Earlier this month, ASRock announced its Z690 Aqua series of motherboards for Intel's new Alder Lake CPUs. The Aqua will come in both a vanilla Aqua and specialized Aqua OC variant on a limited edition run. Now we know that the Aqua series will include some of ASRock's most expensive motherboards priced at an eye-watering $1,299 for the Z690 Aqua, and $1,399 for the Z690 Aqua OC on Newegg.
Availability starts January 28th for the Aqua, and February 4th for the Aqua OC.
In turn for that price, you are getting one of the most capable Z690 motherboards on the market with an excellent power delivery system and a robust custom-built water block that cools both the CPU and the power delivery system.
ASRock says it has enhanced the monoblocks capability on the Z690 Aqua (and Aqua OC) from its predecessors by enhancing the fin thickness of the block itself and by using thermal grease to increase heat conductivity. These new motherboards will also come with a water-leaking detector accessory to insure your custom loop is fully sealed.
The upgraded cooling capabilities of the monoblock will be useful for cooling both Intel's new Alder Lake CPUs, as well as the upgraded power delivery system on the Z690 Aqua. Compared to the older Z490 Aqua, the new Z690 model features an upgraded 20 phase power delivery design with 105A smart power stages. This should be enough to handle the most power-hungry overclocks on any of Intel's Alder Lake chips.
The introduction of two different Aqua models simultaneously has never previously occurred. In the past, the Aqua motherboards were limited to one model and were always limited edition. In the case of the Z690 models, ASRock is changing that strategy by including a base model Aqua that will not be a limited edition run, accompanied by a Z690 Aqua OC variant that features enhanced memory overclocking capabilities and will have a limited edition run of 500 units.
The only differences between the Aqua and the Aqua OC are in its color scheme and DDR5 memory setup. The color scheme on the Aqua is pure white, paired with silver accents for both the M.2 slots and chipset heatsink. While the Aqua OC features a darker toned chipset heatsink color (that looks gray), as well as dark-colored caps protecting the inlet and outlet holes on the water block.
But the biggest differences are in the board's memory layout, the vanilla Aqua model comes with four SODIMM slots with a maximum rated overclocking speed of 6400 MHz supported by the board itself. The Aqua OC increases that rating to 7000 MHz, by reducing the number of DIMM slots from four to just two.
In place of the two DIMM slots are several physical buttons for manually controlling CPU and memory overclocks, which is particularly useful when LN2 overclocking or overclocking on an open chassis.
Like other Z690 flagship motherboards, the Z690 Aqua series packs a plethora of connectivity options, including dual PCIe Gen 5.0 x16 lanes, three M.2 slots, WiFi 6E, and a high-end ALC1220 Realtek audio chip, paired with an ESS Sabre 9218 DAC.
Rear I/O is also decked out with tons of connective options, including two Thunderbolt 4 Type C ports, six USB Type-A ports with a mix of 3.2 Gen 2 and Gen 1 ports, plus dual ethernet outputs, including one Aquantia 10G LAN port.