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Searching for the differences between z690 vs z790 motherboard chipsets?
In the world of PC building, the choice of motherboard can make or break your system. And when it comes to the latest high-end Intel chipsets, the Z690 and Z790, the decision becomes even more critical. These two powerhouses have been the talk of the tech town, with users and experts alike debating their merits and drawbacks. But which one should you choose for your next build?
As an experienced tech enthusiast and a seasoned PC builder, I’ve delved deep into the specifics of these two chipsets, comparing their features, performance, and value. In this article, we’ll navigate the intricate landscape of these two motherboard chipsets, dissecting their similarities and differences to help you make an informed decision.
Whether you’re a seasoned PC builder or a newbie just dipping your toes into the world of custom PCs, this comprehensive guide will shed light on the Z690 vs. Z790 debate. So, buckle up and let’s embark on this tech journey together!
Make sure you check the following comprehensive guide before you decide: How to Choose the Right Motherboard for Your Needs
Understanding Z690 and Z790 Chipsets
What are Z690 and Z790 motherboard chipsets?
The Z690 and Z790 are motherboard chipsets designed by Intel. These chipsets serve as the backbone of your PC, connecting all the different components together and ensuring they can communicate with each other effectively. They are specifically designed for Intel’s 12th and 13th generation processors and are part of Intel’s high-end Z series, known for its overclocking capabilities and extensive feature sets.
The Role of These Chipsets in a PC Build
In the context of a PC build, the Z690 and Z790 chipsets play a crucial role. They determine many of your PC’s capabilities, including the type of processor you can use, the amount and type of memory you can install, the number and speed of PCIe slots available for expansion cards, and the number and type of ports for connecting peripherals and storage devices.
The Z690 and Z790 chipsets are designed to support Intel’s LGA 1700 socket, meaning they are compatible with both the Alder Lake (12th Gen) and Raptor Lake (13th Gen) CPUs. This compatibility across two generations of processors gives builders a degree of flexibility when choosing components for their PC.
While both chipsets offer a plethora of features, including DDR5 memory support, multiple USB ports, and a generous number of PCIe lanes, there are some differences between them that could influence your choice depending on your specific needs.
The Z790 chipset is essentially a refined version of the Z690, offering better PCI express lane configurations, an extra USB 3.2 20 Gbps port, and higher DDR5 memory clock speeds. However, these enhancements may not be significant enough to warrant an upgrade if you already have a Z690 motherboard, especially considering the price premium of the newer Z790 motherboards.
Key Features of Z690 and Z790 Motherboards
When it comes to the world of motherboards, the devil is in the details. The Z690 and Z790 chipsets, despite their similarities, have distinct features that set them apart. Let’s delve into these features and see how they stack up against each other.
Detailed Overview of the Key Features of Both Motherboard Chipsets
Z690 Motherboard Chipset
The Z690 chipset is a robust platform that was introduced with Intel’s 12th Gen processors. It supports the LGA 1700 socket, making it compatible with both Alder Lake and the latest Raptor Lake CPUs. This chipset is packed with features, including DDR5 memory support, a plethora of USB ports, and a generous number of PCIe lanes. It’s a versatile choice for those looking to build a high-performance PC.
Z790 Motherboard Chipset
The Z790, on the other hand, is a refined version of the Z690. It offers the same LGA 1700 socket compatibility, meaning it can work with both 12th and 13th Gen Intel CPUs. The Z790 chipset brings a few enhancements to the table, including better PCI express lane configurations, an extra USB 3.2 20 GBps port, and higher DDR5 memory clock speeds.
The Differences Between Z690 and Z790
When it comes to choosing between the Z690 and Z790 motherboards, the differences may seem subtle, but they can have a significant impact depending on your specific needs and future plans. Let’s dive into these differences to see how they might affect your decision.
Detailed Comparison of Z690 and Z790
The Z690 and Z790 motherboards, both supporting the LGA 1700 socket, are quite similar in many aspects. They both support DDR4 and DDR5 memory, have a TDP of 6W, and support CPU and memory overclocking. However, the Z790 is essentially a refined version of the Z690, offering better PCI express lane configurations, an extra USB 3.2 20 GBps port, and higher DDR5 memory clock speeds.
Differences in PCIe Lanes
The total number of PCI express lanes is the same in both motherboards, that is, 28. However, their configuration has been changed slightly in the Z790 to cater to better connectivity. The total number of PCIe 3.0 lanes has been cut in half from 16 in Z690 to 8 in Z790. On the other hand, the total number of PCIe 4.0 lanes has been increased from 12 in Z690 to 20 in Z790. This reallocation of PCI express lanes has also increased the maximum number of M.2 slots. Now, a Z790 motherboard can support up to five M.2 slots, whereas the Z690 motherboards can only support up to four.
