Packaging and Closer Look
MSI’s packaging are usually simple but are usually good. We see a touch of gold this time; you can see a picture of the motherboard on the front side of the box, together with its name. And on the back side you can see the features and some specifications of the motherboard.
The box includes the motherboard itself, a user manual, a thank you card, some reading materials, a DVD driver installer, SATA cables, RGB cables, SLI bridge and sticker labels. Again, the MEG Z390 ACE has the essential stuff; unlike the GODLIKE where there are lots of accessories included in the box.
Above you can see the front and back portion of the MSI MEG Z290 ACE motherboard. One thing I noticed about MSI’s motherboard is that RGB lighting isn’t a dominant thing. There are only portions where RGB lighting is enabled. Compared to Gigabyte’s motherboards where RGB is almost everywhere. That may be a pro or a con, depending on the user. But I find it just right to keep the RGB lighting on the motherboard moderate; since most components have their respective RGB lighting as well (CPU cooler, DDR4 memory, graphics card and etc.).
The rear IO shield is pre-installed which is a nice thing. Now you don’t have to worry in case you forgot to slap that rear I/O shield on the case / chassis. There are no RGB lighting on the I/O ports, but the Ethernet port has a red LED lighting. The RGB lighting from the I/O shroud also bleeds through the USB ports (red ones). The Clear CMOS and BIOS Flashback buttons have red LED illumination as well.
On the MSI MEG Z390 GODLIKE, all the M.2 slots are covered with what MSI calls the Shield Frozr (heat sink for the M.2 SSD). But on the MEG Z390 ACE, it’s only the third M.2 slot that has a Shield Frozr. There are thermal pads on both sides as you can see from the third photo above.
There are also power buttons and reset buttons located at the lower right bottom corner. Right next to the reset button is the Game Boost OC dial. MSI has provided some overclocking preset that you can use in case you are not really into manual overclocking and you want to overclock your CPU. Do note though, that manually overclocking and fine tuning is still the best way to OC your system.
Removing the I/O shroud and the heat sink reveals the 13 phase VRM. There are 12x ON4C024N low-side MOSFETs and 12x ON4C029N high-side MOSFETs for the CPU Vcore. There are also a number of International Rectifier IR3598 doublers, six to be exact. You can also see two 8-pin power supply for the CPU, but you can use 1x 8-pin if you don’t intend to do some extreme or heavy overclocking.
There are several fan headers on the top portion of the motherboard, as well as on the bottom portion. The debug led code is located right next to the memory slots; it’s really useful by the way, as it can also display the temperature of the CPU. There are also V-check point where you can check the different current voltages on the system. Aside from the debug code, there is an EZ debug LED that I find very useful specially in diagnosing boot sequence problems.
The MSI MEG Z390 ACE uses an ESS Sabre 9018 32-bit DAC chip paired with Realtek ALC1220 HD audio codec, the audio section supports up to 8-channels. There are also 9x Nippon Chemi-con gold audio capacitors, but all of these are covered under a shroud.
I don’t see any major issue on the motherboard itself, let’s proceed further and check out its BIOS section and bundled apps. And then let’s see what the MEG Z390 ACE motherboard can do on the benchmark results page.