All the Intel Z690 Motherboards Available for the 12th Generation Core ‘Alder Lake’

Intel’s 12th Generation Core “Alder Lake” CPUs will be available on November 4th. (Read our preview of the new Alder Lake processors.) It brings with it a completely new platform and CPU socket, so everyone who wishes to board this Lake’s boat will need to purchase a new motherboard.

Intel has specified the Z690 chipset for the first wave of new boards. (For more information on the Z690 chipset and how it differs from previous generations, see our overview.) The “Z” series of chipsets is always the premium line on Intel motherboards, found on boards meant for hobbyists, overclockers, and people who want the most connectivity available. The “B,” “H,” and “Q” lines are frequently followed by the “Z” boards, which have a more moderate approach to features and tweakability.

Although boards in the lesser lines are on the way (Intel reps have yet to provide a timeframe when asked), it makes sense to release the Z models first. Because the first Alder Lake processors are all overclockable, premium-priced “K” versions (Core i5-12600K and Core i9-12900K, for example), gamers, tweakers, and serious content makers will be the primary target audience. The Z’s are also the most costly boards, therefore Z690 boards will be early adopter fodder, despite their vast price range.

We’ll go through all of the Z690 motherboards that are now available for order or pre-order in the table below, to help those of you who are eager to try out Alder Lake for yourself locate the perfect board. More than 30 boards were already available for pre-order as of this writing, just days before the Alder Lake launch. However, if you’re willing to wait, it might be worth it to wait a few weeks, as some notable boards (including Asrock’s and MSI’s flagships) have yet to make it to the US market. In the coming weeks, we’ll be reviewing a few of these boards in greater depth, but for now, let’s take a look at the Z690 variants now available.

Platform Characteristics and Common Features

We recommend reading (if you haven’t already) our related articles on the new Alder Lake CPUs and the Z690 chipset before going into the specific boards. Since the release of the 2nd Generation Core (“Sandy Bridge”) over a decade ago, Alder Lake and its platform have contained some of Intel’s most notable desktop advancements. Support for PCI Express 5.0 bus lanes and DDR5 memory has been added to the platform (with DDR4 still supported on some boards). In addition to providing connections for a wide range of additional devices, the chipset itself now supports PCI Express 4.0.

As a result of these developments, we’ll see a variety of boards that support either DDR5 or DDR4 RAM. (To be clear, boards will only support one of the memory types; they will never support both on the same PCB.) While DDR5 is expected to take dominate the market in the near future, many consumers may find it more cost-effective to start with a DDR4-compatible board. The cost of DDR5 per gigabyte will be higher, and many PC upgraders will already have a bank of DDR4 modules.

A modest increase in the overall number of M.2 NVMe SSD slots and SATA 3.0 ports has also been noticed, which is likely related to chipset upgrades. Most Alder Lake CPUs, as with all Intel platforms, include an integrated graphics processor (IGP), and many (but not all) of the new motherboards have video ports to enable this. If you need to use the IGP instead of a graphics card for video output, look for it specifically on any Z690 motherboard you buy. Unless otherwise noted, all of the boards on this page are ATX form factor. (In this initial Z690 haul, we only saw a few Mini-ITX, MicroATX, and large EATX boards.)

All the Intel Z690 Motherboards Available for the 12th Generation Core 'Alder Lake'

6E Asrock Z690 Extreme WiFi (and variant)

Asrock’s flagship board, the Z690 Taichi (seen below), looks great, as do all of the company’s premier Taichi boards. This time, however, it’s a lot more upscale: It’s a $500+ investment that necessitates DDR5 RAM. If you’re not ready to make such a big investment, the Z690 Extreme Wi-Fi 6E, which is more of a “midrange enthusiast” device, is the best Asrock board to order before the Alder Lake launch. A 13-phase power system is used on the board, which is cooled by two heatsinks. A Realtek Dragon 2.5Gbps wired NIC, a second Intel gigabit network controller, and a Wi-Fi 6E wireless chip are also included. The Realtek ALC1220 codec provides audio on this board. The board is quite dark in appearance—basically all black—but RGB LEDs are placed in various locations to add color when the system is powered on.

The Z690 Extreme Wi-Fi 6E is priced at $289.99 at launch. The Z690 Extreme, a nearly similar variant, is also available for $269.99, with the main difference being that the lower-priced board lacks Wi-Fi. DDR4 RAM is used in both variants.

