With the plethora of Z690 motherboards, it has become really difficult to choose the right one. Furthermore, now that both the 12th and the 13th Gen Intel CPUs are compatible with 600-chipset motherboards, their demand has gone higher than ever. Therefore, to help you choose the right Z690 motherboard for your PC build, we have compiled a list of the Best Z690 Motherboards currently available. Take a look at our picks; all compared to each other:
Last update on 2023-06-07
Since both the 700- and 600-series chipsets use the same LGA 1700 socket, you can use both the Raptor Lake and the Alder Lake processors with these motherboards. While this guide covers all of the best Z690 motherboards, we have a similar guide on the best Z790 motherboards as well, be sure to check it out.
Best Z690 Motherboards
Following are the Best Z690 Motherboards you can get today:
- ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero
- MSI MAG Z690 Tomhawk Wi-Fi
- MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi
- ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A
- MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi
- ASUS ROG Strix Z690-I
ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero
Best High-End Z690 Motherboard
Chipset: Z690 | Memory: 4x DIMM, 128GB, DDR5-6400 | Video Outputs: HDMI | WiFi | USB Ports: 11x rear IO, 9x internal | Network: 1x 2.5 GbE LAN, 1x Wi-Fi 6E | Storage: 5x M.2, 6x SATA
- Top Of The Line Z690 Motherboard
- Excellent Connectivity Options
- 2x Thunderbolt 4 Ports
- 20Gbps USB-C port
- Nice Aesthetics
- Excellent Power Delivery
- Very Expensive Z690 Motherboard
Any enthusiast-grade motherboard tier list would be incomplete without mentioning the ROG Maximus series from ASUS. This is the high-end motherboard category from ASUS that falls under the ROG banner, and for the Z690 versions, ASUS has done away with confusing Roman numerals. Instead, they opted for the name of the chipset in the name of the product, what an ingenious thought. Still, the ROG Maximus Z690 lineup of boards is among the best you will ever find on this chipset, and the Hero variant is the one we are particularly interested in.
Packing a monstrous 20+1 VRM design with 90A power stages, the Maximus Z690 Hero is more than enough for any Alder Lake or Raptor Lake CPU you can throw at it, even at overclocked settings. The VRM is also cooled effectively by large heatsinks, so temperatures should be perfectly sound. The board also supports DDR5 memory at up to 6400MHz speeds, but time will tell if investing in DDR5 right now is a good idea.
Aesthetically, the board looks really impressive as you would expect from a Maximus series board. ASUS has gone for a sort of modernized look with the pixelated ROG script on the I/O cover and the ROG eye on the chipset heatsink which is also pixelated. These surfaces are finished in a glossy material so fingerprints would be quite visible.
Asus manages to stuff 6x USB 3.0 Type-A ports with 3x USB Type-C (2 of which are the aforementioned Thunderbolt 4) alongside 2x USB 2.0 legacy ports, one of which works with Asus’ BIOS FlashBack feature, for which there’s a dedicated button on the rear I/O, enabling you to install a new BIOS from a USB Type-A drive, should the need ever arise. As far as memory is concerned, the Z690 keeps up with traditions, supporting a maximum of 128 GB of DDR5 memory at a potential top speed of 6400 MHz with support for possibly further RAM overclocking.
Asus has blitzed the entire manage competition with its best-in-class ROG Maximum Z690 Hero, based on a fully-fledged ATX form factor which enables Asus to incorporate state-of-the-art technologies such as 2x Thunderbolt 4 ports supplemented by a staggering 5 M.2 SSD slots (through the use of the ROG Hyper M.2 Card which enables 1 of the 3 added-on M.2 slots to be compatible with PCIe Gen 5.0 if you’re not using the PCIe Gen 5.0 capabilities of the PCIe x16 slot, normally dedicated to the GPU. These vast storage capabilities are paired with another 6x SATA III ports for connecting conventional means of storage.
What We Liked
Everything about the Maximus Z690 Hero is up to mark, and that’s why we are recommending it as the runner-up for the best overall Z690 motherboard.
What We Disliked
The only negative surrounding this motherboard is the hefty price. You have to pay a premium to get it.
Who Is It For?
The ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero is the perfect Z690 motherboard for those who want a solid allrounder that nails every aspect of being the best motherboard.
What Makes It The Best High-End Z690 Motherboard?
All in all, you can’t really go wrong with the Maximus Z690 Hero, and that’s why it is our pick for the best high-end Z690 motherboard. It has one of the best power delivery systems of any motherboard available on the market and combines that with a premium feature set that doesn’t really lack anything of note. The price is hefty, understandably, but it might be worth it in the long run if you plan to keep a premium Alder Lake system with you for years down the line.
