For the launch of Intel’s 14th Generation CPUs, ASUS has revisited its ATX DDR5 TUF Gaming Z790 motherboard to bring us the ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-PRO WIFI.
Sitting between Asus’s more budget-conscious Prime and enthusiast-level Republic of Gamers brands, the TUF Gaming brand styles itself on producing durable, military-grade components. Whilst they certainly look the part with a more industrial design, in my experience, TUF Gaming Z-series motherboards are dependable in that they offer reasonable performance tweaking without the instability that usually comes with overclocking.
Out of the box, the motherboard’s stylish black looks make it ideal for windowed cases. The layout hasn’t really changed from previous LGA1700 socketed TUF Gaming motherboards. But there’s no need to fix what’s not broken.
On a personal note, this is the first of these Intel TUF gaming boards that I’ve looked at running DDR5, so that exciting. Asus’s D4 boards have allowed users to continue to run their DDR4 memory. There’s no D4 version of the TUF Gaming Z790-PRO WIFI.
As with the new Intel CPUs, this is a refresh, an update as it were, of the ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-PLUS WIFI. Think of it like this year’s model, rather than a new component altogether.
There are pluses and minuses with this. On the plus side, the ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-PRO WIFI is a motherboard that the boffins at Asus have had a year to tweak and refine. There should be no surprises, just what we had last year but that much better. On the minus side, there’s probably not much point in upgrading if you are already running with a Z790 DDR5 motherboard.
In real-world terms, the big differences lay with the DDR5 supporting up to DD5-7800+ versus the TUF Gaming Z790-PLUS WIFI and the inclusion of ASUS Enhance Memory Profile II. There’s also an extra PCIe 3.0 x16 slot and a Front Panel 20Gbps USB with up to 30W fast charging support. The board has upgraded DIGI+ VRM with some chunky heatsinks.
The ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-PRO WIFI comes with everything you need for a pain-free PC build. In the box with the board, you have an external Wi-Fi antenna, three pads for single-sided M.2 SSDs, two SATA cables, a sheet of stickers, a TUF Gaming Certificate of Reliability, and the Quick Start Guide.
Asus has replaced its usual comprehensive manual with a quick-start guide that offers more at-a-glance information for building the PC and configuring the motherboard. It’s still got all the info you need for putting the right connectors in the right place. If you want further, more detailed information, the full manual is available for download from the Asus site by using the QR code on the front of the quick-start guide.
The board’s integrated input/output (I/O) shield and well-machined construction means that it should easily slip into any decent ATX case. There are two eight-pin 12V connectors from the power supply (so make sure your PSU has those connectors) at the top left of the motherboards these and the CPU fan connectors can be a bit fiddly to get two if you have a top-mounted all-in-one cooler radiator installed. Everything else is easy to get at.
Asus’s Q-Design implementation on the motherboard takes many of the annoying things about PC system building and provides easy solutions. These range from good to great.
The board’s Q-LEDs are very useful for novice system builders and pros, alike. These four LEDs assist when troubleshooting boot issues, allowing you to go straight to the offending component if things don’t go well after you press the on button. For me, it’s usually forgetting to plug in the GPU power cable (which gives me a white LED indicator) or not pushing in the memory firmly enough (a yellow LED warning on the board). It’s a very useful tool that highlights CPU, DRAM, VGA, and boot issues.
Asus uses its Q-latches instead of microscopic (and easily lost) screws to secure up to four M.2 Solid-state drives to the board. Similarly, the RAM modules are secured by just one (Q-DIMM) clip making installation just that much easier.
The most useful is the PCIe slot Q-Release. Instead of desperately trying to push a half-obscured clip with your fingernail to eject your expensive GPU, there’s a button that you simply press that unclips your graphics cards.
The board goes beyond just being a functional design to one that is robust and accessible enough for PC system builders and anyone who may need to replace components in the future. This is reason enough to recommend the motherboard, without looking at the best bit, the BIOS.
The ASUS UEFI is one of the most robust and easy-to-use BIOS interfaces I’ve used. It’s here that all the magic happens, where you can tweak your PC as you see fit. Common across all ASUS motherboards it offers both easy options and a more advanced menu. It’s accessed via the usual press of the delete button whilst powering on. The default EZMode means that beginners can access important settings without the fear of messing everything up. That all-important XMP/AEMPII setting for your memory is on the front page of the EZMode user interface as well as Resizable BAR and the board’s AI optimization switch. There’s also a shortcut to the EZ Fan control settings and the boot settings.
