Friday, October 22nd 2021

First MSI Intel Z690 Motherboards Leak

So far, all of the leaked Intel Z690 based motherboards have been void of anything from MSI, but now we get a look at some of their upcoming models courtesy of a couple of different leaks.This gives us a pretty good look at several different market segments from MSI, although none of its really high-end models have leaked yet.

MSI's product stack is a bit cryptic, as we have a pair of MEG boards, one MPG board, one MAG board and a more entry level Pro board. Starting from the bottom working our way up, the Pro Z690-A WiFi appears to be a slightly beefier version of its current Z590-A Pro, with DDR5 support, a pair of 8-pin 12 V EPS connectors, as well as a fourth M.2 slot for NVMe SSDs. We don't spot any real stand-out features on this board, but it looks fairly competent for the market segment.
A step up we have the MAG Z690 Tomahawk WiFi DDR4, which is also very close to its Z590 sibling, but has grown a PCIe x4 slot. The SATA port layout is quite odd on this board, with two ports being nestled under the chipset heatsink for no apparent reason. Once again we're looking at an upgrade to two EPS connectors and a total of four M.2 slots.
The MPG Z690 Force WiFi is a silvery take of MPG Z590 Gaming Force with what appears to be better heatsinks all around, but otherwise the connectivity looks to have remained mostly the same. It's also the first board where we get a look at the ports, but there's sadly nothing really interesting to see, as the layout is identical to the Z590 board.
Moving up the stack we have the MEG Z690 Unify-X and here there are some more obvious changes from its Z590 predecessor. First of all we have a pair of x16 PCIe slots, whereas the Z590 version only had one. Gone are the x1 PCIe slots in favour of a fourth M.2 slot, although the open-ended PCIe x4 slot remains. The heatsinks appear to have grown slightly and MSI has dropped the 6-pin power connector on the bottom of the board, although a PS/2 port has made an appearance around the back, alongside a second 2.5 Gbps Ethernet port, at the cost of some USB ports.
Finally MEG Z690 Unify, which has four rather than the two DIMM slots of the MEG Z690 Unify-X, but otherwise appears to be mostly identical in terms of features and appearance, much as its Z590 sibling. Both the Unify models should be DDR5 boards.
Sources: WCCFTech, Videocardz
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27 Comments on First MSI Intel Z690 Motherboards Leak

#1
Chrispy_
Is anyone else going to be giving Z690 a wide berth? There are too many "first-gen" things going on with Z690 that makes me think there will be a lot of bugs to iron out.

First LGA 1700 socket potentially affecting cooler mountings, RAM topology, power delivery designs.
First PCIe 5.0 CPU support ever
First PCIe 4.0 chipset support from Intel
First consumer DDR5 platform
First hybrid CPU architecture for Intel and Microsoft.

Each and every one of those likely means there will be some teething troubles. I love jumping on new platforms relatively soon but I will be waiting for multiple other people, reviewers, and fixes to happen before I even consider Z690.

As always, I'd rather be wrong and for Z690 to be a solid platform at a sensible price but I suspect it'll just be a bunch of $700 boards riddled with issues that need fixing. Some call it cynicism, but I call it "decades of experience".

Edit - Crap, I forgot one more:
First Intel 10nm silicon for desktops.
Posted on Reply
#2
TheLostSwede
Chrispy_Is anyone else going to be giving Z690 a wide berth? There are too many "first-gen" things going on with Z690 that makes me think there will be a lot of bugs to iron out.

First LGA 1700 socket potentially affecting cooler mountings, RAM topology, power delivery designs.
First PCIe 5.0 CPU support ever
First PCIe 4.0 chipset support from Intel
First consumer DDR5 platform
First hybrid CPU architecture for Intel and Microsoft.

Each and every one of those likely means there will be some teething troubles. I love jumping on new platforms relatively soon but I will be waiting for multiple other people, reviewers, and fixes to happen before I even consider Z690.

