5 Best Z490 Motherboards for the Intel Core i5-10600K

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best motherboards for i5-10600k
best motherboards for i5-10600k

With Intel’s recent launch of their 10th Gen Comet Lake CPUs comes a compelling mid-range offering: The Core i5-10600K. With an MSRP of ~$300, the 10600K is an excellent option for gaming, makes a perfect pairing for either the Radeon 5700XT or RTX 2070 Super, and (when overclocked) performs respectably in workstation tasks against even the Ryzen 7 3700X. If you’ve decided that the Core i5 is right for you, then you’re also going to need a new motherboard, thanks to the introduction of the Z490 chipset (and LGA 1200 socket). Those of you upgrading don’t need to worry if you’re coming from an LGA 115X platform as you won’t need to purchase a new CPU cooler! Today we’re going to be looking at a few of the best motherboard selections to consider along with your shiny new 10600K. In this roundup, we are providing our recommendations for entry-level, all-purpose, high performance overclocking, mATX, and mini-ITX systems.


Best Motherboards for 10600K – Our Recommendations

AwardMotherboardDesignVRM
Best Entry-Level Z490 for i5-10600KAsus TUF Gaming Z490-PlusASUS TUF Gaming Z490-Plus14 Phase (12+2)
Best Overall Z490 for i5-10600KMSI MPG Z490 Gaming CarbonMSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon14 Phase (12+1+1)
Best High-Performance Z490 for i5-10600KAsus Maximus XII ApexASUS Z490 ROG MAXIMUS XII APEX16 Phase (8+8)
Best mATX Z490 for i5-10600KMSI MPG Z490 Gaming Edge (Wi-Fi)MSI-X570-MPG-Gaming-Edge-WiFi14 Phase (12+1+1)
Best mini-ITX Z490 for i5-10600KAsus ROG STRIX Z490-I GamingASUS ROG STRIX Z490-I GAMING10 Phase (8+2)

Best Entry-Level Motherboard for i5-10600K (<$200)

ASUS TUF Gaming Z490-Plus

The ASUS TUF Gaming Z490-Plus; this is a “no-frills,” pick with a very reasonable price tag around $180. Maybe you’ve stretched your budget to include the 10600K and an upper-midrange GPU, but don’t want to sacrifice features or performance with your motherboard. Well, here you’re getting: a competent 12+2 power delivery, Realtek ALC S1200A Audio CODEC, 2x M.2 slots, USB-C, and Thunderbolt support! The main reason to go with the ASUS here, though, is arguably the cleanest, most intuitive, and friendliest UEFI BIOS interface (and the best proprietary motherboard software with AI Suite III) in the business. It is well-organized, responsive, helpful, and is generally the most accessible BIOS with which to work. Overall, this is a fantastic option to start experimenting with overclocking where, with some manual tweaking, the 10600K is capable of 5.0GHz!

Additional note: if you require built-in wireless support, you can opt for the Asus TUF GAMING Z490-PLUS (WI-FI) for an additional $20.


Best Overall Motherboard for i5-10600K

MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon

The MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon. Coming in at $270, this is about all you’ll ever really need for the 10600K for general purpose and gaming applications. If you’re looking for a proper one-click overclock experience to jump right into your favorite titles? This board provides more than enough performance overhead to still get the most out of your 10600K while saving just that little bit of extra money. Featured here is a 12+1+1 power delivery, Realtek 2.5G LAN and ALC1220 Audio CODEC, 2x M.2 slots, USB-C, built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi 6 support courtesy of the Intel AX201, integrated I/O shield, and carbon fiber which is always slick. This motherboard also leaves you an upgrade path for Rocket Lake when that inevitably launches where you can comfortably run the 11th Gen Core i9, with plenty of features and performance to support it.


Best High-Performance Motherboard for i5-10600K

ASUS Z490 ROG MAXIMUS XII APEX

The Asus Maximus XII Apex. As recommended in our motherboard roundup for the i7-10700K, this is a tough option to beat. The Apex is a motherboard by overclockers, for overclockers. If you’re interested in extreme overclocking whatsoever, this is arguably the best ATX board you can buy. Onboard overclocking features include: a teamed 16 stage power delivery, boot status LED indicators, a clear CMOS button, a toggle to enable LN2 features in the BIOS, condensation detection circuitry, a CPU ratio reduction switch, a pause switch for tweaks mid-benchmark, reset button, safe boot button, integrated voltage measurement points, a switch to force all connected fans to their max RPM, and a BIOS switch. These are all incredibly convenient and invaluable tools for extreme overclockers and those looking to start learning. The Apex allows you to push your 10600K truly to the limit, but, more importantly, guarantees supreme performance for the next generation of Intel CPUs should you decide to upgrade once they launch. While memory is restrictive with only 2x DIMM slots and a maximum of 64GB, that is more than enough for gaming, overclocking, and hobbyist workstation tasks in applications like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere, Blender, and so forth.

