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Intel Alder Lake CPUs are here, and they definitely deliver. If you want a combined gaming/productivity beast and the i9-12900K is out of your budget, the 12700K is a fantastic choice. In fact, the 12700K is the best bang for the buck CPU at the moment, productivity-wise. The CPU is a powerhouse, but it demands a quality motherboard to unleash its full potential. This is what our next motherboard article deals with.
Below you’ll find the best motherboards for the Core i7-12700K. We’ve only included Z690 motherboards since they support CPU overclocking. You could go with a B660 board for the 12700K, but you’d lose the CPU overclocking feature. Also, not many B660 models can run the 12700K without throttling taking place.
If you’re interested in the 12700K, you should definitely check our guide for the best coolers for i7-12700K. It includes a number of high-quality cooling solutions. Next, we have a list of the best GPUs for Intel Alder Lake CPUs for those looking to complete a gaming PC based on the 12700K. Finally, visit our guide for the best RAM kits of Alder Lake CPUs to find a great 12700K RAM kit at a bargain price.
1. MSI Pro Z690-A: Best budget motherboard for 12700K
We’re doing a bit of a shuffle today regarding the budget board pick and going with MSI instead of Gigabyte. Check out our best motherboards for i5-12600K article if you want to see our other budget choice. But today, we’ve picked the MSI Pro Z690-A DDR4 as the best budget board for the 12700K.
Don’t let the low price (for a Z690 motherboard) fool you; this is a capable board that’s packed with features. First of all, the VRM has fourteen 55A CPU power phases. This is enough even for the 12900K, let alone the 12700K. Just make sure your internal case airflow is at least decent. And hey, if you’re looking for a case with great airflow, do read our list of the best airflow PC cases.
We prefer DDR4 over DDR5 for Alder Lake CPUs, and the MSI Pro Z690-A is a DDR4 board. It supports DDR4 up to 5200 MT/s, which is pretty fast. The support for super-fast memory doesn’t matter anyway since the highest frequency you can reliably run DDR4 in Gear 1 setting (lowest latencies) is DDR4 4000 anyway.
Expansion slots include one PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, two PCIe 3.0 x16 slots working at x4 and x1, and one PCIe 3.0 x1 slot. As for the storage, you get four M.2 slots, three of which are PCIe 4.0. One M.2 slot only supports PCIe 3.0. There are also six SATA III ports.
Connectivity here is decent. The board includes 2.5Gbps LAN. If you want Wi-Fi, there’s a Wi-Fi version of the board that features Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 and costs less than 10 percent more than the base model.
The weakest part of the MSI Pro Z690-A DDR4 is the audio section. The Realtek ALC897 Codec is a basic budget choice. If you want better audio, either get our mid-range pick or be sure to have a USB DAC or a standalone sound card.
The rear I/O houses eight USB ports (1xUSB-C 20Gbps; 1xUSB 10Gbps; 2xUSB 5Gbps; 4xUSB 2.0), a PS/2 port, an HDMI + DisplayPort combo, a BIOS flashback button, and a selection of six audio jacks. Extra features include the aforementioned BIOS flashback button along with four debug LEDs.
2. MSI Z690 Tomahawk: Best mid-range motherboard for Core i7-12700K
Moving on up a notch, we have the best mid-range board for the 12700K in the form of the MSI Z690 Tomahawk DDR4. Tomahawk lineup always included reliable motherboards that don’t have a ton of features but get the job done, and the Z690 model isn’t an exception.
The board has a modern yet straightforward industrial design without RGB and with a nice-looking brushed metal effect spread across the I/O shield, M.2 heat shields, and the chipset heatsink. The VRM includes sixteen 70A CPU phases. Overkill for the 12700K but nice to have if you plan to overclock the CPU.
DDR4 support goes up to DDR4 5200. The board comes with four PCIe M.2 slots – three are PCIe 4.0, one is PCIe 3.0 – and six SATA III ports. Excellent storage support. Expansion-wise, you have one PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, two PCIe 3.0 x16 slots working at x1, and one PCIe 3.0 x1 slot. The list of features continues with a 2.5Gbps LAN, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.2 support.