As always, I'd rather be wrong and for Z690 to be a solid platform at a sensible price but I suspect it'll just be a bunch of $700 boards riddled with issues that need fixing. Some call it cynicism, but I call it "decades of experience".
Yeah, not touching it, not that I could afford it at the moment anyhow, but hey...
Going to stay away from first gen anything for now, since second gen seems to be a huge improvement for both Intel and AMD.
Posted on Reply
#3
BSim500
Chrispy_Is anyone else going to be giving Z690 a wide berth?
I'm giving the whole Socket 1700 platform a miss due to hybrid designs alone. I can see a lot of older games ending up running slower due to accidentally being assigned to the wrong type of core, especially those remaining on W10. Also "Never be a 1st adopter" for new RAM. You'll just end up selling them and buying faster modules after 18-24 months (2133-2400 -> 2933-3200 DDR4). Same every time. By the time it takes them to get "teething issues" out of the way, you'll probably be reading TPU articles about how Socket 1700 Z790 boards have just been replaced with Socket 1701 Z890 ones...
Posted on Reply
#4
Tigger
I'm the only one
If i had the cash, i'd give it a go out of curiosity of the whole alder lake/690/ddr5 thing. Sure there are people who piss money that will do the same. justt hope we have such a person on TPU who could report on it.
Posted on Reply
#5
bonehead123
Hummm... sounds interesting but.... gotta wait on formal reviews/tests etc...

Just curious though, does anyone know why all of the last 4 generations of the Z models of mobos/chipsets etc HAD to have a "90" at the end ? Seems like it would have been simpler to just have a 400, 500, 600 etc instead of 390, 490, 590 & now 690....

Yea, I know there are also the xx10 series too, which IIRC are the lower-end/more budget-minded models, but still....
Posted on Reply
#6
cst1992
TiggerSure there are people who piss money
Yeah, those are called youtubers(looking at a certain someone here...).
bonehead123Just curious though, does anyone know why all of the last 4 generations of the Z models of mobos/chipsets etc HAD to have a "90" at the end ? Seems like it would have been simpler to just have a 400, 500, 600 etc instead of 390, 490, 590 & now 690....
Those aren't the only chipsets in that series.

For Haswell(4th gen Intel - my 4690k CPU) the series is Z97. That's the high-end series. If you didn't know better and went for the cheapest series, you'd get a H81 chipset board(that'd be a crap choice for a 4690k). Then you'd have the H87, Z87, H97 and finally Z97.
H/Z87s were the older Haswells - the i5 4670k and i7 4770k CPUs were from those.
Posted on Reply
#7
CrAsHnBuRnXp
TiggerIf i had the cash, i'd give it a go out of curiosity of the whole alder lake/690/ddr5 thing. Sure there are people who piss money that will do the same. justt hope we have such a person on TPU who could report on it.
I can take donations for a new CPU/motherboard/RAM combo and build a computer based on alder lake and Windows 11. :)
Posted on Reply
#8
sillyconjunkie
Chrispy_
First Intel 10nm silicon for desktops.
ADL is on a 7nm TSMC node, initially.
Posted on Reply
#9
Dammeron
As usual - where's the mATX?

But out of the shown above - tomahawk looks good.
Posted on Reply
#10
Chrispy_
sillyconjunkieADL is on a 7nm TSMC node, initially.
Oh, really? That's interesting. Do you have a source for that?

I know Intel had talked to and made agreements with TSMC but I didn't know which product lines it was for. Initial guesses were their GPUs and perhaps for access to 5nm/3nm nodes in the future.

