Avoid Intel 13th Gen BIOS Update Issues With These Z690 Motherboards

Z690 Motherboards
(Image credit: Intel)

Intel's new 13th Gen "Raptor Lake" CPUs are the fastest on the market, but don't come cheap. One way to save money on your build is by using a last-gen Intel 600 series motherboard, since those boards use the LGA 1700 socket Raptor Lake requires and Intel says that, all things being equal (like board power delivery and cooling abilities), you should get the same performance as on a 700 series board. (Be sure to check our best motherboards page for the best options we've tested.)  

But there’s a catch. Though all 600 series motherboards can support Raptor Lake chips in theory, most (or at least many) will need to have a newer BIOS installed to recognize 13th Gen processors. Try popping a Core i5-13600K, Core i7-13700K or Core i9-13900K into your 600-series motherboard without the right BIOS and it won’t even POST. 

That's a shame, because the cheapest Z790 motherboard we found at the time we wrote this cost $169, while the least expensive previous-gen Z690 motherboard was $129. And if you aren't going to overclock your CPU, the less-expensive H610 or B660 chipset boards, which are best suited for pairing with a Core i5 or Core i7, can sell for as little as $89 or $99.

We contacted the four major motherboard vendors (ASRock, Asus, Gigabyte and MSI) to ask if any of their 600-series boards will work with Raptor Lake chips out of the box. Asus and Gigabyte said that some of their recently-produced boards might ship with a Raptor Lake-compatible BIOS, but there’s no reasonable way to know that before you purchase. Asus said that you can tell which BIOS version a motherboard comes with by looking at a sticker (opens in new tab) on the board itself, but that won’t do you much good unless you are buying at a brick-and-mortar store that allows you to open the box up before purchasing.

Most (if not all) 600 series boards have BIOS updates available that add Alder Lake support, but you need to be able to download and install those updates before you try to boot with a 13th Gen Raptor Lake CPU. If you have access to an older Intel 12th Gen “Alder Lake” CPU, you can put the older CPU in the board, boot into and update the BIOS in the UEFI interface (see how to enter the BIOS if you don’t know how to get there), and then you should be good to go. 

But most people buying a Raptor Lake CPU and new motherboard today don’t have a last-gen processor just lying around the house. At one point, AMD, which used the same AM4 socket across five different processor generations, had a loaner program where the company would send you an old CPU to use for the BIOS upgrade, but Intel has nothing like that.

So, if you want to buy a 600 series motherboard to use with a Raptor Lake CPU, your best bet is to buy a model with BIOS Flashback, a feature that allows you to update the BIOS with no CPU installed at all. You just put the BIOS update on a USB Flash drive, plug it into your board and hit the Flashback button on the motherboard and wait a few minutes while it updates.

To help you find out which models you can use to save yourself some money on your new build, we’ve generated a list of all the Intel 600 series motherboards with BIOS Flashback that we could find for sale. 

We found 72 600 series motherboards in total that have BIOS Flashback (Gigabyte calls the feature Q-Flash Plus, but it's essentially the same thing). There are roughly another 30 models, most of them Gigabyte SKUs, that are listed on the manufacturer’s website, but that we couldn’t find for sale in the U.S. 

