Intel Z690 Motherboard VRM, Entry-Level Roundup

Right this moment we’re looking at VRM thermal efficiency of 9 Intel Z690 motherboards priced between $220 and $300. This value vary might be thought-about “entry-level” for Z690, which can be a little bit of an issue for the extra inexpensive CPUs in Intel’s new Alder Lake collection just like the Core i5-12600K, however for now these are your choices till supporting H670 and B660 boards arrive subsequent yr.

So in case you actually wish to guarantee that the Z690 motherboard you purchase isn’t sizzling rubbish — as we discovered with the earlier era Z590 motherboards, yup that occurred — right here comes our VRM testing. On that notice, there aren’t any Asrock motherboards featured on this roundup and that’s not as a result of we’re ignoring Asrock, however slightly as a result of we’re nonetheless blacklisted by the corporate for correct and trustworthy reporting on the efficiency of their merchandise.

Usually we’d simply go forward and purchase their boards, and we’ll, however for some motive their entry-level fashions have but to go on sale. We’ve preordered the same old offenders such because the Phantom Gaming, however they’re not attributable to arrive till mid-December.

As for the remainder of the boards, all have been offered by the producers except the Asus Prime Z690-P D4, which Asus refused to pattern. It seemed like Asus HQ didn’t have a lot religion in that product, so we’ve bought it as effectively and fortunately we have been ready to take action in time for this check.

We’ll be rapidly going over the boards’ options grouped by maker after which onto the testing…

Asus Z690 Motherboards

These are the three Asus choices promoting at or under $300. Sadly, the Prime Z690-A doesn’t have a DDR4 variant, so this board is unnecessary, however we’ll cowl it anyway as a result of in some unspecified time in the future DDR5 reminiscence will turn out to be obtainable, and it’ll obtainable at an inexpensive value.

The Prime Z690-P D4 entry-level providing is available in both a DDR4 or DDR5 variations and each use 14 Vishay SiC654 50A powerstages for the vcore. This is likely one of the weakest VRMs you’ll discover on an ATX Z690 motherboard. That mentioned, it’s nonetheless succesful, so will probably be fascinating to see the way it tackles the 12900K.

The TUF Gaming Z690-Plus WiFi D4 is considerably upgraded on this respect because it makes use of 14 Vishay SiC659 80A powerstages, so at face worth that’s 60% better present dealing with functionality. There’s additionally a DDR5 model of this board and it makes use of the identical VRM.

Then we now have the marginally dearer Prime Z690-A which is a DDR5 solely mannequin and it makes use of Vishay’s barely weaker SiC643 60A powerstages, however there’s sixteen in whole. So the dearer Asus fashions look good and the entry-level mannequin must be first rate.

Gigabyte Z690 Motherboards

From Gigabyte we now have the Z690 UD AX DDR4 at $220, although there are 5 variations of this board, all use the identical VRM and so the thermal outcomes will apply to all fashions. Making up the vcore portion of the VRM are 16 OnSemi NCP303160 60A powerstages which aren’t the best, however there’s loads of them so this funds Z690 board ought to carry out effectively.

For $10 extra in addition they provide the Z690 Gaming X DDR4 which is available in two variations: the DDR4 model that we now have and a DDR5 model that does differ in VRM design. Each characteristic a 16 powerstage vcore utilizing 60A powerstages, however whereas the DDR4 mannequin makes use of the identical OnSemi fashions because the UD variations, the DDR5 model has been upgraded to DrMOS 60A powerstages. We don’t have the DDR5 mannequin for testing, however presumably will probably be higher than the DDR4 model.

Then at $270 we now have the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Elite AX DDR4 which arrives in half a dozen variations which is extraordinarily complicated. There are two Micro ATX fashions which characteristic only a dozen 60A energy phases for the vcore and we’re unsure what mannequin powerstages precisely since Gigabyte will not give us this info — you’ve received extra probability discovering out what VRM parts Gigabyte makes use of asking anybody however Gigabyte.

