Intel launched their new Z690 platform, along with their new 12th gen Alder Lake processors a few weeks ago (in Nov 2021). This launch was meant to be a game changer, as these processors are fabricated using Intel’s much anticipated 10nm process, and supposedly offer a significant performance boost over previous generations which used the aging 14nm process. The new Alder Lake processors and Z690 chipset now includes newly added technologies, such as the support for DDR5 ram and PCIE 5.0. The desktop versions of the chip comes with a larger 30M cache and offers up to 8 P-core (performance cores) and 8 E-core (efficiency cores).
Motherboard manufacturers are given the choice to produce both the DDR4 and DDR5 versions of the Z690 motherboards. This can be confusing for some, but just remember current DDR5 ram is costing more than twice the price of your standard DDR4 ram … so you’ll know pretty quick! Hahaha.
In this review, we’ll be taking a look at the ASRock Z690 Steel Legend WiFi 6e motherboard, which supports DDR4 memory with speeds of up to DDR4 5000+ (OC). We will use an Intel Core i9-12900KF processor to test this motherboard to see how well it will perform.
You’ll notice one thing right away with this motherboard. Yes, it’s the PCIE 5.0 x 16 slot. Is it backward compatible with PCIE 4.0 components? Conitnue reading to find out.
For other expansion slots ,there’s 1 x PCIe 5.0 x16 Steel slot for graphics card, 1 x PCIe 4.0 x16 slot, as well as 1 x PCIe 3.0 x16 alot and 2 x PCIe 3.0 x 1 slot. For storage, there’s a total of 8 x SATA3 ports, 2 x Hyper M.2 (PCIe Gen4 x4) and 1 x Ultra M.2 slot (PCIe Gen3) for SSDs, as well as 1 x M.2 Key-E for WiFi module (occupied).
For USB lovers, you get 1 x front USB 3.2 Gen2x2 (Type-C), 2 x USB 3.2 Gen2 (Type-A+C), 8 x USB 3.2 Gen1 (4 Front, 4 Rear), and additional 4 x USB 2.0 (Front). And finally, for connectivity, you get the Dragon 2.5GB LAN as well as the WiFi 6e support via the onboard M.2 wifi module. Other connectors on the I/O panel include the PS/2 keyboard and mouse, HDMI port, DisplayPort, and connectors for your WiFi antenna, as well as an array of audio connectors.
One concern that a lot of users have raised … is the cooling solution for this new LGA1700 socket. If you’ve already invested in a decent AIO cooling from the previous (LGA1200), it means you’ll to go a get a new cooler. Now that’s something I DO NOT want to do! But luckily, a lot of manufacturers have produced LGA1700 mounting kits that will be comptible with your existing coolers. Please check double check with the manufacturer of the cooler for more information.
There have been reports that Intel’s new 12th gen Alder Lake processors can run really hot, with temperatures easily surpassing 90+ degrees Celsius. Now, if this is true then we will have a problem. But there is a simple explanation as to why… just take a look at the TDP of the chip (Core i9-12900KF), it’s rated ta 125W with a Turbo boost at 241W!
The Core i9-12900KF comes with 8 P-core (performance cores) and 8 E-core (efficiency cores) whcih will give you a total of 16 cores, but strangely you only get 24 threads not 32 threads. This is explained in moe detail here. OK with that said, I am still pretty excited to see what the new 12th gen Alder Lake and Z690 chipet can do in terms of performance. With a powerful chip such as the Core i9-12900KF, I’m expecting some excellent performance during our benchmarks.
ASRock Inc. is established in 2002, specialized in the field of motherboards. ASRock strives to build up its own brand. With the 3C design concept, “Creativity, Consideration, Cost-effectiveness”, the company explores the limit of motherboards manufacturing while paying attention on the eco issue at the same time, developing products with the consideration of eco-friendly concept.
ASRock has been growing fast and become world third largest motherboard brand with headquarter in Taipei, Taiwan and branches in Europe and the USA. The young and vibrant company targets from mainstream to enthusiast MB segments for different kinds of users, owning reputation around the world market with its reliability and proficiency.
As mentioned above, we’ll be testing the motherboard using the Intel Core i9-12900KF featuring 16 cores/24 threads, 16GB ADATA Spectrix DDR4-3600 ram, a Zotac GeForce RTX 2080, along with Gigabyte’s Aorus 500GB PCIE Gen4 SSD. I’m expecting the Z690 and 12th gen processor combo will outperform previous generation of motherboards that we’ve tested in the past, such as the Z490/Z590.
At the time of review we couldn’t find any MSRP for the ASRock Z690 Steel Legend WiFi 6e motherboard, however you can expect to pay around USD $200-250. In the meantime, you can buy something similar … the MSI Z690 Pro-A DDR4 for around USD $285 from Amazon – https://amzn.to/3FSRsDl
OK, let’s not waste any more time and jump straight in. We’ll start by taking a look at the specifications and features in our next page.
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