According to a report from Videocardz, we have our first look at Asus' new Strix motherboards for the Z690 platform. We have images of five Strix boards including the Z690-A, Z690-F, Z690-E, Z690-G (micro ATX), and the ROG Maximus Z690 Glacial Extreme. All these boards will support Intel's future 12th Gen Core CPUs based on the Alder Lake architecture.
The Strix Z690-A will be Asus' entry-level board for the Strix lineup, featuring silver accents with cyan RGB lighting, instead of the usual black finish on higher-end ROG products. If history repeats itself, this board should be nearly identical to Asus' Prime boards, in design layout, power delivery, and connectivity. The only difference with this board is its gaming-focused identity with Strix badging and Strix exclusive features.
What's interesting about this board is the inclusion of DDR4 compatibility. This is one of the first motherboards that we've actually seen with DDR4 support instead of DDR5. This will be useful for customers who don't want to pony up for pricy DDR5 modules, which could be up to 60% more expensive than DDR4, Or simply want to reuse their previous memory kits.
Checking out the rear I/O, the board appears to have eight USB Type-A ports along with two USB Type-Cs, Ethernet, WiFi, DisplayPort, HDMI, and five rear audio jacks. Judging by the amount of M.2 heatsinks, this board has support for four M.2 drives. The bottom-most M.2 heatsink is large enough to accommodate two drives at the same time.
There's also two PCIe x16 slots on the board, and a single x1 slot. Presumably, the top slot supports Gen 5.0, while the bottom and middle slots should be Gen 4.0 or Gen 3.0 only.
The ROG Strix Z690-F appears to be Asus' mid-range offering in the Strix lineup, however, according to the images, we cannot tell any difference between the Z690-A and the Z690-F in terms of connectivity.
From all that we can tell, the Z690-F appears to be a black version of the Z690-A, featuring a fully blacked-out finish with RGB lighting on the rear I/O cover. Once we get full details on this board, we'll know if there are any important differences compared to the Z690-A.
The Z690-E appears to be a noticeable upgrade over both the Z690-A and Z690-F and is typically Asus' highest-end Strix motherboard according to previous models.
This board has an upgraded rear I/O, with eight USB Type-A ports and two USB Type-Cs. Asus also managed to squeeze a third PCI-e x16 slot onto the motherboard.
Judging by the number of extra capacitors next to the VRM, the Z690-E appears to also have an upgraded power delivery system as well, which will be optimal for overclocking Alder Lake CPUs. This is also similar to that of the Z590-E which also had upgraded power delivery compared to the F and A models.
There's also the addition of a Q-code, which is handy for additional troubleshooting details if the board does not post, especially when overclocking.
Aesthetically there are also some subtle differences, including a more pronounced Strix badge on the chipset heatsink.
Somewhat surprising for this generation is the addition of the Strix G micro-atx motherboard, in the form of the Rog Strix Z690-G. We have not seen a micro-atx Strix board since the 400 series, making this board a welcome sight for anyone wanting to build a smaller gaming machine.
The board does take inspiration from the Z690-F, featuring the exact same rear I/O layout of eight USB Type-As, two USB-Type-Cs, audio, Ethernet, WiFi, DisplayPort and HDMI. The three PCIe slots are also the same, with two x16 slots and a single x1.
The only drawback we can find is the change in M.2 drive support from four to two. Unless there are hidden M.2 slots to the rear, the micro-ATX form factor cannot support as many M.2 drives as its ATX counterparts.
ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme Glacial
Finally, we have a sneak peek at the ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme Glacial. This board will be one of Asus' flagship boards, featuring a Monoblock covering the entire CPU and VRM area. This will be optimal for overclocking Alder Lake as high as possible, without power delivery thermals becoming a bottleneck.
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Aaron Klotz is a freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US, covering news topics related to computer hardware such as CPUs, and graphics cards.