MSI MAG Z690 Tomhawk Wi-Fi
Best Overall Z690 Motherboard
Chipset: Z690 | Memory: 4x DIMM, 192GB, DDR5-6400 | Video Outputs: DisplayPort | WiFi | USB Ports: 8x rear IO, 7x front| Network: 2.5G LAN, Wi-Fi 6E | Storage: 4x M.2, 6x SATA
- 16+1+1 VRM structure
- Good Pricing
- All-Black Theme
- No RGB
- No Thunderbolt Connectivity
MSI is widely known for its flagship gaming hardware which is the first preference of many gamers. We are here with MSI MAG Z690 Tomhawk Wifi as the best overall Z690 motherboard, considering its power delivery, multi-GPU support, reasonable price, and aesthetics
Speaking of power delivery, the motherboard has a 16+1+1 Duet Rail Power VRM structure. MSI widely uses the Duet Rail Power system in its high-end motherboards that can provide an uninterrupted power supply to the CPU, memory, multi-GPU, and other components. Additionally, the 18-phase VRM can efficiently handle high loads and provide stable power, which ensures a smooth experience while overclocking or performing high-end tasks.
Regarding thermal stability, the MSI MAG Z690 Tomhawk Wifi has an extended heatsink and 7 W/mK Thermal Pads that make direct contact with the MOSFETs, swiftly dissipating heat as it is produced. Moreover, the 6-Layered PCB with 2 oz. thick copper adds to the heating load withstanding capacity of this board. Also, the board has a double-sided M.2 Shield Frozr that keeps SSDs cool while preventing throttling.
When it comes to memory, you get a total memory capacity of 192 GB with 4x DDR5 slots that can operate memory modules at 6400+ MHz while overclocking. Moving towards the expansion slots, you get 4x PCIe slots, with the one from the CPU being PCIe 5.0 x16. Furthermore, the board can also handle multi-GPU through AMD’s crossfire feature support.
Looking at storage features, you get 4x M.2 slots and 6x SATA 6Gbs slots with MSI MAG Z690 Tomhawk Wifi, which are impressive in this price range. Talking about USB ports, you get 7x on the front and 8x on the rear. The board also provides 2x Type-C ports, one on each side. Not only this, but you also get a Display port alongside an HDMI port that facilitates high resolution. One downside is that this board does not support Thunderbolt connectivity which is also not expected in this price range.
Lastly, coming to the aesthetics, the MSI MAG Z690 Tomhawk Wifi has a minimalistic look like other boards in this series. MSI has continued with its military theme and black appearance for this board. Although you do not get integrated RGBs with this board, the overall aesthetics of this board are still fascinating.
What We Liked
The 16+1+1 Duet Rail Power VRM of this board in this price range sets it apart from its competitors. On top of that, the multi-GPU support and thermal features add to the value of this board.
What We Disliked
The MSI MAG Z690 Tomhawk Wifi does not come with Thunderbolt connectivity support which might make some users unhappy. Moreover, the board also does not have integrated RGB.
Who Is It For?
If you’re looking for the jack-of-all-trades motherboard that ticks off every box by offering a balanced set of features, the MSI MAG Z690 Tomhawk Wifi is for you.
What Makes It The Best Overall Z690 Motherboard?
The MSI MAG Z690 Tomhawk Wifi is an excellent motherboard in this price range that features high-quality 18-phase VRM, effective thermal solutions, and multi-GPU support. On top of that, the board also has a display port alongside an HDMI port that sets it apart from other boards in this price range. Considering these, we have regarded the MSI MAG Z690 Tomhawk Wifi as the Best Overall Z690 Motherboard.
MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi
Best Overclocking Z690 Motherboard
Chipset: Z690 | Memory: 4x DIMM, 128GB, DDR5-6666 | Video Outputs: HDMI and DisplayPort | WiFi | USB Ports: 10x rear IO, 7x internal | Network: 1x 2.5 GbE LAN, 1x Wi-Fi 6E | Storage: 5x M.2, 6x SATA
- Great VRM For Overclocking on Z690
- 5 M.2 Slots For Storage
- Attractive Aesthetics
- Attractive Design
- High-End Performance
- Not Affordable For Regular Gamers
MSI has made some excellent boards over the past few years, especially for the AMD chipsets, but they have not exactly ignored Intel either. MSI’s MPG series, which stands for MSI Performance Gaming, packs some of the most overbuilt and premium motherboards out there for any chipset, be it Intel or AMD. Continuing this trend, we have the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi, a fantastic high-end motherboard on the Z690 platform that is quite possibly the best overclocking Z690 motherboard on our list. It certainly rivals our two top picks in terms of VRM design and features.
