The Intel Z690 Motherboard Overview (DDR4): Over 30+ New Models

To support the launch of Intel’s latest 12th generation ‘Alder Lake’ processors, Intel has also pulled the trigger on its latest Z690 motherboard chipset. Using a new LGA1700 socket, some of the most significant advancements with Alder Lake and Z690 include PCIe 5.0 support from the processor, as well as a PCIe 4.0 x8 link from the processor to the chipset. In this article, we’re taking a closer look at over 30+ different DDR4 enabled motherboards designed to not only use the processing power of Alder Lake but offer users a myriad of high-class and premium features.

As we typically do with a new platform launch, we reached out to every motherboard vendor for all the information on its Z690 models, including images, specifications, power delivery information, and features. With new chipset launches, vendors usually have its ‘launch day’ models and models that come later on. In this overview, we’ve compiled all the information we have into a single article with information we’ve received at the time of writing.

For users looking for our overview of DDR5 supported Z690 models, the link can be found below:

The Intel Z690 Motherboard Overview (DDR5): Over 50+ New Models

With the introduction of Intel’s 12th generation Core processors, one of the most significant advancements from the previous generation is that Alder Lake built on the ‘Intel 7’ manufacturing process, includes a hybrid PCIe lane layout. This consists of a total of x16 PCIe 5.0 lanes from the CPU set aside for graphics in either an x16 or x8/x8 configuration, and 4x PCIe 4.0 lanes dedicated to storage devices. Another significant improvement over the previous generation is a new PCIe 4.0 x8 DMI link between the CPU and the Z690 chipset. Previously with 11th gen (Rocket Lake), Intel upheaved it from a PCIe 3.0 x4 uplink on Z490 to a PCIe 3.0 x4 uplink on Z590. With Z690, the uplink is now fully-fledged PCIe 4.0 x8 lanes to interconnect things.

One of the most exciting and perhaps specific improvements is Intel’s first DDR5 supported desktop platform. Intel’s Alder Lake and Z690 combined actually offer support for both DDR5 and DDR4 memory. This means that those motherboard vendors either have to build their motherboards for one or the other, so it’s Z690 with DDR5 or Z690 with DDR4, and no in-between. This article focuses purely on the DDR4 motherboards.

DDR5 versus DDR4 on Intel Alder Lake & Z690

Other features with Z690 include native support for USB 3.2 Gen2x2 (20 Gbps) Type-C connectivity, with the vast majority of Z690 models now opting to include this support at a base level. Intel has also upgraded its networking support at the chipset level, with an integrated Wi-Fi 6E PHY and RF for vendors. However, the majority of the cost and implementation still rely on vendors using Intel solutions through the proprietary CNVi connection. This is why some models include varying levels of Wi-Fi 6/6E CNVi at its disposal as either a feature-boosting move or cost-cutting measure to reduce it.

Intel Z690, Z590, and Z490 Chipset Comparison
Feature Z690 Z590 Z490
Socket LGA1700 LGA1200 LGA1200
PCIe Lanes (CPU) 16 x 5.0
4 x 4.0
20 x 4.0 16 x 3.0
PCIe Lanes (Chipset) 12 x 4.0
16 x 3.0
24 x 3.0 24 x 3.0
PCIe Specification (CPU) 5.0/4.0 4.0 3.0
Memory Support DDR5-4800B
DDR4-3200
DDR4-3200 DDR4-2933
PCIe Config x16
x8/x8
x8/x8/x4
x16
x8/x8
x8/x8/x4
x16
x8/x8
x8/x8+x4
DMI Lanes x8 4.0 x8 3.0 x4 3.0
Max USB 3.2 (Gen2/Gen1) 10/10 6/10 6/10
USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (20 Gbps) Y Y ASMedia
Total USB 14 14 14
Max SATA Ports 8 6 6
Memory Channels (Dual) 2/2 2/2 2/2
Intel Optane Memory Support Y Y Y
Intel Rapid Storage Tech (RST) Y Y Y
Integrated Wi-Fi MAC Wi-Fi 6E Wi-Fi 6 Wi-Fi 6
Intel Smart Sound Y Y Y
Overclocking Support Y Y Y
Intel vPro N N N
ME Firmware 16 15 14
TDP (W) ? 6 6

Compared with previous generations of Intel’s chipsets, the Intel Z690 is based on its 14nm manufacturing process, so it’s similar to previous designs such as Z590 and Z490. Intel retains the same dual-channel memory support as previous and other brand’s desktop platforms. In contrast, native SATA support has been upped to eight SATA slots instead of six of the prior generation.

Focusing on networking, Intel has upgraded to an integrated Wi-Fi 6E MAC over Wi-Fi 6 in the last two previous generations. While Intel states that it includes an integrated 2.5 GbE MAC/PHY, this is a little nonsensical, as wired ethernet still requires a MAC/PHY as an attached PCIe controller. This means regardless of whether a vendor is using a Gigabit, 2.5 GbE, or even 10 GbE, it connects the exact same way to the PCIe interface. 

Looking at the above Intel Z690 chipset block diagram, we can see the PCIe 4.0 x8 DMI interconnecting the processor with the chipset, with 16 x PCIe 5.0 lanes to either one full-length slot (x16) or two full-length slots (x8/x8), with 4 x PCIe 4.0 lanes designated to storage devices such as NVMe M.2 slots. (Ian has confirmed that storage on the main x16 slot is possible if desired.) 

From within the Z690 chipset, it offers various avenues of configurations available to motherboard vendors to use. New for Z690 includes 12 x PCIe 4.0 lanes, with another 16 x PCIe 3.0 lanes as part of the high-speed IO (HSIO). The onus is on motherboard vendors to use these new native PCIe 4.0 lanes as they wish, including through the use of either storage, additional PCIe 4.0 slots, or a mixture of both. Focusing on connectivity, Z690 allows vendors to use up to and include four USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C (20 Gbps) ports, with up to 10 x USB 3.2 G2, 10 x USB 3.2 G1, and up to 14 x USB 2.0 ports. 

Alder Lake & Z690 Overclocking: Base Frequency Versus Turbo Power

Intel is also offering an enhanced overclocking model available with Alder Lake, which takes Processor Base Power (Base) and Maximum Turbo Power (Turbo) into account. The Base is the guaranteed peak power at base frequency which for the Intel Core i9-12900K is set at 125 W, whereas the maximum available Turbo Power is 241 W. Users with a basic understanding of Intel’s former PL1 and PL2 methodology will note that it still exist under the hood – the base power is PL1, whereas Turbo is PL2. Tau, the time for turbo, is practically infinite for the unlocked K processors.

When it comes to overclocking in the current day and age, the main factors in play are still the same: cooling, capability, and power. As we saw with overclocking on numerous Z590 motherboards throughout the year, it was possible to pull nearly 500 W from the wall from the system when testing them. Using figures from our MSI MEG Z590 Ace motherboard review as an example, we were pulling 321 W peak power from the wall at default with CPU load only. In contrast, at 5.2 GHz all-cores with 1.425 V on the CPU VCore, we pulled 485 W. Overclocking with any platform, Intel or even AMD, adequate cooling needs to be considered for the designed core frequency and CPU VCore voltage combination, as well as equally sufficient power headroom from the power supply.

Motherboards Confirmed So Far 

Through our contact with vendors, more than 30+ models are available Z690 using the existing DDR4 type memory. Most of these have currently been announced and detailed, with a small number waiting to be revealed or without specifications to date. While there are more DDR5 enabled models on Z690 at present, there is still a wide variety of DDR4 enabled models available to select from. The main advantage that DDR4 has over DDR5 at present is pricing, with DDR4 seemingly more affordable at present.

At present, there are no E-ATX sized Z690 models with support for DDR4 memory, and we don’t expect this to change either. We do however expect there to be more announcements on other sized models, but we will keep this overview (DDR4), and the DDR5 version which we will update at least weekly with new models and information.