Differences in USB Ports
When it comes to USB ports, the Z790 has a slight edge over the Z690. The Z790 offers an extra USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 20 GB/s port, bringing the total 20 GB/s ports to 5, compared to 4 in Z690 motherboards.
Differences in DDR5 Memory Speeds
While both the Z790 and the Z690 support DDR5 memory, there is a slight difference between the two motherboards in terms of DDR5 memory speeds. The Z690 supports DDR5 memory with up to 4800 MT/s. On the other hand, the latest-gen Z790 supports DDR5 memory transfer rates of up to 5600 MT/s.
Comparison of the Features (Table)
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the key features of the Z690 and Z790 motherboards:
|12th, 13th Gen
|12th, 13th Gen
|DDR4 & DDR5
|DDR4 & DDR5
|Max Memory Slots
|Max Memory Capacity
|Number of DIMMs per channel
|Number of Displays Supported
|DMI 4.0 Lanes
|CPU PCIe 5.0 Lanes
|1×16 or 2×8
|1×16 or 2×8
|CPU PCIe 4.0 lanes
|Chipset PCIe 3.0 lanes
|SATA 6 Gb/s ports
|Max USB 20 Gb/s ports
|Max USB 10 Gb/s ports
|Max USB 5 Gb/s ports
|Max USB 2.0 ports
|Intel® Wi-Fi 6E AX211(Gig+)
|Intel® Wi-Fi 6E AX211(Gig+)
|PCIe / SATA
|PCIe / SATA
As you can see, the Z790 offers a few more features than the Z690, including more PCIe 4.0 lanes, an extra USB 20 Gb/s port, and higher DDR5 memory speeds. However, both chipsets are highly capable and offer a wide range of features for any PC build.
When it comes to the performance of Z690 and Z790 motherboards, the differences are surprisingly minimal. As we said before both chipstets are designed to support the latest Intel processors and offer a range of features that enhance the overall performance of your PC. However, when put to the test, the results are almost identical.
Real-World Testing Results
In real-world testing scenarios, both Z690 and Z790 motherboards have shown to deliver similar performance levels. Whether you’re running an Intel Core i9-13900K or an i5-13600K, both motherboards handle these processors with ease and deliver comparable results.
This is primarily because both motherboards support the same LGA 1700 socket, which means they can accommodate the same range of processors. The Z790 is essentially a refined version of the Z690, with a few minor tweaks and enhancements but nothing that significantly impacts performance2.
When it comes to benchmarking, the story remains the same. Both motherboards deliver similar results, with no significant performance difference between the two chipsets. This is likely due to the fact that the Z790 is a refined version of the Z690, with only minor changes in features and specifications.
In fact, during multiple retests of CPUs on both the Z690 and Z790 motherboards, there was no noticeable performance difference between the two chipsets. This means that whether you’re gaming, streaming, or running intensive applications, both motherboards should be able to handle the load with similar efficiency.
So when it comes to performance, there’s no clear winner between the Z690 and Z790 motherboards. Both deliver similar performance levels and can handle the latest Intel processors with ease. Therefore, your choice between the two should be based on other factors such as price, availability, and specific features that may be more relevant to your specific needs.
Price and Value Considerations
When it comes to the cost of Z690 and Z790 motherboards, there’s a noticeable difference. The Z690 motherboards, being the older generation, are generally more affordable. You can find Z690 motherboards in a wide price range, typically between $200 and $500+, depending on the specific model and its features.
On the other hand, the Z790 motherboards, being the latest release, command a higher price. They are typically priced between $300 and $600, again depending on the specific model and its features.
|$200 – $500+
|$300 – $600+
While the Z790 motherboards do offer some additional features and improvements over the Z690, it’s important to consider whether these enhancements are worth the extra cost for your specific needs.
The Z790 offers more PCIe 4.0 lanes, an extra USB 3.2 port, and higher DDR5 memory speeds. However, if these features are not crucial for your use case, the Z690 might offer better value for your money.
Especially if you’re on a budget, the Z690 motherboards are still a solid choice, offering a good balance of performance and features. They are also likely to be discounted further as they are now the older generation.
However, if you’re looking for the latest features and the best possible performance, and budget is not a concern, the Z790 motherboards are the way to go. They offer the most up-to-date technology and are designed to fully support the latest 13th Gen Intel CPUs.
