In order to tame the Alder Lake flagship processors to the limit of their capabilities, you will need not only “pumped up” success, you must also take care of effective cooling and, of course, have a motherboard of the highest echelon. A strengthened 22-phase power subsystem, a serious cooling system, readiness to work at temperatures below zero, as well as serious equipment that demanded the EATX form factor for itself. And all this in MSI MEG Z690 Ace.
|Model||MSI MEG Z690 Ace|
|Product page||ME Z690 Ace|
|Processor connector||LGA 1700|
|Processors||Core i9, Core i7, Core i5, Core i3, Pentium Gold, Celeron покоління Alder Lake (12th Gen)|
|Memory||4 DIMM DDR5 SDRAM, 128 GB maximum:
4800 MHz, 5000-6666+ (OC)
|PCI-E slots||1 x PCI Express 5.0 x16 — CPU
1 x PCI Express 5.0 x6 (x8) — CPU
1 x PCI Express 4.0 x16 (x4) — Z690
|M.2||1 x PCI Express 4.0 x4 M.2_1 (Key M, 2242/2260/2280/22110) — CPU
1 x PCI Express 4.0 x4 M.2_2 (Key M, 2242/2260/2280) — Z690
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x4 M.2_3 (Key M, 2242/2260/2280) — Z690
1 x PCI Express 4.0 x4, SATA 6 Гбіт/с M.2_4 (Key M, 2242/2260/2280/22110) — Z690
1 x PCI Express 4.0 x4, SATA 6 Гбіт/с M.2_5 (Key M, 2242/2260/2280) — Z690
|Integrated video core (in the processor)||+|
|Number of fans||8 x 4pin, 1 х 3pin|
|USB ports||I/O панель: 2 x Thunderbolt 4 (USB Type-C), 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-C), 7 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-A)
Headers: 2 x USB 2.0 (4 ports), 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (4 ports), 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (2 ports)
|Serial ATA||6 x SATA 6Gb/s (Z690)|
|RAID||0, 1, 5, 10 (SATA, M.2, Z690)|
|Built-in sound||Realtek ALC4080|
|Network capabilities||2 х Intel I225-V (2.5 Gigabit Ethernet)
Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210 (Wi-Fi 2.4/5GHz/6GHz (802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax), Bluetooth 5.2)
|RGB||1 x 4-pin RGB LED
2 x 3-pin RAINBOW LED
1 x 3-pin CORSAIR LED
|LED RGB Header||4|
|Dimensions, mm||305 x 277|
|Additional functions||Quadruple M.2, M.2 Shield FROZR, Lightning Gen 5, WIFI 6, Core Boost, 2.5G Network Solution, Lightning USB 20G, Memory Boost, Audio Boost 5|
For those who want to connect several monitors through the integrated video core in the processor, keep in mind that the mini DP connectors in the Thunderbolt 4 unit do not output the picture from the IGP, they are intended for devices that are connected via the Thunderbolt bus. So the built-in graphics can display the image only on one monitor through the USB Type-C connector combined with DisplayPort v1.4, and for this the adapter in the kit is not provided (for example, you need to purchase a USB Type-C > DisplayPort adapter separately). The review used a USB Type-C > HDMI adapter, which also worked as it should.
The motherboard comes in a large box with a carrying handle.
On the back of the box are the key features of the board, as well as its specifications.
Inside, the box is divided into two blocks. The first one houses the motherboard in an antistatic package. The second contains the rest, namely:
- user manual, quick installation guide, purchase acknowledgment and more;
- a set of MEG decorative stickers;
- a set of stickers for marking cables;
- retractable brush for cleaning;
- microfiber napkin;
- dragon emblem on the body (golden);
- a set of screwdrivers;
- 16 GB USB flash drive with drivers and software;
- a kit for mounting M.2 drives (EZ M.2 Clip, screws, racks);
- two mini DisplayPort (mDP) to standard DisplayPort (DP) adapters;
- EZ Front Panel Cable for connecting the front panel pad;
- two temperature sensors;
- RGB LED Y-distributor;
- CORSAIR RGB LED cable;
- RAINBOW RGB LED cable;
- four black SATA cables with metal latches (two angled, two straight);
- Wi-Fi antenna with platform.
