Intel Z790 Motherboards with PCIe Gen5 M.2 Support

Gaming PC Builder is reader-supported. When using links on our site to make a purchase, we may earn an affiliate commission.

z790 m2 gen5 motherboardsAlthough there are zero Gen5 SSDs in the market at this point, you may still want a straightforward upgrade path for such a drive when building a new system based on Raptor Lake and Z790 in 2022. SSDs that can utilize the additional bandwidth are just around the corner, after all.

While AMD made a PCI Express 5.0-enabled M.2 slot mandatory on all X670 and even B650 motherboards, Intel’s high-end Z790 chipset only brings Gen5 PCIe lanes to the graphics card slot by default. Adding Gen5 M.2 support is still possible by having it share bandwidth with the GPU, but whether or not to do so is ultimately up to the motherboard manufacturers.

You will probably not be surprised to learn that the manufacturers have mostly opted to treat the Gen5 M.2 slot as something of a premium feature in the first batches of Z790 motherboards. Many semi-premium models that tend to be popular among gamers, such as the Asus Strix-A/F, MSI MAG Tomahawk, and Gigabyte Aorus Elite, are notably lacking this feature/compromise.

ASRock is a bit more generous with this, however, and there are a couple of other exceptions. So, if this feature is at least somewhat important to you – but not worth burning through most of your budget on – you still have options. That said, there are no particularly cheap Z790 boards (it’s the high-end chipset after all), and no boards with a combination of both Gen5 M.2 and DDR4 support. 

Gigabyte Z790 Boards with Gen5 M.2

Gigabyte Z790
w/ Gen5 M.2
Z790 Aorus
Xtreme
Z790 Aorus
Master
Z790
Aero G
Form FactorE-ATXE-ATXATX
VRM Config20+1+2
(105A)
20+1+2
(105A)
16+1+2?
(70A?)
RAM SupportDDR5-8000DDR5-8000DDR5-7600
M.2 Slots1x Gen5 x4
4x Gen4 x4
1x Gen5 x4
4x Gen4 x4
1x Gen5 x4
4x Gen4 x4
SATA Ports444
LAN1x Marvell 10Gbps
1x Intel 2.5Gbps
Marvell 10GbpsIntel 2.5Gbps
WiFiIntel Killer
Wi-Fi 6E AX1690
Intel Killer
Wi-Fi 6E AX1690
Intel
Wi-Fi 6E AX211
USB -
Rear
2x Thunderbolt 4 (C)
10x 3.2 Gen 2 (A)
2x 3.2 Gen 2x2 (C)
1x 3.2 Gen 1 (C)
7x 3.2 Gen 2 (A)
4x 3.2 Gen 1 (A)
1x 3.2 Gen 2x2 (C)
1x 3.2 Gen 2 (C)
4x 3.2 Gen 1 (A)
2x USB 2.0/1.1
USB -
Header
1x 3.2 Gen 2x2
4x 3.2 Gen 1
4x USB 2.0/1.1
1x 3.2 Gen 2x2
4x 3.2 Gen 1
4x USB 2.0/1.1
1x 3.2 Gen 2x2
2x 3.2 Gen 1
4x USB 2.0/1.1
MSRPN/A$499$299
Product
Page
LinkLinkLink

For now, Gigabyte offers Gen5 M.2 slots only with the two E-ATX Aorus models, and the creator-oriented Aero G model. The more mainstream Aorus Elite and Gaming X varieties use the standard configuration with PCIe 4.0 M.2s and one PCIe 5.0 x16 GPU slot.

