In a nutshell: Are you looking to buy a Z490 motherboard to pair with an Intel 10th-generation Comet Lake CPU? If you’ve got plenty of cash to spare, want something showy, and move fast enough, you could grab one of ASRock’s amazing Z490 Aqua mobos, which costs $1,099.99 and is limited to just 999 units.
While we already knew Z490 motherboards were going to be more expensive than their predecessors, paying over a grand is a big ask. However, the Aqua is packed with features that could make it worth the outlay in the eyes of enthusiasts.
The board comes with a 16-phase 90A Dr.MOS and 2oz Copper PCBs that boast up to 95 percent VRM efficiency. The flagship feature, of course, is the in-built water cooling system that can reduce the temperature of those VRMs and 10th-gen (and future 11th-gen Rocket Lake) CPUs.
Another cool element is the OLED display that shows motherboard information such as fan speeds, processor temps, system and POST statuses, and more. Additionally, the mobo is classed as PCIe 4.0-ready, with a PCIe 4.0 external base clock generator that helps with overclocking, and a PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD slot.
The Z490 Aqua comes with three PCIe 3.0 x16 Slots (all PCIe 4. 0 ready), two x PCIe 2.0, two M.2 SATA slots, and four DRAM slots.
Audiophiles will appreciate the ESS9218 DAC that ASRock says delivers true Hi-Fi audio with no distorted signal. There’s also WIMA audio caps for optimized sound and higher impedance support for up to 600ohm headphones.
Connectivity-wise, you get two Thunderbolt 3 Type-C ports, two mini DisplayPort, three USB 3.2 G2 10Gbps Type-A, one USB 3.2 G2 10Gbps Type-C, four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, one AQUANTIA AQtion 10Gbps LAN, one 2.5GbE LAN, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.0.
In addition to the impressive feature list, the Z490 Aqua looks stunning and would pair perfectly with one of our top case picks—assuming you can grab one of the limited edition mobos. It’ll also support the 11th-gen Rocket Lake family, though rumors claim the 12th-gen Alder Lake processors will use a different, LGA 1700 socket.