Overall and Final Verdict
With testing done and after going through the MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Plus’s features lets do a quick recap. For starters, it is clear from the beginning that MSI isn’t targeting this board at the high end of the market, even without looking at its price (and I don’t even look up the price until I write the price section at the bottom). The Gaming plus doesn’t really have too much going on the rear I/O for example, especially with MSI opting to not include the wireless card Intel built into the Z390 chipset. But they did leave an option to add it later if you need it. Because of that, I would prefer to see a few more USB ports back there, but on the inside, you get a LOT of USB options with two USB 3.1 and two USB 2.0 headers. MSI also included two of the new 3.1 Gen 2 ports including one Type-C on the rear I/O. There, however, wasn’t an internal header for that, not that a lot of cases support it yet. MSI also stuck with more of an old-school single color LED layout so no RGB there, but you do get two RGB headers to add your own. I don’t know that anyone would want to do anything that isn’t red or white anyhow with the board being decked out in the “gamer” red and black.
While the board might look and feel like it is a little light on the features, I do think MSI did a good job making sure it will work with most people. You get all of the USB and fan headers that you could possibly need not to mention two M.2 slots but there isn’t any fluff. There were still two areas that the board does come out behind. The basic VRM cooling doesn’t even bother to cool the VRMs along the top of the CPU socket and overall with me testing the 9900K in the board, it ran extremely hot. I don’t think the 9900K is a good match for this board. I also wasn’t a big fan of the second x16 length PCIe slot being limited to x4 bandwidth. Again, considering this boards focus I don’t think the expectation is to run two video cards, but I being an ATX board I think you might expect to at least be able to run an x8 card in that slot.
So now I can take a look at the pricing for the Z390 Gaming plus and see if it is priced where it should be in the market. So currently the Z390 Gaming plus is listed for just under $150. Looking at Newegg some of the Z390 boards are already starting to be discounted, because of that the pricing for the Gaming Plus is a touch higher than I think it should be. Z390 boards start at $119, at least right now, it could be a sale, and the lowest priced MSI board is the Z390-A Pro for $129. I think I actually prefer the Z390-A Pro, it has one less M.2 slot but the black and grey theme looks better, especially with it including a rear I/O top cover. The Asus Prime Z390-P is priced about the same as well but it has a full speed second slot and improved cooling. Personally if you want a cheap board, unless the red and black theme is really important to you I would drop down to the MSI Z390-A Pro, go with the Prime Z390-P or Gigabyte Z390 Gaming SLI if you want to stick to this price point, or jump up to the MSI MAG Z390 Tomahawk where you get more features including much better cooling for less than $10 more. The Gaming Plus could be a nice budget board but right now the price point seems to be holding it back when compared to the competition including MSI’s own boards.
Live Pricing: HERE
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