To support the launch of Intel's latest 12th generation 'Alder Lake' processors, Intel has also pulled the trigger on its latest Z690 motherboard chipset. Using a new LGA1700 socket, some of the most significant advancements with Alder Lake and Z690 include PCIe 5.0 support from the processor, as well as a PCIe 4.0 x8 link from the processor to the chipset. In this article, we're taking a closer look at over 50+ different DDR5 enabled motherboards designed to not only use the processing power of Alder Lake but offer users a myriad of high-class and premium features.

As we typically do with a new platform launch, we reached out to every motherboard vendor for all the information on its Z690 models, including images, specifications, power delivery information, and features. With new chipset launches, vendors usually have its 'launch day' models and models that come later on - for example ASRock's Aqua series, which we're still waiting to hear when the Aqua is going to hit the market. 

In this overview, we've compiled all the information we have into a single article with information we've received at the time of writing.

Intel Z690 Chipset: Like Z590, But Now With Native PCIe 4.0

With the introduction of Intel's 12th generation Core processors, one of the most significant advancements from the previous generation is that Alder Lake built on the 'Intel 7' manufacturing process, includes a hybrid PCIe lane layout. This consists of a total of x16 PCIe 5.0 lanes from the CPU set aside for graphics in either an x16 or x8/x8 configuration, and 4x PCIe 4.0 lanes dedicated to storage devices. Another significant improvement over the previous generation is a new PCIe 4.0 x8 DMI link between the CPU and the Z690 chipset. Previously with 11th gen (Rocket Lake), Intel upgraded it from a PCIe 3.0 x4 uplink on Z490 to a PCIe 3.0 x8 uplink on Z590. With Z690, the uplink is now fully-fledged PCIe 4.0 x8 lanes to interconnect things.

One of the most exciting and perhaps specific improvements is Intel's first DDR5 supported desktop platform. Intel's Alder Lake and Z690 combined actually offer support for both DDR5 and DDR4 memory. This means that those motherboard vendors either have to build their motherboards for one or the other, so it's Z690 with DDR5 or Z690 with DDR4, and no in-between. This article focuses purely on the DDR5 motherboards.

DDR5 versus DDR4 on Intel Alder Lake & Z690

Other features with Z690 include native support for USB 3.2 Gen2x2 (20 Gbps) Type-C connectivity, with the vast majority of Z690 models now opting to include this support at a base level. Intel has also upgraded its networking support at the chipset level, with an integrated Wi-Fi 6E PHY and RF for vendors. However, the majority of the cost and implementation still rely on vendors using Intel solutions through the proprietary CNVi connection. This is why some models include varying levels of Wi-Fi 6/6E CNVi at its disposal as either a feature-boosting move or cost-cutting measure to reduce it.

Intel Z690, Z590, and Z490 Chipset Comparison
Feature Z690 Z590 Z490
Socket LGA1700 LGA1200 LGA1200
PCIe Lanes (CPU) 16 x 5.0
4 x 4.0
20 x 4.0 16 x 3.0
PCIe Lanes (Chipset) 12 x 4.0
16 x 3.0
24 x 3.0 24 x 3.0
PCIe Specification (CPU) 5.0/4.0 4.0 3.0
Memory Support DDR5-4800B
DDR4-3200 DDR4-2933
PCIe Config x16
DMI Lanes x8 4.0 x8 3.0 x4 3.0
Max USB 3.2 (Gen2/Gen1) 10/10 6/10 6/10
USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (20 Gbps) Y Y ASMedia
Total USB 14 14 14
Max SATA Ports 8 6 6
Memory Channels (Dual) 2/2 2/2 2/2
Intel Optane Memory Support Y Y Y
Intel Rapid Storage Tech (RST) Y Y Y
Integrated Wi-Fi MAC Wi-Fi 6E Wi-Fi 6 Wi-Fi 6
Intel Smart Sound Y Y Y
Overclocking Support Y Y Y
Intel vPro N N N
ME Firmware 16 15 14
TDP (W) ? 6 6

Compared with previous generations of Intel's chipsets, the Intel Z690 is based on its 14nm manufacturing process, so it's similar to previous designs such as Z590 and Z490. Intel retains the same dual-channel memory support as previous and other brand's desktop platforms. In contrast, native SATA support has been upped to eight SATA slots instead of six of the prior generation.

