Asus and MSI have lifted the lid on their upcoming line-up of Z590 motherboards for Intel's soon-to-be-released 11th Gen Rocket Lake CPUs. Launching on January 27th, these new motherboards will be primed and ready for Rocket Lake, and Asus have confirmed their boards will be backwards compatible with Intel's existing 10th Gen Comet Lake CPUs as well..
It's not yet clear whether Intel's Rocket Lake CPUs will launch on the same day as their accompanying Z590 motherboards. During their CES press conference last night, Intel simply stated that Rocket Lake was still on track to arrive "this quarter" (that is, before the end of March), as previously announced. If it was indeed as soon as January 27th - which is just two weeks away - I'd think they'd have said something. Still, it would be odd for a new motherboard chipset to launch without their intended CPUs, so it's still possible Intel might surprise us.
In the meantime, though, here's what we can look forward to. The big headline feature across all Z590 boards is full support for PCIe 4.0, which will finally let Intel-based PCs take full advantage of the new crop of super fast PCIe 4.0 SSDs and more. Z590 boards will offer up to 16 lanes of PCIe 4.0 connectivity, delivering up to 64GB/s of bandwidth in total. They'll also add in support for Thunderbolt 4 and Wi-Fi 6, and select models will also support the next-gen USB4 protocol and new Wi-Fi 6E standard to help future-proof your PC against the changing connectivity standards.
MSI have improved their motherboards' audio performance with a new codec and Audio Boost 5 tech, and they're also revamped their MSI Centre software with a new interface and fresh features to help users overclock their PC and adjust their RGB lighting from the desktop without having to dive into the BIOS. Asus, meanwhile, have focused on improving their cooling apparatus for their Z590 line-up, introducing a new M.2 thermal solutions for faster, more sustained SSD performance, and larger VRM heatsinks that now cover all of their power-delivery circuits. And they look quite snazzy to boot, as you can see up the top there.
The Z590 chipset will also be joined by three other 500-series chipsets later in the year: the H570, B560 and H510. These will hopefully be a bit cheaper and more affordable than the top-flight Z590 boards announced this week, the trade-off being that they're unlikely to support quite as many of the new connectivity features as their more expensive siblings.
There's also a bit of good news for existing 400-series motherboard owners, as Asus have announced their 400-series boards will support Intel's 11th Gen Rocket Lake CPUs after a firmware update. You can see the full list of compatible boards and what update you'll need on their website. Alas, there's been no word on this from MSI just yet, but we'll no doubt find out more after their CES press conference tomorrow at 11am PST / 7pm GMT.