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Intel 12th gen (Alder Lake) CPUs are just around the corner. And new CPU generation also means a new chipset, the Z690. Since the LGA 1700 socket used by Alder Lake CPUs is physically different from the LGA 1200 socket, you cannot use Z590 motherboards with the new CPUs. Only motherboards based on the Z690 socket support 12th gen CPUs. Other motherboards won’t work with these CPUs.
And today, we’re showing the best Z690 motherboards you can get at the moment. We’ve included all the usual categories you expect to find: budget boards, mid-range, and high-end picks, along with mATX and Mini-ITX choices.
While there are cheaper Z690 boards out there, this is the best budget motherboard for the i9-12900K. It should run the flagship Alder Lake CPU without issues with OC/power limits turned off.
The Z590 version of the Gigabyte UD is able to run overclocked 11900K with the CPU seeping north of 220W, and the Z690 version has noticeably improved the VRM section. We’re talking about sixteen 60A power stages vs. twelve 50A stages, which is a healthy upgrade. Overall, this board should handle ~20W higher max power of the 12900K (compared to the 11900K) without issues.
Memory support goes up to DDR4 5333 MT/s; the board features three PCIe 4.0 NVMe slots and six SATA III ports. Two M.2 slots support 2260/2280 SSDs. Not a big deal since most consumer-grade SSDs feature the 2280 form factor. You also get one PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, two PCIe 3.0 x16 slots working in x4 and x1 modes, and two PCIe x1 slots.
On the back, you can find a 2.5Gb LAN port, four USB 5Gbps ports, one 10Gbps USB, one 20Gbps USB-C port, audio jacks, and four USB 2.0 ports. The board also includes one HDMI and one DisplayPort. There’s also a BIOS flash button, found on the PCB and not on the rear I/O. Finally, the AC version of the board comes with Wi-Fi 6 and sports a ten percent higher price.
If you’re looking for a budget Z690 board with DDR5 memory support, check the MSI Pro Z690-A. This board’s pricier than the Gigabyte Z690 UD for about 15 percent. VRM is, again, good enough for every Alder Lake CPU (fourteen 55A stages).
Other specs include support for up to DDR5 6400 MT/s, four M.2 slots (three are PCIe 4.0, one is PCIe 3.0), and six SATA III ports. The Z690-A has three PCIe x16 slots (one is PCIe 5.0, the other two are PCIe 3.0 working in 4x and x1 modes) and one PCIe x1 slot.
Realtek ALC897 Codec is responsible for audio. At the back, you can find a 2.5Gb LAN port, one 10Gbps USB port, one 20Gbps USB-C, two 5Gbps USB ports, and two USB 2.0 ports. There’s also the usual selection of audio jacks along with a single HDMI and DisplayPort outputs.
The rear I/O houses the BIOS flash button, and the board features Debug LEDs. Compared to the Z690 UD, you get more M.2 slots, an equally capable VRM section (a bit weaker on paper), fewer USB ports, a BIOS flash button on the rear I/O, and Debug LEDs. This is the best value DDR5 Z690 on the market, with its main issue being the weak audio section.
Gigabyte Z690 Aero G: Best mid-range DDR4 Z690 motherboard
If you want a quality board with DDR4 support that isn’t too expensive while packing a wide range of features, we recommend the Gigabyte Z690 Aero G, DDR4 version. First of all, the VRM section is excellent (sixteen CPU power stages).
Next, the design is striking, with a silver-black color combo and just the right amount of RGB. Memory support goes up to DDR4 5333; the board features four full-sized PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots and six SATA III connectors.
There’s one PCIe 5.0 x16 slot and two PCIe 3.0 x16 slots working in x4 mode. The Realtek ALC4080 codec powers the audio section. As for the wireless support, you get Wi-Fi 6 2×2 along with Bluetooth 5.2.
The rear I/O features two 10Gbps USB ports, one 20Gbps USB-C, one 5Gbps USB-C, four 5Gbps USB ports, two USB 2.0 ports, 2.5Gb LAN port, audio jacks, and HDMI+DisplayPort combo.
Being targeted towards content creators and professionals, the Z690 Aero G includes an internal USB 3.2 connector with 20Gbps USB (3.2 gen2x2) support and two Thunderbolt add-in card connectors.