The MicroATX boards could be a bit on the weak aspect, however with out understanding the precise powerstage fashions it’s arduous to say. For the ATX boards, we now have the Aorus Elite and Aorus Elite AX, each with DDR4 and DDR5 variations. The DDR4 boards use completely different VRM parts to the DDR5 fashions, with the previous utilizing 16 On Semi FDMF5062 70A powerstages for the vcore, and the latter DrMOS 60A powerstages.

MSI Z690 Motherboards

The MSI Z690 lineup is by far essentially the most coherent and subsequently client pleasant. On the backside of the stack is the Z690-A Professional WiFi DDR4 for $220. This board might be bought with or with out WiFi help and both possibility is offered in DDR4 or DDR5 variants, which means there are 4 fashions in whole. The excellent news is that every one 4 characteristic the identical 14 part vcore VRM makes use of Alpha & Omega AOZ5016QI 55A powerstages.

Then we now have the Z690 Torpedo for $280 and just like the Asus Prime Z690-A, this board solely helps DDR5 reminiscence, which is a bit awkward within the present market. There are two variations of the Torpedo, the one we now have for testing and one other with a customized EK waterblock, although we haven’t seen that mannequin out within the wild but. Each characteristic a 16-phase vcore utilizing MPS MP87992 70A powerstages and this is identical VRM configuration discovered on the marginally dearer $300 Z690 Tomahawk WiFi DDR4, which we’ve additionally included on this evaluate.

Lastly, there are simply two variations of the Z690 Tomahawk WiFi, one with DDR4 and one with DDR5 and fortunately each characteristic the very same VRM design.

Testing Notes

Earlier than we get to the graphs, let’s speak in regards to the testing circumstances and methodology. For this text and for any future LGA 1700 VRM thermal testing we’ve constructed a devoted system contained in the Corsair iCUE 7000X case. Powering it we now have the HX1000 PSU and iCUE H170i Elite Capellix for cooling.

The iCUE 7000X has been configured with a single rear 140mm exhaust fan and three 140mm consumption followers, which is the inventory configuration for this case. Within the high we now have the H170i 420mm radiator with three 140mm exhaust followers. This can be a fairly high-end configuration, air-flow is sweet, and in a 21 diploma room we’d say that is an optimum setup.

For recording temperatures we’re utilizing a digital thermometer with Okay-Sort thermocouples. This enables us to report peak rear PCB temperature. however we’re not recording Delta T over Ambient, as an alternative we keep a room temperature of 21 levels and guarantee a constant ambient temperature with a thermocouple positioned subsequent to the check system.

For testing we’ve received three CPU configurations, excluding the F variants, it gained’t shock you that we’ve examined with the 12900K, 12700K and 12600K. The stress check consists in looping Cinebench R32 for an hour, at which level we’re reporting the utmost PCB temperature, recorded utilizing k-type thermocouples.


Beginning with the Core i9-12900K outcomes, we discover the Asus Prime Z690-A on the high of our graph alongside the TUF Gaming Z690-Plus WiFi D4 with a peak temperature of simply 60 levels.

The MSI Z690 Tomahawk was up there as effectively, principally matching the 2 Asus boards with a temperature of simply 61C. The MSI Z690 Torpedo additionally carried out very effectively, although it is a DDR5 solely mannequin, so it has restricted enchantment proper now.

The Gigabyte Z690 boards have been all fairly disappointing, regardless of delivering a passable end result. The Z690 Aorus Elite AX DDR4 reached 74C, making it fairly a bit hotter than competing boards from MSI and Asus.

Curiously, the Aorus Elite was barely any higher than the Gaming X and UD. We’re unsure what the limitation is with Gigabyte, however all boards ran within the mid 70s making them 10C to 15C hotter than most competing fashions. The one exceptions have been the entry stage MSI Z690-A Professional and Asus Prime Z690-P D4 which hit 74C, which is an honest end result and pretty much as good because it will get for $200-ish Z690 motherboards.