Let’s take a look at the current Z690 product stack with support for DDR4 (at the time of writing):

ASRock

ASRock’s product stack for DDR4 on Z690 is one of the largest of the ‘major’ vendors at launch, with a total of nine. This is more than ASRock’s DDR5 offering, surprisingly. Choice is a big factor here though with ASRock offering ATX, mATX, and mini-ITX models . The most premium of the DDR4 options is perhaps the ASRock Z690 Extreme WIFI 6E and Z690 Steel Legend WIFI 6E models with the latest Wi-Fi 6E CNVi, three PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2, and eight SATA ports.

ASRock Z690 Motherboard Product Stack (DDR4)
Model Size Overview
Link
Review
Link
Price
ASRock Z690 Extreme WIFI 6E ATX Link   $290
ASRock Z690 Extreme ATX Link   $270
ASRock Z690 Steel Legend WIFI 6E ATX Link   TBC
ASRock Z690 Steel Legend ATX Link   $250
ASRock Z690 PG Riptide ATX Link   TBC
ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming 4 ATX Link   $180
ASRock Z690M Phantom Gaming 4 mATX Link   TBC
ASRock Z690M-ITX/ax ITX Link   TBC
ASRock Z690 Pro RS ATX Link   $190

While it remains to be seen if ASRock releases more Z690 models with DDR4 support, there’s plenty of entry-level models to choose from. One that catches our interest is the ASRock Z690M-ITX/ax which is a mini-ITX sized option, but with a Wi-Fi 6E CNVi, and even includes a BIOS Flashback button for users looking for an easy way to flash the board to the latest BIOS version. The ASRock Z690 PG Riptide is on a similar level to the Extreme and Steel Legend models, with eight SATA ports, but without any wireless connectivity. The ASRock Phantom Gaming 4 (ATX) and Z690M Phantom Gaming 4 (mATX) offer a solid and affordable entry point to the Alder Lake platform.

ASUS

It’s clear that ASUS has put most of the focus on users planning to buy DDR5 memory for Alder Lake, but it does have a small selection of DDR4 supported Z690 models. The most premium of these is the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A Gaming WIFI D4 with a Wi-Fi 6 CNVi, USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C support, four PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, as well as a premium SupremeFX ALC4080 HD audio codec and Savitech amplifier pairing for the onboard audio. Its TUF Gaming series occupies the mid-range with a model with WIFI and without, but with four PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2, and dual Type-C connectivity on the rear panel (3.2 G2x2 & G2).

ASUS Z690 Motherboard Product Stack (DDR4)
Model Size Overview
Link
Review
Link
Price
ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A Gaming WIFI D4 ATX Link   $350
ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-Plus WIFI D4 ATX Link   $290
ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-Plus D4 ATX Link   TBC
ASUS Prime Z690-P WIFI D4 ATX Link   TBC
ASUS Prime Z690-P D4 ATX Link   $220
ASUS Prime Z690M Plus D4 mATX Link   $190

Operating as mid-range and entry-level models is the Prime series, with the Z690-P WIFI D4 offering Wi-Fi 6, or without this for a slightly cheaper price. ASUS doesn’t have any DDR4 enabled Z690 models in mini-ITX, but for users looking to build a smaller system with Alder Lake and DDR4, the ASUS Prime Z690M Plus D4 offers three PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, four SATA, and support for DDR4-5333 memory out of the box.

GIGABYTE:

Like in our DDR5 based Z690 overview, GIGABYTE also has the largest stack of DDR4 models with a total of 11 present at the launch of Alder Lake. A lot of GIGABYTE’s DDR4 offerings are essentially duplicates of its DDR5 models, with exception of the GIGABYTE Z690M Elite AX and Elite DDR4 models which are bespoke to DDR4. The AX model has a Wi-Fi 6 CNVi, while the non-WIFI version is a little bit cheaper. GIGABYTE has also made one mini-ITX model available, the GIGABYTE Z690I Aorus Ultra DDR4, with Wi-Fi 6, dual PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 ports, and an advertised 13-phase power delivery.

GIGABYTE Z690 Motherboard Product Stack (DDR4)
Model Size Overview
Link
Review
Link
Price
GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Elite AX DDR4 ATX Link   $270
GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Elite DDR4 ATX Link   TBC
GIGABYTE Z690M Elite AX DDR4 mATX Link   TBC
GIGABYTE Z690M Elite DDR4 mATX Link   TBC
GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Pro DDR4 ATX Link   TBC
GIGABYTE Z690I Aorus Ultra DDR4 ITX Link   $290
GIGABYTE Z690 Aero G DDR4 ATX Link   $290
GIGABYTE Z690 Gaming X DDR4 ATX Link   $230
GIGABYTE Z690 UD AX DDR4 ATX Link   $220
GIGABYTE Z690 UD AC DDR4 ATX Link   TBC
GIGABYTE Z690 UD DDR4 ATX Link   $200

Looking at the mid-range of GIGABYTE’s DDR4 offerings for Alder Lake, the Z690 Aorus Pro DDR4 and the Z690 Aero G DDR4 offer competitive and similar features, but the latter is more targeted towards content creators over gamers. Occupying the entry-level segment of its models is the Ultra Durable (UD) series. Offering three models but with different levels of wireless CNVi support, or without, they all feature three PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C connectivity, and a Realtek RTL8125 GbE controller.

MSI

Despite offering a pretty comprehensive stack for DDR5 memory, its DDR4 range of Z690 models is limited to just five at the time of writing. The most premium of these represents its ‘Performance Gaming’ series – the MPG Z690 Edge WIFI DDR4 with an advertised 18-phase power delivery, four PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, as well as eight SATA ports and an Intel Wi-Fi 6 CNVi. Another mainstay that is available in both DDR5 and DDR4 formats is the Z690 Tomahawk WIFI, which actually drops integrated RGB LEDs in favor of a svelte all-black aesthetic. It’s a solid-looking model with Wi-Fi 6, three PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2, and six SATA which offers an affordable mid-range platform for those upgrading to Alder Lake.

MSI Z690 Motherboard Product Stack (DDR4)
Model Size Overview
Link
Review
Link
Price
MSI MPG Z690 Edge WIFI DDR4 ATX Link   $320
MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk WIFI DDR4 ATX Link   $300
MSI Pro Z690-A WIFI DDR4 ATX Link   $240
MSI Pro Z690-A DDR4 ATX Link   $220
MSI Pro Z690-P DDR4 ATX Link   TBC

Looking further down the stack is the MSI Pro Z690-A WIFI which offers both Wi-Fi 6E and 2.5 gigabit Ethernet, as well as three PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 and six SATA ports. All of MSI’s options include rear-panel USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C connectivity, from the top to the bottom on its DDR4 models, and is a big benefit of the Z690 chipset. The entry-level MSI Pro Z690-P DDR4 offers an affordable entry point onto Alder Lake for those looking to use DDR4 memory, with a solid feature set for a designated price of $220.

Other Z690 Product Stack Options

There are also a small number of Z690 models to consider outside of the major players.

Biostar has two DDR4 enabled Z690 motherboards for the launch of Alder Lake with the Z690A Valkyrie. It has plenty of premium features and a different aesthetic from those outside of the major vendors. Colorful to date has also announced one Z690 model for those looking to use DDR4 memory, the Colorful iGame Z690 Ultra, which targets entry-level users.

Other Z590 Motherboards (DDR4)
Model Size Overview
Link
Review
Link
Price
Biostar Z690A Valkyrie ATX Link   TBC
Biostar Z690GTA ATX Link   TBC
Colorful iGame Z690 Ultra ATX Link   TBC

Each subsequent page is a brief analysis and rundown of each model announced, culminating with a conclusion of board features versus other models.

