X299 vs Z390: Which is Better?

Austin
| Last Updated: April 14, 2021

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Have you hit a dead-end choosing between the X299 and Z390 motherboards for your PC? Well, you're not alone. The ever-changing features on the latest motherboards make it pretty difficult to decide. 

We dove in to find the best gaming motherboard and the best one for streaming high-quality videos.

Which one do you prefer? Let's get going...

X299 vs Z390

X299

Z390

Pros

Pros

Provides you more lanes

Can run 4000MHz RAM

More stable and with fewer problems

Supports up to 64 GB RAM

Supports up to 128 GB RAM

Affordable for users on a tight budget

Multi-core advantage

Enough I/O support

More I/O support

Built-in Intel UHD graphics

Cons

Cons

High-end chips suffer in gaming

Might be a dead socket soon

A little expensive for users on a limiting budget

Fewer lanes

Best For

Best For

Best for gaming since it has more cores

Best for streaming videos, based on UHD graphics

What is an X299? 

The X299 is a chipset that supports Intel Core X-Series processors. The chipset bridges various components like the processor, RAM, storage, the graphics card, and the processor. Taking advantage of Intel's new Core X-Series processors requires a motherboard with the X299 chipset. 

This chipset design is suitable for high-end desktops – it allows for easy coordination between the different components of the motherboard.

The X299 platform improves existing features on the earlier X99. Some of the outstanding features in this new chipset include:

  • USB 3.0 and 2.0 support

  • Optane Memory Support

  • Intel Rapid Storage Technology for PCI storage

  • Intel Smart Response Technology

  • Intel HD Audio Technology

  • Intel Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O

  • BIOS overclocking

  • VRM cooling
  • Photo credit: msi.com

    Overall, this is a new chipset in the Intel cycle supporting DDR4 RAM at speeds of 3000MHz. The X299 motherboard can support up to 128 GB RAM. X299 motherboards feature the LGA 2066 Socket, which is required by all Intel Core X-series processors. The Intel Core-X processors to use on X299 motherboards range from i5-760X to i9-7980 XE. That is a range of 4 to 18 cores, giving a total of 36 threads. It is a chipset designed for multithreaded applications. Moreover, processors with X299 chipsets support up to 44 lanes hence more bandwidth for dual graphic cards.

    What is a Z390?

    The Z390 is the latest second-generation high-end chipset from Intel. The chipset is built for Intel's 300-series platform to work alongside their 9th generation of Coffee Lake Processors. It is only the new 8th or 9th generation Coffee Lake Processors that work with the new Z390 chipsets. The new chipset packs in new and upgraded cores leading to different power requirements.

    The Intel Z390 is a gold standard motherboard built for PC enthusiasts. It was released a year after the Z370 with more mainstream options. Some of the outstanding features in this motherboard include:

    Photo credit: anandtech.com

    • Native SDXC support

    • Intel wireless networking

    • Up to six USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports integrated

    • New Intel Management Engine, IME.

    For individuals with the Z370 board, it doesn't make sense to upgrade to the new Z390. However, if you're building a new system from scratch, then buying the Z390 board will provide some additional 3.1 USB ports.

    The Z390 features Intel UHD 630 graphics built-in. However, discrete use of the graphic processing unit (GPU) is recommended for optimal overall CPU performance. Overall, the Z390 is a true high-end chipset for Intel's mainstream platform.

    Relevant Characteristics Between X299 and Z390

    X299

    Photo credit: bhphotovideo.com

    Z390

    Photo credit: anandtech.com

    No onboard graphics

    Onboard Graphics

    UHD 630

    165W

    TDP

    95W

    44 Lanes

    PCIe Lanes

    16 Lanes

    14 ports

    USB Ports

    Six 3.1 Gen2 Ports

    8 Ports

    Max # of SATA 6.0 Gb/s Ports

    6 Ports

    Yes

    I/O Interface Technology

    Yes

    Yes

    Overclocking

    Yes

    Similarities and Differences

    Now that you understand the basics between these two different chipsets that Intel offers, it is time to show the specifics in each chipset. Our review below will show the differences, similarities, and advantages of each chipset. This will enable you to choose a suitable Intel platform PC.

