i9-10900K

Good Gaming PC – Custom Builds & Asus Z490

With the brand new Asus 400 series of motherboards now happily making their way towards New Zealand, just in time for the Intel 10th Gen release date (which is set as May 21st in this part of the world), it’s the perfect time to start designing some custom gaming rigs for these awesome new options!

While the new Asus Z490 range includes many options, the two favourites are the glorious PRIME Z490-A and ROG STRIX Z490-F, which is perfect for us because they both look so different, with contrasting black VS white colour themes.

Both also have the internal header required for use with Type-C front IO found on the latest chassis – so we can build pretty much anything we want 🙂

Firing up the GGPC custom PC design tool and loading in the new options gives us some really cool looking configs, using the NZXT H510 series of cases chosen for that oh so good Type-C front IO, and they’re also available in black and white to match our motherboards, along with Elite options for those that want more glass, and even CRFT special edition for that unique WoW factor.

Combining these with all the Asus graphics cards options from AMD and Nvidia, along with the latest SSD & RAM options from Crucial, Samsung, G.Skill & Kingston, and more vibrant custom cooling from Cooler Master & NZXT for adding even more colour to the mix we’ve been able to create some wonderful looking builds.

Clicking the custom PC images shown above will take you to our building tool, we’ve kept our options fairly monochrome to start things off so the colour themes really come through nicely.

Have a play around with the parts and see which configuration you like the most, we’ll be doing the same while photographing and adding new components to the builder along the way!

For those new to custom PC gaming builds there’s a lot more to Asus than just really really good looking… I mean… some of it’s is just so utterly gorgeous that I… lost my chain of thought… Asus are real good engineers too! 

For many people out there it has been a while since they’ve done a new build for themselves, considering just how good things like the i7-7700 were a few years back you can completely understand why too! It has been able to keep up with all but the newest graphics cards which is nice, but with the new Intel 10th Gen i7-10700 showing such significant gains in comparison, along with the motherboard enhancements radically increasing the speed of our storage though all-new options, and connectivity like WiFi 6, for many it’s going to be enough motivation to pick up that screwdriver 😛

Which brings us to more reasons why Asus are pretty great for PC builders.

Asus Q-CODE & Q-LED will help to identify problems with a PC even if it can’t boot into windows or box. Four little LEDs light up to indicate power status, and any problem with the CPU, graphics card, RAM or boot drive for a quick diagnosis. Going one step further the Q diagnostic codes provide a reference point for fast and easy codes that describe common installation and component problems, and also when it’s (A)ll(O)k!

ROG Bios Flashback is the simplest (and safest) BIOS update method and it’s soo good that updates can even be done with no CPU or RAM installed – crazy right?! Simply download and pop that BIOS file onto a USB stick, plug it into the special USB BIOS Flashback port and press the button to begin the automatic process. You’ll still need to have the motherboard connected to your power supply of course, but no RAM and no CPU is a massive win, it allows us to make sure a build is running the latest software even before its fully assembled, minimising the issues that arrive a little later on when even newer hardware gets released.

Asus SafeSlot is something you’ll likely not to even notice is there, but back in the day (2008) it was really difficult to ship a pre-built gaming PC with the graphics card fitted because in transit if it took a solid knock the weight of the massive GPU could literally rip the PCIe socket apart with the graphics card still in it! Asus solved this by making sure every part was tightly secured in thermoplastic, an insert moulded SafeSlot prevents part loosening, misalignment, improper terminations, and other structural issues. The thermoplastic resin also provides improved resistance to shock and vibration. 

Those are all sweet features, but the likelihood of something going wrong with an Asus motherboard is slim at best, so let’s turn our gaze to the totally unnecessary features that make us smile, things like RGB and top-quality audio goodness.

AURA is what Asus have named their RGB software suite, but it’s important to note that it’s not only for Asus gear – more than 50 other brands such as Cooler Master, Hyper X, Crucial, G.Skill, Phanteks, AMD, EKWB, Lian Li and more have products that work with the Asus AURA software suite, so you can control and sync your RGB LED light show with just the one software setup. It’s awesome and goes beyond the usual PC parts to offer controls for everything from gaming monitors to mice. Just look out for the AURA badge when you’re choosing your various components and gaming gears and you’ll be all set.

