Gaming PC

The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WIFI (DDR5) Motherboard Review: A Decent Mid-Ranged Z690

With Intel’s 12th Gen (Alder Lake) lifecycle coming to an end, the 13th Gen Core series is expected to arrive before the end of the year. I’m looking at the premium model of the Z690 chipset. As we already know, Intel’s Z690 chipset (LGA 1700) is ready to support the imminent 13th Gen Core series, so for those who are building 12th Gen Core series systems now and may upgrade at a later date. Provides a viable upgrade path. .

The current model of the test bench features 2.5 GbE and Wi-Fi 6E networking, two full-length PCIe 5.0 capable slots, four PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, and massive 19-phase power delivery. The MPG Z690 Carbon WIFI is positioned in the mid-range segment of the market, but at the $350-$400 price point, MSI has stiff competition. It’s time to see how the Z690 Carbon WIFI stacks up, and if a gaming-focused model below his MEG series of enthusiastic levels can deliver the goods.

MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WIFI Overview

MSI has several main ranges aimed at users looking to build different types and levels of systems to differentiate their different levels of motherboards. , and its MPG (Performance Gaming) series is aimed at gamers looking to maximize frame rate and performance. There are motherboards for different scenarios, such as the MEG (Enthusiast Gaming) series reserved for flagship and high-spec models, and the MAG (Arsenal Gaming) series, which offers competitive controller sets and features at low prices. I have.

Flagship models such as the MEG Z690 Godlike offer almost everything users need on a desktop platform. Of course, any of MSI’s Z690 models can be used for a wide variety of mixed workloads such as rendering, image manipulation, and gaming. Still, each series focuses on different price points and different levels of controller support.

Looking at the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WIFI, it’s based on a carbon fiber aesthetic, with a black heatsink covering an all-black PCB.MSI included a customizable RGB Dragon logo on the rear panel cover, The chipset heatsink also has a customizable RGB Carbon logo. The middle part of the board has another customizable RGB LED zone, and the M.2 heatsink and chipset heatsink also surround a futuristic and neat gray and black pattern. MSI offers users even more customization options via one 4-pin and three 3-pin RGB LED connectors.

The board’s PCIe and storage slots are located on the bottom half of the MPG Z690 Carbon WIFI. Sandwiched between the cover and heatsink is a pair of full-length PCIe 5.0 slots operating at x16/x0 or x8/x8, with a third full-length slot electronically locked to PCIe 3.0 x4. I’m here. In terms of storage, MSI includes a total of 5 M.2 slots, 3 of which support PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 drives, 1 supports PCIe 4.0 x4 and SATA, and the 5th supports PCIe 3.0 x4 and SATA. For traditional storage or devices such as optical drives, MSI includes a total of 6 SATA ports, 4 of which are powered by the chipset, supporting RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays, Two are supported via the ASMedia ASM1061 SATA controller.

In the top right corner are four memory slots that support up to DDR5-6666 (1DPC 1R), but users who choose to populate all four slots can install up to DDR5-5600. As for capacity, the user can install up to 128 GB in all his four slots, but with 1DPC 2R memory (dual-channel he has two sticks), there is much faster memory (up to DDR5-6000) You can benefit.

Focusing on power delivery, MSI uses a direct 18+1+1 phase design with 18 Renesas 220075R0 75 A power stages for CPU VCore and 1 Renesas 220075R0 75 power stage for iGPU. I’m here. The power supply is controlled by a Renesas RAA229131 20-phase PWM controller that operates at 18+1 power supply. This represents a simple design with one phase per channel, without teaming, pairing, or doublers. Powering the board’s CPU VCAUX voltage is a single monolithic Power Systems M2940A PWM controller driving one MP87992 70 A power stage, making the design 18+1 (CPU VCore/iGPU) and 1+0 (VCCAUX). Premium power delivery that allows you to further overclock Intel’s unlocked 12th Gen cores.

The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WIFI has a decent onboard audio solution that uses the Realtek ALC4080 HD audio codec. The HD Audio codec itself has no EMI shielding, but is subtly covered by an extended dual M.2 heatsink between the two full-length PCIe slots on the bottom. Seven Japanese gold Nichicon audio capacitors complement this, and MSI includes lines that separate his PCB from the rest of the board’s controllers and components.

MSI’s rear panel contains a wide variety of inputs and outputs consisting of 1 USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, 5 USB 3.2 G2 Type-A and 4 USB 2.0 ports. There’s also a pair of video outputs, including one HDMI 2.1 output and one DisplayPort 1.4 output, and a decent networking array with a single Intel I225-V 2.5 GbE controller and Intel AX211 Wi-Fi 6E CNVi. . MSI also features a competitive onboard audio solution with five 3.5mm audio jacks and a single S/PDIF optical output powered by Realtek ALC4080 HD audio codec.

Finishing off the back panel is a small BIOS flashback button with the associated USB port highlighted by a white rectangular ring. Those looking for a CMOS battery can find it sitting behind the audio input/output array using the jumper ping on the bottom row of header selects on the board.

Included with the board within the retail packaging are a modest yet plethora of accessories to help users get it out of the box. This includes two black SATA cables, three RGB LED extension cables, a nifty cleaning brush, a case badge, a pair of drivers, an EZ install M.2 clip, and a USB flash containing the board’s software and drivers. Drive, User Manual, and Intel AX211 Wi-Fi 6E Antenna.

The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WIFI has a suggested retail price of $400, but you can (at the time of writing) buy it from Amazon for $350 or Newegg for a slightly higher $369. As for competition, some boards in the $350-$400 price range also offer strong competition. These include models like the $368 ASUS ROG Strix Z690-F Gaming WIFI and GIGABYTE’s popular his Z690 Aorus Master. This one, which we reviewed earlier, benefits from a 10 GbE network and currently sells for $320 on Newegg (at the time of writing).

Given the level of solid competition in the price range where all vendors are trying to give users the best value, MSI has a lot to do if you can think of $350-$400 value. MPG Z690 Carbon WIFI has plenty of features such as Wi-Fi 6E, 5 M.2 slots, 19-phase stable power delivery. Still, the proof is always in the pudding (performance) and it’s time to see how it compares to other his Z690 models we’ve tested, including GIGABYTE’s very attractive looking Z690 Aorus Master I was.

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