Introduction

Motherboards are the centerpiece of any computer and finding one that suits your need can be hard. The motherboard can vary significantly in price and features. While most people can get away with buying what looks good within budget, it is best to choose your board depending on your needs.

Before choosing a motherboard, first identify the feature set that is important to you: WiFi, OC capabilities, dual Ethernet, M.2 slots, etc. Researching before buying will ensure you get the best bang for the buck.

With this in mind, we’ve compiled a simple list of Z690 boards that we believe to be relevant:
– DDR4 boards for those looking for something familiar,
– Small Form Factor boards for SFF bro who like compact builds
– Enthusiast boards for users pushing the limits of hardware, getting the best mobo money can buy
– Productivity Boards for more professional and powerhouse users.

What to look out for: Form Factor, Dimm Slots, Connectivity, IOs and other nice to-haves.

  • Power Delivery

    • While most Z690 boards are overbuilt in power delivery, there are still some that stand out. Some boards have a great price-to-performance ratio, while others have overkill VRMs. CPU overclocking is the best way to squeeze more performance from your CPU, and power delivery is a crucial component for OCing. You can find our article here for an in-depth look into how power delivery on the motherboard works.
  • Memory DIMMs

    • The 3 most common topologies are T-Topology, Daisy Chain Topology, and 1 DIMM per Channel Topology (1DPC). 1DPC remains the top choice for overclockers. For more on how different Topologies work you can refer to our article on the topic.
  • Connectivity

    • This heavily depends on individual needs, but it is always good to have a wide range of options available to you in the case of expansion. Be it in networking, storage, or USB devices.
  • Form Factor

    • Motherboards tend to come in 3 form factors, ATX boards which are the largest of them all, and then Micro-ATX which is a step-down, and then Mini-ITX boards which are the smallest of the bunch. Some popular enthusiast boards tend to come in the E-ATX form factor, which stands for Extended-ATX, usually used to have more add more ports or buttons on the board.
  • Features

    • Extra features are often down to preference, but features like POST codes, a Safe boot button, or at least jumper and even On-board buttons which usually comes in high-end boards only are a must-get for some users. Many of these features can also be used for overclocking, while more niche, it may still be something to look into.

 

Our Picks: 

DDR4 MotherboardsSFF MotherboardsEnthuasists MotherboardsProductivity Motherboards

MSI PRO Z690-A DDR4


PRO series helps users work smarter by delivering an efficient and productive experience. Featuring stable functionality and high-quality assembly, PRO series motherboards provide not only optimized professional workflows but also less troubleshooting and longevity. The MSI PRO Z690-A DDR4 offers great value for money, while not sacrificing any overclocking performance.

Buy MSI PRO Z690-A
Pros:
  • Inexpensive
  • Good overclocking capabilities
  • Robust Power Delivery
  • Minimal Design
Cons:
  • Can be aesthetically unpleasing
  • Safe Boot function is tied to the Clear CMOS 2-pin header.
Specs:
  • 14x 55A power delivery for VCORE
  • Dual Channel Non-ECC Unbuffered DDR4, 4 DIMMs up to DDR4 5200 MHz (OC)
  • 1xPCIe5.0 x16, 2xPCIe3.0 x16
  • Intel I225-V 2.5G LAN

 

ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A Gaming WiFi D4
Strix-Z690-A

The ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A Gaming WiFi D4 white and silver scheme motherboard is designed with boosted power delivery and optimized cooling to cope with the demands of powerful 12th Generation Intel Core processors. Along with Wi-Fi 6 and PCI Express 5.0 for superfast transfer speeds and storage, ROG Strix Z690-A Gaming WiFi D4 is ready to take the helm of your clean and neat white gaming gear.

Buy ROG Strix Z690-A
Pros:
  • Good overclocking capabilities
  • Robust Power Delivery
  • Built-in Intel Wifi 6
  • Has RGB and the design is very aesthetically pleasing
Cons:
  • Comes at a premium price point
  • The white accents of the board can be distasteful to some
  • Safe Boot (FlexKey/DirectKey) is also not working on the Strix-A
Specs:
  • Dual Channel Non-ECC Unbuffered DDR4, 4 DIMMs up to DDR4 
  • 16x 80A power delivery for VCORE
  • 1 x PCIe 5.0/4.0/3.0 x16 slot
  • 1 x Intel® 2.5Gb Ethernet
  • 2x2 Wi-Fi 6 (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax)

 

MSI MPG Z690 Edge WiFi DDR4


mpg-z690-edge-d4

The MPG Z690 EDGE WIFI DDR4 delivers a powerful Intel 12th Gen Core ready platform that supports a broad spectrum of the state-of-the-art system processors and gaming hardware. For gaming connoisseurs looking to upgrade their motherboard across the board, the MPG Z690 EDGE WIFI DDR4 is the premium choice.