    X299 and Z390 Differences

    The differences between the two chipsets can easily be identified under the following variables.

    Socket/Supported Processors

    The processors and socket the chipsets support is the main difference when comparing these two. X299 chipset uses the LGA 2066 socket which supports Intel Core X Series. Intel Core X Series was previously known as Skylake-X and Kaby Lake -X. The processors usually range from 4 cores to 18 cores and are designed for extreme multitasking.

    The Z390 chipset on the other hand supports the 8th and 9th Intel Core Processors which were formerly known as the Coffee Lake Processors. The processors are only limited to 6 cores. It is equipped with LGA 1151 socket which can also be used for the 6th and 7th generation. There are major differences between the processor families. These include:

    PCIe Lanes: X299 processors support up to 44 lanes while the Z390 supports 16 lanes.

    Thermal Design Power, TDP: The average wattage from the X299 processors is 165W while the Z390 averages 65W.

    Onboard Graphics: The X299 Core X Series lacks onboard graphics capabilities while the Z390 features Intel UHD 630 graphics.

    Memory Capacity and Support

    The Z390 motherboard supports up to 64 GB RAM while the X299 motherboard supports up to 128 GB RAM. The Z390 features a dual memory channel, but the X299 delivers twice as much bandwidth as its quad-channel.

    For most users, 64GB RAM and dual memory bandwidth are enough to deliver a good performance. For a gaming PC, a quad-channel memory channel data does not mean a lot since data loads once on the RAM when a game is launched.

    Video editing requires faster RAM, so the 128 GB RAM and quad memory channel on the X299 provide a noticeable performance improvement for content creators.

    Photo credit: pcmediaonline.es

    Input/Output Support

    There are minimal input/output support differences between these two motherboard chipsets. The number of Wi-Fi modules, USB ports, and audio systems usually depends on the vendor.

    Overall, both chipsets have clear differences, and the ideal chipset comes down to how you use your PC. The X299 is a more stable choice than the Z370 and costs less, however, the Z370 has more memory capacity and support.

    X299 and Z390 Similarities

    They share various similarities under the following variables:

    Memory Capacity and Support

    The X299 and Z390 chipsets both support DDR4 RAM at speeds of 3000MHz making them extremely fast. However, that is not recommended as it can lead to RAM related instabilities like crashes and freezes.

    Upgradeability

    The two chipsets feature sockets that are relatively new as far as the Intel upgrade cycle goes. This means we don't anticipate any upgrades soon. However, in case of any upgrades, the X299 is the most likely candidate because of its number of processors.

    Input/Output Support

    Both chipsets are quite similar when it comes to input and output support. They both offer feature-rich I/O support with the X299 edging the Z390 with a few additional USB ports. Both chipsets feature 14 USB ports and the same USB revisions. There are a total of 10 USB ports for the 3.0 revision. The only minor difference is the number of SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports. The X299 has 8 SATA ports while the Z390 has 6 SATA ports.

    In general, the X299 will have the best features that Intel has to offer. If some features are missing in the Z390, you're most likely going to find them in the X Series chipsets. If you're getting started on building a decent all-around computer, then consider buying the X299 chipset motherboard.

    Photo credit: velocitymicro.com

    Advantages of X299

    The X299 is the latest Intel chip, replacing the X99, and comes with several advantages. First, the chipset is extremely affordable. This is a departure from the premium price of all High-end Desktops. This chipset redefines the enthusiast desktop experience. Below are the top benefits of investing in an X299 chipset:

    Increased System Responsiveness

    Users can enjoy immediately increased responsiveness when using their computers. The chipset is Intel Optane Memory Ready and will respond to commands faster. It features faster throughput times with 3.0 DMI, Desktop Management Interface. The link between the PCH and CPU has undergone an upgrade to DMI 3.0. It now supports up to 24 PCIe lanes compared to the 8 on X99.