That said, this is also a great gaming motherboard. The 20Gbps USB-C features VisionLink tech that allows 60W power delivery with DisplayPort video output support. Other extra features include the BIOS flash button on the PCB.
MSI Z690 Tomahawk Wi-Fi: Best value DDR5 Z690 motherboard
The MSI Z690 Tomahawk is the best mid-range Z690 board that supports DDR5 memory. It’s made for users looking for a capable Z690 board with DDR5 support (the board’s also available in the DDR4 version).
The VRM section features sixteen 70A CPU phases. In other words, more than enough for any overclocked Alder Lake CPU. Memory support goes up to DDR5 6400 MT/s. The Z690 Tomahawk has four M.2 slots (three of those support 2242/ 2260/ 2280 NVMe SSDs) and six SATA III ports.
The board houses three PCIe x16 slots. One of those is a full-sized PCIe 5.0 X16 slot. The other two are PCIe 3.0 compatible, working at x4 and x1 modes. Finally, you also get one PCIe 3.0 x1 slot.
The audio section features Realtek ALC4080 codec, and the LAN port supports speeds up to 2.5Gbps. The Wi-Fi 6E module includes Bluetooth 5.2. A separate M.2 (Key-E) slot houses the Wi-Fi card, meaning you can replace it with a faster one down the road.
Rear I/O features one 20Gbps USB-C port, three 10Gbps USB ports, two 5Gbps USB ports, and two USB 2.0 ports. There’s also a selection of audio jacks, an HMDI port, a DisplayPort connector, and the BIOS Flash button. The board also features four debug LEDs.
Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Xtreme: Best high-end RGB Z690 motherboard
If you want the best and are ready to pay for it, the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Xtreme packs a ton of features, looks great, and is filled to the brim with high-speed USB ports. This is the best-looking high-end Z690 motherboard on the market. With that said, the board also includes piles of extra features.
First of all, the design is striking. You get lots of RGB combined with armor that covers pretty much everything sans the CPU socket. Even DIMM slots for memory have a removable cover that also hosts a giant RGB LED array. Overall, we love the design.
Now, if the RGB-heavy design seen on the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Xtreme is to your liking, you should definitely check out our RGB guides. First of all, we have a guide for the best RGB case fans. Next, you’ll need to put all those components into a cool-looking case, and our list of the best RGB cases has the coolest PC cases on the market.
The VRM section features twenty 105A CPU power stages. The board comes with four DIMM slots and support for up to DDR5 6600 MT/s memory. There are four PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots on the PCB, coupled with four SATA III ports.
The Z690 Aorus Xtreme comes with two PCIe 5.0 x16 slots that can work in PCIe 5.0 x8/x8 mode if you need to use both of them simultaneously. The third PCIe x16 slot supports PCIe 3.0 standard and runs in x4 mode.
The audio section is superb. The board houses 1 ESS ES9280AC DAC chip + 2 ESS ES9080 chips. You also get an additional ESSential USB DAC to use with headphones. Dual RJ45 (LAN) ports include one 10Gbps and one 2.5Gbps, both found on the rear I/O.
The board also features a Wi-Fi 6E chip with Bluetooth 5.2 support. Rear I/O also hosts ten 10Gbps USB ports, two Thunderbolt 4 connectors, two audio jacks, an optical S/PDIF connector, BIOS flash button, clear CMOS button, and an auto OC button.
ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Apex: Best high-end Z690 motherboard for overclocking
Users who want to test the i9-12900K’s OC limits should look at the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Apex. This is an OC-focused board that only has two DIMM slots. This should allow overclockers to push the memory to higher frequencies, thus also increasing the maximum CPU clocks.
The VRM section has twenty-four (!) 105A power phases, which should be enough even for two overclocked 12900K CPUs running simultaneously. Memory support goes up to DDR5 6600 MT/s, and the board comes with two PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots. You also get a DIMM card that hosts two extra PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots.
The DIMM card goes into the third DIMM slot, found next to the two DIMM slots used for memory. Finally, the board comes with a PCIe 5.0 M.2 add-on card that goes into one of the two PCIe x16 slots. There are two PCIe x16 slots that work in x8/x8 mode when used at the same time. Other expansion slots include one PCIe 3.0 x4 slot and one PCIe 3.0 x1 slot.
And yes, the board comes with SATA III ports, six of them in total. The audio section revolves around the Realtek ALC4080 audio codec. Connectivity-wise, you get a 2.5Gb LAN port and a Wi-Fi 6E chip with Bluetooth 5.2 support.
