Best Mini-ITX Z490 Motherboards for Gaming and Overclocking

Intel is trying to fight back by the release of the 10th Gen launch, offering powerful gaming desktop CPUs including their new top-line chipset motherboards. The brand-new chipset motherboards, Z490 motherboards, appear more robust VRM implementation compared to the previous chipset board, as the power delivery becomes one of the most critical parts of the Intel Core 10 Gen. Also designed to support the PCIe gen 4.0, however, the 10 gen processor still not support PCIe gen 4.0 yet.

The not so good news for small form factor builders is that there are only minimal options to get the mITX Z490 or even micro ATX motherboard right now. But fortunately, every mITX comes with excellent strong power delivery, including some of the latest features that are perfect for gaming or just HTPC. Every Z490 mini ITX VRM is capable of handling the I9-10900K; don’t push it too hard due to the mini-ITX airflow issue.

If you need some quick review, let’s start with some technical data comparison table

Mini-ITX Z490 Motherboards Comparison Table

Motherboards Amazon Link Chipset Form Factor PCIe Ports Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps) Button SATA M.2 USB 3.2 Gen2 (10Gbps) USB 3.2 Gen1 USB 2.0 Memory Slots Onboard Graphics Audio Audio Feature Power Phases Bios Networking Wireless RGB LED strip header Fan Header (include CPU) Debug LED Thermal header Chassis Intrusion SPDIF/Optical
MSI MEG Z490I Unify Intel Z490 M-ITX: 6.7 in. x 6.7 in. 1x PCIe 3.0 x16 1 rear Clear CMOS 4 2 2 (Type-A + Type C on Rear panel) 4 Type-A (2 Header, 2 Rear) 2 Rear + 2 Header 2x DDR4 (Max 64GB) 5000+(OC) Mhz DisplayPort 1.4 4Kx2k @60Hz or TB3, HDMI 4Kx2K @30Hz, Realtek ALC1220 Codec Audio Boost with Nahimic (8+1+1) 90A - Realtek RTL8125B 2.5Gbps Intel AX201 + BT 5.1 - 2x 3-pin RAINB0W 3 Ez Debug - 1 1
ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB3 Intel Z490 M-ITX: 6.7 in. x 6.7 in. 1x PCIe 3.0 x16 1 rear Clear CMOS 4 2 3 Type-A on Rear panel 4 Type-A (2 Header, 2 Rear) 1 Header (support 2x) 2x DDR4 (Max 64GB) 4666+(OC) Mhz DisplayPort 1.4 4Kx2K @60Hz, HDMI 2.0 4Kx2K @60Hz, and Thunderbolt 3 4Kx2K @60Hz Realtek ALC1220 Codec Nahimic (6+2+1) 90A - Realtek RTL8125B 2.5Gbps Intel AX201 + BT 5.1 Polychrome SYNC 1x RGB LED, 1x Addressable 3 - - 1 1
Gigabyte Z490I Aorus Ultra Intel Z490 M-ITX: 6.7 in. x 6.7 in. 1x PCIe 3.0 x16 - - 4 2 2 (Type-A + Type C on Rear panel) 6 Type-A (2 Header, 4 Rear) + 1 Type C Header 6 (4 Header,2 Rear) 2x DDR4 (Max 64GB) 5000+(OC) Mhz DisplayPort 1.4 4Kx2K @60Hz, HDMI 2.0 4Kx2K @60Hz Realtek ALC1220-VB Codec DTS :X Ultra (8+1+1) 90A Q-Flash Plus Intel 2.5GbE Intel AX201 + BT 5.1 RGB FUSION 2.0 1x RGB LED, 1x Addressable 4 - - 1 -
ASUS ROG STRIX Z490-I Gaming Intel Z490 M-ITX: 6.7 in. x 6.7 in. 1x PCIe 3.0 x16 - - 4 2 4 ( 3 Type-A + 1 Type C on Rear panel), 1 Header 3 Type-A (1 Header, 2 Rear) 4 (2 Header,2 Rear) 2x DDR4 (Max 64GB) 4800+(OC) Mhz DisplayPort 1.4 4Kx2k @60Hz, HDMI 4Kx2K @60Hz ROG SupremeFX Realtek S1220A Codec SONIC STUDIO III (4+2 teamed model) 60A BIOS FlashBack button Intel 2.5GbE Intel AX201 + BT 5.1 Aura Sync 1x RGB LED, 1x Addressable 3 ASUS Q-LED 1 1 -
ASRock Z490m-itx/ac Intel Z490 M-ITX: 6.7 in. x 6.7 in. 1x PCIe 3.0 x16 - - 4 2 4 Type-A on Rear panel 2 (Type-A + Type C on Rear panel) + 1 Header support 2 USB 4 (2 Header,2 Rear) 2x DDR4 (Max 64GB) 4400+(OC) Mhz DisplayPort 1.4 4Kx2k @60Hz, HDMI 4Kx2K @30Hz. Realtek ALC1200 Codec Nahimic (5+2) 50A - Realtek RTL8125B 2.5Gbps Intel 802.11ac + BT 4.2 1x RGB LED, 1x Addressable 3 - - - -

