MSI MEG Z690 Ace Review: 12th Gen Gaming PC Motherboard

The MSI MEG Z690 Ace gaming PC motherboard belongs to the big leagues of MSI and is a no-compromise solution in many areas. We only have two here: two LAN ports, two Thunderbolt ports, two Mini-DisplayPorts, two PCI Express 5.0 slots, and so on. The MSI mainboard is inferior only to the red dragon top – MEG Z690 Godlike solution, but this is a monster from another world. This motherboard is made for enthusiasts by enthusiasts, and today we will see what it can do in this MSI MEG Z690 Ace review!

MSI MEG Z690 Ace Review: 12th Gen Gaming PC Motherboard

Unboxing and accessories

The motherboard comes in a special box with a convenient carrying handle. Otherwise, you will not be able to encounter a large package that does not fit into a standard box.

The package is designed in distinctive dark colors with liquid nitrogen vapor for extreme overclocking. Many records have been set on the MSI MEG Z690 Ace model.

At the base are a datasheet and a map of the rear I/O panel. The list of features inspires respect, and the device itself sets up for a serious conversation. The box is opened unusually, showing the premium product in its best form and beauty.

The package bundle of the MSI MEG Z690 Ace is impressive. And no wonder, you don’t expect anything else from a motherboard for the price of a graphics card. The paper section provides a set of manuals and brochures, a cloth to wipe traces of use, a gold magnet on the case, and stickers of various kinds.

Along with the cables, the device is also in perfect order. We have four SATA cables, three different ARGB / RGB backlight adapters, two remote thermal sensors, an extension cable for convenient connection to the front panel of the case, and two DisplayPort > Mini PD cables.

In addition, the box contains a Wi-Fi antenna, a special double-sided dust brush, screwdriver keys, and two additional M.2 drive mounting kits.

Design

The MSI MEG Z690 Ace motherboard seems to have descended to us from Olympus! And someone will simply say “looks expensive, rich.” The board is built on a black eight-layer textolite and has received a distinctive black and gold exterior design.

MSI MEG Z690 Ace Review: 12th Gen Gaming PC Motherboard

In the design, there is a large number of protective shields – radiators of the cooling system, covering 75-85% of its surface. Golden symbols are knocked out and add some magical charm. The manufacturer supplemented the appearance with mesh plates in the area of ​​​​the main VRM zone and the Intel Z690 chipset.

MSI MEG Z690 Ace Review: 12th Gen Gaming PC Motherboard

The rear side is covered by a sturdy backplate that hides the main wiring and the digital part of the power subsystem. It also cools the hot zone through thermal pads.

MSI MEG Z690 Ace motherboard is based on Intel platform with LGA1700 socket and supports current Intel 12th generation processors. Going by the basic information, it will be backward compatible. The processor socket is surrounded by a mountain of metal and two large VRM heatsinks with a heat pipe.

The gaming PC motherboard has four DDR5 DIMM slots with a maximum supported capacity of 128 GB. The manufacturer claims to support a clock frequency of 4000 – 4800 MHz in normal mode and up to 6666+ MHz with overclocking.

MSI MEG Z690 Ace Review: 12th Gen Gaming PC Motherboard

It is unusual to see that the processor power is placed closer to the right corner on the MSI MEG Z690 Ace model. In terms of connectors, the engineers also tried to adapt several connectors for convenience. POST indicators allow you to evaluate boot stages and initialize errors faster when overclocking.

MSI MEG Z690 Ace Review: 12th Gen Gaming PC Motherboard

The MSI mainboard is equipped with one block for connecting external USB 3.2 ports and a pair of USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C. To organize the disk subsystem, six SATA-III connectors are provided, rotated 90 degrees.

MSI MEG Z690 Ace Review: 12th Gen Gaming PC Motherboard

At the bottom of the motherboard are various interfaces and ports for connecting different devices and equipment. The switch between the two BIOS chips, the power and reset buttons, and the backlight switch stand out the most: the sparkling lights can be turned off at any time.

MSI MEG Z690 Ace Review: 12th Gen Gaming PC Motherboard

The MSI MEG Z690 Ace is equipped with three PCIe expansion slots to expand functionality:

  • PCI Express 5.0 x16 with Steel Armor technology;
  • PCI Express 5.0 x8 with Steel Armor technology;
  • PCI Express 4.0 x4 with Steel Armor technology.

There are five hiding between them! M.2 slots and a whole host of fan connectors at the bottom.

MSI MEG Z690 Ace Review: 12th Gen Gaming PC Motherboard

If you look under the main radiator, you can see additional wavy layers for improved cooling and convection.

The power subsystem has 22 phases (19+1+2), Titanium Choke III chokes, and is located around the processor socket. The Renesas RAA229131 chip is used as a PWM controller. RAA22010540 with a maximum current of 105 A was used as assemblies. There are no doublers.

MSI MEG Z690 Ace Review: 12th Gen Gaming PC Motherboard

The I / O panel is a real sell-out: 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 10Gbps (Type-C), 7 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-A), 2 x Thunderbolt 4 40Gbps (Type-C), 2 x Mini DisplayPort Input (for Thunderbolt passthrough), 2 x MSI Wi-Fi Module
2 x LAN, 1 x Optical S/PDIF Out, 5 x Audio jacks, 1 x Flash BIOS button, 1 x button Clear CMOS.

There was no place for standard DisplayPort / HDMI video outputs. Mini-DPs are used instead.

