Such different “six hundred”: the best motherboards on the Z690 chipset

Intel’s 12th generation processors, codenamed “Alder Lake”, have become one of the most innovative developments in recent years. To implement all the innovations, new 600-series chipsets were required. So far, only the flagship Z690 has been presented. However, manufacturers have already released a ton of motherboards for the new product. Options can be selected for every taste and budget. We will get acquainted with the best motherboards in their price categories in this article.

You can read about the full list of innovations and features of the Z690 chipset here .

The budget board Asus PRIME Z690-P D4 is not much inferior to its more expensive brothers. 14 processor power phases, three M2 storage slots with PCI-E 4.0 x4 support, four full-size physical PCI-E x16 slots. The fact that the model belongs to an inexpensive segment is indicated only by the type of used memory – DDR4. The board has a 2.5 Gbps network controller and USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports. The board supports memory up to 5333 MHz overclocked. This allows you to build a system with fast DDR4 memory, which is not much inferior to DDR5. And at a relatively low price.

Motherboard ASUS PRIME Z690-P D4 20 499 *
The mid-range motherboard Asus PRIME Z690-A provides the user with good overclocking options. To do this, it has 16 phases and two 8-pin processor power connectors. The board as if calls to abandon outdated SATA drives. There are as many as four M2 connectors available, operating at full speed 4.0 x4. The board is capable of overclocking the new DDR5 memory up to 6000 MHz. There are two full-size PCI-E x16 ports. One of them is installed at the very bottom and has electrically only four lines from the chipset.

For a gaming assembly, this is unlikely to be an obstacle – there will be one video card in it, and the main slot for this fully supports PCI-E 5.0 x16. Expansion cards can be installed in two PCI-E x1 and one PCI-E x4 slots. This is enough in abundance. The board also has a 2.5 Gb / s network and 4 fast USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports (two in the form of Type-A, two in the form of Type-C).













Motherboard ASUS PRIME Z690-A 26 099 *
The Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Hero is one of the top boards in the ROG lineup. Each of the 20 power phases can handle up to 90 amps, supplying the flagship Alder Lake with an incredible amount of power. Equipping the board with good water cooling, you can set real overclocking records. The memory, for example, can be overclocked to 6400 MHz.

The board has three built-in M2 slots for storage. Two more slots are supported thanks to the proprietary Hyper M2 expansion card (included). The two full-height PCI-E 5.0 slots are capable of pairing in x8 mode, maximizing the bandwidth for two graphics cards. Six high-speed USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports coexist with four Type-C connectors. Built-in Wi-Fi 6E and a 2.5Gbps network controller will eliminate the need for external network devices. The native ROG SupremeFX audio based on the ALC4082 codec replaces a separate audio card.

It’s worth noting that the build can be personalized as much as possible thanks to the built-in Polymo Lighting screen .

Motherboard ASUS ROG MAXIMUS Z690 HERO 53 299 *
Gigabyte’s budget pass to the world of Alder Lake is the Z690 UD and Z690 UD DDR4 twin motherboards . They differ from each other only in the type of supported memory – DDR5 and DDR4. In the first case, frequencies up to 6000 MHz are available, in the second – up to 5333 MHz. The processor is powered by 16 phases and two connectors – 8- and 4-pin. Network controller – 2.5 Gb / s, one USB 3.2 Gen 2 port and another USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C. There are three full-size PCI-E x16 slots (electrically – x16, x4 and x1). There are also three seats for M2 drives. Boards without backlighting and unnecessary frills, but with a good set of functions and high-quality element base. They are ideal for assembling a working machine without overpayment.

GIGABYTE Z690 UD 17 599 motherboard *

GIGABYTE Z690 UD DDR4 17 599 motherboard *
The middle price segment on the new chipset from Gigabyte is opened by the long-familiar Gaming X line . It is a universal option in terms of price / quality ratio among the company’s motherboards. Twin boards for DDR5 and DDR4 memory offer similar power options to the UD line. Motherboards have a single massive heatsink on the VRM and additional heatsinks for M2 drives. They contribute to better cooling and give the motherboard a “predatory” appearance.