Speaking of the power delivery, MSI has hit the nail on the head with an 18+1+1 phase VRM design with 75A power stages, which is excellent for overclocking pretty much any modern CPU you can put in it. In terms of heat dissipation, MSI has provided massive VRM heatsinks that are actually finned to increase the metal’s surface area, aiding in dissipation. The board supports DDR5 memory up to a whopping 6666 MHz, which sounds really fast by today’s standards, but time will tell if speeds like this are normalized.
The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi features an almost fully covered MOSFET (Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor Field-Effect Transistor) with a dedicated heatsink and high-quality thermal pads to prevent thermal throttling. MSI has gone for an 8-layer PCB design built mainly from server-grade copper for top-of-the-line performance and componential sustainability.
The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi motherboard is also one of the finest-looking motherboards you can find on this platform. Sure, it is a fairly expensive board, but the looks are a huge selling point, especially in today’s market, and MSI has also nailed that aspect. The I/O cover has a really cool MSI dragon that illuminates in every color of the rainbow as one would expect. The whole board has this really unique, angular pattern that is definitely in tune with the 2023 design language.
When it comes to features, there is not a lot to say really. All of these high-end Z690 motherboards are absolutely jam-packed with fantastic features such as PCIe Gen 5 support and DDR5 memory support, so the Z690 Carbon is no different in this regard. Connectivity is handled by a 2.5 GbE LAN port or WiFi 6E, both of which are excellent options. The Z690 Carbon also has 4 M.2 ports running at PCIe Gen 4 speeds, which is more than enough for any normal user today. Realistically, this board has everything you will ever need for a few years to come, and maybe even more.
Moving on, the MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi features 5x M.2 SSD slots, which should be more than enough for you. However, MSI goes out of its way to implement double-sided M.2 Shields nicknamed the ‘M.2 SHIELD FROZR’, which aids heat conductivity away from the M.2 SSDs to prevent data transfer speeds from throttling down.
As far as I/O expandability is concerned, the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi is rocking header support for a solitary USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 Type-C on the front, paired with 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A and another 4x USB 2.0 ports on the front panel of the motherboard. For the rear, the MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi boasts 10 ports, 1 of which is a 20 Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C port and 5x USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 Type-A (painted red) with 4x USB 2.0 ports bringing up the rear (no pun intended).
What We Liked
We really liked the VRM structure and the cooling solution of the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi.
What We Disliked
The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi is anything but affordable for regular gamers.
Who Is It For?
The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi is intended for those who want extreme performance out of their processors through overclocking.
What Makes It The Best Overclocking Z690 Motherboard?
Overall, the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon is an extremely competent Z690 motherboard from MSI for the Z690 platform. It trades blows with the premium AORUS Master and Maximus Z690 Hero motherboards but is slightly cheaper while offering similar VRM performance, therefore it is our preferred choice for high-end overclocking. The price is still not cheap by any means, but it is competitive in the context of the features that it offers.
ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A
Best Looking Z690 Motherboard
Chipset: Z690 | Memory: 4x DIMM, 64 GB , DDR5-6400 MHz| Video Outputs: HDMI and DisplayPort | WiFi | USB Ports: 10x rear IO, 7x internal | Network: 1x 2.5 GbE LAN, 1x Wi-Fi 6E | Storage: 4x M.2, 6x SATA
- Decent Power Delivery System
- Best Looking Z690 Motherboard
- An Affordable Z690 Motherboard Option
- Not Suitable For Core i9 Overclocking
- Slightly Lower DDR5 Memory Compatibility
Since the Maximus series is not something that everyone can or should buy, ASUS has also released several mid-range and entry-level motherboards on the Z690 platform. The ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A is one of the more mid-range boards that also has lots of great features and a pretty decent VRM design. The standard ROG series also comes with a choice among DDR5 and DDR4 memory configurations, so be sure to purchase the board that supports the specific memory type that you plan to run.
The power delivery system of the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A is certainly not on the same level as the ones mentioned before, but that does not mean that it is bad by any stretch. ASUS has packed a 16+1 phase VRM for the Z690-A, which is pretty decent by modern standards. This VRM should be capable of overclocking an i7 12700K comfortably, while it should also be able to achieve some degree of overclocking on the i9 12900K. The VRM cooling is also adequate as ASUS has provided quite large VRM heatsinks with diagonal fins to maximize heat dissipation.
Perhaps the most attractive feature of the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A is its design and appearance. Thanks to its sizeable white heatsinks and I/O cover, the board is clad beautifully in white. The RGB design and the Strix script on the I/O cover are absolutely sublime, giving a glassy appearance that would go perfectly in many RGB systems. The chipset heatsink is also white, and it extends over the PCIe Gen 4 M.2 drive slots as well to a certain extent. You can see a bit of the black PCB, but that still doesn’t take anything away from the looks of this board. The Z690-A from ASUS is our pick for the best looking Z690 motherboard out there.
