Saturday, December 4, 2021

Superguide: All the Intel Z690 Motherboards You Can Buy for 12th Gen Core ‘Alder Lake’

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On Nov. 4, Intel’s 12th Technology Core “Alder Lake” CPUs went on sale. (See our early primer on the brand new Alder Lake CPU lineup.) With it comes an entirely new platform and CPU socket, so anybody who needs to leap on this Lake’s boat might want to get a ticket within the type of a brand new motherboard.

For the primary wave of the latest boards, Intel has outlined the Z690 chipset. In Intel motherboard terminology, the “Z” household of chipsets is at all times the premium line, discovered on boards designed for fanatics, overclockers, and folk who need the utmost attainable connectivity. The Z boards are often adopted by “B,” “H,” and “Q” strains that take an extra reasonable strategy to options and tweakability.

Boards in these lesser strains are coming (Intel reps didn’t share a timeline when quizzed); however, issuing the Z fashions first is competent. That is because the primary Alder Lake chips are all overclockable, premium-priced “Ok” variations (Core i5-12600Ok and Core i9-12900Ok, for instance) that might be of curiosity primarily to gaming-performance hounds, tweaking fanatics, and critical content material creators. The Z’s are the most costly boards, so Z690 boards, even though their costs vary extensively, might be early-adopter fodder.

Under, we’ll go over the entire Z690 motherboards that can be obtainable for order or pre-order to assist those of you desperate to check out Alder Lake first-hand in discovering the appropriate board for you. At this writing, several days earlier than the Alder Lake launch, greater than 30 boards had been already obtainable for pre-order. That stated, if you happen to be prepared to attend, it might be a good suggestion to carry off several weeks, as some notable boards (together with Asrock’s and MSI’s flagships) have not made it to the US market simply but. We’ll be masking a choice of these boards in better element within the coming weeks as we assessment them; however, for now, let’s check out the Z690 fashions at present on provide.


Widespread Options and Platform Traits

Earlier than diving into the person boards, we suggest studying (if you happen to haven’t) our associated content material on the brand new Alder Lake CPUs and the Z690 chipset linked above. Alder Lake and its platform comprise a few of Intel’s most important desktop advances since 2nd Technology Core (“Sandy Bridge”) roughly a decade ago. The forum witnessed the introduction of help for PCI Categorical 5. Zero bus lanes and DDR5 reminiscence (with DDR4 nonetheless supported on some boards). The chipset correct now has service for PCI Categorical 4.0, along with having connections for a variety of different gadgets.

These adjustments imply we’ll see several boards invariants that help both DDR5 or DDR4 RAM. (To be clear: Boards will support one or the opposite reminiscence sort, by no means each on one PCB.) Whereas DDR5 is about to take over the market in due time, for a lot of consumers, it is perhaps extra economical to intention as a substitute for a DDR4-supporting board at launch. DDR5 might be pricier per gigabyte, and plenty of PC upgraders will already personal a financial institution of DDR4 modules.

We’ve additionally seen a slight enhance within the total variety of M.2 NVMe SSD slots and SATA 3. Zero ports, each of that are probably resulting from adjustments within the chipset. As at all times with Intel platforms, most Alder Lake CPUs have a built-in graphics processor (IGP) constructed into the chip, and plenty of (however not all) of the brand new motherboards have video connections to help this. Look explicitly for that in any Z690 motherboard you purchase; if you happen to, you’ll have to depend on the IGP as a substitute for a graphics card for video output. You can too assume that the boards listed below are ATX kind issues, many until acknowledged in any other case. (We noticed a handful of Mini-ITX, MicroATX, and enormous EATX boards on this preliminary Z690 haul solely, HeatpipeSuperguide: All the Intel Z690 Motherboards You Can Buy for 12th Gen Core ‘Alder Lake’

Asrock Z690 Excessive WiFi 6E (and variant)

Asrock’s flagship board, the Z690 Taichi detailed beneath, actually seems sharp, as the corporate’s elite Taichi boards at all times do. However, it’s so very upscalemanyHeatpipeme: A $500-plus spend that calls for DDR5 RAM. In the event you’re not prepared for that form of splash-out, the perfect Asrock board on order earlier than the Alder Lake launch is the Z690 Excessive Wi-Fi 6E, extra of a “midrange fanatic” product. The board has a 13-phase energy system that’s cooled by a pair of heatsinks. It additionally has a Realtek Dragon 2.5Gbps wired NIC, a secondary Intel gigabit community controller, and a Wi-Fi 6E wi-fi chip. Audio on this board runs by a Realtek ALC1220 codec. Aesthetically, the board may be very darkish—all black—however, RGB LEDs are set in varied locations to add coloration when the system is powered on.

