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These are the news of the Intel Z690 chipset, is it worth it?

We keep calling the first as the second for the same reason that instead of saying UEFI we keep saying BIOS. Not that it is wrong as such, since the chipset was present until 2009 on motherboards and had another nickname at the time: South Bridge. The difference is that at the time the chipset had everything that was previously divided into two separate and individual chips called precisely South Bridge and North Bridge, Intel joined them in that term and later divided the tasks again to take the most important ones to the CPU and gain performance by reducing consumption, leaving a chip (PCH) with secondary tasks.

Clarified the controversy and after a little history of motherboards and CPUs, let’s meet the protagonist but not before allowing ourselves the luxury of continuing to call it a chipset for the old days.

Intel Z690: what’s new

We could say the typical what’s new “old”? Because it comes in handy. The block diagram is really intuitive by itself, but we are going to break it down and then calmly compare and in perspective what Intel adds or takes away from its latest chipset.

HardZone Intel Z690
Segment Mainstream
Release date Q4 2021
Bus speed 100 MHz
TDP 6 watts
Overclocking By CPU
DIMMs per channel By CPU
RAM memory support By CPU
Supported displays By CPU
PCI Express 4.0 and 3.0
PCIe configuration 12 x 4.0 and 16 x 3.0
Maximum number of PCIe lanes 28
CPU PCIe Configuration 1 x 16 or 2 x 8
Multi GPU By CPU
Number of USB ports 38 maximum
USB configuration 4 x USB 3.2 Gen 2×2
10 x USB 3.2 Gen 2×1
10 x USB 3.2 Gen 1×1
14 x USB 2.0
Maximum number of SATA 6 Gb / s 8
RAID Yes (optional)
Integrated LAN Intel Ethernet 1000 MAC
Intel Ethernet 2.5G Base-T (Optional)
Wireless LAN Wi-Fi 6E AX201 Gig +
Wi-Fi 6E AX200 Gig +
Optane support Yes
VT-d By CPU

First of all, we must mention the support of processors, since it is vital to know if we can or should buy the model that we are thinking about. In principle, this Z690 chipset supports the entire generation of Intel Core 12 CPUs, from the i9-12900K as the maximum exponent to the i3-12100, as well as the successive and expected Celeron and Pentium that will arrive later once the platform is presented.

It is expected and although at the time of writing we are a year away, that this chipset also supports the next Intel Core 13 based on the Raptor Lake architecture with a simple BIOS / UEFI update, although this information is not confirmed. But it is more than likely because they will share a socket, something that we can have for sure.

That said, the first thing we have to know is that although the diagram specifies the PCIe bus as such, the chipset is only responsible for a minimal part, so that the 16 PCIe 5.0 lanes are really destined for the CPU and its controller. , although the chipset intercommunicates them with various components and therefore the property itself is assigned (well specified in the diagram by the way).

The Z690, like its predecessors, does have its own lines, but they are PCIe 4.0 distributed in 4 + 4 for the M.2, since it does not give direct support for PCIe 5.0. This is only done by the CPU for a single x16 slot for the graphics card. As the chipset has to intercommunicate with the rest of the components, the 4 + 4 for M.2 SSDs and additional four for USB 3.2 Gen 2 × 2, although these are specified within their segment, but they really go for PCIe.

This leaves us with 16 PCIe 5.0 lanes managed by the CPU, 12 PCIe 4.0 lanes by the chipset and 16 more with PCIe 3.0, which gives a total of 16+ 28, the last being the relevant ones to describe this Z690. Apart from these 28 lines, support is given to 8 SATA 6 GB / s for HDD or SSD with this interface, something that will be appreciated by those who need to save a lot of information and do not want to spend too much money on hard drives.

Other features of Z690

ASUS-Z690-Alder-lake

The rest of the specifications are completed with those mentioned 4 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 × 2, until 10 USB 3.2 2 × 1 more others ten USB 3.2 1 × 1 And if that were not enough, fourteen USB 2.0 that will be distributed among different types of USB connectors on each motherboard model.

Say that, as is normal, these specifications are the maximum that the Z690 chipset supports, then each manufacturer will include those it deems appropriate according to the range and model. To top we have a network card Intel 1000 MAC as Ethernet, which goes with a line PCIe x1 and SMBus, Intel Smart Sound Technology, Intel High Definition Audio and the new implementation of Wi-Fi 6E AX201 Gig +.

We cannot forget two important and rarely mentioned details: the inclusion of DMI 4.0 with 8 lines exclusive between this Z690 chipset and the rigor CPU, as well as the SPI that unites it with the ME Firmware and PTT, something much commented on in recent months.

As for TDP, it only consumes 6 watts, costing for the end customer 51 dollars, so it is really expensive as such, although very efficient, nothing to do with the AMD X570 that doubles it in consumption. Its size, on the other hand, is larger, with dimensions of 28mm x 25mm, has support for Boot Guard and supports overclocking to RAM with IA, BCLK.

Optional features

These characteristics do not have to be associated with the chipset if the manufacturer does not want to include them, but they have to be communicated to Intel to supply the correct version of the chipset. Thus, many boards integrate the new network card Intel 2.5G Base-T MAC / PHY how good results it is giving the company to the point that AMD integrates it in many models of motherboards from manufacturers for their latest AM4 boards.

In addition, you can request support for Intel Extreme Tuning Utility, Intel Optane Memory, Intel Rapid Storage Technology with system RAID and finally Intel Rapid Storage Technology by PCI Express.

This Z690 chipset is the one that has had more additional configuration options in the history of the company, in addition, these are really interesting for the consumer, be it a content creator or a gamer, so you have to take into account the motherboard models for see their specifications and the additions that they specifically include.

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