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Are you unsure whether to buy the Z370 or Z390? It’s tricky working out where the value lies between the two.
We’ve done the work to make it easier for you.
Whether you’re a data cruncher or a serious gamer, we’ll point you in the right direction for your next motherboard.
TL; DR: Z370 vs Z390
Do you prefer to jump straight into an overview of these two high-end motherboards? They’ll both perform nicely, but they each have their strengths.
The Z370 has fast data transfer speeds, so if that's something you need for your setup, then it's certainly worth considering. For maximum overclocking, though, its VRM isn’t as robust as the Z390’s.
The Z390 board has integrated Wi-Fi support, so it’s great for wireless gaming. If your primary usage is desktop applications, browsing, and video streaming, then you probably won’t notice a significant performance boost. If that’s the case, the Z370 is more than adequate.
Working in a fixed location with large amounts of data stored on an external drive
High-speed, multiplayer gaming, especially if a wireless connection is preferred
What is a Z370?
Released in October 2017 to maximize the performance of 8th and 9th generation desktop processors, the Z370 was the first from the Z300 range of motherboards to hit the market.
As the foundation for your PC builds, this motherboard opens up a plethora of options to enhance performance in processing, graphics, and sound.
The Intel Optane memory increases the response time of your applications, and the integrated USB 3.1 Gen 1 support facilitates fast file transfers. With on-board PCI Express 3.0, backing up your media and data is fast.
Thanks to the UHD Graphics and High Definition Audio, watching videos is immersive, and you can even watch 4K UHD premium content.
It’s in the heat of competition where the capabilities of the Z370 really shine. Intel Optane memory, for fast application response times, and Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 can give you the edge over your competitors in the arena.
Two key aspects where the Z370 falls short are the lack of integrated support for USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports and the absence of integrated wireless, making you reliant on vendors to include these functions via add-in controllers, adding to the price.
What is a Z390?
Intel launched the Intel Z390 motherboard in October 2018, and although it could be seen as merely an incremental upgrade from its predecessor, it differs in some key areas.
This piece of equipment is all about your gaming performance. While aspects such as graphics, audio, and processing are like those of the Z370, the most significant value-adding feature of the Z390 has to be the high-speed integrated wireless networking. The integration brings the best reliability and, with the 8th and 9th generation chips, enables you to connect wirelessly at up to gigabit speeds.
For the fastest physical connections, support for the latest USB standard—USB 3.1 Gen 2—is also integrated.
The Z390 has the capacity for plenty of high-end components that help to keep your PC efficient and stable. Voltage Regulator Modules (VRM) help prevent performance issues caused by overheating, especially when overclocking those 8th and 9th generation processors.
If you're already using a Z370, then the only thing that may deter you from spending the extra money for the Z390 could be the fact that there isn’t a significant increase in performance, but the extra connectivity will swing it for some buyers.
Relevant Characteristics Between Z370 and Z390
While the Z370 and Z390 are both aimed at PC enthusiasts and serious gamers, with support for overclocking and plenty of capacity for efficient peripheral connections, as you can see in the following comparison table, the noticeable difference is the integrated support for Wi-Fi connectivity. Performance-wise, they are very similar.
USB 3.1 (10Gbps) Ports
USB 3.0 (5Gbps) Ports
SATA III (6Gbps) Ports
PCI-Express 3.0 Lanes
Integrated Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Similarities and Differences
As you can see in the above table, the Z370 and Z390 motherboards are mostly identical.
However, the differences that exist could be critical factors in deciding which one to invest in.
Let’s take a more detailed look at them to see which is the better fit for you.
Z370 and Z390 Differences
USB 3.1 (10Gbps) Ports
With data transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps, USB 3.1 Gen 2 is the latest iteration of the USB standard for connecting peripherals to PCs.
That is likely to be the key differentiator between the two motherboards when it comes to day-to-day usage, as this is double the speed of the Z370’s USB 3.0 integrated connection.
