Prime Z490-A

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!