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Best Intel Z390 Motherboards- from Budget-Friendly to Great Overclocker

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MSI MEG Z390 Godlike

With the advent of the 10th generation Intel processors, you might ask why people would still want to buy a Z390 motherboard given the new CPUs. Well, that is because Intel i9-9900Ks are sold at a cheaper price now making them more appealing for people that want to play games at higher frame rates.

In today’s article, I will recommend some of the best Intel Z390 motherboards from budget-friendly to great overclockers.

The Platform

The Z390 line of motherboards is a series of boards that allow you to overclock Intel’s 9th Generation CPUs. This includes the i5-9600K, i7-9700K, and the i9-9900K and all of its overclockable variants.

The Z-series motherboards provide overclocking capabilities, as well as features that are normally not found in the B or H-series boards.

That being said, while there are plenty of Z390 boards out there, some of them are just so bad that you should avoid them like the plague.

You might also be asking why you should go for the more expensive Z390 motherboards as opposed to the slightly cheaper Z370 variant. Well, the biggest difference between the two is that the Z390 boards come with both WiFi AC support, as well as USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports which provide more data throughput than your standard USB 3.0.

Anyway, without any further delay, here are the best Intel Z390 motherboards:

Best Intel Z390 Motherboards

1.Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Pro

Price: $189

Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Pro

Gigabyte offers some of the best Z390 motherboards on the market and the Aorus Pro is a testament to that. Priced at under $200, this is definitely one of the boards you should be looking at, especially if you are looking to overclock your 9th generation Intel processors.

It has a bevy of ports at the back with the option to utilize some USB 3.0 headers on the front of your PC case.

The reason why I recommend this for people who are looking to overclocking their CPUs is that this thing has some pretty competitive VRMs. Not only that but they do not run as hot as the others which means that there is a lot of overclocking headroom to be had here.

Although the BIOS interface needs some work, once you’ve studied it, it actually provides all of the right options- you just have to know where to look. If Gigabyte had put some time and effort into streamlining the process, it would have been better.

You have a couple of M.2 slots that allow you to insert high-speed SSDs so if you want fast performance across the board, this is the one to get.

2.Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero WiFi

Price: $440

Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero WiFi

The ‘Hero’ line of motherboards from Asus is considered to be a midrange board but I am actually blown away by the capabilities of the Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero WiFi.

As you can tell by the name, this comes with WiFi modules that allow you to connect to your home network wirelessly so you do not have to buy a separate card for that.

The aesthetics of this thing is nothing short of awesome. There are some RGB lighting zones located on the VRM area, as well as the chipset area on the lower right corner.

Aside from a lot of USB ports located at the back, you do have the option to use the front-panel headers on the board itself for your chassis as well.

A lot of enthusiasts use this board to overclock their Intel i9 SKUs to great effect and I am pretty sure that you are going to get considerably better results as well.

Although it is a bit expensive, especially considering that there are already Z490 motherboards populating the market, the Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero WiFi certainly deserves your attention for what it can offer.

3.MSI MEG Z390 Godlike

Price: $600

MSI MEG Z390 Godlike

I normally do not want to recommend high-end boards simply because not a lot of people can afford them, but if you want one of the best, you simply have to spend a lot of money on it.

The MSI MEG Z390 Godlike is probably the motherboard to get if you want to get the most out of your overclockable Intel chip. Its BIOS interface is one of the easiest to use and its overclocking performance is unparalleled.

But, you might be thinking why this board is so expensive. Well, there are a couple of reasons why.

First is the components that are used. When you glance at this product, you will know that it is made of high-quality materials to ensure longevity and amazing performance.

Second, it has plenty of USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports that you can use so if you want the best data throughput out there, this is the thing to get.

As is customary for high-end motherboards, this thing is also equipped with the latest Killer 1550 WiFi module which provides excellent wireless connectivity at all times.

Seriously, this thing is aesthetically pleasing that I am sure some people are willing to spend some extra cash just to get their hands on this beauty.

I do have to point out that while there is a lot to love about the Z390 Godlike, it doesn’t have inherent 10GBps ethernet and its storage performance, while admirable, is a cut below the rest.

4.AsRock Z390 Phantom Gaming ITX

Price: $190

AsRock Z390 Phantom Gaming ITX

While most people like standard ATX motherboards for the features and build quality, there are some people that value compact form factor more than anything else.

If you are part of the demographic and you want an ITX motherboard that can handle even the power-hungry i9-9900K, the AsRock Z390 Phantom Gaming ITX is one of the best out there.

It has a rather simple aesthetic but it can actually be a good thing. There are some lights at the bottom which you can adjust by using the company’s RGB software.

The board has competitive VRMs which means that you can overclock your processor nicely and it is one of the only boards that have a Thunderbolt 3 port.

Now, if you’ve just received this board, I highly recommend that you update its BIOS to the latest version. That is because of the DIMM overvoltage which could prove to be dangerous to your RAM kits.

You see, there was a firmware bug that misreports the voltage that your RAM sticks get from the board and you know that overvoltage will result in the loss of the chip of the product itself.

Subsequent BIOS updates have remedied this issue so if you are looking to get this one, do not forget to do this single step.

Even though this board has a Thunderbolt 3 port, its maximum throughput is only capped at 20GBps which is effectively half of the speed of the said port. This is a hardware thing and, sadly, it cannot be fixed with a BIOS update.

Still, an ITX motherboard with a TB3 port is almost unheard of so if you want a compact Z390 motherboard with all of the goodies, the Asrock Z390 Phantom Gaming ITX is the one that you’re looking for.

5.Gigabyte Z390 Designare

Price: $270

Gigabyte Z390 Designare

A board that is designed for content creators, the Gigabyte Z390 Designare is actually a pretty good all-around motherboard as well.

By nature, you can overclock with this thing since this is a Z-series motherboard but when compared to its competitors, it is a middling performer at best.

