Maxsun's Z790ITX Wi-Fi is a competitively-priced Mini-ITX motherboard that offers a comprehensive range of features and impressive performance.
Capable power delivery
Four SATA ports
No PCIe 5.0 M.2 socket
Dated/budget audio codec
While Maxsun has gained recognition among enthusiasts and gamers in the Eastern markets, it may not be as familiar to those in other regions. The company, established in Guangzhou, China in 2002, initially focused on manufacturing motherboards and graphics cards that aimed to deliver exceptional gaming, design, and production performance, much like many other component manufacturers. As time passed, Maxsun cultivated partnerships with industry giants such as Intel, AMD, and Nvidia. Now, the company offers a range of products accessible to the public through platforms like Newegg and Amazon, with aspirations to establish a stronger presence in Western markets.
In our review today, we will be examining Maxsun's iCraft Z790ITX Wi-Fi motherboard. As the name suggests, this motherboard follows the small form factor of mini-ITX while incorporating Wi-Fi functionality, all packed into an impressively equipped package. Notable features include a sturdy power delivery system capable of handling the demands of an Intel Core i9-13900K processor, two M.2 sockets, and four SATA ports for ample storage options. Furthermore, the rear IO offers a generous number of USB ports, including a 20 Gbps Type-C port, along with integrated Wi-Fi 6E support and more.
In terms of performance, the motherboard performed admirably throughout our comprehensive testing, partially due to its default raised power limits. It showcased top-tier speeds in certain tests, while ranking in the middle of the pack in others. As a gaming system, it proved to be more than capable. It's worth noting that the limitation in terms of performance lies more with your chosen cooling method rather than the capabilities of the motherboard itself, which sets it apart from many competing products.
In the following sections, we will delve into the intricacies of the motherboard and evaluate whether it deserves a place on our esteemed Best Motherboards list. However, before we proceed with our testing and examination of the board's specific features, let us begin by presenting the specifications sourced from Maxsun's official website.
Specifications: Maxsun iCraft Z790ITX Wi-Fi
Inside the Box of the Maxsun iCraft Z790ITX Wi-Fi
Within the retail packaging, the motherboard is positioned atop a stack of accessories thoughtfully provided to facilitate your initial setup. Impressively, the company even includes a small toolkit! Presented below is a comprehensive list of all the items included in the package.
- Wi-Fi antenna
- Extended motherboard risers
- (4) SATA cables
- (2) screws for M.2
Design of the iCraft Z790ITX Wi-Fi
Commencing from the left corner, we observe a solitary 8-pin EPS connector situated to provide power to the CPU. Just above this connector, there is a heatpipe that interconnects the VRM heatsinks. These heatsinks appear to be adequately designed, featuring sufficient mass and surface area. Additionally, they are linked via a 6mm heat pipe, ensuring a balanced distribution of heat between them. Notably, these heatsinks are actively cooled by a discreet internal fan. As stated on the product page, the fan remains inactive until the temperature reaches approximately 80 degrees Celsius. Once activated, its high-pitched whine becomes discernible even amidst the system fans.
Continuing beyond the VRMs, along the upper edge of the motherboard, you will come across several headers. Firstly, there are four 4-pin headers designated for fans or pumps, alongside a couple of RGB headers. It's worth noting that all the fan headers are compatible with both PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) and DC (Direct Current) controlled devices. Regrettably, the manual does not provide specific information regarding the power rating for each header. As a precautionary measure, it is advisable to assume that they can handle up to 1A/12W each to avoid overloading them and potentially causing damage to your motherboard.
In close proximity to the fan headers, you will find 3-pin ARGB (Addressable RGB) and 4-pin RGB headers, which can be utilized to connect your RGB strips. Since the motherboard itself does not feature integrated RGB lighting, these connections become essential if you wish to incorporate some visual flair within your chassis. Additionally, there is a second 3-pin ARGB header positioned at the bottom of the board. Control over these headers and connected devices is managed through the Maxsun LED application.
Directly below that, you will find two DRAM slots without reinforcement, where memory modules can be securely attached using a single latch located on top. Maxsun specifies support for DDR5-7400, which is a typical capability for a Mini-ITX motherboard, surpassing the performance sweet spot. During our testing, we successfully utilized three different memory kits up to DDR5-7200 without encountering any issues. This indicates that there are no concerns regarding memory compatibility, especially when using the latest BIOS version (H5.3G).
Moving along the right edge, we first come across the 24-pin ATX connector, which provides power to the motherboard. Adjacent to it are four vertically mounted SATA ports for connecting SATA-based storage devices. If you wish to utilize RAID functionality with your SATA drives (please note that NVMe drives do not support RAID modes on this motherboard), the Z790ITX supports RAID0/1/5/10 configurations. Continuing along the same edge, you will find the front panel USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) Type-C header, a 19-pin USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) header, the second 3-pin ARGB header, and finally, the front panel connections for various system controls.
The power delivery system on this compact motherboard consists of a total of 11 phases, with nine dedicated to Vcore. Power is supplied through the 8-pin EPS connector and is regulated by a Renesas RAA229132 PWM controller. It then passes through the 9x Intersil ISL99390 SPS MOSFETs. The power delivery configuration, with its 810A capacity, is more than capable of supporting the flagship Intel i9-13900K processor, even under overclocked conditions. In fact, the limitations in terms of power delivery are likely to be encountered with CPU cooling rather than the power delivery system itself.
Exploring the lower section of the motherboard, we encounter the PCIe slot, M.2 socket, audio components, and various headers. Let's start with the PCIe slot: there is only one available on this board, and it is reinforced. It operates at PCIe 5.0 x16 speeds, utilizing the bandwidth provided by the CPU. Positioned just above the PCIe slot is the first of two M.2 sockets. Both sockets support PCIe-based modules with a length of up to 80mm. However, there is conflicting information regarding the second M.2 socket, which is located on the back of the board, and its support for SATA-based devices. We have reached out to Maxsun for clarification and will update the information as soon as we receive a response.