The Z690 Excessive Wi-Fi 6E is accessible at launch, priced at $289.99. A virtually similar model, the Z690 Excessive, can also be obtainable for $269.99, with the vital thing distinction being the shortage of Wi-Fi on the lower-priced board. Each fashionHeatpipethe 4 RAM.

ASRock Z690 Extreme WiFi 6E

ASRock Z690 EXTREME


Asrock Z690 Taichi

Asrock Z690 Taichi

Asrock’s flagship Z690 motherboard can also be the latest member of the corporate’s long-running, mech-themed Taichi sequence. As anticipated, this implies a darkish aesthetic design with bronze-colored gear highlights (this time, over the rear I/O shroud and the chipset heatsink). With 20 energy phases cooled by two heatsinks and a Heatpipe, this board has the potential to be a fantastic board for overclocking.

The rear I/O panel is an unusual, packed combine. It has two Thunderbolt Kind-C ports; however, Asrock opted to put the audio jacks amid its rear I/O panel, as it did with its Z590 Taichi. This defies logic, to our eyes, with the potential to introduce extra noise into the analog audio connections than if Asrock put the three.5mm audio jacks on the top of the panel. The board solely ships with a Realtek ALC1220 audio codec, as nicely, which is a below-market codec versus lots of its rivals, so Asrock appears to be eschewing high-end audio expertise with this effort.

Networking help is healthier than expected, although, with a Killer E3100 2.5Gbps NIC and a secondary Intel gigabit controller. Additionally, aboard: a Killer AX1675 Wi-Fi 6E controller for connecting to a Wi-Fi router. DDR5 RAM is supported on the Z690 Taichi with speeds as much as a lofty 6,400MHz. At this writing, this board was obtainable from Newegg for $589.99.

Asrock Z690 Taichi


ASRock Z690 Steel Legend WiFi 6E

Asrock Z690 Metal Legend WiFi 6E (and variant)

Asrock’s Z690 Metal Legend motherboards are much like the corporate’s Z690 Excessive merchandise; however, Asrock made several concessions with the Metal Legend boards to chop down value. The second wired NIC has been dropped, and the audio codec has been downgraded to a Realtek ALC897 chip that merely doesn’t carry out in addition to the Realtek ALC1220.

Whether or not or not these downgrades might be a deal-breaker for you very a lot relies on how a lot you, as a person, would use them. If you depend on Wi-Fi or a single Ethernet connection to get online and on HDMI or USB audio as a substitute for the mini-jacks, there’s a slight drawback to going with the Z690 Metal Legend over the Z690 Excessive.

Asrock has launched two variations of this board which can be obtainable for order to date. The Z690 Metal Legend WiFi 6E outlined right here is priced at $269.99, and (as its title suggests), this board contains Wi-Fi 6E built-in. The mannequin without Wi-Fi sells for $249.99. Each fashion use DDR4 RAM.

ASRock Z690 Steel Legend WiFi 6E

ASRock Z690 Steel Legend


ASRock Z690 Pro RS

Asrock Z690 Professional RS

Asrock’s Z690 Professional RS motherboard is among the extra budget-friendly Z690 choices to date. Priced at $189.99, it’s significantly decreased than the Z690 Metal Legend; nevertheless, it retains several similarities. Asrock opted to make use of a 13-phase energy design for this board as nicely, and it additionally has DDR4 reminiscence channels as a substitute for DDR5. Realtek’s ALC897 audio codec is as soon as once more used for sound output; however, the Z690 Professional RS has solely three 3.5mm audio jacks, which can limit it to, at greatest, a 3.1-channel sound system. If you rely exclusively on headphones or a pair of stereo audio systems, no huge deal; nevertheless, it’s a limiter you probably have a complicated audio setup.

