AMD is better at creator scenarios, we’ll assume the user has their reason to go for this board. The ASUS ProArt Z490 Creator 10G is a versatile, robust and most importantly stable platform for creators and professionals and we’d love to see more from ASUS.

ASUS backs the ProArt Z490 Creator 10G with a 3-year warranty. We give it our Editor’s Choice Award!

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