Asus Z790 Boards with Gen5 M.2

Asus Z790
w/ Gen5 M.2
ROG Maximus
Z790 Extreme
ROG Maximus
Z790 Apex
ROG Maximus
Z790 Hero
ROG Strix
Z790-E Gaming
ROG Strix
Z790-I Gaming
Form FactorE-ATXATXATXATXITX
VRM Config24+1
(105A)
24+0
(105A)
20+1
(90A)
18+1
(90A)
10+1
(105A)
RAM SupportDDR5-7800DDR5-8000DDR5-7800DDR5-7800DDR5-7600
M.2 Slots1x Gen5 x4
4x Gen4 x4
1x Gen5 x4
(bundled AiC)
4x Gen4 x4
1x Gen5 x4
4x Gen4 x4
1x Gen5 x4
4x Gen4 x4
1x Gen5 x4
1x Gen4 x4
SATA Ports66642
LAN1x Marvell 10Gbps
1x Intel 2.5Gbps
Intel 2.5GbpsIntel 2.5GbpsIntel 2.5GbpsIntel 2.5Gbps
WiFiWi-Fi 6EWi-Fi 6EWi-Fi 6EWi-Fi 6EWi-Fi 6E
USB -
Rear
1x Thunderbolt 4 (C)
1x 3.2 Gen 2x2 (C)
8x 3.2 Gen 2 (A/C)
1x 3.2 Gen 2x2 (C)
5x 3.2 Gen 2 (A)
4x 3.2 Gen 1 (A)
2x Thunderbolt 4 (C)
6x 3.2 Gen 2 (A/C)
4x 3.2 Gen 1 (A)
1x 3.2 Gen 2x2 (C)
7x 3.2 Gen 2 (A/C)
4x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (A)
2x Thunderbolt 4 (C)
1x 3.2 Gen 2x2 (C)
3x 3.2 Gen 2 (A)
1x 3.2 Gen 1 (A)
2x USB 2.0
USB -
Header
1x Thunderbolt 4 (C)
4x 3.2 Gen 2x2
(60W PD)
2x 3.2 Gen 1
2x USB 2.0
1x 3.2 Gen 2x2
(60W PD)
2x 3.2 Gen 1
2x USB 2.0
1x 3.2 Gen 2x2
(60W PD)
2x 3.2 Gen 1
2x USB 2.0
1x 3.2 Gen 2x2
(30W PD)
2x 3.2 Gen 1
2x USB 2.0
1x 3.2 Gen 2x2
1x 3.2 Gen 1
MSRP$999$699$629$499$469
Product
Page
LinkLinkLinkLinkLink

As their names imply, the Maximus boards are pretty maxed out as far as connectivity goes. They come with two full-length PCIe 5.0 slots (running at x8/x8 if both are used) and also expand the M.2 storage options via a bundled add-in card and/or DIMM-to-M.2 module. Nevertheless, due to the chipset limitations, there’s just one PCIe Gen5 M.2 slot.

The popular RoG Strix lineup also tends to be full-featured, but only the Z790-E and the mITX model Z790-I have the option to add a Gen5 SSD. Unfortunately, the Z790-F and Z790-A are lacking in that department and the same goes for all TUF- and Prime-series boards (and the single ProArt) released so far.

MSI Z790 Boards with Gen5 M.2

MSI Z790
w/ Gen5 M.2
MEG Z790
Godlike
MEG Z790
Ace
MPG Z790
Carbon WiFi
Form FactorE-ATXE-ATXATX
VRM Config26+4
(105A)
24+1+2
(105A)
19+1+1
(105A)
RAM SupportDDR5-7800DDR5-7800DDR5-7600
M.2 Slots1x Gen5 x4
5x Gen4 x4
1x Gen3 x4
1x Gen5 x4
4x Gen4 x4
1x Gen5 x4
4x Gen4 x4
SATA Ports666
LAN1x Marvell 10Gbps
1x Intel 2.5Gbps
Intel 2.5GbpsIntel 2.5Gbps
WiFiIntel Wi-Fi 6EIntel Wi-Fi 6EIntel Wi-Fi 6E
USB -
Rear
2x Thunderbolt 4 (C)
7x 3.2 Gen 2 (A)
1x 3.2 Gen 2 (C)
2x Thunderbolt 4 (C)
7x 3.2 Gen 2 (A)
1x 3.2 Gen 2 (C)
1x 3.2 Gen 2x2 (C)
1x 3.2 Gen 2 (C)
6x 3.2 Gen 2 (A)
2x 3.2 Gen 1 (A)
USB -
Header
2x 3.2 Gen 2x2
(60W PD)
4x 3.2 Gen 1 (A)
4x USB 2.0
2x 3.2 Gen 2x2
(60W PD)
4x 3.2 Gen 1 (A)
4x USB 2.0
1x 3.2 Gen 2x2 (C)
2x 3.2 Gen 1 (A)
4x USB 2.0
MSRP$1,199N/A$479
Product
Page
LinkLinkLink

MSI also reserves PCIe 5.0 SSD support for mainly the enthusiast models, but the traditionally more mainstream MPG Carbon board also gets a full set of storage options. On the other hand, the Z790 Carbon WiFi seems to be more geared toward the premium end of this generation, which is not least reflected in the price tag.