The Z390 can facilitate up to 10 USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, meaning that if you already have devices that use this standard, then you’ll enjoy increased data transfer speeds, and your PC will be more responsive.
The Z370 only has USB 3.0 ports, and although it's possible to add USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports via third-party controllers, the performance never really reaches the same level as the Z390 integrated solution, and it may not be as cost-effective.
Integrated Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Intel’s integrated wireless connectivity (CNVi) on the Z390 supports speeds of up to 1.73Gbps.
The benefits of the integrated Wi-Fi connection may not be very noticeable when you’re browsing the web, working in desktop applications, or streaming videos, but with gaming, it’s quite a different story.
Serious gamers often want the freedom to play wirelessly, but not to the detriment of their performance levels. Having access to high-bandwidth wireless connectivity enables them to play fast-paced, multiplayer games wherever they want without sacrificing gaming performance.
With Wi-Fi 802.11ac, available bandwidth is almost double the previous wireless standard.
With its integrated LAN, and no integrated Wi-Fi, the Z370 gets left behind in this respect, but it can be perfectly adequate depending upon your usage case.
Although the Z370 and the Z390 both support dual-channel memory at 64Gb, Intel has confirmed that through a BIOS update, the Z390 can provide support up to 128Gb.
Z370 and Z390 Similarities
SATA III Ports
Both the Z370 and the Z390 have six third-generation (SATA III) ports, which is the latest revision of the SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment). Used for connecting the motherboard to data storage components, both support data transfer speeds of up to 6Gbps.
One of the most noticeable benefits of this is an excellent quality video streaming from the connected components.
SATA III is fully compatible with older generation SATA equipment, although naturally, maximum read and write speeds are likely to be reduced when connecting to this older technology.
PCI Express refers to the expansion slots inside your PC.
This is great to have because it provides high bandwidth connections between the motherboard and the attached peripherals such as graphics cards (GPUs), sound cards, and SSDs.
The Z370 and Z390 provide support for up to 24 PCI Express lanes.
One of the most noticeable benefits of the PCI Express 3.0 is that it facilitates extremely fast data transfer speeds to connected devices.
The Z370 has been a favorite motherboard for gamers since they released it, so when Intel created the Z390, they decided against changing the specifications but to add additional features to the new motherboard.
The DDR4 memory continues to satisfy the exacting demands of the gaming community with this, the latest generation of RAM. As you would expect, this is all about performance and efficiency.
Transfer rates with the DDR4 can reach 4,266MT/s (million transfers per second), which is significantly faster than the previous generation DDR3. It is also double the current standard RAM speed—essential for gamers.
If you want to maximize your PC’s performance, the DDR4 allows for the addition of multiple processors. This could be a game-changer, with some top games consuming high levels of memory.
Advantages of Z370
Although Intel integrated some excellent additional features with the Z390 motherboard, it doesn’t mean that the Z370 has become obsolete.
There are many reasons to invest in what is still one of the gold-standard motherboards on the market, so let’s look at some of those now.
Support for Overclocking
On 8th Generation Intel Core processors, the Z370 can help to elevate your gaming performance. With boosted graphics, core, and memory frequencies, you can release the full potential of your PC to maximize your gameplay.
Support for Intel’s Optane Memory can increase application response times, which can give you the edge over your competitors.
In multiplayer games, having lightning-fast reactions can be the difference between a dismal failure and a glorious victory, so it makes sense to give yourself every opportunity to reach the absolute top of your game.
High Definition Graphics and Audio
On the 8th Generation Core processors, you can enjoy a truly immersive gaming experience with 4K UHD graphics. And why not really lose yourself in the action by connecting up to three displays?
This isn’t just for gamers, though. The Wide Color Gamut support makes watching 4K video an absolute delight.
It’s one thing having a great visual experience but being able to pick up even the most subtle audio cue can make or break in the most immersive games, and the Z370 delivers an optimum audio experience with Intel’s High Definition Audio and Smart Sound Technology.
