MSI Z490 motherboards will be PCIe 4.0 compatible with a new BIOS update

MSI Z490
(Image credit: MSI)

With Intel Rocket Lake set to land on March 30, there are plenty of PC enthusiasts looking to upgrade their rigs from Comet Lake-S and earlier generation Intel chips. Fortunately, if you have an MSI Z490 motherboard, you won't have to replace it to take advantage of PCIe 4.0 support offered by the latest processors from Team Blue.

MSI announced earlier this week that: "All of the MSI Z490 motherboards will be supporting PCIe 4.0 with the coming Intel 11th Gen Intel Processors. Through an update to the latest BIOS, MSI Z490 motherboards offer great bandwidth and performance for PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSDs and graphics cards."


List Of MSI Z490 Motherboard BIOS Versions Supporting PCIe 4.0

(Image credit: MSI)

Several components on a motherboard are required to make PCIe 4.0 work – which is why it would typically require more than just a software update to get a motherboard to support the new PCIe 4.0 standard. 

However, fortunately for MSI Z490 owners, the company futureproofed their latest motherboards in anticipation of the new standard, so they only require a software update to enable these features once the new Intel Rocket Lake processors are released.

PCIe 4.0 doubles the throughput over the previous PCIe 3.0 standard, meaning significantly faster data transfer speeds, particularly for SSDs and graphics cards. 

How fast will depend on the SSDs and graphics cards themselves - this Kingston Ghost Tree SSD shown off at CES 2021, for example, promises read and write speeds upwards of 7GB/s - but the capacity is built into the motherboard itself, so there will be plenty of options for PC builders in the weeks and months ahead once Rocket Lake chips go on sale.

Z490 support for PCIe 4.0 is a boon for Intel

The lack of PCIe 4.0 support was one of the biggest missed opportunities for Intel last year when Comet Lake-S was released, so it's good that they're making up for it with their latest processors.

With MSI's announcement - as well as Gigabyte Z490 Auros Xtreme and ASRock Z490 Aqua also having PCIe 4.0 compatibility, according to PCGamesN - it should make it easier for people to upgrade from older CPUs if they don't have to buy a new motherboard as well in order to take advantage of the new PCIe 4.0 support.

That can only work to Intel's advantage as it continues its battle with archrival AMD for desktop CPU dominance.

John Loeffler
Components Editor

John (He/Him) is the Components Editor here at TechRadar and he is also a programmer, gamer, activist, and Brooklyn College alum currently living in Brooklyn, NY. 

Named by the CTA as a CES 2020 Media Trailblazer for his science and technology reporting, John specializes in all areas of computer science, including industry news, hardware reviews, PC gaming, as well as general science writing and the social impact of the tech industry.

You can find him online on Threads @johnloeffler.

Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 (just like everyone else).