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


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Intel Alder Lake
Intel Alder Lake

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.

Intel’s 12 Generation Core processor, Alder Lake is set to launch on November 4th. What makes this processor so unique? It’s the first CPU to feature two very different core architectures under one lid. Each 12th Gen processor will feature Performance cores, designated as “P” cores, utilizing the Golden Cove architecture and Efficient Cores, or “E” cores, using Gracemont architecture. This hybrid design is similar to ARM’s big.LITTLE concept and provides power and efficiency depending on the demand. Alder Lake will also support native PCIe 5.0 and in doing so feature a total of 20 PCIe lanes with 16 dedicated to PCIe 5.0 and four additional lanes of PCIe 4.0. Naturally, this all requires additional real estate so Intel is updating the Socket to LGA 1700.

This is where the Z690 motherboards come into play, providing PCIe 5.0 support as well as DDR5 memory. Some boards will still support DDR4 memory so be sure to double-check what you are buying. This is also partly why there are so many new motherboards getting launched. So, what’s so special about PCIe 5.0? Well, it allows double the bandwidth of PCIe 4.0, from 32 GBps up to 64 GBps. While most current devices are unable to take advantage of this, it’s only a matter of time before they catch up. The other major update Z690 series motherboards bring is support for DDR5. Unlike all previous generations, it features on-board voltage regulation, reduced power consumption, On-Die ECC error correction, and a higher base frequency than DDR4, providing a more efficient system.

Below are the six major motherboard manufacturers’ press releases for the upcoming Intel Z690 chipset, MSI, ASUS, ASRock, Gigabyte, EVGA, and Biostar.

MSI

The Next Playground

Intel Z690 Motherboards

The 12th Gen Intel Core desktop processor redefines x86 architexture performance. Introducing the new performance hybrid archetexture, combining Performance-cores with Efficient-cores to elevate gaming, productivity, and creation. Enjoy the full range of the latest platform innovations like…

Click here to continue reading MSI’s press release

NOTE: There are rumors of an MSI Z690 GODLIKE EATX motherboard but we have not received official confirmation.

You can find the boards at Newegg.com

MEG FAMILY 

MSI MEG Z690 ACE
MSI MEG Z690 ACE

MSI MEG UNIFY & UNIFY-X
MSI MEG UNIFY & UNIFY-X

There is also the MSI MEG Z690I UNIFY ITX motherboard coming soon. (Image not available)

MPG FAMILY

MSI Z690 CARBON WIFI
MSI Z690 CARBON WIFI

MPG Z690 CARBON EK X
MPG Z690 CARBON EK X

MSI MPG Z690 FORCE WIFI
MSI MPG Z690 FORCE WIFI

MSI MPG Z690 EDGE WIFI & WIFI DDR4
MSI MPG Z690 EDGE WIFI & WIFI DDR4

MAG FAMILY

MSI MAG Z690 TOMOHAWK WIFI & WIFI DDR4
MSI MAG Z690 TOMOHAWK WIFI & WIFI DDR4

MSI MAG Z690 TORPEDO
MSI MAG Z690 TORPEDO

There is also the MSI MAG Z690 TORPEDO EK X motherboard coming soon. (Image not available)

PRO FAMILY

MSI PRO Z690-A WIFI & WIFI DDR4
MSI PRO Z690-A WIFI & WIFI DDR4

MSI PRO Z690-A & MSI PRO Z690-A DDR4
MSI PRO Z690-A & MSI PRO Z690-A DDR4

There is also the MSI PRO Z690-P DDR4 motherboard coming soon. (Image not available)

ASUS

ASUS Z690 series motherboards and 12th Gen Intel® Core™ processors herald the arrival of the next generation of high-speed computing with support for PCIe® 5.0 and DDR5 memory, next-level connectivity, robust power delivery and cooling, and artificial intelligence optimization. This new ASUS platform is designed to extract every ounce of performance from the latest Intel Core CPUs for gamers, creators, and users of all kinds while offering a variety of aesthetic designs to suit every taste.

SUS Z690 motherboards feature exclusive software and firmware that leverage machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enrich…

Click here to continue reading ASUS’ press release.  

And click here to see the boards at Newegg.com

ROG (Republic of Gamers)

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ROG STRIX

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TUF Gaming

TUF GAMING Z690-PLUS WIFI D4
TUF GAMING Z690-PLUS WIFI D4

TUF GAMING Z690-PLUS D4
TUF GAMING Z690-PLUS D4

ProArt

PROART Z690-CREATOR WIFI
PROART Z690-CREATOR WIFI

 

PRIME

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ASRock

ASRock Launches Full Range of Intel® Z690 Motherboard Packed with Revolutionary Technology

TAIPEI, Taiwan, October 27th, 2021 – The leading global motherboard manufacturer, ASRock, proudly announces its comprehensive new range of motherboards featuring Intel® Z690 chipset, a brand new LGA1700 socket platform to pair with latest 12th Generation Intel® Core™ Processors, opening endless possibility with PCI Express 5.0 and DDR5 high speed memory.

