10 Best Z690 Motherboards

Are you looking for the best Z690 motherboard for your new Intel 12th Gen Processor?

Look no further! We have curated an extensive list of the very best motherboards currently available for sale on the Z690 platform.

Intel’s 12th Generation Alder Lake CPUs are some of the most demanding processors on the consumer desktop platform, so it is only right that you find a perfect Z690 motherboard to pair with your brand-new CPU.

Moreover, Z690 motherboards represent the best of the best currently available for Team Blue, and these motherboards are ideal for premium CPUs such as the flagship Core i9 12900K.

Let’s jump right into our selections.

The Best Z690 Motherboards – Compared

Editors' Choice

Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Master

  • Extraordinary Power Delivery

  • Aquantia 10 GbE LAN

  • Premium Aesthetics

Best Premium Motherboard

ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero

  • Superb Storage Options

  • Robust VRM Design

  • Thunderbolt 4 Capability

Best Budget Motherboard

ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-PLUS WiFi

(Best Seller)

  • Solid Value Option

  • Great for DDR4 Builds

  • Decent VRM Setup

How We Choose the Best Z690 Motherboard

It is important for us to consider numerous specific factors when curating a list of the very best Z690 motherboards on the market. This is Intel’s flagship chipset for their Alder Lake generation, so the motherboard choice represents a very critical step of the whole process.

Our primary focus was the VRM design and general power delivery setup of the boards in question. The Z690 platform is ideally paired with flagship CPUs such as the Core i9 12900K, therefore it is important that the motherboard be able to overclock the high-end CPUs comfortably.

We also looked at the VRM cooling system that was implemented on each board by the manufacturer, as this can severely impact the long-term reliability and overclocking potential of the board.

best z690 Motherboard
https://unsplash.com/photos/Sc1GJCninik 

Our list also reflects our priorities in terms of features such as networking and connectivity. We selected motherboards that had the latest and greatest in terms of features since Z690 is supposed to be a high-end Intel platform.

Although the aesthetics of the board are usually subjective, we did pay attention to the general user feedback and tried to stay away from options that were deemed controversial among the enthusiasts.

Finally, the price tag of the board is one of the most critical points we considered when making this roundup. We focused on the value proposition more so than the price tag itself, since that is a more relevant metric when buying a motherboard.

Keeping these factors in mind, our specialized team curated a list of the very best Z690 motherboards currently available on the market.

Let’s dive in.

1. Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Master – Editor’s Choice

Form Factor: ATX | Chipset: Z690 | VRM: 19+2+1 Phase | Memory: 4x DIMM, 128GB, DDR5-6400 | Video Outputs: DisplayPort | USB Ports: 11x rear IO, 9x internal | Network: 1x 10 GbE LAN, 1x WiFi 6E | Storage: 4x M.2, 6x SATA

Pros:

  • Extraordinary Power Delivery
  • Aquantia 10 GbE LAN
  • Premium Aesthetics
  • Loads of Connectivity
  • Lots of USB Ports

Cons:

  • No HDMI
  • Very Expensive

Kicking things off with our Editor’s Choice, the Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Master is the best Z690 motherboard you can buy right now. It’s quite expensive, but it’s also one of the most feature-rich and robust Z690 motherboards on the market. The price-to-performance situation might not be ideal, but this board is one for the true enthusiasts.

Gigabyte also offers other variants of the AORUS line based on the Z690 chipset, such as the AORUS Z690 Elite and the Z690 Xtreme, but the Z690 Master takes the recommendation thanks to its excellent value for the money. It is quite expensive, but the balance of price-to-performance is rather good.

It is no surprise that the VRM of the Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Master is one of the best on the market. It uses a 19+2+1 phase design with 50A DrMOS stages, providing excellent power delivery for even the most demanding Alder Lake CPUs.

Gigabyte has also made sure that the VRM is well-cooled, with large heatsinks and a heat pipe that helps to keep temperatures low. This allows for easy overclocking of the CPU, even with a high-end 12900K at custom voltages. It is safe to say that the VRM is a premium aspect that helps to make the Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Master one of the best Z690 motherboards on the market.

As far as the feature set goes, the Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Master is a well-equipped motherboard that offers a range of features for gamers and other power users. It features high-speed networking capabilities, including support for WiFi 6E and 10 GbE LAN, as well as four M.2 slots for fast NVMe storage. The 10 Gigabit LAN networking is quite a unique selling point for this board.

Regarding connectivity, the motherboard features several high-speed rear USB ports, with even more expandability available through the internal headers. The Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Master also features a range of audio and visual features, including support for multiple displays and a range of audio codecs.

Frankly, it is very hard to find a feature that is missing from the Z690 AORUS Master. One might be able to label the lack of an HDMI port on the rear I/O as a drawback, but that falls under nitpicking at this point.

We also selected a similar Gigabyte option in our roundup of the best motherboards for i9 11900K.

The aesthetics of the Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Master are top-notch. The motherboard looks great with its black and silver color scheme. The design is eye-catching and the RGB lighting is stunning. The build quality is excellent, and the overall look and feel of the motherboard are premium.

One of the most unique design elements of the Z690 AORUS Master is the diagonal strip of RGB Lighting that extends from the lateral corner of the I/O shield all the way to the chipset heatsink. The RGB lighting can be configured using MSI Mystic Light to match your other components.

All in all, the Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Master is one of the very best overall motherboards you can buy on the Z690 platform. It’s packed with features, has great VRM performance, and looks gorgeous. It’s also one of the most expensive motherboards on the market but if you’re building a premium gaming PC, the Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Master should definitely be on your shortlist.