The reason why I recommend this one is that while this is not a great motherboard for overclocking, it still has some nifty features that people would love.

First, it’s got a wealth of ports located on the headers on the board itself, as well as the back IO panel.

Second, it has Bluetooth 5 and Intel Thunderbolt 3 port and what’s more, the latter provides its maximum throughput so there are no compromises there.

Although the board looks tame when it is not powered on, there are still some RGB lighting zones located at strategic positions on the board itself so it would still look quite nice when everything is set up.

One of its hallmark features is its ability to turn the third x16 slot into PCH or CPU lanes depending on your preference. This is not something that you can find on other boards on the market.

Its audio solution is also one of the best among the Z390 series boards so if you are an audiophile and you have a pretty good pair of headphones, the Gigabyte Z390 Designare is a pretty good and compelling motherboard for you.

6.Asus ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming

Price: $260

Asus ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming

Most ITX motherboards usually are not good to look at as some companies are trying to get the board to be as small as can be. Well, the last board on this list has no compromises, especially for an ITX board.

The Asus ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming is yet another amazing ITX motherboard on this list. Despite its small form factor, its competitive VRM solution allows you to overclock your 9th generation Intel chip to a stable 5GHz or more. Plus, you can also overclock your RAM sticks as well without any issues.

It comes with dual m.2 slots for high-speed storage and it has some addressable RGB headers if you wish to use the company’s Aura Sync program to control your fans and whatnot.

I am surprised that this thing comes with the ALC1220A audio codec for amazing audio performance no matter if you are using your favorite headphones or PC Speakers.

It is also quite nice that its PCIe x16 slot can bring out the best in your graphics card, so if you plan on playing those triple-A titles, you can do so without any issues.

The only issue here is the price but if you are looking for another compelling ITX board, the Asus ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming is definitely worth considering.

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Razer Deathadder V2 Pro Review- The Company’s Best Mouse Goes Wireless

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Razer Deathadder V2 Pro Review

Among all of Razer’s peripherals, it is the Razer Deathadder that consistently ranks among one of the best gaming mice on the market for so many years.

Much of it has to do with its design and ergonomics as the mouse is quite comfortable and it suits all grip styles.

The Razer Deathadder V2 Pro just improves upon the original formula by making the mouse a bit more lightweight and it is completely wireless now.

Read my review of this thing to find out if I recommend this one or not.

Design

From a design standpoint, the Razer Deathadder V2 Pro is actually quite similar to the past versions, albeit there are some notable (and welcome) differences.

For one, you now have two DPI profile buttons situated just below the scroll wheel. These two buttons can cycle through the different DPI settings that you’ve configured using the Razer Synapse software (though you can set it to do other commands if you wish).

Second, both the thumb and the ring finger/pinky areas of the mouse now have rubberized textures which can really help gamers with sweaty hands grip the peripheral device better compared to the previous versions.

Lastly, I feel that the Razer Deathadder V2 Pro now has a more textured coating overall which adds to the better feel while you are wielding the mouse.

You also have some RGB lighting on the scroll wheel, as well as the infamous tri-headed Razer logo in the palm area of the device.

On the underside, you will find a switch that allows you to change to different modes depending on what you want to use.

This mouse can be utilized on your tablet, for example, as it now has a Bluetooth connectivity mode just for that.

You can also choose to use this thing with its wireless dongle (which is recommended for maximum performance) and you can even use this completely wired if you want to charge and play games at the same time.

Speaking of charging, while there is an included braided cable that you can insert into the device to charge this thing, it doesn’t come with the wireless charging dock that you can find in the Razer Viper Ultimate. That means that if you want the dock, you will need to be spending more on that as it is sold separately.

If you ask me, I suggest that you get the charging dock as it provides a seamless and convenient way of topping the device up, especially when it is not in use.

Mouse Sensor and Buttons

Razer Deathadder V2 Pro Review 2020

According to the company, the Deathadder V2 Pro comes with the second version of the company’s optical switches. That means that it is also rated to last up to 70 million clicks, albeit it provides a better feel on every button press.

To be honest, I didn’t really feel any difference between the first version of the optical switches and this one, but I guess you just have to take the company’s word for it.

As for the mouse sensor, the Razer Deathadder V2 Pro comes with the Focus+ sensor that has a maximum DPI of 20,000. The absurd DPI support is mainly for marketing purposes, but the main takeaway here is that the mouse remains fairly consistent from an accuracy standpoint.

Among all of Razer’s new gaming mice, the Deathadder V2 Pro should be in line with the Razer Viper Ultimate, at least, in terms of gaming performance.

Gaming Performance

Razer Deathadder V2 Pro

Before I begin, let me just say that I have fairly large hands which means that my natural grip style is palm-grip. And, as a palm-grip user, I really love the ergonomics of the Razer Deathadder V2 Pro because it just feels so natural to hold.

This mouse has a grip width of 61.7mm, a height of 42.7mm, and a weight of 88 grams (when used completely wireless). For a wireless gaming mouse, that is pretty impressive.

When you are using the wireless 2.4GHz USB dongle or if you use the company’s included Speedflex cable, the Deathadder V2 Pro performed admirably well in all of the games that I play.

I can now confidently say that people can safely transition to using a wireless gaming peripheral as they are now in-line with their wired counterparts in terms of accuracy and overall performance.

I do have to say that there is a bit of a delay when using this thing on Bluetooth connection, but this is only evident when using it on a mobile device and not on the PC. This is to be expected, especially if you are still using a phone or tablet that uses a Bluetooth 4.2 connection.

Battery

Razer Deathadder V2 Pro Wireless Gaming Mouse

Razer said that the Deathadder V2 Pro can last up to 120 hours on wireless mode, but that is only true if you are not enabling its Chroma lighting feature.

When you use the 2.4GHz mode alongside all of this mouse’s RGB goodness, you should be able to get roughly 75 hours of continuous use.

