Supermicro C9Z490-PGW Motherboard Review: Comet Lake with 32 CPU PCIe Lanesby Gavin Bonshor on December 21, 2020 10:00 AM EST
- Posted in
- Comet Lake
The Supermicro C9Z490-PGW is an ATX motherboard with a premium controller set, with the inclusion of a Broadcom PEX8747 PLX chip. The PLX chip allows for muxing which means the four full-length PCIe 3.0 slots which can operate at x16/x0/x16/x0 or x8/x8/x8/x8, with the 16 lanes from the CPU essentially doubled up (peak bandwidth is still limited to 16x upstream). It also includes a PCIe 3.0 x1 slot, as well as a pair of PCIe 3.0/SATA M.2 slots and four SATA ports with support for RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays. The C9Z490-PGW can officially accommodate DDR4-4000 UDIMM memory, with a maximum capacity of up to 128 GB supported across four memory slots. For cooling, the board includes six 4-pin headers, with two for CPU fans, three for chassis fans, and one dedicated to water pumps.
|Supermicro C9Z490-PGW ATX Motherboard|
|Warranty Period||3 Years|
|Memory Slots (DDR4)||Four DDR4
Supporting 128 GB
Up to DDR4-4000
|Video Outputs||1 x HDMI 2.0a
1 x DisplayPort 1.4
|Network Connectivity||Aquantia AQC107 10 GbE
Intel I129-V GbE
Intel AX200 Wi-Fi 6
|Onboard Audio||Realtek ALC1220|
|PCIe Slots for Graphics (from CPU)||4 x PCIe 3.0 (x16/x0/x16/x0, x8/x8/x8/x8) (PLX)|
|PCIe Slots for Other (from PCH)||1 x PCIe 3.0 x1|
|Onboard SATA||Four, RAID 0/1/5/10 (Z490)|
|Onboard M.2||2 x PCIe 3.0 x4/SATA|
|USB 3.1 (20 Gbps)||1 x USB Type-C (Rear panel)|
|USB 3.1 (10 Gbps)||2 x USB Type-A (Rear panel)
1 x USB Type-C (Header)
|USB 3.0 (5 Gbps)||2 x USB Type-A (Rear panel)
2 x USB Type-A (One header)
|USB 2.0||4 x USB Type-A (Two headers)|
|Power Connectors||1 x 24-pin Motherboard
1 x 8-pin CPU
|Fan Headers||2 x 4-pin CPU
1 x Water Pump
3 x 4-pin Chassis
|IO Panel||2 x Antenna Ports (Intel AX201)
1 x HDMI 2.0a output
1 x DisplayPort 1.4 output
2 x USB 3.2 G2 Type-A
1 x USB 3.2 G2 Type-C
2 x USB 3.2 G1 Type-A
1 x RJ45 (Aquantia)
1 x RJ45 (Intel)
1 x Clear CMOS button
5 x 3.5 mm audio jacks (Realtek)
1 x S/PDIF Optical output (Realtek)
The rear panel for a premium Z490 model is one of the most scarce for USB we have seen, with one USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, two USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, and two USB 3.2 G1 Type-A ports. Users can add another single USB 3.2 G2 Type-C port, two USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, and four USB 2.0 ports through the use of internal headers. It includes two video outputs consisting of a DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0a output, with five 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical output powered by a Realtek ALC1220 HD audio codec. The C9Z490-PGW includes an Intel AX201 Wi-Fi 6 interface, which is the only difference between the slightly cheaper C9Z490-PG model. Wired networking includes a premium Aquantia AQC107 10 GbE controller, as well as an Intel I219-V Gigabit PHY.
As per our testing policy, we take a high-end CPU suitable for the motherboard that was released during the socket’s initial launch and equip the system with a suitable amount of memory running at the processor maximum supported frequency. This is also typically run at JEDEC subtimings where possible. It is noted that some users are not keen on this policy, stating that sometimes the maximum supported frequency is quite low, or faster memory is available at a similar price, or that the JEDEC speeds can be prohibitive for performance. While these comments make sense, ultimately very few users apply memory profiles (either XMP or other) as they require interaction with the BIOS, and most users will fall back on JEDEC supported speeds - this includes home users as well as industry who might want to shave off a cent or two from the cost or stay within the margins set by the manufacturer. Where possible, we will extend out testing to include faster memory modules either at the same time as the review or a later date.