The rear I/O hosts six 10Gbps USB ports, one 20Gbps USB-C, four 5Gbps USB ports, a selection of audio jacks, and BIOS flash and clear CMOS buttons.
Other OC-friendly features include a POST code and a selection of buttons that should help during OC sessions (bus clock buttons, a BIOS switch button, safe boot button, etc.). Finally, the ROG Maximus Z690 Apex houses twelve ProbeIt measurement points for monitoring thermals all around the PCB.
When you look at this overwhelming list of features, you see why the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Apex has got our recommendation for the best Z690 motherboard on the market.
Gigabyte Z690I Aorus Ultra: Best mini-ITX Z690 motherboard
At the moment, there aren’t too many Z690 boards rocking the ITX form factor. The best ITX Z690 motherboard, considering both the price and available features, is the Gigabyte Z690I Aorus Ultra.
The ten-stage VRM, made of 105A power stages, is impressive. This should be enough for running an overclocked 12900K without thermal issues. The board supports up to DDR4 5333 memory (there’s also a DDR5 version of the board).
The PCB hosts one PCIe 5.0 x16 slots, two PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots, and four SATA III ports. The Realtek ALC4080 codec powers the audio section, and the connectivity options include a 2.5Gb LAN and a Wi-Fi 6 card with Bluetooth 5.2 support.
You have three 10Gbps USB ports on the rear side, one 20Gbps USB-C, two 5Gbps USB ports, a BIOS flash button, two audio jacks, and an HMDI+DisplayPort combo.
ASUS ROG Strix Z690-G Gaming Wi-Fi: Best mATX Z690 motherboard
If you’re looking for a powerful Z690 board with an mATX form factor, ASUS has got you covered. As usual, ASUS released a packed mATX motherboard that’s hands-down the best mATX Z690 motherboard you can get.
First of all, the VRM is extremely mighty for a board as compact as this one. Fourteen CPU power stages should be more than enough for running an overclocked 12900K. Next, we have DDR5 support that works with DDR5 memory up to 6000 MT/s.
Smaller, mATX form factor resulted in “only” three PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots coupled with six SATA III ports. Expansion slots include one PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, one PCIe 4.0 x16 slot working in x4 mode, and one PCIe 3.0 x1 slot.
The new Realtek ALC4080 codec is powering the audio section of yet another Z690 motherboard. As for the connectivity options, you have 2.5Gbps LAN, Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.2.
The rear I/O hosts two 10Gbps USB ports, one 20Gbps USB-C, one 10Gbps USB-C, four 5Gbps USB ports, two USB 2.0 ports, BIOS flash, and clear CMOS buttons, a selection of audio jacks, and an HDMI+DisplayPort combo.
We’re also pleasantly surprised to see a 20Gbps (USB 3.2 2×2) internal header alongside a Thunderbolt header on an mATX motherboard. ASUS did it again, and we have to commend the company for keeping the trend of feature-packed mATX boards alive.
Asus ProArt Z690-Creator: Best Z690 motherboard for professionals
While the Gigabyte Z690 Aero G packs an excellent selection of features for content creators, the board lacks some advanced features that could significantly help professional users looking at upgrading to an Alder Lake CPU.
This is where the Asus ProArt Z690-Creator comes in. First of all, the board features dual, 10Gb+2.5Gb, Ethernet. Next, you get two Thunderbolt 4 ports found on the rear I/O. Further, the Wi-Fi chip supports the newest Wi-Fi 6E protocol.
The board also houses two DisplayPort In connectors vs. one found on the Aero G and an HDMI 2.1 port. The internal USB 3.2 gen2x2 header includes 60W power delivery with Quick Charge 4+ support.
The board also comes with four PCIe M.2 slots and eight SATA III ports. VRM section is pretty good. Not the best overall, but sixteen 70A CPU power stages should run any Alder Lake CPU without power limits and without issues.
Other specs include memory support for up to DDR5 6000, two PCIe 5.0 x16 slots (x16 or x8/x8 mode), and one PCIe 3.0 x16 slot working in x4 mode. The high-end Realtek S1220A audio codec is powering the audio section.
Aside from the aforementioned ports, the rear I/O also hosts six 10Gbps USB ports, a selection of audio jacks, and a BIOS flashback button.
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