The Z690-A is not all form over function, however, as it also packs a pretty serious feature set. The PCIe Gen 5 support is standard across all Z690 boards so that also makes an appearance here, along with DDR5 memory support of up to 5333MHz. There are four M.2 slots that support PCIe Gen 4 functionality, which is pretty standard stuff in Z690 motherboards. Furthermore, connectivity is handled by a 2.5 GbE LAN port and WiFi 6. Several high-speed USB ports are also present on the rear I/O with different speed characteristics.
With regards to I/O, Asus provides a decent mix of 10x rear ports, the first of which is an ultra-fast USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C port, 2x are USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A SuperSpeed ports (painted red), 4x are USB 3.2 Gen 1×1 Type-A, 2x are legacy USB 2.0 ports with the last one being a good old standard USB Type-C connector. There are 5x audio jacks as well as an HDMI 2.1 and a DIspl ay 1.4 port on the rear panel. Round the front are headers for another 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A as well as support for another USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C port alongside headers for Thunderbolt 4.
What We Liked
We loved the looks of the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A. Its white and black finish makes it stand out from the competition quite well.
What We Disliked
While the VRM is quite solid, and you won’t face any issues with it. We wouldn’t recommend overclocking the Core i9-13900K or even the 12900K with it.
Who Is It For?
The ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A is for those gamers who are building a white gaming PC.
What Makes It The Best-Looking Z690 Motherboard?
The white aesthetics mixed with the black PCB is what makes the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A the Best Looking Z690 Motherboard.
MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi
Best Value Z690 Motherboard
Chipset: Z690 | Memory: 4x DIMM, 128GB, DDR5-6400 | Video Outputs: HDMI and DisplayPort | WiFi | USB Ports: 6x rear IO, 9x internal | Network: 1x 2.5 GbE LAN, 1x Wi-Fi 6E | Storage: 4x M.2, 6x SATA
- Relatively Affordable
- Solid Connectivity
- Great Storage Options
- Poor Design
- Mediocre VRM Design
MSI’s Pro series of motherboards has been synonymous with value for a while now, and the trend carries on with the MSI Pro Z690-A motherboards. There are actually 4 different motherboards under the same name, but all 4 of them are the same PCB differentiated only by the two variables of WiFi and DDR generation. In this particular roundup, we recommend the MSI Pro Z690-A DDR5 WiFi motherboard as it still offers a great price-to-performance ratio despite having a higher price than the DDR4 and non-WiFi variants.
When we talk about value-oriented motherboards, we have to be reasonable with our expectations when it comes to power delivery and VRM design. The MSI Pro Z690-A motherboard packs a decent 8+4 phase VRM that will be great for most regular users buying a motherboard in this price bracket.
When it comes to looks, the MSI Pro Z690-A is as basic as they come. It is just a massive chunk of black PCB with black heatsinks in various places. This is one area where MSI has disappointed us since several boards are cheaper than this one that looks way better than the Pro Z690-A. MSI has also not included any RGB lighting on the board, which is a bummer if you build a PC in 2023.
The feature-set of the MSI Pro Z690-A is nothing to scoff at. It is not as feature-rich as some of the other boards on this list, understandably, but it has everything a regular gamer might want from a Z690 motherboard. The support for DDR5 and PCIe Gen 5 comes standard with the Z690 chipset, and the Pro Z690-A also has 4 M.2 slots with PCIe Gen 4 capability. There is no built-in I/O shield, but the rear I/O itself is decent with a nice selection of USB ports and a 2.5 GbE LAN port along with WiFi capability if you choose that particular motherboard variant.
Moving on, the MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi features 4x M.2 SSD slots, which is on par, if not outright surprising, for a motherboard so competitively priced. MSI steps it up with another 6x SATA III ports supporting speeds at 6 Gb/s, which we’ve seen before. Nevertheless, it’s nice to have such flexibility, and it adds to the MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi’s value proposition.
With I/O, we finally see MSI’s cost-cutting measures for the Pro Z690-A WiFi since the motherboard is slightly lacking in terms of connectivity. The Pro Z690-A sports a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C 20 Gbps port on the rear panel, accompanied by a USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 Type-A port, supplemented by 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A and rounded off with 4x USB 2.0 legacy ports.
What We Liked
The price-to-performance ratio of the MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi impressed us the most.
What We Disliked
The lack of RGB is a bit disappointing.
Who Is It For?
The MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi is the perfect Z690 motherboard for those who are looking for the best bang for the buck option.
What Makes It The Best Value Z690 Motherboard?
