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My impressions of the ASRock Z790 PG Lightning Motherboard (2024)

My thoughts on ASRock Z790 PG Lightning: performance, expansions, overclocking, and value.
Douglas Cheston



December 28, 2023


I recently picked up the ASRock Z790 PG Lightning motherboard for a new PC build. It seems to be a great motherboard - more on my thoughts on it below.


Property Value Property Value
Brand ASRock CPU Socket LGA 1700
Compatible Devices Personal Computer RAM Memory Technology DDR5
Chipset Type Intel Z790 Memory Clock Speed 3600 MHz
Platform Windows Model Name Z790 PG LIGHTNING
Memory Storage Capacity 64 GB Graphics Card Interface PCI Express


Click on photos to enlarge them:

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Initial Impressions and Technical Specifications

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Building a new PC is always an exciting venture, filled with the promise of cutting-edge performance and the allure of the latest tech. When I first laid eyes on the ASRock Z790 PG Lightning Motherboard, several key features instantly caught my attention:

  • 13th and 12th Gen Intel Core Processor support

  • 14+1+1 Phase Power Design with Dr.MOS

  • Support for up to 6800+(OC) DDR5 memory

  • PCIe 5.0 connectivity

  • Ample USB ports, including Type-C

Right off the bat, the compatibility with Intel’s latest CPU generations promises longevity. I appreciate the robust power delivery system because stable power means better performance and potentially, better overclocking headroom.

Speaking of memory, the motherboard’s support for DDR5 is timely, given the direction in which the industry is heading. Sure, DDR5 RAM is still priced at a premium, but investing in it feels forward-thinking, especially when teamed with the capacity for overclocking speeds upwards of 6800 MHz.

PCIe 5.0 is still pretty fresh on the market, so having a motherboard that’s ready for it is quite reassuring. It means I’m somewhat future-proofed for next-gen GPUs and other high-speed peripherals.

But it’s not without some drawbacks. While the board supports plenty of M.2 drives, the fact that only one heat sink is included means I might need to consider aftermarket options if I want to run multiple M.2 SSDs. Thermal management is crucial, especially as I aim for a build that remains cool and stable under load.

The Realtek 2.5G LAN is a step in the right direction for network speed, though I reckon some might have preferred a jump to 10G for future-proofing, even at this price point.

The design is subjective, but to me, the aesthetics don’t exactly scream premium. Some might appreciate the minimalist black and grey approach; however, it could be perceived as quite barebones compared to other motherboards festooned with RGB lighting and flashy heat sinks.

As an enthusiast, I have high hopes for ASRock’s offering, although I’ve heard reports about occasional DOA units and BIOS issues. Personally, my board came with an outdated BIOS, but updating it was a breeze, and I encountered no problems.

The inclusion of generous USB connectivity, including several Type-A and Type-C ports, is certainly welcome, ensuring a plethora of options for external devices.

In summary, the ASRock Z790 PG Lightning feels like a solid board with an eye towards future technologies. Despite what seems like a couple of cost-cutting measures, its competitive price and extensive feature set make it an attractive option for those wanting to take advantage of Intel’s latest hardware offerings without breaking the bank.

Performance and Overclocking Capabilities

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When you’re building a high-performance rig, the motherboard is the centerpiece, and the ASRock Z790 PG LIGHTNING doesn’t disappoint. Diving right into overclocking and performance, here’s the scoop:

  • Supports 13th Gen & 12th Gen Intel Core Processors: The future-proofing is evident, giving you headroom for the next couple of years at least.

  • 14+1+1 Phase Power Design, Dr.MOS for VCore+GT: This means stable power delivery, a must for pushing CPUs to their limits.

  • 4 x DDR5 DIMMs, supports up to 6800+(OC): DDR5’s still fresh and expensive, but man, the speed difference is noticeable.

  • 1 PCIe 5.0 x16: This slot’s ready for next-gen GPUs and NVMe drives, so bring on the bandwidth!

This beast has allowed me to pair it with a 13700k and a 3070ti – everything’s snappy and responsive. Overclocking RAM to 6800 MHz was a breeze with XMP profiles, although your mileage may vary depending on the kit. The fact that it’s rocking a LGA 1700 socket means it’s compatible with some seriously powerful CPUs, a big win in my book.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. There’s a sense of compromise stemming from its focus on performance overflair. The board isn’t the flashiest on the market, and honestly, I’m fine with that – no need for unnecessary RGB lighting when performance is your priority.

A few quirks did pop up, though. The UEFI settings could be more intuitive. If you’re a newbie, navigating these waters without a more informative manual might be daunting. Also, I’ve heard some folks had issues with DOA units, particularly concerning DRAM, so there’s some quality control to keep in mind. My experience is different, but it’s something to be aware of.

