Supermicro is known for its server hardware, but the company occasionally gets involved in consumer-centric areas. Its latest product in this regard is SuperO C9Z590-CGW, which is a motherboard based on Intel’s flagship mainstream chipset. The motherboard (basically server-level) includes native PCIe 4.0 support (with Rocket Lake CPU), a Marvell 10 GbE network card, and two USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C ports. There are three M.2 slots, but compared with the previous generation model, the other changes on this RGB-free motherboard are not much. The $429.99 CGW (CG without Wi-Fi costs $409.99) is a full-featured motherboard based on the Z590, hoping to have a place in the crowded high-end market.
As a Supermicro motherboard, it is not shocking that features surpass aesthetics. For this reason, its appearance does not completely match the appearance of similar competing alternatives. Although there is a heat sink on the M.2 socket, you will not find any shields or RGB LEDs. This is not bad for some people, but those looking for any type of RGB lightning need to look elsewhere.
When it comes to performance, this motherboard strictly complies with Intel specifications out of the box, and we must run the memory at DDR4 3200 (the maximum inventory speed of the processor). Therefore, the results in some areas are a bit lackluster. In order to make full use of your CPU, you may need to lift some power and current restrictions, but memory overclocking is still limited. Chances are, if you are looking at this motherboard at all, then you are not planning to overclock the RAM. The board is designed for stability. Overall, it is a well-equipped motherboard and one of the cheapest motherboards equipped with a 10 GbE network card, but nothing more. We will introduce these functions and more on the following pages. First of all, here are the full specifications of Supermicro.
|Stabilizer||11 phases (6 90A MOSFETs for Vcore)|
|Video port||(1) HDMI (2.0b)|
|(1) Display port (v1.4a)|
|USB port||(2) USB 3.2 Gen 2×2, Type-C (20 Gbps)|
|(2) USB 3.2 Gen 2, Type A (10 Gbps)|
|(4) USB 2.0 (480 Mbps)|
|Network jack||(1) 1 GbE|
|(1) 10 GbE|
|Audio jack||(5) Analog + SPDIF|
|PCIe x16||(2) v4.0 x16, (x16 / x0, x8 / x8)|
|PCIe x1||(2) v3.0 x1|
|DIMM slot||(4) DDR4 4000+(OC), 128GB capacity|
|M.2 slot||(1) PCIe 4.0 x4 / PCIe (maximum 80mm)|
|(1) PCIe 3.0 x4 / PCIe + SATA (maximum 110mm)|
|(1) PCIe 3.0 x4 / PCIe + SATA (maximum 110mm)|
|*M.2-M3 supports RAID0/1, M.2-M2/M1 supports RAID0, 1, and 5|
|SATA port||(4) SATA3 6 Gbps *Support RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10|
|USB connector||(1) USB v3.2 Gen 2 (Front panel Type-C)|
|(1) USB v3.2 Gen 1|
|(1) USB v2.0|
|Fan/pump connector||(6) 4-pin (PWM)|
|Other interfaces||FP-audio, TPM|
|Diagnostic panel||2 character LEDs plus 4 LEDs for debugging|
|Internal buttons/switches||Power and reset button|
|Ethernet controller||(1) Intel I219-V (1 GbE)|
|(1) Marvell AQC113C (10 GbE)|
|Wi-Fi/Bluetooth||(1) Intel AX201 (WiFi-6, MU-MIMO, OFDMA, BT 5.2)|
|USB controller||Diodes Inc. PI3EQX2004ZHEX (x2)|
|HD Audio Codec||Realtek ALC1220|
|DDL/DTS connection||✗ / ✗|
The box contains most of the items you need to get started, but the accessory kit is not the most comprehensive we have seen. The following is a complete list of all included additional features.
- Quick reference guide
- Disk drive
- Wireless antenna
- (4) SATA cable
- (3) M.2 screw
- I board
- Q type connector
- Label (for storage)
Taking the motherboard out of the retail box, we see a semi-gloss black PCB with a black and gray heat sink and a shield with brushed aluminum finish. The full-length PCIe slot and four DRAM slots are reinforced to prevent shearing and EMI protection. The SuperO name is on the IO cover with frosted white stripes illuminated from below. This is the only aesthetic lighting element on the board.