Conclusively, the MSI Pro Z690-A is certainly one of the more value-oriented motherboards on the market and one that puts the price-to-performance ratio as first priority. It is for this reason that the MSI Pro Z690-A is our pick for the best value Z690 motherboard out there. It just does everything you would want from a Z690 motherboard on the Alder Lake platform, and it does it at a cheaper price than most competitors. It does have its flaws, but that is to be expected given the price point.
ASUS ROG Strix Z690-I
Best Mini-ITX Z690 Motherboard
Chipset: Z690 | Memory: 2x DIMM, 128GB, DDR5-6400 | Video Outputs: HDMI | WiFi | USB Ports: 9x rear IO, 5x internal | Network: 1x 2.5 GbE LAN, 1x Wi-Fi 6E | Storage: 2x M.2, 4x SATA
- Solid Power Delivery
- Great For Compact Builds
- Impressive Connectivity
- Only 2 DIMM Slots
The ASUS ROG Strix Z690-I is one of the best mini-ITX motherboards around. The Z690-I is the answer from ASUS for all the small form factor enthusiasts that want to enjoy the features of the full-sized Z690 motherboards in a smaller package.
Starting off with the VRM design and power delivery, there is not a lot to complain about here. Obviously, ASUS has downgraded the VRM a little in order to adapt to the size constraints, but the 10+1 phase VRM with 105 amp power stages should not have any major problems overclocking the 13700K or even the 13900K, at least to some extent. A sizeable finned heatsink also cools the VRM, so temperatures should be reasonable. The Z690-I also supports DDR5 memory at up to 6400 MHz speeds, which is a welcome feature as always.
The design of the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-I is quite interesting and also quite daring. Of course, being a ROG board, the Z690-I also has a healthy share of RGB on the lower-left corner of the I/O cover in the form of the ROG eye that glows up in every color of the rainbow. All in all, a very nice-looking board for its compact size.
Additionally speaking, the Asus ROG Strix Z690-I bears dual M.2 slots, which is slightly disappointing for users who were looking to connect 3x or more PCIe NVMe SSDs. However, it isn’t unsurprising, given the limited space Asus had to work around. That being said, Asus built a ‘triple-decker heatsink’ which intuitively stacks both of the M.2 slots on top of each other with full-length, double-sided heatsinks and a backplate supplemented by thermal pads alongside the high-performance chipset heatsink.
As for I/O, the Asus ROG Strix Z690-I sports dual Thunderbolt 4 (Type-C) ports with 40 Gbps speeds since Asus acknowledges that Mini-ITX systems are also used as HTPCs (Home-Theatre PCs). A pair of USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 Type-A ports (painted red) are joined by a trio of blue-colored USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports. 2x USB 2.0 legacy ports round off the rear panel I/O alongside the HDMI 2.1 port for graphical output.
What We Liked
Despite the compact form factor, we really liked the VRM structure of the Asus ROG Strix Z690-I.
What We Disliked
The pricing of the Asus ROG Strix Z690-I is a bit disappointing.
Who Is It For?
The Asus ROG Strix Z690-I is aimed at those gamers who are building their PC rigs in compact or tight spaces.
What Makes It The Best Mini-ITX Z690 Motherboard
It can be said that the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-I is the absolute best mini-ITX Z690 motherboard on the market right now. Its great power delivery system and a robust feature set make it an excellent choice for enthusiasts building a compact gaming PC on the Raptor or Alder Lake platform. It does not come cheap, but it seems to be worth it for the specific use cases that it’s designed for.
Let’s go over a few honorable mentions for the Best Z690 Motherboards.
Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Master
Runner-Up For Best High-end Z690 Motherboard
Chipset: Z690 | Memory: 4x DIMM, 128GB, DDR5-6400 | Video Outputs: DisplayPort | WiFi | USB Ports: 11x rear IO, 9x internal | Network: 1x 10 GbE LAN, 1x Wi-Fi 6E | Storage: 5x M.2, 6x SATA
- Z690 Motherboard With Unrivalled VRM Design
- 10 GbE LAN
- Several Storage Options
- 20Gbps USB-C port
- Attractive Design
- High-End Performance
- Quite Pricey
Gigabyte’s high-end AORUS motherboards recently have been absolutely fantastic for both platforms, so it is no surprise that the Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Master ends up as our pick for the runner-up for best high-end Z690 motherboard. It has an excellent power delivery system that is almost a necessity for the new Alder Lake CPUs, but it also has an excellent feature set that is comparable with some of the most expensive Z690 motherboards out there. The AORUS Master itself isn’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination, but its pricing is not outrageous in view of what it brings to the table.
Starting off with the highlight of this board, the extremely overbuilt VRM. It consists of a staggering 22 phases, out of which 19 supply the CPU with 105A of power. This is an insane VRM setup that will almost never be completely utilized, even by a fully overclocked 13900K running 24/7. The VRM heatsinks are also quite sizeable so the board should have no problems dissipating the heat that is coming out of those VRMs.
