86 Motherboards Compared for Intel Z690 Alder Lake 77

86 Motherboards Compared for Intel Z690 Alder Lake


ASUS Z690 Motherboards

We're going to start off with ASUS's non-ROG products and will follow up with a separate page for their ROG products; with so many new models on offer from ASUS alone, we chose to divide them up a bit to make it easier to take in. Outside of ROG, there are so far only the ProArt, Prime, and TUF Gaming product families from ASUS. So far, the company has unveiled nine boards in total, but according to earlier leaks, at least another five models or variants are coming.

ASUS ProArt Z690-Creator

We'll start with ASUS's ProArt board since it appears that, at least for now, there's only a single ProArt board, the ProArt Z690-Creator. It comes with or without WiFi depending on the region you buy it in. The ProArt series is said to be for content creators, which had ASUS always add a lot of connectivity to these boards. All except for one ProArt model has had 10 Gbps Ethernet, and the ProArt Z690-Creator is no exception. This is also the first ProArt board for Intel CPUs to feature Thunderbolt 4, as well as the first ProArt motherboard to feature a front-panel USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (20 Gbps) connector, with the added benefit of Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+ and USB PD up to 60 W. The Thunderbolt slots support 8K60p video output for one display, which requires external cables from a discrete graphics card to the two DisplayPort inputs at the top of the board.

When it comes to expansion, the ProArt Z690-Creator has a pair of PCIe 5.0 slots that function in either single x16 or dual x8 mode, as well as a third PCIe 3.0 x16 slot that's limited to x4 mode. There are four PCIe 4.0 M.2 NVMe drive slots, of which two can accept 22110 drives; the other two take the more standard 2280 drives, one of which supports SATA drives. Depending on which interfaces are being used, there's also support for up to eight SATA drives. Other things worth mentioning are an HDMI 2.1 port, although it's limited to 4K60p output, another 2.5 Gbps Ethernet port, WiFi 6E in supported regions, and DDR5 support. This is going to be an expensive board; we've so far only found it listed in the UK for £425. That equates to around US$465 even without VAT, which isn't cheap. That said, for the features on offer here, it's quite unbeatable value.

ASUS Prime

The Prime series from ASUS has been demoted over the years, and it's now for ASUS's most basic motherboard models, which is really starting to show on the Z690 based boards as they're quite scaled back, although maybe not quite as much as some models from some competitors. So far, ASUS is listing six different SKUs, but we are expecting at least four more based on earlier leaks, as the -V models haven't made an appearance yet. As such, we have the Prime Z690-P D4 with or without WiFi, Prime Z690-P with or without WiFi, Prime Z690-A, and Prime Z690M-Plus D4.

ASUS Prime Z690M-Plus D4

Sadly, the Prime Z690M-Plus D4 is both the only mATX board in the lineup and most stripped down board of the lot, as it only gets Gigabit Ethernet, whereas all the other SKUs so far have 2.5 Gbps Ethernet. We don't understand the persistent dislike bordering on hatred for the mATX form factor from motherboard makers, as they rarely get feature parity compared to standard ATX boards. As the model name implies, this is a DDR4 board. It has a single PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, as well as a secondary PCIe 4.0 capable x16 slot, though limited to x4 bandwidth, and two PCIe 3.0 x1 slots. This is one of few boards with a PCIe 4.0 expansion slot since it "only" has three PCIe 4.0 M.2 NVMe slots and four SATA ports for storage devices. The board has a single USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (20 Gbps) capable USB-C port around the back, and a case connector for a USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) USB-C port. You also get DP 1.4 and HDMI 2.1, one of each, although both are limited to 4K60p output, as well as an M.2 Key E slot for an optional WiFi module. Overall, this isn't a very exciting board, but it does at least have the minimum feature set you'd expect from a modern motherboard. Pricing should be under $200, making this one of the cheapest Z690 motherboards.

ASUS Prime Z690-P

The Prime Z690-P SKUs are all variants of the same theme with DDR4 or DDR5 support. The other differentiator being the inclusion or exclusion of WiFi, we'll treat them as the same board here. All SKUs get 2.5 Gbps Ethernet, a rear USB-C 3.2 Gen 2x2 (20 Gbps) port, and a USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 case connector, four x16 PCIe slots, of which the first one is PCIe 5.0 x16, the second PCIe 4.0 x4, and the remaining two PCIe 3.0 x4. As with the Z690M-Plus D4, we're looking at three PCIe 4.0 M.2 NVMe slots, whereas most of ASUS's competitors have gone for four. As such, these boards could be a must buy for anyone needing a dedicated PCIe 4.0 x4 slot since it's not a common feature on Z690 motherboards. Display connectivity stays the same as on the Z690M-Plus D4, although the WiFi card M.2 slot is a vertical one, which finding a suitable card for might be tricky. Overall, there's nothing too exciting to see here, but ASUS does at least provide an M.2 heatsink for one of the M.2 slots on these boards. Pricing for the non-WiFi SKUs seems to be around $220–230 depending on whether you go for DDR4 or DDR5.

ASUS Prime Z690-A

Finally, we have the Prime Z690-A, which is the top-tiered board in this family of ASUS motherboards, and let's just say it shows. The heatsinks are bigger, the I/O shield comes pre-attached to the rear of the board, and all but one of the M.2 slots comes with a heatsink, although the bottom two are technically sharing a single heatsink. There's only a single SKU with DDR5 memory for now, and we're looking at four PCIe 4.0 M.2 NVMe slots on this board. This means the second PCIe x16 slot is PCIe 3.0, but as with all other boards, limited to four lanes. There's also a PCIe 3.0 x4 slot that isn't open-ended, so longer cards won't fit. Although most features remain the same, there's a second rear USB-C port, and the front USB-C header has been upgraded as both support USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps). ASUS even added system power and Clear CMOS buttons to this board to make troubleshooting easier, alongside a set of four LEDs that would give you a basic idea of what might've gone wrong. Other minor additions include two 8-pin EPS power connectors, slightly improved audio components, and 90-degree angled SATA ports, although the PS/2 port is gone. ASUS also bumped the price up to around $300, which seems like a steep increase for largely cosmetic or low-cost features. Still, this does seem like ASUS's best mid-range board, but it should really be priced more affordably.

ASUS TUF Z690-Plus

ASUS TUF motherboards have evolved over the years, but since they got the Gaming suffix, we haven't really understood their place in ASUS's range of motherboards. They end up in an awkward place between the Prime and ROG Strix boards, often being worse than the best Prime boards, but with a darker ROG-style color scheme. As for the Z690-Plus D4, which comes with or without WiFi 6E depending on your region, it appears to be a Prime Z690-A in a darker color scheme and a slightly different rear I/O layout. The two aren't identical in terms of component placement, but the expansion slots are exactly the same, although the SATA ports are for some reason split, so there are two 90-degree angled ports by the heatsink and two regular ports at the bottom of the board. You do lose out on the power and Clear CMOS buttons, as well as the four debug LEDs, and there's only one eight and one 4-pin EPS connector on the Z690-Plus D4, which of course is a DDR4 rather than DDR5 board. The WiFi version will set you back around $290, which makes it slightly better value than the Prime Z690-A, but it doesn't seem like it's a great board for the money.
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