So here are 5 Best Z490 Mini-ITX Motherboards 2020

1. MSI MEG Z490I Unify – Editor’s Choice For The Best Z490 Mini-ITX Motherboards

Release in 2020, Mini-ITX form factor, Supports 10th Generation Intel Core, Socket LGA1200

Potent & Feature-rich M-ITX board.

PROS.

  • Superior power delivery.
  • Great layout.
  • Aesthetic.
  • 4 SATA slots and dual M.2.
  • Realtek 2.5GbE LAN + Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201.
  • Feature-rich M-ITX board.
  • Thunderbolt 3.
  • USB Type-C 10Gbps header.
  • Excellent audio solution.
  • 0ptical S/PDIF 0ut.
  • EZ Debug LED.
  • Clear CM0S Button on the rear I/O.

CONS.

  • No integrated RGB
  • A total of 6 USB ports including TB3 on the rear panel might not suffice to someone.

MSI MEG Z490I Unify is an excellent pack of features on a tiny board. Build on ten layers of PCB with the 8 phase power 90A power stage, expects premium power delivery to easily handle the overclocking 5GHz or more i9-10900K, and solid memory overclocking potential. Overall VRM design has been lifted could be to meet the next-generation chips demand.

The MSI MEG Z490I is a robust board look with all black aesthetics but just without any of RGB bling. This includes an extended heatsink, silent active VRM cooling, heat pipe, great layout, and an integrated rear I/O shield.

For the audio solution, MSI put the Realtek ALC1220 Audio Codec enhanced by Nahimic software, set the surround audio, and best gaming experience in just an SFF rig. There should be no complaint on this part; MSI is just great to care more about the sound experience on the Mini-ITX board.

There are 4 SATA, and dual M.2 is just a common, alongside Intel AX201 for wireless module support of up to 2.4Gb and Bluetooth 5.1 plus the Realtek RTL8125B 2.5Gbps LAN controller handles the wired internet connection.

Three onboard graphics output:

  • Supports HDMI 2.0 with maximum resolution 4096×2160 @30Hz.
  • Supports DisplayPort 1.4 with maximum resolution 4096×2304 @60Hz.
  • Supports Thunderbolt 3 with maximum resolution 3840×2160 @60Hz.

Overall, MSI MEG Z490I Unify is a unique and full package Z490 Mini ITX mobo to accompany the Intel 10 gen processor. It’s an aesthetic mini-board apart lack of RGB implementation, great layout design, silent active cooling fan, high-grade VRM, Thunderbolt 3 on the rear panel, USB Type-C 10Gbps headers, optical S/PDIF out and that makes it one of the most reasonable mITX Z490 boards to pick. Although it reasonably expensive than the competitors still definitely recommend this one, the best mini-ITX Z490 motherboards for gaming or even overclocking.


2. ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB3

Release in 2020, Mini-ITX form factor, Supports 10th Generation Intel Core, Socket LGA1200

Also a Powerful & Feature-rich M-ITX board but with possible drawbacks.

PROS.

  • Excellent power delivery.
  • Aesthetic with subtle RGB.
  • 4 SATA slots and dual M.2.
  • Realtek 2.5GbE LAN + Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201.
  • Thunderbolt 3.
  • Great audio solution.
  • 0ptical S/PDIF 0ut.
  • Clear CM0S Button on the rear I/O.

CONS.

  • A total of 6 USB ports including TB3 on the rear panel might not suffice to someone.
  • No USB Type-C header.
  • A riser above to the PCI x16 slot might cause compatibility issue.

The next option is ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB3, which used to be my favorite Mini-iTX choice but somehow the new ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB3 Motherboard only come to the alternative choice. Still, this is one of the best Mini ITX premium 8 phase VRM boards with a lot of premium features as all of Mini-ITX Z490 very competitive, but I wonder why ASRock dropped the USB Type-C for the front panel.

ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB3 with a stylish design looks black and grey coloration with bland RGB implementation, and massive VRM cooling. Expansion card over the PCIe slot, it might become an issue if you are purposing on a super small case and compatibility issue with third party cooling, but it can be detached, you miss the one M2, 2x SATA slot, and 2x USB.

Audio solution by Realtek ALC1220 Audio Codec with Nahimic Audio is just impressive. There are Thunderbolt 3 and 3x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A on the Rear panel; actually, it’s an exceptional setup for a mini-ITX mobo, but lack of USB Type-C for the front panel could be the dealbreaker for someone.

And the new networking support with Intel 802.11ax WiFi Module that also supports Bluetooth 5.1. Completed with 4 SATA ports and dual M.2 slots. Other additional features that might useful for you are S/PDIF output and Clear CMOS Button.

Supports Triple Monitor :

  • Supports Intel Thunderbolt 3 with maximum resolution 4096×2304 @60Hz
  • Supports HDMI 2.0 with maximum resolution 4096×2160 @60Hz
  • Supports DisplayPort 1.4 with maximum resolution 4096×2304 @60Hz

Other than lack of USB Type-C header and weird riser card, this board VRM still offers the great Mini-ITX Z490 motherboards in overall. This powerful mini ITX also comes with a superb cooling system and audible active chipset cooling, should be no problem for hitting over 5 GHz Intel I9-10900K.


3. Gigabyte Z490I Aorus Ultra 

Release in 2020, Mini-ITX form factor, Supports 10th Generation Intel Core, Socket LGA1200

Alternative best choice Z490 Mini-ITX without Thunderbolt 3 Support.

PROS.

  • Also great power delivery.
  • Great layout.
  • Aesthetic with charming RGB.
  • 4 SATA slots and dual M.2.
  • Intel 2.5GbE LAN + Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201.
  • A total of 8 USB on the Rear I/O.
  • Impressive audio.
  • Additional fan header.

CONS.

  • .No Thunderbolt 3.

The Gigabyte Z490I Aorus Ultra is also a powerful mini-board, applying 8 phase 90 of power stages with Tantalum Polymer Capacitors is just something exceptional for mini-ITX implementation. This 10-layer PCB board should no problem dealing heat on overclocking the Intel i9-10900K 5Ghz.

This Mini AORUS board looks much more premium than the previous one, proper RGB implementation, and an attractive heatsink with heat pipes. Gigabytes add more fan headers on this board, which could be advantages for better air flows.

Plethora USB slots on the rear I/O, including a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C and Type-A, 5x USB 3.2 Gen 1 port (one Type-C), and 2 more from USB 2.0. Still getting the front panel support USB Type-C 5Gbps, but you should forget the Thunderbolt 3 40Gbps support if you take this board.

As an integrated audio implementation crucial for mini ITX because of a lack of expansion room, Gigabyte grants an excellent sound quality for mini-board thanks to the Realtek ALC1220-VB Codec with the bits of help of DTS:X Ultra is undoubtedly impressive. The latest networking tech Intel 2.5GbE LAN and Intel AX201 wireless module will serve onboard.

Support dual monitor output:

  • Supports HDMI 2.0 with maximum resolution 4096×2160 @60Hz
  • Supports DisplayPort 1.4 with maximum resolution 4096×2304 @60Hz

Gigabyte also offers well-rounded Mini ITX for Z490 chipset, fantastic build quality, aesthetic, great feature-set, and performance, totally recommend this board since it at a relatively cheaper price tag for but if you after the for thunderbolt 3 feature just don’t pick this board. 


4. ASUS ROG STRIX Z490-I Gaming

Release in 2020, Mini-ITX form factor, Supports 10th Generation Intel Core, Socket LGA1200

More premium looks and an abundance of USB connectivity.

PROS.

  • The best VRM implementation.
  • Great layout.
  • Could be the best gaming look.
  • 4 SATA slots and dual M.2.
  • Intel 2.5GbE LAN + Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201.
  • A total of 8 USB on the Rear I/O.
  • 5 USB headers.
  • Most intense audio implementation.
  • BIOS FlashBack Button.

CONS.

  • Slightly more expensive.
  • No Thunderbolt 3.
  • Without USB Type-C header is really a disappointment.