ASRock Z690 Extreme WiFi 6E

ASRock Z690 EXTREME


Asrock Z690 Taichi

Taichi Asrock Z690

Asrock’s flagship Z690 motherboard is also the latest addition to the company’s long-running Taichi series of mech-themed motherboards. This means a black aesthetic with bronze-colored gear highlights (this time over the rear I/O shroud and the chipset heatsink), as expected. This board has the potential to be an exceptional overclocking board, with 20 power phases cooled by two heatsinks and a heatpipe.

The back I/O panel is a strange, jumbled mess. It includes two Thunderbolt Type-C ports, but unlike the Z590 Taichi, Asrock chose to put the audio jacks in the centre of the back I/O panel. To our eyes, this contradicts logic, with the potential to inject more noise into the analog audio connections than if Asrock placed the 3.5mm audio jacks at the panel’s end. Asrock appears to be neglecting a high-end audio experience with this endeavor, as the board only ships with a Realtek ALC1220 audio codec, which is a below-market codec compared to many of its competitors.

With a Killer E3100 2.5Gbps NIC and a dual Intel gigabit controller, networking support is above average. A Killer AX1675 Wi-Fi 6E controller for connecting to a Wi-Fi router is also on board. On the Z690 Taichi, DDR5 RAM with speeds up to 6,400MHz is supported. This board was listed on Newegg for $589.99 at the time of writing.

Asrock Z690 Taichi


ASRock Z690 Steel Legend WiFi 6E

Asrock Z690 Steel Legend WiFi 6E

Asrock’s Z690 Steel Legend motherboards are identical to the company’s Z690 Extreme boards, although the Steel Legend boards have a few cost-cutting compromises. The second wired NIC has been removed, and the audio codec has been lowered to a Realtek ALC897 chip, which is inferior to the Realtek ALC1220.

Whether or not these downgrades are a deal breaker for you is mostly dependent on how much you would utilize them as an individual. There’s little drawback to choosing the Z690 Steel Legend over the Z690 Extreme if you rely on Wi-Fi or a single Ethernet connection to get online, and HDMI or USB audio instead of mini-jacks.

So far, Asrock has released two versions of this board, both of which are available for purchase. The Z690 Steel Legend WiFi 6E mentioned above costs $269.99 and comes with Wi-Fi 6E built-in, as the name says. The price of the device without Wi-Fi is $249.99. DDR4 RAM is used in both variants.

ASRock Z690 Steel Legend WiFi 6E

ASRock Z690 Steel Legend


ASRock Z690 Pro RS

Z690 Pro RS from Asrock

The Asrock Z690 Pro RS motherboard is one of the more affordable Z690 alternatives available. It costs $189.99, which is a lot less than the Z690 Steel Legend, but it shares a lot of the same features. Asrock also went with a 13-phase power design for this board, as well as DDR4 memory channels rather than DDR5. The ALC897 audio codec is employed for sound output once again, although the Z690 Pro RS only has three 3.5mm audio connectors, limiting it to a 3.1-channel sound system at best. It’s not a problem if you only use headphones or a pair of stereo speakers, but it’s a limitation if you have a more advanced audio system.

The board’s rear I/O panel is likely its weakest point, with only six USB ports and a lot of empty space on the rear I/O shield. Asrock currently only sells one version of this board, which does not include built-in Wi-Fi. It does, however, come with a 2.5Gbps Realtek Dragon RTL8125BG NIC, so if you rely on hardwired networking, it’s a good choice.

ASRock Z690 Pro RS


ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming 4

Asrock Z690 Phantom Gaming 4 is a gaming motherboard

The Z690 Phantom Gaming 4 is not only the cheapest Asrock Z690 motherboard on the market right now, but it’s also the cheapest Z690 board from any manufacturer for the time being. It’s no wonder, then, that it’s also one of the most basic. The board features a nine-phase power design and some of the tiniest VRM heatsinks on any Z690 motherboard. It also features a modest chipset heatsink, no M.2 cooling over the module, and no cover or shroud over the I/O port blocks in the back.

The Phantom Gaming 4’s rear I/O panel, on the other hand, is superior than that of the Asrock Z690 Pro RS. It contains eight USB ports, compared to six on the Pro RS, one of which is a USB Type-C port. The audio support is identical to the Pro RS (Realtek ALC897 audio codec), but the networking hardware has been pared down even further, with only an Intel i219-V Gigabit NIC onboard. It costs $179.99, and it, too, was designed to support DDR4 RAM.

ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming 4


Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Hero (WiFi 6E)

Hero Asus ROG Maximus Z690 (WiFi 6E)

The Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Hero (Wi-Fi 6E) is the company’s new flagship Intel mainstream-platform motherboard when it debuts. It’ll set you back $599.99, but this is the board with the feature set to die for, as well as the bling to make your other PC fanatics envious. LEDs are installed over the rear I/O panel and the processor heatsink, with “ROG” and the ROG logo displayed in pixelated style by default. To aid cooling, the board is nearly totally covered in black heatsinks, and it features a powerful 20+1 stage power system with each stage capable of handling 90 amps of current.

A pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports on the Z690 Hero’s rear I/O are also noteworthy. Even in a high-end board, any Thunderbolt port is a premium choice, but two is nearly unheard of.

Given that this is the new Asus flagship, it supports DDR5 RAM with a speed of up to 6,400MHz. There’s also built-in Wi-Fi that supports the Wi-Fi 6E standard, as well as a top-tier audio solution in the form of a Realtek ALC4082 audio codec.

Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Hero (WiFi 6E)


Asus ROG Strix Z690-E Gaming WiFi 6E

Asus ROG Strix Z690-E Gaming WiFi 6E

The not-too-dissimilar ROG Strix Z690-E Gaming WiFi 6E is a huge dollar-and-cents step down from the ROG Maximus Z690 Hero. This board is $130 less expensive than Asus’ flagship, but it doesn’t have nearly as many features. It’s reduced to an 18+1 power configuration with 90-amp power stages. (This only applies to extreme overclockers.) With a Realtek ALC4080 audio controller and a Savitech SV3H712 amp, the audio hardware is also slightly different.

The most significant loss, in my opinion, is on the back I/O panel. The Strix Z690-E Gaming has two USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 ports, whilst the ROG Maximus Z690 Hero has two Thunderbolt 4 connectors. Thunderbolt is still supported, but only through an internal header. Other than that, the largest distinctions are mainly cosmetic. (DDR5 at 6,400MHz is also supported on this board.)

This board appears to be a more appealing option given the included features than the Hero model at $469.99. Aside from the aforementioned characteristics, the Strix Z690-E also boasts a few quality-of-life features that the Z690 Hero lacks, such as Q-Release, a handy button for quickly unlocking graphics cards from the PCI Express slot, and screwless M.2 slot connectors! Every current motherboard—like, years ago—requires both.

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 one of the few Mini-ITX Z690 motherboards that will be available at launch (see our selections for the best Mini-ITX cases), and it’s also one of the series’ most odd. Asus released the Asus ROG Strix Z590-I Gaming Wi-Fi last year, which had a separate PCB for storing components. This design helps to overcome the size constraints on Mini-ITX motherboards, allowing for the addition of more features and technology. On the Z590-I, though, it felt a little underutilized and was a little tough to deal with. Asus, on the other hand, takes this idea to the next level with the addition of not one, but two additional PCBs for components on the new Z690-I Gaming WiFi.

We’ll wait to review this board before diving deeper into that aspect of the design (it really needs to be tried and built before it can be properly assessed), but suffice it to say that in terms of specs, it’s not far off from the company’s flagship, with some of the tradeoffs you’d expect due to Mini-ITX space constraints. It includes a 10+1 phase power design and circuits that can handle current up to 105 amps. The audio components are the same as on the ROG Strix Z690-E, with a minor layout differences. DDR5 RAM is also used on this board. Expect to pay roughly $439.99 for this tiny board, which is a good deal.

Asus ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi 6E


Asus ROG Strix Z690-F Gaming WiFi 6E

Asus ROG Strix Z690-F Gaming WiFi 6E

As we progress from the flagship to the bottom of the Z690 launch stack, Asus gradually reduces the number of features on its boards. The ROG Strix Z690-F Gaming WiFi 6E, which is quite similar to the ROG Strix Z690-E Gaming, is a wonderful example of this.

A couple more power phases are removed, resulting in a 16+1 configuration. It still uses the same Realtek ALC4080 audio codec, as well as the same Savitech SV3H712 amplifier. This board, like the rest of the Asus lineup, is DDR5 compatible. The cost is $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

If you chopped down the Z690-F Gaming to the MicroATX board form size, you’d get the Strix Z690-G Gaming WiFi 6E. That is exactly what Asus did here. A few more bits are removed, reducing the board’s power stage design to 14+1, but the audio and networking functionality remain untouched. The cost of this board is $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

DDR5 is being phased out in favor of DDR4 starting with the ROG Strix Z690-A Gaming WiFi D4. Aside from that, it’s quite similar to the Z690-F Gaming, with a 16+1 power architecture. However, going with DDR4 saves you money because this board is only $349.99, and DDR4 RAM is likewise less expensive than DDR5. (Plus, you could already have some DDR4 modules lying around.)

