Review
Now Reading
ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-BTF WIFI Review – The Future Of Motherboards?
Silver Pokdeward
0
Review

ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-BTF WIFI Review – The Future Of Motherboards?

by May 27, 2024
Overview
Warranty

3 years

Price

RM 1,849

Positives

+ Backside connector for clean aesthetics
+ Integrated GC-HPWR connector
+ Plenty of SSD & expansion slots
+ Q-Antenna simplifies installation process
+ Works with standard GPUs

Negatives

- GPU Q-Release doesn't seem to work as intended
- Wi-Fi 7 module only supports 160MHz / 1K QAM
- Requires compatible cases

Pokde Scoreboard
Pokde Rating
Appearance
9.0
Features
8.5
Materials
8.0
Performance
8.5
User Experience
8.5
Value
8.5
Bottom Line

The ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-BTF WIFI is relatively affordable despite its new backside connector design, which should help with the adoption of the new standard.

8.5
Pokde Rating
You have rated this
What's your reaction?
Me Gusta
0%
WOW
0%
Potato
0%
Sad Reacc
0%
Angery
0%

ASUS’s new arsenal of BTF products also includes a few motherboards, and we have one in the form of the TUF Gaming Z790-BTF WIFI. What’s “BTF” anyway? Last year, ASUS experimented the idea of putting all the connectors behind the motherboard (as well as getting rid of power cables from the GPU), and the resulting product is what you’ll be seeing in this review.

Click here to purchase the ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-BTF WIFI via Shopee

Unboxing

ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-BTF WIFI Review - The Future Of Motherboards? 29

Box front

The TUF Z790-BTF comes with a standard motherboard packaging where you’ll find a relatively limited set of accessories compared to, say, ROG motherboards. All of them are laid out in the top half of the box, while the ESD-packaged motherboard sits below.

ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-BTF WIFI Review - The Future Of Motherboards? 32

Box contents

Interestingly, ASUS still includes an installation DVD for this motherboard – but in this day and age where virtually no PCs have a DVD drive, this seems… unhelpful. Moving on, we have a SATA cable, a color-matched Wi-Fi 7 antenna, some additional SSD installation components, and a few documents tagging along. One neat detail is the motherboard diagram drawn on the user manual, and then there’s the certification of reliability which lists all the tests the motherboard is subjected to before leaving the production line.

ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-BTF WIFI Review - The Future Of Motherboards? 33

Protective foam for backside connectors

Since this motherboard uses a backside connector design, the pins will come in contact with the table surface, which isn’t a good idea for something with exposed pins (i.e. fan headers, ARGB headers). So, ASUS has included a protective foam with appropriate cutouts to keep the pins from scratching the surface, or even getting bent by it.

Walkaround

Since this motherboard is designed around the concept of backside connectors, you won’t find any header at the front – except for one, the CPU fan header. This one is unavoidable, but usually it’s mostly invisible if you tuck the cables through the gap under the air cooler, so it’s not going to affect the cable-less aesthetics. Everything else is moved to the rear, plus the addition of GPU power connectors to redirect the power through the motherboard, negating the use of cables through the compatible GPUs (like this one).

The motherboard comes with five separate pieces of heatsinks: two for VRM, one for PCH, and two for SSD (which the PCH heatsink is sandwiched under). Additionally, in the place where the motherboard headers are usually found is a full-size plastic shroud that is non-functional, and only serves as a cosmetic element.

ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-BTF WIFI Review - The Future Of Motherboards? 40

Motherboard rear I/O

The rear I/O is relatively modest given the lack of BIOS/CMOS switches, and a smaller amount of USB ports available (notably, only two USB-A 10Gbps ports). Still, having 2.5GbE LAN and Wi-Fi 7 responsible for connectivity is a nice addition.

ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-BTF WIFI Review - The Future Of Motherboards? 41

Motherboard installation

Since our usual bench rig is not designed with BTF parts in mind, we’ll have to install this motherboard on the TUF Gaming GT302 ARGB chassis (provided by ASUS). As seen above, there are no forward-facing headers (except CPU cooler header, which is somewhat unavoidable) which means no cables getting in the way of the looks.

