It’s been over half a year since we dropped an Asus TUF board on our test bench. We were pretty positive about the TUF Gaming X570-Pro WIFI in January, but now it’s time to put the Intel-based Asus TUF Gaming Z590-Plus WIFI to the test. While the TUF cards aren’t as focused on ruggedness and durability as they used to be, this model packs a capable power supply, three M.2 ports, Wi-Fi 6, 2.5 GbE, and more for a mid-range price of $249.99 (opens in new tab) at the time of this writing.
The TUF boards used to be an upper middle class, with robust power delivery, protective armor and other features that made them more expensive than most mid-range and budget offerings. But over the past few generations, Asus has lightened the TUF line a bit, repositioning the sub-brand as a more budget-oriented offering for gamers, behind the Strix and ROG models. The look of these boards has also changed over the years, with the TUF Gaming Z590-Plus WIFI now matching most building themes.
Apart from that, the board has a lot of features and overall performs well. The results were average among the other boards tested, with the board performing well in some benchmarks (like PCMark 10) and a little behind others (like AIDA memory bandwidth). Performance in gaming was perfect in both 3DMark tests and F1 2020 and Far Cry: New Dawn† So for its primary purpose, the board is doing a good job. All in all, the TUF Gaming Z590-Plus WIFI is a well-equipped motherboard for a reasonable mid-range price. We will discuss the features in detail on the following pages. First of all, here are the full Asus specs.
Specifications – Asus TUF Gaming Z590-Plus WIFI
|Wall outlet||LGA 1200|
|Voltage regulator||16 Phase (14x 50A MOSFETs for Vcore)|
|Video ports||(1) HDMI (2.0b)|
|(1) DisplayPort (v1.4a)|
|USB ports||(1) USB 3.2 Gen 2×2, Type-C (20 Gbps)|
|(2) USB 3.2 Gen 2, Type-A (10 Gbps)|
|(2) USB 3.2 Gen 1, Type-A (5Gbps)|
|(2) USB 2.0 (480Mbps)|
|Network connections||(1) 2.5 GbE|
|Audio connections||(5) Analog + SPDIF|
|PCIe x16||(1) v4.0 x16|
|(1) v3.0 x4|
|PCIe x1||(2) v3.0 x1|
|CrossFire/SLIE||2-way AMD Crossfire|
|DIMM slots||(4) DDR4 5133+(OC), 128GB capacity|
|M.2 slots||(1) PCIe 4.0 x4 / PCIe (up to 110mm)|
|(1) PCIe 3.0 x4 / PCIe + SATA (up to 110mm)|
|(1) PCIe 3.0 x4 / PCIe + SATA (up to 80mm)|
|SATA ports||(6) SATA3 6 Gbps *Supports RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10|
|USB headers||(1) USB v3.2 Gen 1 (Front Panel Type-C)|
|(1) USB v3.2 Gen 1|
|(2) USB v2.0|
|Fan/Pump Heads||(6) 4-pin|
|RGB headers||(2) 3-pin ARGB|
|(2) 4-pin RGB|
|Other interfaces||FP-Audio, TPM|
|Diagnostic panel||4 LED Debugging|
|Ethernet controller(s)||(1) Intel I225-V (2.5GbE)|
|Wi-Fi / Bluetooth||(1) Intel AX201 (WiFi-6, MU-MIMO, OFDMA, BT 5.2)|
|HD audio codec||Realtek ALC1200A|
|TTL/DTS connection||✗ / DTS Custom|
Beneath the anti-static, bag-packed motherboard are the board’s accessories, including most of what you need to get started. The TUF Z590 we have doesn’t come with a lot of extras, but it’s about what we’d expect for this price. Here’s the full list:
- Support DVD:
- Wi-Fi antenna
- (2) SATA cables
- M.2 screw
- (2) M.2 Rubber Packages
- TUF gaming sticker
When we first look at the Z590-Plus board, we see a matte black 6-layer circuit board, with matching black heat sinks. The DRAM slots are gray and black and together with the reinforced gray PCIe slot are about the only contrast on this board. The left VRM heatsink sticks out over the rear IO area and at least looks like it should do a good job. The board includes some gray stenciling that follows the TUF Gaming theme. The X590-Plus features RGB lighting along the right edge of the board, which shines through the translucent parts of the board. The lighting is bright and saturated but not overwhelming. If you need additional RGB lighting, the board has the headers to add more glow.
Overall, the Z590 TUF gaming board should be suitable for most construction themes. The company has moved away from the yellow accents and the stencilling shouldn’t be a deal breaker. Otherwise, the mostly black configuration has few issues to suit most build themes.
While we’re focusing on the top half of the board, one of the most obvious things here is the large heat sink for the left VRM bank. This heatsink sticks out over the ugly rear IO ICs, giving it a decent amount of mass and surface area. Just above that are the two EPS connectors – a required 8-pin and optional 4-pin – to power the CPU.
Just above the top VRM heatsink are the first two 4-pin fan headers (there’s another one just south of the socket and to the left of the first M.2 socket). The CPU_FAN and CPU_OPT automatically adapt to PWM or DC controlled fans, with the chassis fan headers requiring a bios adjustment. The AIO_PUMP header runs at full speed while the others are controlled by Q-Fan. All 4-pin fan/pump headers support up to 1A/12W, which is enough for fans, although some pumps could easily use more. I would like at least one header to support more power. If you’re piggybacking powerful fans or a pump, make sure you know how much power they require.