Again a powerful mini-ITX Z490, the ASUS ROG STRIX Z490-I Gaming comes with plenty of power delivery for overclocking the Intel i9-10900K chip, 4+2 phase teamed VRM configuration 60A is fantastic.

The Asus ROG Strix Z490-I Gaming’s presence ROG gaming brand in black and grey theme with cybertext markings, much more robust with gaming feel including extended heatsinks cover, RGB, and integrated I/O. ASUS could be slightly better in this section, but I just matter of preference.

ROG series continues using high-end audio solutions SUPREME FX 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC S1220A, Dual OP amplifiers, and Sonic Studio III software, which typically offer one of the best results.

An abundance of 8 USB ports in the rear panel, 4x USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports (3 Type-A + 1 USB Type-C), 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports Type-A, and 2 USB 2.0. Moreover, a total of 5 USB headers is plenty; it just missing the Type-C header. A standard 4 SATA and 2x M.2 slots are also packed with the latest Intel AX201 and Intel I225-V 2.5Gb Ethernet.

Support dual monitors output:

  • Supports HDMI 2.0 with maximum resolution 4096×2160 @60Hz.
  • Supports DisplayPort 1.4 with maximum resolution 4096×2304 @60Hz.

Overall, this is a compelling Mini-ITX Z490 in terms of performance and presentation, you can’t go wrong choosing this motherboard but just without Thunderbolt 3 and leaving the USB Type-C for the front panel could be a serious consideration.


5. ASRock Z490M-ITX/AC – Editors’s Choice For The Best Budget Z490 Mini-ITX Motherboards

Release in 2020, Mini-ITX form factor, Supports 10th Generation Intel Core, Socket LGA1200

Affordable but not a weak mini motherboard.

PROS.

  • The cheapest solution.
  • Enough power for mid-class processor.
  • Safe layout.
  • 4 SATA slots and dual M.2.
  • Realtek 2.5GbE LAN.
  • Plenty USB rear panel.

CONS.

  • No Thunderbolt 3.
  • Older WiFi implementation.
  • Lower audio quality.
  • Missing the USB Type-C 10 Gpbs.
  • USB Type-C header.

If you’re preparing for the low to the middle-class processor, just like Intel Core I7-10700 or I5-10600K, ASRock Z490M ITX/AC works just fine. This cheapest Z490 Mini-ITX motherboard still comes with a good feature-set, but if you want extra features and need to overclock, obviously, this board is not for you.

Dropping the latest WiFi 6 technology, but ASRock gives the Realtek 2.5GbE LAN for the wired solution, which is pleasing for an affordable solution. 4x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A on the Rear panel is plenty, but no USB Type-C 10 Gpbs and no USB Type-C header. And the audio solution by Realtek ALC1200 Audio Codec with Nahimic Audio is slightly lower quality compared to the more expensive motherboard one.

Support dual monitors output:

  • Supports HDMI 2.0 with maximum resolution 4096×2160 @30Hz.
  • Supports DisplayPort 1.4 with maximum resolution 4096×2304 @60Hz.

Actually, depending on what you really need, it still can be an outstanding setup for an HTPC or just daily gaming rig, but the cut of USB Type-C 10Gbps and header could be the dealbreaker. But if you need a low-mid class mini ITX motherboard that works fine out of the box, then ASRock Z490M-ITX/AC should be on your list.

Conclusion for the Best Mini-ITX (mITX) Z490 Motherboard

The MSI MEG Z490I Unify is the best Mini-ITX Z490 motherboard in overall right now, a completed package mini motherboard for gaming and overclocking if 6 USB ports on the rear panel are not a big deal then Unify perfect for you. In the second place is Gigabyte Z490I Aorus Ultra, a well-rounded board with additional fan header, and the layout compatibility with the third-party accessories is good, but avoid this board if you want to try the Thunderbolt 3 and S/PDIF output.

ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB3 is an exceptional board, tons of modern features packed just in the tiny board including Thunderbolt 3 port on the rear I/O but somehow the missing of USB Type-C header and also compatibility issue regarding a riser above to the PCI x16 might change your mind. If you are looking for premium gaming feels then still ASUS ROG STRIX Z490-I Gaming the best choice but leaving Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type-C for the front panel is big disadvantages form a pricey mini-ITX.

The cheapest mITX but not the worst Z490 motherboard in general, ASRock Z490M-ITX/AC a very reasonable budget option. Cutting some latest features but again depend on what you need, this little board should a solid for best budget Mini ITX z490 motherboard out of the box option.

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