Z690 AORUS Master Motherboard - Close-Up

The Z690 AORUS Master motherboard features matte black and silver/grey colors. The pricing and quality of this product make it feel more premium than the previous generation Master offerings from AORUS. While the Z590 AORUS Master featured an ATX design, this time the Z690 Master has been upgraded to an E-ATX form factor. It also has a more futuristic look to it.

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The board uses the LGA 1700 socket to support Intel Core processors. The socket is compatible only with Intel's 12th Generation core family. The socket has a protective cover on top of it that points out the exclusivity with Alder Lake 12th Gen CPUs & refrains users from running an older 11th and 10th generation CPUs as they won't fit in the socket at all and forcing them in the socket is only going to cause permanent damage to your motherboard.

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Next to the socket are four DDR5 DIMM slots that can support up to 128 GB dual-channel memory. These slots are rated to support XMP profiles up to 6400 MHz (OC Plus). The DIMM slots feature metallic shielding around them for extra durability. Each slot is labeled, making it easier to install DIMMs in the proper orientation. DDR5 memory comes with a different latch position so forcing a DDR4 module into a DDR5 slot will cause permanent damage.

The Z690 AORUS Master features a 19+1+2 (VCore/ VccGT/VccAUX)  phase digital power delivery that makes utilizes the RAA229131 PWM controller and RAA2201105 (105A) MOSFETs for the VCore. The Vcc GT and Vcc AUX MOSFETs are spec'd at 60A & 70A respectively.

As you can see, the VRMs are getting ample cooling from the Fin-Array III heatsinks that are both beefy in terms of size and also feature actual cooling fins. This motherboard is designed for overclocking so expect a smooth & stable operation of the electrical circuitry when this board is running. The motherboard also comes with a backplate that features thermal pads for extra cooling performance.

The CPU is supplied power through an 8+8 pin power connector configuration. This will feed the CPU with up to 300 Watts of power. The Intel 12th Gen Unlocked CPUs are very power-hungry with the maximum turbo power rated at 241W for the Core i9-12900K and more if you are planning to overclock these chips.

Getting a closer look at the VRM heatsinks reveals an aluminum fin design on both heatsinks. Each heatsink has thermal pads located underneath for efficient transfer of heat. The thermal pads on the Z690 AORUS Master are rated at 9w/mK. While the heatsinks don't feature any heat pipe-based inter-connection, they do feature Direct-Touch Heatpipe II solutions underneath the fins that make direct contact with the VRMs.

Expansion slots include three PCI Express x16 (1 x Gen 5.0 x16 / 2 x Gen 4.0 x4) and five M.2 slots. The board can technically support three-way multi-GPU (CrossFireX / SLI) however we know that no existing gaming GPU offers 3-Way connectivity anymore. Four M.2 slots are rated to support NVMe PCIe gen4 x4 and Intel Optane series memory while a singular slot is rated to operate at M.2 3.0 x4/x2 speeds if all SATA ports are not sharing the bandwidth with it.

AORUS is using a metallic cover on the sides of the expansion slots which provides protection to some extent. It adds more retention and shearing resistance by reinforcing the slots with metal plates. Aside from adding more protection, they do look really sweet.

All five M.2 slots are cooled off by the thermal pad and aluminum baseplate cooling. This will ensure stable operation for M.2 storage devices. The thermal adhesive has a plastic cover over them which needs to be removed before using them with the storage devices. The topmost M.2 slot that will house the primary M.2 is based on the new Thermal Guard III heatsink design that offers even more cooling performance through a larger heat sink. Following is the M.2 config on the motherboard:

CPU:

  1. 1 x M.2 connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2260/2280/22110 PCIe 4.0 x4/x2 SSD support) (M2A_CPU)

Chipset:

  1. 2 x M.2 connectors (Socket 3, M key, type 2260/2280/22110 PCIe 4.0 x4/x2 SSD support) (M2P_SB, M2Q_SB)
  2. 1 x M.2 connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2260/2280 PCIe 3.0 x4/x2 SSD support) (M2C_SB)
  3. 1 x M.2 connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2260/2280 SATA and PCIe 4.0 x4/x2 SSD support) (M2M_SB)
  4. 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors

The Z690 PCH is housed beneath a large heatsink with the AORUS eagle logo etched over it that looks great.

The PCH heat sink and the I/O cover features RGB LEDs, as a part of the RGB Fusion 2.0 suite, embedded within it and there are also a wide range of RGB connectors on the motherboard if you want to set up your own lighting.

Storage options include six SATA III ports rated to operate at 6 GB/s. These can support 6 different storage devices at once. There are also two USB 3.2 front panel connectors (Gen 2x2 + Gen 1). USB 2.0 dual connectors are also included.

AORUS is using its AMP-UP Audio system for audio which is a combination of hardware, software audio solutions. 7.1 CH HD audio with the latest Realtek ALC1220-VB CODECaudio codec. AORUS's Z690 Master rocks an ESS ES9118 DAC chip too for superior noise output.

There's just one button on the motherboard which serves as a Power On/Off switch. The DEBUG LED can be seen next to the button.

The full list of connectors on the motherboard is listed as follows.

  • 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
  • 2 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connectors
  • 1 x CPU fan header
  • 1 x water cooling CPU fan header
  • 4 x system fan headers
  • 4 x system fan/water cooling pump headers
  • 2 x addressable LED strip headers
  • 2 x RGB LED strip headers
  • 5 x M.2 Socket 3 connectors
  • 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
  • 1 x front panel header
  • 1 x front panel audio header
  • 1 x USB Type-C header, with USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 support
  • 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 headers
  • 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
  • 1 x noise detection header
  • 2 x Thunderbolt add-in card connectors
  • 1 x Trusted Platform Module header (For the GC-TPM2.0 SPI/GC-TPM2.0 SPI 2.0 module only)
  • 1 x power button
  • 1 x reset button
  • 1 x reset jumper
  • 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
  • 2 x temperature sensor headers
  • Voltage Measurement Points

AORUS is using Intel's WiFi 6E 802.11 AX210 WiFi Module to power wireless connectivity such as 802.11ax WiFi (2.4/5/6 GHz WiFi) and Bluetooth 5.2. In terms of Ethernet, there is also a single 10 Gigabit Ethernet LAN port which is powered by Marvell's AQtion AQC113C network controller chip.

The motherboard comes with the following I/O connectors:

  • 1 x Q-Flash Plus button
  • 1 x Clear CMOS button
  • 2 x SMA antenna connectors (2T2R)
  • 1 x DisplayPort
  • 1 x USB Type-C port, with USB 3.2 Gen 2 support
  • 1 x USB Type-C port, with USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 support
  • 5 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports (red)
  • 4 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports
  • 1 x RJ-45 port
  • 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
  • 5 x audio jacks
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