Asus ROG Strix Z690-A Gaming WiFi D4


Asus Prime Z690-A

Asus Prime Z690-A

The Asus Prime Z690-A has a 16+1 power architecture, as well as support for DDR5 and Thunderbolt 4. The number of heat spreaders for M.2 slots has been reduced, and Wi-Fi isn’t included, but there aren’t many drawbacks to choosing the Asus Prime Z690-A over one of the lower-cost ROG Strix boards. The cost of this model is $299.99.

Asus Prime Z690-A


Asus TUF Gaming Z690-Plus WiFi D4

TUF Gaming Z690-Plus WiFi D4 by Asus

Asus’ TUF Gaming motherboards are aimed at budget gamers, and the TUF Gaming Z690 is one of the cheapest Z690 motherboards available at launch. The board has a 14+2 power architecture and uses DDR4 RAM, which is more cheap. Another cost-cutting strategy is that the board uses the obsolete Realtek S1200A codec instead of the Realtek 4080. In exchange, this board is slightly less expensive ($289.99) than earlier ROG Strix Z690 variants, and it now supports Wi-Fi 6.

Asus TUF Gaming Z690-Plus WiFi D4


Asus Prime Z690-P

Asus Prime Z690-P(and variant)

With smaller heatsinks and fewer heat spreaders, as well as a 14+1 power design, Asus’ Prime Z690-P has a more sparse appearance than the Prime Z690-A. This board only has three M.2 slots, and Wi-Fi is no longer available. DDR5 support has returned, so if you’re searching for a budget-friendly board that supports DDR5 instead of DDR4, this is a good option. The cost is $229.99. For $219.99, you can get an identical board (the Asus Prime Z690-P D4) that supports DDR4 memory rather as DDR5.

Asus Prime Z690-P

Asus Prime Z690-P D4


Asus Prime Z690M-Plus D4

Asus Prime Z690M-Plus D4

The Prime Z690M-Plus D4, Asus’ most budget-friendly motherboard, has a lot in common with the company’s other Prime Z690 boards. It has a similar style, but the power system has been reduced to a 10+1 phase design. This board’s wired Internet capability is also limited to a single gigabit NIC, but it costs for only $189.99, making it one of the most affordable Z690 entry points from any OEM.

Asus Prime Z690M-Plus D4


Biostar Z690 Valkyrie

Valkyrie Biostar Z690

The Z690 Valkyrie was launched as Biostar’s flagship motherboard, but it hadn’t gone on sale as of this writing, and we don’t have a price yet. When compared only on specifications, it should be competitive with midrange to lower-end Z690 motherboards in the $200 to $300 range. It has a 20-phase power architecture, which is better than average in terms of power delivery. It also features a Realtek 2.5Gbps NIC and built-in Wi-Fi, but the audio codec is an outdated Realtek ALC1220, making it a bit of a mixed bag in terms of fundamental components. Heat spreaders look to be well-placed on the board to keep those vital M.2 SSDs cool.


Colorful iGame Z690 Ultra D5

iGame Z690 Ultra D5 in vibrant colors

Colorful, like Biostar, has unveiled its new flagship, but it is not yet available for purchase. With 90-amp components, the iGame Z690 Ultra D5 uses an 18+1 power phase design. An Intel i225V Gigabit NIC with Wi-Fi 6 capability is also included with this board.

The board design is without a doubt one of the most intriguing we’ve seen to date. The wavy, swirling style applied to the PCB and all of the heatsinks is difficult to define, but it stands out from the rest of the Z690 crowd.


Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Xtreme

Aorus Xtreme Gigabyte Z690

Gigabyte’s new flagship, the Z690 Aorus Xtreme, is the most costly Z690 motherboard available for pre-order ($899.99!). This is the first and only gigantic Extended ATX (E-ATX) board, and it has the most robust power design: a 20+1+2 phase layout. Each of the power stages can manage 105 amps of current, allowing this board to handle more overall power than any other board on the market at launch. This board appears to be built for overclockers who will be using a Core i9-12900K from the start.

