ASUS Z690 motherboard guide: upgrade to next


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Nov 10, 2023

ASUS Z690 motherboard guide: upgrade to next

Intel’s 12th Gen Core CPUs have landed. With up to eight high-performance Golden Cove cores, these processors offer enviable power for any workload, and up to eight power-efficient Gracemont cores

Intel’s 12th Gen Core CPUs have landed. With up to eight high-performance Golden Cove cores, these processors offer enviable power for any workload, and up to eight power-efficient Gracemont cores breeze through light tasks while only sipping power. This hybrid arrangement pays off with across-the-board performance improvements over last-gen chips. There’s a lot to be excited about with the new Z690 chipset, too. PCI Express 5.0 (PCIe) connectivity provides a front-row seat to the fastest graphics cards and SSDs of today and tomorrow, while support for blazing-fast DDR5 RAM lets you take advantage of the sizzling new speeds and supreme power efficiency offered by the next generation of system memory.

We have a full range of ASUS and ROG Z690 motherboards launching today, and they’re ready to serve as the rock-solid foundation for your next build. This guide will help you sort through all the options and find the best motherboard for your needs and budget.

Do you crave a motherboard with unbridled performance, unique industrial design, and a feature set that’s second to none? We’ve got you covered with our top-of-the-line ROG Maximus series. ROG Strix motherboards, on the other hand, bring exceptional gaming performance to a larger audience, and TUF Gaming boards offer all the gaming essentials you need for an attainable price. The ProArt Z690-Creator WiFi motherboard gives creators the versatility and connectivity they demand in a professionally-styled design. Finally, motherboards in our ASUS Prime lineup provide a firm foundation for all-around builds.

Each line of motherboards sports an all-new industrial design that will set the aesthetic tone for your entire build. From the glittering white metal of the ROG Maximus Z690 Formula to the aluminum ROG logo extrusion spread across the ROG Maximus Z690 Apex, each Maximus motherboard has a style all of its own. The AniMe MatrixTM display, a grid of 222 LEDs on the VRM heatsink of the ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme and ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme Glacial, gives you an eye-catching location to display custom graphics.

A large piece of acrylic across the I/O shield of ROG Strix Z690 motherboards intensifies the illumination from the RGB LEDs beneath. For those who prefer a more understated look, we drape Prime Z690 motherboards in timeless black and white. TUF Gaming motherboards exude confidence and durability, and the ProArt board offers an elegant and uncomplicated look that communicates creativity and professionalism.

With style for every taste, next-gen connectivity, and exceptional performance, our Z690 motherboards equip gamers, creators, and users of all kinds to get the most out of their Intel 12th Gen Core CPU. Read on for an overview of all the new features of the Z690 chipset, as well as a close look at the individual motherboards.

The Z690 chipset heralds the arrival of the next generation of high-speed components with its support for PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 RAM. Our Z690 lineup includes options that let you overclock RAM to new heights—up to 6600MHz on the ROG Maximus Z690 Apex. We make it easy to upgrade your DDR5 performance. Our exclusive ASUS Enhanced Memory Profile (AEMP) lets you unlock the potential of your DDR5 memory kit with a quick and simple trip into BIOS. What’s more, we collaborated closely with Adata, Corsair, Crucial, Geil, G.SKILL, Kingston, Klevv, and Teamgroup during product development to ensure better and wider compatibility with your favorite brands of RAM.

Our Z690 motherboards take the fuss out of memory overclocking—even for relative beginners. Our unique hardware implementation of the Power Management Integrated Circuit (PMIC)’s sequence unlock circuit makes overclocking DDR5 RAM as smooth as overclocking DDR4 RAM, all without requiring you to endlessly cycle the power on and off to find stable settings. You’ll feel right at home overclocking on this platform. AEMP stands ready to smooth the way should you end up with a memory kit without an XMP profile, saving you time and letting you enjoy increased performance after setup.

AEMP is far from the only easy-to-use tool in our BIOS firmware that helps you get the most out of your system. We’ve tuned our AI-powered suite of performance technologies for Intel 12th Gen CPUs so that you can get the most out of your new PC build with ease. AI Overclocking can intelligently boost your CPU’s single- and multi-core clock speeds while constantly monitoring stability, system temperatures, and cooling performance to maintain an ideal overclock over time, and it only takes one click to enable.