Remember, the best motherboard for you is the one that fits your specific needs and budget. It’s always a good idea to consider what features are most important to you and how much you’re willing to spend before making a decision.
Which Motherboard Should You Choose?
Let’s break down now the considerations for different use cases.
For High-End Gaming
If you’re a hardcore gamer looking for the best performance, both motherboards can serve you well. However, the Z790 might have a slight edge due to its additional PCIe 4.0 lanes, which can provide better support for multiple high-end GPUs or other PCIe devices. But remember, the real-world performance difference between the two is negligible.
For Professional Work
For professionals who rely on their PCs for demanding tasks like video editing, 3D rendering, or running complex simulations, the Z790 could be a better choice. The additional PCIe 4.0 lanes can be beneficial for adding high-speed storage devices or other professional-grade hardware. However, if your work doesn’t require such high-end hardware, a Z690 motherboard can still serve you well.
If you’re someone who likes to stay on the cutting edge of technology, the Z790 might be the better choice. Its support for higher DDR5 memory speeds and additional PCIe 4.0 lanes might make it more future-proof. However, keep in mind that technology evolves rapidly, and what’s considered future-proof today might not be so in a few years.
For Budget-Conscious Users
If you’re on a tight budget, the Z690 is the clear winner. As the older model, it’s likely to be found at a lower price point, and as we’ve seen, it still offers excellent performance and features that can meet the needs of most users.
Z690 vs Z790: At a Glance
Best Z690 and Z790 Motherboards
Top Z690 Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero
The ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero stands out as the top Z690 motherboard. It’s a perfect blend of aesthetics, performance, and features. This motherboard supports DDR5 memory, has a robust power delivery system, and comes with a plethora of connectivity options. It’s also equipped with a premium DAC and AMP combo for an immersive audio experience. The board’s design is sleek and modern, with a black and silver color scheme and customizable Aura Sync RGB lighting.
Check here: 10 Best Z690 Motherboards
Top Z790 Motherboards
1. GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS Elite AX – Editor’s Choice
The GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS Elite AX is a strong contender for the best Z790 motherboard. It offers a great balance of features, performance, and value for money. The board supports up to 128GB DDR5 memory, overclockable to 7600 MHz, and features a single PCIe Gen 5 x16 slot. It also comes with four Gen 4 M.2 ports and a 2.5 GB/s LAN chip for fast and reliable connectivity. The board’s design is simple yet sleek, with a black and gray color scheme and customizable RGB elements.
2. ASUS ROG Strix Z790-E GAMING WiFi – Best Premium
The ASUS ROG Strix Z790-E GAMING WiFi is the best premium Z790 motherboard. It offers a powerful power design, plenty of USB ports, and five M.2 slots. The board supports up to 128GB DDR5 memory, overclockable to a staggering 7800 MHz. It also features a single PCIe Gen 5.0 x16 slot and two PCIe Gen 4.0 x16 slots. The board’s design is aggressive and stylish, with a black PCB, metallic heatsinks, and a bold RGB ROG logo.
3. ASUS PRIME Z790-P – Best Budget
The ASUS Prime Z790-P WiFi is the best budget Z790 motherboard. It offers a clean black and white design, wireless connectivity, and supports up to 128GB DDR5 memory, overclockable to 7000 MHz. The board features a single PCIe Gen 5.0 x16 slot, one PCIe Gen 4.0 x4 slot, and two PCIe Gen 3.0 x1 slots. Despite being a budget-oriented option, it doesn’t skimp on performance or features.
Check This: Best Z790 Motherboards
Choosing the right motherboard is a critical decision in the process of building or upgrading a PC. It’s the backbone of your system, and the choice you make will influence your PC’s performance, future upgrade options, and overall value for money. In this guide, we’ve taken a deep dive into the world of Z690 and Z790 motherboards, examining their features, differences, and performance.
We’ve learned that both Z690 and Z790 motherboards are packed with features and offer excellent performance. They both support the LGA 1700 socket and are compatible with Intel’s 12th and 13th Gen CPUs. They also both support DDR4 and DDR5 memory, with the Z790 offering slightly higher DDR5 memory speeds.
The key differences between the two lie in the PCIe lanes and USB ports. The Z790 offers more PCIe 4.0 lanes and an extra USB 3.2 port, providing better connectivity options. However, these enhancements might not be crucial for all users, and the Z690 still offers a solid performance and feature set.
