Intel has really taken a leap forward in terms of their CPU design with the 12th Generation processors, codenamed Alder Lake. These brand new CPUs now feature a completely new design, consisting of performance cores as well as efficiency cores.
Moreover, Intel has brought support for DDR5 memory as well as PCIe 5.0 in the new 12th Gen CPUs. However, to take full advantage of your shiny new Alder Lake processor, you have to pair it with a high-end motherboard.
This is where the Z690 flagship platform comes in. Intel’s Z690 chipset is the best and most feature-packed platform for the 12th Gen processors, and you will find some of the most premium motherboards in this lineup. Our choices for the best Z590 motherboards are also available for consideration if you are going for the last-gen flagship.
In this roundup, we will guide you through our picks for the absolute best Z690 motherboards currently available for sale.
The Best Z690 Motherboard – Our Picks
|1||Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Master||Best Overall Z690 Motherboard|| |
|2||ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero||Best Enthusiast Z690 Motherboard|| |
|3||MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi||Best Overclocking Z690 Motherboard|| |
|4||ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-PLUS WiFi||Best Value Z690 Motherboard|| |
|5||MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi||Best Budget Z690 Motherboard|| |
|6||ASUS ROG Strix Z690-G Gaming||Best Micro ATX Z690 Motherboard|| |
|7||Gigabyte Z690-I AORUS Ultra||Best Mini ITX Z690 Motherboard|| |
|Product Name||Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Master|
|Award||Best Overall Z690 Motherboard|
|Product Name||ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero|
|Award||Best Enthusiast Z690 Motherboard|
|Product Name||MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi|
|Award||Best Overclocking Z690 Motherboard|
|Product Name||ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-PLUS WiFi|
|Award||Best Value Z690 Motherboard|
|Product Name||MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi|
|Award||Best Budget Z690 Motherboard|
|Product Name||ASUS ROG Strix Z690-G Gaming|
|Award||Best Micro ATX Z690 Motherboard|
|Product Name||Gigabyte Z690-I AORUS Ultra|
|Award||Best Mini ITX Z690 Motherboard|
Last Update on 2023-11-29 at 20:32 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Why you should trust us
We live, breathe, and eat motherboards here at appuals.com. Whether it’s the latest Intel or AMD chipsets, we know our way around a motherboard. We’ve been reviewing them for years, and our experience shows in our detailed, comprehensive reviews. Our leading PC hardware expert, Hassam Nasir, boasts a tremendous experience in the field of motherboard reviews which spans back to the days when Nvidia used to add an extra SLI chipset to motherboards!
One can say that he loves to get into the nitty gritty details of PC hardware such as PCB analysis, VRM performance, memory/core overclocking potential, cooling potentials of AIOs, and the list goes on and on. His expertise does not come as a surprise, since he has been obsessed with PC hardware from the era of Opterons and Smithfield Pentium processors.
However, we don’t just rely on our experience – we also put every motherboard we review through a rigorous testing process. We test for stability, compatibility, overclocking potential, and more. Our team’s key expertise lies in the area of VRM testing, both for quality and long-term reliability. Of course, we also take into account the user experience when writing our reviews. Whether you are looking for a budget-friendly option or the absolute best motherboard on the market, we can help you find what you need.
1. Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Master
Best Overall Z690 Motherboard
- Premium Power Delivery
- Aquantia 10GbE LAN
- Superb Feature Set
- Attractive Design
- Numerous M.2 Slots
- Very Expensive
- No HDMI Output
Form Factor: ATX | Chipset: Z690 | Memory: 4x DIMM, 128GB, DDR5-6400 | Video Outputs: DisplayPort | USB Ports: 11x rear IO, 9x internal | Network: 1x 10 GbE LAN, 1x Wi-Fi 6E | Storage: 4x M.2, 6x SATA | VRM: 19+2+1 Phase
Gigabyte’s AORUS line of motherboards is known for its excellent premium offerings, and that trend continues with the Alder Lake processors. The Z690 AORUS Master board combines a powerful power delivery system together with some unique features which are almost too good to be true–although it does come at an expensive price point.
Starting off with its most premium feature, the VRM setup on this Z690 AORUS Master board has an extremely impressive 22-phase design. Out of those phases, 19 are dedicated to providing clean and stable power for the CPU. With 105A available for the CPU, you can expect a premium CPU overclocking experience even on the flagship i9 12900K CPU.