AI Cooling dynamically adjusts fan speeds to keep noise levels and CPU temperatures low. Two-Way AI Noise Cancelation uses CPU resources to filter background noise from your mic’s input—and from the signals you hear from the people you talk to. Finally, AI Networking draws from a comprehensive database of application network activity profiles to prioritize the most important traffic on your machine, all without annoying manual intervention.

PCIe 5.0 connectivity empowers you today with a comprehensive selection of high-speed ports, and it’ll give you access to the fastest next-gen SSDs and GPUs as they hit the market. With double the link speeds of PCIe 4.0, the new standard provides us the bandwidth to deck out our Z690 motherboards with Thunderbolt 4 and USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports. You’ll find several motherboard options with onboard Thunderbolt 4 in our lineup, and even more with a Thunderbolt 4 header. Every one of our Z690 motherboards has at least one PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, and our ROG Maximus and ProArt models offer two. The ROG Strix Z690-E, ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme, and ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme Glacial all give you an onboard PCIe 5.0 M.2 slot, as well, and the remaining ROG Maximus Z690 boards let you connect a PCIe 5.0 SSD with their bundled ROG Hyper M.2 or PCIe 5.0 M.2 cards.

Itching to try your hand at an overclock for your Intel 12th Gen Core CPU? Our Z690 motherboards are ready to deliver the power your processor needs for superior performance. Upgraded VRMs across the lineup stand ready to serve, and the range-topping ROG Z690 Maximus Extreme leads the way with its 24+1 teamed power stages, each rated for 105A.

That power requires comprehensive cooling, so our boards give you the tools to keep your system running at a comfortable temperature. On many models, our substantial VRM heatsinks are joined to the alloy I/O shield with a large heatpipe to better dissipate heat. Liquid-cooling aficionados can grab an ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme Glacial and use its massive waterblock, developed in partnership with EK, to chill their VRM and M.2 SSDs. On all of our boards, a plentiful array of fan headers lets you easily set up the cooling system of your dreams.

We’ve taken extra steps to make sure that setting up your high-performance Z690 build is hassle-free. Most of our boards use our M.2 Q-Latch system to hold your M.2 solid-state drives in place—no screws necessary. The new PCIe Slot Q-Release button on many of our ROG Maximus and ROG Strix Z690 motherboards takes the fumbling out of removing a graphics card by giving you an easy-to-reach physical button that releases the slot lock. Our SafeDIMM slots are fortified with a metal divider for added support and damage prevention. Finally, select Prime motherboards help you diagnose common build issues with a Q-LED core function that flashes the power LED during POST to communicate any issues.

Have a CPU cooler that you’re not quite ready to retire yet? To ensure backwards compatibility with as many coolers as possible, our motherboards include LGA 1200-compatible mounting holes in addition to mounting holes for next-gen kits. If you already own one of our AIO liquid coolers, its LGA 1200 retention kit ensures that you’re ready for Z690. Purchase one of our select new AIO liquid coolers, and you’ll find an LGA 1700 mounting kit package in the box. Check this website to find an eligible model.

If your CPU cooler was made by another manufacturer, we recommend that you contact them for more information about your specific hardware. Our Z690 motherboards offer the mounting holes for previous-gen LGA1200-compatible cooling systems, but due to the lower z-stack height of the LGA1700 socket, you might need a special bracket.

Adobe products are central to creative work in many industries. We’ve partnered with Adobe to empower your workflow with the renowned Creative Cloud suite of apps and services. With your purchase of a ProArt motherboard in select regions, you’ll enjoy a free three-month subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud. Purchasers of ROG and ROG Strix Z690 motherboards can also get in on the action with a free one-month subscription. Not only will you have access to over 20 apps, including Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and After Effects, you’ll have 100GB of cloud storage on tap.

Redemption is easy, and you can apply the Creative Cloud subscription to a new or existing account. Check out the full details for this program here.

They’re the elites of PC DIY: the makers, the die-hard enthusiasts, and the custom PC pioneers who construct captivating machines that push performance boundaries. ROG Maximus Z690 motherboards, each with their own unique design and features, open new boundaries for these builders.

For those who dare, the ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme offers the ultimate platform for a high-end PC build. This EATX motherboard comprises a dream team of features, and it’s as easy on the eyes as it to set up.

Dark hues dominate the surface of the ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme, drawing your eye to the customizable AniMe MatrixTM display on the I/O shield. This array of 222 individual LEDs displays customized images and animations, and it can be configured to react in real-time to audio playback. The cold-forged heatsink between the PCIe slots has a textured surface pattern that increases its surface, so it keeps the M.2 drives cool and gives the motherboard a unique look.

