BIOSTAR isn’t a company we see a lot of in North America. For as long as I’ve been acquainted with the brand it’s been talking about increasing its presence in the North American market. Today we are taking a look at BIOSTAR’s Z590I VALKYRIE Ver. 5.0 (IZ59A), which is a mini-ITX motherboard offering. This is quite unique because it is based on Intel’s enthusiast Z590 chipset but in a small form factor motherboard. It’s literally a ton of features, options and support packed into a small motherboard with an MSRP of around $359 in the US. The official press release can be found here.
The BIOSTAR Z590I VALKYRIE is based on Intel’s Z590 Express chipset and supports all current LGA1200 socket compatible CPUs and 11th gen Rocket Lake. It is Intel’s flagship chipset for the mainstream platform. The motherboard itself is a mini-ITX form factor motherboard that is designed for small form factor PC’s which are popular among some enthusiasts.
As the chipset is among the most modern on the market right now, it supports all of the modern technologies and interconnects one would expect. This includes things like DDR4 memory, PCI-Express 4.0, USB 3.x Gen 1&2, M.2/NVMe, SATA-based RAID, and so on.
The packaging on the BIOSTAR Z590I VALKYRIE is what you would expect. The board comes packed in a relatively small cardboard box containing a basic cardboard insert and an anti-static bag. Inside the package, you’ll find the following accessories: User manual, driver disc, WiFi antenna connectors, smart connect (front panel) connector, quick start guide, and SATA cables.
Motherboard PCB Layout & Features
The BIOSTAR Z590I VALKYRIE is a mini-ITX motherboard. What that means is that there are a lot of trade-offs in terms of layout as the limited PCB real estate often presents a challenge to designers. All that being said, BIOSTAR has done a good job with what they have. When looking at one of these you also have to keep in mind that mini-ITX cases are quite different from larger ATX chassis.
As a result, things that would be less than ideal on an ATX motherboard are good options on mini-ITX. Case in point, the SATA port layout would be something you would only find on cheaper ATX boards. In this case, BIOSTAR has done an exceptional job as we don’t have to run a SATA cable over the DRAM slots as is often the case with many mITX offerings. Furthermore, a right-angled connector might save PCB real estate but could pose challenges in some mITX chassis.
Generally speaking, header placement is well thought out and the markings on the PCB are good enough to figure out what and where everything is relatively fast. There are three 4-pin fan headers and a single dedicated water-pump header. The PCB also features two RGB LED headers. One of which is addressable while the other isn’t.
Here are all the BIOSTAR features of the motherboard: MOS Heatsink with Active Cooling, 10-Layer PCB Design, Digital PWM, Dr. MOS, Solid Caps – 20K Hours Durable Solid Capacitors, Armor Gear I/O shield, 2.5Guard, LED Rock Zone, VIVID LED DJ, RGB Sync
CPU OPT Header, A.I FAN, A.I TP Control, Hi-Fi Ground, Hi-Fi AMP, Intel Optane, Memory Ready, Iron Slot Protection, Tough Power Connectors, Super Durable Inductor,
Moistureproof PCB, ESD Protection, OC/OV/OH Protection, Armor Gear, BIOS-Flasher,
The BIOSTAR Z590I VALKYRIE boasts a 10-phase power implementation using an Intersill ISL69269 voltage controller in an 8+2 mode configuration. For the power stages, the BIOSTAR Z590I VALKYRIE uses Intersil ISL99390 90A smart power stages. I can’t find any information on the use of doublers here and it doesn’t appear to be using any as far as I can see. It also boasts the use of 20,000 hour solid electrolytic capacitors.
As a result of this design, the BIOSTAR Z590I VALKYRIE has quite a bit of power delivery capability. Far more than is probably required by most, but roughly half of what the full-sized Z590 VALKYRIE offers. In either case, for a mini-ITX solution, it’s a robust VRM implementation. In addition, it supports BIOSTAR’s MOS Heatsink with Active Cooling. There is a physical fan inside the VRM heatsink area, covered by the shroud, providing active cooling to the VRMs. This will help this tiny motherboard keep its cool when running enthusiast-class Intel CPUs.
The BIOSTAR Z590I VALKYRIE only has two 288-pin DDR4 DIMMs supporting a total of 64GB of RAM. Clock speeds in excess of DDR4 5000MHz are supported. Because there are only two slots, there is no need to use color-coding or denote dual channel memory mode operation as each slot is part of a separate channel.
Chipset Cooling and Expansion Slots
The chipset cooling on mini-ITX is always interesting. As space is at such a premium, the chipset cooler has to pull double duty as both the chipset cooler and a heat sink for the SSD. This isn’t too unusual except for the SSD actually sitting on top of the chipset cooler rather than being beside it. The chipset cooler seems fairly anemic, but the Z590 chipset has a fairly low TDP which is around 6w.
The chipset is cooled with a passive cooling solution which doubles as a cooler for the SSD. It’s a completely passive unit and a thermal pad is affixed to the cover for the SSD. As usual, the cover is held on by two thin screws.
There isn’t a lot to say about expansion slots given that the BIOSTAR Z590I VALKYRIE is a mini-ITX motherboard. It offers a single PCI-Express x16 Gen4 slot which does feature steel reinforcement and a wide paddle-style retention tab. There is a single M.2 slot that supports drives as long as 80mm or type “2280” drives as they are also known. The single M.2 slot is also Gen 4.0 compliant when using the CPU with a PCIe Gen 4.0 controller integrated into it.
Rear I/O Panel
Given the limited expansion capability of an mITX solution, the rear I/O panel is particularly important. In the BIOSTAR Z590I VALKYRIE’s case, there is actually quite a bit going on. On the back panel you’ll find a DisplayPort connector, 1x HDMI 2.0 port, 1x PS/2 keyboard or mouse port, 2x USB 1.1/2.0 ports, 2x WiFi antenna ports, 1x 2.5GbE RJ-45 port, 3x audio jacks, 1x USB 3.2 (Gen 2×2) Type-C port, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports and 2x Gen 1 USB 3.2 ports.
Interestingly, the antenna ports aren’t installed by default. As the antennas are the larger type of coaxial style connector installation isn’t all that bad. There are some steel punchouts that you have to knock out first, but this is relatively easy. I guess BIOSTAR assumes you can handle this if you are building your own computer.
The rear I/O panel is very well marked indicating what each port is used for. The only color coding present is for the USB ports.