New Balance 574 vs. 990 Shoes Comparison

Many people wonder if the extra $100 they’re paying for the New Balance 990 is worth it or not. So what’s the difference between New Balance 574 and 990?

In addition to being made in the USA, the New Balance 990 has Ultra Soft Ortholite insoles which are more pleasant on your foot than the New Balance 574. The 990v5 also has better materials than the 574 including the suede, mesh, and leather.

However, both shoes are equally popular and iconic. In this post, let’s compare the NB 574 vs. 990 and find out if the higher price of the New Balance 990v5 is justified.

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New Balance 574 vs. 990 Comparison

New Balance 574

  • ENCAP midsole
  • Good suede, leather, and mesh
  • Not made in USA
  • Shoes run small

New Balance 990

  • ENCAP midsole
  • Premium suede, leather, and mesh
  • Made in USA
  • True to size

There are plenty of differences between the New Balance 574 and 990v5, so in order to provide you with the best comparison, I will compare both sneakers top to bottom.

Shoe Upper Comparison

First off, let’s start with the shoe upper. Right off the bat, you can tell that both shoes have different silhouettes. The 990v5 is longer, whereas the 574 is stubbier.

New Balance 574 Upper

The New Balance 574 is a popular and iconic sneaker best worn as casual, all-day trainers. 

Everything about the shoe is great in terms of looks, but it definitely needs some time to break into. There are also plenty of 574 owners who commented that the shoes feel cramped, so it’s safe to assume that they run small (buy a half or one size larger). 

Moreover, the suede and leather material is not the best in my opinion.

I feel like this has something to do with where the shoes are made, including the sourcing of the materials (most are not made in the USA).

Starting off around the tip of the toe, the 574 has a suede mudguard, which is followed by mesh in the toe box. Overlapping the mesh is another suede panel, which houses the laces.

The New Balance 574 comes with flat laces. Just beneath the laces, you’ve got a cushioned tongue that rests gently on top of your ankles.

Moving on to the inside of the shoe, you’ll find a sock liner that is slightly cushioned. However, you should expect the New Balance 574 to be tough in the beginning.

Only after about a month of consistent wear should you expect it to be more comfortable.

New Balance 990 Upper

The New Balance 990v5 is an iconic sneaker, built with pigskin and mesh upper in a classic running silhouette, designed to look amazing anywhere from a morning run to the runway.

Not only is it incredibly comfortable, but the quality of this sneaker is second to none. The 990v5 is one of New Balance’s flagship lines and it’s easy to see why this shoe is so popular.

A big reason why it is so popular is that the 990v5 is one of the few sneakers that are made in America. In fact, it is widely considered as one of the best sneakers made in the USA.

Starting off around the tip of the toe, you’ll see a nice, light gray suede mudguard. For a mass-produced sneaker, I’m impressed that the material is actually solid.

Moving up, you will see a nice, premium mesh on the toe box. Overlapping the mesh, you will see perforated dark gray leather panels, which adds a nice contrast to the light gray.

At the center of the toe box, you will find a small 3M accent.

My favorite 990 colorway is the Castlerock, which in my opinion, is very neutral. So if you are considering the New Balance 990v5, I recommend getting the Castlerock colorway because you can wear it with just about anything and you can’t go wrong with it.

As you move up near the laces, you will find more of the light gray suede panels which house the lace punchouts. The laces for the Castlerock colorway come in white, which in my opinion, provide a nice contrast between the dark gray and light gray.

Just beneath the laces, you’ve got a gray mesh tongue that is soft for your ankles yet breathable at the same time. There’s a “Made in USA” tag on the tongue which makes you proud for wearing a sneaker made in America. 

Moving on to the inside of the shoe, you’ll find a light gray-colored sock liner which is nicely padded. In fact, the overall upper of the New Balance 990v5 is some of the most comfortable I’ve even put my feet on. It feels like your feet are surrounded by pillows.

Verdict

New Balance 990v5 has a better upper than the New Balance 574. While everyone can choose which shoe model they like better, it’s undeniable that the 990 has better materials than the 574. After all, you are paying about $100 more for the “Made in USA” 990v5. 

Shoe Bottoms Comparison

While both the New Balance 574 and 990v5 have ENCAP midsoles, there are plenty of differences between the two. Let’s examine both shoe soles.

New Balance 574 Soles

One of the most popular traits of the New Balance 574 is the ENCAP midsole.

For those of you who are not familiar with New Balance shoes, the ENCAP midsole is a core of soft cushioning of foam in the midsole, covered with a tough polyurethane rim.

Not only is it designed for more support, but it is also built for durability.

As a result, the New Balance 574 is one of the greatest daily trainers for long walks, as long as you give it enough time to break into your feet.

The outsole of the 574 grips surfaces very well. It provides a good amount of traction in most surfaces. As long as you don’t wear the shoes for running, the 574 should work fine.

It also comes with many color options so you should be able to find one that suits you best. Sure, it’s not the most comfortable out there, but for the cheap price, I can’t complain.

New Balance 990 Soles

On the inside of the 990v5, you will find the Ultra Soft Ortholite insoles which greatly contribute to the overall comfort level of the sneaker.

As far as size goes, the New Balance 990v5 is true to size.

However, what sets the 990v5 apart from other New Balance models is the vast selection of sizing options, including sizes for different widths.

Not only do they have sizes from 6 to 17, but they also have 6 different width options (extra narrow, narrow, standard, wide, extra-wide, and extra-extra-wide). 

On the heels, you will find a semi-translucent gray TPU panel, which is a new addition to the v5 since the v4 did not have that feature.

The midsole consists of white foam in the forefoot and the popular ENCAP midsole cushioning in the back, which combines lightweight foam with a durable polyurethane rim to deliver all-day support. It delivers a plush and cushioned underfoot ride.

Overall, the 990 is a legendary shoe, and the v5 has improved over the v4, especially the arch, footbed support, and tongue, all of which are incredibly comfortable.

In fact, I can spend the entire day in my 990’s, and my feet would still feel fresh.

Verdict

New Balance 990v5 has better soles than the New Balance 574. The NB 574 has a flat profile, whereas the 990v5 has a more contoured outsole, which makes the shoes more comfortable, especially when combined with the superior cushioning and ENCAP midsole.

If you want something supportive for long walks, the New Balance 990v5 is the better choice.

Final Verdict

The New Balance 990 is worth the extra price.

New Balance 574

  • ENCAP midsole
  • Good suede, leather, and mesh
  • Not made in USA
  • Shoes run small

New Balance 990

  • ENCAP midsole
  • Premium suede, leather, and mesh
  • Made in USA
  • True to size

Overall, the New Balance 990 is one of the best everyday sneakers you can possibly buy.

It is better in terms of quality, comfort, and support compared to the New Balance 574, which is more budget-friendly and casual.

You may not feel the $100 difference when you first slip the 990v5 on, but after long hours of walking, the difference in quality is night and day. Also, the 990v5 will outlast the 574 by two or three times, so the extra dollars you are paying is worth it.

And there you go, the New Balance 574 vs. 990 comparison. I hope that this comparison review has been helpful in your journey to find comfortable sneakers.

Reviewed by: Jason T.

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