RATINGS:

  • VRM Design: 9.5/10
  • Features: 9.5/10
  • Aesthetics: 9/10
  • Value for Money: 7.5/10
  • Overall Rating: 9/10

2. ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero – Best Premium Z690 Motherboard

Form Factor: ATX | Chipset: Z690 | VRM: 20+1 Phase | Memory: 4x DIMM, 128GB, DDR5-6400 | Video Outputs: HDMI | USB Ports: 11x rear IO, 9x internal | Network: 1x 2.5 GbE LAN, 1x WiFi 6E | Storage: 5x M.2, 6x SATA

Pros:

  • Superb Storage Options
  • Robust VRM Design
  • Thunderbolt 4 Capability
  • Versatile Networking
  • Attractive RGB Lighting

Cons:

  • Very Pricy
  • No DisplayPort

ASUS’ ROG Maximus XIII Hero is the best premium Z690 motherboard we’ve tested so far. It’s a high-end product that comes with a very high price tag, but it offers a robust feature set and excellent performance. The unique blend of high-end features and unparalleled VRM design makes the Z690 Hero our Editor’s Choice for this roundup.

The VRM on the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero uses a 20+1 phase design with high-quality components. Moreover, the VRM has active cooling with two large heatsinks that are connected by a heat pipe. The VRM on this motherboard is capable of delivering up to 600 watts of power to the CPU, making it ideal for overclocking.

In terms of reliability, the VRM is also compliant with Intel’s VRD12 specification, which means it can provide clean and stable power delivery to the CPU even when operating at high frequencies. This power delivery setup is able to handle even the Core i9 12900K at competitive overclocking settings.

We gave the edge to the ROG Maximus Z690 Hero over the more expensive Maximus variants such as the Z690 Extreme because the Hero has a way better price-to-performance output. Another competing alternative can be the MSI Z690 GODLIKE, which is also a ridiculously expensive option.

The Maximus Z690 Hero also appears in our roundup of the best motherboards for i9 12900K, and for good reason.

Of course, the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero is a high-end motherboard that offers a wide range of features for gamers and other users. It includes five M.2 slots for storage which is a very healthy number, as well as support for up to six SATA drives. It also features WiFi 6 networking and a 2.5 GbE LAN port for high-speed connectivity.

In addition, the motherboard includes a total of eleven rear USB ports, including multiple USB Type-C ports. The ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero also features a range of advanced features, such as support for Intel’s Thunderbolt 4 standard and an onboard OLED display. However, the board lacks a rear DisplayPort output, which could have been helpful in diagnostic scenarios.

Moving on to the design, the Maximus Z690 Hero is a gorgeous motherboard with a sleek design that is sure to turn heads. The color scheme is black and white with accents of RGB lighting, which can be customized to your liking.

The I/O shield, chipset heatsink, and M.2 SSD heatsink are all tinted in a ROG-themed hue of matte black, while the motherboard I/O cover itself has a glossy finish. The retro design of the ROG logo is particularly unique and looks awesome when installed in a gaming build.

Conclusively, the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero is one of the very best high-end motherboards you can buy. It’s packed with premium features and delivers excellent VRM performance even when paired with the most demanding CPUs.

The one area where it falls slightly behind its competitors is in terms of value for money. However, if you’re looking for the very best high-end motherboard money can buy, the ROG Maximus Z690 Hero should be at the top of your list.

RATINGS:

  • VRM Design: 9.5/10
  • Features: 9/10
  • Aesthetics: 9.5/10
  • Value for Money: 7.5/10
  • Overall Rating: 9/10

3. ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-PLUS WiFi – Best Budget Z690 Motherboard [BEST SELLER]

Form Factor: ATX | Chipset: Z690 | VRM: 14+1 Phase | Memory: 4x DIMM, 128GB, DDR4-5333 | Video Outputs: DisplayPort | USB Ports: 8x rear IO, 7x internal | Network: 1x 2.5 GbE LAN, 1x WiFi 6E | Storage: 4x M.2, 4x SATA

Pros:

  • Solid Value Option
  • Great for DDR4 Builds
  • Decent VRM Setup
  • Nice Networking Features
  • Stealthy Design

Cons:

  • Lack of RGB Lighting
  • Few Rear USB Ports

While it is nice to splurge on premium components, sometimes you have to consider the value option as well. The ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-PLUS WiFi is one of the best budget Z690 motherboards on the market. It offers great value for money, with a price-to-performance ratio that is hard to beat. Moreover, it does not cut many corners to achieve that attractive value proposition.

First of all, the VRM of the ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-PLUS WiFi is a 14+1 phase setup with active cooling to deliver reliable power to the CPU, even when overclocking. The VRM is also cooled by two heatsinks, which helps to dissipate heat and prevent throttling.

While the thermal performance of the two heatsinks is not the best among the Z690 motherboards we have tested, it should be able to hold up under moderate overclocking without any problems. It is wise to not pair the ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-PLUS with demanding CPUs like the 12900K under custom voltages.

Despite being a value-oriented option, the ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-PLUS WiFi is a well-rounded motherboard that offers a variety of features for gamers and general users alike. For networking, the board features both a 2.5 GbE LAN port and WiFi, providing flexibility for users who want to connect to the internet either wirelessly or with a cable.

The board also features four M.2 slots for fast NVMe storage, as well as four SATA ports. The connectivity of the board in terms of USB is also quite decent, although we would have liked to see more USB ports on the rear I/O. The lack of an HDMI output may also pose a problem during diagnostic procedures.