    Improved Input/Output Capabilities

    The chipset offers improved input and output support. Intel has implemented high-speed I/O (HSIO) lanes. The lanes were first introduced in the Z170 but up from 26 to 30 in the X299. Overall, the HSIO lanes offer the chipset greater flexibility. The X299 now supports up to 10 USB 3.0 ports, 8 SATA 6GB/S ports, and 14 USB 2.0 ports. This gives board makers greater freedom on the combination they want to offer. There is no longer a need to borrow PCIe lanes from CPUs for the PCIe SSDS.

    Ultimate Scalability

    You can look forward to richer functionality with the X299. There are more storage expansion options and high-performance 10G networking ports. You can certainly do more with your PC than before. Besides, the chipset ensures less hindrance to multi-GPU configurations.

    Enables Staggering Storage Performance

    Lastly, the X299 chipset enables staggering storage performance when taken to the extreme. It features the Intel Virtual RAID on CPU which is highly overlooked for casual users. However, this feature works perfectly for most hardcore enthusiasts.

    Photo credit: cclonline.com

    Advantages of Z390

    The Z390 motherboards are a cherry on top of the Z370. They work with the 8th and 9th Generation Core CPUs. The Z390 is a gold standard motherboard for most enthusiast PCs. Below, we discuss some of the major benefits of a Z390 motherboard.

    Supports CPU and Memory Overclocking

    By far, these are the only Intel motherboards that support CPU and memory overclocking, just in case you've not unlocked the K-series chip. Setting your CPU and memory to run at higher speeds than official speeds can deliver better performances.

    Wireless Networking

    The motherboard supports faster, stable, and efficient wireless networking. It provides you with extra Wi-Fi features that are not supported in older version motherboards. This is an essential tool that helps resolve most issues with wireless network connectivity.

    Potential USB Ports

    There are 6 USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports on this motherboard giving users a plethora of input and output support. It also supports up to 14 USB 2.0 ports. The chipset also supports 6 SATA 6.0 gb/s ports. Users have the option to increase their input and output options.

    New Intel Management Engine

    The new Z390 chipset comes with a built-in new Intel management engine that runs parallel to the operating system. The engine is on an isolated chip but offers access to your PC hardware. The engine ensures easy operation of other tasks while the computer is asleep, running, or during the boot process. The engine provides users with access to all devices but can also be a target for hackers.

    RAID Storage Options

    Z390 motherboards also offer a Redundant Array of Independent Drives, RAID. It gives users the freedom to use two or more drives working in parallel. You can choose a suitable RAID option and enjoy faster transactions.

    Users can get more cheery features on top of the Z370 features when using the Z390. The Z390 is an upgrade on the Z370, but it will cost you more.

    What About X570?

    The AMD X570 is another great alternative chipset for gamers, creators, and anybody in-between who needs cutting-edge performance. The chipset offers breathtaking speeds and maximized bandwidth.

    Photo credit: msi.com

    Most users view the X570 as a great option as it allows for flexible and innovative build customization. Gamers and content creators can build a PC to meet their specific needs using this chipset. The chipset is designed with PCIe Gen 4 in mind. It gives manufacturers more freedom to play with IO configuration and storage.

    When compared to the X299 and Z390, the X570 tends to have an edge over the two motherboards on the CPU. The CX570 has more cores and threads that are available in the mainstream.

    However, when it comes to storage options, X299 and Z390 tend to have an edge over the AMD X570. Intel chipsets tend to support more kits and faster speeds. The compatibility for X570 is still finicky.

    Under overclocking abilities, both chipsets work effectively overclocking their respective CPUs to their thermal limits. After all, the chipset rarely gets in the way of the CPU. While thermals can get in the way, the X570 can handle the entire AMD product stack. The Z390 chipset can also overclock the flagship CPUs.

    There is also no major difference when it comes to input and output support. However, AMD X570 tends to win when it comes to storage options and technology. The X579 has more bandwidth. They both support the SATA3 ports natively and RAID storage options.

    Users need to balance their budget and the features they want in a motherboard. There are varieties of boards available for the X570, X299, and Z390. However, Intel tends to have more choices as their motherboards have been out for a long time. They are also relatively affordable.

    When and Why Would I Use X299?

