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Asus Readies Mini-ITX Intel Z690 Motherboard with Sandwich Design

Asus
(Image credit: Asus)

Small form-factor gaming systems are quite popular these days, and motherboard manufacturers are trying to blur the line between capabilities of Mini-ITX and ATX motherboards. With its upcoming ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming Wi-Fi platform, Asus has opted for a sandwich-like design.

Installing advanced controllers for Wi-Fi or audio on a Mini-ITX motherboard is relatively easy. Installing additional slots for add-in cards or modules is not. In a bid to install two M.2-2280 slots for high-performance SSDs and ensure their proper cooling to avoid throttling under high loads, Asus has opted for a multi-layer sandwich-like construction located near the backside of a graphics card, pictures published by VideoCardz reveal.

(Image credit: VideoCardz)

(Image credit: VideoCardz)

While the setup does't look elegant, it ensures proper cooling for high-performance M.2-2280 SSDs that need a radiator and allows to replace SSDs easily. Some Mini-ITX motherboards feature M.2 slots on the backside, which makes it hard to replace a drive if it fails. Furthermore, it is not always possible to cool it down properly. Asustek's 'sandwich' solves the problem. Meanwhile, the construction of the 'new' multi-layer PCB assembly on the ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming Wi-Fi seems to be a bit taller, so perhaps Asus intends to offer something more with the new one, or just ensure better cooling.

Two M.2-2280 SSDs with proper cooling bring Asus' Mini-ITX motherboards closer to desktops in terms of performance and expandability. Yet, based on the photos published by VideoCardz, the company reduced the number of SATA ports on its Z690 Mini-ITX mainboard from four to two, which reduces maximum bulk storage capacity of the platform from 54 TB in RAID 5 mode or 72 TB in JBOD mode on the previous generation to 36 TB in RAID 0 mode on the new generation (when using 18TB HDDs). Furthermore, it is no longer possible to use four SATA drives in RAID 5 mode for performance and reliability.  

Asustek's ROG-branded Mini-ITX motherboards have been among the most feature rich SFF platforms on the market for years, so it is not surprising that the company is preparing a high-end ROG Strix-branded mainboard for Intel's 12th Generation Core 'Alder Lake' processors in LGA1700 packaging. The motherboard will feature a sophisticated voltage regulating module (VRM) to feed the CPU, two slots for DDR5 memory, a PCIe 5.0 x16 slot for graphics cards, a Wi-Fi 6E module, a sophisticated audio subsystem (for motherboards) and everything else that you come to expect from a high-end 2021 platform.

Asus is expected to start sales of its Intel Z690-based motherboards for Intel's Alder Lake processors in early November, when the new CPUs are set to hit the market.

  • Yuka
    A flashback to the 90's for sure. IBM used to love 2-tiered motherboards back then xD

    That being said, why not just make it mATX instead? The size difference is not that much, is it? Why do we even have ITX again? Intel?

    Regards,
    Reply
  • cyrusfox
    Yuka said:
    That being said, why not just make it mATX instead? The size difference is not that much, is it? Why do we even have ITX again? Intel?
    I am sure they have ATX flavors, but mATX is on the hard decline though (Only a single selection from each manufacturer on the Z590...) I run an ITX rig and a mATX. But honestly I am hoping for some DDR4 flavored boards, Don't want to buy another 96GB of DDR5(I run 2x32GB on the itx and 2x16 on the mATX currently).

    ITX is used by everyone making small form factor builds, makes sense to cram as many features here as possible on the bottom and top of the board.
    Reply
  • TJ Hooker
    cyrusfox said:
    I am sure they have ATX flavors, but mATX is on the hard decline though (Only a single selection from each manufacturer on the Z590...)
    Only for high end chipsets like Z590 or X570 it would seem. Probably because people generally expect lots of features/ports/slots on with those chipsets, which require larger boards. There are still plenty of uATX boards for B550, B510/B560/H570, etc.
    Reply
  • ezst036
    I really like this design.
    Reply