The good thing is that when you are using the charging dock, a 10-minute charge would allow you to use this mouse for 12 hours even with Chroma lighting enabled. That is seriously impressive.

What’s more, you can use this mouse completely wired using the Speedflex cable that is included in the box and you will not see any drop in performance whatsoever. It takes a bit more time to charge the device when using the cable though, but the fact that you can still use it when it is plugged in just means that it is pretty convenient no matter what charging method you want to use.

Verdict

The era where people are afraid to use wireless gaming mice is over and the Razer Deathadder V2 Pro just proves that it can go head-to-head with wired gaming mice in the market.

There are some notable improvements on this mouse. The textured finish, the optical buttons, and the mouse sensor are great, and I love the fact that the company was able to make this device lighter even though it is a wireless peripheral.

This just reinforces the notion that if it ain’t broke, don’t fit it; just improve upon the original formula and you should have a winning product.

Although I would have loved it if the company had included the charging dock in the package, I guess doing so would jack up the price of this thing considerably.The Razer Deathadder V2 Pro costs $129.99 and for the price, it is actually pretty good for a highly competitive wireless gaming mouse. Do keep in mind that the charging dock is sold separately, but I would still recommend that you get one since it is also compatible with the company’s other wireless gaming mice as well.

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Alienware Aurora R11 (2020) Review- Configured to Win

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Alienware Aurora R11 (2020) Review

Dell’s subsidiary gaming division, Alienware, is at it again. This time, the company has released the new Alienware Aurora R11 and you can configure it to come equipped with the latest Intel processors along with an Nvidia graphics card of your choosing.

In this article, I will go over everything that you need to know about this gaming PC and find out why you can win with this thing if you configure it properly.

Design

First and foremost, the Alienware Aurora R11 is fully configurable which means that you are in complete control of what chassis you want to use, as well as the components that are going to be installed inside of it.

In my testing, I went with a mid-range model that costs a little over $1,400 and I went with the Intel Core i7-10700F and an Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 graphics card. As you can tell, it is a modest system but it is actually quite competent enough to handle all games with considerable frame rate values.

As you can expect from a product that comes from Alienware, the Aurora R11 has two different design options that you can choose. You can either go with the Dark of the Moon model (as tested) which is a chassis with an all-black aesthetic and the Lunar Light edition which is predominantly white with a black front panel.

Both of the said PC cases have a blue halo light that is reminiscent of old space movies, so you could definitely say that this is ‘Alienware’.

I am happy that you get a wealth of USB ports both at the front and at the back I/O panel which means that there is plenty of room for you to plug in all of your USB peripherals.

There is also an option for you to get one with WiFi connectivity. If you want the cheapest option, you can go with a Dell WiFi AC adapter but if you want to future-proof this device, you can go with the Killer WiFi AX adapter instead. The latter should be considered if you have a WiFi 6 router at home for better data throughput.

Although this thing comes with a Z490 motherboard, the only thing that you can overclock here is the graphics card. You could, however, buy the more expensive Intel chip but you will have to spend quite a bit of money just to get the higher model.

The chassis is quite big in height but I love the fact that it doesn’t take too much space on the desk.

Performance

Alienware Aurora R11 (2020) Review 1

My particular configuration doesn’t come with an overclockable processor which means that in most cases, its performance is a little bit subpar when it comes to multi-core workloads.

That being said, this thing is still no slouch as I’ve scored 33,335 on Geekbench on the multi-core tests and about 4,401 on the single-core benchmark which is still respectable in most instances.

I’ve also tested its mettle using PCMark 10 and it scored a little under 7,000 so you could say that this thing indeed has gaming prowess.

Speaking of games, this configuration can easily go more than 100 frames per second in most titles, while some of the most challenging ones would limit you to just 45-55 fps.

While playing Destiny 2, I was able to get more than 144 frames per second in most areas, while the frame rates dip a little bit when I am stationed in the tower.

I’ve also played Control which is one of the more demanding titles on the PC, and I was still able to get roughly 45-50 fps in max settings which is quite admirable.

Since MOBA games are quite popular, I tested this thing on League of Legends and Dota 2 as well. It’s good to know that this thing can output more than 144 frames per second even in heavy clashes.

So really, even with a modest configuration such as mine, I was still able to play games at really good frame rates across the board.

Software

Alienware Aurora R11 (2020)

The Alienware Aurora R11 that I have comes with Windows 10 Home already pre-installed. Because this is a gaming PC from Alienware, the Alienware Command Center also comes pre-installed as well.

The said program can be used to look at the PC’s components at a glance while also changing its performance modes as well.

I find it to be fairly intuitive and I can really see the difference between performance modes. If you want the best of both worlds (meaning, acoustics and performance), setting it to balanced mode should suffice.

However, I find that the balanced mode doesn’t ramp the system’s fans good enough to maintain lower temperatures, so you may want to try out the performance mode while you are playing games.

Specs

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-10700F
  • GPU: Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4-2933
  • Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD (Boot), 1TB 7200RPM HDD (Storage)
  • Chassis: Dark Side of the Moon
  • Weight: 39.2 lbs
  • Dimensions: 17 x 8.8 x 18.9 Inches
  • Operating System/Software: Windows 10 Home, Alienware Command Center
  • Ports: [Front] 3x USB 3.2 Gen1 ports (1 port with PowerShare), 1x USB-C 3.2 Gen1, headphone/line out port, microphone/line in port; [Back] 6x USB 2.0, 3x USB 3.2 Gen1, Coaxial S/PDIF port, Optical S/PDIF port, USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-C), USB 3.2 Gen 2, Side L/R surround port, Microphone port, Front L/R surround line-out port, Line-in port, Rear L/R surround port, Network port

Alienware Aurora R11 (2020) Side

Verdict

Despite my modest configuration, the Alienware Aurora R11 that I had was an able performer- both in productivity tasks and gaming. The Alienware command center provides a good overview of the system’s components and you can set its performance modes based on what you feel is apt for the moment.

