FRONTPAGE Z690 Motherboard Overview: Alder Lake Brings DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 to the Desktop

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Over 80 new Z690 motherboards are about to release in conjunction with Intel's 12th Generation Core processors, dubbed Alder Lake. This is a staggering amount of new hardware, and to ease the burden of trying to research all this new tech, we have comprised a list of some of the most recent motherboard announcements. Before we get to that, we will cover what is new with Alder Lake and what makes it so different from previous generation CPUs. We will also discuss the major changes the Z690 motherboards bring to the market.

Click here to view the article.
 

Woomack

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A lot of pointless motherboards will flood the market. If I'm right then only MSI will release 17 Z690 models. ASUS, Gigabyte and ASRock, each 12-15+. I still had a hard time finding anything that would meet my needs and wouldn't have a ridiculous price.
Funny for me is that EVGA Z690 will hit the stores in the US soon. In the EU, you still can't order even a cheaper Z590, not to mention Dark.

There is also one thing I mentioned in another thread. Some brands bump prices and make cashback promotions like ASUS or MSI (not in all countries), while you can find a competitive brand without a promotion for less. Some stores are already selling Gigabyte motherboards for 20% less than a similarly equipped ASUS or MSI.

If you have any thoughts about some motherboard series, then please share it as the list is very long, and maybe something will help other forum members to decide on their next purchase.
 

Blaylock

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I haven't dug in too deep with these motherboards just yet. I will be building a new system in the next year so it's something I plan to do. I'm just not sure if I want to go back to Intel or wait for the new Ryzen.

The thought of P+E cores is intriguing but I'd like to see it in action before shelling out the kind of money today's systems are demanding. Even though I already have the money earmarked for my next build I've always been budget conscious and AMD has always been the better buy except for a few exceptions.
 

EarthDog

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If you have any thoughts about some motherboard series, then please share it as the list is very long, and maybe something will help other forum members to decide on their next purchase.
The point of the article isn't to make a decision on a motherboard. This is high-level on what's coming out. There are other articles that go a bit deeper (Anand and Tom's - we don't have full-time news writers...), but they aren't making recommendations either (typically a review covers that). It's just too early to say much about them outside of the '...more robust VRMs, PCIe 5.0 and DDR5, 6E Wifi, updated aesthetics, maybe some have a price and are available,... etc'.
 

Woomack

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I know what's the point of the article and as you said, we don't have full-time news writers or reviewers to cover everything while readers can share their thoughts and point out some advantages/disadvantages of specific motherboard models. Some people dig in the specs and compare some models... and maybe wish to share something. I don't expect many Z690 threads either and that's why I just said that to maybe keep some info in somehow general Z690 thread.


I haven't dug in too deep with these motherboards just yet. I will be building a new system in the next year so it's something I plan to do. I'm just not sure if I want to go back to Intel or wait for the new Ryzen.

The thought of P+E cores is intriguing but I'd like to see it in action before shelling out the kind of money today's systems are demanding. Even though I already have the money earmarked for my next build I've always been budget conscious and AMD has always been the better buy except for a few exceptions.

If not tests/reviews then probably I wouldn't upgrade my PC more often than every 5 years ;) Each year, new hardware costs more and gives less compared to the previous generation. The biggest boost gave us SSD in the last years, but CPUs? ... not really.
 

EarthDog

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The point of the article is to provide a list of available Z690 motherboards in one place. Nothing more, nothing less. :thup:

Of course we want readers to share their thoughts!!! But nobody outside of reviewers has them in hand currently. When members do, surely we'll get some input. I thought "you" meant the author/Blaylock not that you were requesting everyone participate. ;)


EDIT: I agree we haven't seen anything terribly significant in the CPU world for generations now. Alder Lake will prove to be solid, but there are some sacrifices that need to be made compared to previous generations. First, W11 is just about mandatory. So if you're one of those who hang on to old OS's, these chips aren't for you (especially if you do content creation type work - but it depends... certain things take a significant hit in W10 vs W11, most things don't). PCIe 5.0 is big, especially for Intel. More M.2 sockets, little or no lane sharing FTW. Sure, AMD generally had that, but... it's something, lol.
 

Woomack

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I didn't say that John was supposed to tell me what motherboard I want (I know that already) ... I left it as a suggestion to forum members/readers who probably buy Z690 soon or dig into specs and can/wish to share something. I know that my English is sometimes confusing but I wasn't addressing John directly ;)
 

DaveB

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Just get an Asus with the slotted mounting holes if you want to use an existing air cooler or AIO.

Asus Z690.jpg
 

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EarthDog

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Be careful. The 'z' height is different so in many cases you need the kit as the screws are different (height).
 

Voodoo Rufus

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It's crazy how many motherboards are shown on release day. Either they've had a year to design them all, or they have huge teams to do it. Maybe certain configurations are more modular between boards, and some similarities outside of the aesthetics.

Nothing really perks my interest yet. Might keep my eye out for one with dual LAN w/ one 10Gbit, surround audio off of a Sabre DAC, or maybe one of the ITX options.