Occupying the upper end of what ASRock is considering its mid-range is a pair of ‘Extreme’ branded models. ASRock has segmented its Z690 stack well between DDR5 and DDR4 support, which makes it even easier to decipher which is which. The ASRock Z690 Extreme WIFI 6E and Z690 Extreme both share the exact same PCB, same design, same core feature set, but with one subtle difference. The Z690 Extreme WIFI 6E comes with a Wi-Fi 6E CNVi, while the regular model does not. Looking at the design, both Z690 Extreme models include an all-black PCB, with black metallic heatsinks, with integrated RGB LED lighting built into the rear panel cover, the chipset heatsink, and on the right-hand side of the board.

Dominating the lower section of the motherboard are the board’s PCIe and storage slots. The ASRock Z690 Extreme WIFI 6E and Z690 Extreme include one full-length PCIe 5.0 x16, one full-length PCIe 4.0 x4, one full-length PCIe 3.0 x4, and one smaller PCIe 3.0 x1 slot. Storage options consist of three PCIe M.2 slots, two with support for PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 drives, and one with support for both PCIe 3.0 x4 and SATA drives. ASRock is using the Z690 chipsets full allocation of SATA with eight SATA ports, all with support for RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays. Touching on memory, both models include support for DDR4-5000, with a combined capacity of 128 GB across four memory slots.

The only difference between the rear panel of both models is that the Z690 Extreme WIFI 6E includes a Wi-Fi 6E CNVi, while the regular Extreme does not.

Everything else is the same including one USB 3.2 G2 Type-C, one USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, and four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A ports. For users looking for USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, ASRock includes a front panel header for this. Other connectivity includes two Ethernet ports, one powered by a Realtek RTL8125BG 2.5 GbE controller, and the other by an Intel I219-V Gigabit controller. ASRock includes an HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 1.4 video output pairing, while five 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical are powered by a Realtek ALC1220 HD audio codec. Finishing off the rear panel is a BIOS Flashback button and a PS/2 combo port.

Another key series in ASRock’s stack returns, which targets more of the entry-level to mid-range with a ‘lighter’ aesthetic. The ASRock Z690 Steel Legend WIFI 6E (DDR4) and the Z690 Steel Legend (DDR4) is another segmented product range differentiating its models between DDR5 and DDR4 memory compatibility, with the Steel Legend currently only available with support for DDR4. The ASRock Steel Legend series blends a black and urban camouflage printed PCB, with white and silver heatsinks, including elements of RGB LED’s within the rear panel cover, chipset heatsink, and the Steel Legend logo on the right-hand side of the board.

On the PCIe front, there’s one full-length PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, one full-length PCIe 4.0 x4 slot, one full-length PCIe 3.0 x4 slot, and one PCIe 3.0 x1 slot. The Steel Legend models benefit from the full allocation of eight SATA ports from the Z690 chipset, while it also includes three M.2 slots, two with PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 support, and one with PCIe 3.0 x4/SATA support. In the top right-hand corner are four memory slots, with support for DDR4-5000 and a maximum capacity of up to 128 GB.

The ASRock Z690 Steel Legend WIFI 6E model includes a Wi-Fi 6E CNVI, while the regular Z690 Steel Legend does not. This is the only difference between both models, everything else is the same.

On the rear panel, both models include one USB 3.2 G2 Type-C, one USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, and four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A ports. For users looking for USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C support, ASRock includes one front panel header for this. Also on the rear panel is an HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 1.4 video output pairing, while wired networking is handled by a Realtek RTL8125BG 2.5 GbE controller. For onboard audio, ASRock is using a Realtek ALC1220 HD audio codec which powers five 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical output, while a PS/2 combo port and BIOS Flashback button finish off a modest rear panel offering.

From all of ASRock’s offerings supporting the launch of Intel’s 12th generation of Alder Lake processors, the Z690 PG Riptide is perhaps the most premium of its Phantom Gaming series that uses DDR4 memory. Looking at the design of the ASRock Z690 PG Riptide, it has a cool RGB-enabled logo built into the chipset heatsink. It’s using a pair of black power delivery heatsinks, with one of these doubling up as the board’s rear panel cover. As with all of ASRock’s Z690 models, it is including its patent-pending GPU holder, which is designed to reduce sag when used with heavy and long graphics cards.

For PCIe devices, ASRock includes one full-length PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, with a second full-length PCIe 4.0 x4, and three smaller PCIe 3.0 x1 slots. Exploring the board’s storage options, there’s a total of three M.2 slots, with two supporting PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 drives, and one with support for PCIe 3.0 x4 and SATA varieties. There are also eight SATA ports with support for Intel RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays. Located in the top right-hand corner are four memory slots, with support for DDR4-4800, and a combined capacity of 128 GB.

One the rear panel of the ASRock Z690 PG Riptide (DDR4) is one USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, two USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, two USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, and two USB 2.0 ports. For networking, ASRock includes a Killer E3100G 2.5 GbE controller, while the five 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical for the audio are powered by a Realtek ALC897 HD audio codec. Finishing off the rear panel is a single HDMI 2.1 video output, a small BIOS Flashback button, and a PS/2 combo port.

One of ASRock’s more modest and entry-level gaming-focused Z690 models comes via the Z690 Phantom Gaming 4 DDR4. Equipped with an entry-level feature set, and an equally entry-level price point to boot, the ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming 4 DDR4 has one of the more basic looks of all its Z690 models. It uses a primarily black theme with a black and dark grey printed PCB, with separate black metal power delivery heatsinks, with a small RGB enabled chipset heatsinks which users can customize with ASRock’s Polychrome RGB software. There are two versions of this model, one with support for DDR5 memory, and one with support for DDR4 memory; this one supports DDR4 memory only.

Looking at the board’s specifications, there are two full-length PCIe slots, with one full-length PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, one full-length PCIe 4.0 x4 slot, and three smaller PCIe 3.0 x1 slots. Located in the top right-hand corner is the board’s memory slots, with four in total offering support for DDR4-5000, and a combined total of 128 GB. Storage options are relatively basic as expected for a board of this pedigree, with three PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, with one of these also supporting SATA-based drives. The ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming 4 DDR4 also includes just four SATA ports with support for RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays.

On the rear panel is a modest selection of input and output, including one USB 3.2 G2 Type-C, one USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, and two USB 2.0 ports. An Intel I219-V Gigabit Ethernet controller is the board’s only source of networking support, while a Realtek ALC897 powers three 3.5 mm audio jacks. Finishing off the rear panel is a single HDMI port, with a small BIOS Flashback button and a PS/2 combo port for users preferring to use legacy peripherals.

The ASRock Z690M Phantom Gaming 4 (DDR4) is perhaps one of the most basic-looking ASRock Phantom Gaming series models we’ve ever seen, but also one of the most basic of any Z690 model at launch. Despite representing the gaming-focused Phantom Gaming range, the Z690M Phantom Gaming 4 (DDR4) uses a micro-ATX sized PCB, with a modest and entry-level feature set. Looking at the aesthetic, ASRock has gone with a black and grey patterned PCB, with small and thin silver heatsinks keeping the power delivery and chipset cool. ASRock is also advertising the Z690M Phantom Gaming 4 (DDR4) features a 7-phase power delivery, with an 8-pin and 4-pin 12 ATX CPU power input pairing.

Looking at PCIe slot support, ASRock includes two full-length PCIe 4.0 slots that can operate at x16 and x8/x8, with a small PCIe 3.0 x1 slot. The obvious lack of PCIe 5.0 support on any of the full-length slots look to be a cost-cutting measure, as just by looking at the PCB, it’s as basic as it gets for a desktop model. In the top right-hand corner are four memory slots, with support for DDR4-4800, with a combined capacity of up to 128 GB. For storage, there’s two PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, with four SATA ports that include support for RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays.