Although it usually comes with crapware, you should blame Microsoft Windows for this and not the company. The good thing is that there are programs that can ‘decrapify’ a common Windows installation, so there’s that.

I love that the chassis doesn’t take up too much desk space, though if you are going to place this inside drawer, you may have to be wary about its height because it is definitely higher than the others.

If you have plenty of money, you can configure it ‘balls to the wall’ with the latest and greatest products from Intel and Nvidia, though keep in mind that because this model was released in 2020, you cannot expect the new Nvidia 3000 graphics cards to be present when you are purchasing this thing.

In summary, the Alienware Aurora R11 is a pretty good gaming machine- both in aesthetics and performance.

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Logitech G305 Lightspeed Review- The $75 ‘G Pro’ Lite

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Logitech G305 Lightspeed Review

The Logitech G Pro is highly praised by the gaming community, especially those that are playing first-person shooters. It is lightweight and it is wireless which is something that was unprecedented before its release.

There is only one issue: That mouse was expensive. Fortunately, you can get the Logitech G305 Lightspeed for a much cheaper price.

Read further to find out why I think the G305 is what I would consider as the ‘G Pro’ lite.

Design

The Logitech G305 Lightspeed looks quite similar to the Logitech G Pro mentioned above. At first glance, you might think that this peripheral is an ambidextrous mouse, but that is actually not the case.

You see, while it has an ambidextrous design, the side buttons are actually located only on the left side of the peripheral. This is an odd choice considering that this can be construed as a mouse that can also be used left-handed, but this is something that you need to know if you are a left-handed gamer.

Its dimensions are 4.59 x 2.45 x 1.50 inches and it weighs 98 grams with the AA battery on. That’s right, you will need a single AA battery for this thing to operate, but the good thing is that a single AA battery can last up to three months with consistent use.

Much of the power-saving features come from the company’s own HERO sensor which doesn’t require a lot of battery to operate while still providing you with a competitive performance in games. More on this later.

This mouse is a bit on the smaller side and is perfectly suited for people who use the fingertip or claw grip styles. This could also work for a hybrid claw/finger grip style as well. 

Because of its smaller dimensions, it should go without saying that people with larger hands might have a hard time grasping this mouse, so I wouldn’t recommend this for people that have bigger hands than others.

Despite its much cheaper price, I am glad that the Logitech G305 Lightspeed still feels premium. It is predominantly made with plastic and it has a matte finish so that it won’t easily get out of your grasps when you are playing even with sweaty hands.

On the underside, you will find four mouse feet for easier glide and you can also find the on/off switch as well. I love the fact that you can tell if it is turned on or off based on the color that you see depending on the switch’s orientation.

If you see the switch’s color turn blue, that means that the mouse is turned on. If it is on orange, then the peripheral is turned off.

I should also mention that there is no RGB lighting on this mouse at all and that is okay considering that you are running this thing with non-rechargeable batteries.

The Logitech G305 Lightspeed doesn’t have rechargeable batteries, but you might wonder why there is an included cable in the box. Well, that actually acts as an extender for the wireless USB dongle. This is used for better wireless coverage to ensure that the peripheral’s performance remains consistent across the board.

Performance

Logitech G305 Lightspeed Review 2020

As mentioned earlier, the Logitech G305 Lightspeed comes equipped with the company’s HERO sensor which is derived from the popular Pixart 3366 sensor. For the people who are familiar with the latter, you know that this thing can perform admirably even in competitive situations.

The good thing about Logitech’s implementation is that the HERO sensor eats so little energy that a single AA battery can last up to 3-4 months with consistent use. That is truly impressive since you do not have to worry about losing battery life while you are using it.

The HERO sensor here is a cut-down version of what you can see in Logitech’s other gaming mice as it can only reach a maximum of 12,000 DPI (compared to the 16,000 DPI in others). This is still okay because, in more practical uses, I don’t think that people would go as high as that number anyway.

I am blown away by how smooth the mouse glides on my mouse mat. The sensor provides consistent performance and I am glad that this thing won’t spin out in games.

I’ve tried this in FPS games like Valorant and I’ve had no problems with aiming at all. This experience is coming from a person who uses a gaming mouse using a palm grip by the way. My aim would have been better if I used the fingertip or claw grip styles.

I’ve also tested this on some MOBA games as well and I never experienced any dropouts or performance issues at all.

Software

Logitech G305 Lightspeed

This mouse has 6 programmable buttons and if you want to configure them, you will need to download the company’s G Hub software.

You can download and use it for free and is available for both Windows and Mac. I love the aesthetic of the software as it is intuitive to use and the menus are easy to understand.

I am just surprised by one thing, however. You see, the button that is directly below the scroll wheel is supposed to be the DPI switch button which means that pressing it would cycle through the different DPI profiles that you’ve set in the G Hub software. Or at least, that is how it should work in theory.

However, even though you can change the DPI to whatever value you want so long as it is within its range (up to 12,000), you cannot set more than one DPI setting which virtually renders the DPI cycle button useless, at least, in this regard.

You could set the button to do an entirely different thing like you can set it to a particular key on the keyboard so every time you press on the button, it does that. But, it is just interesting to me that its original purpose is not actually implemented in reality.

Verdict

Normally, a wireless gaming mouse would typically cost more than $100 because of the use of wireless technology, along with the usual goodies that you can find in such a device. But, I am pleased that the Logitech G305 Lightspeed costs $75.

For its price, you are getting a very competitive gaming mouse that can last a couple of months using just a single AA battery. Of course, this changes depending on the battery that is used (brand and capacity), but for the most part, it should remain fairly consistent in terms of battery life.

The HERO sensor has also given me an amazing experience. I never would have thought that a wireless mouse can provide a similar experience to that of its wired counterparts.

All in all, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Logitech G305 Lightspeed unless of course if you are a palm-grip user.

