Asus ROG Strix Z790-F Gaming WIFI motherboard review

Asus ROG Strix Z790-F Gaming WIFI motherboard review

The Asus Republic of Gamers Strix Z790-F WiFi is a DDR5 ATX motherboard designed for Intel 12,13 and 14th Generation desktop processors. We take a look and see if this is the motherboard for your gaming rig.

In offering PC gamers a huge range of motherboard choices, picking the right Asus motherboard for your Intel-based PC build can be a bit of a minefield. First, you’ve got your Asus Prime boards for everyday use, of which six are based on the Intel Z790 chipset. Then there are the Asus TUF Gaming boards, of which three feature Z790 chips. And finally, there’s the Asus Republic of Gamers boards.

All of Asus’ motherboards will do the job. But it’s when you start balancing price and performance, things start getting tricky.

I’ll be honest, 85% of PC gamers will probably be very pleased with an Asus Prime board, with the next, more decerning, 10% happy with a TUF Gaming board. It’s the last 5% that may want to get a little bit more out of their machines that the Republic of Gamers boards are tooled up to cater for.

Asus ROG Strix Z790-F Gaming WIFI motherboard review

 

Ignoring those top 1% who want to flex with ROG Maximus boards, ROG Strix motherboards offer top performance for gamers after something special. For the last few years, ROG Strix boards have suffixed the Intel chipset designation with an A, E, F and I. The ROG Strix Z790-I Gaming WiFi is suitable for small Mini-ATX cases. The Strix Z790-A Gaming WiFi is the range’s entry-level ATX motherboard with DDR4 and a white aesthetic. The Strix Z790-F Gaming WiFi is the same as the “-A” but with DDR5 memory compatibility. Finally, the Strix Z790-E Gaming WiFi is the range’s flagship board.

 

The ROG Strix Z790-F Gaming WiFi is a slight step down from the Strix Z790-E Gaming WiFi with only four M.2 slots and no PCIe 5.0 NVMe functionality. It does, however, gain an extra PCIe 3.0 x1 expansion slot over its more expensive sibling, which may be useful for some.

Asus ROG Strix Z790-F Gaming WIFI motherboard review

The LGA1700 socket fits all of Intel’s recent desktop CPUs. Whilst the motherboard makes no mention of Intel’s 14th generation CPUs, the Intel i9 14900K it installed worked perfectly without the need to update the BIOS.

The four DIMM sockets support up to 128GB of DDR5. These can run up to DDR5-7200 (with XMP).

Asus ROG Strix Z790-F Gaming WIFI motherboard review

Storage is catered by four M.2 sockets. Three of the sockets support PCIe 4.0 x4 and one supports PCIe 4.0 x4 and SATA. There are four SATA 6Gb/s ports. That should be more than enough to accommodate most storage needs. RAID is supported via Intel Rapid Storage Technology.

There are a few other things on the motherboard that make things a bit easier for system builders. Asus’s “Q-Design” provides latches instead of screws to hold the M.2 modules in place, an easy Q-Release button for removing PCIe GPUs and handy Q-LED lights for troubleshooting problems. There’s also a “start” button on the board if you are building the machine on a bench.

Asus ROG Strix Z790-F Gaming WIFI motherboard review

As well as dedicated headers for all-in-one CPU water cooling, the board has headers for LED lighting. There are three addressable Gen 2 headers and one Aura RGB header. Extra’s include a thermal sensor header and a Thunderbolt header.

The motherboard has two 8-pin 12v power connectors at the top. Check that your power supply has these or purchase some adapters.

Asus ROG Strix Z790-F Gaming WIFI motherboard review

The I/O panel is about as full as you’ll need it to be. There’s a DisplayPort 1.4 which supports 8K@60Hz and an HDMI 2.1 port that supports up to 4K@60Hz for those using the CPU’s integrated GPU. There are the sockets for the WiFi 6E antenna and 2.5Gb Ethernet. Five audio jacks provide surround sound, or you can use the optical audio S/PDIF port.

The I/O Panel has 12 USB ports. There’s 1x USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 2×2 port, 3x USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports (2x Type-A and 1x Type-C), 4x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports and 4x USB Type-A 2.0 ports.

The back panel also has a BIOS flashback button and a clear CMOS button. Two buttons that may come in handy if you are into a bit of overclocking or if everything goes wrong.

Asus ROG Strix Z790-F Gaming WIFI motherboard review

If you feel that the amount of USB ports on the rear of the board is lacking, there are headers on the board for a few more case front panel USB ports.  There’s a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 connector, which supports USB Type-C with up to 30W PD fast-charge, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 header that supports 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports and 2x USB 2.0 headers supporting an additional four USB 2.0 ports.

The box is full of accessories. There are a couple of SATA cables, some M.2 mount screws and foam fixing pads a spare strip of NVMe heatsink thermal putty. There’s also the WiFi antenna, a holder for an optional fan, some cable ties, a key ring and a sticker sheet. The comprehensive user guide has all you need to set up the board.

What’s missing is a driver CD, and about time too, considering no modern machines have CD drives. A USB stick with the drivers would have been good, but they are all there to download on the Asus website.

Asus ROG Strix Z790-F Gaming WIFI motherboard review

As usual, the Asus motherboard was a breeze to install in an ATX configuration case, the fixing holes and preinstalled input/output panel all slotting into place. It’s a hefty board that is robust when handled. This should give novice system-builder a bit of confidence that it’s not going to snap in two during assembly.

All you need to do on the first boot is a quick visit to the easy-to-use UEFI BIOS to switch on the XMP profile for your RAM. This performs the factory overclock required to get the memory running at its speed rating. And that’s it, the Strix Z790-F WiFi will configure the CPU itself. The PC will run fine with this setup.

Asus ROG Strix Z790-F Gaming WIFI motherboard review

If you want to dabble with a bit of overclocking, the Asus board will oblige. You will need a decent cooler, either a top-of-the-range air cooler or an all-in-one water cooler will do. Switching on the “AI Optimization” mode in the BIOS, booting the PC and running a few stress tests like Cinebench or the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility will allow the board to gather enough data to automatically tweak your setting. Results vary, but you should see a stable performance improvement using an Intel Core i5 CPU. Compared to the Core i5s, I’ve found that the Core i9s don’t have much in the way of extra headroom when it comes to AI overclocking.

In a nutshell, the Asus ROG Strix Z790-F Gaming WIFI motherboard may be a step down from the Strix Z790-E Gaming WIFI, but you get an extra PCIe 3.0 x1 expansion slot. There’s still more than enough USB support and the four M.2 slots should be all you need for storage. It’ll even do you well for Intel’s 14th Gen CPUs. It’s a superb motherboard for novice system builders, experienced tweakers and anyone looking for a decent motherboard for their gaming rig.

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