Of course, we can’t forget external connectivity in the form of I/O, with Gigabyte offering a total of 11 ports, 1 of which is the fastest USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C port located on the rear panel, alongside 5x USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 Type-A ports (coloured red), paired with a solitary USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 Type-C port as well as 4x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, all situated on the rear panel. A Thunderbolt 4 connection is notably missing here, with the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Master otherwise offering a decent mix of I/O connectivity options. That being said, Gigabyte has provided users with an opportunity to implement a Thunderbolt 4 connection in the Z690 Aorus Master via external add-in cards.
Gigabyte has implemented a Low Signal Loss 8-layer PCB design, built from the ground up with advanced thermal efficiency thanks to an 8mm heatpipe that makes direct contact for an optimal heat transfer away from the MOSFETs on the motherboard. Gigabyte has also provided double-sided M.2 heatsinks to prevent thermal throttling in bigger and faster 4x M.2 SSDs PCIe 4.0 drives. The Z690 Aorus Master boasts maximum heat dissipation thanks to the 1.5mm thick thermal conductivity pads and the new ‘Fins-Array III,’ which consists of enlarged irregular fins in a parallel stacked design which helps to increase surface area by up to a mind-blowing 900% and optimize airflow. Simply put, the overall VRM design of the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Master is unbeatable.
As far as RGB is concerned, the Z690 Aorus Master has a couple of addressable RGB LEDs on the top left and towards the bottom right side of the motherboard, controllable via Gigabyte’s proprietary RGB Fusion 2.0 software. The Z690 Aorus Master also offers 2x addressable RGB headers and 2x RGB LED strip headers should you want to customize the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Master to your personally preferred RGB setup.
What We Liked
Apart from all the good things about the Z690 Aorus Master, what stood out to us the most is its 22-phase VRM design.
What We Disliked
There isn’t anything to dislike about the Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Master. However, its pricing is quite steep.
Who Is It For?
If you want a high-end motherboard that supports good overclocking and you prefer top-tier performance, then the Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Master is for you.
What Makes It The Runner-Up For Best High-End Z690 Motherboard?
It’s hard to stop once we get started on the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Master, thanks to an extensive host of user-friendly features allowing for automated operations such as fan control which can be regulated by the Z690 Aorus Master without the need for any manual user input. However, the option is there for overclocking fanatics. As such, we’re sure you’re not surprised as to why the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Master shows up as the Runner-Up For Best High-End Z690 Motherboard on our exclusive selection of the Best Z690 Motherboards.
After having experienced a successful launch, Intel’s 12th Generation Lineup of Alder Lake Processors based on the new LGA 1700 CPU Socket seems to be under constant attack, at the time of writing, thanks to AMD’s masterminded approach to exhibiting incredible monetary discounts on AM4-based components such as all Ryzen CPUs (up to 5000 Series), Motherboards (A320, A520, B350, B450, B550, X370, X470, and X570, to name a few) as well as AM4 CPU Coolers, even for top-of-the-line processors such as the Ryzen 9 5950X and 5900X, with price differentials being raised to an incredulous $250 compared to initial MSRPs.
That being said, Intel’s K-Series of 12th Generation CPUs are fighting hard, at the cost of mind-blowing power consumption, to overthrow the most power-efficient desktop CPUs to date, i.e., the Ryzen 5000 Series Processors, which still boast the best price-per-watt ratios. However, that may change with the upcoming release of the Ryzen 7000 Series CPUs based on the all-new AM5 Mounting Socket and improvised Zen 4 architecture.
Nevertheless, Intel has a versatile variety of options, catering to consumer-grade workspaces focused on gaming, as well as productivity-based CPUs, such as the Core i9-12900K. It’s worth noting that only K-Series CPUs will be able to advantageously utilize the Z690 chipset’s full potential since Intel is notoriously infamous for restricting CPU overclocking to this premium-segment, top-of-the-line Z690 Motherboards. As such, gamers will only be pairing a handful of K-Series Processors, namely the Core i5-12600K, i7-12700K, i9-12900K, and i9-12900KS (the latter representing Intel as the brand’s Best Gaming CPU to date) with the Best Z690 Motherboards in 2023.
Prospective buyers will also be pleased to know there are ‘F’ variants of the K-Series CPUs mentioned above, such as the i5-12600KF, i7-12700KF, so on, and so forth, which lack Intel’s integrated UHD 770 Graphics and are typically available for $20-25 less, a nominal saving, but nevertheless, a noticeable one, for users who only plan to use their gaming rig with discrete GPUs (as they should).