On the rear panel are two USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, and four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A ports, with three 3.5 mm audio jacks powered by a Realtek ALC897 HD audio codec. Providing networking support is a single Intel I219-V Gigabit Ethernet controller, with a single HDMI 2.1 video output finishing off a very basic and bare rear panel.

Out of all the vendor’s mini-ITX sized options, ASRock is typically hot off the press on providing a varied selection of small form factor offerings at the launch of a new chipset. While the ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 caters primarily to the higher end of what’s available on Z690, the ASRock Z690M-ITX/ax offers incredible value, specifications, and features for users looking to use DDR4 over DDR5 memory. Focusing on the design, the Z690M-ITX/ax follows a black and silver theme, with a black PCB and silver heatsinks, with the power delivery heatsink doubling up as a rear panel cover.

As it’s a mini-ITX sized motherboard, it has just one full-length PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, but it does include two M.2 slots. One of the M.2 slots operates at PCIe 4.0 x4, while the second slot supports both PCIe 4.0 x4 and SATA drives. For conventional SATA-based storage and devices such as optical media, ASRock includes four SATA ports which include support for RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays. There are just two memory slots available for users, with support for up to DDR4-5000 and a combined capacity of up to 64 GB.

On the rear panel is a single USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C port, with a second G2x2 Type-C available via a front panel header. Also featured are four USB 3.2 G2 Type-A and two USB 2.0 ports. Networking support consists of two Ethernet ports, one powered by a Realtek RTL8125BG 2.5 GbE controller and a second by an Intel I229-V Gigabit controller. ASRock also includes a Wi-Fi 6E CNVi which offers support for both wireless and BT 5.2 devices. For users looking to use integrated graphics, there is an HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 1.4 video output pairing, while three 3.5 mm audio jacks are powered by a Realtek ALC897 HD audio codec. Finishing off the rear panel is a small BIOS Flashback button.

The Pro RS series is a completely new model from ASRock which is debuting on Intel’s Z690 platform. It is one of its simplest models in terms of aesthetics and features and targets users on a budget looking to make the most of Alder Lakes big P and little E cores. Focusing on the aesthetic, the ASRock Z690 Pro RS has a black and grey patterned PCB, with black heatsinks, and an RGB enabled chipset heatsink.

The ASRock Z690 Pro RS has three full-length slots, including one operating at PCIe 5.0 x16, one at PCIe 4.0 x4, and one at PCIe 3.0 x4, with one smaller PCIe 3.0 x1 slot. The Pro RS, the Steel Legend, and Extreme Z690 DDR4 models share pretty much the same feature set, with eight SATA ports, and three M.2 slots. The M.2 slot array includes two with support for PCIe 4.0 x4 drives, with one operating at PCIe 3.0 x4 with support for SATA too. For memory, there are four memory slots capable of supporting DDR4-5000, with a combined capacity of up to 128 GB.

The rear panel has no Type-C connectivity, but ASRock does include a front panel USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C header. In terms of what is on the rear panel, there are two USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, two USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, and two USB 2.0 ports. ASRock includes a pair of video outputs for integrated graphics users including an HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 1.4 output, with a Realtek ALC897 HD audio codec powering three 3.5 mm audio jacks. Networking is handled by a single Realtek RTL8125BG 2.5 GbE controller, while the Z690 Pro RS also includes a PS/2 combo port and a small BIOS Flashback button.

The ASUS ROG Strix Z690A Gaming WIFI D4 is essentially the ROG Striz Z690-F Gaming, but with a silver aesthetic instead of black, and has support for DDR4 memory instead of DDR5. Looking at the design, ASUS has gone with silver brushed aluminum heatsinks and covers, with a graffiti-styled chipset heatsink, and a nice graffiti-enabled RGB design built into the rear panel cover. A lot of the board is covered up due to the large rear panel cover, the power delivery heatsinks, and numerous M.2 heatsinks.

The ROG Strix Z690-A Gaming WIFI D4 has one full-length PCIe 5.0 x16, one full-length PCIe 3.0 x4, and one PCIe 3.0 x1 slot. Storage options include four PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, with six SATA ports capable of supporting RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays. On the memory front, there are four memory slots, with support for DDR5-6400 and a combined capacity of 128 GB.

On the rear panel is one USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, one USB 3.2 G2 Type-C, two USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, and two USB 2.0 ports. Similar to the ROG E, and F models, the A also includes an HDMI and DisplayPort video output pairing. There are also five 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical output are powered by a SupremeFX ALC4080 HD audio codec and Savitech SV3H712 amplifier pairing, while networking is handled by an Intel I225-V 2.5 GbE controller and Intel Wi-Fi 6 CNVi.

As it currently stands at the time of writing, ASUS’s more wallet-friendly TUF Gaming series is limited to support for DDR4 memory. Whether ASUS intends to launch TUF Gaming models in the future with DDR5 support remains to be seen, however. The ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-Plus WIFI D4 and Z690-Plus D4 share the same core feature set, PCB, aesthetic, and layout, with the only difference being that the Wi-Fi model is using an Intel Wi-Fi 6 CNVi. For the aesthetic, ASUS has gone with a black and grey patterned PCB, black and grey alternating memory slots, with black brushed aluminum power delivery heatsinks, and a matte black rear panel cover and chipset heatsink. There’s limited RGB LED lighting with a set of LEDs built-in underneath the chipset heatsink.

Looking at expansion support, the TUF Gaming Z690-Plus WIFI and Z690-Plus include one full-length PCIe 5.0 x16, one full-length PCIe 3.0 x4, one half-length PCIe 3.0 x4, and two smaller PCIe 3.0 x1 slots. Storage options include four PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, with four SATA ports with support for RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays. In the top right-hand corner is a total of four memory slots, with support for DDR4-5333 and a maximum capacity of up to 128 GB.

The ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-Plus Gaming WIFI includes an Intel Wi-Fi 6 CNVI, which is the only difference between both models. Aside from that, both Z690 TUF Gaming models share the same connectivity on the rear panel including one USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, one USB 3.2 G2 Type-C, two USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, and four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A ports. Powering the audio is an unspecified Realtek HD audio codec which includes five 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical output, while ASUS also includes a DisplayPort and HDMI video output pairing. Wired networking capability comes via a single Intel I225-V 2.5 GbE controller.

Sitting at the entry-level of the Z690 models from ASUS for the launch of Intel’s 12th generation of desktop processors are the ASUS Prime Z690-P WIFI D4 and Prime Z690-P D4. Both of these models share an identical PCB and aesthetic, with all the same features except one. The Z690-P WIFI includes an Intel Wi-Fi 6 CNVi, while the Z690-P does not. Focusing on the design, the Prime Z690-P WIFI and Z690-P include a black and white patterned PCB, with simplistic silver heatsinks with diagonal lines that fit and match with the rest of the PCB. There is no fancy RGB LED lighting integrated into any section of the board, but ASUS does include three addressable RGB headers and two Aura RGB headers for users to add their own.

Included for PCIe support is a total of five slots that consists of one full-length PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, one full-length PCIe 4.0 x4 slot, two full-length PCIe 3.0 x4 slots, and one smaller PCIe 3.0 x1 slot. For storage, there’s three PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, with one of these supporting SATA drives too. Both the ASUS Prime Z690-P WIFI and Z690-P also include four straight-angled SATA ports that can support RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays. ASUS has also provided four memory slots that are capable of supporting up to DDR4-5333, with a combined capacity of up to 128 GB.


The ASUS Prime Z690-P WIFI D4 rear panel

The only difference between both the Prime Z690-P WIFI D4 and Z690-P D4 is that the WIFI version includes an Intel Wi-Fi 6 CNVi, while the other does not. Everything else is the same, including one USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, one USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, two USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, and two USB 2.0 ports. There’s also one Realtek RTL8125 2.5 GbE port, a PS/2 combo port, and five 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical output powered by an unspecified Realtek ALC HD audio codec.

