ROG Strix Z790-A Gaming WiFi II: Not only the most efficient

Asus ROG Strix Z790-A Gaming WiFi II v detailoch

Relative to computing (or gaming) performance, it has the lowest power consumption at factory settings. And the ROG Strix Z790-A Gaming WiFi II also sits among the more modern motherboards available for the Intel LGA 1700 platform. It’s already from the “second wave”, where network connectivity has been upgraded (to WiFi 7) and for example the support for DIMM Flex, useful for memory with extremely high bandwidth, is also new.

The Asus ROG Strix Z790-A Gaming WiFi II motherboard is one of the models with Z790 chipsets that came out later, primarily for the 14th generation Intel Core processors (Raptor Lake Refresh). The motherboards with new chipsets are not for those, but they used the “old” ones (Z790, already available with 13th-generation Intel Core processors), to which new technologies were added. Naturally ones that don’t require any changes at the chipset level and are somehow brought out externally. As, for example, the wireless module with WiFi 7. It is already present on the MSI MAG Z790 Tomahawk Max WiFi and Gigabyte Z790 Aorus Pro X motherboards we tested earlier.

But the Asus ROG Strix Z790-A Gaming WiFi II is a different board, which has its own specifics that differentiate it from the two competing models mentioned above.


Asus ROG Strix Z790-A Gaming WiFi II

When looking for this motherboard, make sure to look for the Roman numeral “II” at the end of the designation (ROG Strix Z790-A Gaming WiFi II). In fact, there’s an older variant without it (the ROG Strix Z790-A Gaming WiFi) which doesn’t have WiFi 7, for example, and it lacks some of the other things that the ROG Strix Z790-A Gaming WiFi II has going for it.

The ROG Strix Z790-A Gaming WiFi II is an ATX-format motherboard (305×244 mm) where, in addition to the first PCIe 5.0×16 slot (from the CPU), there are two more connected to the south bridge of the chipset, the PCIe 3.0×1 slot for simple expansion cards, and then down below there’s one more PCI Express 4.0 slot physically in the ×16 format, but with contacts for only four lanes.

   

A Q-release button is connected to the first PCI Express ×16 slot, usually for installing a graphics card. This enables the latch to be released from the edge of the motherboard, making removal considerably easier. Especially if you have a large tower cooler. In that case, the slot, or its latch, is very difficult to get to, and such a “remote” access can make things easier.

Compared to the ROG Strix Z790-A Gaming WiFi, there’s one less PCIe slot, but that’s to allow for the addition of one M.2 slot for an SSD. There are up to five in total, all of which support PCI Express 4.0. The last, fifth slot (M.2_5) on the bottom right is also ready for an M.2 SSD with SATA support. However, there is no PCI Express 5.0 support for the M.2 slot, which is disappointing at this price range. With the Gigabyte Z790 Aorus Pro X at a similar or even lower price, it’s there. Asus decided otherwise, apparently also taking into account that most gamers will avoid the M.2 (gen. 5) slot connected to the CPU for the reason of not reducing the number lanes of the graphics card in half, thus eventually dropping its performance.

You can also fit an SSD with an above-standard length of 110 mm into the two slots. At the same time, a cooler is available above each slot at all times before you use any SSD anywhere. These are also eye-catching on this motherboard with their contrast against the dark PCB. The total weight of the SSD coolers is over 200 grams (58+74+79), though they don’t exactly extract the most out of the material. You won’t find any fins on them, they’re just straight profiles, albeit with a large surface area.

You’ll only find fins and tunnels on the VRM coolers, which cool 19 phases (16 of which are Vcore). There is a theoretical load capacity of up to 70A per phase. In practice, of course, it has to be considerably less to keep the board cool at all, and apart from that to achieve optimum power efficiency. Still, the Strix Z790-A Gaming WiFi can accomodate and run at maximum performance even the most powerful processor designed for the LGA 1700 platform – the Intel Core i9-14900KS. Even after overclocking via MCE (Multi Core Enhancement), the bottleneck for it will be its cooler rather than the board itself.

   

The audio adapter is based on the Realtek ALC4080 chip with SupremeFX superstructure. In addition, there is the more powerful Savitech amplifier, but also, for example, a shielding/metal cover filtering electromagnetic noise from other parts of the motherboard. The result is, of course, supposed to be the clearest possible sound in your headphones or speakers.

The backside of the motherboard is plain (no connectors and no backplate), but it is decorated with a large white ROG logo. However, it won’t be visible even in cases with both side panels made of glass. This is because it’s located at the bottom of the PCB, which is covered by the tray inside the case.

Among the external ports, on the I/O panel, there are up to twelve USB ports, two of which are Type-C (and the rest Type-A). However, four of these are 2.0 standard only. These are slow for data transfer, but in turn are suitable for connecting peripherals that don’t require a faster interface. For example, a mouse, keyboard, audio headset or, say, a multifunction device. One of the USB(-C) ports supports the 20-gigabit 3.2 gen. 2 standard and is thus also suitable for super-fast external SSDs.

The audio connector selection is poorer than you might be used to. Next to the optical S/PDIF output, there are only two 3.5-millimeter jacks (Line Out and Mix In). Like Gigabyte, for example, Asus is betting that most users won’t be connecting multi-channel analogue systems to their PC.

With the WiFi connectors (7), the way in which the external antennas are connected is noteworthy. Instead of threading (and screwing), there is a faster push-pin based mounting mechanism. Only practice and the number of cycles of insertion and removal before it starts to fall apart will tell how durable it is. However, such extremely intense stresses do not normally (and perhaps ever?) occur.

ARGB LED lighting is only next to the VRM heatsink – on the I/O port cover, where you can highlight the ROG logo in various ways. This is done via the Armoury Crate application, in which synchronization with peripherals connected to the internal (A)RGB headers is also possible, as is tradition.

Please note: The article continues with further chapters.


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