The efficient cooling system of the VRM ensures that temperatures will never become an issue. There are multiple heatsinks that adequately cool down any excess heat generated by the VRM components without compromising the performance in any way.
If you have the flagship i9 12900K processor, be sure to check out our selection of the best motherboards for i9 12900K.
The Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Master is a high-end motherboard that offers a wealth of features for gamers and enthusiasts. We’ve chosen the DDR5 variant that supports DDR5 memory up to 6400MHz – perfect for any high-end Alder Lake processor on the market today such as the Core i9 12900K.
Firstly, it offers excellent connectivity with a host of high-speed USB ports, four M.2 slots, and support for up to six SATA drives. It also features Intel’s latest Wi-Fi 6 standard for faster and more reliable networking, along with a 10 GbE LAN port for wired connections.
Gigabyte has really separated this board from others in this price category thanks to the Aquantia 10 GbE LAN capability. This feature makes this board an ideal fit for enthusiasts. Moreover, the Z690 AORUS Master has a comprehensive set of features for overclocking and tweaking, including an advanced UEFI BIOS and support for Intel’s Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) standard.
There is no HDMI output on the rear I/O, which is a small issue but it can be really helpful in troubleshooting.
The aesthetics of a motherboard are important to many users, and the Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Master does not disappoint. The board looks great, with a clean design and subtle lighting. The RGB lighting is well executed, and the color scheme is eye-catching but not overdone.
More premium Gigabyte motherboards can be found in our list of the best motherboards for i7 12700K.
The overall look is modern and stylish, and the board would be a welcome addition to any gaming rig. We would have liked to see a more subtle implementation of the design over the I/O cover, but that’s just nitpicking at this point.
All in all, the Z690 AORUS Master is one of the best motherboards on the market and deserves consideration if you’re looking for a top-of-the-line option. It offers excellent overclocking potential and comes with a robust feature set that is nearly unparalleled. The only downside is that it’s one of the more expensive options out there.
However, if you’re looking for the best overall Z690 motherboard, the Z690 AORUS Master should be at the top of your list.
2. ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero
Best Enthusiast Z690 Motherboard
- Supreme VRM Design
- Five M.2 Slots
- Versatile Features
- Trademark ASUS ROG Design
- Nice RGB Lighting
- Quite Pricy
- No DisplayPort Output
Form Factor: ATX | Chipset: Z690 | Memory: 4x DIMM, 128GB, DDR5-6400 | Video Outputs: HDMI | USB Ports: 11x rear IO, 9x internal | Network: 1x 2.5 GbE LAN, 1x Wi-Fi 6E | Storage: 5x M.2, 6x SATA | VRM: 20+1 Phase
In the second place, the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero is a great option for anyone looking for a top-of-the-line Z690 motherboard. It features a robust power delivery system, plenty of expansion options, and a sleek design that is sure to impress. Plus, it comes with a host of features that make it one of the best motherboards on the market.
Starting off with the power delivery, the VRM of the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero is top-notch, delivering clean and stable power to the CPU with plenty of headroom for overclocking. It uses a 20+1 phase design with high-quality components, including premium MOSFETs, high-current inductors, and 10K black metallic capacitors.
Moreover, the VRM is also well-cooled, with two oversized VRM heatsinks that accelerate the process of heat dissipation. One can say that the VRM on the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero is extremely well-designed and should provide excellent power delivery for even the most demanding CPUs on the Alder Lake platform.
A similar ASUS option was selected in our roundup of the best motherboards for Ryzen 5 5600X as well.
Of course, the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero is a high-end motherboard that comes packed with features. Starting off with storage, it features six SATA ports and five M.2 slots for the ultimate storage suite. It also features Intel Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless networking, and a 2.5 GbE LAN port for wired networking.
Our selected DDR5 variant is compatible with DDR5 modules up to 6400 MHz, which is fairly decent. The rear I/O is lacking a DisplayPort, which would have been a helpful addition. Still, the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero is a feature-rich motherboard that offers plenty of connectivity and expansion options.
The Maximus Z690 Hero is a great-looking motherboard with plenty of aesthetics to please even the pickiest of PC builders. The board looks fantastic with its black and red color scheme, and the ROG logo prominently displayed on the board adds a nice touch. The board’s aggressive design language looks great when paired with the black PCB.