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MotherboardCurrent PriceRAM Type
ASRock B660 Pro RS$109DDR4
Gigabyte B660 DS3H DDR4$109DDR4
Gigabyte B660M DS3H DDR4$109DDR4
Gigabyte B660M Power DDR4$109DDR4
ASRock B660M Steel Legend$114DDR4
ASRock H670M Pro RS$119DDR4
ASRock H670 PG Riptide$129DDR4
Gigabyte B660 DS3H AX DDR4$129DDR4
Gigabyte B660M DS3H AX DDR4$129DDR4
ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming 4$139DDR4
Gigabyte Z690I Aorus Ultra Lite DDR4$139DDR4
ASRock Z690 Pro RS$144DDR4
ASRock H670 Steel Legend$149DDR4
Gigabyte B660M Gaming X AX$149DDR4
Gigabyte B660M Gaming X AX DDR4$149DDR4
ASRock B660 Steel Legend$159DDR4
ASRock Z690M PG Riptide DDR5$159DDR5
Gigabyte B660M Aorus Pro AX DDR4$159DDR4
Gigabyte B660M Aorus Pro DDR4$159DDR4
ASRock Z690 PG Riptide$168DDR4
ASRock H670M-ITX/AX$169DDR4
ASRock Z690 Steel Legend$171DDR4
Gigabyte B660M D2H DDR4$171DDR4
Gigabyte B660 Aorus Master DDR4$179DDR4
Gigabyte B660 Gaming X AX DDR4$179DDR4
ASRock Z690 Extreme$182DDR4
Gigabyte B660M Gaming DDR4$189DDR4
Gigabyte Z690 UD DDR4$189DDR4
ASRock Z690 Extreme Wi-Fi 6E$196DDR4
Gigabyte B660 Aorus Elite DDR4$199DDR4
Gigabyte B660M Aorus Elite DDR4$199DDR4
MSI Pro Z690-A$206DDR4
Asus ROG Strix B660-A Gaming WIFI D4$208DDR4
Gigabyte Z690 Gaming X DDR4$209DDR4
Gigabyte Z690 UD AX DDR4$209DDR4
ASRock Z690 Steel Legend WiFi 6E$219DDR5
MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi$225DDR5
Gigabyte Z690 Gaming X$229DDR5
Gigabyte B660M Aorus Pro$236DDR4
ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming ITX/TB4$245DDR5
Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Elite AX DDR4$249DDR4
Gigabyte Z690M Aorus Elite AX DDR4$249DDR4
Gigabyte Z690M Aorus Elite DDR4$249DDR4
MPG Z690 Edge WiFi$249DDR5
MPG Z690 Edge WiFi DDR4$256DDR4
MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi DDR4$256DDR4
Gigabyte Z690 Aero G DDR4$259DDR4
MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk WiFi DDR4$259DDR4
Asus ROG Strix Z690-A Gaming WiFi D4$269DDR4
Gigabyte B660M D3H DDR4$269DDR4
Gigabyte Z690 Aero G$269DDR5
Asus ROG Strix Z690-G Gaming WiFi$274DDR5
MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk WiFi$275DDR5
MPG Z690 Force WiFi$299DDR5
Asus ROG Strix Z690-F Gaming WiFi$305DDR5
ASRock Z690 PG Velocita$309DDR5
Gigabyte Z690I Aorus Ultra Plus$309DDR4
MSI MAG Z690 Torpedo$328DDR5
Asus ROG Strix Z690-E Gaming WiFi$365DDR5
MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi$369DDR5
Gigabyte Z690 Aero D$379DDR5
Gigabyte Z690 UD$387DDR5
Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Elite DDR4$395DDR4
Asus ProArt Z690 Creator WiFi$449DDR5
MEG Z690 UNIFY-X$459DDR5
MSI MEG Z690 ACE$539DDR5
Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro DDR4$592DDR4
ASRock Z690 Taichi Razer Edition$619DDR5
ASRock Z690 Aqua OC$756DDR5
MSI MPG Z690 EK-X$766DDR5
ASRock Z690 Aqua$889DDR5
MSI MEG Z690 Godlike$1199DDR5

The best price we’ve found on any 600 series board with BIOS Flashback is $109, a price we’ve seen for a number of B660 SKUs from ASRock and Gigabyte. If you want to overclock your Raptor Lake chip – something a lot of people would want to do with a K-series CPU – you’ll need to spend at least $139, the minimum price we saw for a Z690-powered motherboard in the ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming 4 (opens in new tab) and Gigabyte Z690I Aorus Ultra Lite DDR4 (opens in new tab), both of which are DDR4 boards. If you want a board that uses DDR5 RAM, your least expensive option is the ASRock Z690M PG Riptide DDR5 (opens in new tab) at $159. By way of comparison, the cheapest Z790 board with DDR4 we’ve seen is $179, and that price rises to $199 for the DDR5 model.