To keep this hardware cool, the Z690 Aorus Xtreme contains a substantial amount of thermal gear. Metal covers almost the entire board, including the DDR5 RAM slots, which are also covered by a metal shroud. (For a comparison, see our evaluation of the Gigabyte Z590 Aorus Xtreme, which has a similar back-and-front shroud design.)

The Z690 Aorus Xtreme comes with best-in-class wired and wireless connectivity, including a 10Gbps Aquantia NIC, a secondary 2.5Gbps Intel NIC, and Wi-Fi 6E compatibility, in addition to excellent power and thermal hardware. On the audio-hardware front, Gigabyte went in a different way than the other OEMs, shipping this board with an ESS ES9280AC DAC and two extra ESS ES9080 audio controllers. That 900 dollars had to be spent someplace.

Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Xtreme


Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Master

Aorus Master Gigabyte Z690

The Z690 Aorus Master from Gigabyte is positioned just below the Z690 Aorus Xtreme in the company’s product line, although it costs little over half as much at $469.99. For many serious Alder Lake early adopters, this will undoubtedly make it a more appealing option. Despite the significant price reduction, the Z690 Aorus Master does not sacrifice much in terms of functionality. The 10Gbps Aquantia NIC is also included, and the board’s power hardware is nearly as strong, with a 19+1+2 arrangement of 105-amp power stages.

Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Master


Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Ultra

Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Ultra

For relatively small feature reductions, the Z690 Aorus Ultra drops in price yet again—now it’s $369.99. The power system has been reduced to a 16+1+2 phase configuration, but the 105-amp circuits remain in place. The 10Gbps Aquantia NIC is replaced with a 2.5Gbps Intel NIC, while the audio subsystem removes the Z690 Aorus Xtreme board’s sophisticated trappings in favor of the more common Realtek ALC4080 audio codec. These modifications may matter a lot—or not at all—depending on your ISP and internet package, as well as how you get your audio from your system.

Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Ultra


Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro

Z690 Aorus Pro from Gigabyte (and variant)

The Z690 Aorus Pro is Gigabyte’s next model, and it’s designed to be quite similar to the Z690 Aorus Ultra. The move from 105-amp to 90-amp power circuits is the most significant alteration, while most other parts of the board remain similar. The price of the DDR5-based Z690 Aorus Pro is $329.99.

Gigabyte also released the Z690 Aorus Elite AX DDR4 motherboard, which is similar to the Z690 Aorus Pro but supports DDR4 memory rather than DDR5. Built on 70-amp power stages, this board also contains kicked-down, less-capable power-regulation gear. This board is available for $269.99.

Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro

Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Elite AX


Gigabyte Z690I Aorus Ultra

Aorus Ultra Gigabyte Z690I

Only two Mini-ITX motherboards with the Z690 chipset are available for purchase: the Gigabyte Z690I Aorus Ultra DDR4 and the Gigabyte Z690I Aorus Ultra DDR4. (Asus had the other, as mentioned above.) Unlike Asus’ Z690 Mini-ITX, this one is aimed at the middle market and is consequently less expensive. With a 10+2+1 power-phase design using 105-amp power stages, the power-regulation hardware on this board is top-notch, competing with Asus’ Mini-ITX board.

However, the audio hardware is inadequate. The board uses the Realtek ALC4080 audio codec, but there is just one 3.5mm audio port for speakers, therefore this is a model best suited to those who rely on simple stereo setups, USB headphones, or HDMI audio. Gigabyte has priced this board at $289.99, which is significantly less than the Asus’s $400+ price.

Gigabyte Z690I Aorus Ultra


Gigabyte Z690 Aero G DDR4

DDR4 Gigabyte Z690 Aero G

In this sea of expensive PCBs, the Z690 Aero G DDR4 appears to be a genuinely midrange product offering, which isn’t a terrible thing. Unless you’re dead bent on going to DDR5, nothing fundamental about this DDR4-based board appears to be lacking. Apart from some extremely spiffy-looking silver heatsinks and shrouds, it doesn’t really stick out with anything particularly outstanding.

Realtek’s ALC4080 audio codec is employed here, which outperforms the Realtek ALC897 used on several competitor boards. It also offers a robust wired networking solution with a 2.5Gbps Intel NIC, as well as Wi-Fi 6 AX201 compatibility. The cost of this board is $289.99.