High-end features make every moment with the ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme a luxury. This motherboard features a massive 24+1 VRM topology with 105A integrated power stages ready to help you take advantage of the full overclocking potential of Intel 12th Gen CPUs. It offers both an Intel-powered 2.5Gb Ethernet port and a Marvell 10Gb Ethernet connector to give you access to the fastest local network transfers. An Intel WiFi 6E adapter gives you high-speed wireless connectivity over the wide-open 6GHz spectrum.

Audiophiles will revel in the crystal clarity of music, gaming, and entertainment with the Realtek ALC 4082 codec and ESS SABRE 9018Q2C DAC. To feed your high-end headset a pristine signal, we include the ROG Clavis USB-C external DAC with the ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme. With its four ESS converters each dedicated to discrete ranges of the audible spectrum, the Clavis produces an enviably high-fidelity output.

The ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme stands ready to serve as the hub of a powerful cooling system, as well. It has eight onboard fan headers, and the included ROG Fan Controller lets you easily add another six to the mix. Want to add some more lighting while you’re at it? Three gen 2 addressable RGB headers let you connect LED strips and coordinate them with the rest of your gear through Aura Sync.

If the ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme checks all of your boxes, but you’d prefer a fully liquid-cooled rig, look no further than the ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme Glacial. This motherboard uses a fully water-cooled monoblock, developed in tandem with the liquid-cooling experts at EK, to keep the VRM, chipset, and onboard M.2 slots cool and performing to their full potential.

This monoblock is constructed of clear acrylic. There’s no cover over the water channel, giving you a clear view of the transparent design. The contrast between the clear monoblock and the electroplated metal on the M.2 heatsink gives the ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme Glacial a look like none other. Like the Extreme, it also features our exclusive AniMe MatrixTM LED display on the I/O shield to give you a customizable array of LEDs that can display images, animations, or vital system information.

There’s something special about the pristine surfaces of a white-themed build. RGB LED illumination produces dazzling gradients across white components, but even with minimal lighting these builds stand out from the crowd.

To support your passion for a high-key, high-performance PC, we offer the ROG Maximus Z690 Formula. Its Moonlight White metal cover coordinates perfectly with your other ROG Moonlight White gear for a clean, cohesive look.

Its white cover isn’t just for show, though. The CrossChill EK III VRM block, co-developed with EK Water Blocks, gives you a powerful tool for keeping VRM temperatures low, even when you’ve dialed in a high overclock.

The ROG Maximus Z690 Apex stands out visually with its bold X-shaped pattern across its lower surface, and its performance stands out thanks to its unique features to support liquid-nitrogen cooling. Elite overclockers pursuing the highest performance from their systems using exotic coolants will want to put the Maximus Z690 Apex at the top of their shopping lists.

The Maximus Z690 Apex is our first board built with our Auto-Extreme Manufacturing technology, meaning that soldering is completed in a single pass by an automated process. This reduces thermal strain on components and the use of harsh cleaning chemicals. That’s better for the environment, and it also leads to a product with better overclocking stability and longevity. The Apex is geared for extreme and sub-ambient overclocking with its LN2 mode, making it an ideal foundation for professional overclockers chasing new world records.

Unique design details convey this motherboard’s performance potential. Recessed RGB LED lighting on the I/O shield lets you coordinate the look of the motherboard with your other Aura Sync gear. An extruded aluminum piece in the shape of the ROG logo stretches diagonally across the motherboard to give it a one-of-a-kind look. Down the road, you can remove this piece as a memento when future technology inevitably supersedes the Maximus Z690 Apex.

Sometimes, less is more. The dark hues spread across the surfaces of the ROG Maximus Z690 Hero create shadows like the vistas of a futuristic cityscape, drawing your eye to their subtle patterns. Against this moody backdrop, the lighting in the PMMA nameplate stands out boldly. Exclusive lighting effects take advantage of the dual-layered lighting design that allows two different patterns to be displayed simultaneously.

The Maximus Z690 Hero has plenty of connectivity and performance under all those stylish shrouds, too. Dual Thunderbolt 4 connectors at the rear panel stand ready to support next-generation peripherals at full speed, and next-gen Realtek audio paired with an ESS SABRE 9018Q2C integrated DAC for front-panel connections provides crisp, clear gaming audio no matter what headset or speakers you plug into your PC. Three Gen 2 addressable RGB LED headers and one traditional four-pin lighting header coordinate the illumination of your build perfectly with Aura Sync.

