We were a bit let down when we found out that the supposedly range-topping Z370 chipset had missed out on some of the fancy new features in the H370, B360, and H310 chipsets. If you feel the same way, then you'll be delighted to hear that Intel's new Z390 chipset packs in all of those features, including native USB 3.1 Gen 2 and CNVi Wi-Fi support. A new chipset means new motherboards, and MSI is leading the charge with a grand total of ten boards for you to plant eighth- and ninth-gen Intel CPUs on.
Dedicated MSI fans are probably the only ones who will recall that MSI segments its gaming boards into "Enthusiast," "Performance," and "Arsenal" families. That's still true, but using full words is apparently way too old-school for MSI. Instead, the company has moved on to MEG, MPG, and MAG designations. In case it isn't obvious, I'll spell it out: those stand for MSI Enthusiast Gaming, MSI Performance Gaming, and MSI Arsenal Gaming.
The pick of the litter this time around is the MEG Z390 Godlike. As you would expect from a board with such a grandiose name, this board has every conceivable feature MSI could have possibly stuck on it. A purported 18-phase VRM feeds the CPU socket, fed by dual EPS connectors. In fact, "Dual" might be the theme for this board. There's a pair each of USB 3.1 Gen 2 and USB 3.0 front-panel headers. A pair of Killer Gigabit Ethernet controllers can be teamed with the Killer 1550 Wi-Fi AC adapter. Likewise, audio duties are handled by dual Realtek ALC1220 chips. Those feed into an ESS DAC-plus-amplifier combo and out to a 1/4" headphone jack.
In case three M.2 sockets isn't enough, the MEG Z390 Godlike includes an adapter to plug two more NVMe gumsticks into one of the board's four PCIe 3.0 x16 slots. An on-board OLED allows users to display custom graphics or view system settings in real time. Of course, the MEG Z390 Godlike has RGB LED lighting, but it also has an "infinity mirror" set up to give the illusion of a chasm lined with RGB LEDs over the power-delivery and I/O hardware. Finally, the MEG Z390 Godlike even includes an MSI Streaming Boost capture card.
If you want top performance but don't feel the need for divinity, you can step down to the MEG Z390 Ace. This is in large part a version of the MEG Z390 Godlike without all the extras. MSI shaved off most of the extra connectivity (like the 1/4" headphone jack and the second Ethernet connection), leaving us with a more typical high-end Intel motherboard. You still get three M.2 sockets, onboard 802.11ac Wi-Fi, a trio of metal-reinforced PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, and that fancy infinity mirror.
MSI's Performance Gaming series emphasizes visual style along with high performance, much like the supercars the company says it was inspired by. The MPG Z390 Gaming Pro Carbon will come in AC and non-AC flavors. The primary difference is the presence or absence of Wi-Fi. They actually come with more RGB LED accents than the MEG boards do, but don't have quite as much high-end connectivity. Of course, these being Z390 motherboards, you're still going to have native USB 3.1 Gen 2 and a couple of M.2 sockets.
The MPG Z390 Gaming Edge series takes a hit in the flashiness department (compared to the Carbon series), but makes up for it in versatility. These boards come in ATX, Micro-ATX, and Mini-ITX forms. Whichever you choose, you get Intel-powered Ethernet and Wi-Fi, as well as dual M.2 sockets and onboard USB Type-C ports. That's to say nothing of the RGB LED accents on the edges of the boards.
Folks who favor durability over glitz are no doubt familiar with MSI's Arsenal series. Now dubbed "MAG," the family is gaining two new boards: the MAG Z390 Tomahawk and MAG Z390M Mortar. MSI didn't have much to say just yet about the Micro-ATX Mortar board, but the Z390 Tomahawk has an industrial- or military-inspired visual design along with an unusually-fancy feature set. That board includes dual Gigabit Ethernet connections, three M.2 sockets, and an integrated I/O shield.
Finally, MSI announced that at least one Z390-based motherboard is joining its Pro family: the Z390-A Pro. The Pro family of boards usually has no-nonsense models focused on utilitarian design. If you just absolutely loathe RGB LEDs, this will probably be the board you'll want to look at. It has an Intel-powered Gigabit Ethernet controller, a Realtek ALC892 audio codec, and a single M.2 slot.
MSI says all of these boards are available now, so keep an eye out for them at your favorite retailer.