The rear I/O panel is probably going the weakest side of this board because it has simply six USB ports and several vacant houses on the rear I/O defend. Right now, Asrock affords just one model of this board, and it lacks built-in Wi-Fi. It does, nevertheless, have a 2.5Gbps Realtek Dragon RTL8125BG NIC, so it’s vital if you happen to depend on hardwired networking.

ASRock Z690 Pro RS


ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming 4

Asrock Z690 Phantom Gaming 4

Along with being the lowest-priced Asrock Z690 motherboard at present obtainable, the Z690 Phantom Gaming Four can also be the least-expensive Z690 board from any producer, for now. No shock, then, that it’s one of the crucial stripped-down, too. The board has a nine-phase energy design with a number of the smallest VRM heatsinks you’ll discover on any Z690 motherboard. It has a moderately small chipset heatsink, no over-module M.2 cooling, and no cowl or shroud over the rear I/O port blocks.

Although, what is shocking concerning the Phantom Gaming 4 is that its rear I/O panel is healthier than the Asrock Z690 Professional RS’s. It has eight USB ports to the Professional RS’s six, and one in every of these is a USB Kind-C port. Audio help is similar to the Professional RS (Realtek ALC897 audio codec); however, the networking hardware was scaled again even additional, with an Intel i219-V Gigabit NIC as the one onboard networking system. It’s priced at $179.99, and this board, too, was constructed to help DDR4 RAM.

ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming 4


Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Hero (WiFi 6E)

Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Hero (WiFi 6E)

The Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Hero (Wi-Fi 6E) would be the firm’s new flagship Intel mainstream-platform motherboard at launch. At $599.99, it prices a bundle; however, this would be the board with the character set to die for and the bling to make your fellow PC fanatics envious. LEDs are placed over the rear I/O panel and the chipset heatsink, by default displaying “ROG” and the ROG emblem in pixelated type. The board is nearly fully lined with black heatsinks to help with cooling, and it’s outfitted with a robust 20+1 stage energy system with every stage capable of dealing with 90 amps of the present.

Different scorching objects on the Z690 Hero embrace a pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports on the rear I/O. Any Thunderbolt ports in any respect are a premium decide, even in a high-end board; however, two is nearly unparalleled.

Provided that this Hero board is the brand new Asus flagship, this one helps DDR5 RAM and might help RAM clocked as excessive as 6,400MHz. It additionally has a top-tier audio resolution, within the type of a Realtek ALC4082 audio codec, and there’s built-in Wi-Fi supporting the Wi-Fi 6E standard.

Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Hero (WiFi 6E)


Asus ROG Strix Z690-E Gaming WiFi 6E

Asus ROG Strix Z690-E Gaming WiFi 6E

A big dollar-and-cents step down from the ROG Maximus Z690 Hero is the not-too-dissimilar ROG Strix Z690-E Gaming WiFi 6E. This board is priced at a hefty $130 lower than Asus’ flagship; however, it doesn’t change certainties of unlimited options. It drops down to an 18+1 energy design with 90-amp energy levels. (That may concern extreme overclockers solely.) The audio {hardware} can also be barely completely different, with a Realtek ALC4080 audio controller and a Savitech SV3H712 amp. 

Arguably the most significant loss is on the rear I/O panel. The many ROG Maximus Z690 Hero has two Thunderbolt Four ports; the Strix Z690-E Gaming has two USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 ports. Thunderbolt connectivity continues to be obtainable, however, solely through an inner header. The most significant variations apart from these are purely beauty. (DDR5 is supported on this board, as nicely, at 6,400MHz.)

Given the $469.99 worth, this board seems more enticing, providing the included options than the Hero mannequin. Along with the objects talked about above, the Strix Z690-E additionally has several quality-of-life options that the Z690 Hero lacks, together with Q-Launch, a nifty button to unlock graphics cards easily certain From the PCI Categorical slot, not to point out: screwless M.2 slot connections! Each modern motherboard wants each—like years in the past.