The component we generally try our hardest to match with the motherboard is the graphics card, and Asus graphics cards which also feature Aura are the best ones too, you can even connect more RGB stuff directly to some models now, as if the 2xRGB and 2x ARGB headers weren’t already enough!

Sonic Studio does a bunch of neat things if you’re into sharing your awesome gameplay by live-streaming it with X-Split or OBS, and if you look at this Z490-F specifically it’s packing as Asus exclusive S1220A chip for SupremeFX technology that provides a flat frequency response for a neutral, detailed sound signature, so if you’re using a gaming headset, the front-panel output is driven by two op-amps to preserve audio quality.

Having all this sweet audio tech allows for other things too, but opinions are mixed on features like Sonic Rader III which will allow you to graphically see where sounds (like footsteps) are coming from in-game, and that latest version does a good job of indicating how far that sound is too, so if you’re waiting in a room you can shoot the bad guy through the door BEFORE he opens it – yep, that sounds like cheating to me BUT then you realise the other benefits that it brings, allowing you to game without the sound turned on, in the living room for example with others being loud, or maybe just so you can enjoy a good audiobook while you play. With sonic radar on because you’ll still have those audio ques, even if you can’t hear what’s going on.

Combine all this with world record-smashing overclocks and an ecosystem of products that cover everything on our desks it’s easy to see why Asus is a global leader in technology – and with the Z490-A + Z490-F it’s just about to get a whole lot better!

GAME ON!

AORUS Z490 Motherboards and Intel 10th Gen!

UPDATE: Shop the latest Z490 Motherboards at PB Tech NZ!

Those top techs at Gigabyte have just released details for the new Z490 series of motherboards which are made to be used with the highest-end intel 10th Gen CPU options, such as the i9-10900KF, which is pretty darn fast!

What’s so important about the Z490? Well, because the 10th generation of Intel Core processors features new microarchitecture, they require a new socket type named LGA 1200, which is on the Z490 series, which means that older motherboards will not be compatible, even with BIOS updates. It’s very similar to what just happened with AMD’s latest ThreadRipper CPU series too, when that socket changed from TR4 to the new TRX40.

So if you’re wanting to build with the fastest parts, such as a new 10th gen i9 K series CPU, you’ll need to combine this with a Z490 motherboard.

Looking at the i9-10900K specifically we get an unlocked CPU with 10 cores and 20 threads. BUT! The increase in core count and stock frequencies will likely lead to higher power consumption, since in order to accomplish the goal of hitting 5.3GHz across all cores, a TDP above the standard 120w might be needed…

And that’s where AORUS Z490 motherboards come in to play.

Getting technical, Gigabyte have a 16-phase direct power design with highly durable DrMOS power stages to deliver 1440 Amps. Solid power pin connectors on the motherboards ensure that the power delivery is stable while reducing excess heat during overclocking to prevent throttling. The addition of Tantalum Polymer capacitors improves the transient response of the VRM between high and low loads, increasing the stability of the processor so that users won’t have to worry about overlocking failures caused by unstable power. Featuring a new and improved Fins-Array II heatsink design so each phase can hold up to 90 amps, the Z490 AORUS lineup is geared with the best power and thermal management to optimize overclocking performance on the 10-core K series processors.

There are a lot of models in the new Z490 lineup to choose from too, with options featuring expansive inputs, headers and slots as expected so we can pair them with the latest cases, but also nice new design tweaks are becoming standard, such as that integrated I/O shield we love. It’s all looking pretty darn good from Aorus and their Z490 series!

Now you might be thinking to yourself that the Aorus Z490 we’ve detailed above sounds a bit… extreme… and it definitely is 🙂 It’s one of the most high-end motherboards ever made! If you’re feeling not quite so extreme, and still want a great motherboard, you’ll be happy to know that one of the best things about Aorus is that they make motherboard options to suit all budgets and even the best value options, such as the awesome Aorus Z490 Elite AC are still feature-packed and ready to overclock!

Awesome fun times ahead for builders around the world, with a bunch of new Z490 motherboards from Gigabyte incoming to New Zealand, and then more just afterwards with the new H470, B460, and H410 chipsets too.

We’ll show you all the latest builds as soon we’re allowed too, so be sure to keep your eyes on the GGPC blog for the latest!