Of course, an ASUS TUF branded motherboard is bound to be understated and stealthy in terms of aesthetics. The motherboard features a sleek black design with hints of yellow throughout. The color scheme is complemented by just a touch of RGB lighting, which can be customized to add a personal feel.

It’s not just about aesthetics; the motherboard also has a solid construction that is built to last. The metal backplate adds a touch of luxury, and the EMI shield protects against electromagnetic interference. The ASUS TUF series places special focus on the reliability and durability of motherboards, and the Z690-PLUS is no exception.

In the budget segment, ASUS also offers the ASUS PRIME Z690-A motherboard, but we prioritized the ASUS TUF Z690-Plus because of its robust power delivery system and versatile feature set. You may also consider the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A instead, but it is a bit more expensive than the TUF option.

Overall, the ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-PLUS WiFi motherboard is one of the very best options available in the budget to mid-range category. It offers great value for money and should be considered by anyone looking to build a new gaming PC on the Alder Lake platform. The tradeoffs are minor and are easily outweighed by the many benefits of the Z690-PLUS.

RATINGS:

  • VRM Design: 8.5/10
  • Features: 8/10
  • Aesthetics: 8/10
  • Value for Money: 9.5/10
  • Overall Rating: 9/10

4. MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi – Best Overclocking Z690 Motherboard

Form Factor: ATX | Chipset: Z690 | VRM: 18+1+1 Phase | Memory: 4x DIMM, 128GB, DDR5-6666 | Video Outputs: HDMI, DisplayPort | USB Ports: 9x rear IO, 7x internal | Network: 1x 2.5 GbE LAN, 1x WiFi 6E | Storage: 5x M.2, 6x SATA

Pros:

  • Great for Overclocking
  • Excellent VRM Cooling
  • Robust Storage Options
  • Solid Connectivity
  • Unique RGB Design

Cons:

  • Quite Expensive
  • Controversial Aesthetics

The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi is our pick for the best overclocking Z690 motherboard on the market. It’s a high-end Z690 motherboard that pairs ideally with premium Alder Lake CPUs with an unlocked multiplier. Even if you’re not an experienced overclocker, you can still get good results with this board thanks to its supreme VRM design.

Speaking of the power delivery system, the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi uses an 18+1+1 phase VRM for power delivery. The 18 dedicated phases for the CPU make sure that you can hit and sustain some pretty high clock speeds on your 12th Gen Intel processor.

The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi also uses quality heatsinks and heat pipes to ensure adequate cooling for the VRM. The VRM on the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi is more than adequate for enthusiast overclocking on high-end CPUs like the Core i9 12900K, without any risk of overheating as well.

MSI’s Z690 Tomahawk is an alternative option to the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi, but we went with the latter because of the superior power delivery setup of the Z690 Carbon WiFi. Furthermore, the Tomahawk offers an inferior feature set as well.

A similar MSI option was also selected in our list of the best Z590 motherboards.

Since the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi is a high-end desktop motherboard, it offers a variety of features for gamers and PC enthusiasts. The storage features are pretty impressive thanks to the five M.2 slots for ultra-fast storage, as well as six SATA ports for your older drives.

The board also features onboard Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0, as well as a 2.5 GbE LAN port for wired networking. In terms of connectivity, the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi features a total of nine rear USB ports which is a pretty healthy number. There is not a lot to complain about when it comes to the feature set of the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi.

Moving on to the aesthetics and design of the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi, this is where the board might lose a bit of traction. The motherboard comes in a sleek black color with subtle accents, and there is a false carbon fiber texture all over the board.

Moreover, the RGB lighting is quite prevalent and looks great. The giant MSI dragon logo coupled with the aggressive carbon pattern on the I/O cover is quite an aesthetic choice, and it may not be perfect for every build.

In conclusion, the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi is the perfect blend of good value, features, and overclocking capability. If you’re looking for a good overclocking motherboard to include in your next build, this is one to consider. The high price tag of the board is definitely something to consider, but the benefits seem to outweigh the cost upon further review.

RATINGS:

  • VRM Design: 9/10
  • Features: 8.5/10
  • Aesthetics: 8/10
  • Value for Money: 8/10
  • Overall Rating: 8.5/10

5. ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A – Best Design

Form Factor: ATX | Chipset: Z690 | VRM: 16+1 Phase | Memory: 4x DIMM, 128GB, DDR5-5333 | Video Outputs: HDMI, DisplayPort | USB Ports: 10x rear IO, 7x internal | Network: 1x 2.5 GbE LAN, 1x WiFi 6 | Storage: 4x M.2, 6x SATA

Pros:

  • Beautiful White Design
  • Solid Value
  • Decent Power Delivery
  • Excellent Networking
  • Attractive RGB Implementation

Cons:

  • Moderate VRM Cooling
  • Relatively Lower DDR5 Speeds

Moving down the price bracket, the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A is one of the best mid-range Z690 motherboards on the market. It offers high-end features and performance while keeping a reasonable price tag, making it a great choice for gamers and enthusiasts alike. There are some compromises here and there, but the overall package is quite impressive in a relative sense.

Starting off with the power delivery, the ROG Strix Z690-A uses a 16+1 phase VRM design to power the latest Intel CPUs on the Alder Lake platform. This VRM is capable of delivering clean, stable power to the likes of i9 12900K, even when overclocking. The high-quality components and extensive cooling make this power delivery setup stand out.

