If you’re rocking a 12th Gen Alder Lake CPU in your gaming and streaming PC, a Z690 motherboard is the best way to get every drop of performance out of it. These motherboards often have the best VRMs, ample I/O, and the crown jewel—DDR5 compatibility!

Unfortunately, the best Z690 motherboards don’t come cheap. So, choosing the right one for yourself is important. Whether you’re looking for a Z690 board that fits in your all-white PC or one that allows for crazy overclocks, you’ve come to the right place.

Top 5 Best Z690 Motherboards in 2022:

1. ASUS ROG Strix Z690-F – Best Overall

SPECS:

  • CPU Socket: LGA 1700
  • RAM Capacity: DDR5 128GB (4 Slots up to 6400MHz)
  • Networking and Connectivity: Intel WiFi 6E, 2.5G Ethernet Port, and Bluetooth 5.2
  • Form Factor: ATX (12 x 9.6 inches)
  • RGB Support: Yes (ASUS Aura Sync)

If you want the best of everything—RGB, VRMs, DDR5, and thermals—the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-F is worth checking out. Packing a 16+1 phase VRM, you can see multiple heatsinks all across the board, for the power stages, the PCH, and the four M.2 SSD slots.

It also contains a host of AI-powered software features for overclocking, cooling, networking, and noise cancellation. Of course, you get to use DDR5 RAM with this one, a maximum of 128GB with speeds of up to 6400MHz.

All in all, the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-F excels in most aspects that matter in a Z690 motherboard. It’s definitely not cheap and might only be suitable for very high-end PC builds, but it provides good value in return too.

Pros

  • Good cooling features
  • Fan Xpert 4 utility
  • Compatible with DDR5 RAM

Cons

  • Very expensive

2. MSI PRO Z690-A – Best on a Budget

SPECS:

  • CPU Socket: LGA 1700
  • RAM Capacity: DDR4 128GB (4 Slots up to 5200MHz)
  • Networking and Connectivity: 2.5G Ethernet Port
  • Form Factor: ATX (12 x 9.6 inches)
  • RGB Support: No

For those building an Alder Lake PC on a budget, MSI presents a good motherboard option with the PRO Z690-A. It has pretty decent specs for the price: mainly the extended heatsink, the M.2 heatsink, and the 2.5G Ethernet port.

It’s easy to see the sacrifices that have been made to accommodate the lower price tag, like the lack of DDR5 compatibility, no WiFi and Bluetooth, or any RGB lighting. But, if you can look past those features, the MSI PRO Z690-A is definitely a great Z690 motherboard to use for a budget-friendly Alder Lake build.

Pros

  • Decent design and build quality
  • Six-layer PCB
  • Contains most ports and headers required for a PC build

Cons

  • Lacks WiFi and Bluetooth

3. MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk – Best Value for Money

SPECS:

  • CPU Socket: LGA 1700
  • RAM Capacity: DDR4 128GB (4 Slots up to 5200MHz)
  • Networking and Connectivity: Intel WiFi 6E and 2.5G Ethernet Port
  • Form Factor: ATX (12 x 9.6 inches)
  • RGB Support: No

The Tomahawk motherboards from MSI are quite popular in the PC gaming space. They’re mostly focused on value, and the MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk doesn’t sway far from that. It might lack DDR5 compatibility, but it has other features which make it a good Z690 motherboard overall.

The first thing you’ll notice when you look at it is the extended heatsink along with the M.2 shield. This would keep it cool after long hours of gaming. For connectivity, there’s a 2.5G Ethernet port and Intel Wi-Fi 6E. All in all, this is a solid Z690 motherboard for the price!

