Intel reveals specifications for new flagship Coffee Lake Z390 chipset
In a surprise move, Intel has published documentation on its upcoming Z390 chipset, confirming rumors of a new high-end chipset for Coffee Lake. Z390 would be a second-generation flagship chipset for Intel’s 300-series platform, and mainly focuses on shoring up the weaknesses of Z370.
Z390 specification’s mostly mirror that of Z370, but it builds on the latter in two key areas, adding native chipset support for USB 3.1 (Gen 2) ports and introducing built-in 802.11ac wireless networking capabilities.
The Z390 chipset will support up to six USB 3.1 (Gen 2) ports, but it’s otherwise very similar to Z370, with the same level of support for 10 USB 3.1 (Gen 1), six SATA 6Gbps, and 24 PCH PCIe 3.0 lanes.
Here's an overview of how it compares with the Z370 chipset:
|Max. USB 3.1 (Gen 2)||6||-|
|Max. USB 3.1 (Gen 1)||10||10|
|PCH PCIe 3.0 lanes||24||24|
|Max. RST PCIe Storage||3||3|
|Supports Optane Memory||Yes||Yes|
|Intel Smart Sound||Yes||Yes|
Its integrated wireless features rely on Intel’s 802.11ac Wave 2 configuration and is suitable for up to 160MHz wireless bands. Intel’s newly launched H370, B360, and H310 low- and mid-range chipsets also added wireless capabilities, so it only makes sense that Z390 would do the same.
In some ways Z390 reflects Intel’s true plans for Coffee Lake. When Coffee Lake first launched, only the Z370 chipset was ready, and that didn’t have any integrated Wi-Fi capabilities.
But now that Intel’s chipsets with native USB 3.1 (Gen 2) and Wi-Fi are ready, it only makes sense for a new flagship chipset to be released as the true high-end chipset for Coffee Lake.
On the motherboard front, it’s worth noting that certain brands appear to be reserving the naming of their highest-end models for Z390. For instance, ASUS has yet to announce a Maximus X Extreme board, while ASRock has yet to release an OC Formula motherboard.
Given that Computex is also just round the corner, we may hear about these new motherboards then.