Everyone seems to be whining elsewhere about SATA ports, when some of these boards have a crazy amount of M.2 ports now. Just get or build a NAS already if you have a bunch of SATA stuff.....
 

Culbrelai

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I donÂ’t get the ridiculous m.2 slot numbers tbh. Each one uses x4 so theoretically you could have 2 running at once with a gpu at x16 right? X4 from cpu and x4 from chipset? Why have 5 m.2 slots if you and most people will only be able to run 2?
 

EarthDog

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I donÂ’t get the ridiculous m.2 slot numbers tbh. Each one uses x4 so theoretically you could have 2 running at once with a gpu at x16 right? X4 from cpu and x4 from chipset? Why have 5 m.2 slots if you and most people will only be able to run 2?
You can run all five at once if you choose. There's enough bandwidth to go around (improvements in the chipset), it just depends on how it's split up. One motherboard uses 2 SATA ports (leaving 6 remaining - 2 from the chipset and two from a hub). But yes, there's enough bandwidth to go around. Some with AICs use GPU bandwidth... but it's PCIe 5.0 (2x bandwidth of 4.0) and 4.0 isn't saturated. So, you can break it down to PCIe 4.0 x16 and still have two PCIe 4.0 modules and 100% potential out of your GPU.

msi1.jpg

Good summary here and a pic of the generic chipset diagram...https://www.guru3d.com/news-story/i...cie-5-x16ddr4-or-ddr5-memoryand-dmi-4-x8.html
 

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Woomack

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It depends on the motherboard. For example, Gigabyte in some models decided to use PCIe x16 5.0 as the main PCIe slot which stays at X16 no matter what, and you still can use 5x M.2 SSD but four of them will be PCIe 4.0 x4 and one will be PCIe 3.0 x4. One M.2 is shared with PCIe X4 3.0. Most other brands use one x16 PCIe which runs at X16 or two slots at X8 and still 3-5 M.2 SSD, depending on the motherboard.
So it highly depends on the motherboard but these higher models let you run PCIe x16 at full speed and additionally 4-5 M.2 SSD. This is more than enough for most users.
 

Culbrelai

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Ooooh they are splitting the Gen 5 lanes into many slower Gen 4 lanes. I get it now thx. Interesting. What happens when Pcie 5 M.2 SSDs come out?
 

EarthDog

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Ooooh they are splitting the Gen 5 lanes into many slower Gen 4 lanes. I get it now thx. Interesting. What happens when Pcie 5 M.2 SSDs come out?
Sort of......on some boards that is possible, yes, but not the norm. See posts above. There's enough bandwidth in the chipset to go around with minimal sharing. Typically it's with chipset-connected PCIe slots and/or SATA ports. As we said previously, it varies by board.

You'll come to notice that most boards (all?) don't have a M.2 socket wired for PCIe 5.0, but any that do use an AIC which utilizes the PCIe 5.0 lanes from the CPU. It will bifurcate and break down to PCIe 5.0 x8 for the GPU (= 4.0 x16) and a whole 5.0 x8 for (up to) 2x M.2 modules on an AIC.

THis should also answer your question on what happens when PCIe 5.0 M.2 modules arrive. :)
 

Blaylock

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...when PCIe 5.0 M.2 modules arrive. :)

I'm looking forward to this. Hopefully, boot times are equivalent to the old cartridge consoles. LMAO. Imagine a time where you need to hold down F2 or Del AS you hit the power button to enter the BIOS.
 

EarthDog

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If it doesn't boot, remove it from the system and blow on the end.. try again? :rofl:

It's already becoming difficult to catch the BIOS on some of these boards. Some have options in them to delay how long it waits on input. Personally, as soon as the keyboard lights up, I'm banging on the keys, lol.
 

Woomack

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Some ASRock boards freeze when you hold any button before the initial start so good luck entering BIOS when you have any fast storage with OS installed :)

I wonder if Z690 boards will have M.2 PCIe 5.0 support as if I'm right, these M.2 sockets are all PCIe 4.0. Maybe BIOS update will solve it and when PCIe 5.0 will be in use then 1-2 M.2 sockets won't work.
 

EarthDog

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I wonder if Z690 boards will have M.2 PCIe 5.0 support as if I'm right, these M.2 sockets are all PCIe 4.0. Maybe BIOS update will solve it and when PCIe 5.0 will be in use then 1-2 M.2 sockets won't work.
I just mentioned that in post 15. :D

Pretty sure the are all 4.0 and most are wired that way (so far). I don't imagine a BIOS update will do it unless the board has 5.0 wiring down already. So far, I haven't run across any that advertise a 5.0 integrated socket (or 5.0 'ready'). They may be out there, I just haven't run across them yet. :)
 

Woomack

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Just installed Z690 Aorus Master. Funny thing, the board has F2 BIOS. On the website, there is only F5 marked as "First Launch Release". This is a retail mobo, not a review sample. It also took about 7 restarts to boot the first time but well ... the keyboard even works so it's fine :D