ASRock has announced its new flagship Intel Z690 motherboards have 'every feature imaginable' for extreme overclocking. ASRock's Z690 Aqua platforms combine a thick PCB, a high performance voltage regulating module (VRM), and even a pre-installed water block to enable the ultimate overclocking results. Furthermore, the ASRock Z690 Aqua OC even features a two DIMM layout and an external clock generator for additional benefits.
ASRock's Z690 Aqua EATX motherboards for Intel's 12th Generation Core 'Alder Lake' processors in LGA1700 packaging rely on a 12-layer printed circuit board (PCB) with two-ounce copper layers to ensure maximum signal integrity and the best power delivery. Both platforms are equipped with a 19+1-phase VRM with 105A power stages that can deliver about 3000W of power to a CPU, which is of course an absolute overkill, but could be useful for extreme overclocking.
To ensure maximum overclocking potential for Intel's CPU plugged into an ASRock Z690 Aqua motherboard, the manufacturer pre-installed a water block for the CPU and the VRM so owners would not have to wait for an after-market part. The water block is equipped with a digital water leak detector, so it should be safe to use.
The ASRock Z690 Aqua 'The Awakening' motherboard will be available shortly and relatively widely. But for those who need something more exclusive and something more extreme, ASRock has its Z690 Aqua OC 'The Masterpiece' motherboard with only two slots for DDR5 memory modules to maximize signal integrity, which promises to improve overclocking potential of DDR5 DIMMs. In addition, ASRock equips its Z690 Aqua OC with an external clock generator, which is particularly handy for extreme overclockers. Since there are not so many extreme overclockers around, only 500 'Masterpieces' will be made.
As for connectivity, ASRock's Z690 Aqua feature almost everything one can imagine, including a 10GbE port enabled by an Aquantia controller, a 2.5 GbE port using Intel's E3100 chip, and a Wi-Fi 6E solution powered by Intel's Killer AX1675. In addition, the motherboards have two Thunderbolt 4 connectors (40 Gbps) on the back as well as two USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 ports (20 Gbps) on the front panel. Also, the platforms feature a 7.1-channel audio subsystem based on the ESS 9218 DAC with Wima audio capacitors.
Following the latest enthusiast-grade hardware trends, ASRock's Z690 Aqua motherboards come with a built-in informational OLED display as well as addressable RGB effects that can be synced using the company's software.
It's rare to see ultra-high-end motherboards announced with an MSRP, and, unfortunately, ASRock is not an exception here. We can only makes guesses about pricing of its Z690 Aqua and Z690 Aqua OC platforms.