Buy MPG Z690 EDGE
Pros:
  • Good overclocking capabilities
  • Robust Power Delivery
  • Built-in Intel Wifi 6
  • Has RGB and the design is very aesthetically pleasing
Cons:
  • Comes at a premium price point
  • Safe Boot function is tied to the Clear CMOS 2-pin header.
Specs:
  • 16x 75A power delivery for VCORE
  • Dual Channel Non-ECC Unbuffered DDR4, 4 DIMMs up to DDR4 5200 MHz (OC)
  • 1xPCIe5.0 x16, 2xPCIe3.0 x16
  • Intel I225-V 2.5G LAN
  • Intel® Wi-Fi 6 module

MSI MEG Z690I Unify


The MEG series seeks to transcend current gaming products, the flagship model designed to push the limits of what an extreme gaming series can be. Combining the strengths of our existing arsenal with new innovative technology; this results in significant improvements in operational and gaming efficiency. The MSI MEG Z690I Unify is MSI's ITX offering and a little brother to Unify-X motherboards.

Buy Z690i Unify
Pros:
  • Great overclocking capabilities
  • Robust Power Delivery
  • Functional VRM heatsinks
  • Sleek black design
Cons:
  • The sleek industrial design might not be tasteful for some
  • Competitors offer more USB ports on the rear IO
Specs:
  • 10x 105A power delivery for VCORE
  • Non-ECC Unbuffered DDR5, 2 x DIMM, Max. 64GB, DDR5
  • 1x PCIe 5.0 x16 slot
  • 1x Intel® I225V 2.5Gbps LAN controller
  • Intel® Wi-Fi 6E module

 

ASUS ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi 6E


z690i-strix

ASUS ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi 6E is the perfect backbone for gamers who pursue ultimate performance out of Intel 12th Gen CPU mini-ITX PC build. With boosted power delivery and innovative cooling utilizing a skived-fin design, ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi 6E is the perfect compact platform for your next gaming battle station.

Buy Strix Z690-I
Pros:
  • Good overclocking capabilities
  • Robust Power Delivery
  • Built-in Intel Wifi 6
  • Functional VRM heatsinks
Cons:
  • Expensive compared to similar specced boards
  • Limited Air cooler capabilities
Specs:
  • 10x 105A power delivery for VCORE
  • Non-ECC Unbuffered DDR5, 2 x DIMM, Max. 64GB, DDR5
  • 1 x PCIe 5.0 x16 slot
  • 1 x Intel® 2.5Gb Ethernet
  • 2x2 Wi-Fi 6E

 

GIGABYTE Z690I AORUS Ultra Lite D4


The Z690I AORUS ULTRA LITE DDR4 supports 12th Gen Intel Processors and unparalleled performance. GIGABYTE Z690 motherboards come with upgraded power design, high grade storage standards, and outstanding connectivity that enables you to optimize your performance.

Buy Z690 Aorus
Pros:
  • Robust Power Delivery
  • Built-in Intel Wifi 6
  • Functional VRM heatsinks
  •  
Cons:
  • Sub-par Memory overclocking capabilities
  • PCIe3 on the x16 slot 
Specs:
  • 10x 105A power delivery for VCORE
  • 2 x DDR DIMM sockets supporting up to 64 GB
  • Intel® 2.5GbE LAN chip
  • Intel® Wi-Fi 6 Module

EVGA Z690 DARK K|NGP|N


Z690-dark-kp

EVGA DARK motherboards blaze the trail for other boards to follow, and the Z690 DARK K|NGP|N is no exception. The ability to destroy world records is insignificant next to the power of a 21-phase VRM and a 10-layer PCB- capable of driving the most powerful powerful  12th Gen Intel® Core™ processors.

Buy Z690 DARK
Pros:
  • Great overclocking capabilities
  • Robust Power Delivery
  • Functional VRM heatsinks
  • Sleek Black design
  • Extra features like POST codes, a Safe boot button, onboard buttons
Cons:
  • BIOS can be limiting at times
  • Comes at a premium price point
Specs:
  • 21x 105A power delivery for VCORE
  • 2 x DDR DIMM sockets supporting up to 64 GB
  • 2x PCIe 5.0 x16 (x16/x8, x8), 1x PCIe 3.0 x4 (via PCH)
  • 2x Intel® i225-V 2.5 Gigabit NICs
  • Intel® AX211 Wi-Fi 6E/BT 5.2 module

 

MSI MEG Z690 Unify-X


The MEG series seeks to transcend current gaming products, the flagship model designed to push the limits of what an extreme gaming series can be. Combining the strengths of our existing arsenal with new innovative technology; this results in significant improvements in operational and gaming efficiency. The MSI MEG Z690 Unify-X is MSI's offering to the Enthuasists who wants a board that push the absolute limits of their hardware.

