Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Z690 and ITX don’t mix all that well if you haven’t noticed, though three of the top four vendors do have at least one solution. That all said, consumers looking to build with Intel’s 12th Gen Alder Lake only have a total of four motherboards to choose from when looking to ITX, and only three are legit viable options.
One of these options is the ROG Strix Z690-I, a board ASUS has packed every bit of tech into, including a cut-down 11 phase power design, though it uses 105A stages. Additionally included is Thunderbolt 4, 2.5Gbe, and Wi-Fi 6e.
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Standard specs apply when it comes to the chipset and socket configuration; LGA1700 and Z690. Z690-I offers two slots for memory, DDR5 for this solution, max capacity at 64GB with speeds upwards of 6400MHz.
The PCIe slot offers 16 lanes of Gen5 support, while two m.2 slots on the included daughterboard support PCIe Gen4. Further connectivity includes five USB 3.2 ports, three going to Gen 1 (blue) and two for Gen 2 in red. You will also find antenna connections for WiFi6e and 2.5Gbe, along with audio coming from the Realtek ALC4080.
The ASUS ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming carries an MSRP of $439.99 with a three-year warranty.
ASUS ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WIFI Motherboard
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Packaging, Accessories, and Overview
Packaging and Accessories
The packaging depicts the SFF Z690-I on the front, ROG logos at the top, and chipset plus CPU identification along the bottom.
The back of the box includes specs and rear I/O layout on the left, features listed on the right.
Accessories include Wi-Fi antenna and SATA cables along with the manual.
ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming Overview
Board design includes a VRM heat sink wrapping around the socket. Down below is a daughterboard stack that includes two m.2 slots. On the right side, we have the memory slots and typical placement for the 24 pins.
No armor on the Strix Z690-I. The back has a good number of ICs both for power delivery and components.
Rear I/O includes two USB 2.0 ports at the top, alongside the HDMI port. Moving down, we run into 2.5GBE and Thunderbolt 4 using Type-C connections. The Blue USB 3.2 ports are Gen 1 and red are Gen2. Last, we have antenna connections and audio, including optical out and 3.5mm.
Running around this board, we have a shielded PCIe x16 slot, and up above, the daughterboard supports additional USB 2.0 headers and fan connections.
Around the edge, ASUS has deployed two USB-C connections for a second daughterboard. These sit next to internal headers for Gen2x2 and Gen 1.
Across the top, we do have fan connections along with RGB and 8 pin power.
This is the second daughterboard that includes four SATA ports.
UEFI, Software and Test System
This BIOS should look familiar for anyone that has used a ROG platform in the last few generations. That said, for 12th Gen, we have CPU information in the right panel and BIOS info in the center.
Extreme Tweaker includes current CPU and memory clocks at the top, tuning for both down below. The Advanced menu includes options for SATA storage and PCH along with Thunderbolt and NVMe. CPU config includes the ability to enable/disable cores, including E cores and P cores separately.
Monitoring is included alongside fan control, while the tool menu allows you to control RGB and Secure Erase storage devices.
AI Software is included with ROG boards; this software will allow you to auto -OC your processor; our 12900K was tuned for a 68% gain.
Additional menu options include settings for TPU and VRM control.
Motherboard Testing Supporters
Sabrent supports our storage testing with the Rocket 4 Plus.
TweakTown Intel Motherboard Test System
Cinebench R23 and AIDA64
Cinebench and AIDA64
Cinebench is a long-standing render benchmark that has been heavily relied upon by both Intel and AMD to showcase their newest platforms during unveils. The benchmark has two tests, a single-core workload that will utilize one thread or 1T. There is also a multi-threaded test that uses all threads or nT of a tested CPU.
With our charts filling up, R23 performance is nearly down to a science with Z690 boards. For the Z690-I, we brought in a score of 1983, average for the platform.
nT offered up 27604 for the ITX platform.
AIDA64 AES showed a fantastic 207730 points for the Z690-I.
SHA3 was on par at 6038.
Memory throughput was great for the Z690-I, 81K read, 77K write and 79K copy.
PCMark10, 3DMark and CrossMark Benchmarks
PCMark is a benchmark from UL and tests various workload types to represent typical workloads for a PC. Everything from video conferencing, image import, and editing, along with 3D rendering, are tested.
The overall score in PCMark was a bit higher with the Strix Z690-I. At 6639, we are a few hundred above most boards.
CrossMark showed a close 2nd for the Z690-I, 2320 points overall.
CPU Profile showed equal performance between all boards; in all scenarios, the Strix did quite well.
Timespy showed average performance for the Z690-I.
Firestrike, as above, had the Z690-I on par with all other platforms.
Storage I/O and Final Thoughts
3DMark Storage Benchmarks
UL’s newest 3DMark SSD Gaming Test is the most comprehensive SSD gaming test ever devised. We consider it to be superior to testing against games themselves, because as a trace, it is much more consistent than variations that will occur between runs on the actual game itself. This test is in fact the same as running the actual game, just without the inconsistencies inherent to application testing.
In short, we believe that this is the world’s best way to test an SSDs gaming prowess and accurately compare it against competing SSDs. The 3DMark SSD Gaming Test measures and scores the following:
- Loading Battlefield V from launch to the main menu.
- Loading Call of Duty Black Ops 4 from launch to the main menu.
- Loading Overwatch from launch to the main menu.
- Recording a 1080p gameplay video at 60 FPS with OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) while playing Overwatch.
- Installing The Outer Worlds from the Epic Games Launcher.
- Saving game progress in The Outer Worlds.
- Copying the Steam folder for Counter-Strike Global Offensive from an external SSD to the system drive.
With our Rocket Plus, in the Z690-I, our performance was one of the higher numbers we have seen. At 510, this board sits behind the AORUS Xtreme and PG Velocita only.
With so few ITX options available with Z690, ASUS does a fantastic job of giving the consumer every option they could reasonably fit on the board itself.
The onboard power design is space-saving with its 10+1 design, but ROG has deployed 105A stages to make up for any losses, and its 1050A capacity should make for solid OC ability. Connectivity doesn’t suffer much, if at all. The Z690-I includes two Thunderbolt 4 ports, 2.5Gbe and WiFi6e, along with USB 3.2 Gen1, 2 and 2×2 available via internal header. Audio is the ALC4080 with a Savitech AMP making for impressive sound without the need of an external DAC.
Testing went well, no issues with the board, and as seen in our charts, the Z690-I had no problems competing with the cream of the crop with nearly identical numbers to the Z690 Formula, Xtreme, or Unify-X.
Pricing could be one place where the Strix Z690-I would get lower marks. At the $439.99 MSRP, this board is the most expensive option available with competing solutions like the Unify Z690I or ASRock Z690 ITX, both having similar connectivity at lower MSRPs.