Packaging & Accessories: 9 out of 10
MSI has once again upped their game and delivered an almost perfect assortment of accessories. Finally MSI has not only matched ASUS and their ‘EZ-Plug’ front header adapter but improved upon the underlying idea of user-friendliness. Put bluntly, their break out cable idea is better. It works better. It is easier. It even allows ‘wiggle room’ in gigantic cases where the cables juuuust reach to the front header on the motherboard. Mix in the USB flash drive for drivers and the only minor nits is the shipping container is a touch too similar to the non-Max edition… and they increased the SATA port count (back 8 where it belongs) but did not increase the meager included SATA cable count (still only 2). If neither nit is worth picking you can up your own score accordingly. Either way, MSI now know how to do Packaging and Accessories right.
Layout & Aesthetics: 23 out of 25
Once again MSI really have improved the definition of what is ‘good enough’ as the new ‘Ti Max’ edition of their venerable Edge series is pretty much the (new) definition of flexibility. Need a motherboard that works great with a black based theme? The edge has you covered. Want a board that works with a white theme? Once again the Edge has an edge over most of the competition. Want a board that can pull off an ‘industrial’ vibe? The Edge Ti Max can whistle the tune better than most. Want a system that can light up like it is part of the Las Vegas strip, but is also easy from a cable management POV? Yup, the Edge and its multiple (and sensible top and bottom locations) ARGB headers has you covered. Want a lowkey build? Once again the Edge is there. The only issue we have with this board is MSI has (once again) not included M.2 bottom heatsinks beyond the PCIe 5.0 port. That should be a de-facto standard these days and them being MIA is noticeable by their absence. The same is true of the lack of a secondary Type-C header and lack of 90-degree USB headers in general… which should also be standard on a ‘Max’ styled motherboard.
Build Quality & Warranty: 27 out of 30
For its class… and we must repeat that… for its class the MSI Z790 Edge TI MAX is well built and is above average. Yes. We would love to see this ‘MPG’ classed motherboard series be transitioned to an 8 layer PCB. Not six. However. Not all ‘6’ layer PCBs are built the same. This is a server grade PCB (and we can remember a time when 6 was premium and 4 layers was a mainstream ‘thing’). It just would not be our first choice for pairing with a 1 Kilo (or greater) air cooler. Mix in a decent, but not outstanding, warranty and there is not too much to complain about. Especially when 9 boards of 10 (including some that cost more) are not as good as what MSI now offers in the sub 4 bill price class.
Value: 32 out of 35
Value is a tricky thing. Much like dragon’s tears, the Edge Ti Max’s value will depend entirely on how once perceives the ‘taste’. For some, a TomaHawk class board is pushing their budget and the Edge Ti Max will be well beyond it and be able to convinced them to break said budget for it. For others, the 6-layer PCB and/or more muted aesthetics it has will make the Carbon Max a better value. Most however will find the Edge Ti MAX to be in that sweet spot we like to call Great Value. The added lighting, the extra SATA port, heck the heat pipe connecting the huge heatsink towers together all make it a much better value than most of the alternatives. This goes double when for what MSI is asking ~380 for what ‘others’ are demanding well over 4-bills for. So, to us, the overall value is excellent when judged against its main competition… but there is a lot of decent to good alternatives too. So, adjust your final score according to your perceived needs/wants/desires… and go from there.
Final Score: 92 out of 100
Considering how much a lurch Intel has put manufactures in for the 14th generation MSI has done a remarkable job. The ‘Edge’ series has always been about being the ‘everyman option’. One where yes you have to make certain compromises in order to keep the budget from ballooning (as otherwise every build would be rocking ACE or Godlike priced boards)… but in return for a few corners being rounded buyers get a lot of board for their money. Arguably 40 or 50 dollars more value for their money than the competition. Just understand that while it is indeed a very safe choice, it is not optimized for every build. Some can save even more and go for Tomahawk (or save even more and get a Pro-A to go with that i5/i3) without noticing the difference. Others will be better served by stepping up the truly premium mainstream option: the Carbon Max. Either way the Edge Ti Max will always be a decent, safe, choice. Just the way it has been since their inception, and hopefully will be in future generations too.