Z690 Taichi

Designed for premium user who is looking for uncompromised performance, ASRock Z690 Taichi is definitely…

Click here to continue reading ASRock’s press release. 

Click here to see all ASROck boards at Newegg.com

 

TAICHI

ASRock Z690 TAICHI
ASRock Z690 TAICHI

Phantom Gaming

ASRock Z690 PG Velocita, ASRock Z690 PG Riptide, & ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4
ASRock Z690 PG Velocita, ASRock Z690 PG Riptide, & ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4

ASRock Z690 PG Riptide
ASRock Z690 PG Riptide

STEEL LEGEND

ASRock Z690 Steel Legend
ASRock Z690 Steel Legend

EXTREME

ASRock Z690 Extreme
ASRock Z690 Extreme

PRO RS

ASRock Z690 Pro RS
ASRock Z690 Pro RS

 

Gigabyte

GIGABYTE Releases the Latest Z690 AORUS Motherboards

Up to 20+1+2 phases/ 105Amps digital power VRM with new generation DDR5 to unleash the extreme overclocking performance of 12th gen. Intel® Core™ processors

October 28th, 2021 – GIGABYTE TECHNOLOGY Co. Ltd, a leading manufacturer of motherboards, graphics cards, and hardware solutions, today announced the Z690 AORUS gaming motherboards which perfectly support the latest 12th Gen Intel® Core™ processors. Featuring up to 20+1+2 phases digital power VRM design with each phase holding up to 105 amps and an improved Fins-Array III heatsink design, GIGABYTE’s Z690 AORUS lineup is geared with the best power design and thermal management to unleash the extreme performance and optimized overclocking ability on the new generation multi-core K series Intel® Core™ processors. The PCIe® 5.0 PCBs, slots, and components are also implemented in GIGABYTE’s Z690 AORUS motherboards for enhanced performance and stability. The exclusive SMD memory slots with metal shielding mask for anti- interference and the BIOS setting of DDR5 memory overclocking offer more stable signals to memory, which enable users to boost XMP and overclocking performance with stability. Select GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS motherboards offer feature-rich I/O with an integrated I/O shield as well as the newest Thermal Guard III design, Smart Fan 6 and much more. Performance, power management, thermals, audio, GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS motherboards check all the boxes for users seeking…

Click here to continue reading Gigabyte’s full press release.

Cleck here to see all of the boards at Newegg.com

AORUS Gaming

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Gaming

Gigabyte Z690 GAMING X & GAMING X DDR4
Gigabyte Z690 GAMING X & GAMING X DDR4

Ultra Durable/AERO

 

EVGA

Introducing the EVGA Z690 DARK K|NGP|N and Z690 CLASSIFIED motherboards – The Ultimate Choice for PC Gaming

EVGA Z690 motherboards paired with 12th Gen Intel® Core™ Series processors bring unprecedented overclocking performance and an unparalleled experience to PC gaming. The Intel® Z690 Chipset supports the latest DDR5 memory and PCIe Gen5 standards, making these motherboards ready for the next generation of hardware. EVGA Z690 motherboards further elevate your system with a powerful digital-VRM design, multiple PCIe Gen4 M.2 NVMe options, right-angle power connectors, an award-winning BIOS, and overclocking world-records.

EVGA Z690 DARK K|NGP|N

EVGA DARK motherboards blaze the trail for other boards to follow, and the Z690 DARK K|NGP|N is no exception. The ability to destroy world records is…

 

Click here to continue reading EVGA’s press release.

EVGA Z690 DARK KINGPIN

EVGA Z690 DARK K|INGP|N
EVGA Z690 DARK K|INGP|N

Z690 CLASSIFIED

EVGA Z690 CLASSIFIED
EVGA Z690 CLASSIFIED

Biostar

BIOSTAR, a leading manufacturer of motherboards, graphics cards, and storage devices today, announces the brand-new Intel Z690 series motherboards.

Stylish new designs with cutting-edge technology-infused Intel Z690 series motherboards from BIOSTAR are finally here. Engineered to run the latest Intel 12th gen processors, BIOSTAR is new motherboards are ideal for gamers looking to play the best AAA games and for PC enthusiasts that settle for nothing but the best.

With three new exciting ATX motherboard models, BIOSTAR plans to deliver the best technology to the masses. BIOSTAR is latest flagship motherboards, the Z690 VALKYRIE, Z690A VALKYRIE are the stars of the show, built with exciting new features and…

Click here to continue reading Biostar’s press release.

 

Blaylock 

Discussion

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  1. 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.
    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 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'.
    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.
    Blaylock
    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.
    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.
    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 ;)
    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.....
    I don’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?
    Culbrelai
    I don’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.
    Good summary here and a pic of the generic chipset diagram...https://www.guru3d.com/news-story/intel-z690-chipset-diagram-shows-pcie-5-x16ddr4-or-ddr5-memoryand-dmi-4-x8.html
    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.
    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. :)
    EarthDog
    ...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.
    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.
    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.
    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. :)
    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