On top of that, the RGB lighting on the board is well done and adds a nice touch of color to the build. The aesthetics of the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero are excellent, and it’s sure to please any PC builder looking for a great-looking motherboard.
Keeping pricing to one side, we can safely say that the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero is one of the best motherboards for gaming on the Z690 platform.
Overall, the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero is the best high-end Z690 motherboard on the market. It has a solid build quality, great features, and excellent performance when it comes to power delivery. The verdict is in, and the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero is one of the best motherboards you can buy.
If you’re looking for a new motherboard, consider the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero, even though it carries a really high price tag.
3. MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi
Best Overclocking Z690 Motherboard
- Ideal for Overclocking
- Supreme Features
- Premium VRM Cooling
- Nice Looks
- Excellent Storage Options
- Still Expensive
- Cheap Carbon Fiber Finish
Form Factor: ATX | Chipset: Z690 | Memory: 4x DIMM, 128GB, DDR5-6666 | Video Outputs: HDMI and DisplayPort | USB Ports: 9x rear IO, 7x internal | Network: 1x 2.5 GbE LAN, 1x Wi-Fi 6E | Storage: 5x M.2, 6x SATA | VRM: 18+1+1 Phase
Our next pick is the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi, which is a very solid option for anyone looking for a high-quality Z690 motherboard. It is picked for a number of reasons, including its ample overclocking potential and its impressive array of features. If you’re in the market for a new motherboard, the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi should definitely be another board to consider.
When it comes to VRMs, the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi uses an 18+1+1 phase design with DrMOS components. The VRM on this board is capable of delivering a lot of clean power, making it ideal for overclocking.
On top of that, the components are cooled by a large aluminum heatsink that helps to dissipate heat. There is adequate finning in the heatsinks, increasing the surface area and improving heat transfer. One can say that the VRM on the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi is top quality and should be able to overclock even the most demanding 12th Generation processors.
A similar MSI option was also selected in our roundup of the best motherboards for i5 12600K.
Being a premium motherboard, the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi features excellent connectivity and networking options. For starters, the board features built-in WiFi 6 and 2.5GbE LAN support, as well as a host of high-speed USB ports. In the storage sector, the board features five M.2 slots for ultra-fast storage devices and features support for six SATA ports as well.
The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi also features premium audio with Realtek ALC1220 Codec, as well as an integrated I/O shield for easy installation. This is another high-end DDR5 motherboard on this list, and it features support for DDR5 modules up to 6666 MHz.
Switching gears, the aesthetics of the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi are sure to turn heads. The all-black design is sleek and modern, and the RGB lighting adds a touch of style. The lights can be controlled via the MSI Mystic Light app, and there are a variety of effects to choose from. The carbon fiber finish is also a nice touch.
The only downside is that the carbon fiber effect may scratch easily and ruin the look of the board. Still, the aesthetics of the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi are top-notch and sure to please even the most discerning PC gamer.
Conclusively the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi is arguably the best overclocking Z690 motherboard on the market. In addition to a superb VRM system, it offers excellent features and cooling performance. The only drawback is its price, which is higher than some other comparable Z690 boards. However, its features and performance justify its price tag, making it one of the best motherboards on the market.
4. ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-PLUS WiFi
Best Value Z690 Motherboard
- Solid Power Delivery
- Good Features
- Four M.2 Slots
- Plain Looks
- Mediocre VRM Cooling
- No HDMI Port
Form Factor: ATX | Chipset: Z690 | Memory: 4x DIMM, 128GB, DDR4-5333 | Video Outputs: DisplayPort | USB Ports: 8x rear IO, 7x internal | Network: 1x 2.5 GbE LAN, 1x Wi-Fi 6E | Storage: 4x M.2, 4x SATA | VRM: 14+1 Phase
Moving down the list, the ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-PLUS WiFi is a great budget offering for those looking to build a new Intel 12th Gen system. It comes packed with a lot of features that you would expect from a more expensive board, and it performs just as well too. If you’re looking for a value-oriented Z690 board to consider, the ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-PLUS WiFi should definitely be on your list.
Even though it is a budget-oriented board, the VRM of the ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-PLUS WiFi is one of its most impressive features. It uses a 14+1 phase VRM design with high-quality components as part of a solid power delivery system. This makes it great for overclocking, as well as for running high-end CPUs at stock settings.
