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ASUS ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming Motherboard Review

It’s hard to find anything significant to say about the ASUS ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming, which is mostly a good thing. The design is well-thought out and it is a sensible motherboard choice for anyone looking to build around the mini-ITX platform using Intel’s latest Coffee Lake CPUs.

At the price point and given the form factor it has everything that a consumer might reasonably expect including ample RGB lighting options, suitable diagnostics and debug tools and all-round excellent connectivity in terms of storage, USB and networking. As is always the case with high-end mini-ITX options “less costs more” and consumers simply looking for a good value proposition would do well to consider more affordable ATX or micro-ATX alternatives.

While it’s a well equipped motherboard it feels like it has lost that certain ROG charm and wow-factor that we last saw with the Maximus VIII (Z170) Impact. Perhaps the market has moved on and consumers are now looking for something different, or maybe it’s now possible to achieve the same or better performance without the quirky daughterboards and separated PCBs.

In any case a consumer seeking to build a compact mini-ITX system using Intel’s latest CPUs can do so with the confidence that the ASUS ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming is a well-built and full-featured choice. It’s fairly expensive, but mini-ITX solutions always have been because of the increased design effort required to shoehorn so many features into such a small footprint. In this case, the expense is well-justified.

The performance is all there, including when overclocking, despite the debate around the new ASUS approach to VRM design. Consumers will be limited by their CPU before they are limited by the capability of the motherboard.

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The ASUS ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming has a retail price of £214.99 in the UK at Overclockers UK and is usually sold with a 3 year warranty.

In the USA it can be had for $193.52 at Amazon and usually has a 3 year warranty.

Pros:

  • Debug/Diagnostic LEDs
  • Ample RGB lighting options (12v/5v/onboard)
  • USB 3.1 and Type-C
  • Dual M.2 with M.2 cooling
  • Integrated I/O shield
  • Large VRM heatsinks
  • Good quality VRM components
  • High-quality audio
  • Neutral styling

Cons:

  • AURA RGB software compatibility issues (again)
  • M.2 cooling runs on the warm-side
  • “only” 3 phase VCore VRM (albeit with 6 phases worth of components)
  • Enhanced turbo is now “on by default”, with no warnings
  • Awkward to access front panel headers

KitGuru says: Well-built and fully-featured, the ASUS ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming is a sensible choice for an Intel-based mini-ITX build.

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Rating: 8.0.

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