Buy MEG Z690 Unify-X
Pros:
  • Great overclocking capabilities
  • Robust Power Delivery
  • Extra features like POST codes, a Safe boot button, onboard buttons
  • Functional VRM heatsinks
  • Sleek Black design
Cons:
  • Inconsistent for Memory overclocking
  • Plagued with QC issues 
Specs:
  • 19x 105A power delivery for VCORE
  • Non-ECC Unbuffered DDR5, 2 x DIMM, Max. 64GB, DDR5
  • 2x PCIe x16 slots
    • Support PCIe 5.0
    • Support x16/ x0, x8/ x8
  • 2x Intel® I225-V 2.5Gbps
  • Intel® Wi-Fi 6E Module

 

ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Apex


ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Apex(WiFi 6E) is the premiere overclocking platform for extreme OC enthusiasts looking to unlock the full potential of 12th generation Intel Core processors. Its optimized layout,enhanced power delivery and control, and striking design with a myriad of customization options will appeal to overclockers, gamers, and PC builders alike.

Buy Maximus Z690 Apex
Pros:
  • Great overclocking capabilities
  • Robust Power Delivery
  • Functional VRM heatsinks
  • Has RGB and the design is very aesthetically pleasing
  • Extra features like POST codes, a Safe boot button, onboard buttons
Cons:
  • Inconsistent for Memory overclocking
  • Newer, better units can be hard to get
    • 90MB18I0-M0AAY0
      90MB18I0-M0EAY0 (November 2021)
      90MB18I0-M0UAY1 (January 2022)
    • The January revision is recommended
Specs:
  • 24x 105A power delivery for VCORE
  • Non-ECC Unbuffered DDR5, 2 x DIMM, Max. 64GB, DDR5
  • 2x PCIe x16 slots
    • Support PCIe 5.0
    • Support x16/ x0, x8/ x8
  • 1 x Intel® 2.5Gb Ethernet
  • Intel® Wi-Fi 6E Module

ASUS ProArt Z690-Creator


The ASUS ProArt Z690-Creator WiFi 6E perfects the art of performance, empowering creativity and maximizing the computing power of the latest 12th Generation Intel Core processors with powerful hardware and software, efficient cooling and lightning-fast connectivity, including Thunderbolt 4, 10 Gb and 2.5 Gb onboard Ethernet, and WiFi 6E.

Buy ProArt Z690
Pros:
  • Robust Power Delivery
  • Built-in Intel Wifi 6
  • Functional VRM heatsinks
Cons:
  • Comes at a premium price point
  • Flexible enough for enthusiast tier, still not robust and feature-rich enough for industrial/server/workstation tier
Specs:
  • Non-ECC Unbuffered DDR5, 4 x DIMM, Max. 128GB, DDR5
  • 2x PCIe 5.0 x16 (x16/x8, x8), 1x PCIe 3.0 x4 (via PCH)
  • 1 x Intel® I225-V 2.5Gb Ethernet ASUS LANGuard, 1 x Marvell® 10Gb Ethernet
  • Intel® Wi-Fi 6E Module

 

GIGABYTE Z690 AERO D


The Z690 AERO D supports 12th Gen Intel Processors and unparalleled performance. GIGABYTE Z690 motherboards come with upgraded power design, high grade storage standards, and outstanding connectivity that enables you to optimize your performance.

Buy Z690 AERO-D
Pros:
  • Robust Power Delivery
  • Built-in Intel Wifi 6
  • Extra features like POST codes, are nice to have for troubleshooting
  • Functional VRM heatsinks
Cons:
  • Comes at a premium price point
  • Flexible enough for enthusiast tier, still not robust and feature-rich enough for industrial/server/workstation tier
Specs:
  • Core/Thread Count: 4C/8T
  • Non-ECC Unbuffered DDR5, 4 x DIMM, Max. 128GB, DDR5
  • Dual PCIe 5.0 x16 slots can be ready for PCle 5.0 GPU or NVMe storage
  •  AQUANTIA ® 10GbE LAN and Intel ® 2.5GbE LAN.
  • Intel® WIFI 6E 802.11ax 2T2R & BT5 with new antenna for better signal

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