That said, even when it launched, Z490 was a bit underwhelming. Although many boards supported PCIe 4.0 by default (something AMD has had since July 2019), the processors themselves don’t. What’s worse, that connection standard is not something we’ll even see from Team Blue until Q1 2021 with the launch of its Rocket Lake processors, which are effectively just a backported variant of its 10nm Willow Cove architecture manufactured on that seemingly interminable 14nm++++ process.
Given 4th-gen Ryzen’s debut just this month, and its reported 25 percent IPC performance increase, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Intel push the launch of its Rocket Lake processors to the very forefront of 2021—perhaps with a January/February launch. If that happens, that gives the 10-series desktop lineup a grand time on the shelf of around nine months. In fact, it’s almost the same amount of time we saw with Intel’s 5thgen consumer processors (Broadwell), before they were replaced by the late, great 6th-gen Skylake architecture—an architecture that all these chips are still based on to this day. The only difference is that Intel no longer has the market dominance it once did. So is it worth buying an expensive Z490 motherboard if the shelf life is potentially so limited? After all, we don’t have a guarantee that those 11th-gen Rocket Lake parts will be backwards compatible (but you’d hope).
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