Visual Inspection

The Supermicro C9Z390-PGW ($371) is a full-sized ATX motherboard and is one of just four consumer desktop models from its SuperO series. The other three models include the C9Z390-CGW ($277), the entry-level C9Z390-CG ($209) and the mini-ITX C9Z390-CG-IW ($204). We reviewed the mini-ITX C9Z370-CG-IW last year.

Reminiscent of a militaristic vehicle, the C9Z390-PGW has an industrial looking rear panel cover which is made from plastic. Both of the power delivery heatsinks feature a gunmetal grey finish and are constructed of metal. For a visual effect, the C9Z390-PGW has four areas with integrated RGB LEDs including the rear panel cover, the audio PCB separation line, underneath the top right of the PCB by the memory slots, and within the chipset heatsink. Allowing users to add more RGB, Supermicro has included two 12 V RGB headers. The PCB is all-black in color and in-line with its more professional grade motherboards, Supermicro has used an epoxy glass resin with TU-62/NP175 materials; these materials are designed to improve signal quality through the traces and tracks between the components.

 

There are plenty of USB headers featured across the C9Z390-PGW. There are two USB 2.0 headers, two USB 3.1 G1 headers and one USB 3.1 G2 Type-C header. At the top right of the board is a clear CMOS button, an 'on' button and a reset button. There are also jumpers for the audio, the Intel Manufacturing mode, and to enable the Watch Dog function. Cooling capability consists of five 4-pin fan headers with one dedicated for a CPU fan, one for a 12 V pump and three for chassis fans.

The Supermicro C9Z390-PGW has four full-length PCIe slots which all feature metal slot reinforcement; located between these is a single PCIe 3.0 x1 slot. The biggest feature of the C9Z390-PGW is the use of a Broadcom PEX8747 PLX chip which muxes the processors PCIe lanes giving a total of 32 lanes. This makes true four-way NVIDIA SLI set-ups possible, while non-gaming applications such as FPGAs, RAID cards, and additional networking cards could make use of these slots.

Supermicro C9Z390-PGW PCIe Layout
Number of Installed
PCIe Cards on CPU
PCIe_1 PCIe_2 PCIe_3 PCIe_4
x1 x16 - - -
x2 x16 - x16 -
x3 x8 x8 x16 -
x3 - x16 x8 x8
x4 x8 x8 x8 x8

Focusing on the power delivery on the C9Z390-PGW, Supermicro has gone with a simplistic but highly effective 6+2 design. Making up the CPU/VCore section is six Infineon TDA21232 50 A power stages with a complement of six Vitec 66 A inductors. The controller of choice for the VCore is the Primarion PXE1610 6+1 phase PWM controller. Similarly, the SoC uses two Infineon TDA21240 40 A power stages and is controlled by a Primarion PXE1310 3+1 phase PWM controller. The C9Z390-PGW is the epitome of a true 6-phase design for the CPU/VCore and although there is only one 8-pin 12 V CPU power input, this power delivery is more than capable of doing its job.

Z390 Motherboard Power Delivery Comparison
Motherboard Controller H-Side L-Side Chokes Doubler
ASRock Z390 Taichi IR35201
(5+2)
TI 87350D (12)
ON FDPC5939SG (2)
14 IR3598
(6)
ASRock Z390 Taichi Ultimate IR35201
(5+2)
TI 87350D (12)
ON FDPC5939SG (2)
14 IR3598
(6)
ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming 9 IR35201
(5+2)
TI 87350D (12)
ON FDPC5939SG (2)
14 IR3598
(6)
GIGABYTE Z390 Aorus Master IR35201
(6+2)
IR3553
(12)
14 IR3599
(6)
GIGABYTE Z390 Aorus Ultra ISL69138
(6+1)
SiC634
(12)
13 ISL6617A
(6)
GIGABYTE Z390 Aorus Pro WiFi ISL69138
(6+1)
SiC634
(12)
13 ISL6617A
(6)
GIGABYTE Z390 Aorus Pro ISL69138
(6+1)
SiC634
(12)
13 ISL6617A
(6)
GIGABYTE Z390 Aorus Elite ISL69138
(6+1)
SiC634
(12)
13 ISL6617A
(6)
GIGABYTE Z390 I Aorus Pro WiFi IR35201
(6+2)
IR3553
(6)
8 -
GIGABYTE Z390 Gaming SLI ISL69138
(5+2)
PPak
(10)
12 ISL6617A
(5)
GIGABYTE Z390 Gaming X ISL69138
(5+2)
PPak
(10)
12 ISL6617A
(5)
GIGABYTE Z390 UD ISL69138
(5+2)
PPak
(10)
12 ISL6617A
(5)
MSI MEG Z390 ACE IR35201
(6+2)
ON4C029N
(12)
ON4C024N
(12)
13 IR3598
(6)
Supermicro C9Z390-PGW PXE1610
(6+1)
PXM1310
(3+1)
TDA21232
(6)
TDA21240
(2)
8 -

Looking at memory support, the C9Z390-PGW has support for DDR4-4000 memory and the four slots allow for a maximum of 64 GB. Powering the memory is a solitary Infineon TDA21240 40 A power stage with a Vitec 66 A inductor and is controlled by a Primarion PXE1110 PWM controller. The slots themselves have a metal coating and a single installation clasp for installation.