Access and Protect Your Data
Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology (RST) gives you fast access to your digital media, so you can just get on with enjoying it.
When you have additional hard drives installed, the same RST technology helps to protect your data in the event of a drive failure.
Advantages of Z390
If you’re considering investing in a 9th Generation Intel CPU, then the Z390 is the motherboard that you need to squeeze every benefit out of that processor.
Here are some major reasons to buy the Z390.
Better Processor Handling
Although the Z370 motherboard can happily manage Intel’s 9th Generation processors without issues, when you get to the top end of those CPUs, some boards may not support maximum overclocking.
The difference is that the Z390 boards have better VRM’s, meaning that when you’re overclocking your 9th Generation CPU to the max, you’re less likely to suffer from overheating and performance issues. The Z390 and the 9th Generation processors are the perfect combinations for serious gamers.
Integrated Wi-Fi Support
This is a massive advantage that the Z390 holds over the LAN-only Z370.
The integrated wireless 802.11ac (CNVi) connectivity gives you much more flexibility in where you work or play. No longer tied down by the need for an Ethernet cable, you can connect to Gigabit wireless speeds without compromising on gaming performance or media streaming quality.
Although the Z370 can be equipped with Wi-Fi, it’s necessary to install third-party controllers. The key potential drawback to this approach is that the connection between the motherboard and the controller may not be as efficient as the Z390’s integrated solution.
Double the RAM
Why not get the most out of your 9th Generation CPU to ensure that your gaming performance is at its peak?
After updating the BIOS, you can take the DDR4 capacity on the Z390 up to 128Gb with speeds of up to 2,666MHz.
The motherboard’s VRM is extremely capable of managing overclocking to help prevent performance and overheating problems that can arise by pushing the processor to its very limits.
What About Z490?
Intel released their Z490 motherboard in Q2 2020, and it offers a lot more than either the Z370 or the Z390.
Let’s look at some of the differences.
The Z370 and Z390 motherboards are designed to support up to 9th Generation Intel chipsets, but Intel has pushed ahead for even better connectivity, networking, power delivery, and gaming speeds with their 10th Generation CPUs.
The 10th Generation chipsets were released in Q2 2020 and are fully supported by the Z490 motherboard. Not only that, but it can also support the 11th Generation Rocket Lake PCU that was released a few months later.
To take your wireless connectivity to even greater speeds, the Z490 goes beyond the Z390’s integrated Wi-Fi 802.11ac (the Z370 has no such integration). The Z490’s Wi-Fi 6 AX201 is three times faster.
Because the Z490 motherboard supports Intel’s 10th Generation CPUs, you can achieve faster networking, higher capacity memory, and faster storage compared to the Z370 and Z390.
With integrated USB 3.2 support on the Z490 board, connectivity with your peripherals and data transfer gets a sizable boost, with transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbps. That’s double the speed offered by the Z370 and Z390, which top out at 5Gbpb with USB 3.1 ports.
The Z490 has integrated support for PCIe 3.0, and as a hint of things to come, Intel has made it possible to support PCIe 4.0 via third-party controllers. Thus, for great connection reliability for components such as SSDs and graphics cards, the Z490 will be even more capable than the Z370 and Z390, which both support up to PCIe 3.0.
As you would expect, the Z490 comes with a substantially higher price tag, so it’s only worth buying if you intend to invest in a 10th or 11th Generation CPU.
When and Why Would I Use Z370?
If you already use a Z370 motherboard, then unless you need the added features on the Z390, you don’t need to spend the extra money on upgrading.
Here are a few reasons you may be just fine sticking with your Z370.
Browsing, Productivity, and Video Streaming
If your main PC usage is browsing, desktop apps, and video streaming, then you’re not likely to notice any advantage from the Z390. There’s little difference in the spec and performance between the two boards in this respect.
If you usually use your PC in a specific location—for example, in your home office—and have a LAN (wired) internet connection, the Wi-Fi I probably isn't of significant importance to you.
