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Supermicro SuperO C9Z390-CG-IW Motherboard Review

Rating: 7.0.

The mini-ITX form factor continues to get more powerful as competition between AMD and Intel has driven up processor core counts over the past few years. With Intel's newest Core i9 9900K it is now possible to pack 8 cores and 16 threads into a diminutive mini-ITX motherboard. More cores mean more power consumption so concerns about reliable power delivery and quality construction are paramount, concerns Supermicro hopes to allay with the SuperO C9Z390-CG-IW.

This isn't Supermicro's first foray into mini-ITX territory, just last year the company released the C7Z370-CG-IW, its Z370 mini-ITX motherboard. On close inspection the differences between its Z370 and Z390 mini-ITX offerings are few and far between, nonetheless, Supermicro has used Intel's Z390 chipset as an opportunity to refresh the VRM design and tweak some aspects of the layout.

As with most mini-ITX motherboards geared towards a gaming audience there's precious little space for differentiation and product segmentation. Supermicro adds RGB lighting and a touch of SuperO branding as well as companion SuperO Booster software for overclocking, but beyond that it could easily be a workstation motherboard.

The main highlight of Supermicro's Z390 option, compared to the Z370 predecessor, is the re-designed VRM for handling higher power-draw processors. Unlike the “big four” motherboard vendors (ASRock, ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI) Supermicro is able to implement genuinely different VRM designs for the consumer space. Likely due to its historical supplier relationships in the enterprise and server markets.

In its previous generation Z370 mini-ITX motherboard the VRM was based on an unusual Monolithic Power Systems solution. With the new Z390 mini-ITX motherboard the implementation is based on a Infineon (Primarion) controller and MOSFETs, very similar to what Supermicro implemented on the SuperO C9X299-PG300, except on a smaller scale.

Prospective buyers can rest assured then that the Supermicro SuperO C9Z390-CG-IW will deliver on quality, but in the past it hasn't been component quality that has been Supermicro's Achilles' heel. Let's see how Supermicro gets on with another shot a conquering the consumer mini-ITX space.

Supermicro SuperO C9Z390-CG-IW
Form Factor mini-ITX, 17cm x 17cm
CPU Socket LGA 1151 v2
Infineon Primarion PXE1520CDN 5+2 (VCore + iGPU) phase controller
7 x Infineon TDA21470 with 7 Inductors
Chipset Intel Z390
Memory DDR4, 2 DIMMs, up to 32GB, up to 4000MHz+ with OC
On-board Graphics Intel UHD Graphics (on supported CPUs)
Discrete Graphics Single Graphics Card Configurations Only
Expansion Slots 1 x PCIe 3.0 X16
Storage 2 x M.2 (Supports PCIe 3.0 x4 or SATA III, both up to 2280)
4 x SATA III 6Gbps (Intel Z390)
USB  5 USB 3.1 (4 Rear [1 Type-C], 1 Front, via Intel Z390)
4 x USB 3.0 (2 Rear, 2 Front, via Intel Z390)
Networking  Intel I219V Gigabit LAN
Intel Wireless-AC 9560 AC1730 Dual Band WiFi with Bluetooth 5.0 (CNVi)
Audio Realtek ALC1220 7.1 channel HD Audio
RGB 1 x  12v G R B
1 onboard RGB lighting zone (side strip near MB 24 pin)
Fan Headers  2, all support 3/4 pin fans (1 x CPU, 1 x SYS)
Rear I/O 1 x PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse Combo
2 x USB 3.0 5Gbps (Blue)
3 x USB 3.1 10Gbps (Red)
1 x USB 3.1 10Gbps Type-C
1 x DisplayPort 1.2
1 x HDMI 2.0
2 x WiFi/Bluetooth Antennae
5 x Analogue Audio Jacks
1 x S/PDIF Optical Audio
1 x RJ45 Gigabit LAN

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