The ASUS Prime Z690M Plus D4 is essentially a micro-ATX sized version of the ASUS Prime Z690-P D4 model. It shares a very similar design, with silver heatsinks, a black and light grey patterned PCB, and it uses a small silver heatsink to keep the chipset cool. The Prime Z690M Plus D4 uses a modest feature set, with all the benefits of the 12th generation processors and the Z690 chipset, including PCIe 5.0 support, USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, but in a modestly affordable micro-ATX sized package.

Looking at PCIe support, ASUS includes one full-length PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, one full-length PCIe 4.0 x4 slot, and two smaller PCIe 3.0 x1 slots. In the top right-hand corner are four memory slots that have support for DDR4-5333, with a maximum combined capacity of 128 GB. Focusing on storage options, there are a total of three M.2 slots, with all three supporting PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 drives, while one of these also allows SATA-based M.2 drives to be used. For conventional SATA devices, ASUS includes four SATA ports, with two featuring right-angled connectors and two with straight angled connectors.

On the rear panel of the ASUS Prime Z690M Plus D4 is a variety of input and output. This includes one USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, one USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, and two USB 2.0 ports. ASUS includes an HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 1.4 video output pairing, with three 3.5 mm audio jacks powered by an unspecified Realtek HD audio codec. Last but not least is the board’s networking connectivity, which consists of a single Intel I229-V Gigabit Ethernet controller.

Despite not having a large stack at the moment, Biostar has launched three Z690 models for Intel’s Alder Lake desktop platform. Representing one of two premium Z690 models at launch is the Biostar Z690A Valkyrie, which shares the same PCB and primary specifications as the non-A variant. The Biostar Z690A Valkyrie has an ‘anime’ look of sorts, with a primarily black theme and colorful elements with RGB enabled backlighting in the rear panel cover and chipset heatsink. The Z690A Valkyrie combines a decent controller set, along with all the typical Z690 and 12th gen features such as PCIe 5.0, and opts for DDR4 memory support over the DDR5 supported non-A Valkyrie model.

The Biostar Z690 Valkyrie has plenty of PCIe slot expansion slot real estate, including two full-length PCIe 5.0 slots that can operate at x16 and x8/x8, with a third full-length PCIe 4.0 x4 slot. Storage options include a total of four PCIe M.2 slots, including three PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, one PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot, and eight SATA ports. Biostar also includes four memory slots which can be found in the top right-hand corner, with support for DDR4-5000 and a maximum capacity of up to 128 GB.

On the rear panel is a high-speed USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C port and a total of seven USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, with plenty of options for integrated graphics. For those users, Biostar includes two DisplayPort 1.4 and two HDMI 2.0 video outputs which shows lots of potential integrated GPU support. On the networking front, there’s one Intel I225-V 2.5 GbE port, and although it has the connectors for a Wi-Fi 6E CNVi, Biostar isn’t clear on whether the Z690A Valkyrie actually includes the CNVi; the rear panel says yes, but the specifications say no Wi-Fi 6E card is included. Finishing off the rear panel are five 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical output powered by a Realtek ALC1220 HD audio codec, as well as a PS/2 combo port.

Out of the trio of Z690 motherboards from Biostar at the launch of Intel’s 12th generation of Alder Lake processors, the Biostar Z690GTA is one of just two models with support for DDR4 memory. While it’s applicable to say the Z690GTA is perhaps the more affordable of the three, it still has a decent feature set and controller selection which puts it firmly in the mid-range to the upper end of Z690 models with DDR4 support. The aesthetic is very out there when compared to other Z690 models, with different shades of blue dominating the design of the heatsinks on a background of black. While it may look like there are RGB LEDs integrated into the rear panel cover and chipset heatsink, Biostar hasn’t specified if it does.

The Biostar Z690GTA has one full-length PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, with a second full-length slot electronically locked down to PCIe 4.0 x4, and two smaller PCIe 3.0 x1 slots. Storage options consist of three M.2 slots, two with support for PCIe 4.0 x4 drives, and one with support for PCIe 3.0 x4 and SATA varieties. Biostar includes eight SATA ports, but only four of these feature support for RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays. Located in the top-right hand corner are four memory slots, with support for DDR4-5000, and can accommodate up to 128 GB of capacity.

Looking at the rear panel of the Biostar Z690GTA, it includes one USB 3.2 G2 Type-C, five USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, and two USB 2.0 ports. Biostar displays a Wi-Fi 6E antenna, but in the specifications, it does say that it doesn’t include one, but it does include a Realtek RTL8125B 2.5 GbE controller. For integrated graphics, Biostar includes one HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.4 and D-sub video output trifecta, while three 3.5 mm audio jacks are powered by a Realtek ALC1220 HD audio codec. Finishing off the rear panel is a PS/2 keyboard and mouse combo port.

Colorful which primarily targets the Asian market also have a model ready for the launch of Alder Lake. Typically Colorful’s options are limited but very funky in design and the latest Colorful iGame Z690 Ultra (DDR4) is no exception to this. Equipped with a very modest range of features and controllers, it’s aimed at the entry-level, but it has plenty of pizazz. On the design side, Colorful has gone with a white, silver, and grey aesthetic, with multiple areas of integrated RGB LED lighting. The iGame Z690 Ultra (DDR4) features a wave-themed design on its power delivery heatsinks, with a U-shaped M.2 and chipset heatsink combined. Colorful is also advertising a 19-phase (18+1) power delivery, with dual 8-pin 12 V ATX CPU power inputs.

The only difference between the iGame Z690 Ultra D5 and the Z690 Ultra is the latter has support for DDR4 memory, while the D5 model signifies that it supports DDR5 memory. Other than memory support, both models share the same feature, controller set, and aesthetics throughout.

Looking at the feature set, Colorful isn’t clear here on the expansion slots, as they sent us details with PCIe 4.0 and PCIe 3.0 slots, despite Alder Lake and the Z690 chipset offering PCIe 5.0 support. The top two full-length slots (PCIe 5.0/4.0) can operate at x16 and x8/x8, while the board also includes a half-length PCIe 3.0 x4 and two PCIe 3.0 x1 slots. Storage options include three PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, with six SATA ports capable of supporting RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays. Looking at memory support, Colorful has only given us compatibility of speeds of DDR4-3200, which could mean it has yet to QVL list various memory kits, but we do know the four memory slots can accommodate 128 GB of capacity. 

While we don’t currently have a rear panel image for the Colorful iGame Z690 Ultra (DDR4), we know that it includes one USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, four USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, and two USB 2.0 ports. Networking is handled by an Intel I225-V 2.5 GbE controller and unspecified Wi-Fi 6 CNVi, while Colorful lists an 8-channel HD audio codec for the onboard audio.

We will update this page when we receive more information.

Out of GIGABYTE’s DDR4 supported Z690 options, the most premium comes via the Z690 Aorus Elite AX DDR4 and Z690 Aorus Elite DDR4. The GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Elite AX and Elite both feature a mid-range level of features, including plenty of M.2 support and support for DDR4 memory. Looking at the design, GIGABYTE has gone with a primarily black layout with a dark silver contrasting aesthetic. There is a small element of RGB LED lighting built into the rear panel cover, with a strip creating an underglow effect on the right-hand side of the board.

Dominating the lower section of the board are the PCIe slots, with one full-length PCIe 5.0 x16 and two full-length PCIe 3.0 x4 slots. Sandwiched in between and just above the PCIe 5.0 x16 slot are the board’s M.2 slots, with a combined total of four, all of which are PCIe 4.0 x4 compatible. GIGABYTE also includes six SATA ports that support Intel RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays. For memory, there’s a total of four memory slots with support for DDR4-5333 and a maximum combined capacity of 128 GB. 


The GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Elite AX DDR4 rear panel with Wi-Fi 6

On the rear panel of the Z690 Aorus Elite AX DDR4 model, GIGABYTE includes an Intel Wi-Fi 6 CNVi, while the standard Elite omits this. Everything else is shared across both Elite models including one USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, two USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, three USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, and four USB 2.0 ports. The integrated audio offers two 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical output, while an HDMI and DisplayPort video output pairing allows users to utilize Intel’s integrated graphics. Finishing off the rear panel is an Intel I225-V 2.5 GbE controller.

While there is just one micro-ATX sized model on the Z690 chipset with DDR5 support, the majority of what’s available in terms of micro-ATX can be found with DDR4 support. One of these is the GIGABYTE Z690M Aorus Elite AX DDR4, which is the smaller sibling of the full-sized Z690 Aorus Elite AX DDR4 model. Both of the Z690 Aorus Elite AX DDR4 models share a similar feature set and aesthetic, although the micro-ATX version uses a lighter black rear panel cover than the ATX model. The GIGABYTE Z690M Aorus Elite AX DDR4 also omits any integrated RGB, unlike the bigger variant which does.

The only difference between the GIGABYTE Z690M Aorus Elite AX and the Z690M Aorus Elite is the regular Elite omits any form of wireless CNVi. Everything else down to the controllers, rear I/O connectivity, and aesthetic is identical.

Due to its smaller size, there’s a constraint on PCIe support, with the board featuring just two full-length PCIe slots, including one operating at PCIe 5.0 x16 and the other electronically locked down to PCIe 3.0 x4. Size hasn’t limited memory support, however, as the board has four slots in total with support for DDR4-5333 and a total combined capacity of 128 GB. There are also storage options aplenty with three PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots present, although only one of these features an M.2 heatsink, while six SATA ports with right-angled connectors can also provide RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 array support.

Looking at rear panel connectivity, the GIGABYTE Z690M Aorus Elite AX DDR4 includes one USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-A, one USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, and four USB 2.0 ports. Users looking to utilize Intel’s integrated graphics can use the HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 1.4 video output pairing, while onboard audio options include two 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical output which are powered by an unspecified Realtek HD audio codec. GIGABYTE includes an Intel AX201 Wi-Fi 6 CNVi which adds both wireless and BT 5.2 device support, with a single Intel I225-V 2.5 GbE controller providing wired networking access.

Providing options for small form factor users, there is always a large gap between the number of ATX and smaller form factors at any given chipset launch. The GIGABYTE Z690I Aorus Ultra DDR4 is the smaller sibling of the ATX sized Z690 Ultra, and as such, follows a similar principle in terms of its controller set and aesthetic. Along the right-hand side of the PCB creating an underglow effect is a strip of RGB LEDs, while the board has a black and silver theme with a grey and black patterned PCB. GIGABYTE is also advertising a 10-phase design for the CPU, with the latest 105 A premium power stages.

As this is a mini-ITX sized motherboard, the Aorus Z690I Ultra has just one full-length PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, with dual PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots. For conventional storage, GIGABYTE includes just two SATA ports, with support for RAID 0, and 1 array. Located to the right-hand side of the LGA1700 socket is a pair of memory slots, which can support up to DDR4-5333, with a combined capacity of up to 64 GB. 

Looking at rear panel connectivity, GIGABYTE includes one USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, three USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, two USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, and two USB 2.0 ports. Users looking to use Intel’s integrated graphics can do so via one HDMI and one DisplayPort video output pairing, while onboard audio support consists of two 3.5 mm audio jacks powered by a Realtek ALC4080 HD audio codec. Finishing off the rear panel is a single Intel I225-V 2.5 GbE controller and Intel AX201 Wi-Fi 6 CNVi pairing, while GIGABYTE also includes a small Q-Flash BIOS Flashback button.

The GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Pro DDR4 offers a solid entry point into the Aorus series, with a more modest feature set when compared to the Z690 Aorus Master. The design is also similar, but the Z690 Aorus Pro opts for a simpler design that consists of black and silver heatsinks throughout. GIGABYTE does include a small amount of integrated RGB LED lighting that can be found built into the rear panel cover.

Looking at the feature set, the GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Pro includes one full-length PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, with two full-length PCIe 3.0 x4 slots. The Pro also includes plenty of storage options, including three PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots and one PCIe 3.0 x4 slot, with six SATA ports with support for RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays. In the top right-hand corner are four memory slots, with support for DDR4-5000, and a combined capacity of up to 128 GB. 

On the rear panel, GIGABYTE includes one USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, four USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, and four USB 2.0 ports. The board is using an Intel I225-V 2.5 GbE controller with an unspecified Wi-Fi 6 CNVi, which offers a modest networking configuration. Integrated audio consists of two 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical output powered by an unspecified HD audio codec.

Similar to GIGABYTE’s Z690 Aero D which has support for DDR5 memory, GIGABYTE has also launched a content-creator focused model for users planning to use DDR4 memory with Intel’s Alder Lake. The GIGABYTE Z690 Aero G DDR4 has a more simplistic design, with a contrasting black and silver look throughout. Unlike the DDR5 supported Z690 Aero D, the Z690 Aero G DDR4 does include integrated RGB LED lighting, including a strip built into the rear panel cover, and more RGB LED lighting going diagonally across the chipset heatsink.

Focusing on PCIe support, the GIGABYTE Z690 Aero G DDR4 includes one full-length PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, with two full-length PCIe 3.0 x4 slots. Storage options include four PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, with six SATA ports capable of supporting Intel RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays. In terms of memory support, there are four memory slots located in the top right-hand corner, which can support up to DDR4-5333, with a combined capacity of up to 128 GB.

The rear panel of the GIGABYTE Z690 Aero G DDR4 is spearheaded by dual USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, two USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, and two USB 2.0 ports. Networking options consist of an Intel I225-V 2.5 GbE controller and an Intel AX-201 Wi-Fi 6 CNVi, with two 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical output providing basic audio access. Finishing off the rear panel is a single HDMI 2.1 video output and a DisplayPort video input.

Out of all of GIGABYTE’s gaming-centric Z690 options, the GIGABYTE Z690 Gaming X DDR4 is perhaps the most basic from the brand in terms of features, but it looks very stylish for an ‘entry-level’ gaming model. From top to bottom, the GIGABYTE Z690 Gaming X DDR4 is decked out in gunmetal grey, with a large power delivery heatsink, and plenty of M.2 heatsinks that amalgamate into the chipset heatsink; a very consistent design throughout. There’s also a small element of integrated RGB LED lighting which can be found at the right-hand side of the board and provides a sort of an underglow effect.

Looking at connectivity, GIGABYTE includes one full-length PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, with two full-length PCIe 3.0 x4 slots. Located in and around the PCIe slot area is the board’s M.2 real estate, with GIGABYTE with an impressive total of four PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots. There are also six SATA ports on the right-hand side with support for Intel RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays. Located in the top-right corner are the board’s memory slots, with GIGABYTE opting for four in total with support for DDR4-5333 and support for up to 128 GB of capacity.

On the rear panel of the GIGABYTE Z690 Gaming X DDR4, there’s one USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, two USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, three USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, and four USB 2.0 ports. The board omits Wi-Fi but does include an Intel I225-V 2.5 GbE controller which is the minimum specification on LAN we’ve seen on Z690 so far. Onboard audio options consist of two 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical output, with one HDMI and one DisplayPort video output pairing allowing users to leverage integrated graphics.

Moving onto GIGABYTE’s entry-level Z690 models with support for DDR4 memory, we have three near-identical representatives from its Ultra Durable series (UD). All three GIGABYTE Z690 UD DDR4 based models feature the same black and grey aesthetic, as well as the same core feature set. The only difference between the three comes in the level of wireless CNVi it includes.