However, should the need for Wi-Fi arise, then you can implement it via a third-party controller. Remember, though, that you’re unlikely to reach the very top-end wireless performance that you could with the Z390’s integrated Wi-Fi connectivity.
Support for Intel 8th and 9th Generation CPUs
Bearing in mind that the Z370 and Z390 both support these CPUs unless you need to squeeze the maximum performance out of a 9th Generation CPU, then the Z370 can handle either chip exceptionally well.
When and Why Would I Use Z390?
As we’ve seen, the Z390 is essentially an upgrade to the Z370, with the addition of a few new features. Let’s consider some situations where the Z390 could be the best choice for you.
Integrated Wi-Fi 802.11ac
For greater mobility, Wi-Fi becomes a necessity. With the Z390’s integrated wireless connectivity, even if you want to game wirelessly, it will handle faster-paced, multiplayer games beautifully. This is a faster, more stable wireless connection than using a third-party controller.
Although both the Z370 and the Z390 support overclocking, the latter’s VRM allows you to take the performance levels of the 9th Generation CPU right to the top, without falling victim to overheating and the consequent performance issues.
The Z390 also provides plenty of RAM capacity. As we mentioned earlier, with an update to the BIOS, it can give you up to 128Gb, compared to the Z370’s 64Gb.
USB 3.1 Ports
Stepping away from the gaming scenario for a moment for a faster, more stable connection to your peripherals, the Z390 provides data transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps.
As an example, this can be invaluable if you work with large amounts of complex data from an external hard drive.
Who are these motherboards for? If you’re buying an 8th or 9th Generation Intel CPU, you need one of them—but which?
If your primary PC usage is office-style tasks, video streaming, and browsing, with some fairly serious gaming on the side, the Z370 will be more than adequate. You’ll certainly benefit from the fast transfer speeds for crunching large amounts of complex data that are stored on an external drive.
However, if competitive gaming and mobility are your priorities, then the Z390 could be for you with its integrated Wi-Fi and ability to crank the RAM up to 128Gb.
People Also Ask
With so many similarities between the Z370 and Z390 motherboards, as well as some key differences between the two, it can be tricky knowing which one to opt for. To help you understand some of the options available, here are some of the most frequently asked questions on these two motherboards.
Does Z370 Support 9900k?
Yes, it supports the entire nine series of processors. However, the 9900k has eight cores, drawing more power, so when overclocking, you should keep an eye on VRM temperatures. If heating becomes an issue, setting power limits in the BIOS or direct cooling can help to keep the VRM cool.
Can Z370 Run 9700k?
Yes, it can. The Z370 is frequently highly recommended by PC enthusiasts, in part due to its support for overclocking. Bear in mind, though, that even after updating the BIOS, the VRM may not be able to handle the temperatures resulting from overclocking for long, and it could result in burning out the motherboard.
Is The Z390 Worth It?
The VRM in the Z390 is better than the Z370’s, so if you’re planning to buy a 9th Generation CPU, then it’s better equipped to handle raised temperatures when overclocking. The Z370 can support the 9th Generation, but it’s best to check that the VRM is up to the job.
How Long Will Z390 Last?
Length of service depends mostly on your usage—for example, the extent and duration of overclocking and the makeup of the components. For the technology itself, it is one of Intel’s flagship boards, so it will probably be around five years before starting to be superseded by new technology.
Does Z390 Support 10th Gen?
No, it doesn’t. Both the Z370 and the Z390 motherboards both support 8th and 9th Generation CPUs, but only the Z490 supports the 10th and 11th Generation. This is because the socket used by the 10th Gen CPU is the LGA 1200, and not the LGA1151, which is found on the Z390.
Why Is Z390 Cheaper Than Z370?
It wasn’t always the case, but the Z370 is gradually being succeeded by more advanced motherboards. For example, ever-increasing numbers of PC enthusiasts and gamers are turning towards motherboards with integrated high-speed wireless connectivity. As a result, the Z390 is replacing it as the entry-level 8th/9th Gen motherboard of choice.