Focusing on networking, Intel has upgraded to an integrated Wi-Fi 6E MAC over Wi-Fi 6 in the last two previous generations. While Intel states that it includes an integrated 2.5 GbE MAC/PHY, this is a little nonsensical, as wired ethernet still requires a MAC/PHY as an attached PCIe controller. This means regardless of whether a vendor is using a Gigabit, 2.5 GbE, or even 10 GbE, it connects the exact same way to the PCIe interface. 

Looking at the above Intel Z690 chipset block diagram, we can see the PCIe 4.0 x8 DMI interconnecting the processor with the chipset, with 16 x PCIe 5.0 lanes to either one full-length slot (x16) or two full-length slots (x8/x8), with 4 x PCIe 4.0 lanes designated to storage devices such as NVMe M.2 slots. (Ian has confirmed that storage on the main x16 slot is possible if desired.) 

From within the Z690 chipset, it offers various avenues of configurations available to motherboard vendors to use. New for Z690 includes 12 x PCIe 4.0 lanes, with another 16 x PCIe 3.0 lanes as part of the high-speed IO (HSIO). The onus is on motherboard vendors to use these new native PCIe 4.0 lanes as they wish, including through the use of either storage, additional PCIe 4.0 slots, or a mixture of both. Focusing on connectivity, Z690 allows vendors to use up to and include four USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C (20 Gbps) ports, with up to 10 x USB 3.2 G2, 10 x USB 3.2 G1, and up to 14 x USB 2.0 ports. 

Alder Lake & Z690 Overclocking: Base Frequency Versus Turbo Power

Intel is also offering an enhanced overclocking model available with Alder Lake, which takes Processor Base Power (Base) and Maximum Turbo Power (Turbo) into account. The Base is the guaranteed peak power at base frequency which for the Intel Core i9-12900K is set at 125 W, whereas the maximum available Turbo Power is 241 W. Users with a basic understanding of Intel's former PL1 and PL2 methodology will note that it still exist under the hood - the base power is PL1, whereas Turbo is PL2. Tau, the time for turbo, is practically infinite for the unlocked K processors.

When it comes to overclocking in the current day and age, the main factors in play are still the same: cooling, capability, and power. As we saw with overclocking on numerous Z590 motherboards throughout the year, it was possible to pull nearly 500 W from the wall from the system when testing them. Using figures from our MSI MEG Z590 Ace motherboard review as an example, we were pulling 321 W peak power from the wall at default with CPU load only. In contrast, at 5.2 GHz all-cores with 1.425 V on the CPU VCore, we pulled 485 W. Overclocking with any platform, Intel or even AMD, adequate cooling needs to be considered for the designed core frequency and CPU VCore voltage combination, as well as equally sufficient power headroom from the power supply.

The Current Z690 For DDR5 Product Stack

Motherboards Confirmed So Far 

Through our contact with vendors, more than 50+ models are available Z690 using the new DDR5 memory. Most of these have currently been announced and detailed, with a small number waiting to be revealed or without specifications to date. Simply put, there will be no shortage of models to select from. It's no secret that motherboard pricing has been on the up, with the cheapest Z690 board having an official price of $190.

As with Z590, there are not that many micro-ATX options for Z690, with availability looking again to be limited. We are with only one micro-ATX sized model at launch, the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-G Gaming WIFI. It remains to be seen if we will see any more micro-ATX Z690 with support for DDR5, but watch this space.