Ironically, for a board that supports cutting-edge features, it only comes with one heatsink for the M.2 slots. If you’re loading up on NVMe drives, be prepared to invest in some third-party cooling solutions. And even though this board brags about its PCIe slots, keep in mind that modern-day GPUs will likely cover some of them up due to their bulky coolers.

In essence, the ASRock Z790 PG LIGHTNING may not win any beauty contests, but it’s a utilitarian’s dream board. It’s packing substantial power at a decent price point, tackling modern workloads and gaming without breaking a sweat. And to me, that’s what truly matters in a motherboard.

Connectivity and Expansion Options

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When looking into the ASRock Z790 PG Lightning Motherboard, the connectivity and expansion options are pretty solid, especially for someone aiming for a future-proof rig. Here’s what stood out to me:

  • PCIe Support:With a single PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, you can slot in the newest GPUs or high-speed storage solutions without worrying about bandwidth limitations. Plus, the additional PCIe 4.0 x16 and three PCIe 3.0 x1 slots are perfect for expansion cards and other peripherals.

  • Storage: For storage, this motherboard is pretty stacked. Not only does it come with a Hyper M.2 slot for your blazing-fast Gen4 SSDs, but there are also three additional M.2 slots—all Gen4. This means you can run multiple NVMe drives without throttling their speeds. Plus, the four SATA3 ports are there for additional HDD or SSD storage.

  • Memory: With four DDR5 DIMM slots supporting speeds up to 6800+ MHz (OC), I’m all set for some serious memory overclocking.

  • USB Ports: The variety of USB ports provided here covers pretty much what I need. The USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C on the rear panel offers up to 20Gbps for ultra-fast data transfer, which is great for my external drives.

Now, while these features put this motherboard on the map for me, there are a few niggles. For one, it’s strange not all M.2 slots come with heatsinks; this might not be a deal-breaker, but when you’re loading up on NVMe drives, those temps can soar, and additional cooling isn’t just nice to have—it’s necessary.

Another point to consider is the placement of the PCIe slots. Once you pop in a bulky GPU, you’re likely to cover up a slot, which can be an issue for some setups that require multiple expansion cards.

Finally, I appreciate the included WiFi M.2 Key-E slot since it offers a clean solution for wireless connectivity without using up a precious USB port, but keep in mind - if you need WiFi out of the box, you’ll need to factor in the cost of an additional module.

Overall, the Z790 PG Lightning is like a multitool for your PC build—loaded with features to handle almost anything you throw at it, and with just a couple of minor drawbacks that aren’t deal-breakers but definitely something to keep in mind.

Overall Value and Final Verdict

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After getting some hands-on time with the ASRock Z790 PG Lightning motherboard, I’ve got a pretty solid handle on what it brings to the table. My overall verdict? It strikes a decent balance between performance, features, and cost, but it’s not without its downsides. Let’s break it down:


  • Latest Gen Support: It’s great having a board ready for both 13th and 12th Gen Intel Core processors. Compatibility for future upgrades, check.

  • High-Speed RAM: Support for DDR5 at speeds of 6800+ MHz (OC) is fantastic for those looking to push the boundaries of their system’s memory performance.

  • Ample Connectivity: With plenty of USB ports, including Type-C, and a multitude of PCIe slots, there’s a lot of room for expansion.

  • Decent Onboard Audio: The 7.1 CH HD Audio with Nahimic Audio is more than adequate for an immersive gaming experience or casual multimedia consumption.


  • Manual and UEFI Could Be Better: The documentation can be a bit sparse, especially for newbies. More detailed BIOS information would be helpful.

  • No Post Issues: There are reports of DOA units or POST issues which can be a significant bother, to say the least.

Now, I tend to lean towards function over flash, so I appreciated the straightforward aesthetic of the Z790 PG Lightning. No needless RGB lighting – it’s got a clean, no-nonsense vibe that I dig. And while the brand switch from Gigabyte to ASRock had me a bit uncertain, this motherboard’s cost-to-feature ratio has undoubtedly won me over.

However, the BIOS came outdated out of the box, necessitating an immediate update. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but it’s an additional step that might put off some users. I’m also concerned about the mixed reviews, especially when it comes to the motherboard not posting, which could indicate some quality control issues.

For my setup, running with a 13700k and a 3070ti, it’s been smooth sailing – snappy performance with no hitches. Sure, there’s a drawback with only one included M.2 heatsink, but that’s manageable given the board’s price.

In conclusion, the ASRock Z790 PG Lightning is a compelling option for those looking to harness the latest hardware without breaking the bank. While it’s not perfect – the potential for POST issues or lack of detailed documentation could be frustrating – the pros outweigh the cons if you’re prepared to handle a few potential speed bumps. If DIY troubleshooting doesn’t scare you, and you’re after a board that supports the latest tech at a good price, the Z790 PG Lightning could be right up your alley.