    The X299 is a major leap past the X99 boards that hosted the last generation of the Intel chips. The newest X299 chipsets support up to 4 PCIe 3.0 lanes. This is a major upgrade compared to the 8 PCIe 2.0 lanes on the X99 boards. However, the big question is when and why you would use the X99? Below are some of the uses of the X299 motherboard.

    Digital Creative

    The X299 board is a perfect choice for digital creatives like musicians, engineers, artists, and video makers. It supports up to 44 lanes giving users more bandwidth and dual graphics which is ideal for digital creativity.

    Multi-Task Applications

    The board is a suitable choice when looking to multi-task in several applications. This can be playing games while encoding videos or streaming. The chipset is designed for multi-threaded applications with a range of 4 to 18 cores. You can perform several tasks at once without experiencing downtime.

    When Working With Large Datasets and High-Resolution Graphics Videos

    The fact that the X299 supports more memory options. It can support up to 126 GB RAM although in most cases you might need just 64 RAM. However, this comes in handy when handling sets of huge data.

    When and Why Would I Use Z390?

    The Z390 chipset will get the best out of your 8th and 9th generation CPUs. So, when and why should you use the Z390? Below we discuss instances when the Z390 is a suitable chipset for your motherboard.

    When You Need Cutting Edge Performance

    Given the latest technologies in the Z390 chipsets, you can expect incredible performances. The chipset offers optimal performance and incredible speeds. It is a suitable choice for gamers that prefer high-performances and great speeds. While the storage goes up to 64 GB RAM, you might not need something beyond this. It is an excellent choice chipset for gaming, streaming, and videos.

    When You Need Lightening Connectivity

    The Z390 chipset will provide you with super-fast wireless connectivity. It offers an easy and seamless wireless Wi-Fi connection without any issues. It incorporates a CNVi link, which is a built-in technology for fast wireless connectivity.

    Looking for Enhanced Data Transfers

    If you're looking for various options to transfer data, the Z390 chipset makes a great choice. The motherboards feature USB 3.1 Gen 2 Ports to provide users with fast connectivity options. Besides, overclocking ensures better performances and high speeds.

    Bottom Line

    The final choice between X299 and Z390 chipsets comes down to how you want to use your PC. X299 offers users a multi-core advantage while the Z390 offers the best value. The Z390 is very appealing and can run 400MHz RAM. It is a great choice to build your PC if you already have it. However, if you're starting from scratch, you can consider the X299 due to its multi-core advantage.

    Photo credit: guru3d.com

    People Also Ask

    In this section, we help answer some of the common and frequently asked questions about Intel motherboards. These are basic questions that most users face when choosing between the X299 and X390 motherboards.

    Does X299 Support Xeon?

    The Xeon processors overclock well with X299 chipsets and are relatively affordable. Intel Xeon has some extraordinary processing power and very speeds. It is an effective choice when looking for gaming processors. Xeon is a powerful processor with a large number of cores.

    Do All Z390s Have Wi-Fi?

    Intel Z390 chipsets easily integrate Intel wireless and Bluetooth. The chipset features Wi-Fi built-in but users still need a Wi-Fi card. Not all motherboard models have Wi-Fi. You need to look at the back IO panel to see if there is Wi-Fi capacity.

    Photo credit: gamesncomps.com

    What is Better For Streaming, X299 or Z390?

    The X299 and Z390 are overclockable giving you faster speeds and better performances. While the X299 is pretty good, it lacks onboard graphics which are ideal for streaming. The Z390 on the other hand features UHD 630 graphics for crystal clear video streaming.

    Is Z390 Better For Gaming?

    The Z390 offers an affordable solution for gaming with the 8th or 9th generation Intel CPUs. While the X299 offers a multi-core advantage for gaming, the Z390 is still a reliable choice for gamers.

    How Long Will Z390 Last?

    The Z390 socket is relatively new with very minimal upgrades from the Z370. Unless there is some sort of incentive, there should be no rush for new boards as the Z390 will last you a long time.

    Austin

    When the tech company I worked for restructured and I ended up jobless, I decided to put the wealth of knowledge and management skills to use somewhere new. I’d checked out a few buyer’s guides on the site in the past and reached out to the previous owner. A few months later, here we are. Now, I get to be behind the scenes, helping people find the best tech.