There are not three slots for M2 drives, but four. There are now two USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, and two USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type C ports have also been added (one on the rear panel, one can be brought out to the front). There are three full-size PCI-E x16 slots, but two slots are already wired electrically at x4 speed. The high-quality audio codec Realtek ALC1220-VB is used, the network is 2.5 Gbps. Appearance, high-quality cooling, good sound and low cost make this pair of motherboards ideal for budget and not-so-gaming assemblies.

GIGABYTE Z690 GAMING X 19 999 motherboard *

GIGABYTE Z690 GAMING X DDR4 18 999 motherboard *
The Z690 Aorus Master board barely lags behind the top of Asus. 19 phases, two 8-pin power connectors for the processor, as many as five connectors for M2 drives. The network adapter speed is 10 Gb / s, built-in Wi-Fi 6E is also present. There are five high-speed USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports. There are also three Type C ports, two of which operate in the fastest USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 mode. Sound – Realtek ALC1220-VB with additional amplifier ESS ES9118. There are three full-size PCI-E x16 ports, but two of them are capable of operating only at x4 speeds. DDR5 memory is capable of operating at speeds marked “6400+” by the manufacturer. This hints at breaking the 6400 MHz ceiling in future BIOS updates.

GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS MASTER 39 999 motherboard *
Inexpensive twin motherboards of the PRO Z690-A series from MSI, despite their budget, offer good features. 15 processor phases, two 8-pin connectors, four ports for M2 drives. The boards have three full-size PCI-E x16 slots (a pair – in x4 mode), a 2.5 Gbps network controller, one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port and one USB 3.2 Gen 3.2×2 Type-C port. Another Type-C Gen 2 can be brought out to the front panel. The DDR5 version supports memory frequencies up to 6400 MHz, for DDR4 – up to 5200 MHz.

MSI PRO Z690-A 18 999 motherboard *

MSI PRO Z690-A DDR4 17 599 motherboard *
Both options come with a built-in Wi-Fi 6 controller. If you need a wireless network but don’t want to install an expansion card, this is your choice.

MSI PRO Z690-A WIFI 20 999 motherboard *

MSI PRO Z690-A WIFI DDR4 19 999 motherboard *
MSI MPG Z690 FORCE WIFI Sub-flagship Boardcheaper than Asus flagships and most of Gigabyte’s flagship models. However, she has no less opportunities. 18 processor power phases and two 8-pin power connectors ensure stable overclocking. The model supports DDR5 memory at an incredible frequency of 6666 MHz. The board is equipped with built-in network adapters – wired 2.5 Gbps and wireless with support for Wi-Fi 6E. There are five slots for connecting M2 drives, the same number of USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports. There are two more Type-C ports – one Gen 2 for the front panel, one for a fast Gen 2×2 on the back. Realtek ALC4080 codec provides high quality audio. The PCI-E lanes of the processor can be divided into two PCI-E x16 slots. So you can install two graphics adapters on the board with minimal loss of connection speed. Additionally, one more full-size PCI-E x16 slot is available,

MSI motherboard MPG Z690 FORCE WIFI 35 999 *
What’s the bottom line?
Budget models on the new chipset can easily cope with even the flagship Core i7 and Core i9 without overclocking, while maintaining stability. Mid-end models can slightly overclock the fastest processors. They have more options for connecting expansion cards, drives and peripherals. The flagship models, coupled with water cooling, are able to squeeze the maximum performance out of both the new Alder Lake processors and the new DDR5 memory.

It is worth noting: models of the entry and middle price range are available in modifications for both the new DDR5 and the old DDR4. Therefore, assembly problems will not arise even with a limited budget.