Strangely, the C9Z590-CGW does not even have an RGB connector, in case you want to add your own lighting. Although this motherboard has DNA from the server field, it is sold as a gaming motherboard and should include RGB connectors. If you look at other motherboards for around $400, integrated RGB lighting (plus additional connectors) can be seen everywhere, and there are many that think of a better (more shield and metal) appearance.
Starting from the upper half of the circuit board, the plastic IO cover extends out of the black VRM heat sink on the left. At the top above the socket is a second small radiator designed to cool the remaining VRM. Between the power radiators along the top edge is an 8-pin EPS connector for powering the CPU. Next to it is the first (six) 4-pin PWM connector. You need a PWM mode trimmer to control your fan, while a DC-controlled fan runs at full speed. As far as output is concerned, the manual does not seem to list any values, so it is best to assume that the maximum value of each value is 1A/12W.
On the right side of the slot area are four reinforced single-sided locking DRAM slots. The main slot (when using two sticks) is gray, while the secondary slot is black-this is a useful visual cue. Supermicro lists the memory speed of DDR4 4000. However, we encountered difficulties when using the GSkill DDR4 3600 kit and ran it at 3200 MHz for testing. Maybe with additional adjustments, we could have reached that goal, but XMP didn’t work, and we had no luck to spend some time trying to reach these speeds manually.
Along the right edge are three other 4-pin fan headers, as well as convenient power and reset buttons. Further down is the 24-pin ATX connector, which is used to power the circuit board and the front panel USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C connector.
SuperO C9Z590-CGW uses 6+2+1+2 (Vcore/GT/SA/DIMM) configuration for Vcore, graphics and system agents. The 8-pin EPS connector supplies power to the CPU, which is then sent to the Infineon XDPE12284C (6+1?) controller, which is directly connected to six Infineon TDA21490 90A OptiMOS MOSFETs for Vcore.The 540A available for CPU is low for this type of (and price) motherboard, even though it handles our Intel Core i9-11900K There is no problem with overclocking (5.1 GHz).
Moving down to the bottom half of the board, starting from the left, we see that the audio bit is completely exposed. In the middle is the Realtek ALC1220 codec, and some small audio capacitors. We also see the wires that separate the audio part from the rest of the motherboard. Just above it is a small black square radiator for cooling the Marvell 10 GbE chip below.
There are three M.2 sockets in the middle of the circuit board, each socket has its own heat sink. The top slot M.2_M3 is connected to the CPU, running at a speed up to PCIe 4.0 x4 (64 Gbps, using a Rocket Lake-based CPU), and supports PCIe modules up to 80mm. The two bottom slots get bandwidth from the chipset and run at maximum PCIe 3.0 x4 (32 Gbps). The two slots at the bottom support both SATA and PCIe-based M.2 devices.
Next, we observe two enhanced full-length PCIe slots and two x1 size slots. Two full-length slots are used for the GPU, and its channels come from the CPU. Both sockets are wired for x16 functions. When both are filled, they are broken down into x8/x8 configurations. Supermicro chose to abandon the PLX chip on the Z490 motherboard and discarded one of the rare “gaming” motherboards. In other words, this is not a big problem, because SLI and multi-GPU capabilities are left over for mainstream use cases at this point. The two slots at the bottom are connected by the chipset and run at PCIe 3.0 x1 speed.
Continue past the chipset heatsink to the right edge, we see another fan header and four horizontal SATA ports. The SATA port supports RAID0, 1, 5 and 10 modes. You can run up to three M.2 devices and four SATA devices in total—sufficient for most users. Below is the front panel heading and the two-character debug LED used to troubleshoot POST issues.
There are several connectors at the bottom of the circuit board, including additional USB and fan connectors. The following is the complete list, from left to right:
- Front panel audio
- Speaker connector
- Made by Intel.model
- USB 2.0 connector
- 5V standby connector
- USB 3.2 Gen1 connector
- TPM header
- 4-LED debugging
- Serial port
Finally, we rotate to the back IO area. The first thing you will notice here is that the C9Z590-CGW does not have a rear IO board pre-installed-you have to install it yourself, while the other $400 boards are installed from the factory. From left to right, we see the Displayport (1.4a) and HDMI (2.0b) ports. Next to it is a bunch of four USB 2.0 ports. The red Ethernet plug is used for the 1 GbE Intel port, and the black is Marvell 10 GbE. Below are two USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A ports and two ultra-fast USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C ports. Continuing to look to the right, we see a CMOS reset button, as well as Wi-Fi card/connection and 5-plug plus SPDIF audio stack.
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