Regardless of the variation in bundle energy, all boards ran and maintained a P-core frequency of 4.9 GHz, and none of those motherboards have been energy restricted out of the field. However as a result of the brand new Alder Lake CPUs are fairly advanced, we’ve additionally included the Cinebench R23 rating after the 60 minute stress check.

As you may see we’re not more than a 0.3% rating variation between the assorted boards, so efficiency was similar.

The thermal margin between the very best and worst boards shrunk significantly when utilizing the Core i7-12700K. Right here we’re not more than a 10C distinction.

Once more, the Asus Prime Z690-A and TUF Gaming Z690-Plus WiFi D4 delivered the very best outcomes. Then we now have the MSI Z690 Tomahawk and Torpedo adopted by the MSI Z690-A Professional. Oddly on the backside of the graph are three Gigabyte boards, all of which peaked at 60C.

You may discover it odd that these Gigabyte boards all hit the identical peak temperature given they use completely different parts, however we retested and even the onboard VRM temp sensors all peaked on the identical 68C.

Then with the Core i5-12600K we’re as much as a 6c distinction between the very best and worst boards. In fact at this level VRM temps are not related as all boards ran effectively inside secure limits. So not less than when selecting from this bunch any will work simply nice with the 12600K, even in heat climates and actually the identical can also be true when paired with the Core i7-12700K.

Choosing the Greatest Z690 Price range Boards

Though Asus refused to ship out the Prime Z690-P D4, it’s really an honest funds Z690 motherboard. The MSI Z690-A Professional WiFi and Gigabyte Z690 UD AX DDR4 are arguably higher, however there’s actually nothing incorrect with the Prime Z690-P, assuming pricing is aggressive in your area.

The excellent news is that every one boards examined labored with even essentially the most high-end LGA 1700 processor and have been a good distance off hitting PCB temps of 100C. You could possibly thus say efficiency was acceptable throughout the board.

The place the Prime Z690-P D4 falls aside a little bit is while you look past the VRM, by way of options it’s not precisely stacked. On the I/O panel you’ll discover simply half a dozen USB ports — two lower than the MSI Z690-A Professional and 4 lower than the Gigabyte Z690 UD. You additionally get one much less M.2 slot than the Z690-A Professional and two much less SATA ports.

There’s additionally the Gigabyte Z690 Gaming X DDR4 for $230 which is a very nice trying board for the worth, particularly in case you don’t want WiFi.

The remainder of the motherboards are priced very near $300, and the weaker VRM thermal efficiency of the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Elite AX DDR4 makes it much less interesting at this value. The Asus Prime Z690-A and MSI Z690 Torpedo solely help DDR5, in order that they’re off the desk for many, leaving the Asus TUF Gaming Z690-Plus WiFi D4 and MSI Z690 Tomahawk WiFi DDR4.

By way of VRM thermals, they have been a lot the identical, so no actual winners. They’re additionally very related feature-wise with comparable I/O connectivity, they each provide WiFi 6, 2.5 GB LAN, 4 M.2 slots and pre-installed I/O shields. The Tomahawk does include 2 additional SATA ports and an extra full size PCIe x16 slot, although it’s solely wired for x4 bandwidth. Total they’re very related, so it should come all the way down to pricing and availability while you’re searching for them.

Buying Shortcuts

  • MSI Z690-A Professional WiFi DDR4 on Amazon
  • Gigabyte Z690 UD AX DDR4 on Amazon
  • Gigabyte Z690 Gaming X DDR4 on Amazon
  • Asus TUF Gaming Z690-Plus WiFi D4 on Amazon
  • Asus Prime Z690-P D4 on Amazon
  • MSI Z690 Tomahawk WiFi DDR4 on Amazon
  • Intel Core i5-12600K on Amazon
  • Intel Core i7-12700K on Amazon
  • Intel Core i9-12900K on Amazon

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