Pros

  • Elegant stealth black color
  • Ample I/O
  • Includes WiFi

Cons

  • Lacks Bluetooth

4. ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A – Best for White PC Build

SPECS:

  • CPU Socket: LGA 1700
  • RAM Capacity: DDR4 128GB (4 Slots up to 5333MHz)
  • Networking and Connectivity: Intel WiFi 6, 2.5G Ethernet Port, and Bluetooth 5.2
  • Form Factor: ATX (12 x 9.6 inches)
  • RGB Support: Yes (ASUS Aura Sync)

Some PC builders who’re going for a white theme often neglect components inside the PC itself. But if you’re detail-oriented, it makes sense to go the extra mile. In line with that, the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A is an excellent motherboard for a white PC build.

It has a 16+1 VRM. When combined with high-quality alloy chokes and durable capacitors, you can rest assured that your CPU will be stable with some overclocking potential. For cooling, as you can see, there’s a VRM, PCH, and M.2 heatsinks.

Although its aesthetics set it apart, especially the illuminated acrylic display and Aura Sync RGB lighting, the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A packs many features other than that too.

Pros

  • Great RGB lighting and aesthetics
  • Includes on-board WiFi
  • AI utilities

Cons

  • Expensive

5. Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Master – Best for Overclocking

SPECS:

  • CPU Socket: LGA 1700
  • RAM Capacity: DDR5 128GB (4 Slots up to 6400MHz)
  • Networking and Connectivity: Intel WiFi 6E, 10G Ethernet Port, and Bluetooth 5.2
  • Form Factor: ATX (12 x 9.6 inches)
  • RGB Support: Yes (Aorus RGB Fusion 2.0)

As many memes have pointed out, overclocking a CPU can often be a risky undertaking. So, if you’re planning to overclock your 12th Gen Alder Lake CPU, ensure that you have the right components. Of course, the cooler comes to mind first, but the motherboard is just as important.

With a 19+1+2 phase VRM design, the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Master is more than capable of overclocking any 12th Gen CPU to its limits. As you can see, there are many heatsinks at different points on the board for heat dissipation, mainly on the VRM and the M.2 slots.

It includes all the I/O ports you need at the back: 9 USB-A, 2 USB-C, and 1 DP. In addition, there are also a bunch of extra features like Aorus Fusion 2.0, Q-Flash Plus, and RGB lighting. To sum it up, if you have the budget, this is definitely a fun-packed motherboard to go for.

Pros

  • Optimal for CPU overclocking
  • 10G Ethernet support
  • Includes two USB-C ports

Cons

  • Expensive

Frequently Asked Questions

What to Look For in a Z690 Motherboard?

Well, what do you look for in any other motherboard? All the required ports (SATA, M.2, USB-A and USB-C, PCIe, etc.), networking features (WiFi, Bluetooth, LAN), and good overall build quality. The main feature which sets apart Z690 motherboards from the rest is DDR5 RAM compatibility. 

Does DDR5 RAM Compatibility Make Sense Money-Wise?

It just boils down to your requirements and budget level. If you’re willing to pay a premium for some extra performance, DDR5 is the way to go. If you want value for money, DDR4 has been working fine for years anyway. I’ve included both kinds of motherboards in my list, so choose according to your preferences.

Are There Any Small Form Factor Z690 Motherboards?

All of the motherboards I mentioned in this article are ATX, which is the most common form factor. But if you’re building a small form factor PC, you might want to go for Micro-ATX or Mini-ITX instead. In that regard, the Gigabyte Z690i Aorus Ultra, the MSI MEG Z690i Unify, and the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-i are all worth checking out.

Wrapping Up

Many veteran PC builders often refer to the motherboard as ‘the heart of the PC’ and they’re right. So, it’s always wise to do your research before you make a purchase decision.

In this article, I introduced you to some top-of-the-line Z690 motherboards, and I hope you found the right one to add to your beast 12th Gen Alder Lake PC! Happy streaming!

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Author

Devansh is a writer and blogger who is just as passionate about PC hardware as he is about literature. He often spends his free time wading through the latest releases, industry news, and hardware benchmarks just for fun. His goal is to help fellow hardware enthusiasts and gamers make better and more informed choices regarding their PCs and battlestations.