If true, it means that Intel's 10nm++ process is still completely broken - as in, "too broken for the mainstream market" and that's valuable information that Intel have been trying to sweep under the rug because they've spent the last two straight years telling us, investors, and shareholders that 10nm is now "good" to use.
Posted on Reply
#11
thegnome
sillyconjunkieADL is on a 7nm TSMC node, initially.
Uh no, it's "Intel 7" which is just them renaming their own 10nm node to keep in line with the other companies.
Posted on Reply
#12
Chrispy_
thegnomeUh no, it's "Intel 7" which is just them renaming their own 10nm node to keep in line with the other companies.
Ah yeah, I remember that news. Transistor gate size in nanometers is becoming more meaningless by the day, with TSMC 7nm EUV having around double the double the density of the original N7 process. If Intel are 'rebranding' 10nm to 7, then arguably TSMC could justifiably call their 7nm EUV 4-layer "TSMC 4nm" to be in line with Intel's rebrand.

It won't be long before we need a metric like horsepower for transistor density, based on the theoretical density of one standardised transistor. Real world transistors vary in size just like real world horses vary in size and strength but the industry settled on horsepower as a defined quantity of power. We need the silicon manufacturing industry to come up with a "standardised transistor" size that so that process improvements and transistor design improvements can be quantifiably measured.

Also, that's probably not going to happen, because silicon fabrication is funded by making overblown marketing promises to rich investors. There's no incentive to dampen those marketing promises with quantifiable metrics, the whole point of exaggerating your likely results is the fine art of handwavium, the diametric opposite of standardised units. :D
Posted on Reply
#13
Solid State Soul ( SSS )
I've always liked msi A-Pro series motherboards, they always been a nice package of features and quality VRMs at an affordable cost.

This one looks like it's gonna be good too
Posted on Reply
#14
cst1992
Solid State Soul ( SSS )I've always liked msi A-Pro series motherboards, they always been a nice package of features and quality VRMs at an affordable cost.

This one looks like it's gonna be good too
I beg to differ.

See the last one. VRM temps of 115C on that X570-A Pro.
I'd rather go with a Tomahawk(Or an Asus board - if they weren't so damn overpriced these days).
Posted on Reply
#15
Solid State Soul ( SSS )
cst1992I beg to differ.

See the last one. VRM temps of 115C on that X570-A Pro.
I'd rather go with a Tomahawk(Or an Asus board - if they weren't so damn overpriced these days).
Well I meant good vrm for up to an i7 or a ryzen X800, anything above that like an i9 or Ryzen x900 is where you overstep the boudries
Posted on Reply
#16
Hyderz
TheLostSwedeYeah, not touching it, not that I could afford it at the moment anyhow, but hey...
Going to stay away from first gen anything for now, since second gen seems to be a huge improvement for both Intel and AMD.
hehe remember sandy bridge :) second gen core i series was so good
Posted on Reply
#17
TheLostSwede
Hyderzhehe remember sandy bridge :) second gen core i series was so good
And the 6-series motherboard chips had a SATA bug that caused the 6Gbps ports to fail after a while...
Posted on Reply
#18
Dammeron
TheLostSwedeAnd the 6-series motherboard chips had a SATA bug that caused the 6Gbps ports to fail after a while...
Have Asus P8P67 Deluxe since 2011 - still working fine and dandy. Even survived a flood after one of my T-block fittings broke in half (coolant went all over the 24pin and SATA ports).
Posted on Reply
#19
cst1992
Dammeroncoolant went all over the 24pin and SATA ports
Yikes. I hope that wasn't electrically conductive.
Posted on Reply
#20
TheLostSwede
DammeronHave Asus P8P67 Deluxe since 2011 - still working fine and dandy. Even survived a flood after one of my T-block fittings broke in half (coolant went all over the 24pin and SATA ports).
You're one of the lucky ones then. I know several people that have had the SATA 6Gbps fail on their P67 boards.
Posted on Reply
#21
NuCore
Chrispy_Is anyone else going to be giving Z690 a wide berth? There are too many "first-gen" things going on with Z690 that makes me think there will be a lot of bugs to iron out.

First LGA 1700 socket potentially affecting cooler mountings, RAM topology, power delivery designs.
First PCIe 5.0 CPU support ever
First PCIe 4.0 chipset support from Intel
First consumer DDR5 platform
First hybrid CPU architecture for Intel and Microsoft.