|Processor||Intel Core i7-10700K, 125 W, $374
8 Cores, 16 Threads 3.8 GHz (5.1 GHz Turbo)
|Motherboard||Supermicro C9Z490-PGW (BIOS 1.1)|
|Cooling||ID-Cooling Auraflow X 240mm AIO|
|Power Supply||Corsair HX850 80Plus Platinum 850 W|
|Memory||G.Skill TridentZ DDR4-2933 CL 14-14-14-34 2T (2 x 8 GB)|
|Video Card||MSI GTX 1080 (1178/1279 Boost)|
|Hard Drive||Crucial MX300 1TB|
|Case||Corsair Crystal 680X|
|Operating System||Windows 10 1909 inc. Spectre/Meltdown Patches|
Readers of our motherboard review section will have noted the trend in modern motherboards to implement a form of MultiCore Enhancement / Acceleration / Turbo (read our report here) on their motherboards. This does several things, including better benchmark results at stock settings (not entirely needed if overclocking is an end-user goal) at the expense of heat and temperature. It also gives, in essence, an automatic overclock which may be against what the user wants. Our testing methodology is ‘out-of-the-box’, with the latest public BIOS installed and XMP enabled, and thus subject to the whims of this feature. It is ultimately up to the motherboard manufacturer to take this risk – and manufacturers taking risks in the setup is something they do on every product (think C-state settings, USB priority, DPC Latency / monitoring priority, overriding memory sub-timings at JEDEC). Processor speed change is part of that risk, and ultimately if no overclocking is planned, some motherboards will affect how fast that shiny new processor goes and can be an important factor in the system build.
|Hardware Providers for CPU and Motherboard Reviews|
|Sapphire RX 460 Nitro||MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X OC||Crucial MX200 +
|Corsair AX860i +
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idimitro - Monday, December 21, 2020 - linkI wish Supermicro will do similar board for AM4 as well. Heck they can even use PLX chip with PCIe4 to PCIe3 capabilities. It will be able to provide a ton of PCIe3 lanes and let's face it - in the enthusiast/home server you don't really need all the PCIe4 you can get.
lmcd - Monday, December 21, 2020 - linkThe only PCIe beneficiary is storage and even that is only realistically for peak throughput, which is usually not the bottleneck.
Foeketijn - Tuesday, December 22, 2020 - linkJust any AM4 board. I am used to use Supermicro (often e3 xeon in boards). I sell computers that are expected to last. Not be a performance part perse.
Now I use Asrock rack board for these cases.
Also fine, but I was used to the supermicro ipmi (although the Asrock implementation is better).
Jorgp2 - Tuesday, December 22, 2020 - linkA PCI-E 4 switch would probably cost as much as this board.
phoenix_rizzen - Monday, December 28, 2020 - linkIt would be nice if there was a B550 board that could convert the PCIe 4 lanes from the CPU to double the PCIe 3 lanes available for storage.
Would be nice to have 6x SATA ports and 2x full-speed (x4) M.2 ports available simultaneously. And still have an x16 for the GPU. With all the USB/NIC ports off the chipset.
Everything I've found so far let's you have either 6x SATA or 2x M.2, but not both at once (2x SATA ports use the same lanes as 1x of the M.2 ports).
It's just not as "clean" to have to stick an HBA into the case. And having one M.2 slot be PCIe 4 while the other is PCIe 3 is unbalanced.
Ah well, we can always dream...
dsplover - Monday, December 21, 2020 - linkSupermicro boards last forever. They don’t need to be “current.” My P4SCT+II still comes in handy for certain tasks. I do wish they would consider a Desktop AMD in 2021.
AntonErtl - Tuesday, December 22, 2020 - linkWe have 4 Supermicro boards (same model) that died after a few years (and one (different model) that lasts), which makes Supermicro the most unreliable brand in our arsenal. Maybe that model was the exception that proved the rule, but for me it's the case that disproves your claim.
JimmyZeng - Tuesday, December 22, 2020 - linkI wonder how DirectStorage will work in this scenario, if the data could go directly from SSD to GPU through the switch, without going through the CPU, that would be great.
ruthan - Tuesday, December 22, 2020 - linkDoes this MB has option for primary videcard slot as have Gigabite? It is really handy..
bourbononthebow - Wednesday, December 23, 2020 - linkThis is an idiotic board considering Threadripper and even Ryzen, you know, exist.
The fact that anand would even bother testing it shows just how far nepotism and free stuff goes, though.