On top of that, the VRM is also well cooled, with two large heatsinks that help to dissipate heat. You can expect decent overclocking results from the likes of the i7 12700K, and even some moderate overclocking from the i9 12900K.
The i9 12900K is already one of the best CPUs for gaming out there, so you shouldn’t need to go too crazy with the overclock.
The ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-PLUS WiFi features a robust storage suite and a wide range of connectivity options that make it well-suited for gaming and other demanding applications. In addition to several high-speed USB ports, the board features four M.2 slots and four SATA ports for storage. Networking is handled by a combination of Intel WiFi 6E and dual 2.5 GbE LAN ports.
The number of rear USB ports can be a bit limiting at times, especially if you’re an enthusiast user who likes to connect a lot of peripherals. Moreover, the addition of an HDMI port on the rear I/O would have been nice for troubleshooting.
We chose the DDR4 variant of the TUF Gaming Z690-PLUS since this is a budget-oriented pick. The board supports DDR4 modules up to 5333 MHz, and also supports memory overclocking of course. The choice of DDR4 for this motherboard increases its value proposition tremendously.
On the subject of value-oriented motherboards, don’t forget to check out our selection of the best B450 motherboards as well.
Moreover, the aesthetics of the ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-PLUS WiFi are quite impressive, even though they are modest. The motherboard looks great with its understated black color scheme and gamers will appreciate the subtle addition of RGB lighting. The design is also very clean and sleek, making it a great choice for those who want a high-performance gaming PC that also looks great.
All in all, the ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-PLUS WiFi is arguably the best value Z690 motherboard for gamers. It has a great design and plenty of features, and it’s easy to set up. Despite being a value motherboard, it has a solid VRM design and overall power delivery. The only downside is that it doesn’t have the best overclocking performance, but that’s not a big deal at this price point.
5. MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi
Best Budget Z690 Motherboard
- Very Affordable
- Decent Storage Options
- Solid Networking
- Stealthy Design
- No RGB Lighting
- Looks Mediocre
- Unimpressive VRM Design
Form Factor: ATX | Chipset: Z690 | Memory: 4x DIMM, 128GB, DDR5-6400 | Video Outputs: HDMI and DisplayPort | USB Ports: 6x rear IO, 9x internal | Network: 1x 2.5 GbE LAN, 1x Wi-Fi 6E | Storage: 4x M.2, 6x SATA | VRM: 8+4 Phase
The MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi is a budget option that is worth considering if you are looking for a new Z690 motherboard. It is one of the best budget options on the market, and it offers a lot of features for its price point.
Despite its budget price point, the VRM on this board is made up of high-quality components and is designed for acceptable power delivery. You can expect some decent overclocking on mid-range Intel 12th Gen CPUs such as the i5 12600K thanks to its 8+4 phase VRM.
It also features decent cooling with two large heatsinks to ensure stable performance even when overclocking. The overall configuration of the VRM is quite decent for the price point.
Another budget offering from MSI was also selected in our shortlist of the very best B550 motherboards on the market.
In the features department, the MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi tries to punch above its weight. The storage suite of the motherboard is impressive for the price, consisting of four M.2 slots and six SATA ports for your devices. Networking is handled by a 2.5 GbE LAN port and WiFi 6E, which is an impressive set at this price.
We would have liked to see more rear USB ports as the 6 currently available ports can be occupied rather quickly. Still, the DDR5 variant of the MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi has a decent feature set.
Speaking of budget offerings, you can also explore our selection of the best budget AM4 motherboards for AMD options on a strict budget.
The black and white color scheme gives the board a clean and modern look, while the angular design adds a touch of aggressiveness. There is no RGB lighting on the board, which can be a bit of a letdown for gamers. A splash of RGB is almost necessary for a modern gaming motherboard.
One can say that the MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi is the best budget Z690 motherboard on the market. It has a decent feature set, and it performs exceptionally well for its price in terms of power delivery. You should definitely consider this board if you plan to build a budget gaming rig based on the Alder Lake platform.
