Z490 Pro Art, QTB1 and Undervolting

Asus Z490 Pro Art is a weird motherboard: with dual Thunderbolt, it’s aiming straight at the Gigabyte Designare / Vision “creator” focused segment, wich has been a staple for the hackintosh community. The bundled 10gb Ethernet as PCIex card is not on the board i/o panel, and the card itself is able to work on every other motherboard with no issues, not tied in any way other than being bundled. Compared to the z490 Vision D though we are lacking the third NVMe slot and integrated wifi/bt card: not the best start as the Asus is also slightly pricier on average at around 320 euros right now.

In my testing the Asus board seem to have a slightly better power delivery system; as i ran the same exact chip on it and the Gigabyte rival, it was able to run stable Cinebench r15 at lower power (measured from the wall). The chip is a 10900 engineering sample, aka QTB1 ; intel ES for consumer cpus keep the same core count and behavior at slightly reduced clockspeeds compared to the final retail version; this one being the ES for 10900 non K is locked, and runs at 4.1ghz all cores / 4.6 single core. This results in much better efficiency: slightly reduced clocks and voltage bring huge power draw reduction.
I use Cinebench r15 as the comparison tool for all my readings in this articole, but i also validated the stability of the settings  with a lot of other stress and benchmark tools like Sandra, 3dmark, pcmark and Prime95. Under cinebench r15 load, without any undervolting, using the Hwinfo reading for the CPU pkg power, 10900ES scores around 2200 using 135w compared to 10900 retail doing around 2500 at 190w and 10900k doing slightly less than 2600 at 250w. I found the ES to undervolt usually around -100, the 10850k/10900 around -60 and the only K i had did -50.

When building this system, i was not able to boot with TeamGroup 3200mhz memory, as the modules are rated for 3200 without XMP, but this speed is not compatible with the locked ES cpu. The system would just bootloop without ever showing the bios. I had to put in a random 2133mhz module , set the memory speed manually to 2133mhz, then take the module, with the bios enforcing 2133mhz to the other sticks i could boot and set them manually now to 2933. This is going to be an issue if the board ever clear the CMOS somehow, as it makes it unable to boot again. Beware.

The actual reading from the wall using the ES at stock started at 195w (hwinfo about 135w). The board was also enforcing the power limit, resulting in a first run at 2200 points and subsequent going around 1850. I wanted to try the Asus SVID Behavior function, so i set it to “Best-Case Scenario“; this got me straight to 155w from the wall / 110w on Hwinfo for the CPU package, and scores from the second run to 2000 points – not bad! As with the Gigabyte board and this chip i got to around 150w at the lowest stable undervolt of -110v (SA to 0.87 / VCCIO to 0.91 PCH to 0.96) , i decided to try some further offset. To my surprised, i was actually able to apply an additional -045v offset, resulting in a read of 139w from the wall. I started to tune all the secondary voltages: ended with -120v on iGpu (not used in cinebench cpu stress test that much but still..), SA to 0.86 , VCCIO to 0.91 , PCH to 0.94
This got the power down to 133w, wich is around 17w less than the Gigabyte board running the same CPU at the max undervolt; even though the Asus board has only one ethernet port and no WiFi card, these are not going to account for this difference. Both system were running from a single SATA ssd (my test drive) and without any other attached device, powered by bequiet 300w gold PSU.

Let’s now go over some other stuff about the board and the Vision D comparison. This was sadly a windows build, and i got a shitload of Asus control panels and bloatware installed by windows update without any prompt. The system just asked about some “armory crate” stuff that i denied. We could argue that it’s better than the other random shit microsoft throws at you in the start menu, but still…i hate it. Gigabyte does not do this anyway.
The board has a gold/black scheme that i think is better than the z490 Vision D, wich has not been updated to the actual new white minimal Gigabyte Vision aesthetic that is used on the G version, the AMD b550 and the new gpus.
A bad issue that i experienced with the Vision D is that it has some undocumented switches or memory allocation issues that come up when populating all the NVMe and PCIe slots, as some device disappear from the system; i was not able to do this test on the Pro Art, but it’s likely that the reduced amount of built-in features and slots will prevent this limit to be reached.

In the end, it comes down to the convenience of integrated wifi and the 3d NVMe slot compared to the value of the 10g card, wich should have about 50 euros of resale value if needed, making the Asus a bit cheaper in that case; i would be happy to pick the Pro Art a bit more for my builds as it seems to be a bit more efficient, but in the end it’s the convenience of a (very good and now even hackintosh compatible) integrated WiFI card that wins most clients.