Let's take a look at the current Z690 product stack with support for DDR5 (at the time of writing):


ASRock's product stack for DDR5 on Z690 is the smallest of all of the 'major' vendors at launch, with just seven models. At the top of the stack, albeit the details of which are unannounced, is the unique ASRock Z690 Aqua. For now, the ASRock Z690 Taichi is the premier model, and it is one of the most expensive Taichi models to have ever existed. That's a bit odd for what used to be an entry level brand. 

ASRock Z690 Motherboard Product Stack (DDR5)
Model Size Overview
ASRock Z690 Aqua E-ATX Link   TBC
ASRock Z690 Aqua OC E-ATX Link    
ASRock Z690 OC Formula ? Link   $580
ASRock Z690 Taichi ATX Link   $590
ASRock Z690 Taichi Razer Edition ATX Link   TBC
ASRock Z690 PG Velocita ATX Link   $470
ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming 4/D5 ATX Link   TBC
ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 ITX Link   TBC

While we expect there to be more ASRock Z690 and DDR5 models shortly, other models in the stack are from its Phantom Gaming series of models. This includes the ASRock Z690 PG Velocita, which is more premium than mid-range than compared to last-gen, and the Z690 Phantom Gaming 4/D5 acting as the mid-range model this time around. There's also the mini-ITX Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4, which, as the model name suggests, returns with Thunderbolt 4, and its mini-ITX series has been a solid option for small form factor users over the years.


Looking at the ASUS Z690 models with support for DDR5 memory, it has a typically well-rounded stack from top to bottom. It should be pointed out that ASUS has started to make its Republic of Gamers Maximus series more distinguishable and now opts to use the chipset name instead of Roman numerals for the higher end Maximus parts. As it stands, its flagship models include the ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme Glacial with a newly designed EKWB 'Ultrablock' for liquid cooling. At the same time, it shares the same premium and impressive feature set as the regular ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme. Other ROG Maximus models in the lineup include Z690 Formula with dual-cooled VRMs, and the first time it's been done since Z490.

ASUS Z690 Motherboard Product Stack (DDR5)
Model Size Overview
ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme Glacial E-ATX Link   $2000
ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme E-ATX Link   $1100
ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Formula ATX Link   $800
ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Apex ATX Link   $720
ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero ATX Link   $600
ASUS ROG Strix Z690-E Gaming WIFI ATX Link   $470
ASUS ROG Strix Z690-F Gaming WIFI ATX Link   $400
ASUS ROG Strix Z690-G Gaming WIFI mATX Link   TBC
ASUS ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WIFI ITX Link   $440
ASUS ProArt Z690 Creator WIFI ATX Link   $480
ASUS Prime Z690-A ATX Link   $300
ASUS Prime Z690-P WIFI ATX Link   $250
ASUS Prime Z690-P ATX Link   $230

Other mainstays return for ASUS include the Hero and the extreme overclocking equipped Apex. Looking down the stack is the ROG Strix series, with all the alphabet models returning, including the premium E, the more wallet-efficient F, and the mini-ITX I series. The Prime series sits more towards the mid-range than the entry-level with most of its models, and the entry point for its Z690 models is the $230 ASUS Prime Z690-P.


GIGABYTE has the largest DDR5 Motherboard stack, with 14 new models unveiled at present. Looking from the top is the GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Xtreme WaterForce with a custom water block, while the regular Z690 Aorus Extreme caters to the hardened enthusiast market. Both models share the same high-end feature set. Moving down the stack is the premium Z690 Aorus Master with an impressive feature set for the price, while the Ultra, Pro, Elite AX, and mini-ITX Ultra all make up the mid-range options with typical Aorus style and feature sets to boot.