In the bottom-left corner, the audio section is prominently displayed, with a few yellow capacitors specifically dedicated to sound. The chosen audio codec is the Realtek ALC897, which should suffice for most users, although it is somewhat outdated and falls on the budget-friendly side. Considering this is not a budget SKU, it would have been preferable to see a better audio codec included. Lastly, squeezed between the M.2 socket and PCIe slot, you will find the headers for the front panel audio and USB 2.0 connections.
Swinging around to the back of the motherboard, we can see that the rear IO plate comes preinstalled. It features a black background with gray labels on the ports and includes holes for enhanced airflow to the actively cooled VRMs. The rear IO section offers a total of nine USB ports. In terms of speed, there is a Type-C port with a speed of 20 Gbps, four USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports with a speed of 5 Gbps, and four USB 2.0 ports with a speed of 480 Mbps. The display outputs available for use with integrated graphics are the standard options: DisplayPort and HDMI. Additionally, you will find the Wi-Fi 6E antenna, a 2.5 GbE port for Ethernet connectivity, and a stack of three-plug (3.5mm) audio connectors. Lastly, on the far right side, there is a clear CMOS button that can be used to reset the BIOS settings.
The Maxsun UEFI BIOS has a somewhat nostalgic feel, reminiscent of older BIOS designs, and may appear relatively basic compared to those offered by major motherboard manufacturers. Notably, there is no dedicated 'easy mode,' and users are directly taken to the advanced section upon entering the BIOS. The top section of the BIOS interface features several headers, including Main, Advanced, Power, Turbo, Startup, Security, and Exit, each with their respective subheadings. On the right side, a system summary is displayed, providing information such as CPU temperatures, voltage, fan speeds, and more. On the left side, users can navigate and select various options. While the Maxsun UEFI BIOS gets the job done and offers ample functionality, it may not be considered among the most visually appealing or aesthetically pleasing UEFIs available.
In our standard benchmarks and power tests, we utilize the CPU at its stock frequencies, including any default boost or turbo modes, while ensuring all power-saving features are enabled. We set the BIOS to optimized defaults and enable the XMP profile for memory settings. To ensure appropriate idle behavior, we set the Windows power scheme to Balanced, which is the default setting. This approach establishes a baseline for testing and allows for consistent and accurate comparisons.
Synthetic benchmarks offer an effective method for evaluating the performance of a motherboard, as identical settings should yield comparable results. However, there are certain areas where motherboard manufacturers can still optimize for either stability or performance, such as turbo boost wattage and advanced memory timings. These settings have the potential to affect certain tests and can be areas of optimization for motherboard makers.
The VRM temperatures on this motherboard remained well within the recommended operating limits and were notably cooler compared to the actively cooled ASRock Z790 PG-ITX/TB4 that we reviewed earlier this year. According to our measurements, temperatures peaked at around 59 degrees Celsius using external probes, while the internal sensor on the board reached close to 65 degrees Celsius. It is worth noting that the website states the VRM fan should activate at a threshold of 80 degrees Celsius, but in our testing, it turned on before reaching that temperature. If you prioritize a quiet operation during intensive multi-threaded and long-duration workloads, it may be advisable to explore other options until there is an option to adjust the VRM fan settings.
Maxsun's iCraft Z790ITX Wi-Fi is a strong contender in the Mini-ITX Z790 motherboard market. Priced at $299.99, it offers good value compared to other high-end ITX solutions. Despite its compact size, the motherboard provides a satisfactory range of features that stand up well against the specifications of competing models. It includes dual M.2 sockets and four SATA ports for storage, robust power delivery capable of supporting top-tier processors, fast networking options including integrated Wi-Fi, and an aesthetic design that complements various build themes. Overall, it offers a well-rounded package for its price point.
There is intense competition within the small form factor market, with each board partner offering their own lineup of Z790 ITX options. Among them, the Asus ROG Strix Z790-I Gaming Wi-Fi stands out as the most expensive option, priced at $437.99. It uniquely features a PCIe 5.0 M.2 socket, but it only provides two SATA ports. The MSI MPG Z790I Edge Wi-Fi, priced at $351.99, offers three M.2 sockets (without PCIe 5.0 support), four SATA ports, and a superior audio solution. ASRock's Z790 PG-ITX/TB4, priced at $334.99, boasts a flagship-class audio solution, ultra-fast 40 Gbps Thunderbolt 4 Type-C ports (the only ITX board with this feature), and three M.2 sockets. Lastly, at the same price as our reviewed board's MSRP of $299.99, the Gigabyte Z790I Aorus Ultra stands out as the only board with integrated RGB lighting, but like the Asus option, it also provides only two SATA ports.
Each of these comparable motherboards has its own strengths and weaknesses, but when it comes to price, the Gigabyte and ASRock options are the closest competitors to our Maxsun board. If you prioritize having the fastest M.2 storage, the Asus board is the only choice, albeit at a significantly higher price. If you value flagship audio and Thunderbolt connectivity, the ASRock option offers those features at a more reasonable price point. The Maxsun board strikes a good balance between features and aesthetics while being budget-friendly, although it may not match the audio capabilities of some competitors. However, one challenge is finding the Maxsun board for purchase in the United States, as it is currently unavailable on Newegg or Amazon. There have been rumors that Maxsun may soon have its own store on their website, which would make it easier to purchase. If you manage to find this board close to its suggested retail price, it is worth considering as one of the more well-rounded Mini-ITX options available.