As for the audio, the Realtek ALC4080 codec is responsible for the sound quality. The rear I/O houses eight USB ports (1xUSB-C 20Gbps; 3xUSB 10Gbps; 2xUSB 5Gbps; 2xUSB 2.0), HDMI + DisplayPort combo, Wi-Fi antennas, an RJ-45 port, a selection of audio jacks and an optical out, and the BIOS flashback button. The board also includes four debug LEDs.
3. Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Master: Best high-end motherboard for 12700K
The Z690 lineup has a good number of obscenely priced motherboards that don’t offer substantial upgrades over, let’s say, the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Master. Realistically, you don’t need anything better than this board. This is the best high-end board for the Core i7-12700K while being much cheaper than other high-end Z690 options.
First of all, the nineteen 105A CPU phases are a complete overkill even for the 12900K, let alone the 12700K. Next, heatsinks, M.2 heat shields, and RGB cover the majority of the PCB. Also, all high-end Z690 boards exclusively support DDR5, including this one. You can use DDR5 up to 6400 MT/s.
If you want a ton of storage options, you won’t be disappointed. The Z690 Aorus Master features five M.2 slots (one is PCIe 3.0, the others are PCIe 4.0) and six SATA III connectors. Next, you also get a nice selection of connectivity options. This is the cheapest board to feature 10Gbps LAN.
It also includes Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2. The board’s expansion slots include one PCIe 5.0 x16 and two PCIe 3.0 x16 slots working at x4. The audio section is high-end. The Realtek ALC1220-VB codec is at the base, augmented with the ESS ES9118 DAC chip.
Rear I/O includes 11 USB ports (1xUSB-C 20Gbps; 1xUSB-C 10Gbps; 5xUSB 10Gbps; 4xUSB 5Gbps), HDMI + DisplayPort combo, RJ-45 port, Wi-Fi antennas, five gold-plated audio jacks, a S/PDIF out (optical out), and BIOS flashback and Clear CMOS buttons.
As for the extra features, you get a POST code, power and reset buttons on the PCB, and two thermal sensor headers. The only prominent feature lacking on this board is Thunderbolt 4 ports on the rear I/O. If you need that feature, check out our Thunderbolt 4 motherboard pick, found at the bottom of this list.
4. ASUS ROG Strix Z690-G: Best mATX motherboard for Core i7-12700K
The ASUS ROG Strix Z690-G Gaming Wi-Fi does cost more than what you’d expect for an mATX board, but it does come with a great selection of features for this, often neglected, motherboard form factor. We have a VRM supported by fourteen CPU power stages, which is incredible to see on an mATX motherboard.
Next, while we would like to see DDR4 support, you’re stuck with DDR5 on this one. Support goes up to DDR5 6000 MT/s. Storage options include three PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots and six SATA III ports. Excellent news considering this is a compact mATX motherboard.
The ASUS ROG Strix Z690-G Gaming continues to surprise, this time with lots of expansion slots. It includes the primary PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, one PCIe 4.0 x16 slot working at x4, and one PCIe 3.0 x1 slot.
Connectivity-wise, this is a powerful little board. You have a 2.5Gbps LAN, 2×2 Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.2. The audio section is also excellent. The ALC4080 from Realtek is the main ingredient, and the Savitech SV3H712 AMP is there to improve the already pretty good sound quality.
As for the rear I/O, you’re looking at ten USB ports (1xUSB-C 20Gbps;1xUSB-C 10Gbps; 2xUSB 10Gbps; 4xUSB 5Gbps; 2xUSB 2.0), HDMI + DisplayPort combo, an RJ-45 port, Wi-Fi antennas, five audio jacks along a S/PDIF out, and BIOS flashback and Clear CMOS buttons.
Extra features include four debug LEDs and an internal Thunderbolt header. Finally, we love the design, but those thick VRM heatsinks may interfere with larger air coolers.