With a couple of massive heatsinks for heat dissipation, the ROG Strix Z690-A even handles extended loads very well. However, the board may struggle if paired with an overclocked 12900K with custom voltages over an extended period of time. Still, the VRM on the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A is very well-rounded, providing great power delivery and overclocking potential.

The ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A is an excellent motherboard that offers a number of features that are sure to appeal to gamers and PC enthusiasts. For starters, the board includes four M.2 slots for added storage capacity and faster data speeds with high-speed NVMe drives.

It also features Intel WiFi 6 and 2.5 Gbps LAN for fast networking, and there are a total of ten rear USB ports (including two USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports) for connectivity. A small gripe we have with this motherboard is that the default memory compatibility speed is only 5333 MT/s for DDR5, which is a bit lower compared to the competition.

You can also go with the ROG Strix Z690-E for this spot, as it is quite similar to the Z690-A apart from the color scheme. The Z690-F variant is another alternative from the same ROG lineup, but it is a bit lightweight in terms of features when compared to the former two options.

Arguably the most attractive aspect of the board is its unique design and color scheme. The ROG Strix Z690-A has a refined design language that shows ASUS’ dedication to the ROG theme. The color scheme is primarily white and black, with hints of blue throughout the board. The white and blue color combination looks fantastic, and it is not something you normally see on a ROG board.

You can also check out our selection of the best white motherboards for more options.

Of course, the board also features RGB lighting, which can be customized to taste using the Aura Sync software. This board will look really good in white-themed builds that are ever so popular nowadays. ASUS has done an excellent job with the aesthetics of this board.

All in all, the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A is a great motherboard for those looking to build a high-end gaming PC without completely breaking the bank on the motherboard. It offers excellent VRM performance and loads of features, while also being reasonably priced. Its unique design also brings something fresh to the table in a world of very boring-looking motherboards.

RATINGS:

  • VRM Design: 8.5/10
  • Features: 8/10
  • Aesthetics: 9/10
  • Value for Money: 8/10
  • Overall Rating: 8.5/10

6. ASUS ROG Strix Z690-I – Best Mini ITX Z690 Motherboard

Form Factor: Mini ITX | Chipset: Z690 | VRM: 10+1 Phase | Memory: 2x DIMM, 128GB, DDR5-6400 | Video Outputs: HDMI | USB Ports: 9x rear IO, 5x internal | Network: 1x 2.5 GbE LAN, 1x WiFi 6E | Storage: 2x M.2, 4x SATA

Pros:

  • Ideal for Compact Builds
  • Attractive Design
  • Acceptable VRM Setup
  • Solid Networking Suite

Cons:

  • Relatively Pricy
  • Limited Expansion
  • Mediocre VRM Cooling

Compact gaming PCs are all the rage right now, and the best mini ITX Z690 motherboard is the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-I. It’s one of the best options out there if you’re looking for a high-end, compact Z690 motherboard that has all the bells and whistles. It also has a unique design that sets it apart from all the similar-looking motherboards on the market.

The mini ITX market is quite limited on the Z690 platform, so you can’t really find a lot of alternatives. We like the MSI MEG Z690I as well, but it is a bit less impressive in terms of features than the ROG offering. On the budget side, we do have the ASRock Z690M-ITX as well.

The VRM of the ROG Strix Z690-I is quite robust, with a 10+1 phase setup with premium components. This ensures that power delivery is smooth and stable, even when overclocking more demanding Alder Lake CPUs. The VRM is not as capable as some of the more expensive ASUS motherboards, but it gets the job done quite nicely.

Additionally, the VRM is cooled by large aluminum heatsinks, which helps to keep temperatures in check. The Strix Z690-I can handle almost any 12th Gen CPU you can throw at it, but there are realistic limits to its capability which should be respected.

The ASUS ROG Strix Z690-I is a high-performance mini-ITX motherboard that features a robust feature set and excellent networking capabilities. Ideal for small form factor builds, the motherboard features two M.2 slots for ultra-fast storage, WiFi 6 support for blazing-fast wireless speeds, and a robust 2.5 GbE LAN port.

Additionally, the motherboard features a wide variety of connectivity options including USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, as well as rear HDMI for those rare troubleshooting moments. Being a mini-ITX motherboard has its limitations, however, so the Strix Z690-I suffers from the same flaws.

You only get 2 DIMM slots for your DDR5 memory, which can be a limitation down the line. Furthermore, the board only has a single full-size x16 PCIe slot for expansion. However, these drawbacks are down to the mini-ITX form factor and not the board itself.

The aesthetics of a product are always important to gamers, and the same holds true for the motherboard. This motherboard has a clean and modern design that is sure to appeal to gamers. The black and silver color scheme is a classic gaming look, and the RGB lighting adds a touch of style.

The motherboard also has a shroud that covers the I/O area, which looks great and helps to keep the PCB tidy. The corner of the I/O cover has the classic ROG eye with the Strix script, which is now an iconic design piece in gaming products.

Overall, the ROG Strix Z690-I is one of the best mini ITX boards on the market, and it should definitely be on your list if you’re looking for a high-performance Z690 option. It has excellent overclocking potential, thanks to its impressive power delivery system, and it comes with a robust feature set that is rare to see in a mini-ITX board.

The only downside is that it’s somewhat expensive, but overall, the ROG Strix Z690-I is a great option and one of the best mini ITX boards available on the platform.