6. ASUS ROG Strix Z690-G Gaming
Best Micro ATX Z690 Motherboard
- Great for Compact Builds
- Solid Networking
- Decent Feature Set
- Attractive RGB
- Limited Expansion
- Mediocre VRM Cooling
- Relatively Expensive
Form Factor: Micro ATX | Chipset: Z690 | Memory: 4x DIMM, 128GB, DDR5-6000+ | Video Outputs: HDMI and DisplayPort | USB Ports: 10x rear IO, 7x internal | Network: 1x 2.5 GbE LAN, 1x Wi-Fi 6E | Storage: 3x M.2, 6x SATA | VRM: 14+1 Phase
Moving down the list, the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-G Gaming is a micro ATX option that is definitely one to consider if you’re looking for a compact Z690 motherboard. It’s packed with lots of great features and has a robust power delivery system which is rare to see in a compact micro ATX motherboard.
Speaking of power delivery, the VRM on the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-G Gaming motherboard is top-notch, delivering great power delivery and overclocking potential. The 14+1 phase VRM consists of high-quality components, including MOSFETs, chokes, and capacitors.
Moreover, the VRM is well cooled with multiple heatsinks, and the overall configuration is very good for a micro ATX option. You can expect a decent overclocking return on CPUs such as the Core i7 12700K, and even the 12900K with minor adjustments.
The ASUS ROG Strix Z690-G features a wide range of high-end features that gamers will love. Firstly, it comes with three M.2 slots for ultra-fast storage. Secondly, it features both WiFi 6 and 2.5 GbE LAN for the best possible networking experience. Thirdly, it has several high-speed USB ports for connecting external devices. The feature-set is quite versatile for a compact motherboard.
The aesthetics of the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-G Gaming are quite attractive. The motherboard looks great with its black and red colors, and the RGB lighting is a nice touch. The design is clean and aggressive, and the overall look is very stylish as one expects from a ROG motherboard. The only drawback is that the color scheme can be a bit too over-the-top for some users but that is a subjective point.
Be sure to check out our selection of the best motherboards for Ryzen 7 3700X for AMD motherboard recommendations as well.
Conclusively, the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-G Gaming motherboard is the best micro ATX Z690 motherboard for gamers who are looking to build a compact, high-performance gaming PC. It offers a great mix of features, powerful overclocking capabilities, and excellent build quality.
7. Gigabyte Z690-I AORUS Ultra
Best Mini ITX Z690 Motherboard
- Ideal for SFF PCs
- Excellent Features
- Nice Aesthetics
- Limited Expansion Slots
- Only 2 DIMM Slots
- Unremarkable Power Delivery
- Few Rear USB Ports
Form Factor: Mini ITX | Chipset: Z690 | Memory: 2x DIMM, 64GB, DDR5-6400 | Video Outputs: DisplayPort | USB Ports: 8x rear IO, 7x internal | Network: 1x 2.5 GbE LAN, 1x Wi-Fi 6E | Storage: 5x M.2, 6x SATA | VRM: 10+1+2 Phase
Our last pick of the day is the Gigabyte Z690-I AORUS Ultra, a mini ITX option that is definitely worth considering if you’re looking for a powerful yet compact Z690 motherboard. It has an impressive VRM design that ensures stable performance even while overclocking, while its feature-set is versatile for a mini ITX motherboard.
One can say that the VRM of the Gigabyte Z690-I AORUS Ultra is one of the best on the market among mini ITX boards. It features high-quality components and great cooling. The VRM is comprised of 10+1+2 phases and uses high-quality DrMOS components.
The VRM also features a robust cooling solution with multiple heatsinks. The adequate finning of the heatsinks ensures great heat dissipation even under load. The VRM is good enough for moderate overclocking on mid-range Intel 12th Gen CPUs such as the i5 12600K.
The Gigabyte Z690-I AORUS Ultra is a feature-packed mini-ITX motherboard for its price. It’s equipped with Intel 2.5GbE LAN and WiFi 6 for speedy networking, plus five M.2 slots and USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports for high-speed storage. The storage suite is quite incredible for a mini ITX motherboard.
Of course, the presence of only 2 DDR5 DIMM slots is a bit of a limitation, but that is down to the mini ITX form factor and not the motherboard itself.
Our selection of the best mini ITX motherboards for i9 9900K can also be helpful for users of that platform.
When it comes to aesthetics, the Gigabyte Z690-I AORUS Ultra certainly doesn’t disappoint. The motherboard has a sleek and sophisticated look, with a black and silver color scheme that is accented by RGB lighting. The lighting can be customized to match the rest of your system, and it really brings the motherboard to life.