Moving our focus to the right, we come across the four gray and black single-sided locking DDR4 slots. The Z590 TUF lists memory support up to DDR4 5133(OC). The sweet spot for this platform is around DDR4 3600, so if you’re looking to push the boundaries there’s quite a bit of headroom on paper. As usual, your mileage will vary as achieving high speeds is dependent on the memory kit and using a CPU with an above average integrated memory controller (IMC).
Continuing to the right edge, we see the first headers for RGB strips at the top. The 4-pin is for standard RGB while the 3-pin is ARGB. You’ll find two more heads like this one at the bottom of the board. Along the edge is an RGB lighting area and then the 24-pin ATX connector to power the board. Below that are two USB headers on the front panel: the first is USB 3.2 Gen 1 and the second is USB 3.2 Gen2/Type-C.
Also in this area are the Q-LEDs designed to monitor key components (CPU, DRAM, VGA, and boot devices) during the POST process. If an error is found, the associated LED will remain lit to indicate where the problem is. Since the board doesn’t include a 2-character debug LED, it’s a good way to troubleshoot boot issues, even if the lights don’t provide as much detail as error codes.
Asus uses a 19-phase configuration (14+2+1+2 for Vcore/GT/SA/IO) for power. There are 14 stages assigned to Vcore that supply power from the 8-pin EPS connectors to the Asus Digi VRM chip – an ASP1900B (X+Y=8) controller. Power is then sent to the 50A ON Semiconductor NCP302150 using a combined (or parallel) VRM design so that each phase feeds two MOSFETs without using phase doublers. The 700A dedicated to Vcore was enough to support our flagship Intel Core i9-11900K, even if it was overclocked to 5.1 GHz.c
Shifting to the bottom half of the board, on the left is the audio section. Hidden under a Faraday cage with the TUF symbol on it is the Realtek ALC1200A codec. Below are several Nichicon audio capacitors along with the audio divider. Although this is a last-generation audio solution, most users find this implementation acceptable.
Moving on to the PCIe slot configuration, the TUF Gaming has two full-length PCIe slots and two x1 slots. The top PCIe slot (gray) is powered by the CPU and supports up to PCIe 4.0 x16 speeds. It is also reinforced to prevent shear from heavy graphics cards and reduce EMI. The second full-length slot is powered by the chipset and runs at speeds up to PCIe 3.0 x4. This configuration supports 2-Way AMD Crossfire. The two x1 slots also pull their lanes out of the chipset and operate at a maximum of PCIe 3.0 x1 speeds. The top PCIe slot also splits in half, so you can split the number of lanes and use that top slot for additional M.2 storage (you’ll need to buy the Hyper M.2 x16 card), though your graphics card will then a PCIe 3.0 is x4 slot and lose some performance in games.
The TUF Gaming Z590-Plus WIFI includes three M.2 sockets, all of which have a heat sink to support the thermals on hot-running SSDs. The top M.2 socket, M2_1, connects through the CPU and supports up to 110mm PCIe (3.0/4.0) based modules. M2_2 supports PCIe (3.0) and SATA-based modules up to 110mm in length, while the latest socket, M2_3, also supports PCIe 3.0 x4, but with devices up to 80mm. When M.2_2 is running in SATA mode, SATA port 2 is disabled. M.2_3 shares bandwidth with SATA ports 5/6. If M.2_3 is busy, SATA 5/6 is disabled. If you need additional M.2 storage, you can purchase the Hyper M.2 expansion card and use the lane splitting feature in the top PCIe slot. Otherwise, your worst-case scenario is running three M.2 modules (two SATA, one PCIe) with three traditional 2.5-inch SATA drives. The M.2 drives also have a unique locking mechanism: a plastic piece on top of the screw pivots to secure M.2 modules, so you don’t have to mess with those tiny screws. Please put this on all your boards, Asus.
To the right is the large chipset heatsink and two SATA ports are hidden underneath. Asus has made a notch in this area, giving it an unusual look that also helps with cable management. The other four SATA ports are on the bottom of the board. The SATA ports support RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10.
At the bottom of the board are several headers, including additional USB, fan headers, and more. Below is the full list, from left to right:
- Front panel audio
- COM port
- TB header
- 3-pin ARGB
- (2) USB 2.0 headers
- (2) 4-pin fan heads
- (4) SATA ports
- Front panel
- 4-pin RGB header
Finally, we deal with the posterior IO region. Here we see the black pre-installed IO plate with the TUF Gaming symbol adorning part of the free space. From the left, we see a legacy PS/2 port above two USB 2.0 ports (black). The Z590-Plus WIFI has an HDMI port (v2.0) and a Displayport output (v1.4) for video. Moving to the right, we come across two USB 3.2 Gen1 ports (blue) and the ultra-fast USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C port. There are two USB 3.2 Gen2 ports (blue-green), while above that is the Intel 2.5 GbE port. Finally, we come across the Wi-Fi antenna ports and the five-plug plus SPDIF audio stack.
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