RATINGS:

  • VRM Design: 8.5/10
  • Features: 8/10
  • Aesthetics: 8/10
  • Value for Money: 7.5/10
  • Overall Rating: 8/10

7. ASUS ROG Strix Z690-G Gaming – Best Micro ATX Z690 Motherboard

Form Factor: Micro ATX | Chipset: Z690 | VRM: 14+1 Phase | Memory: 4x DIMM, 128GB, DDR5-6000+ | Video Outputs: HDMI, DisplayPort | USB Ports: 10x rear IO, 7x internal | Network: 1x 2.5 GbE LAN, 1x WiFi 6E | Storage: 3x M.2, 6x SATA

Pros:

  • Thunderbolt 4 Option
  • Nice Design
  • Decent Feature Set
  • Good VRM Setup

Cons:

  • Quite Expensive
  • Limited Expansion Slots
  • Thunderbolt is not native

If you’re looking for the best micro ATX motherboard on the Z690 platform, the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-G Gaming is one of the best options out there. It’s reasonably priced and packed with features, making it a great choice for gamers and enthusiasts alike. It also overclocks well, letting you get the most out of your CPU.

Speaking of overclocking, the VRM on the ASUS Strix Z690-G Gaming motherboard is quite impressive. It’s a 14+1 phase VRM with good quality power delivery components. The VRM is very capable of overclocking most Alder Lake CPUs to their highest possible frequency.

Moreover, the VRM also has excellent cooling with large heatsinks. The heat dissipation system is quite good for a micro ATX board, but it still can’t match up to some of the more premium ATX options out there. It is wise to assume that the ROG Strix Z690-G is not the ideal motherboard for overclocking the Core i9 12900K.

ASRock’s Z690M Phantom Gaming is a solid alternative to the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-G when it comes to the best micro ATX motherboards for the i9 12900K, but we prefer the latter thanks to its superior feature set, even though the ASRock offering is substantially cheaper.

When it comes to features, it is clear that the ROG Strix Z690-G Gaming is a well-equipped gaming motherboard that features a wide range of features and connectivity options. For networking, the board features both Wi-Fi 6 and 2.5 Gigabit LAN. There are also a total of three M.2 slots for storage, which is a healthy number for a compact motherboard.

In terms of connectivity, there are a total of ten rear USB ports, with more USB headers internally for expansion. The board also features a wide range of audio and video connectors, making it easy to connect to a variety of external devices.

On the flip side, the Thunderbolt capability of the board is not native. ASUS has provided an internal header for Thunderbolt 4 support, but you have to install a separate card for this feature. We would have liked to see native support for Thunderbolt at this price point.

The board also has limited expansion in terms of PCIe slots, since it is a compact micro ATX board. However, it is not really a deal-breaker since no one uses SLI anymore.

The aesthetics of the ROG Strix Z690-G Gaming are striking, to say the least. The all-black design is accented by color RGB lighting, which can be customized to your liking. The lighting also looks great in low-light conditions, such as when it is installed in a PC case.

In terms of design, the ROG Strix Z690-G Gaming looks very sleek since it carries forward the same ROG design language that we know and love. The RGB lighting is the highlight of the design language, and we won’t have it any other way.

As a result, the ASUS Strix Z690-G is one of the best micro-ATX Z690 boards on the market, and it should definitely be on your list if you’re looking for a high-end option in a compact form factor. It offers great features and performance, and it’s among the best in its class.

RATINGS:

  • VRM Design: 8/10
  • Features: 8/10
  • Aesthetics: 7.5/10
  • Value for Money: 9/10
  • Overall Rating: 8/10

8. Gigabyte Z690-I AORUS Ultra – Best for SFF PCs

Form Factor: Mini ITX | Chipset: Z690 | VRM: 10+1+2 Phase | Memory: 2x DIMM, 64GB, DDR5-6400 | Video Outputs: DisplayPort | USB Ports: 8x rear IO, 7x internal | Network: 1x 2.5 GbE LAN, 1x WiFi 6E | Storage: 5x M.2, 6x SATA

Pros:

  • Great for SFF Builds
  • Lots of Storage Options
  • Attractive Design
  • Relatively Affordable

Cons:

  • Mediocre VRM Cooling
  • Limited Upgrade Path
  • RGB Lighting Placement

The Gigabyte Z690-I AORUS Ultra is another competent mini ITX motherboard for the Z690 platform. It’s affordable, packed with features, and easy to set up. The best part is that it performs just as well as its full-sized counterparts.

The motherboard also has great overclocking potential, and it comes with a robust VRM that can handle even the most demanding CPUs. It uses 10+1+2 phases with 55A DrMOS power stages. Although the VRM setup is not the most premium, it is still good enough for most 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs at overclocked settings.

Moreover, the VRM is also cooled by two massive aluminum heatsinks. This helps to keep the VRM cool even when under heavy load, allowing for better overclocking and stability. The thermal performance is among the best we have seen in mini ITX motherboards on the Z690 platform, but it can struggle with the likes of the Core i9 12900K at custom voltages.

The Gigabyte Z690-I AORUS Ultra is a features-packed mini-ITX motherboard that’s designed for high-end gaming and overclocking. It has excellent networking features, including both WiFi 6 and 2.5Gbps Ethernet, and it also has support for up to five M.2 NVMe SSDs. The storage and connectivity options are excellent, with support for up to six SATA drives and multiple USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports.

Being a mini-ITX motherboard comes with its fair share of limitations in terms of expansion. You only get two DIMM slots for DDR5 memory, which is a bit of a drawback in terms of the upgrade path. Moreover, you cannot really install multiple PCIe expansion cards on this motherboard, but that limitation is not unique to this particular mini ITX motherboard.

We also would have liked to see an HDMI port on the rear I/O in addition to DisplayPort, since that can be really helpful in diagnostic scenarios.