In place of more robust memory support is a DIMM.2 slot and included riser, in addition to 3 regular M.2 slots. Complimenting the 4x M.2 nVME storage support is a rather ingenious diagonal 6Gb/s SATA layout that gives the motherboard a distinctive notch. Finally, rounding out the lengthy feature set of this board, we have Intel 2.5G LAN, Bluetooth + Wi-Fi 6 support, SupremeFX S1220A Audio CODEC, an integrated I/O shield, and some tasteful RGB.

The Apex could be considered a bit overkill for the 10600K, but only if you don’t plan on trying to push some demanding all-core overclocks, of which the Core i5 is still undoubtedly capable.


Best mATX Motherboard for i5-10600K

MSI MPG Z490M Gaming Edge Wi-Fi

The spot for best micro-ATX Z490 is admittedly a tossup between the ASUS STRIX Z490-G Gaming (Wi-Fi) and the MSI MPG Z490M Gaming Edge (Wi-Fi). They trade blows on nearly every available feature, so our recommendation ultimately comes down to cost, and the edge goes to the MSI MPG Z490M Gaming Edge (Wi-Fi). You should expect to pay around $205, roughly $35 less than the STRIX Z490G. MSI makes a great showing here as well with such a reasonable price tag and unreasonably competitive feature set. Included in this package are MSI’s 12+1+1 power delivery, 2x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, 2x M.2 slots, USB-C, Realtek 2.5G LAN + ALC1220 Audio CODEC, Intel AX201 Bluetooth + wireless with support for Wi-Fi 6, and an integrated I/O Shield.

If you’re interested in building a pure gaming rig, this board is a killer option to pair with the 10600K. Be careful, however, if you’ve never built anything smaller than a full-sized ATX system in a mid-tower case this may leave you itching to go even smaller…


Best Mini-ITX Motherboard for i5-10600K

ASUS ROG STRIX Z490-I GAMING

Speaking of which, we find ourselves with another title bout; the ASUS ROG STRIX Z490-I Gaming and the MSI MEG Z490I Unify. Again, we have two great products in a competition that is ultimately decided by cost. Our final victor is the ASUS ROG STRIX Z490-I Gaming. It does lose the battle of the VRMs with a slightly less beefy 8+2 phase compared to the Unify’s 8+1+1+2, but it costs significantly less at around $300 ($100 less than the Unify). Especially with the proper component selection, this motherboard is just as capable of pushing even the Core i9-10900k in high-end SFF systems as the Unify. The STRIX is an excellent platform for your next SFF build that offers 2x M.2 slots, up to 64GB of memory, Intel 2.5G LAN, built-in Bluetooth + wireless with Wi-Fi 6 support, SupremeFX S1220A Audio CODEC, USB-C, and an excellent internal layout.

If you’ve had your eye on a premium SFF enclosure? The STRIX will be right at home.


Summary

The Core i5-10600K is the most enticing product Intel has released for some time, complimented by equally excellent platforms from all of the leading manufacturers. You can squeeze a great deal of performance out of this thing to begin reasonably competing with mid-range Zen 2 processors like the Ryzen 7 3700X in workstation tasks while demolishing game performance up to 16:9 1440p @ 144Hz+.

Best Entry-Level: ASUS TUF Gaming Z490-Plus – Pick this up if you’re looking to build your first gaming rig and don’t want to break the bank.

Best Overall: MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon – Choose this if you want to get the most out of your 10600K, but also want to be able to upgrade to a higher-end Rocket Lake CPU once they release.

Best High Performance: Asus Maximus XII Apex – Arguably the king of extreme overclocking, where even the mid-range 10600K is very capable. Keep in mind that this is a much better option for those interested in extreme overclocking, or for those who plan to refrain from Intel’s high-end SKUs until Rocket Lake releases.

Best mATX: MSI MPG Z490M Gaming Edge (Wi-Fi) – Excellent price-to-performance compared to the STRIX Z490-G, with nearly identical features. Great for overclocking, viable support for Rocket Lake, and good looking to boot! However, if you’re not concerned about cost, then you can pick up the ASUS STRIX Z490-G Gaming (Wi-Fi) instead.

Best mini-ITX: ASUS ROG STRIX Z490-I Gaming – Another instance of a price-to-performance win. In comparison to the MEG Z490I Unify, the STRIX Z490-I Gaming is significantly cheaper, with only slightly less beefy power delivery. Again, if the cost does not concern you, then go ahead and snag the MSI MEG Z490I Unify.

Have you already finished a build with the 10600K? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

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