Specifications

ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-BTF WIFI

CPU Support LGA1700 (Intel Core 14th Gen, 13th Gen & 12th Gen, Pentium & Celeron w/ compatible socket)
Form Factor ATX (12 x 9.6 in / 305 x 244 mm)
Chipset Intel Z790
Power & VRM 2x EPS 8-pin
16+1+1 stage (Vcore+GT+AUX), Vishay SiC623 (60A per powerstage)
Onsemi (ON Semiconductor) ASP2100R PWM controller
Memory 4-slot Max. 192GB DDR5-5600 unbuffered
Overclocking support up to DDR5-7200
PCIe Expansion Slots 1x PCIe 5.0 x16 (CPU)
1x PCIe 4.0 x16 (PCH, x4 electrically)
1x PCIe 4.0 x4 (PCH)
Storage 4x SATA 6Gb/s
4x M.2 slots:
– 1x PCIe 4.0 x4 (CPU)
– 3x PCIe 4.0 x4 (PCH)
Networking Intel Wi-Fi 7 BE202 (M.2 2230)
Intel 2.5GbE I226-V LAN
Bluetooth 5.4
USB Outputs Rear:
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (20Gbps) Type-C
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2  (10Gbps) Type-C
2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps) Type-A
4x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps) Type-A
Front (headers):
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps) Type-C
1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps) (splitting to 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1)
2x USB 2.0 headers (splitting to 4x USB 2.0)
Onboard Display 1x HDMI 2.1
1x DisplayPort 1.4
Audio Realtek ALC1220P codec
120dB output / 113dB input SNR (signal-to-noise ratio)
32-bit/192kHz output
Peripheral Headers Fan and Cooling
1 x 4-pin CPU Fan header
1 x 4-pin CPU OPT Fan header
1 x 4-pin AIO Pump header
4 x 4-pin Chassis Fan headers
GPU
1 x Graphics Card High-Power slot
1 x 12V-2X6 Auxiliary Power connector
3 x 8-pin PCIe Power connectors
Miscellaneous
3 x Addressable Gen 2 headers
1 x Aura RGB header
1 x Clear CMOS header
1 x COM Port header
1 x Front Panel Audio header (F_AUDIO)
1 x 20-3 pin System Panel header with chassis intrusion function
1 x Thunderbolt™ (USB4®) header
Accessories Cables
2 x SATA 6Gb/s cables
Miscellaneous
1 x ASUS WiFi Q-Antenna
1 x TUF GAMING sticker
2 x M.2 rubber packages
1 x Screw package for M.2 SSD
Documentation
1 x TUF certification card
1 x Quick start guide

Click here to purchase the ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-BTF WIFI via Shopee

Test System

CPU Intel Core i9-13900K
Cooling ASUS ROG Ryujin II 360
Cooler Master MasterGel Maker
Motherboard ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-BTF WIFI
GPU ASUS TUF Gaming GeForce RTX 4070 Ti SUPER BTF White OC Edition
Memory Kingston FURY RENEGADE RGB DDR5-6400 CL32 (2x16GB)
Storage Samsung SSD 980 PRO 256GB (Boot)
Kingston NV1 1TB
Power Supply Cooler Master MWE Gold 1250 V2 Full Modular 1250W
Case ASUS TUF Gaming GT302 ARGB
Operating System Windows 11 Home 23H2

Teardown

VRM

ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-BTF WIFI Review - The Future Of Motherboards? 42

VRM layout (heatsink removed)

Our findings reveals that the ASUS TUF Z790-BTF WIFI uses Onsemi ASP2100R for PWM duties, while all 16+1+1 powerstages are handled by Vishay MOSFETs with Vcore/VccGT delivering 60 amps per stage. Not exactly top-of-the-line, but it’s plenty even for our Core i9-13900K to deliver 300W+ of power with no issues (we’ll talk about thermals in a bit).

Audio

ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-BTF WIFI Review - The Future Of Motherboards? 46

Realtek ALC1220P codec + Audio filter capacitors

The audio setup is also relatively simple with just three capacitors for signal filtering, and housed within the TUF logo shroud is the Realtek ALC1220P codec that supports up to 120dB output and 113dB input signal-to-noise ratio. ASUS has also included a de-pop circuit and adaptive impedance, which will adjust the signal output based on which headset you use (so it doesn’t get overpowered).