Alternatives are hard to find in the mini ITX space, but the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-I can be a valid competitor to the Gigabyte Z690-I AORUS Ultra. The latter, however, is our pick for this spot thanks to its excellent price-to-performance ratio as compared to the ASUS option.

The aesthetics of the Gigabyte Z690-I AORUS Ultra are simple but attractive. The all-black design with the silver accents is really nice, and gamers will love the way the RGB lighting looks. The color scheme is definitely not unique, but the AORUS eagle design pattern on the board looks very distinct.

The only downside is that the lighting strip is in a bit of an unusual spot, but overall, the aesthetics of this motherboard are great.

At the end of the day, the Gigabyte Z690-I AORUS Ultra is one of the best mini ITX motherboards currently available for the Z690 platform. As far as the conclusion goes, it may be hard to find a better board in this size category, especially considering the reasonable price tag. It has excellent features, great overclocking potential, and can fit in small form factor PC cases.

RATINGS:

  • VRM Design: 7.5/10
  • Features: 7/10
  • Aesthetics: 8/10
  • Value for Money: 8/10
  • Overall Rating: 7.5/10

9. MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi – Best for Stealthy Builds

Form Factor: ATX | Chipset: Z690 | VRM: 8+4 Phase | Memory: 4x DIMM, 128GB, DDR5-6400 | Video Outputs: HDMI, DisplayPort | USB Ports: 6x rear IO, 9x internal | Network: 1x 2.5 GbE LAN, 1x WiFi 6E | Storage: 4x M.2, 6x SATA

Pros:

  • Quite Affordable
  • Decent Networking
  • Good Storage Options

Cons:

  • Unremarkable VRM Setup
  • No RGB Lighting
  • Few Rear USB Ports
  • Mediocre VRM Cooling

One of the best budget motherboards on the market is the MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi. Its affordable nature and competent feature-set make it a compelling option for gamers who are looking for a Z690 motherboard on the cheap. Despite cutting a few corners here and there, the Z690-A WiFi is still very respectable as an overall Z690 motherboard.

Firstly, the VRM on the MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi is very decent and easily capable of delivering enough power to any CPU you could throw at it, including the new 12900K at stock settings. The 8+4 phase VRM components are all high quality and the cooling solution is more than adequate, with large heatsinks that do an excellent job of dissipating heat.

The VRM also does a great job of remaining cool even when under load, so you can be sure that your CPU will get the power it needs for stable overclocking. However, keep in mind that the VRM setup will likely struggle when paired with an overclocked i9 12900K for extended periods of time.

When it comes to the features, it is clear that the MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi is a very competent motherboard designed for gamers. In terms of networking, the board features a suite of 2.5 Gigabit LAN and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. It also includes four M.2 slots for SSDs, as well as six SATA ports for additional storage.

In terms of connectivity, the board offers six rear USB ports which is quite a low number for a modern Z690 motherboard. Although you can use the internal headers to expand your connectivity, we would have liked to see more high-speed USB ports on the rear I/O instead.

Moving on to aesthetics, the MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi is a fairly well-designed motherboard with understated aesthetics. The color scheme is black and white, with a hint of silver here and there. The board pairs well with stealthy black builds, but it may look out of place on other gaming PCs.

There is a stark lack of RGB lighting on the board, which is almost a necessity in modern gaming motherboards. If you are a fan of RGB lighting, you might want to stay away from this one. On the flip side, the build quality of the board is actually quite impressive.

In terms of alternatives, the ASUS PRIME Z690-P falls close in price to the MSI Pro Z690-A, however, it falls short when it comes to the overall feature set. Moreover, the VRM design of the MSI option is superior, making it our pick for this spot.

Conclusively, the MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi is a very competent budget Z690 board that checks a lot of boxes. Although it cuts a few corners here and there, the overall package is quite impressive for the price and should be considered by most PC builders. The MSI Pro Z690-A is also a great choice for gamers who want a stealthy black motherboard to match their build.

RATINGS:

  • VRM Design: 7/10
  • Features: 7.5/10
  • Aesthetics: 7/10
  • Value for Money: 9/10
  • Overall Rating: 7.5/10

10. ASUS PRIME Z690-A – Best Cheap Z690 Motherboard

Form Factor: ATX | Chipset: Z690 | VRM: 16+1 Phase | Memory: 4x DIMM, 128GB, DDR5-6000 | Video Outputs: HDMI, DisplayPort | USB Ports: 8x rear IO, 7x internal | Network: 1x 2.5 GbE LAN | Storage: 4x M.2, 4x SATA

Pros:

  • Attractive White Theme
  • Quite Affordable
  • Good Storage Options

Cons:

  • Lack of WiFi
  • Fewer SATA Ports
  • Unremarkable VRM
  • Few Rear USB Ports

Our last pick of the day is the ASUS PRIME Z690-A, which is one of the best-value Z690 motherboards on the market. It’s a great option for anyone looking for an affordable, high-quality Z690 motherboard. The PRIME Z690-A offers excellent features and VRM performance, making it one of the most underrated Z690 motherboards currently available.

Being a value-oriented motherboard, the PRIME’s VRM components are not the best in the business. However, it is still good enough for most of the Intel 12th Gen Alder Lake lineup, barring a few of the most demanding SKUs. You can, however, expect the 16+1 phase VRM to handle the Alder Lake flagship on stock settings without any voltage modifications.

Moreover, the VRM has decent cooling with its large heatsinks connected by a heat pipe. The thermal performance of the board is not as high as some of its ROG siblings, but it is still acceptable over an extended period of time.