Each and every one of those likely means there will be some teething troubles. I love jumping on new platforms relatively soon but I will be waiting for multiple other people, reviewers, and fixes to happen before I even consider Z690.

As always, I'd rather be wrong and for Z690 to be a solid platform at a sensible price but I suspect it'll just be a bunch of $700 boards riddled with issues that need fixing. Some call it cynicism, but I call it "decades of experience".

Edit - Crap, I forgot one more:
First Intel 10nm silicon for desktops.
Well, but the 500 series chipsets they do not have PCI-E 4.0? ;)
Posted on Reply
#22
Chrispy_
TheLostSwedeYou're one of the lucky ones then. I know several people that have had the SATA 6Gbps fail on their P67 boards.
The fault with P67 was picked up internally at Intel almost before boards were on shelves.
Intel paper-launched Sandy bridge at CES in mid January, discovered the issue in January, and had B3 revision boards/chipsets on shelves by the beginning of March.

Unless you pre-ordered a P67 board and received it in January/February that year, you likely have a B3 revision board without the SATA issue.
Posted on Reply
#23
TheLostSwede
Chrispy_The fault with P67 was picked up internally at Intel almost before boards were on shelves.
Intel paper-launched Sandy bridge at CES in mid January, discovered the issue in January, and had B3 revision boards/chipsets on shelves by the beginning of March.

Unless you pre-ordered a P67 board and received it in January/February that year, you likely have a B3 revision board without the SATA issue.
Not true, as the motherboard makers had an exchange program for the first million boards or so.
I'm very well aware of what happened and as I said, I know people who had ports fail, even though it wasn't an instant thing, as they didn't exchange their boards.
Nothing to do with pre-ordering.
Posted on Reply
#24
Chrispy_
TheLostSwedeNot true, as the motherboard makers had an exchange program for the first million boards or so.
I'm very well aware of what happened and as I said, I know people who had ports fail, even though it wasn't an instant thing, as they didn't exchange their boards.
Nothing to do with pre-ordering.
I guess there was lots of stock in the channel that retailers didn't bother exchanging.

I bought mine in March and "B3 revisions" were the only models on sale; The B3 revision was prominent - not just on the box but directly in the retailer product listings. I ended up buying P8P67 boards for work that generation. I guess as always, it pays not to jump on something the instant it comes out and let other people be the paying beta testers. It's a shame that consumers tolerate being treated like shit by manufacturers and retailers because it gives manufacturers and retailers an excuse to keep doing it.
Posted on Reply
#25
TheLostSwede
Chrispy_I guess there was lots of stock in the channel that retailers didn't bother exchanging.

I bought mine in March and "B3 revisions" were the only models on sale; The B3 revision was prominent - not just on the box but directly in the retailer product listings. I ended up buying P8P67 boards for work that generation. I guess as always, it pays not to jump on something the instant it comes out and let other people be the paying beta testers. It's a shame that consumers tolerate being treated like shit by manufacturers and retailers because it gives manufacturers and retailers an excuse to keep doing it.
Not saying Intel didn't catch that one fairly quickly, but if you consider the amount of boards that are being prepared for each SKU at each boardmaker, that ends up being quite a lot of boards that are produced ahead of a new launch and that was a rather important one at that. I obviously don't have the exact number of boards, but even 250k per the big four isn't really a lot if you split that across multiple SKUs and then all the countries that they sell in, hence why I said a million or so.
I'm not sure how much was done by retailers, but there clearly was enough time for the boards to end up in consumers hands and many weren't aware of the issue, so they never did anything about it, even though it wouldn't have cost them anything.

But yes, you're right, there's way too much beta testing going on and it's only getting worse. It's all about being "first" which is getting kind of annoying, especially when the product sometimes is dropped six months later and you don't get any support. I know Qualcomm messed up one of their Wi-Fi chips and they pretty much told their partners tough luck and their partners did the same to the consumers who got a poorly working 802.11ac router... Unlike Intel and P67, there was no exchange program, it was just another case of suck it up early adopter.
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