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Best Intel Z390 Motherboards- from Budget-Friendly to Great Overclocker

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MSI MEG Z390 Godlike

With the advent of the 10th generation Intel processors, you might ask why people would still want to buy a Z390 motherboard given the new CPUs. Well, that is because Intel i9-9900Ks are sold at a cheaper price now making them more appealing for people that want to play games at higher frame rates.

In today’s article, I will recommend some of the best Intel Z390 motherboards from budget-friendly to great overclockers.

The Platform

The Z390 line of motherboards is a series of boards that allow you to overclock Intel’s 9th Generation CPUs. This includes the i5-9600K, i7-9700K, and the i9-9900K and all of its overclockable variants.

The Z-series motherboards provide overclocking capabilities, as well as features that are normally not found in the B or H-series boards.

That being said, while there are plenty of Z390 boards out there, some of them are just so bad that you should avoid them like the plague.

You might also be asking why you should go for the more expensive Z390 motherboards as opposed to the slightly cheaper Z370 variant. Well, the biggest difference between the two is that the Z390 boards come with both WiFi AC support, as well as USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports which provide more data throughput than your standard USB 3.0.

Anyway, without any further delay, here are the best Intel Z390 motherboards:

Best Intel Z390 Motherboards

1.Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Pro

Price: $189

Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Pro

Gigabyte offers some of the best Z390 motherboards on the market and the Aorus Pro is a testament to that. Priced at under $200, this is definitely one of the boards you should be looking at, especially if you are looking to overclock your 9th generation Intel processors.

It has a bevy of ports at the back with the option to utilize some USB 3.0 headers on the front of your PC case.

The reason why I recommend this for people who are looking to overclocking their CPUs is that this thing has some pretty competitive VRMs. Not only that but they do not run as hot as the others which means that there is a lot of overclocking headroom to be had here.

Although the BIOS interface needs some work, once you’ve studied it, it actually provides all of the right options- you just have to know where to look. If Gigabyte had put some time and effort into streamlining the process, it would have been better.

You have a couple of M.2 slots that allow you to insert high-speed SSDs so if you want fast performance across the board, this is the one to get.

2.Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero WiFi

Price: $440

Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero WiFi

The ‘Hero’ line of motherboards from Asus is considered to be a midrange board but I am actually blown away by the capabilities of the Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero WiFi.

As you can tell by the name, this comes with WiFi modules that allow you to connect to your home network wirelessly so you do not have to buy a separate card for that.

The aesthetics of this thing is nothing short of awesome. There are some RGB lighting zones located on the VRM area, as well as the chipset area on the lower right corner.

Aside from a lot of USB ports located at the back, you do have the option to use the front-panel headers on the board itself for your chassis as well.

A lot of enthusiasts use this board to overclock their Intel i9 SKUs to great effect and I am pretty sure that you are going to get considerably better results as well.

Although it is a bit expensive, especially considering that there are already Z490 motherboards populating the market, the Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero WiFi certainly deserves your attention for what it can offer.

3.MSI MEG Z390 Godlike

Price: $600

MSI MEG Z390 Godlike

I normally do not want to recommend high-end boards simply because not a lot of people can afford them, but if you want one of the best, you simply have to spend a lot of money on it.

The MSI MEG Z390 Godlike is probably the motherboard to get if you want to get the most out of your overclockable Intel chip. Its BIOS interface is one of the easiest to use and its overclocking performance is unparalleled.

But, you might be thinking why this board is so expensive. Well, there are a couple of reasons why.

First is the components that are used. When you glance at this product, you will know that it is made of high-quality materials to ensure longevity and amazing performance.

Second, it has plenty of USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports that you can use so if you want the best data throughput out there, this is the thing to get.

As is customary for high-end motherboards, this thing is also equipped with the latest Killer 1550 WiFi module which provides excellent wireless connectivity at all times.

Seriously, this thing is aesthetically pleasing that I am sure some people are willing to spend some extra cash just to get their hands on this beauty.

I do have to point out that while there is a lot to love about the Z390 Godlike, it doesn’t have inherent 10GBps ethernet and its storage performance, while admirable, is a cut below the rest.

4.AsRock Z390 Phantom Gaming ITX

Price: $190

AsRock Z390 Phantom Gaming ITX

While most people like standard ATX motherboards for the features and build quality, there are some people that value compact form factor more than anything else.

If you are part of the demographic and you want an ITX motherboard that can handle even the power-hungry i9-9900K, the AsRock Z390 Phantom Gaming ITX is one of the best out there.

It has a rather simple aesthetic but it can actually be a good thing. There are some lights at the bottom which you can adjust by using the company’s RGB software.

The board has competitive VRMs which means that you can overclock your processor nicely and it is one of the only boards that have a Thunderbolt 3 port.

Now, if you’ve just received this board, I highly recommend that you update its BIOS to the latest version. That is because of the DIMM overvoltage which could prove to be dangerous to your RAM kits.

You see, there was a firmware bug that misreports the voltage that your RAM sticks get from the board and you know that overvoltage will result in the loss of the chip of the product itself.

Subsequent BIOS updates have remedied this issue so if you are looking to get this one, do not forget to do this single step.

Even though this board has a Thunderbolt 3 port, its maximum throughput is only capped at 20GBps which is effectively half of the speed of the said port. This is a hardware thing and, sadly, it cannot be fixed with a BIOS update.

Still, an ITX motherboard with a TB3 port is almost unheard of so if you want a compact Z390 motherboard with all of the goodies, the Asrock Z390 Phantom Gaming ITX is the one that you’re looking for.

5.Gigabyte Z390 Designare

Price: $270

Gigabyte Z390 Designare

A board that is designed for content creators, the Gigabyte Z390 Designare is actually a pretty good all-around motherboard as well.

By nature, you can overclock with this thing since this is a Z-series motherboard but when compared to its competitors, it is a middling performer at best.