For those hoping to overclock one of Intel’s top-shelf 12th Gen Core CPUs, the Maximus Z690 Hero offers a 20+1 teamed power stage topology to power the CPU Vcore and onboard graphics processor. Each power stage is rated for up to 90A of output, and they provide the smoothest possible power delivery to the processor, even under the highest loads.

This board is loaded with features that smooth the way during your build process. Both of the onboard PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots have a double-sided M.2 heatsink for exceptional cooling, and you can install drives without a tool thanks to our M.2 Q-Latch. An array of eight onboard fan headers and three Gen 2 addressable RGB headers let you quickly hook up a powerful cooling system and the RGB LED lighting of your dreams. And its PCIe Slot Q-Release makes it easy to remove and replace your graphics card.

ROG Maximus motherboards deliver the best that the Z690 has to offer, and ROG Strix boards take that basic DNA and offer it in more attainable packages that balance exceptional gaming performance with striking style.

For Z690, we dialed up the aesthetics of our ROG Strix motherboards with a large piece of clear acrylic that spans the I/O shield. This intensifies the RGB LED illumination from beneath and provides a striking visual contrast with the silicon, metal, and even fabric elements that make up the rest of the motherboard.

To provide substantial passive cooling for the VRMs, we integrated the I/O shield into the VRM heatsink with a long L-shaped heatpipe. This improves the cooling performance of the heatsink by exposing more surface area to the cooling air moving through the chassis.

The ROG Strix Z690-E Gaming WiFi is the flagship model for the family. It offers both a PCIe 5.0 x16 slot for a next-gen graphics card and an onboard PCIe 5.0 M.2 slot, giving enthusiasts the opportunity to experience both the fastest graphics cards and the fastest storage drives as they hit the market. The bundled M.2 Combo Sink with a direct-contact heatpipe provides a large surface area to help deal with the heat generated by high-performance SSDs. It curves up and over the M.2 slot to better dissipate heat into your case’s airflow path.

High-end features round out this board’s spec sheet. Intel 2.5Gb Ethernet and Intel WiFi 6E give you exceptional wired and wireless networking performance. The Realtek ALC 4080 audio codec and Savitech SV3H712 amplifier serve up clear, bold sound in your games, entertainment, and media, and a Thunderbolt 4 header allows you to set up a versatile, fast connector in a compatible case.

DDR5 RAM and PCIe 5.0 SSDs promise a substantial performance boost for workflows that can take advantage of their potential, but there’s plenty of life yet for PCIe 4.0 SSDs and DDR4 RAM. Gamers who don’t mind waiting for these cutting-edge technologies to get a little more mainstream, but who are ready for the performance uplift of an Intel 12th Gen CPU, might prefer the ROG Strix Z690-F Gaming WiFi or ROG Strix Z690-A Gaming WiFi D4.

These motherboards still offer Intel 2.5Gb Ethernet, a PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, high-fidelity audio, and a rich selection of connectivity. The ROG Strix Z690-F Gaming WiFi supports WiFi 6E and DDR5 RAM, yet lacks the PCIe 5.0 M.2 slots from higher-end Z690 motherboards. The ROG Strix Z690-A Gaming WiFi D4 offers WiFi 6, is similarly limited to PCIe 4.0 SSDs, and it has slots for current-gen DDR4 RAM.

For a desktop PC that doesn’t take up too much space on top of your desk, a compact build is a tempting choice.

The ROG Strix Z690-G Gaming WiFi slims down to a microATX form factor without compromising on features. Despites its smaller dimensions, it still offers three onboard slots for PCIe 4.0 SSDs, a PCIe 5.0 slot for your graphics card, plentiful USB ports, and many headers for fans and RGB LED light strips.

If microATX isn’t quite small enough for your tastes, take a look at the ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi.

This Mini-ITX motherboard is champing at the bit to serve as your SFF PC—maybe as a gaming system in your home entertainment center? The board itself is a compact square that’s not much larger than your hand, yet it has substantial cooling for its VRMs, a PCIe 5.0 slot for your graphics card, and two onboard M.2 slots for PCIe 4.0 SSDs.

Of course, gamers aren’t the only folks eyeballing the performance potential of Intel’s 12th Gen Core CPUs. Architects, 3D designers, videographers, and creators of all kinds rely on cutting-edge hardware to bring their creative visions to life. For these professionals, the ProArt Z690-Creator WiFi offers a compelling blend of performance, connectivity, and style.