MSI MEG Z690 Ace Review: 12th Gen Gaming PC Motherboard

What about sound? The new eight-channel Realtek ALC4082 codec, which uses high-quality Ninikon Fine Gold audio capacitors, is used as the audio path. It is assisted by an ESS Saber S9018Q2C DAC.

BIOS software

The graphical shell of MSI Click BIOS 5 has not changed. The MSI MEG Z690 Ace motherboard uses a familiar platform with some innovations for the older MSI MEG series, such as CPU Force 2 performance evaluation for overclocking.

MSI MEG Z690 Ace Review: 12th Gen Gaming PC Motherboard

MSI MEG Z690 Ace Review Test

  • Motherboard: MSI MEG Z690 Ace
  • Processor: Intel Core i9-1290ok
  • Cooling system: Cooler Master MasterAir MA620m
  • RAM: XPG Lancer DDR5 6000MHz 2х16GB
  • Graphics card: Radeon RX 6400
  • SSD: Western Digital Black SN750, 500 GB
  • Power supply: be quiet! Straight Power 11 850W
  • Case: Open stand
  • Operating system: Microsoft Windows 10 x64
MSI MEG Z690 Ace Review: 12th Gen Gaming PC Motherboard

MSI MEG Z690 Ace specifications

  • Socket: Intel Socket LGA1700
  • Processors: Intel 12 Gen Intel Core, Pentium Gold and Celeron
  • RAM slots: 4 x DIMM DDR5, Dual Channel DDR5-6666+ MHz (OC)
  • Storage slots: 1 x PCIe 5.0 x16, 1 x PCIe 5.0 x8, 2 x PCIe 4.0 x4
  • Connectivity: 2 x Intel 1225V 2.5Gb Ethernet, 1 x WiFi 6E
  • Audio: Realtek ALC4082 Codec + ESS SABRE901802C Combo DAC/HPA
  • Power: 1 x ATX 24-pin, 2 x 8-pin ATX 12V
  • Ports: 1 x USB 3.2 Cen 2 10Gbps (Type-C), 7x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-A), 2 x Thunderbolt 4 40Gbps (Type-C), 2 x Mini DisplayPort Input (for Thunderbolt passthrough), 2 x MSI Wi-Fi Module, 2x LAN, 1 x Optical S/PDIF Out, 5 x Audio jacks, 1 x Flash BIOS button, 1 x Clear CM05 button
  • Form Factor: E-ATX

For testing, we used an Intel Core i9-12900K processor. At the time of writing, we tested the motherboard daily and received the latest BIOS updates. MSI MEG Z690 Ace Motherboard BIOS has been updated to the latest current and available version 143.

MSI MEG Z690 Ace Review: 12th Gen Gaming PC Motherboard

At the time of testing the MSI MEG Z690 Ace, the Cooler Master MasterAir MA620M super cooler was on hand, but that’s not enough to unlock the full potential of the Intel Core i9-12900K.

But we can evaluate the behavior of the power subsystem, which was not going to heat up above 53 * C at a 240 W load.

MSI MEG Z690 Ace Review: 12th Gen Gaming PC Motherboard

System highlights with stock DDR5-4800 RAM, which are slightly higher than MSI’s MAG series boards.

MSI MEG Z690 Ace Review: 12th Gen Gaming PC Motherboard

There were no problems with activating the XMP-6000, only the MSI MEG Z690 Ace motherboard began to boot longer: as if memory training was taking place every time it was started.

MSI MEG Z690 Ace Review: 12th Gen Gaming PC Motherboard

The MSI MEG Z690 Ace officially supports overclocking to 6666+ MHz, and we wanted to check it out. With beta BIOS version .143, the system starts at 7000 MHz, but there is no stability. We try 6800 MHz – BSOD, we try 6600 MHz – there is no stability. The MSI mainboard was somehow able to exceed 6400 MHz. The same result for a wider range of frequencies means that the matter is in the BIOS.

While we were testing, version .140 came out and nothing rolled back to .130 and took 6666MHz. Developers need to take verification and their tests more seriously. When we returned the motherboard after testing, the beta .162 version came out later, and they say they fixed it, but we can’t test it now.

Final line

The MSI MEG Z690 Ace is not only an affordable gaming PC motherboard but an exclusive solution for true fans, enthusiasts, and overclockers who want everything at once. No more but! The device is equipped with a strong power subsystem and a wide range of ports, connectors, and slots. It has a postcode, open bench control, five M.2 slots, and two PCIe 5.0 slots. Given its reputation, overclocking record, and capabilities, the novelty is capable of a lot. But we were also able to pump up RAM in terms of overclocking, although we had planned to get to 7000 MHz eventually. Let the engineers take firmware more seriously.

Summing up, we have MSI MEG Z690 Ace – a premium product that not many people can afford, but everyone should look at the beauty.

MSI MEG Z690 Ace price and availability

The MSI MEG Z690 Ace motherboard costs $549.99 / £619.99, and it can be purchased on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk online websites.

If you find this motherboard too expensive or doesn’t fit your budget, you can also check out Gigabyte B660I Aorus Pro DDR4 Mini ITX Motherboard Review here, priced at $245.99 / £196.68.

Pros:

  • High performance
  • Good overclocking potential DDR5
  • Appearance and design
  • temperature regime
  • Powerful power subsystem
  • Wireless WiFi 6E

Cons:

  • Overclocking is mediocre on BIOS version .143
  • High price

About Ankeet Solanki

He started this blog as a hobby to show his affection for gadgets, but over the time this hobby became professional. And now he is working as a full-time blogger, but in free time he loves watching movies and games. PayPal donation for TechToyReviews will be appreciated.

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