More experienced users can dip into the board’s advanced settings with a single button press. You can still allow the AI to do the overclocking for you, or you can go old school and tweak the voltages and frequencies manually. There’s a lot of scope here if you have the patience to get the most out of your unlocked Intel “K” CPU.
Further tweaks and performance settings can be adjusted away from the BIOS meus using the Windows desktop ASUS AI application and the ASUS Armory Crate app. Whilst I prefer to make changes in the BIOS (where I can do a quick reset), novice users may prefer the familiarity of using desktop programs to make adjustments.
With the Intel Core i9-14900K already pushing the Raptor Lake tech to get a 6Ghz top-end, my AI overclocking results only garnered a small increase in speed. A better cooling solution may have helped. But, in the past, I’ve found it’s the unlocked Intel Core i5s that have yielded better overclocking results rather than the power-hungry Core i9s with their high thermals. This is also true for the 14th-generation CPUs with the Core i5-14600K.
The lack of PCIE 5.0 NVMe support, usually reserved for high-end boards and WiFi 7 are probably the only things that I’d say were missing from this motherboard. But I’m not even sure we are ready for PCIE 5.0 NVMe drives right now.
With four M.2 sockets, three supporting PCIe 4.0 x4, and one supporting PCIe 4.0 x4 and SATA SSDs, the board has your fast NVMe storage needs covered. Three of the four M.2 sockets have heatsinks integrated into the motherboard’s design. There are still four 6Gb/s SATA ports if you are going old school with your hard drives.
The four DIMM slots can take a total of 192GB of DDR5 RAM modules up to DDR5 7800 (OC). The board supports both Intel’s XMP and Asus Enhanced Memory Profile II (AEMPII) to get the most out of your RAM via its factory overclock settings.
With five PCIe expansion slots, you are likely to still have a couple free after plugging in one of today’s huge GPUs. Even with a reasonably sized graphics card in the reinforced PCIe 5.0 x16 slot I only had one PCIe 3.0 x16 and PCIe 3.0 x1 slot accessible. The PCIe 4.0 x16 and PCIe 4.0 x4 slots were both obscured by the GPU. If you are making use of the CPU’s integrated GPU, the rear I/O panel has both DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.1 outputs.
I actually can’t keep up with USB specifications. Perhaps wisely, ASUS has dropped the various numeric classifications in their marketing and instead specifies USB support by the data throughput. The I/O panel has a 20Gbps USB Type-C port, a 10Gbps USB Type-C port, two 10Gbps USB Type-A ports, and four 5Gbps Type-A ports.
If that’s not enough wires to have plugged into the back of your machine, the motherboard has a header connector for up to seven more USB slots on the front of your case. If your front panel has the capacity, you can have a 20Gbps USB Type-C port with up to 30W fast charging, two 5Gbps USB Type-A ports, and four USB 2.0 ports.
Realtek provides 7.1 surround sound with front headphone output and mic in, line in, line out, surround, and rear audio jacks on the rear I/O panel. There is also an S/PDIF port for optical out.
For connectivity, the board supports WI-FI 6E (802.11ax) at 2.4GHz, 5GHz and 6GHz bands. There’s also Bluetooth v5.3.
Apart from a tiny illuminated “TUF” logo on the top right, the motherboard does not have any RGB lighting of its own. If, however, you want to light up your case, there are three addressable Gen 2 headers for WS2812B LED lighting and an Aura header for 5050 LED RGB lighting on the board.
It’s such an easy and fully-featured motherboard to set up. But also, specification aside, as is the norm with a TUF Gaming motherboard the Z790-PRO WIFI looks really nice in your case.
The ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-PRO WIFI is the perfect companion for a new PC based on Intel’s 14th-generation CPUs. Whether you are building a PC yourself or buying one prebuild, the motherboard is fully featured and easy to tweak.
If you are still rocking a 600-series motherboard with DDR4 and feel it’s time to upgrade, or you are looking to get a new build for Intel’s 14th gen CPUs, the ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-PRO WIFI is worth considering.