Gigabyte Z690 Aero G DDR4


Gigabyte Z690 Gaming X DDR4

DDR4 Gigabyte Z690 Gaming X

With a price tag of $229.99, the Z690 Gaming X DDR4 is on the verge of being the first Z690 motherboard, if not quite there yet. This board, on the other hand, takes a different strategy to fitting its price point.

Gigabyte chose an equal number of lower-performance power circuits rather than substantially reducing the amount of power phases on the board. The Z690 Gaming X DDR4 keeps the 16+1+2 power-phase configuration, but instead of employing hardware rated for 105, 90, or 70 amps of electricity, this board uses 60-amp components. In reality, this board should be fine for non-overclockers, and for casual tweakers, it just won’t overclock as effectively as its higher-end counterparts.

This board also lacks Wi-Fi and uses a Realtek ALC1220 audio codec, which is slightly older than that found on most of Gigabyte’s other Z690 boards. However, there were no concerns with the LAN: the 2.5Gbps Intel NIC was spared. If you have access to hardwired internet, this appears to be a nice (relatively) low-cost gaming choice.

Gigabyte Z690 Gaming X


Gigabyte Z690 UD AX

Gigabyte Z690 UD (and variant)

The following two Z690 motherboards from Gigabyte are minor variations of the Z690 Gaming X DDR4 described above, with slightly different aesthetics but fundamentally identical feature sets. The first is the Gigabyte Z690 UD DDR4 ($199.99), while the second is the Z690 UD AX DDR4 ($219.99). It’s unclear why the Z690 UD AX DDR4 is less expensive than the Z690 Gaming X DDR4, given that they both have the same power design and contain Wi-Fi 6E connectivity. The Z690 UD DDR4 is the same as the UD AX DDR4, however it lacks Wi-Fi connectivity entirely.

Gigabyte Z690 UD AX

Gigabyte Z690 UD


MSI MEG Z690 Unify-X

Unify-X MSI MEG Z690

At launch, MSI’s flagship Z690 motherboard will be the MEG Z690 Unify-X. (at least until the inevitable MSI Godlike board). This motherboard, like other high-end motherboards, is nearly totally covered in heatsinks and heat spreaders to help cool the chipset and power-control circuitry. The board includes a 19+2 power architecture with 105-amp components, so overclocking should be a breeze.

Why are we so excited for this one? Because the MEG Unify-X has the fastest DDR5 RAM timings of any motherboard that has been revealed thus far, with speeds up to 6,800MHz. The audio and networking circuitry on this board is similar to that found on many of the midrange boards on our list (2.5Gbps Intel i225-V NIC, Realtek ALC4080 audio codec). A built-in Intel Wi-Fi 6E wireless adaptor is also included on the board. It’ll probably sell for roughly $499.99.

MSI MEG Z690 Unify-X


MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi

MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi DDR5

If you can’t locate the Unify-X at launch, MSI’s best available motherboard will be the MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi DDR5. The RGB LEDs mounted over the rear I/O shroud and the chipset heatsink give this board a gloomy look.

On the back I/O panel, there will be a slew of USB connections, including one ultra-fast USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C port for the latest external SSDs, and an Intel i225-V 2.5Gbps LAN controller for high-speed Internet connectivity. A built-in Wi-Fi 6E controller is included, while Realtek’s ALC4080 audio codec is used for sound output.

Apart from the Unify-X flagship, one of the most noticeable features of this board is that it supports DDR5 clocked at up to 6,666MHz, which is faster than any of the rival boards we’ve seen so far. It costs $399.99; a nearly identical variant, the MSI MPG Z690 Force WiFi DDR5, costs $389.99 and comes in white (along with a few other small cosmetic variations).

MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI

MSI MPG Z690 FORCE WIFI


MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi DDR5

MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi DDR5 (and variants)

MSI has four more motherboards available for pre-order, but because they are all virtually the same, we’ll treat them as a single item. The following are the boards:

  • MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi DDR5 (shown) ($249.99)
  • ($239.99) MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi DDR4
  • ($229.99) MSI Pro Z690-A DDR5
  • ($219.99) MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi DDR4

Apart from pricing, the titles of the four boards reveal the major differences between them. The first board in the list has Wi-Fi and DDR5 support, the second board has DDR4, the third board has Wi-Fi but switches back to DDR5, and the last board has DDR4 but no Wi-Fi.

These boards are all identical in appearance, with a largely black color scheme and a few silver pieces thrown in for contrast. The ALC897 audio codec is used on all four boards, and they all contain an Intel i225-V NIC for fast 2.5Gbps wired Internet.

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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