A pair of PCIe 5.0 x16 slots let you harness a pair of next-gen graphics for your creative work. Four onboard M.2 slots let you easily build up a fast and spacious storage array. Creators often work with the latest peripherals, so the ProArt Z690-Creator WiFi offers two onboard Thunderbolt 4 ports ready for high-speed transfers, device charging, and connecting high-resolution displays. Easy-to-access headers let you set up a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C port at the front panel of your case with 60W Power Delivery and Quick Charge 4+ technology.

When it’s time to share your work with the outside world, this motherboard gives you all the options you need. For the fastest wired connections, there are 10Gb and 2.5Gb Ethernet ports. That copious bandwidth could give you a wide pipeline to a network-attached storage (NAS) unit so that you can save and backup your work on a large, shared storage array. A WiFi 6E adapter lets you take advantage of the latest wireless networking technology.

Exclusive ASUS software helps you get the most out of your hardware investment. The ProArt Creator Hub provides a unified experience across all connected ProArt devices so you can easily calibrate colors, adjust settings, monitor performance, and optimize workflows. Are you planning to manage this system as part of your business? ASUS Control Center Express is a real-time IT monitoring and management tool designed for business that improves productivity and enhances security, helping prevent unauthorized access and data leaks.

All this performance and connectivity is wrapped in a style that’s eye-catching for all the right reasons. Multi-layered black-on-black textures communicate professionalism and power, while gold highlights and the clear I/O cover offer just the right touch of personality.

Looking for a no-frills motherboard that unlocks the gaming performance of 12th Gen Intel Core CPUs? The TUF Gaming Z690-Plus WiFi D4 and the TUF Gaming Z690-Plus D4 offer all the essential performance and features you need for a great gaming experience, and they do it at a more attainable price.

These ATX boards support DDR4 kits up to 5333MHz (overclocked). A PCIe 5.0 x16 slot lets you the fastest graphics cards of today and tomorrow, while four onboard PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots make it easy to set up a large gaming library. Networking comes courtesy of an Intel 2.5Gb Ethernet controller, and an Intel WiFi 6 radio is ready for action on the TUF Gaming Z690-Plus WiFi D4. A suite of USB ports, including a speedy USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C port on the rear I/O panel, let you connect all your favorite gaming peripherals.

Looking to complement your TUF Gaming Z690-Plus WiFi D4 with an array of components and peripherals with the same aesthetic? The TUF GAMING Alliance is a collaboration between ASUS and trusted PC component brands to ensure compatibility across a wide range of parts, such as PC cases, power supplies, CPU coolers, memory kits and more. With new partnerships and components being added regularly, the TUF Gaming Alliance will continue to grow even stronger.

Some folks desire a bespoke motherboard laser-focused on their specific use cases. Others just want a straightforward board that gets the job done in a wide variety of contexts. That’s where the ASUS Prime series of motherboards come in.

Take the Prime Z690-A, for example. In many ways, this motherboard looks an awful lot like the higher-end options in our Z690 lineup: PCIe 5.0 connectivity, support for DDR5 RAM, ample M.2 slots, and a rich set of connectivity options including a Thunderbolt 4 header.

With its contrasting white and black elements and space-themed visual touches, it’s even got a cohesive style that you’ll be proud to show off through the windowed side panel of your PC case.

Looking for a no-nonsense motherboard for a compact PC build? The Prime Z690M-Plus D4 awaits.

The parallel lines and black and silver tones of this microATX board provide tasteful good looks that’ll never go out of style. Substantial heatsinks across the VRMs and chipset keep key components cool under pressure, and extensive memory support lets you pair your 12th Gen Intel Core CPU with blazing-fast DDR4 memory kits.

Last but not least, we offer a range of Prime Z690 motherboards that serve up reliable performance in a straightforward design that’s an easy fit with a wide range of hardware.

The Prime Z690-P WiFi, Prime Z690-P, Prime Z690-P WiFi D4, and Prime Z690-P D4 let you choose just what you need for your next build. Pick DDR4 or DDR5 RAM support, make a judgment call on whether you’ll need wireless networking for your new PC, and you’re off to the races. PCIe 5.0 connectivity will give you a great selection of ports for your favorite peripherals, a PCIe 5.0 x16 slot will keep you up-to-date with next-gen graphics cards, and a wide array of cooling options will let you construct a PC that can go the distance.