NZXT N7 Z490 Motherboard Review

/ 2 weeks ago

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A Closer Look

For NZXT fans out there who loved their N7 Z370 and N7 Z390 motherboard, you’ll be forgiven for thinking this one looks the same. It does have a LOT in common, but the changes are honestly pretty drastic. For starters, the board is made by ASRock not ECS now, and benefits from ASRocks higher quality capacitors, chokes, etc.

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Remember before how you had a heatsink with all that fancy armour over it? Well now they’re one and the same, that whole block is the VRM heatsink and it looks awesome with that two-tone design and ventilated design on the left. It uses a 12-phase VRM design, which is split to give 8 to the VCORE, 2 for the iGPU (if you have one) and 1 each to the system agent and IO. The 8+2 phases for the VCORE and VCCGT or iGPU are rated at 50amps each.

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Power comes from a combination of the 8-pin CPU header, and an optional 4-pin, which will be handy for the flagship i9 CPUs, but will also add voltage stability on any CPU too.

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One thing I do love about this motherboard is that it has absolutely not RGB on it what so ever. None at all! However, if you do have the urge to control some additional lights, there are 2x NZXT RGB connectors for Hue devices at the top, but also an addressable and 4-pin RGB header towards the bottom of the board. As with previous models of this board, you’re not short of fan headers, as it comes with 7 in total, including the CPU, AIO pump and system fans.

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The armour looks broadly similar to the previous models from NZXT, but there are some major changes to the shape and size of the panels. They’re more robust than before, and rather than using push-pins, they’re screwed on from the back, making them even more secure than before. You can remove the top and bottom smaller panels here to access the M.2 mounts too.

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There are obvious cutaways all over, allowing you to reach cable headers, such as the USB 3.1 and 24-pin connectors.

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Another feature I love is that a lot of the connectors are side-mounted and thus hidden with the armour. It’ll really tidy up cable routing, although I’m sure they could have done this with the 24-pin power cable too.

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If like me you spend more time with your motherboard on an open air test bench than in a case, you’ll be happy to see there are some on-board power controls.

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There appear to be some voltage points here, and also a Clear CMOS which doesn’t have a button. I mean, this should prevent accidentally clearing the BIOS, but you’ll need a pin to trip it when you actually want to.

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As I said before though, you’re not short on connectors, with a wide array of headers for RGB, USB, Fan, and more racked up along the bottom edge.

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Unscrew some of the armour, and you can easily install your M.2 storage devices,

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Strangely, the motherboard doesn’t have PCIe Gen 4, or at least, as far as I’m aware it doesn’t.

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However, you do still get room for two drives, which is great. You also a few other PCIe slots for add-on cards should you need them.

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Around the back of the board, you can see an additional brace supporting the rear I/O bracket, as well as providing a more stable fixing point for the motherboards VRM heatsinks.

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NZXT has fitted the board with a pre-installed backplate, so you can’t forget this one when you install it in a case! As you can see, the I/O is fairly well equipped, with built-in WiFi, HDMI, USB-C, and a 2.5GbE ethernet port.. There are only five other USB ports, which seems a little lacking, but should be enough for most users.

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