The storage options on the Supermicro C9Z390-PGW are plentiful with SATA, M.2 and U.2 ports all featured. The M.2 slots both feature their own individual heatsinks, with the bottom slot supporting up to M.2 22110 drives, while the top slot can accommodate up to M.2 2280 drives. Users looking to either speed their already high speed M.2 drives or create redundancy can make use of RAID 0 and RAID 1 arrays. The six SATA slots also support RAID including 0, 1, 5 and 10. Finishing off the storage options is a pairing of U.2 ports and these also offer RAID 0 and RAID 1 support. Regrettably, the storage connections do share bandwidth with each other in the following ways, but it isn't as bleak looking as other models we have seen:

  • If M2_1 slot is populated, U2_1 is disabled and visa versa
  • If M2_2 slot is populated, SATA3_4 and SATA3_5 is disabled and visa versa

Just like most Z390 motherboards, the C9Z390-PGW uses a Realtek ALC1220 HD audio codec. Added to enhance the quality of the front panel audio is a Texas Instruments OPA1612 operational amplifier and the area has a total of seven gold audio capacitors. This area also features a physical divide between the audio PCB and the rest of the board.

On the rear panel is a variety of ports including USB, video outputs and audio connectors. The bulk of the space is taken by the three USB 3.1 G2 Type-A ports, a single USB 3.1 G2 Type-C port and two USB 3.1 G1 Type-A ports. The C9Z390-PGW uses two network ports with one powered by an Aquantia ACQ107 10G controller and the other coming via an Intel I219V. The board's Wi-Fi is provided by an Intel 9560 802.11ac Wave 2 2T2R CRF module and is actually underplayed in the specifications by Supermicro; the Intel 9560 offers speeds of up to 1.73 Gbps and also allows users to use Bluetooth 5 devices. Users looking to make use the integrated graphics on supported processors can use the two DisplayPort 1.2 or the HDMI 2.0a outputs. The rear panel also has five 3.5 mm audio jacks and aS/PDIF optical output powered by the Realtek ALC1220 audio codec. Finishing off the rear panel is a PS/2 combo port.


What's in The Box

Included with the retail packaging is a basic set of accessories with four SATA cables, a black and silver IO shield, SATA cable stickers, a driver installation disk, a quick reference guide, a SuperO case badge and a pair of Wi-Fi antenna. The C9Z390-PGW is also available from Supermicro without retail packaging when purchased in bulk.

  • Four Straight-Angle SATA cables
  • Two Wi-Fi Antennas (2x2)
  • Quick Reference Guide
  • Metal SuperO Case Badge
  • Rear IO Shield
  • SATA Label Stickers
  • Driver Installation CD
Supermicro C9Z390-PGW Overview BIOS And Software
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  • colonelclaw - Wednesday, February 6, 2019 - link

    For the last 12 years or so I've been exclusively buying Asus motherboards for desktop machines, and Supermicro motherboards for servers & rendernodes. Very roughly 25 of the former and 30 of the latter. So far I've had zero failures. The older of the Supermicro boards have seen 24/7 use for about 8 years! Reply
  • althaz - Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - link

    Their build quality remains excellent. Their efforts in VRMs in recent times (if you're in to heavy overclocking) are a different story though. Gigabyte's range is utterly dominant there at the moment (although their UEFI really sucks in terms of UX).

    Personally, Asus have usually been the boards I've ended up opting for. Gigabyte's boards are better overclockers and have better power delivery and NOBODY has worse service...but they just nail everything else.

    That said, I'm planning on a new build later in the year (hopefully with Zen 2/Ryzen 3000, but let's see how it turns out first) and am currently leaning towards a Gigabyte board.
    Reply
  • Questor - Thursday, February 7, 2019 - link

    I have been using EVGA motherboards for some time now with excellent results. What can I say? I run away from the crowds.

    Big problem now is, I want to build a Ryzen system with the upcoming CPUs. I am going to have to return to the mainstream 4. It scares me.
    Reply
  • bunnyfubbles - Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - link

    Supermicro has been known for server and workstation motherboards, so the idea is that they are obviously going after the common "work hard, play hard" manifesto that has been around for ages Reply
  • CoryS - Friday, February 1, 2019 - link

    THis has everything I would ever want in a board. I even like the styling (after that dumb tag lien is covered up by components). Except it doesn't have Thunderbolt 3. Why is this so hard to find in a desktop system? Surely they could had dropped some USB 3.1 ports for at least one? Reply
  • GreenReaper - Friday, February 1, 2019 - link

    Licensing it probably comes with a covenant not to sue Intel. Reply
  • Freeb!rd - Friday, February 1, 2019 - link

    Actually, Intel dropped licensing on Thunder turd 3... probably because no one would pay for it... and they didn't want the turd to shrivel up and die, yet. Reply
  • GreenReaper - Sunday, February 3, 2019 - link

    No, they stopped *charging* for it, per-item. It's royalty-free and non-exclusive but still licensed.

    We don't know the exact terms under which that license is granted, but I wouldn't be surprised if certification was required and that the license might be revoked if action was taken against Intel.

    One interesting fact from https://thunderbolttechnology.net/tech/certificati... - "Peripheral devices are certified to be compatible with specific operating systems and *the devices are not end user upgradeable* for additional operating system compatibility." Not sure if this is just Intel covering their ass for incompatibility or an actual restriction on licensees providing user-upgradability.
    Reply
  • npz - Saturday, February 2, 2019 - link

    You can just add in your own card. Luckily they use a pcie switch so you don't have to sacrifice something in order to use it, unlike every other board. Reply
  • Tecnoc - Friday, February 1, 2019 - link

    As far as I know while the PLX chip allows for x8/x8/x8/x8 SLI is not supported. Does SLI have to be officially supported to work? Reply

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