When it comes to price, the Z690, being the older model, is generally more affordable, making it a good choice for budget and mid-range users. However, if you’re looking for the latest features and the best possible performance, and budget is not a concern, the Z790 is the way to go.
In conclusion, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of whether you should choose a Z690 or Z790 motherboard. The best choice depends on your specific needs, budget, and future plans. Consider what features are most important to you, how much you’re willing to spend, and how future-proof you want your system to be.
Remember, the goal is not to have the latest and greatest motherboard, but the one that best fits your needs and offers the best value for your money. Happy building!
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section, we’ll address some of the most common questions that users have about Z690 and Z790 motherboards.
Q1: Can I use my old DDR4 RAM with Z690 and Z790 motherboards?
Both Z690 and Z790 motherboards support DDR4 RAM. However, they also support DDR5, which offers higher speeds and is the future of PC memory. If you’re planning to upgrade your RAM in the future, it might be worth considering a motherboard that supports DDR5.
Q2: Are Z690 and Z790 motherboards compatible with all CPUs?
Z690 and Z790 motherboards are compatible with Intel’s 12th and 13th Gen CPUs, thanks to the LGA 1700 socket. However, they are not compatible with older Intel CPUs or any AMD CPUs.
Q3: Is it worth upgrading from a Z690 to a Z790 motherboard?
If you’re already using a Z690 motherboard and it’s serving you well, there is no need to upgrade. However, if you need the additional features offered by the Z790, such as more PCIe 4.0 lanes and an extra USB 3.2 port, it might be worth considering.
Q4: Are Z790 motherboards more expensive than Z690 motherboards?
Z790 motherboards are typically priced higher than Z690 motherboards. However, prices can vary depending on the specific model and its features.
Q5: What are PCIe 4.0 lanes and why are they important?
PCIe 4.0 lanes are the latest version of the PCI Express interface, which is used to connect high-speed components like graphics cards and SSDs to the motherboard. The more lanes a motherboard has, the more devices it can support at full speed. The Z790 has more PCIe 4.0 lanes than the Z690, which can be beneficial for high-end builds with multiple GPUs or other PCIe devices.
Q7: What is the difference between USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 and USB 3.2 Gen 2?
The difference is that USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 offers double the bandwidth of USB 3.2 Gen 2, allowing for data transfer speeds of up to 20 Gbps compared to 10 Gbps. The Z790 motherboard offers an additional USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 port compared to the Z690.
Q8: Is DDR5 memory much faster than DDR4?
DDR5 memory offers higher speeds and greater bandwidth than DDR4, which can result in faster performance in tasks that are heavily dependent on memory. However, the real-world impact on gaming and general usage might not be significant for most users.
Q9: Will I need a new CPU cooler for a Z690 or Z790 motherboard?
Both Z690 and Z790 motherboards use the LGA 1700 socket, which has a different layout compared to the previous LGA 1200 and LGA 1151 sockets. This means that some older CPU coolers may not be compatible. However, many cooler manufacturers offer upgrade kits for their products, and new coolers should come with the appropriate mounting hardware.
Q10: Can I use my old power supply with a Z690 or Z790 motherboard?
Most power supplies should be compatible with Z690 and Z790 motherboards. However, if you’re upgrading to a more powerful CPU or adding more components, you’ll need to ensure your power supply can provide enough power. It’s also worth checking the power supply’s connectors to ensure they match the ones on your new motherboard.
Q11: Are Z690 and Z790 motherboards compatible with Windows 11?
Both Z690 and Z790 motherboards are compatible with Windows 11. They support the TPM 2.0 and Secure Boot features required by Windows 11.
Q12: Can I overclock my CPU with a Z690 or Z790 motherboard?
Both Z690 and Z790 motherboards support CPU overclocking, allowing you to increase your CPU’s clock speed for better performance. However, overclocking should be done with caution as it can increase heat output and potentially damage your CPU if not done correctly.
For those of you who want to delve deeper into the world of motherboards and PC building, here are some additional resources that you might find useful:
- Intel Z690 Chipset Product Brief: This is the official product brief from Intel for the Z690 chipset. It provides detailed technical specifications and features.
- Intel Z790 Chipset Product Brief: Similar to the above, this is the official product brief for the Z790 chipset.
- Reddit’s r/buildapc: A community of PC enthusiasts who are always ready to help answer questions, provide advice, and share their own PC building experiences.
- Intel’s Motherboard Compatibility Tool: A useful tool from Intel that lets you check the compatibility of various CPUs with different motherboards.