ASRock Z790 PG Lightning D4 review

With support for older DDR4 memory, this affordable Z790 motherboard offers a cheap upgrade path for those wanting to buy a 13th-gen Intel CPU.

ASRock Z790 PG Lightning D4 top down view

Our Verdict

80%

A great price for a Z790 board, but it doesn’t have many features.

If there’s any proof needed that Intel has a cheaper platform than AMD right now, it’s motherboards such as the ASRock Z790 PG Lightning D4, which costs just over $200, accepts DDR4 memory, and even manages to include a 16x PCIe 5 slot in its spec list. The question is, what has ASRock had to cut in order to get a Z790 motherboard out the door at this price?

Well, there’s just one M.2 heatsink for a start, and rather skinny heatsinks elsewhere too, but it does offer a 14+1+1 power phase delivery. Sadly, though, it doesn’t have a VRM temperature readout in its software, so you’re unable to check they’re not cooking themselves.

Meanwhile, its count of seven Type-A USB ports on the rear I/O panel are enough for most people’s needs, and six of them are USB 3 or faster. You even get a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C port here too. Sadly, the Type-C front panel header is limited to USB 3 specifications and there’s no Wi-Fi, but all of the M.2 ports support PCI-E 4 and you get four SATA 6Gbps ports as well as 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet.

The pricier ASRock Z790 PG Riptide does bag you a few more features, such as an additional four SATA 6Gbps ports, a PCIe 5 M.2 port, additional M.2 heatsinks, and an extra USB port.

Both boards also have comparatively weak Realtek ALC897 audio systems, with only three audio ports and no optical output. They also both lack Wi-Fi and have few stand-out features. The Z790 PG Riptide does admittedly look snazzier than the Lightning D4, but you’ll need to also factor DDR5 memory into your system pricing.

Meanwhile, ASRock’s software is basic and feels dated, but it’s ultimately less clunky to use than MSI’s software. The fan control section works well, even if it’s rather simplistic, as is its counterpart in the EFI. All the usual options are here, but ASRock splits the usual overclocking, frequency and voltage options into different pages, which makes it time-consuming to get an overclock.

At stock speed, this budget board kept Intel’s Core i5-13600K at its peak all-core boost of 5.1GHz in our extended stress test with a power draw of 389W, which is similar to other boards. Its video encoding and Cinebench scores of 1,008,921 and 24,159 respectively were right on the money too.

The latter rose to 25,883 once the P-cores were overclocked to 5.7GHz with a vcore of 1.35V. It was annoying not being able to see a digital readout of VRM temperatures, but our IR probe didn’t reveal any hotspots higher than 50°C. The M.2 temperature of 66°C using the top heatsink was fairly high, though. You’ll want to make sure you have airflow directed over a high-speed SSD in this slot.

ASRock Z790 PG Lightning D4 pros and cons

Pros

  • Great price
  • Happy to overclock a Core i5-13600K
  • DDR4 memory support

Cons

  • Limited features
  • No Wi-Fi
  • Mediocre audio

ASRock Z790 PG Lightning D4 specs

The ASRock Z790 PG Lightning D4 specs list is:

Dimensions (mm) 305 x 244
Chipset Intel Z790
CPU socket Intel LGA1700
Memory support 4 slots: max 128 GB DDR4 (up to 5333MHz)
Expansion slots One 16x PCIe 5, one 16x PCIe 4, three 1x PCIe 3
Sound 8-channel Realtek ALC897
Networking 1 x Realtek 2.5 Gigabit LAN
Cooling Seven 4-pin fan headers, VRM heatsinks, M.2 heatsink
Ports 4 x SATA 6Gbps, 4 x M.2 PCIe, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 5 x USB 3, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C, 1 x USB 3 Type-C header, 1 x LAN, 3 x surround audio out

ASRock Z790 PG Lightning D4 price

The price of the Z790 PG Lightning D4 is very cheap for a motherboard based on Intel’s Z70 chipset, but it doesn’t have many features.

Price: Expect to pay $209 USD / £209 GBP

ASRock Z790 PG Lightning D4 review conclusion

If you want a Raptor Lake CPU, but don’t want to spend much more than $200 on a motherboard, then the ASRock Z790 PG Lighting D4 is a basic, but solid option for a Z790 system.

However, if you have a little more money at your disposal, and you don’t already have some DDR4 memory, we recommend spending a little more money and going for the ASRock Z790 PG Riptide, which looks better and has a few extra features. If this motherboard isn’t right for you, check out our guide to the best Z790 motherboard, which covers a range of specs to suit different budgets.