The brand new Intel 12th Gen Core processors are out and they bring with them a lot of cool improvements in both performance and architecture. For the first time in consumer desktop hardware, we are seeing the implementation of the “big-little” design with two different types of cores. The performance cores and efficiency cores in the new 12th Gen Alder Lake processors share tasks among them on the basis of priority, in order to maximize the performance and efficiency of the CPU in any given task. We have also seen, for the first time, support for the new DDR5 memory technology with the Z690 platform.
Finally, we have to address the main advantage. According to Tech4Gamers, the benefits of the Best Z690 motherboards, and that is their overclocking potential. CPU overclocking with Intel processors is often a very fruitful and interesting process since many modern Intel SKUs have a lot of overclocking headroom. On the flip side, the modern Intel CPUs with high core counts (such as Core i7s and i9s) have tremendous power requirements as well, as they can go well beyond their rated TDPs when they are fully unleashed. This is where the excellent VRMs on Z690 motherboards can be of your help. Most Z690 motherboards on the market are perfectly capable of handling even the Core i9 12900K at fully overclocked settings, and that is a huge selling point if you are in the market for the flagship Intel CPU.
Yes, the Z690 platform for the 12th Gen Alder Lake processors now supports DDR5 memory, but it also does not give up support for the older DDR4 technology. Both the memory types are supported by the Z690 motherboards, but not at the same time. You will have to choose between DDR5 and DDR4 memory when buying your motherboard, as different motherboard variants support different memory types. In general, the DDR5 variants of the motherboards are quite a bit more expensive than the DDR4 variants of the same boards, so that skews the price-to-performance debate in favor of DDR4 for now. Not to mention, DDR5 memory kits are super rare and relatively very expensive as of right now.
Another fresh feature that the Z690 platform and Alder Lake in general brings to the table is PCIe Gen 5 support. The fifth generation of PCIe Express does bring with it substantial improvements in bandwidth when compared to PCIe Gen 4, but the technology does not have any particular uses as of the time of writing. There are no consumer GPUs out there yet that support PCIe Gen 5 technology, and even if there were, they would still not benefit significantly from it keeping in view the bandwidth overhead we currently have with PCIe Gen 4. As of storage devices, we currently do not have Z690 motherboards on the market that provide PCIe Gen 5 lanes to M.2 slots, but that should not really matter since we are far from taking any real advantage of PCIe Gen 4 speeds let alone the next generation.
Speaking of storage drives, another significant advantage of the new Z690 motherboards is that most of them come with a LOT of storage options, particularly in M.2 form factor. We can often spot motherboards on the market that offer three, four, or even five M.2 slots with most of them supporting PCIe Gen 4 capability. That is a huge advantage for those consumers who have a lot of storage devices or maybe they have a lot of data that they have to store on their home computer for example. The M.2 slots are often provided with large heat spreaders as well so you do not have to worry about the drives overheating as well.
All in all, the Z690 motherboard options on the market are definitely worth it if you are building a premium Intel gaming or workstation PC using the latest 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs. They offer a lot of unique features such as DDR5 and PCIe Gen 5, and are also perfectly capable of some serious overclocking. Some of the more premium Z690 motherboards can be a menace to your wallet, but with a bit of smart evaluation you should be able to get the perfect Z690 motherboard for your particular Alder Lake PC.