5. ASUS ROG Strix Z690-I: Best Mini-ITX motherboard for 12700K
The Mini-ITX Z690 selection is quite limited. The Gigabyte Z690I Aorus Ultra is a perfect little mITX board that comes with an excellent choice of features, DDR4 support, and a price that’s just right.
Sadly, we can no longer recommend it because Gigabyte can’t come up with a stable BIOS update. Each new update comes with a new list of issues, turning the board into an unstable mess. This is why, from now on, we recommend the ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming from ASUS as our pick for the best ITX board for 12700K. Yes, the board’s very expensive (for an mITX solution), but at least it’s stable and includes a metric ton of features.
First of all, we have a ten CPU-phase VRM (at least 75A power stages, maybe higher), which should experience zero thermal issues running any Alder Lake CPU. The VRM heatsinks are pretty thick, and we reckon this board will have a hard time with large air coolers. It’s better to stick to AIO coolers with this one.
You can use DDR5 up to 6400 MT/s, install two PCIe M.2 SSDs and have enough SATA III connectors for up to four SATA III storage devices. Expansion options include only one PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, a regular thing for the Mini-ITX form factor. When it comes to connectivity, the ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming offers a 2.5Gbps LAN, 2×2 Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.2.
The audio section includes a high-end solution – the Realtek ALC4080 codec coupled with the Savitech SV3H712 AMP. The rear I/O has a slew of connection options. You have two Thunderbolt 4 ports, seven USB ports (2xUSB 10Gbps; 3xUSB 5Gbps, 2xUSB 2.0), an HMDI port, an RJ-45 port, Wi-Fi antennas, three audio jacks along with a S/PDIF out, and a BIOS Flashback and Clear CMOS buttons. This tiny board even comes with four debug LEDs. Again, a fantastic Mini-ITX motherboard but extremely pricey.
6. ASUS ProArt Z690-Creator: Best Thunderbolt 4 motherboard for i7-12700K
The ASUS ProArt Z690-Creator is the best Thunderbolt 4 motherboard you can get for your i7-12700K. In fact, this board is a tremendous all-around high-end option for everyone looking for a quality motherboard for their 12700K CPU. It looks fantastic and rocks a different design language than most other high-end options (no RGB, slick see-through I/O, and audio section shields, etc.).
The board has excellent VRM with sixteen 70A CPU power stages while packing a plethora of extra features. Compared to other high-end Z690 solutions, the only downside we can find is the lack of a DAC or Amp; you only get (pretty good, mind you) Realtek A1220A codec. As is the case with other high-end Z690 boards, the ProArt supports DDR5 memory, up to 6000 MT/s.
Storage options include four PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots and eight SATA III ports. Expansion options are as follows: two PCIe 5.0 X16 slots that can work in x16 or x8/x8 modes (x8/x8 is great in case you have a high-res capture card) and one PCIe 3.0 x16 slot working at x4. Connectivity options are as good as they can be. You have dual LAN (10Gbps + 2.5Gbps), 2×2 Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.2.
The rear I/O houses two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports with DisplayPort and Thunderbolt video, six USB-A 10Gbps ports, two DisplayPort inputs (no output option), one HDMI, two RJ-45 ports (LAN), five audio jacks, and a BIOS flashback button. Extra features include one M.2 slot (key E) for replacing the default Wi-Fi chip, four debug LEDs, and an internal 20Gbps USB-C header that supports QuickCharge 4 and newer standards.
Why buy the i7-12700K
While gamers should keep their eye out on the 12600K, the 12700K should be the first option for users looking for the best bang-for-the-buck productivity CPU.
At the moment of writing, the 12700K costs almost half as much as the flagship 12900K while achieving more or less 90+ percent of the multi-threaded performance of the i9 part. The i7 even trumps the i9 in some workloads, such as Adobe Premiere Pro. The two are even closer when it comes to gaming performance.
The list of reasons for getting the 12700K continues with its higher power efficiency. The 12700K uses 70 watts less power when pushed to its limits in Blender. This equals less heat, which means you don’t have to use a 360mm AIO for optimal cooling performance. We would skip the 12900K and get the 12700K instead any day of the week.
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