Asus ROG Strix Z690-E Gaming WiFi 6E


Asus ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi 6E

Asus ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi 6E

This is among the few Mini-ITX Z690 motherboards that might be obtainable at launch (see our picks for the best Mini-ITX cases), and it’s one of the crucial uncommon within the sequence. Final yr, Asus launched the Asus ROG Strix Z590-I Gaming Wi-Fi, which featured a secondary PCB for storing sure parts. This design helps to beat the house limitations on Mini-ITX motherboards and permits extra options and {hardware} to be added. Although, it felt a tad underutilized on the Z590-I and was a bit tough to work with. However, on the brand new Z690-I Gaming WiFi, Asus is taking this design to the subsequent stage with two further PCBs for parts.

We’ll wait to assess this board earlier than getting deeper into that side of the design (actually, it must be tried and constructed earlier than it may be evaluated correctly); however, suffice to say for now that my way of specs, it’s not too removed from the corporate’s flagship, with a number of the cutbacks you’d count on resulting from Mini-ITX house constraints. It has a 10+1 part energy design with circuits that may deal with 105 amps of the present. However, the audio parts are similar to those used on the ROG Strix Z690-E, with several adjustments in format. This board additionally makes use of DDR5 RAM. Anticipate paying around $439.99, a wholesome sum for any small commission.

Asus ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi 6E


Asus ROG Strix Z690-F Gaming WiFi 6E

Asus ROG Strix Z690-F Gaming WiFi 6E

Asus slowly steps options again on its boards as we work our means from the flagship down to the underside of its Z690 launch stack. The ROG Strix Z690-F Gaming WiFi 6E is an ideal instance of this because it’s pretty much like the ROG Strix Z690-E Gaming. 

We see several different energy phases chopped off, leaving a 16+1 configuration. It nonetheless makes use of the identical audio codec, Realtek’s ALC4080, and it has the exact Savitech SV3H712 amp, too. Like all of the Asus boards to date, this one was designed to make use of DDR5. It’s priced at $399.99.

Asus ROG Strix Z690-F Gaming WiFi 6E


Asus ROG Strix Z690-G Gaming WiFi 6E

Asus ROG Strix Z690-G Gaming WiFi 6E

The Strix Z690-G Gaming WiFi 6E is basically what you’d get if you happen to slice down the Z690-F Gaming to the MicroATX board kind issue. Indeed, that’s what Asus did right here. Several extra bits fall off that drop the board down to a 14+1 energy stage design; however, the audio and networking help stay unchanged. This board is priced at $349.99.

Asus ROG Strix Z690-G Gaming WiFi 6E


Asus ROG Strix Z690-A Gaming WiFi D4

Asus ROG Strix Z690-A Gaming WiFi D4

Beginning with the ROG Strix Z690-A Gaming WiFi D4, we see DDR5 dropping in favor of DDR4. In any other case, this board may be very, very like the Z690-F Gaming, with a 16+1 energy design. Going with DDR4 does prevent a substantial quantity; nevertheless, ,this board prices simply $349.99 and DDR4 RAM can also be extra inexpensive than DDR5. (Plus, perhaps you already personal some DDR4 modules you could re-use.)

Asus ROG Strix Z690-A Gaming WiFi D4


Asus Prime Z690-A

Asus Prime Z690-A

Asus’ Prime Z690-A encompasses a 16+1 energy design with DDR5 and Thunderbolt Four help. The variety of warmth spreaders for M.2 slots has been decreased on this board, and Wi-Fi is lacking right here; however, in any other case, you will notice few compromises to going with the Asus Prime Z690-A over one of many lower-priced ROG Strix boards. This mannequin is priced at $299.99.

Asus Prime Z690-A


Asus TUF Gaming Z690-Plus WiFi D4

Asus TUF Gaming Z690-Plus WiFi D4

Asus targets its TUF Gaming motherboards at avid gamers on funds, and as one of many lowest-priced 690 motherboards, Asus has at launch, this exhibits. The board makes use of a 14+2 energy design and depends on extra inexpensive DDR4 RAM. The board additionally switches to the previous Realtek S1200A codec as a substitute for the Realtek 4080 as one other cost-cutting measure. In trade, this board is priced slightly less ($289.99) than the early ROG Strix Z690 fashions, and it picks up Wi-Fi 6 help again.