Overall, the Gigabyte Z690-I AORUS Ultra is arguably the best mini ITX Z690 motherboard on the market. It has a decent VRM design, great features, and a unique selling point. The only downside is that it’s a bit expensive, but if you’re looking for the ideal mini ITX motherboard, this is the one to shortlist.
How we picked and tested
When it comes to selecting a motherboard, there are many aspects to evaluate, and the same holds true for picking the very best Z690 motherboards out there.
Our primary concern was the VRM design and power delivery of the board. Intel’s 12th Gen CPUs are pretty demanding in terms of overclocking, especially when you go towards the flagship SKUs. We selected boards that can handle even the most complicated overclocking scenarios.
We also laid a focus on the feature-set of the boards in question. Of course, we only selected Z690 options that offered premium networking options such as 2.5 GbE LAN in addition to WiFi, as well as multiple M.2 slots for your storage needs.
Aesthetics is a subjective topic, but we actively paid attention to the general response of consumers towards the looks of the Z690 boards in question. We tried to stay away from controversial options in this regard.
Of course, the value proposition and price tag of the motherboard is the ultimate deciding factor. We made this factor a critical part of our selection and ranking process.
When testing motherboards, our team of experts paid special attention to the VRM and power delivery subsystems, as these are critical for ensuring stable performance and consistent overclocking results.
We also assessed the board’s feature set and tested its performance in a range of real-world scenarios. Our testing involved multiple overclocking scenarios with the Core i9 12900K over an extended period of time in an enclosed chassis.
Ultimately, our goal is to find the best Z690 motherboards on the market, so you can easily find the perfect one for your needs.
DDR4 vs. DDR5
When it comes to upgrading your PC, one of the first questions you’ll need to answer is which type of memory to choose. Do you go for the older, more established DDR4 standard, or spring for the newer DDR5? Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to understand the difference before making a decision.
DDR4 is the current generation of memory, with DDR5 expected to start becoming prevalent from now on. As such, DDR4 is more widely available and generally less expensive. However, DDR5 offers a significant performance upgrade over DDR4, with higher data rates and lower latencies.
In addition, DDR5 uses less power than DDR4, which can result in cooler operation and longer life. As a result, DDR5 is expected to become the new standard for high-end PCs and laptops.
If you’re looking to upgrade your PC now, then DDR4 is still probably your best option. However, if you’re willing to wait a little longer for the latest and greatest technology, then DDR5 is worth considering. Early adopters will also need to be prepared to pay a premium for the privilege of using cutting-edge memory.
For the Z690 motherboard buyers, this question is one of the most critical ones as it can dictate your entire upgrade path down the line. Before making the decision, be sure to consider the possibility of DDR5 memory improving rapidly over the next few years, rendering the current DDR5 modules obsolete.
PCIe 5.0 – What’s New
PCI Express 5.0 is the evolutionary new standard that will eventually replace PCIe 4.0 and brings with it a host of improvements over the latter.
In fact, the Intel 12th Generation CPUs already support PCIe 5.0 (technically), and the Z690 motherboards have a single PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, but there is no motherboard that supports PCIe 5.0 in storage slots yet.
So what does PCIe 5.0 bring? Well, more bandwidth! With PCIe 5.0, we are looking at transfer speeds as high as 32 GT/s and up to 128 GB/s bandwidth over a 16 PCIe lanes configuration. This is as much as DOUBLE what we are currently getting with PCIe 4.0.
PCIe 5.0 will take hold some time in the next 2 years with motherboards from AMD as well as Intel ready to support this protocol.
We can expect the AMD Ryzen 7000 series to support PCIe 5.0, so the AMD 600-series motherboards will support PCIe 5.0 as well. On the Intel side, the Alder Lake CPUs already support PCIe 5.0, but the next generation of Intel motherboards should support this functionality as well.
When looking for the best Z690 motherboard, it is important to keep in mind several factors that will make your buying experience a lot easier. Motherboards are notoriously difficult to shop for since they don’t offer a ton of useful information on their product pages.
It is difficult to judge how much should you actually spend on a motherboard, as the answer does vary from case to case. Consider the following factors when looking for your next motherboard.
