MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi Review
We always enter any review with the minimum of preconceptions it's possible to have. Obviously if the box says "MSI Godlike" then there are some expectations alongside that, we wouldn't be human otherwise and our wrists and knees remind us that we are. But generally we disassociate the naming or looks from any expectations of performance. The thing we do most, and is actually the easiest to do, is ignore the price. Partly because when reviewing things prior to launch there often isn't a price available until right at launch day, but also because we all have different finances. Some people think nothing of a £1000 motherboard. To some the difference between a £250 one and a £280 one can be the difference between buying it or finding it out of reach. Thus price is almost immaterial. Why are we bringing that up, you ask.
Until now the MSI Carbon has always been on of their more affordable motherboards. Very much at the point where motherboards stop being a selection of random parts and start to have a design that is a unified whole, but before the price necessary to have one with a particularly glitzy aesthetic. Thus when it came time to review the Intel 13th Gen CPUs we looked at our motherboard selection and chose the Carbon because it should be a good mid-point option. During testing we were blown away by how usable it was and then, just before writing this, the price was revealed as £550. Which very much puts it in the premium MSI bracket, unless the Godlike is going to be £1500. Who knows.
When you actually stop and look at the features on the MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi though that pricing becomes obvious, particularly when compared to most of the other motherboards we've reviewed today. Few of them have as many USB ports on the back, or have a PCI Express 5.0 M.2 slot. The few that do are all similarly priced. If we've learnt anything from the "5" technologies it's that they're very expensive. The difference between a DDR4 motherboard and a DDR5 one is enormous. That's without getting in to motherboards which have the fastest NVMe capability around.
We like that MSI have pared down the amount of carbon fibre effect on the .. ahem.. Carbon. It's much subtler now, which is perfect if you don't want your system looking like it fell out of an edition of "Big Wheels and No Tyres" magazine. Despite being only one of the MPG models rather than the MSI MEG range, the performance is still great. You have more than enough performance overhead to overclock the Core i9-13900K, a very demanding processor, and the results speak for themselves.
The MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WiFi has upgraded the Carbon models significantly over those that came before, but the rewards are worth it. Priced well below to the other big hitters - the Maximus Hero and Aorus Master - it's an excellent choice if you want an MSI motherboard in your rig and wins our OC3D Enthusiast Award.