Asus TUF Gaming Z690-Plus WiFi D4


Asus Prime Z690-P

Asus Prime Z690-P (and variant)

Asus’ Prime Z690-P has a more barren look than the Prime Z690-A, with smaller heatsinks and fewer warmth spreaders, together with a 14+1 energy design. You get simply three M.2 slots on this board, and Wi-Fi is gone as soon as once more. On the plus aspect, DDR5 help is again, so if you happen to be on the lookout for a budget-friendly board that does DDR5 as a substitute for DDR4, this can be a good choice. It’s priced at $229.99. A similar model of this board (the Asus Prime Z690-P D4) with DDR4 reminiscence help as a substitute for DDR5 can also be obtainable for $219.99.

Asus Prime Z690-P

Asus Prime Z690-P D4


Asus Prime Z690M-Plus D4

Asus Prime Z690M-Plus D4

Asus’ most budget-friendly motherboard is the Prime Z690M-Plus D4, which shares a lot in frequent with the corporate’s different Prime Z690 boards. It seems aesthetically reasonably related; however, the energy system is minimized to a 10+1 part design. Wired Web help can also be decreased to a single gigabit NIC on this board; nevertheless, it sells for simply $189.99, making it one of many least-expensive entry factors throughout the preliminary Z690 lot from any OEM.

Asus Prime Z690M-Plus D4


Biostar Z690 Valkyrie

Biostar Z690 Valkyrie

Biostar introduced the Z690 Valkyrie as its flagship motherboard; nevertheless, it hadn’t proven up on the market at this writing, and we don’t but have a set worth it. Evaluating it primarily based on its options, it ought to stack up nicely towards the midrange-to-lower-end Z690 motherboards within the $200-to-$300 vary. It encompasses a 20-phase energy design, a better-than-average power-delivery association. It additionally has a Realtek 2.5Gbps NIC and built-in Wi-Fi help; however the audio codec in use is the older Realtek ALC1220, making it a little bit of a core-component blended bag. The board seems to be nicely lined by warmth spreaders to maintain these ever-important M.2 SSDs cool.


Colorful iGame Z690 Ultra D5

Colorful iGame Z690 Extremely D5

Colorful, like Biostar, has introduced its new flagship; however, the board isn’t obtainable on the market. The iGame Z690, Extremely D5, makes use of an 18+1 energy part design with 90-amp parts. This board additionally ships with an Intel i225V Gigabit NIC with Wi-Fi 6 help.

The board design is one of the crucial attention-grabbing that we’ve seen up to now. It’s exhausting to explain; however, the wavy, swirling aesthetic utilized to the PCB and the entire heatsinks stands out from the preliminary Z690 crowd.


Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Xtreme

Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Xtreme

The costliest Z690 motherboard up for pre-order ($899.99!) is Gigabyte’s new flagship, the Z690 Aorus Xtreme. That is the one oversize Prolonged ATX (E-ATX) board to date, and reflecting that, it has probably the most strong energy design: a 20+1+2 part configuration. Every of the ability levels can deal with 105 amps of the present, which supplies this board the power to deal with extra total energy than every other competing board at launch. This board appears tailored as a match for overclockers who will rock a Core i9-12900Ok on day one.

The Z690 Aorus Xtreme additionally has a significant quantity of thermal {hardware} to maintain this {hardware} calm. Nearly your complete board is encased in metallic, together with the DDR5 RAM slots also with many specific lined over by a metallic shroud. (Try our assessment of the last-generation Gigabyte Z590 Aorus Xtreme, with an identical back-and-front shroud design.)

Along with the first-rate energy and thermal {hardware}, the Z690 Aorus Xtreme ships with best-in-class wired and wi-fi connectivity: a 10Gbps Aquantia NIC, a secondary 2.5Gbps Intel NIC, and Wi-Fi 6E help. Gigabyte opted to go in a distinct route than the entire different OEMs on the audio-hardware entrance and shipped this board with an ESS ES9280AC DAC and two further ESS ES9080 audio controllers. That 900 bucks needed to go someplace.

Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Xtreme


Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Master

Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Grasp

Gigabyte’s Z690 Aorus Grasp is positioned instantly beneath the Z690 Aorus Xtreme in Gigabyte’s product line; nevertheless, it prices just a bit greater than half as a lot at $469.99. This can make it an extra enticing possibility for a lot of critical Alder Lake early adopters. Regardless of the massive worth drop, you don’t lose lots by way of options by going with the Z690 Aorus Grasp. This board additionally has the 10Gbps Aquantia NIC, and its energy hardware is nearly equally as strong, with a 19+1+2 configuration of 105-amp energy levels.

Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Master


Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Ultra

Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Extremely

The Z690 Aorus Extremely takes one other steep step down in worth—it’s $369.99—for comparatively minor reductions in options. The facility system was scaled again to a 16+1+2 part design; however, the 105-amp circuits used to use right here. The 10Gbps Aquantia NIC does get dropped right here in favor of a 2.5Gbps Intel NIC, and the audio subsystem ditches the flowery trappings of the Z690 Aorus Xtreme board and makes use of the extra frequent Realtek ALC4080 audio codec. Relying on your ISP and web plan, in addition to the way you draw your audio out of your system, these adjustments could matter lots—or under no circumstances.

Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Ultra


Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro

Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Professional (and variant)

Subsequent in line with Gigabyte is the Z690 Aorus Professional, which was designed to be similar to the Z690 Aorus Extremely. The most considerable distinction right here is the change from 105-amp energy circuits to 90-amp ones; however, most different features of the board stay unchanged. The DDR5-based Z690 Aorus Professional is listed on the market at $329.99.

Gigabyte additionally created the Z690 Aorus Elite AX DDR4 motherboard, which seems similar to the Z690 Aorus Professional; however, it switches the RAM help from DDR5 reminiscence to DDR4. This board additionally has kicked-down, less-capable power-regulation {hardware}, constructed on 70-amp energy levels. This board will be picked up for $269.99.

Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro

Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Elite AX


Gigabyte Z690I Aorus Ultra

Gigabyte Z690I Aorus Extremely

The Gigabyte Z690I Aorus Extremely DDR4 is one of only two Mini-ITX motherboards up for order with the Z690 chipset. (Asus had the opposite, detailed above.) In contrast to Asus’ Z690 Mini-ITX, this one is focused on a midrange resolution and accordingly priced a lot decrease. The facility-regulation {hardware} on this board is top-notch, aggressive with Asus’ Mini-ITX board, with a 10+2+1 power-phase design utilizing 105-amp energy levels. 

The audio hardware is missing, although. The board uses a Realtek ALC4080 audio codec; however, you get only a single 3.5mm audio jack for the audio system, so this can be a dummy greatest reserved for people counting on easy stereo setupsentry-levelsomewhat USB headphones, or HDMI audio. Gigabyte has priced this board at $289.99, nevertheless, nicely beneath the $400-plus worth of the Asus.

Gigabyte Z690I Aorus Ultra


Gigabyte Z690 Aero G DDR4

Gigabyte Z690 Aero G DDR4

The Z690 Aero G DDR4 comes off as a solid midrange product providing no unhealthy factor on this lot of dear PCBs. Wanting over the specs, nothing elementary appears missing on this DDR4-based board until you’re dead-set on going to DDR5. It simply doesn’t stand out with something notably spectacular, aside from some spiffy-looking silver heatsinks and shrouds. 

The audio codec in use right here is, once more, Realtek’s ALC4080, which far outpaces the Realtek ALC897 used on some competing boards. It also has vital wired networking help with a 2.5Gbps Intel NIC, and Wi-Fi 6 AX201 help is included nicely. This board is priced at $289.99.

Gigabyte Z690 Aero G DDR4


Gigabyte Z690 Gaming X DDR4

Gigabyte Z690 Gaming X DDR4

At $229.99, with the Z690 Gaming X DDR4 you might be nearing the entry level for the preliminary Z690 motherboards, if not fairly there but. It is a board with a distinct strategy, nevertheless, to becoming its worth level.

As a substitute of drastically chopping again on the variety of energy phases on the board, Gigabyte has opted for an equal combination of lower-performance energy circuits. The Z690 Gaming X DDR4 continues to make the most of a 16+1+2 power-phase design, however, as a substitute of utilizing {hardware} rated to deal with 105, 90, or 70 amps of the present, this board as a substitute has 60-amp elements. Realistically, for non-overclockers, this ought to be high quality, and for informal tweakers, this board simply received overclock in addition to its higher-end kin.

This board additionally lacks Wi-Fi, and it has a barely older Realtek ALC1220 audio codec than what’s used on most of Gigabyte’s different Z690 boards. There were no points on the LAN entrance, although the two.5Gbps Intel NIC didn’t get the ax. This seems like a superb (relative) budget-gaming possibility you probably have hardwired web close by.