The reason why I recommend this one is that while this is not a great motherboard for overclocking, it still has some nifty features that people would love.

First, it’s got a wealth of ports located on the headers on the board itself, as well as the back IO panel.

Second, it has Bluetooth 5 and Intel Thunderbolt 3 port and what’s more, the latter provides its maximum throughput so there are no compromises there.

Although the board looks tame when it is not powered on, there are still some RGB lighting zones located at strategic positions on the board itself so it would still look quite nice when everything is set up.

One of its hallmark features is its ability to turn the third x16 slot into PCH or CPU lanes depending on your preference. This is not something that you can find on other boards on the market.

Its audio solution is also one of the best among the Z390 series boards so if you are an audiophile and you have a pretty good pair of headphones, the Gigabyte Z390 Designare is a pretty good and compelling motherboard for you.

6.Asus ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming

Price: $260

Asus ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming

Most ITX motherboards usually are not good to look at as some companies are trying to get the board to be as small as can be. Well, the last board on this list has no compromises, especially for an ITX board.

The Asus ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming is yet another amazing ITX motherboard on this list. Despite its small form factor, its competitive VRM solution allows you to overclock your 9th generation Intel chip to a stable 5GHz or more. Plus, you can also overclock your RAM sticks as well without any issues.

It comes with dual m.2 slots for high-speed storage and it has some addressable RGB headers if you wish to use the company’s Aura Sync program to control your fans and whatnot.

I am surprised that this thing comes with the ALC1220A audio codec for amazing audio performance no matter if you are using your favorite headphones or PC Speakers.

It is also quite nice that its PCIe x16 slot can bring out the best in your graphics card, so if you plan on playing those triple-A titles, you can do so without any issues.

The only issue here is the price but if you are looking for another compelling ITX board, the Asus ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming is definitely worth considering.

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Razer Deathadder V2 Pro Review- The Company’s Best Mouse Goes Wireless

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Razer Deathadder V2 Pro Review

Among all of Razer’s peripherals, it is the Razer Deathadder that consistently ranks among one of the best gaming mice on the market for so many years.

Much of it has to do with its design and ergonomics as the mouse is quite comfortable and it suits all grip styles.

The Razer Deathadder V2 Pro just improves upon the original formula by making the mouse a bit more lightweight and it is completely wireless now.

Read my review of this thing to find out if I recommend this one or not.

Design

From a design standpoint, the Razer Deathadder V2 Pro is actually quite similar to the past versions, albeit there are some notable (and welcome) differences.

For one, you now have two DPI profile buttons situated just below the scroll wheel. These two buttons can cycle through the different DPI settings that you’ve configured using the Razer Synapse software (though you can set it to do other commands if you wish).

Second, both the thumb and the ring finger/pinky areas of the mouse now have rubberized textures which can really help gamers with sweaty hands grip the peripheral device better compared to the previous versions.

Lastly, I feel that the Razer Deathadder V2 Pro now has a more textured coating overall which adds to the better feel while you are wielding the mouse.

You also have some RGB lighting on the scroll wheel, as well as the infamous tri-headed Razer logo in the palm area of the device.

On the underside, you will find a switch that allows you to change to different modes depending on what you want to use.

This mouse can be utilized on your tablet, for example, as it now has a Bluetooth connectivity mode just for that.

You can also choose to use this thing with its wireless dongle (which is recommended for maximum performance) and you can even use this completely wired if you want to charge and play games at the same time.

Speaking of charging, while there is an included braided cable that you can insert into the device to charge this thing, it doesn’t come with the wireless charging dock that you can find in the Razer Viper Ultimate. That means that if you want the dock, you will need to be spending more on that as it is sold separately.

If you ask me, I suggest that you get the charging dock as it provides a seamless and convenient way of topping the device up, especially when it is not in use.

Mouse Sensor and Buttons

Razer Deathadder V2 Pro Review 2020

According to the company, the Deathadder V2 Pro comes with the second version of the company’s optical switches. That means that it is also rated to last up to 70 million clicks, albeit it provides a better feel on every button press.

To be honest, I didn’t really feel any difference between the first version of the optical switches and this one, but I guess you just have to take the company’s word for it.

As for the mouse sensor, the Razer Deathadder V2 Pro comes with the Focus+ sensor that has a maximum DPI of 20,000. The absurd DPI support is mainly for marketing purposes, but the main takeaway here is that the mouse remains fairly consistent from an accuracy standpoint.

Among all of Razer’s new gaming mice, the Deathadder V2 Pro should be in line with the Razer Viper Ultimate, at least, in terms of gaming performance.

Gaming Performance

Razer Deathadder V2 Pro

Before I begin, let me just say that I have fairly large hands which means that my natural grip style is palm-grip. And, as a palm-grip user, I really love the ergonomics of the Razer Deathadder V2 Pro because it just feels so natural to hold.

This mouse has a grip width of 61.7mm, a height of 42.7mm, and a weight of 88 grams (when used completely wireless). For a wireless gaming mouse, that is pretty impressive.

When you are using the wireless 2.4GHz USB dongle or if you use the company’s included Speedflex cable, the Deathadder V2 Pro performed admirably well in all of the games that I play.

I can now confidently say that people can safely transition to using a wireless gaming peripheral as they are now in-line with their wired counterparts in terms of accuracy and overall performance.

I do have to say that there is a bit of a delay when using this thing on Bluetooth connection, but this is only evident when using it on a mobile device and not on the PC. This is to be expected, especially if you are still using a phone or tablet that uses a Bluetooth 4.2 connection.

Battery

Razer Deathadder V2 Pro Wireless Gaming Mouse

Razer said that the Deathadder V2 Pro can last up to 120 hours on wireless mode, but that is only true if you are not enabling its Chroma lighting feature.

When you use the 2.4GHz mode alongside all of this mouse’s RGB goodness, you should be able to get roughly 75 hours of continuous use.