The ASUS PRIME Z690-A is a budget motherboard that makes some compromises when it comes to the feature set. For networking, the PRIME Z690-A features a 2.5 GbE LAN port for fast speeds, but our selected variant lacks WiFi. This is a cost-cutting measure that we feel is not acceptable on a Z690 motherboard in 2022.

It also features four M.2 slots for high-speed NVMe SSDs, as well as numerous SATA ports for traditional hard drives and SSDs. In terms of connectivity, the PRIME Z690-A features a total of eight rear USB ports, which is a relatively low number as well. A neat touch is the inclusion of a Thunderbolt 4 port on the rear I/O, which is rare to see in budget motherboards.

When it comes to aesthetics, the ASUS PRIME Z690-A is a real stunner. This can be called the defining feature of this motherboard, and it is certainly a selling point. The motherboard features a sleek and stylish design that is accentuated by its white color scheme. The board is a great fit for modern gaming PC builds with a white theme, which are becoming more and more popular nowadays.

In addition, the board features RGB lighting that can be customized to create a variety of looks. The placement and design of the RGB zones are also quite well thought-out.

Some potential buyers may prefer the Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Elite AX over the PRIME at this price point, but we chose the latter thanks to its excellent value proposition and unique design element. You can also consider the Gigabyte Z690 AERO G if you want a similar white motherboard at this price point.

Overall, the ASUS PRIME Z690-A is a great board for anyone looking for a quality Z690 motherboard without breaking the bank. It has all the features you would want in a good board, and it performs quite well in terms of power delivery as well. The best value Z690 board out there right now, the ASUS PRIME Z690-A is a great buy.

RATINGS:

  • VRM Design: 6.5/10
  • Features: 7/10
  • Aesthetics: 8/10
  • Value for Money: 7.5/10
  • Overall Rating: 7/10

Best Z690 Motherboard – Buyer’s Guide

Buying a can be a daunting experience, and the same is the case with a Z690 motherboard. Here are some of the factors to consider when making your purchase decision.

DDR4 vs. DDR5

Z690 motherboards are quite unique due to the fact that they support both DDR4 and DDR5 memory generations. However, this presents a monumental purchasing decision that you have to make before finalizing your motherboard decision.

In Z690 motherboards, there are separate versions for both DDR4 and DDR5 memory. No motherboard supports both types of memory on the same board, since the DIMM slots and the corresponding memory sticks are physically different. This means that you will have to choose either a DDR4 version or a DDR5 version of a Z690 motherboard when making this purchase.

We have created a guide about which motherboards support DDR5 memory, which you can check out.

pink motherboard
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DDR5 is the brand new memory generation that brings with it some gigantic leaps in terms of performance and efficiency. Quite simply put, even the initial iterations of DDR5 memory are much faster than later iterations of DDR4 memory, which is down to the architectural changes they have made in this generation.

Moreover, DDR5 memory is much more efficient than DDR4 memory due to its different operating voltages. Where DDR4 operated at 1.2V, DDR5 can operate at 1.1V manifesting huge improvement in efficiency and heat output.

So the decision falls to the potential buyer. Should you make the jump to DDR5 or continue with your trusty old DDR4 memory for the time being?

Well, initial evidence suggests that there is not a lot of difference in gaming performance between the two memory types, even though DDR5 memory usually comes out ahead in most scenarios. This gap, however, is guaranteed to increase in the coming months and years.

DDR5 memory kits and motherboards are also significantly more expensive than their DDR4 counterparts right now. Therefore, you pay an early-adopter fee for this cutting-edge technology just to be the first to use it.

Moreover, you also have to understand that if you go for a DDR4 motherboard right now, it might save you some money in the short term but can be a limitation to your upgrade path down the line. If and when you decide to upgrade to DDR5, you will have to upgrade both your memory as well as your motherboard.

Therefore, choosing between DDR4 and DDR5 is a big part of finalizing your Z690 motherboard decision.

Upgrade Path

It is also important to consider the upgrade path that you get when buying a Z690 motherboard. Currently, the Z690 platform supports only the 12th Gen Intel Alder Lake processors, but that is bound to change soon.

inside computer
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Intel is releasing the 13th Gen Intel Raptor Lake processors sometime in Q4 2022 if the rumors are to be believed. The 13th Gen processors are confirmed to support the same LGA 1700 socket as well as both Intel 600 and 700-series motherboards.

This means that you can hypothetically install a new 13th Gen processor on your existing Z690 motherboard as a direct upgrade when those processors are available. This gives you a nice upgrade path for your motherboard and you can maximize its value proposition.

However, there are some slight drawbacks of using a 13th Gen Raptor Lake processor on a Z690 motherboard instead of the upcoming Z790 boards. If you use a Raptor Lake chip on a 600-series motherboard, you’ll lose the improvements in PCH PCIe lane configurations that only come with 700-series boards.

In the grand scheme of things, these changes are minor and you shouldn’t be able to feel any significant difference in your day-to-day operation with a Z690 motherboard either.

Networking, USB Ports, and SATA Ports

Choosing a Z690 motherboard might seem like a daunting task because of the sea of options in the market. However, if you know what to look for in terms of features, the process can be much simpler. You should keep in mind some of the important features to look out for when buying a motherboard.

First of all, you should consider the networking and storage features of your motherboard. For networking on a Z690 motherboard, you should look for at least a 2.5 GbE LAN port and WiFi 6 capability, which is pretty standard at this point.

usb
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As far as storage goes, the premium Z690 motherboards usually have four or even five M.2 slots for your NVMe drives, as well as six SATA ports for older hard drives and SSDs. You should also keep your eye out for high-speed USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports on the rear I/O, as well as specialty ports such as Thunderbolt 4 if you can make use of those ports.