Gigabyte Z690 Gaming X


Gigabyte Z690 UD AX

Gigabyte Z690 UD AX (and variant)

Gigabyte’s final two Z690 motherboards are current as slight variants of the Z690 Gaming X DDR4 outlined above, with altered aesthetics but identical characteristic units. The primary one is the Z690 UD AX DDR4 ($219.99, pictured here), and the second is the Gigabyte Z690 UD DDR4 ($199.99). It’s not clear why the Z690 UD AX DDR4 is priced lower than the Z690 Gaming X DDR4 because it has an identical energy design and contains Wi-Fi 6E help. As for the Z690 UD DDR4, it’s similar to the UD AX DDR4, however minus the Wi-Fi help altogether.

Gigabyte Z690 UD AX

Gigabyte Z690 UD


MSI MEG Z690 Unify-X

MSI MEG Z690 Unify-X

The MSI MEG Z690 Unify-X might be MSI’s flagship Z690 motherboard at launch (at the least till the inevitable MSI Godlike board). Like most select motherboards, this one is nearly fully lined with heatsinks and warmth spreaders to help extraordinary, the necessary chipset and power-regulation circuitry. The board has a 19+2 energy design with 105-amp parts that ought to carry out nicely whereas overclocking.

Why are we trying ahead to this one? As a result of the MEG Unify-X helps the quickest DDR5 RAM timings of any motherboard introduced to date, with help for speeds as excessive as 6,800MHz. The board’s audio and networking {hardware} are much like what’s on many midrange boards on this record (2.5Gbps Intel i225-V NIC, Realtek ALC4080 audio codec). The board additionally has a built-in Intel Wi-Fi 6E wi-fi adapter. Anticipate it to promote aroundound $499.99.

MSI MEG Z690 Unify-X


MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi

MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi DDR5

Ifyou cannot discover the Unify-X at launch, MSI’s most excellent motherboard obtainable to order would be the MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi DDR5. This board has a darkish aesthetic with RGB LEDs set over the rear I/O shroud and the chipset heatsink.

A plethora of USB ports might be obtainable on the rear I/O panel, together with one ultra-fast USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Kind-C port for the newest external SSDs, and MSI opted for an Intel i225-V 2.5Gbps LAN controller for high-speed Web entry. You additionally get a built-in Wi-Fi 6E controller, and Realtek’s comparatively new ALC4080 audio codec is used for sound output.

One of many notable features of this board is that it helps DDR5 clocked at as much as 6,666MHz, which is increased than any of the competing boards we’ve seen to date aside from the Unify-X flagship. It’s priced at $399.99; a just about similar mannequin, the MSI MPG Z690 Drive WiFi DDR5, which is available in white (plus several different minor beauty adjustments), can also be obtainable for $389.99.

MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI

MSI MPG Z690 FORCE WIFI


MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi DDR5

MSI Professional Z690-A WiFi DDR5 (and variants)

MSI has four different motherboards which have proven up for pre-order; however, they’re identical, so we’ll cowl them right here all as one entry. These boards are as follows:

  • MSI Professional Z690-A WiFi DDR5 ($249.99, pictured right here)
  • MSI Professional Z690-A WiFi DDR4 ($239.99)
  • MSI Professional Z690-A DDR5 ($229.99)
  • MSI Professional Z690-A WiFi DDR4 ($219.99)

Aside from worth, the critical thing variations among the many four boards are readily apparent from their names. The highest-end SKU within the record has Wi-Fi and DDR5 help, and the subsequent board drops to DDR4; the following board falls the Wi-Fi; however, if you switched again to DDR5, and the final board lacks Wi-Fi and makes use of DDR4.

Cosmetically, these boards are all similar, with a principally black coloration scheme with scattered silver bits thrown in for distinction. All four panels make the most of Realtek’s ALC897 audio codec for sound output, and so they all have an Intel i225-V NIC for quick 2.5Gbps wired Web.

MSI PRO Z690-A WIFI DDR5

MSI PRO Z690-A WIFI DDR4

MSI PRO Z690-A DDR5

MSI PRO Z690-A DDR4


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