Speaking of the Best Z690 Motherboards, it’s pertinent to mention that all of Intel’s 600-Series Chipsets, including, but not limited to the H610, B660, H670, and of course, the Z690, support DDR5 RAM (as well as DDR4 Memory in differing variants) alongside PCIe Gen 5.0, even though we’re of the humble opinion that neither of these next-gen technologies exhibits noteworthy real-world performance improvements over their relatively older counterparts. Even so, AMD has made an aggressive decision to entirely support DDR5 RAM with their AM5 Platform.
How We Choose The Best Z690 Motherboard
Since the motherboard is the basic building block of any computer, we are very careful in our recommendations when we select Z690 motherboards for our roundups. Our selection is driven strongly by the value that these products offer. Let’s go over a few factors that you should also consider whenever you’re on the lookout for the best z690 motherboards.
Intel 12th Generation Alder Lake CPUs require an LGA 1700 CPU socket, supported by Intel 600 Series chipsets such as the H610 being the entry-level choice. In contrast, the H670 and B660 pose as upper-midrange competitors, championed by the top-of-the-line Best Z690 motherboards, offering the best variety of features such as sophisticated, active cooling in the form of massive heatsinks and VRMs, along with ample potential for CPU, GPU, and RAM overclocking.
Therefore, it’s essential to keep an eye out so you don’t accidentally end up with the last-gen 500 Series Chipsets such as the Z590, which is still pretty competitive even today in terms of pure performance, but sports an LGA 1200 socket supported by an Intel 10th Gen (Comet Lake) or 11th Generation (Rocket Lake) processor only, meaning you won’t be able to use it with your brand new 12th Generation Alder Lake CPU.
A VRM (Voltage Regulator Module) is one of the essential components of a motherboard, as it is solely responsible for controlling the voltage delivered to all the electrical components of your gaming PC, adjusting the voltage accordingly to make sure no part of your PC is operating at a dangerously high voltage, which would put the particular components at risk of damage, shortening their lifespan. A good VRM is essential for CPU and GPU overclocking scenarios and general optimal performance.
Thus, it’s necessary to keep a keen eye out since an inefficient VRM would result in your CPU and GPU bottlenecking, i.e., your PC would experience thermal throttling, unable to deliver the potential power it is capable of, thanks to an incapable VRM. A faulty VRM will also provide unstable power, putting your entire motherboard, along with the CPU, GPU, and RAM, to name a few essential electrical components, at risk.
It’s also worth noting that some of the Best Z690 Motherboards also offer active fans paired with spacious passive heatsinks to cool down the VRMs on your motherboard. An effective heat transfer is conducted consistently, reducing the chances of thermal throttling occurring, allowing for beefier CPU and GPU performance.
Each motherboard varies in terms of the expansion slots and connectivity it offers. Some motherboards may offer PCI-e 5.0×16 slots, which, sadly, the latest GPUs in our world can only partially utilize due to PCIe Gen 5.0 being a relatively new technology. On the contrary, some motherboards may choose to forgo PCIe 5.0 altogether and only provide PCIe 4.0 slots for GPUs and M.2 SSDs.
Motherboards on a budget would probably forgo these 4th Gen PCI-e slots altogether, only offering you PCI-e 3.0×16 slots (3rd Gen), resulting in reduced speeds. We’re pleased to inform you that even most of the Best Budget Z690 Motherboards will have plenty of PCIe 4.0 slots if not Gen 5.0, saving you the need of having to worry about going back to the evergreen PCIe Gen 3.0. Also, if you’re in the mood to connect more than two M.2 SSDs, you would need to select a motherboard that has at least two or more M.2 SSD slots for utilization, which majority, if not all, the Best Z690 Motherboards will have.
As far as connectivity is concerned, we’re glad to assure you that even the cheapest Z690 motherboards present vast options for connectivity without breaking the bank. That being said, you should have an approximate idea of how many and which type of USB ports you’d like to utilize, such as USB 2.0, USB 3.2 Gen 1×1, USB 3.2 Gen 2×1, USB 3.2 Gen 2×2, since even some of the Best Z690 Motherboards won’t have USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 ports at all, an omission to be wary of if you want the fastest data transfers and USB speeds possible.
Heatsinks are one of the most important aspects of a motherboard since they can reduce or boost your CPU, GPU, and overall performance depending on how well they conduct a perfect heat transfer. They will also determine whether your PC would undergo a case of thermal throttling to keep temperatures down or perform consistently.
The general rule of thumb is to choose a motherboard that features advanced heat dissipation while ideally incorporating multiple heatsinks for optimal heat dissipation away from your motherboard’s components.