GIGABYTE Z690 Motherboard Product Stack (DDR5)
Model Size Overview
GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Xtreme WaterForce E-ATX Link   TBC
GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Xtreme E-ATX Link   $900
GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Master ATX Link   $470
GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Tachyon ATX Link   TBC
GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Pro ATX Link   $330
GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Ultra ATX Link   $370
GIGABYTE Z690I Aorus Ultra ITX Link   $290
GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Elite AX ATX Link   $270
GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Elite ATX Link   TBC
GIGABYTE Z690 Gaming X ATX Link   $230
GIGABYTE Z690 UD AX ATX Link   $220

Moving down the stack and the GIGABYTE Z690 Gaming X offers a solid bridge between the Aorus series and the non-gaming branded Z690 UD AX and UD models. The GIGABYTE Z690 Aero D offers an impressive feature set with a focus on content creation, which is spearheaded by an Intel Thunderbolt 4 controller and a clean-cut aesthetic. In contrast, the Z690 Aero G offers a much more wallet-friendly feature set with a similar design.


Focusing on the DDR5 supported models, the flagship will be the MEG Z690 Godlike, but we're still waiting for details on that at the time of writing. Down a step in the stack is the MSI MEG Z690 Ace, with a very premium feature set including five M.2 slots and Thunderbolt 4 connectivity, while the Unify and Unify-X cater to those looking for an aesthetically pleasing system, but still with premium features and solid connectivity options.

MSI Z690 Motherboard Product Stack (DDR5)
Model Size Overview
MSI MEG Z690 Godlike E-ATX Link   TBC
MSI MEG Z690 Ace E-ATX Link   $600
MSI MEG Z690 Unify ATX Link   TBC
MSI MEG Z690 Unify-X ATX Link   $500
MSI MEG Z690I Unify ITX Link   $400
MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WIFI ATX Link   $400
MSI MPG Z690 Carbon EK X ATX Link   TBC
MSI MPG Z690 Force WIFI ATX Link   $390
MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk WIFI ATX Link   TBC
MSI MAG Z690 Torpedo EK X ATX Link   TBC
MSI MAG Z690 Torpedo ATX Link   TBC
MSI Pro Z690-A WIFI ATX Link   $250
MSI Pro Z690-A ATX Link   $230

Occupying the mid-range is its Performance Gaming (MPG) series, with the MPG Z690 Carbon WIFI and MPG Z690 Force offering similar features but with a different aesthetic choice. MSI also intends to launch an MPG Z690 Carbon EK X model with custom EKWB monoblock included to keep the processor and VRM cool. For gamers on a budget, the MAG series is also back with mainstay models such as the Z690 Tomahawk WIFI and MAG Z690 Torpedo; both have similar feature sets, a decent array of connectivity. The Pro series occupies the entry-level, with less aggressive aesthetics and key and critical component choices based on usability and user experience.

Other Z690 Product Stack Options

There are also a few Z690 models to consider outside of the major players.

Biostar has announced one DDR5 enabled Z690 motherboard for the launch of Alder Lake with the Z690 Valkyrie. It has plenty of premium features and a different aesthetic from those outside of the major vendors. EVGA has also announced it will release two Z690 models, the EVGA Z690 Dark K|NGP|N edition for extreme overclockers, as well as a more gaming-centric Z690 Classified model. Colorful to date has also announced one Z690 model for those looking to use DDR5 memory, the Colorful iGame Z690 Ultra D5, which targets entry-level users.

Other Z590 Motherboards
Model Size Overview
Biostar Z690 Valkyrie ATX Link   $600
Colorful iGame Z690 Ultra D5 ATX Link   TBC
EVGA Z690 Dark K|NGP|N ? Link   TBC
EVGA Z690 Classified ATX Link   TBC

Each subsequent page is a brief analysis and rundown of each model announced, culminating with a conclusion of board features versus other models.

We will also be publishing a DDR4 version of this article shortly.