The good thing is that when you are using the charging dock, a 10-minute charge would allow you to use this mouse for 12 hours even with Chroma lighting enabled. That is seriously impressive.

What’s more, you can use this mouse completely wired using the Speedflex cable that is included in the box and you will not see any drop in performance whatsoever. It takes a bit more time to charge the device when using the cable though, but the fact that you can still use it when it is plugged in just means that it is pretty convenient no matter what charging method you want to use.

Verdict

The era where people are afraid to use wireless gaming mice is over and the Razer Deathadder V2 Pro just proves that it can go head-to-head with wired gaming mice in the market.

There are some notable improvements on this mouse. The textured finish, the optical buttons, and the mouse sensor are great, and I love the fact that the company was able to make this device lighter even though it is a wireless peripheral.

This just reinforces the notion that if it ain’t broke, don’t fit it; just improve upon the original formula and you should have a winning product.

Although I would have loved it if the company had included the charging dock in the package, I guess doing so would jack up the price of this thing considerably.The Razer Deathadder V2 Pro costs $129.99 and for the price, it is actually pretty good for a highly competitive wireless gaming mouse. Do keep in mind that the charging dock is sold separately, but I would still recommend that you get one since it is also compatible with the company’s other wireless gaming mice as well.

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Alienware Aurora R11 (2020) Review- Configured to Win

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Alienware Aurora R11 (2020) Review

Dell’s subsidiary gaming division, Alienware, is at it again. This time, the company has released the new Alienware Aurora R11 and you can configure it to come equipped with the latest Intel processors along with an Nvidia graphics card of your choosing.

In this article, I will go over everything that you need to know about this gaming PC and find out why you can win with this thing if you configure it properly.

Design

First and foremost, the Alienware Aurora R11 is fully configurable which means that you are in complete control of what chassis you want to use, as well as the components that are going to be installed inside of it.

In my testing, I went with a mid-range model that costs a little over $1,400 and I went with the Intel Core i7-10700F and an Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 graphics card. As you can tell, it is a modest system but it is actually quite competent enough to handle all games with considerable frame rate values.

As you can expect from a product that comes from Alienware, the Aurora R11 has two different design options that you can choose. You can either go with the Dark of the Moon model (as tested) which is a chassis with an all-black aesthetic and the Lunar Light edition which is predominantly white with a black front panel.

Both of the said PC cases have a blue halo light that is reminiscent of old space movies, so you could definitely say that this is ‘Alienware’.

I am happy that you get a wealth of USB ports both at the front and at the back I/O panel which means that there is plenty of room for you to plug in all of your USB peripherals.

There is also an option for you to get one with WiFi connectivity. If you want the cheapest option, you can go with a Dell WiFi AC adapter but if you want to future-proof this device, you can go with the Killer WiFi AX adapter instead. The latter should be considered if you have a WiFi 6 router at home for better data throughput.

Although this thing comes with a Z490 motherboard, the only thing that you can overclock here is the graphics card. You could, however, buy the more expensive Intel chip but you will have to spend quite a bit of money just to get the higher model.

The chassis is quite big in height but I love the fact that it doesn’t take too much space on the desk.

Performance

Alienware Aurora R11 (2020) Review 1

My particular configuration doesn’t come with an overclockable processor which means that in most cases, its performance is a little bit subpar when it comes to multi-core workloads.

That being said, this thing is still no slouch as I’ve scored 33,335 on Geekbench on the multi-core tests and about 4,401 on the single-core benchmark which is still respectable in most instances.

I’ve also tested its mettle using PCMark 10 and it scored a little under 7,000 so you could say that this thing indeed has gaming prowess.

Speaking of games, this configuration can easily go more than 100 frames per second in most titles, while some of the most challenging ones would limit you to just 45-55 fps.

While playing Destiny 2, I was able to get more than 144 frames per second in most areas, while the frame rates dip a little bit when I am stationed in the tower.

I’ve also played Control which is one of the more demanding titles on the PC, and I was still able to get roughly 45-50 fps in max settings which is quite admirable.

Since MOBA games are quite popular, I tested this thing on League of Legends and Dota 2 as well. It’s good to know that this thing can output more than 144 frames per second even in heavy clashes.

So really, even with a modest configuration such as mine, I was still able to play games at really good frame rates across the board.

Software

Alienware Aurora R11 (2020)

The Alienware Aurora R11 that I have comes with Windows 10 Home already pre-installed. Because this is a gaming PC from Alienware, the Alienware Command Center also comes pre-installed as well.

The said program can be used to look at the PC’s components at a glance while also changing its performance modes as well.

I find it to be fairly intuitive and I can really see the difference between performance modes. If you want the best of both worlds (meaning, acoustics and performance), setting it to balanced mode should suffice.

However, I find that the balanced mode doesn’t ramp the system’s fans good enough to maintain lower temperatures, so you may want to try out the performance mode while you are playing games.

Specs

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-10700F
  • GPU: Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4-2933
  • Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD (Boot), 1TB 7200RPM HDD (Storage)
  • Chassis: Dark Side of the Moon
  • Weight: 39.2 lbs
  • Dimensions: 17 x 8.8 x 18.9 Inches
  • Operating System/Software: Windows 10 Home, Alienware Command Center
  • Ports: [Front] 3x USB 3.2 Gen1 ports (1 port with PowerShare), 1x USB-C 3.2 Gen1, headphone/line out port, microphone/line in port; [Back] 6x USB 2.0, 3x USB 3.2 Gen1, Coaxial S/PDIF port, Optical S/PDIF port, USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-C), USB 3.2 Gen 2, Side L/R surround port, Microphone port, Front L/R surround line-out port, Line-in port, Rear L/R surround port, Network port

Alienware Aurora R11 (2020) Side

Verdict

Despite my modest configuration, the Alienware Aurora R11 that I had was an able performer- both in productivity tasks and gaming. The Alienware command center provides a good overview of the system’s components and you can set its performance modes based on what you feel is apt for the moment.