Adding on, the thicker your motherboard’s PCBs (Printed Circuit Boards), the lower your temps. Your motherboard comprises multiple PCBs sandwiched together, which generally produces excessive heat, so unless your PCBs are sizeably thick with several layers, your PC will struggle with heat conductance, eventually leading to thermal throttling and bottlenecked performance.
Motherboards are typically manufactured in four sizes; ATX, E-ATX, Micro-ATX, and Mini-ITX. Generally speaking, ATX and E-ATX motherboards are the biggest of the bunch, featuring several massive heatsinks with comparatively thicker PCB layers, commonly offering the most features, alongside plentiful expansion slots and ports for unimaginable connectivity. As a side effect, the ATX and E-ATX motherboards towards the high-end spectrum will unsurprisingly be the most expensive motherboards on the market, and you often end up paying excessively for features you will never use. You can read our in-depth guide on Motherboard Form Factors to learn everything about them.
While building a gaming PC, it’s best to stick with full-sized ATX or E-ATX motherboards if you’re looking to save some money, as manufacturers offer a variety of motherboards in these form factors. It’s also important to control yourself while choosing from the top-of-the-line ATX motherboards since these boards tend to overcharge you for features you’ll probably never use in a lifetime, like 10 Gigabit Ethernet. If you aren’t going to pursue CPU or RAM overclocking, there’s no need to overspend on the Best Z690 Motherboards with advanced thermal efficiencies and heat dissipation techniques since you won’t be able to eke out the most value for your money.
Sidenote: Please feel free to look at our other articles where we highlight the Best B660, H670, and H610 Motherboards, if you’re looking for something more budget-oriented to accommodate a 12th Gen Build.
DDR5 vs. DDR4
On paper, DDR5 downright blitzes DDR4 Memory in terms of pure RAM frequencies, with even the slowest and cheapest DDR5 RAM Kits offering stock speeds of at least 4800-5600 MHz with overclocking potential easily surpassing the 8000 MHz threshold, theoretically speaking, as compared to DDR4 RAM modules which hover between 2400-4266 MHz as far as default speeds are concerned, with maximal custom overclocking stretching these frequencies to a capped limit of 5500 MHz, at best.
On the other hand, mainstream DDR4 Memory easily achieves CAS Latencies varying between a range of CL 14-18, with factory-default RAM Timings ranging around 14-14-14-34, equating to a 50-75% difference in these two variables when compared to generic DDR5 RAM Kits. As such, the vast advantage for DDR5 frequencies is negated by the equally, if not worse, difference in RAM Latencies and Timings.
DDR5 Memory modules boast lower power consumption (1.1V vs. 1.2V for DDR4), with all DDR5 RAM Kits sporting built-in, on-die ECC (Error Correction Code). Furthermore, DDR5 brings higher density, with theoretical maximum support of 256 GB per module, compared to 64 GB for DDR4. As a result, we can expect to see consumer-grade Intel and AMD CPUs support a maximum of 256 GB very soon (up from 128 GB at the time of writing), with a potential to enable support for a theoretical blistering maximum of 512 GB – 1 TB of DDR5 Memory.
Learn more about the differences between DDR4 and DDR5 in our ultimate DDR5 vs. DDR4 comparison.
Why Should You Trust Our Judgement
With over twelve years of expertise in the tech and gaming industry, our dedicated team has been refined consistently to produce a potent group of knowledgeable individuals who are known to relay the most accurate information to our valued consumers, thanks to the extensive research and reviewing we conduct before we publish every piece of journalism.
In addition to this, we have been explicitly featured on a majority of the top-notch gaming and tech brands, such as Gigabyte, MSI, Asus, and DeepCool, just to name a few, as reliable and trusted sources for Hardware and Technology. These and other reputed manufacturers such as Noctua, Thermaltake, Xigmatek, and many others regularly send samples to us, on the basis of which we formulate unbiased reviews to give our readers a genuine representation of the product from an objective perspective.
Subsequently, we instill confidence in our esteemed consumers, who may rely on us to give them the best advice for building, customizing, and modifying their personal gaming computers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, the Z690 motherboards are compatible with all the Intel 12th-Gen and 13th-Gen CPUs, including the Intel Core i9 12900K.
The Z690 motherboards have the LGA 1700 socket, which supports the Intel Core 12th and 13th Gen processors.
Yes indeed, the Z690 motherboards do support PCIe Gen 5 capability.
No, the Z690 platform is an entirely differently platform that is not compatible with any Intel 11th Gen or below generations The Core i9 11900K is a Rocket Lake 11th Gen CPU that is compatible with an LGA 1200 socket on the Z590 platform, among other chipsets.
Yes, the Z690 platform does officially support DDR5 memory. To use DDR5 RAM, you would need to have a motherboard that is compatible with DDR5 memory since the memory sticks are physically different from DDR4.
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