MSI MPG Z690 Carbon EK X Review 5

MSI MPG Z690 Carbon EK X Review

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In today's review, we will be covering a special collaboration between MSI and EKWB. MSI has taken the well-received MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi, a mid-tier motherboard that keeps a good balance between price and features. Combined with the at EKWB talented team's ability to create a large monoblock design, you get the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon EK X edition.

With the release of Intel's 12th Gen Core processors comes a new socket. This LGA 1700 socket is supported by the Z690 chipset, which also holds the privilege of being the first consumer product to offer both PCIe Gen 5.0 and DDR5. AMD is no stranger to stiff competition and has plans to release the company's own take on DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 to offer customers an alternative when it comes time to retire the old computer. Being Intel, we can only suspect that an HEDT followup is in the works. For now, the 12th Gen Core processors are holding firm as top-tier gaming CPUs.

Intel's 12th Gen Core processors offer native PCIe 5.0 support, which means future support of products that have just now reached the enterprise market. The Z690 chipset has been given a connection speed boost as well, with a change to the DMI 4.0 interference at 16 GT/s, a doubling over DMI 3.0 on the previous LGA 1200 socket. This increase of bandwidth allows not only for native USB 3.2 2x2 connectivity, but plenty of storage options as well.

The MPG naming convention serves as MSI's mid-range line for Intel motherboards. Generally offering similar performance to the MEG series, but without some of the premium features, the MPG Z690 lineup typically comprises three models, the Carbon, Force, and Edge. The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon EK X serves as the highest entry for the MPG family.

This collaboration with EKWB has taken the MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi feature-set and placed an EK-Quantum Matrix7 monoblock over the 18 VRM power stages. In addition to this, an M.2 socket is also directly cooled, thus allowing for near-ambient temperatures during large data transfers. This helps alleviate potential heat-related issues that can accompany these intense user workloads. Fear not, though, the remaining four M.2 sockets include full heatsink coverage. To round out the experience, the newest WiFi 6E technology and 2.5G LAN are present and accounted for. There is a lot to cover in this review, so let's take a closer look at what the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon EK X has to offer.


CPU Support:Intel Socket LGA1700 12th Gen Core,
Pentium Gold, and Celeron processors
Power Design:CPU Power: 18-phase
iGPU Power: 1-phase
Chipset:Intel Z690
Integrated Graphics:Dependent on installed CPU
Memory:4x DIMM, 128GB, dual-channel DDR5-6400+ (OC)
Expansion Slots: 2x PCIe Gen5 x16 slots (x16/x0) or (x8/x8)
1x PCIe 4.0 x4 slots
Storage: 6x SATA 6 Gb/s ports
4x M.2 Sockets (SATA3/PCIe Gen4 x4)
1x M.2 Socket (SATA3/PCIe Gen3 x4)
Networking:1x Intel 2.5 Gb Ethernet
1x Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210
Rear Ports: 5x USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports
4x USB 2.0 ports
1x HDMI™ port
1x DisplayPort 2x Wi-Fi antenna connectors
1x 2.5 Gb Ethernet
5x audio jacks
1x Optical S/PDIF out port
1x BIOS Flash button
Audio:1x Realtek ALC4080 Codec
Fan Headers:6x 4-pin
Form Factor:ATX Form Factor: 12.0 x 9.6 in.; 30.5 x 24.4 cm
Exclusive Features:
  • Audio Boost 5
  • 2.5G LAN
  • LAN Manger
  • Intel Wi-Fi
  • M.2 Shield Frozr
  • K7 thermal pad
  • Choke pad
  • Pump Fan
  • Smart Fan Control
  • Heat-pipe Design
  • Mystic Light
  • Mystic Light Extension
  • Mystic Light SYNC
  • Ambient Device
  • EZ LED Control
  • Lighting Gen 5 PCI-e Slot
  • Lighting Gen M.2
  • Dual CPU Power: 8+8 EPS
  • 2 oz copper thickened PCB
  • PCIe Steel Armor
  • Pre-installed I/O Shielding
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