Although it usually comes with crapware, you should blame Microsoft Windows for this and not the company. The good thing is that there are programs that can ‘decrapify’ a common Windows installation, so there’s that.

I love that the chassis doesn’t take up too much desk space, though if you are going to place this inside drawer, you may have to be wary about its height because it is definitely higher than the others.

If you have plenty of money, you can configure it ‘balls to the wall’ with the latest and greatest products from Intel and Nvidia, though keep in mind that because this model was released in 2020, you cannot expect the new Nvidia 3000 graphics cards to be present when you are purchasing this thing.

In summary, the Alienware Aurora R11 is a pretty good gaming machine- both in aesthetics and performance.

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Logitech G305 Lightspeed Review- The $75 ‘G Pro’ Lite

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Logitech G305 Lightspeed Review

The Logitech G Pro is highly praised by the gaming community, especially those that are playing first-person shooters. It is lightweight and it is wireless which is something that was unprecedented before its release.

There is only one issue: That mouse was expensive. Fortunately, you can get the Logitech G305 Lightspeed for a much cheaper price.

Read further to find out why I think the G305 is what I would consider as the ‘G Pro’ lite.

Design

The Logitech G305 Lightspeed looks quite similar to the Logitech G Pro mentioned above. At first glance, you might think that this peripheral is an ambidextrous mouse, but that is actually not the case.

You see, while it has an ambidextrous design, the side buttons are actually located only on the left side of the peripheral. This is an odd choice considering that this can be construed as a mouse that can also be used left-handed, but this is something that you need to know if you are a left-handed gamer.

Its dimensions are 4.59 x 2.45 x 1.50 inches and it weighs 98 grams with the AA battery on. That’s right, you will need a single AA battery for this thing to operate, but the good thing is that a single AA battery can last up to three months with consistent use.

Much of the power-saving features come from the company’s own HERO sensor which doesn’t require a lot of battery to operate while still providing you with a competitive performance in games. More on this later.

This mouse is a bit on the smaller side and is perfectly suited for people who use the fingertip or claw grip styles. This could also work for a hybrid claw/finger grip style as well. 

Because of its smaller dimensions, it should go without saying that people with larger hands might have a hard time grasping this mouse, so I wouldn’t recommend this for people that have bigger hands than others.

Despite its much cheaper price, I am glad that the Logitech G305 Lightspeed still feels premium. It is predominantly made with plastic and it has a matte finish so that it won’t easily get out of your grasps when you are playing even with sweaty hands.

On the underside, you will find four mouse feet for easier glide and you can also find the on/off switch as well. I love the fact that you can tell if it is turned on or off based on the color that you see depending on the switch’s orientation.

If you see the switch’s color turn blue, that means that the mouse is turned on. If it is on orange, then the peripheral is turned off.

I should also mention that there is no RGB lighting on this mouse at all and that is okay considering that you are running this thing with non-rechargeable batteries.

The Logitech G305 Lightspeed doesn’t have rechargeable batteries, but you might wonder why there is an included cable in the box. Well, that actually acts as an extender for the wireless USB dongle. This is used for better wireless coverage to ensure that the peripheral’s performance remains consistent across the board.

Performance

Logitech G305 Lightspeed Review 2020

As mentioned earlier, the Logitech G305 Lightspeed comes equipped with the company’s HERO sensor which is derived from the popular Pixart 3366 sensor. For the people who are familiar with the latter, you know that this thing can perform admirably even in competitive situations.

The good thing about Logitech’s implementation is that the HERO sensor eats so little energy that a single AA battery can last up to 3-4 months with consistent use. That is truly impressive since you do not have to worry about losing battery life while you are using it.

The HERO sensor here is a cut-down version of what you can see in Logitech’s other gaming mice as it can only reach a maximum of 12,000 DPI (compared to the 16,000 DPI in others). This is still okay because, in more practical uses, I don’t think that people would go as high as that number anyway.

I am blown away by how smooth the mouse glides on my mouse mat. The sensor provides consistent performance and I am glad that this thing won’t spin out in games.

I’ve tried this in FPS games like Valorant and I’ve had no problems with aiming at all. This experience is coming from a person who uses a gaming mouse using a palm grip by the way. My aim would have been better if I used the fingertip or claw grip styles.

I’ve also tested this on some MOBA games as well and I never experienced any dropouts or performance issues at all.

Software

Logitech G305 Lightspeed

This mouse has 6 programmable buttons and if you want to configure them, you will need to download the company’s G Hub software.

You can download and use it for free and is available for both Windows and Mac. I love the aesthetic of the software as it is intuitive to use and the menus are easy to understand.

I am just surprised by one thing, however. You see, the button that is directly below the scroll wheel is supposed to be the DPI switch button which means that pressing it would cycle through the different DPI profiles that you’ve set in the G Hub software. Or at least, that is how it should work in theory.

However, even though you can change the DPI to whatever value you want so long as it is within its range (up to 12,000), you cannot set more than one DPI setting which virtually renders the DPI cycle button useless, at least, in this regard.

You could set the button to do an entirely different thing like you can set it to a particular key on the keyboard so every time you press on the button, it does that. But, it is just interesting to me that its original purpose is not actually implemented in reality.

Verdict

Normally, a wireless gaming mouse would typically cost more than $100 because of the use of wireless technology, along with the usual goodies that you can find in such a device. But, I am pleased that the Logitech G305 Lightspeed costs $75.

For its price, you are getting a very competitive gaming mouse that can last a couple of months using just a single AA battery. Of course, this changes depending on the battery that is used (brand and capacity), but for the most part, it should remain fairly consistent in terms of battery life.

The HERO sensor has also given me an amazing experience. I never would have thought that a wireless mouse can provide a similar experience to that of its wired counterparts.

All in all, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Logitech G305 Lightspeed unless of course if you are a palm-grip user.

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