The MSI Z390 ACE is under the MSI Z390 Godlike in the company's product stack and has many things to shout about including the M.2 slot trio, well-made power delivery, and as many USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports as you need.
MSI MEG Z390 ACE review
The MSI Z390 ACE motherboard is intended for gamers who are looking for premium features to create the foundation for a high-powered gaming system. In this case, MEG stands for 'MSI Enthusiast Gaming', which made MSI the first redundant, and ACE doesn't stand for anything here, but MSI likes to make their brand names in ALL CAPS like GODLIKE so they get out of the page when people people browse product lists on Amazon or Newegg. Someone at MSI has put marketing and naming into 'OVERDRIVE' (please don't make the all-caps motherboard called overdrive, please).
This model comes from the MSI premium product line, the Gaming Enthusiast range, and the MSRP command weighs $ 290. For this amount of money, MSI must offer something special. The MSI Z390 ACE core feature set includes four RAM slots with support for DDR4-4500 memory, three M.2 slots, six SATA ports, enhanced audio, game-focused 'Killer' network ports, and the latest Intel Wi-Fi connectivity. At the front of the design, the Z390 ACE has a matte black PCB with a contrasting set of gunmetal gray heatsinks and a suitable rear panel cover. The back panel cover features the MSI Mystic Light Infinity panel which has a variety of colors and effects that can be adjusted which can be controlled by the MSI Mystic Light RGB software.
A quick glance at the specifications shows that the MSI Z390 ACE is a sub-set of the halo top-end MEG Z390 Godlike and is reflected in both the size and the in the price differences. The MSI Z390 ACE makes use of a Realtek ALC1220 HD audio codec and in keeping things consistent with a gaming flavor, MSI has also opted to use a Killer based E2500 Gigabit gaming LAN controller. In addition to this is the inclusion of an Intel 9560 802.11ac MU-MIMO Wave2 capable adapter which affords users both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity.
On the technical side, MSI advertises the Z390 ACE to load 13-phase power delivery. The attached heatsink has a lot of weight. The VCore / CPU section runs twelve ON MOSFET high-side and low-side MOSFETs. This is controlled by the International Rectifier IR35201 PWM controller which is an 8-channel controller that operates at 6 + 2. Each VCore phase has six individual doublers which means the Z390 ACE runs a 6-phase design on VCore. Giving power to the CPU is two 8-pin 12V ATX power inputs while a standard 24-pin 12V ATX input exists to drive the rest of the motherboard components.
With a total of three PCIe 3.0 full-length slots, it is possible to run a three-way CrossFire multi-graphics card on the Z390 ACE, but due to bandwidth limitations, a maximum of two NVIDIA cards in IDD can be accommodated. At the bottom right of the PCB is an overclocker toolkit too. Cooling support is provided by seven 4-pin fan headers. The USB 3.1 Gen2 port is found on the rear panel, both Type-A and Type-C.
Looking at the performance of the MSI MEG Z390 ACE, nothing stands out as an example, although the most prominent positive thing comes in our 7-Zip encoding test and currently sits at the top of this benchmark. Other positive results came in 3D Particle and POV-Ray Movement, with performance comparable to other Z390 chipset boards in other tests. For system related tests such as POST time, the Z390 ACE is in the middle of the road with a time of more than 19 seconds; this is fixed with the controller turned off in the BIOS for about 1 and half seconds. Performance in other system-specific tests such as DPC Latency is also in the middle of the road. The only real negative in our test is power consumption, which we explained in the review.
On the side of overclocking, the MSI Z390 ACE performs well with manual overclocking, but is laughable towards the top of the Game Boost profile. As shown manually, we reached 5.0 GHz in our test. There is plenty of headroom available for users who want to drive their 8th and 9th generation processors above 5.0 GHz on this board, but the biggest factor in achieving this is keeping the core temperature as low as possible. Users with 9900K might see better performance with standard solder-based thermal interface materials.
The MSI Z390 ACE is one of two special MEG Z390 models aimed at a more premium market. Another model in question is the MSI MEG Z390 Golike ($ 600) which is right on top of the MSI Z390 product at a fairly large price. The Z390 ACE bridges the gap between the Godlike Z390 and the AC MPG Z390 Gaming Carbon Pro ($ 230) with a solid set of features. With a suggested retail price of $ 290, and a combination of specifications and aesthetics, MSI looks to seduce users in various fields of the market.