As you can see from the list, the equipment is very generous and will come in handy for all occasions.
To begin with, the most important thing is that the motherboard is made in the EATX format and requires spacious housings. A significant part of the textolite is covered with cooling system casings. The processor power connector is shifted to the right.
The reverse side is reinforced with a frame, which, in addition to the obvious function of additional rigidity, also participates in the cooling of the VRM zone.
The Lotes LGA 1700 socket is used, the DDR5 RAM slots are unremarkable.
The power subsystem is brutal, in the sense of this term. It is represented by a 19+1+2 scheme and is controlled by a Renesas RAA 229131 PWM controller.
The cooling is done at a decent level: the radiator is divided into two sections, which are connected to each other by a heat pipe, there is an additional perforation in the I/O panel area on top, screw fastening is used everywhere.
There are five slots for M.2 drives, each with a radiator.
The M.2_1 slot is connected directly to the processor and provides a PCI-E 4.0 x4 connection. 2242/2260/2280/22110 drives can be installed. The user also needs to remember that behind the radiator there is a hole for installing the board in the case.
Other M.2 slots are connected to the chipset, and their modes of operation and compatibility can be seen in the table at the beginning of the material.
The Intel Z690 chipset is cooled by a separate radiator.
Contact with the chip is made through a thermal pad, a screw fastener is used.
The audio zone is separated from the rest of the textolite. Realtek ALC4082 is used, complemented by an ESS Saber ES9018Q2C DAC.
The CMOS battery is fixed on the edge of the I/O panel in the area of the audio connectors and is connected by a two-pin wire. In order to gain access to it, you will have to remove the radiator of the VRM cooling system, which means that you cannot do without dismantling the motherboard from the case. This would be an overclocker disaster and a significant disadvantage of the motherboard if it were not for the availability of a spare chip with firmware.
The radiator to the right of the RAM slots is just a decoration and does not cool anything.
Network capabilities are implemented using two Intel I225V (2.5G) network cards, Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210 corresponds to Bluetooth 5.2 and a 2.4/5/6 GHz wireless channel. Thunderbolt 4 and mini DP connectors are output via a separate board.
Now about the connectors. At the top of the board you’ll find a CORSAIR LED pad, three 4-pin fan pads, a RAINBOW LED pad, a display and POST LED indicator block, as well as contact planes for measuring the voltage of key nodes with a multimeter.
In the lower right part there are two USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-C) blocks, at an angle of 90 degrees two USB 3.2 Gen 1 blocks, six SATA ports, and at the very bottom are the CMOS reset blocks, the chassis opening sensor.
At the bottom on the right side are the RAINBOW LED block, the front panel block, the extreme overclocking block (LN2 modes, Slow Mode, Safe Boot, Low Temperature boot against the cold bug), the TPM block, the thermal sensor block, the power and reset buttons, two USB 2.0 blocks, firmware microchip switch and button backlight switch.
On the left, five four-pin blocks for the fan, one three-pin block for the flow sensor in SRO, two blocks for thermal sensors, another RAINBOW LED and, of course, a block for HD_AUDIO are assembled.
The I/O panel is already equipped with a plug. Clear_CMOS and Flash_BIOS_button buttons are displayed on it, as well as:
- 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C/DisplayPort v1.4;
- 2x RJ-45 (2,5G);
- 7x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-A);
- 2x Thunderbolt 4 (Type-C);
- 2x mini DisplayPort;
- x5 Mini Jack (Line in, Line out, Mic in, C/SUB, Rear);
- x1 SPDIF OUT (optical);
- x2 SMA (for connecting the Wi-Fi antenna).