  • GIGABYTE Z690 UD AX DDR4 = Intel AX201 Wi-Fi 6 CNVi
  • GIGABYTE Z690 UD AC DDR4 = Intel Wi-Fi AC 9560 CNVi
  • GIGABYTE Z690 UD DDR4 = No CNVi

Other than the wireless networking configuration, all three GIGABYTE Z690 UD models are exactly the same.

Looking at the expansion slot support of all three models, GIGABYTE includes one full-length PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, one full-length PCIe 3.0 x4 slot, one full-length PCIe 3.0 x1 slot, with three smaller PCIe 3.0 x1 slots. Storage options consist of three M.2 slots, with all three conforming to PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2, while a total of six SATA ports include support for RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays. The DDR4 versions of the Z690 UD AX, Z690 UD AC, and Z690 UD all come with four memory slots, with support for DDR4-5333, with a combined capacity of up to 128 GB.

As mentioned at the top of the page, the only difference between the three UD models is the level of Wi-Fi CNVi included, although the regular Z690 UD omits any form. Across all three models are one USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, one USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, and four USB 2.0 ports. There are three 3.5 mm audio jacks powered by an unspecified Realtek HD audio codec, while GIGABYTE does include a DisplayPort and HDMI video output for users planning on using Intel’s integrated graphics. All three models include one Realtek RTL8125 2.5 GbE controller, while a PS/2 combo port for legacy peripherals finishes off the modest rear panels.

The MSI MPG Z690 Edge WIFI DDR4 motherboard is very similar to the DDR5 supported MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WIFI in both some of the specifications and aesthetics. The primary difference is the Z690 Edge WIFI DDR4 supports DDR4 memory as the naming and model number suggests. Looking at the design, the MPG Z690 Edge WIFI DDR4 includes a large black rear panel cover, with an RGB illuminated MSI Dragon logo, with more RGB LEDs found underneath the chipset heatsink. The Edge WIFI DDR4 has an all-black theme with a contrasting mix of shading, with an all-black PCB. MSI is also advertising that the MPG Z690 Edge WIFI DDR4 features a premium direct 16+1+1 power delivery.

Dominating the lower portion of the board are the PCIe slots. MSI includes one full-length PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, two full-length PCIe 3.0 slots electronically locked down to x4, while MSI also includes one smaller PCIe 3.0 x1 slot. For storage, MSI includes four PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, each with M.2 heatsink coverage, as well as eight SATA ports, Six of these support RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays, while the other two are powered by an ASMedia ASM1061 SATA controller. Located in the top right-hand corner of the board are four memory slots, which can support up to DDR4-5200 with a maximum capacity of up to 128 GB.

On the rear panel are one USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, five USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, and two USB 2.0 ports. Powering the onboard audio which consists of five 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical output is a Realtek ALC4080 HD audio codec while networking options consist of an Intel Wi-Fi 6 CNVi and Intel I225-V 2.5 GbE controller. MSI also includes a pair of video outputs consisting of an HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 1.4, while a small BIOS Flashback button finishes off the rest of what’s on the rear panel.

Perhaps one of the most bang for buck motherboard series in recent times is back for Z690, the Tomahawk. The MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk WIFI DDR4 includes a fairly premium feature set, but at a very reasonable price point, which puts it firmly in the mid-range of models. Looking at the aesthetics, the Tomahawk features an all-black design with matte and metallic contrasts throughout the rear panel cover, M.2 heatsinks, and the chipset heatsink for a two-toned look. Much like its Unify series, the Tomahawk drops integrated RGB LED lighting, but there’s plenty of scope for users to add their own through the use of internal headers.

Focusing on PCIe support, the MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk WIFI DDR4 has one full-length PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, one full-length PCIe 3.0 x16 slot, and one full-length PCIe 3.0 x4 slot, as well as one PCIe 3.0 x1 slot. Storage on the Tomahawk consists of three PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, one PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot, and six SATA ports capable of supporting Intel RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays. For memory, MSI includes four memory slots capable of supporting up to DDR4-5200, with a total capacity of up to 128 GB.

On the rear panel of the MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk WIFI DDR4 is one USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, three USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, two USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, and two USB 2.0 ports. Focusing on networking, MSI is using an Intel I225-V 2.5 GbE controller, with an unspecified Wi-Fi 6 CNVi offering both wireless and BT 5.2 compatibility. Users will find an HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 1.4 video output pairing, as well as five 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical output, and a small BIOS Flashback button.

The MSI Pro series of motherboards represent a more modest pathway to the Z690 chipset, with a lower entry-level price, more modest features when compared to the MPG series, but on a similar level to its MAG gaming-focused series. Both the MSI Pro Z690-A WIFI DDR4 and the Pro Z690-A DDR4 share the same aesthetic and core feature set, which includes a primarily black color theme with a professional-looking silver strip going along the rear panel cover. As the Pro series is aimed at professional users and functionality over style, MSI hasn’t included integrated RGB LED lighting. The only difference between both models is the WIFI model includes a networking CNVi, while the standard Z690-A does not. 

Looking at PCIe support, both models include one full-length PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, two full-length PCIe 3.0 slots but MSI hasn’t shared the configuration, and a smaller PCIe 3.0 x1 slot. Storage options include three PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, with one PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot and six SATA ports, which support RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays. In the top right-hand corner of the board are four memory slots that are capable of supporting up to DDR5-6400, with a maximum combined capacity of 128 GB.

Most of the input and output on the Pro Z690-A WIFI DDR4 and Pro Z690-A DDR4 is the same including one Intel I225-V 2.5 GbE controller, and the WIFI model does include an Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E CNVi. The rest includes one USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, one USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, two USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, and four USB 2.0 ports. For integrated graphics, there’s one HDMI 2.1 and one DisplayPort 1.4 video output pairing, while an unspecified HD audio codec controls six 3.5 mm audio jacks. Finishing off the rear panel is a PS/2 combo port for legacy peripherals and a small BIOS Flashback button.

As it stands, the MSI Pro Z690-P is the entry-level model for users looking to utilize Intel Alder Lake’s power, but for a much lower price than some other Z690 models on the market. Due to this, the MSI Pro Z690-P DDR4 has a modest feature set and aesthetic, with small power delivery heatsinks, a combined rear panel cover and VRM heatsink, and a small chipset heatsink. The design follows a primarily black color theme, with a grey and black printed PCB. 

Dominating the relatively bare PCB, the MSI Pro Z690-P DDR4 has one full-length PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, with one full-length PCIe 3.0 x4 slot, and three PCIe 3.0 x1 slots. Storage options are an obvious sacrifice on this model compared to other Z690 boards, with two PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, four SATA ports with support for RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays, as well as one M.2 2230 Key-E slot for users looking to add a wireless CNVi. Located in the top right-hand corner are four memory slots, with support for DDR4-5200 and a combined capacity of up to 128 GB.

Despite the entry-level status of the Z690-P DDR4, it does include one USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C port which is good to see, as well as four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, and two USB 2.0 ports. Users looking to utilize Intel’s integrated graphics can use one of two video outputs consisting of one HDMI 1.4b and one DisplayPort 1.4 output. For networking, MSI is using one Realtek RTL8125BG 2.5 GbE controller, with five 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical output providing plenty of audio options.

Looking at selecting the right Z690 motherboard, there are 55+ models with support for DDR5 memory, and currently over 30+ with support for DDR4 to choose from. Our testing in our Intel 12th Gen Core i9-12900K review showed clear trade-offs in terms of performance between DDR5 and DDR4 memory at the rated JEDEC speeds for each platform, eg DDR4-3200 vs DDR5-4800. It is clear that DDR5 performs better in certain scenarios than DDR4, but DDR4 memory offers much better value overall at the current pricing levels. That’s also only at JEDEC, and users with high speed DDR4 memory kits could use them forward in a new Z690 DDR4 system. That being said, DDR4 is now an ending standard, and DDR5 is the future.