ASRock Z690 Taichi (DDR5) & Z690 Taichi Razer Edition (DDR5)
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  • Oxford Guy - Monday, November 15, 2021 - link

    It should also be noted that English and Chinese are languages that are strongly characterized by density of meaning per syllable. That’s the opposite of Japanese. It uses a lot of syllables from a small palette of sounds to get meaning across — which calls for rapidity of speech. This is also like the RISC vs. CISC dichotomy. (On the flip side, Japanese has the most complex writing system.)

    The demand of English to pack as much meaning as one can into a syllable seems that it would favor short ‘simple’ words. So, calls to use lengthy ‘ornate’ Latin derivatives may miss the mark. Lengthy words are more attractive in certain other languages. (There is jargon for all of these things but I’m trying to minimize that here.)
  • GeoffreyA - Monday, November 15, 2021 - link

    Perhaps I contradicted myself or wasn't clear, but I am not calling for Latinate English. Not at all. On the contrary, I am a proponent of plain and simple "Saxon" English, and repudiate the Latin style with a passion. I am going to write "get the job done," never "accomplish the task," and use and buy, instead of utilise and purchase. I always try to write using the simplest words to get the sense across. And that extends to syntax too, condensing a sentence to its shortest form. At the end of the day, it comes down to clear thinking. Do that, and one's style becomes more lucid.

    18th-century prose was elegant but its chief defect was overly Latinate words and sentences (exemplified by Dr. Johnson). I am actually praising 20th and 21st century prose---can't believe I'm doing that---when I say it's a return to Elizabethan plainess, to my eyes at any rate. If ever there was a golden age of English, it's undoubtedly that of the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
  • GeoffreyA - Tuesday, November 16, 2021 - link

    Being simple doesn't mean being crude or vulgar. One can be elegant as well as simple---after all, true beauty, as the ladies will point out, is simplicity. I feel that while there's a return to plainness in our times, there's been loss of decorum and good taste. Many of today's made-up words are ugly or distasteful, and I feel there's a twisting of the language away from its grain.Upskill? Even clickbait titles are a symptom of something amiss. Could it just be bad taste, or a reflection of the mind of the age?

    You are calling for reform to the language. Here our views depart; for I am more of a conservative and believe in preserving English in all its messiness, spelling and all. One of the beauties of language is that it's an irregular growth, much like a tree, lovely as a whole but messy in detail. (Same goes for programming: I'd take messy C++ any day, instead of the new, slick stuff of the present.)

    A contradiction again, where I'm talking about preservation but criticising current English? Not really. I'd say: there's a model of good style already in the language, shaped by some of the greatest writers that ever lived. At its best, it's plain, simple, and elegant, and most of all, easy to understand. Orwell would be one example.There are many others.
  • mode_13h - Tuesday, November 16, 2021 - link

    > I ... believe in preserving English in all its messiness, spelling and all.

    Consider that its messiness isn't free. English speakers, especially those coming to it later in life, waste significant amounts of time, energy, and mental capacity learning some of its unnecessary complexity. Without it, they could be putting those resources towards improving their overall mastery of the language.

    As English speakers, we derive numerous and diverse benefits from more people being able to speak it, and from them being able to do so with better aptitude. It's in our interest to lessen the learning curve, particularly given that it's eroding anyhow -- and in ways that have more detrimental consequences.
  • GeoffreyA - Wednesday, November 17, 2021 - link

    I agree there are a lot of silly points in English that hinder learning. And yes, we are apt to forget that so many people speaking it makes life easier for us. How many more centuries this will go on for, we can only wonder.

    On the other hand, Oxford Guy's comment about globalisation is also true. While asymmetric communication is causing simplification, some beautiful usages are lost along the way. The same happens between American and non-American speakers. Sadly, whom is dying, as well as the first-person, colourless "should," and others. Many a time, one possesses a usage that one feels is idiomatic but is forced to use another because of misunderstanding. And for my part, personally, there appears to be greater misunderstanding between cross-country, native English speakers, than between a native and non-native one. I find it easier speaking with people who are using English as a second language; but so often there's a barrier when talking with a native speaker from another country (or even different culture).

