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Z790 Vs. Z690: Should You Upgrade?

In this guide, we will cover all the differences between the Z790 Vs. Z690 chipset motherboards to figure out if it is worth upgrading.

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Rated: 7/10

Pros & Cons

Z690✅ Supports DDR5 memory
✅ Generally lower-priced
❌ Limited to DDR5 up to 4800 MT/s
❌ Fewer PCIe lanes and USB ports
Z790✅ Superior DDR5 speeds up to 5600 MT/s
✅ Retains advanced features from Z690
❌ Higher cost may not justify marginal speed increase

Key Takeaways
  • Both the Z790 and the Z690 motherboard support the LGA 1700 socket, meaning you can pair them with the Alder Lake CPUs as well as the latest Raptor Lake lineup.
  • The Z790 is a refined version of its predecessor, offering better PCI express lane configurations, an extra USB 3.2 20 GBps port, and higher DDR5 memory clock speeds.
  • At the moment, the Z690 offers better bang for the buck as you can get one for a relatively lower price.

Comparison Table

Compatibility12th, 13th Gen12th Gen, 13th Gen
CPU OverclockingYesYes
Memory OverclockingYesYes
Memory SupportDDR4 & DDR5DDR4 & DDR5
Max Memory Capacity44
Max Memory Slots128 GB128 GB
Number of DIMMs per channel22
Number of Displays Supported44
DMI 4.0 Lanesx8x8
CPU PCIe 5.0 Lanes1×16 or 2×81×16 or 2×8
CPU PCIe 4.0 lanes2012
Chipset PCIe 3.0 lanes816
SATA 6 Gb/s ports88
Max USB 20 Gb/s ports45
Max USB 10 Gb/s ports1010
Max USB 5 Gb/s ports1010
Max USB 2.0 ports1414
Integrated Wi-FiIntel® Wi-Fi 6E AX211(Gig+)Intel® Wi-Fi 6E AX211(Gig+)
RAID Modes0,1,5,100,1,5,10
Best VaraintsBest Z790 motherboardsBest Z690 motherboards

The new Intel Raptor Lake CPUs are now available, featuring support for the LGA 1700 socket. Unlike their predecessors, these CPUs allow compatibility with older 600-series motherboards, eliminating the need for the latest 700-series motherboards. However, to determine if there are any missed performance upgrades or features by using the older motherboard, we’ll conduct a detailed comparison between Z790 and Z690 chipset motherboards.

Higher DDR5 Speeds

Both Z790 and Z690 chipsets support DDR5 memory while ensuring compatibility with DDR4 until 2024. However, the Z790 stands out with higher transfer rates, reaching up to 5600 MT/s compared to Z690’s 4800 MT/s. Despite backward compatibility with DDR4 up to 3200 MT/s, the Z790 offers superior DDR5 transfer rates.

Revised PCIe Lanes and Additional USB Port

While both Z790 and Z690 motherboards share the LGA 1700 socket with similar features, the Z790 introduces enhancements. It includes an extra USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 20 GB/s port, totaling five compared to four in the Z690. The Z790 also reallocates PCIe lanes, reducing PCIe 3.0 lanes from 16 to 8 and increasing PCIe 4.0 lanes from 12 to 20, supporting up to five M.2 slots.

Additional Features

Both Z790 and Z690 chipsets are equipped with numerous connectivity features, bandwidth, and overclocking support. Z690 introduced next-gen DDR5 memory, multiple USB ports, and PCIe lanes, all of which are retained in the Z790 chipset.

Continuity in Architecture

The 13th-gen Raptor Lake architecture, in Intel’s “tock” phase, signifies a period without revolutionary changes. Within this phase, the Z790 chipset serves as a refined version of its predecessor, maintaining compatibility with older 600-series motherboards through a BIOS update. Notably, in the i9-13900K vs. i9-12900K comparison, the 13th-gen CPU showed a 13.4% performance improvement, highlighting incremental advancements rather than a drastic shift in performance.

Price And Value

The Z790 motherboard can be had for a large price range, with the lower end being something like the MSI Pro Z790-A Wifi DDR4 at around $135, while the high-end motherboards like the Aorus Z790 Master X 1.0 can be had for around $706 on Amazon.

Most Z690 motherboards, however, retail for much lower on average. The price of these motherboards is in the $140-$200 range, though you can get some more extravagant options for much more.

What We Recommend

Z790 Vs. Z690
GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS ELITE Full View – Image Credits [Tech4Gamers]
Z690: Despite minimal differences, the Z690 is notable for its cost-effectiveness, delivering stable and reliable performance suitable for users who don’t need the slight enhancements of the Z790. It’s budget-friendly, supports overclocking, and offers features similar to the Z790.

Z790: On the other hand, the Z790, being relatively new, comes at a higher price point without offering substantial advantages over the Z690. While it introduces some upgrades, the additional cost may not be justified for users who do not urgently need the latest features. 

In summary, if budget is a concern and you don’t need the incremental improvements of the Z790, the Z690 is a practical choice, offering similar capabilities at a lower cost. However, if budget isn’t an issue and you desire the latest upgrades, the Z790 may be worth considering, especially for its additional features.


Can I use my i9-13900K with a Z690 motherboard?

Yes, since the Raptor Lake CPUs use the older LGA 1700 socket, you can pair any 13th-gen chipset with Z690 motherboards. All you need is a BIOS update from your motherboard’s manufacturer and you should be good to go.

What is the difference between Z790 and Z690?

Not much has changed with Intel’s latest Z790 chipset. The PCI express lanes have been reallocated for more PCIe 4.0 lanes, there is an extra USB 3.2 20 GBps port, and the motherboard supports up to 5600 MT/s DDR5 memory.

Is it worth upgrading to Z790 from Z690?

Not really, unless you absolutely want the small number of upgrades that the Z790 brings, there is no need to swap out the Z690 motherboard with the latest Z790. Especially if you have a high-end Z690 motherboard.

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