Storage & Expansion

ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-BTF WIFI Review - The Future Of Motherboards? 47

As far as expansion slots are concerned, this motherboard is straightforward: what you see on the diagram above is what you get, there’s no bandwidth sharing that you’ll see in some other motherboards which may sacrifice one slot for another. The fourth (lower-right) M.2 slot also supports SATA mode for legacy SSDs.

Connectivity

The connectivity of TUF Z790-BTF adopts all-Intel setup, with the LAN featuring the familiar Intel I226-V 2.5GbE LAN controller, while the Wi-Fi 7 module uses a new model called BE202. This is a step-down variant of the BE200, and there is some crucial difference between the two: you lose 320MHz band and 4K QAM from the BE200, so you’ll have to settle with 160MHz + 1024 QAM (max speed dropped to 2.4Gbps) – and honestly, that’s not quite “Wi-Fi 7”, is it?

I/O

A fairly standard set of parts for the TUF Z790-BTF, and since this motherboard lacks onboard Thunderbolt 4 ports, it does include a TB4 header on the back for discrete Thunderbolt add-in cards. All I/O headers are placed on the back of the motherboard, which makes installation easier in some ways.

Other Features

The biggest standout feature of the TUF Z790-BTF is of course, the backside connector setup that also included a special connector that supplies power directly to the GPU sans cables on the front. For that, you’ll need to connect either 12V2x6 (formerly 12VHPWR) or three PCIe 8-pin connectors to the rear of the motherboard, and from there you can take the compatible GPUs and it’ll work right away. You can still use conventional GPUs on this motherboard, in which case you’ll have to connect the power the usual way.

ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-BTF WIFI Review - The Future Of Motherboards? 56

However, there’s one small thing that I’m not entirely sure about – this GPU quick-release lever. We can’t tell if it’s a clearance issue or something else, but the lever has virtually no effect on the release mechanism when we tried to remove the GPU from the motherboard (which is installed on the TUF GT302 ARGB case). Maybe the next revision can take care of this?

Thermals

ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-BTF WIFI Review - The Future Of Motherboards? 57

We put the TUF Z790-BTF’s VRM to the test by pushing the CPU for a 10-minute Cinebench run with all power limits off. The CPU drawn slightly above 300W in this test run, which the system is installed inside a TUF GT302 ARGB case with all panels closed, but we’ve seen figures as high as 330W with the glass panel left open. In either cases, there’s no concerns of overheating VRMs provided there’s airflow in the case.

BIOS & Software

ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-BTF WIFI Review - The Future Of Motherboards? 60

Since this is a TUF motherboard, both the BIOS and Armoury Crate app has been given a TUF-themed makeover (though you can always switch the theme in-app if you want to). You’ll need Armoury Crate for easy access to certain features such as fan tuning and RGB, but we’ve seen features like Windows 11’s Dynamic Lighting that m ay soon take care of lighting settings moving forward.

Conclusion

ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-BTF WIFI Review - The Future Of Motherboards? 61

Despite the common consensus that new, radical designs will introduce some kind of early adopter tax, I’m surprised to see the price of the ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-BTF WIFI – at RM1,849 (prices may vary slightly) – is not too far from its standard counterparts. The prerequisite is that you’ll need a compatible case to install it, and we’ve seen a few case manufacturers begin to offer BTF-supported cases as well.

So, is this how the motherboards of the future looks like? I’m inclined to agree. Of course, these new BTF parts will remain more expensive than standard counterparts for a while, but I’m mostly certain that it’s only a matter of time before all OEMs eventually adopt to the new standard, because looks is a big part of the PC building experience as well. Hopefully they will have a common standard to agree on, though.

Pokde-Silver

Click here to purchase the ASUS TUF Gaming Z790-BTF WIFI via Shopee

Special thanks to ASUS Malaysia for sending us the TUF Gaming Z790-BTF WIFI for this review.

About The Author
Low Boon Shen
Is technology powered by a series of tubes?