If you want Wi-Fi on your Z690 motherboard, the least expensive option we saw is ASRock Z690 Extreme Wi-Fi 6E (opens in new tab) for $196. That’s a DDR4 board. If you want Wi-Fi and DDR5 support, the least expensive option is the ASRock Z690 Steel Legend WiFi 6E (opens in new tab) at $219. The cheapest Z790 board we’ve seen with Wi-Fi goes for $249 so this is still a savings. If you’re spending much more than $250, it makes little sense to go with a Z690 board over a Z790.

Avram Piltch is Tom's Hardware's editor-in-chief. When he's not playing with the latest gadgets at work or putting on VR helmets at trade shows, you'll find him rooting his phone, taking apart his PC or coding plugins. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram developed many real-world benchmarks, including our laptop battery test.
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    How many times is this going to be an issue before AMD and Intel require USB BIOS Flashback capability on every single motherboard model?
    Reply
  • rluker5
    This is a good point. Some old stock low end lga 1700 board will likely have the bios it shipped with.
    And a Celeron G6900 (cheapest Alder) runs $75.

    Also I would add to make sure the 12th gen Mobo of interest has recent updates for firmware and management engine in addition to bios or you may be leaving some performance on the table. My Asus boards were fine, but not all are and you might have to piece something together that isn't totally official.
    Reply
  • Udyr
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    How many times is this going to be an issue before AMD and Intel require USB BIOS Flashback capability on every single motherboard model?
    They create the problem to sell you the solution.
    Reply
  • boe rhae
    Two more z690 boards with flashback: EVGA's Z690 Classified and Z690 K|NGP|N

    I own the former and intend to put a 13th gen chip in it
    Reply
  • imsurgical
    Asus ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi is a board that can be added to the list.

    I can vouch using bios flashback on it before tossing in a 13700K because I parted off a 12700K before updating the latest BIOS for 13th gen support.
    Reply
  • Wraithtek
    There is also the MSI Pro Z690-A DDR5 (non-WiFi). The three other variations (DDR4, DDR4 WiFi, DDR5 WiFi) are already in the list.
    Reply
  • Brian D Smith
    Noob question: 'non-WIFI' motherboard, means...you can't use WIFI on your computer?
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    Brian D Smith said:
    Noob question: 'non-WIFI' motherboard, means...you can't use WIFI on your computer?
    It means the board does not have built in wifi capability ready to use out of the box. You can still add wifi capability with a USB adapter or add in card.
    Reply
  • Wraithtek
    Brian D Smith said:
    Noob question: 'non-WIFI' motherboard, means...you can't use WIFI on your computer?
    As the other reply mentioned, you can add WiFi, it just doesn't come standard as part of the board.

    I have the board I mentioned above and added a cheap TP-Link PCI-E WiFi card in the bottom PCI-E slot. Since I got both board and card on sale, saved some money vs. buying the DDR5 WiFi version.
    Reply
  • SunMaster
    Brian D Smith said:
    Noob question: 'non-WIFI' motherboard, means...you can't use WIFI on your computer?

    Some (not all) motherboards include a dedicated m.2 slot for wifi. This is an "e key", not compatible with an ssd. You can however install something like https://www.amazon.com/Ableconn-M2MN-150E-Converter-Board-Module/dp/B079NB8J3B to use an m.2 for e key in a m key (regular ssd) slot if you want.
    Reply
  • MHzTweaker
    I tried for 2 days with an MSI Pro Z690-A WiFI motherboard. I tried all sizes of USB flash drives, formatted and wiped with every file table and configuration imaginable. The BIOS flashback does NOT WORK! You are better off buying a Z790 board, which is what I ended up doing after returning the MSI.
    Reply