Another important thing to consider when choosing a motherboard is how many RAM slots it has because that will determine how much RAM you can have. Most ATX and micro ATX motherboards have four RAM slots which are plenty for most people but usually compact mini ITX motherboards only have 2 DIMM slots which can hinder your upgrade path.

PCI Express slots are used for graphics cards, sound cards, and other expansion cards. Most motherboards have at least two PCI express slots but if you want to be able to add multiple expansion cards, you should look for a motherboard with four or more PCI express slots.

As long as you keep these things in mind, choosing a good motherboard shouldn’t be too difficult.

Power Delivery

If you’re in the market for a new Z690 motherboard, you may have come across the term “VRM.” Since the 12th Gen Intel Alder Lake processors are some of the very demanding processors currently available, you will need to pay attention to this factor when buying a Z690 motherboard.

VRM stands for Voltage Regulator Module. It’s a subsystem on your motherboard that provides power to the CPU. The CPU is one of the most power-hungry components in your system, so it’s important to have a good VRM to ensure that your CPU gets the clean and stable power it needs. A good VRM also helps to improve system stability and can increase overclocking potential.

power
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There are a few things to look for when shopping for a motherboard with VRM in mind. First, you’ll want to check the number of phases. The more phases there are, the better the power delivery will be in a general sense.

Second, you’ll want to check the quality of the components used. Good quality components will result in better power delivery and increased reliability. This part is a bit harder to judge without having the board in hand.

Finally, you’ll want to check the cooling solution. A good cooling solution will help to keep your VRM cool and stable under heavy load, which is arguably the most important part of testing a motherboard.

When shopping for a new Z690 motherboard, be sure to keep VRM in mind. It is not quite possible to judge a VRM quality just by looking at the board, but there are certainly ways to do that. Look for motherboards with a high number of phases and high-quality components for the best results.

Moreover, you can also find several reviews of VRMs online both by expert reviewers as well as regular customers.

Form Factor

One of the most important considerations when buying a Z690 motherboard is the form factor. The form factor of a motherboard refers to its size and shape. It’s important to choose a motherboard with the right form factor for your case. Otherwise, you won’t be able to properly install all of your components.

The most common form factors are ATX, micro ATX, and mini-ITX. For most gaming computers, you’ll want to choose an ATX motherboard. This will give you plenty of room to install all of your components and upgrade in the future if needed. Moreover, ATX motherboards generally have better VRMs and more features than the other form factors, which is a bonus when buying a Z690 motherboard.

form factor
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MicroATX is a smaller form factor that is less expensive and easier to install. These motherboards are usually stripped down in terms of features, but they offer a lot more value for the money.

Mini-ITX is the smallest form factor and is perfect for small form-factor builds and specialty PC cases. These boards are usually as expensive as ATX motherboards, but they are unusually compact so they create a use case for themselves.

Ultimately, it is up to the potential buyer to pick a form factor that gives them the right balance in terms of size and features. For most consumers on the Z690 platform, the choice will default to an ATX motherboard unless they need to install the board in a compact PC case.

FAQs:

Does Z690 support i9 11900K?

Z690 does not support i9 11900K CPU because that CPU belongs to the previous generation of Intel processors. The 11th Generation Intel CPUs are not compatible with Z690 motherboards because they use a different socket. They are compatible with LGA 1200 sockets while the Z690 platform uses the LGA 1700 socket. You need a Z590 motherboard (or other 500 series motherboards) for i9 11900K.

Is Z690 future proof?

Z690 can be considered future proof for one more generation since Intel has confirmed that it will be compatible with the 13th Generation Intel Raptor Lake processors. These CPUs are set to be released in Q4 of 2022, and they will have drop-in compatibility with both Intel 600 and 700-series motherboards. However, one should not expect any more support for the LGA 1700 socket or Z690 motherboards after that generation.

Does Z690 support memory and CPU overclocking?

Z690 does support full memory overclocking as well as CPU overclocking since it is the flagship Intel chipset for the 12th Generation Alder Lake CPUs. This is why it is ideal for high-end CPUs such as the Core i9 12900K as it can maximize the performance of both your CPU and your memory should you choose to overclock your components.

Does Z690 support PCIe 5.0?

Z690 has support for PCIe 5.0 which is the latest generation of PCIe Express protocol. However, there are not a lot of devices currently released that can take full advantage of this technology yet. We have still not yet saturated PCIe 4.0 bandwidth when it comes to graphics cards, so there is no tangible benefit there. We can see some improvement in the field of NVMe SSDs, however.

Is DDR5 better for gaming than DDR4?

DDR5 RAM is better than DDR4 RAM in terms of gaming, but not by a lot. There are not a lot of real-world benefits to DDR5 over DDR4 as of the time of writing. However, DDR5 is much more efficient than DDR4, has a higher JEDEC frequency, and has a better data transfer mechanism as compared to DDR4. Moreover, the gap between DDR4 and DDR5 in terms of gaming is bound to grow.

Do you need Z690 for i9 12900K?

You don’t really need a Z690 motherboard for i9 12900K, but it is recommended because Z690 supports full CPU overclocking as well as memory overclocking. The i9 12900K is a flagship K-series SKU with an unlocked multiplier, which means that it is able to overclock. Pairing the i9 12900K with other motherboards such as H670 with no overclocking support is not the best decision.

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