Notably, the ultra-premium E-ATX Z790 Godlike is equipped with no less than seven M.2 slots, but only one of them offers four lanes of Gen5 greatness.

ASRock Z790 Boards with Gen5 M.2

ASRock Z790
w/ Gen5 M.2
Z790 Taichi
(Carrara)
Z790
LiveMixer
Z790
Steel Legend
Z790
PG Riptide
Form FactorE-ATXATXATXATX
VRM Config24+1+2
(105A)
14+1+1
(60A)
16+1+1
(60A)
14+1+1
(50A)
RAM SupportDDR5-7000DDR5-6800DDR5-6800DDR5-6800
M.2 Slots1x Gen5 x4
4x Gen4 x4
1x Gen5 x4
4x Gen4 x4
1x Gen5 x4
4x Gen4 x4
1x Gen5 x4
4x Gen4 x4
SATA Ports8488
LAN2.5Gbps
(Killer E3100G)
2.5Gbps
(RTL8125BG)
2.5Gbps
(RTL8125BG)
2.5Gbps
(Killer E3100G)
WiFiWi-Fi 6EN/AWi-Fi 6EN/A
USB -
Rear
2x Thunderbolt 4 (C)
2x 3.2 Gen 2 (A)
6x 3.2 Gen 1 (A)
2x USB 2.0
2x Thunderbolt 4 (C)
2x 3.2 Gen 2 (A)
6x 3.2 Gen 1 (A)
2x USB 2.0
1x 3.2 Gen 2 (C)
1x 3.2 Gen 2 (A)
8x 3.2 Gen 1 (A)
2x 3.2 Gen 2 (A)
1x 3.2 Gen 1 (C)
4x 3.2 Gen 1 (A)
2x USB 2.0
USB -
Header
1x 3.2 Gen 2x2 (C)
4x 3.2 Gen 1 (A)
4x USB 2.0
1x 3.2 Gen 2x2 (C)
4x 3.2 Gen 1 (A)
4x USB 2.0
1x 3.2 Gen 2x2 (C)
4x 3.2 Gen 1 (A)
3x USB 2.0
1x 3.2 Gen 2x2 (C)
2x 3.2 Gen 1 (A)
4x USB 2.0
MSRP$479$259$289$229
Product
Page
LinkLinkLinkLink

What sets ASRock apart is that even its first mainstream Z790 motherboards include a Gen5 M.2 slot. Of course, this is not without some compromises in other areas such as a lack of wireless LAN and seemingly less powerful power delivery solutions. ASRock’s E-ATX Taichi (and nearly identical Taichi Carrera) is also not a ‘spare-no-expenses’ model like the MSI Godlike but still includes Thunderbolt 4. Interestingly, the latter is also true for the comparatively inexpensive Z790 LiveMixer. 

What are the tradeoffs?

Leading up to the launch of Raptor Lake and the Z790 chipset, there were rumors back and forth about support for Gen5 SSDs. It was eventually revealed that the new platform would indeed not offer PCIe 5.0 bandwidth for anything but the full-length primary slot, which normally houses the GPU.

Intel Z790 Diagram

To enable Gen5 bandwidth for an M.2 SSD slot (PCIe 5.0 x4), the apparent solution is to split the lanes of the full-length x16 slot and reduce it to PCIe 5.0 x8. This is still more than enough bandwidth for any GPU, but as of 2022, there are no PCIe 5.0-enabled graphics cards on the market.

As a consequence, current-gen GPUs will have to do with PCIe 4.0 x8, which is equal to PCIe 3.0 x16. Fortunately, this still seems to be enough even for high-end GPUs of this generation – at least in a vast majority of cases, as demonstrated here by Gamers Nexus:

 

Jesper Berg

As a PC gaming enthusiast since the 3dfx Voodoo era, Jesper has had time to experiment with a fair few FPS-improving PC parts over the years. His job at GPCB is to test and evaluate hardware, mainly focusing on GPUs and storage devices.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Gaming PC Builder
Logo
Shopping cart