One of the most important considerations when choosing a motherboard is the form factor. The form factor is the size and shape of the motherboard, and it determines how much space the motherboard will take up in your case. The three most common form factors are ATX, micro ATX, and mini ITX.
ATX is the largest form factor and it provides the most space for multiple expansion cards and other components. Micro ATX is a smaller form factor that is more compact, while mini ITX is the smallest form factor and it is designed for small cases or builds where space is limited.
When choosing a form factor, you need to consider how much space you have available in your case and what components you need to accommodate. For example, if you want to use multiple graphics cards in SLI or CrossFire, then you will need an ATX motherboard. If you want a compact build that doesn’t take up a lot of space, then you should choose a mini ITX motherboard.
Ultimately, it’s important to pick a form factor that gives you the right balance of space and features for your needs.
VRM and Overclocking
The VRM, or Voltage Regulation Module, is an important consideration when purchasing a Z690 motherboard for your PC. The VRM is responsible for delivering power to the CPU, and it can be a determining factor in how well your CPU performs. VRM also affects overclocking, as it determines how much power can be delivered to the CPU.
If you’re planning on overclocking your 12th Generation Intel CPU, it’s important to get a motherboard with a robust VRM. The VRM cooling is also important, as VRMs can get quite hot when under load. Heatsinks are typically used to cool VRMs, and they come in a variety of sizes and shapes.
When choosing a motherboard, be sure to consider the VRM carefully in order to get the best possible performance out of your CPU. You can get plenty of information about VRM performance from motherboard reviews online, either from experts or from users as well.
Aesthetics are often considered a subjective topic. However, when it comes to choosing a motherboard, aesthetics should definitely be taken into consideration. The design and looks of a motherboard can have a big impact on the overall look of a build. Additionally, aesthetics can also be affected by things like RGB lighting and software customization.
While aesthetics are ultimately a matter of personal preference, it is still important to consider how a motherboard will look in a build before making a purchase. With so many different motherboards on the market, taking aesthetics into account can help to narrow down the options and make choosing the right board for a build much easier.
Networking and Features
When it comes to choosing a motherboard, it’s important to consider both the features and the networking options that are available. For features, storage is an important consideration. Look for motherboards with multiple M.2 slots for faster data speeds, as well as SATA and high-speed USB ports for connecting external devices.
As far as networking goes, LAN and WiFi are both important considerations. If you’re looking to connect to a high-speed network, look for a motherboard with a 2.5 GbE or faster LAN port. If you want the flexibility to connect to both wired and wireless networks, look for a motherboard with both LAN and WiFi capabilities.
Lastly, consider the number of USB ports that are available. The more ports there are, the more expandable your system will be. With so many features to consider, choosing the right Z690 motherboard can be a daunting task.
However, with the help of our comprehensive motherboard buying guide, you can be sure to find a motherboard that fits both your budget and your needs.
Best Z690 Motherboard - FAQs
Z690 does support full memory and CPU overclocking. This is the flagship Intel chipset for the 12th Generation processors and it is ideal for unlocked “K” series SKUs that can be overclocked. No other Intel chipset for this generation (B660, H670, and H610) supports full CPU overclocking.
You cannot use Core i9 11900K with Z690 motherboards because they are not compatible with each other. The 11900K CPU uses the LGA 1200 socket, while the Z690 motherboards use LGA 1700 socket. The two sockets are physically different so you cannot install a 11900K into a Z690 motherboard.
Z690 does not support PCIe 5.0 storage devices or SSDs. This is because of two reasons. Firstly, the PCIe 5.0 lanes are not allocated to the M.2 slots, which run at PCIe 4.0 speeds. Secondly, there are currently no PCIe 5.0 SSDs available on the consumer market at the time of writing.
DDR5 is faster than DDR4 so it is better for gaming, but the choice between DDR5 and DDR4 depends solely on the use case of the consumer. While DDR5 is certainly the future, there is not a lot of noticeable benefit in performance as of right now, however that gap is going to widen with time. DDR5 memory is also really expensive right now and is bound to get both cheaper and faster as time goes on.
Intel has confirmed that Z690 motherboards will support 13th Gen processors, codenamed Raptor Lake, when they come out. The current Z690 motherboards will need a BIOS update to ensure compatibility with the new CPUs as they are released, but the future version of the Z690 motherboards should have drop-in support for Raptor Lake CPUs.