    In any case, I'm often disappointed with English, and see features in other languages that are attractive, particularly Afrikaans and French. When I hear Afrikaans in my country, with the classic inflexion, it has a magical effect on me, and I almost sense something that English lost earlier in its history. And then, like most languages, the verb's going to the end is beautiful, whereas we aren't allowed to do that outside of poetry. Taking Afrikaans again, it's astonishing how direct and clear a speaker is when talking in English, whereas we English speakers are lost in a maze of many, empty words. So, increasing CISC expressiveness may not be all it's cut out to be. After all, the stuff of life is simple and needs only a few words for expression. It's only idle sophistication that comes up with imaginary nonsense. Let our words be few and choice, and our actions many and noble! Silent cinema shows us that words are empty.
  • mode_13h - Thursday, November 18, 2021 - link

    > Oxford Guy's comment about globalisation is also true. While asymmetric
    > communication is causing simplification, some beautiful usages are lost along the way.

    That's basically my point. If those invested in the language don't make the easier and more painless simplifications, the new speakers are going to make much more detrimental ones.

    > the stuff of life is simple and needs only a few words for expression.

    More like a fractal, I think. From a distance, it seems relatively simple. Yet, the closer you look, the more complexity you see.

    > It's only idle sophistication that comes up with imaginary nonsense.

    If your needs and thoughts are simple, then a simple language will suffice. Language is a conceptual tool, as much as a means of communication. Comparative language studies have shown people have difficulty grasping concepts for which they lack words.

    I prefer to inhabit a world of richness, complexity, and big ideas. I'm grateful not to live in a sparse realm, where anything beyond simplicity of language and simplicity of thought would seem excessive or burdensome.
  • GeoffreyA - Thursday, November 18, 2021 - link

    Good points (and nice one about the fractal of life). Lack of words can lead to poverty of thought. Take a look at older writers, and one realises we've lost many distinctions, expressed admirably. Or worse: similar concepts have been born again under ugly language. Or delete democracy. Then we ask, what, what's that? I suppose there's an ambivalence in me regarding simple vs. complex language---and that's where the apparent contradiction is coming from. Part of me longs for the older speech, and part of me for simplicity. The best model, I think, steers a course between these two whirlpools. And I think people would begin to think more soundly if the bias were towards simplicity. Let one's treasure be buried in the garden and go abroad in plain clothing.

    I don't like it, but change is inevitable, especially when a language comes into contact with secondary speakers. In the Middle English era, when it was Saxon against Norman, English lost most of its cases, was simplified, and word order became critical. Doubtless, the same process will happen again, and likely is already happening. Let's keep our fingers crossed that hashtag language doesn't take over. Then we'll get Postmodern English.
  • mode_13h - Friday, November 19, 2021 - link

    > I think people would begin to think more soundly if the bias were towards simplicity.

    I fear false simplicity and superficiality.

    > Let's keep our fingers crossed that hashtag language doesn't take over.

    I'd certainly rather not dwell on the long-term implications of texting on the English language.
  • GeoffreyA - Friday, November 19, 2021 - link

    In the spirit of science, as simple as is consistent with the data but no simpler.
  • mode_13h - Tuesday, November 16, 2021 - link

    > Language change generally favors increasing efficiency

    Perhaps, but dialect formation often emphasizes or devises devices to distinguish its speakers from neighbors, outsiders, or newcomers. Here, we see the goals of language in tension with the goals of its speakers. Perhaps you're alluding to that, at the start of the following paragraph.

    > English spelling, for instance, is utterly preposterous

    I don't mind eliminating exceptions and irregularities from English, so long as nothing substantial is lost in the process.

    > Gender in languages like German and French is also very stupid.

    Were it expunged, maybe people wouldn't try to import gendering of asexual objects into English, such as the way some refer to ships as female.

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