On the offerings, some vendors offer the same model in either DDR5 or DDR4 flavors, making a simple swap in the design. All of the Z690 models a;sp benefit from the same core chipset advancements. This includes a new high-speed PCIe 4.0 x8 link to the processor. This enables double the bandwidth for connecting hardware, which is a bonus as the chipset now supports PCIe 4.0 connectivity for storage and other add-in cards. Intel has added native USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C support, with vendors now capable of putting up to four of these on any given board. The Z690 chipset now includes a Wi-Fi 6E MAC as well.

Aside from selecting which memory type to go for, the common theme from vendors is that its DDR5 enabled Z690 models are reserved for its flagship, premium, and mid-range models, whereas the DDR4 variants occupy both the mid-range and entry-level. This makes sense from a value standpoint, as it’s likely that someone who might spend upwards of $400 on a Z690 motherboard will also want the latest DDR5 memory.

While lighter on some core fundamental features such as high-end 10 GbE networking and Thunderbolt 4, there are plenty of variables to make a well-informed purchase with. Some of the Z690 DDR4 models include four M.2 slots, some with eight SATA, and even a small handful with more than five USB 3.2 G2 Type-A ports on the rear panel. Whatever the variable, most models include USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C connectivity, either via rear panel or a front panel header, with the vast majority also opting for 2.5 GbE and either Wi-Fi 6 at the very least. Some models have been duplicated by vendors to either include Wi-Fi or not, which offers a small cost saving for those users who are adamant they don’t want the wireless connectivity at all.

Regardless of what needs or specific requirements a user has for a new system, Z690 models with DDR4 support might not have top-tier networking, or any models representing a high-end or flagship offering, but there’s plenty for users to like. This includes 2.5 GbE networking as pretty much the new normal, solid amounts of rear panel USB connectivity, and up to four PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots on some of the pricier models. Below is a list of features with the corresponding model which has said feature. This is to make selecting a new Z690 (with DDR4) easier based on specific features:

Choosing the Right Z690 (DDR4) Motherboard
          If You Need                  Then The Options Are          Size Price
10 or 5 Gigabit Ethernet No Z690 DDR4 model has this
 
4 or more M.2 Slots ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A Gaming WIFI D4 ATX $350
  ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-Plus WIFI D4 ATX $290
  ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-Plus D4 ATX TBC
  Biostar Z690A Valkyrie ATX TBC
  GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Elite AX DDR4 ATX $270
  GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Elite DDR4 ATX TBC
  GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Pro DDR4 ATX TBC
  GIGABYTE Z690 Aero G DDR4 ATX $290
  GIGABYTE Z690 Gaming X DDR4 ATX $230
  MSI MPG Z690 Edge WIFI DDR4 ATX $320
 
8 or more SATA Ports ASRock Z690 PG Riptide ATX TBC
  ASRock Z690 Extreme WIFI 6E  ATX $290
  ASRock Z690 Extreme ATX $270
  ASRock Z690 Steel Legend WIFI 6E ATX TBC
  ASRock Z690 Steel Legend ATX $250
  ASRock Z690 Pro RS ATX $190
  Biostar Z690A Valkyrie ATX TBC
  Biostar Z690GTA ATX TBC
  MSI MPG Z690 Edge WIFI ATX $320
 
5 or more USB 3.2 G2 Type-A Biostar Z690A Valkyrie ATX TBC
  Biostar Z690GTA ATX TBC
  MSI MPG Z690 Edge WIFI ATX $320
 
Thunderbolt 4 No Z690 DDR4 model has this
 
BIOS Flashback Button ASRock Z690 PG Riptide ATX TBC
  ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming 4 DDR4 ATX $180
  ASRock Z690 Extreme WIFI 6E ATX $290
  ASRock Z690 Extreme ATX $270
  ASRock Z690 Steel Legend WIFI 6E ATX TBC
  ASRock Z690 Steel Legend ATX $250
  ASRock Z690M-ITX/ax ATX TBC
  ASRock Z690 Pro RS ATX $190
  GIGABYTE Z690I Aorus Ultra DDR4 ITX $290
  MSI MPG Z690 Edge WIFI  ATX $320
  MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk WIFI DDR4 ATX $300
  MSI Pro Z690-A WIFI DDR4 ATX $240
  MSI Pro Z690-A DDR4 ATX $220
 
E-ATX None
 
Micro-ATX ASRock Z690M Phantom Gaming 4 mATX TBC
  ASUS Prime Z690M Plus D4 mATX $190
  GIGABYTE Z690M Elite AX DDR4 mATX TBC
  GIGABYTE Z690M Elite DDR4 mATX TBC
 
Mini-ITX ASRock Z690M-ITX/ax ITX TBC
  GIGABYTE Z690I Aorus Ultra DDR4 ITX $290

In previous chipset overviews, we’ve highlighted the differences in what boards come with which HD audio codec to drive the onboard audio. With the Z690 models, some models still aren’t listing which codec they are using, which is disappointing. ASUS is the odd one out as it is using its SupremeFX version of the corresponding Realtek ALC HD audio codecs across its more expensive models. The main theme throughout the Z690 models with DDR4 support is value.

The primary audio HD audio codec of choice for most vendors here is the Realtek ALC897. Some of the more premium models include the Realtek ALC1220 HD audio codec, while just three are using the latest ALC4080 HD audio codec. Realtek hasn’t officially unveiled the specifications of the ALC4080, but the only difference between the Realtek ALC4080 and ALC1220 codec is how it connects to the motherboard.

As some models have yet to specify which audio codec it is using (mostly GIGABYTE and MSI), we will list below what we know so far:

Z690 (DDR4) Motherboard Audio
Codec Boards
Realtek ALC897 Almost Everything, Except The Following
 
Realtek ALC1220 ASRock Z690 Extreme WIFI 6E
  ASRock Z690 Extreme
  ASRock Z690 Steel Legend WIFI 6E
  ASRock Z690 Steel Legend
  Biostar Z690A Valkyrie
  Biostar Z690GTA
 
Realtek ALC4080 ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A Gaming WIFI D4
  GIGABYTE Z690I Aorus Ultra DDR4
  MSI MPG Z690 Gaming Edge WIFI
 

One of the main updates to the Z690 chipset is an integrated Wi-Fi 6E MAC, which a lot of vendors have chosen to use. The Wi-Fi 6E CNVi is designed to allow users to use the new 6 GHz Wi-Fi band with non-overlapping channels. This is only available on routers with 6 GHz band capability; otherwise, it’s nearly identical to Wi-Fi 6 with the aforementioned benefit to reduce congestion with multiple devices connected to a router. As most models are using Wi-Fi 6E, we thought it would be easier to list what board isn’t, whether that be Wi-Fi 6E, Wi-Fi 5, or non-inclusive of any form of CNVi.

Z690 Wi-Fi 6/5 Or No Support
Wireless Interface Boards
Wi-Fi 6E ASRock Z690 Extreme WIFI 6E
  ASRock Z690 Steel Legend WIFI 6E
  ASRock Z690M-ITX/ax
  MSI Pro Z690-A WIFI DDR4
 
Wi-Fi 6 ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A Gaming WIFI D4
  ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-Plus WIFI D4
  ASUS Prime Z690-P WIFI D4
  Colorful iGame Z690 Ultra DDR4
  GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Elite AX DDR4
  GIGABYTE Z690M Aorus Elite AX DDR4
  GIGABYTE Z690I Aorus Ultra DDR4
  GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Pro DDR4
  GIGABYTE Z690 Aero G DDR4
  GIGABYTE Z690 UD AX DDR4
  MSI MPG Z690 Edge WIFI
  MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk WIFI DDR4
 
Wi-Fi 5 GIGABYTE Z690 UD AC DDR4
 
None All except the above

As we receive updates from vendors with more information, we will endeavor to keep this Z690 overview updated and as often as possible.