MSI MPG Z490 Carbon EK X: A new liquid cooling motherboard for Intel LGA1200

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In partnership with the premium liquid cooling system company EK, MSI has launched a new liquid cooling motherboard (MPG Z490 Carbon EK X) for the Intel Z490 chipset supporting LGA1200 socket. Just like the latest ASRock Z490 Aqua and Gigabyte Z490 AORUS Xtreme, the salient feature of this motherboard is the beautiful monoblock that contributes to robust thermal performance. The sturdy power system allows the new MPG Z490 Carbon EK X to smoothly drive the powerful 10th gen Intel Core-i9 processors even under heavy workloads.

MSI MPG Z490 Carbon EK X | Overview

Supporting 4 DIMM slots, this motherboard allows up to 128GB DDR4 memory running at 4800+ MHz (O.C.). For storage, it equips two M.2 and six SATA III 6Gb/s slots. It would have been a lot better if there were more M.2 slots since gamers and overclockers nowadays prefer M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD drives instead of SATA.

MSI MPG Z490 Carbon EK X incorporates three full-length PCIe 3.0 x16 slots that can either work in x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4 mode. In addition, there are two PCIe 3.0 x1 slots available as well. If you’re going for a multi-GPU setup, you must watch out these specifications first.

In terms of connectivity, this motherboard holds 7 USB ports on the rear panel:

  • 1x USB 3.2 (Gen 2×2, Type C)
  • 4x USB 3.2 (Gen 2, Type A)
  • 2x USB 2.0

You can definitely expand the peripheral connectivity via the internal connectors. MPG Z490 Carbon EK X will also accept Thunderbolt connection via an internal connector.

For onboard graphics, it holds a single HDMI & DisplayPort port supporting a maximum resolution of 4096×2160 at 30Hz and 60Hz respectively. Anyone buying a motherboard with a premium liquid solution won’t probably bother about the onboard graphics and rather look for a dedicated GPU.

You will also find a single Realtek RTL8125B 2.5Gbps LAN controller on the rear panel that ensures reliable & fast data transfer speeds. Talking about wireless connectivity, the Z490 Carbon EK X boasts support for WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 technology that is now the industry standard for the latest motherboards.

Thermal Performance

One cannot deny the fact the latest Intel Core-i9 10th gen processors can run extremely hot under heavy workloads. Without a robust thermal solution, these processors can turn into a toast. Fortunately, the new MSI MPG Z490 Carbon EK X features an outstanding liquid cooling solution from EK that takes care of both the CPU and VRM power delivery section.

Even high-end SSDs are subject to thermal throttling and can fail to work effectively without a good heatsink design. This motherboard comes with M.2 Shield Frozr heat dissipation solution to keep the SSDs under recommended temperatures.

Via the BIOS and software, you can take full control over the cooling operations of this motherboard.

MSI MPG Z490 Carbon EK X Specifications

MSI MPG Z490 Carbon EK X
Form FactorATX
CPU Support10th Gen Intel Core (up to Core-i9)
Pentium Gold processor
Pentium Celeron processor
CPU SocketLGA 1200
ChipsetIntel Z490 Chipset
Multi-GPU Support2-Way NVidia SLI
3-Way AMD CrossFire
Display InterfaceDisplayPort
HDMI (Needs Processor Graphics)
Memory Clockup to DDR4 4800 MHz (OC)
up to DDR4- 2933 MHz (JEDEC)
DIMM Slots4
Memory ChannelDual
Expansion Slots3x PCIe 3.0 x16
2x PCIe 3.0 x 1
Storage2x M.2 slots
6x SATA III 6Gb/s
USB Ports (Rear)1x USB 3.2 (Gen 2×2, Type C)
4x USB 3.2 (Gen 2, Type A)
2x USB 2.0
USB Ports (Front)1x USB 3.2 (Gen 2, Type C)
2x USB 3.2 (Gen 1, Type A)
4x USB 2.0
LANRealtek 8125B 2.5G LAN
WiFi / BTIntel WiFi 6 AX201
Bluetooth 5.1
Audio8-Channel (7.1) HD Audio with Audio Boost 4
Mystic Light Yes
Dimensions12″ x 9.6″
MSI MPG Z490 Carbon EK X Specifications

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Ishaan Sarna
Ishaan Sarna

Founder of AUDEMPIRE (Pro Audio Equipment Store), SOUNDELICIT (Music Industry & Pro Audio Blog), TECHNOISER (Tech blog), and ISOLAPSE (Motion Industry & Photography Gear Blog). Music Producer by profession and also a Tech Enthusiast.