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Z790 vs Z690 Chipsets – What Are The Differences?

Between the two motherboards, Z790 and Z690, there is very little visual difference. Whether it is the number of ports or overall aesthetics, it is hard to find any differences between the two at a glance. An extra PCIe slot integrated into the Z790 is not noticeable to many users when comparing the two.

A chipset is part of the motherboard designed by AMD or Intel to be compatible with their distinctive processors and enables connection between the I/O, GPU, RAM, storage, and CPU. When looking for a motherboard, you need to ensure that the chipset is compatible with the processors as dedicated chipsets are only compatible with certain processors.

What is a Z790 motherboard?

Z790 is an Intel chipset that is compatible with the 12th Generation and the 13th Generation Intel Core processors. It is among the top-end chipsets of the 13th Generation and offers optimal IO connectivity. Moreover, it enables overclocking of both the RAM and the CPU. Z790 also provides the maximum room for SSDs and GPUs.

What is a Z690 motherboard?

Z690 is the earlier variant of the Z790 Intel chipset. It also supports all modern gaming components. The two concerned chipsets are remarkably similar with a few minor differences. Through this article, we will go through every feature to determine the difference between the two.

Key Differences

As mentioned above, both the Z790 and Z690 Intel chipsets are incredibly similar in build and aesthetics. In the next section, we will take you through each feature and compare the two chipsets, Z790 and Z690. At the end of the section, we have summarized a detailed table comparing the two chipsets.

1. CPU Socket

The CPU socket is the slot which enables establishing a connection between the PCB and a microprocessor without soldering. This makes it easier to replace the CPU easily on the motherboard. Both motherboards feature the LGA 1700, which makes them both compatible with the 12th-generation and the 13th-Generation core processors.

2. PCIe

The number of PCI-E lanes might be the same but the Z790 offers more compatibility with the PCI-E 5.0, more so for the mainstream board designs. Also, for the Z690, the user would get only one PCIe 16 Gen 5 slot but the Z790 offers SSD and next-generation GPU configurations when compared to the Z790.

However, for both the motherboard the GPUs and SSDs, the PCI-E 5.0 compatibility is a little slow which needs to be taken into consideration, moving forward in the late 2023 and early 2024 variants.

3. CPU Generation

The gen is the generation to which the processor belongs. The higher the generation, the better the chip. Both Z790 and Z690, both support 12th Generation and 13th Generation processors.

4. DMI 4.0 Lanes

DMI 4.0 is an interface that is used to communicate between the chipset and the CPU. The DMI 4.0 Lanes deliver two times faster speed as compared to DMI 3.0. For both these chipsets, they both have 8 DMI 4.0 Lanes.

5. Integrated Graphics Card

The integrated graphics card is the GPU that is installed in the chipset of the motherboard. For both the Z790 and Z690 chipsets, they have enabled integrated graphics cards which make them both ideal for gaming and computing purposes.

6. RAID Support and Modes

RAID is an inexpensive disk technology that stores the same data in several different places so that it can be retrieved in case of any drive failure. So, both the Z790 and Z690 chipsets support SATA drive and PCIe drives and can enable different RAID modes like 0, 1, 5, and 10.

7. Maximum Number of SATA

The SATA port navigates how the data will be transferred from and to the motherboard of the computer and the mass storage devices, SSDs, optical drives and HDDs. Both these motherboards feature 8 SATA ports each so there is no point of difference here.

8. Number of USB Ports

The USB ports are the slots which enable the system to be connected to external devices with ease. Between the two chipsets, the Z790 features one extra USB 3.2 Gen 2 X 2  20 Gbps port compared to the Z690. Other than that, they have an equal number of USB 3.2 Gen 2 X 1  10 Gbps ports, USB 3.2 Gen 1 X 1 5 Gbps ports and USB 2.0 ports.

9. Memory

When talking about memory, we cannot pinpoint one factor so we have separated them into different parts and discussed both and their compatibility concerning both the motherboards.

a. Generation

DDR4 was treated as the standard for quite some time but Intel has taken into consideration the need to integrate DDR5 memory compatibility on their platforms. With the Z690 and several other high-end chipsets, they have been given the option to be compatible with DDR5. However, they are also compatible with the last generation of DDR4 memory compatibility. Similarly, the Z790 chipset is also compatible with both the DDR4 and DDR5 memory generations.

It is advisable to go for the DDR4 memory options for the i3, i5 and even for some i7 while the DDR5 is more suited for the i7 and i9 processors. The performance gains of DDR5 have minimal difference, but the costs are much higher for the generation.

b. Channels

The memory channels are the connection between the CPU and the RAM, which transfer the data between the two components. Both these motherboards have the same 2/2 memory channels.

c. Number of DIMMs per Channel

DIMM per channel refers to the number of slots that the RAM occupies. Both the motherboards have dual DIMMS per channel, which means that the memory occupies both slots in the notebook for the memory.

d. Slots

The RAM slot or memory slot enables the memory stick/ chip to be inserted into the computer. Both the Z790 and Z690 have compatibility with 128 GB memory.

10. Number of Supported Displays

The number of supported displays is the number of screens that can be connected to the motherboard. For both the Z790 and Z690, the number of supported displays is 4. This means that a user can connect four screens with this motherboard.

11. Integrated WiFi

The integrated WiFi is the technology that is already installed in the motherboard and allows it to connect to the devices wirelessly. With the latest WiFi version, it allows you to connect with more devices with ease. Both these motherboards have the WiFi version Intel WiFi 6E AX211, which easily connects all devices.

12. Thermal Design Power

The thermal design power is the heat generated by the chipset or any component for which the cooling system dissipates the heat. Lower TDP is always favourable as it implies lesser power consumption which should be the goal. Both these chipsets have a TDP of 6 watts.

13. Overclocking

At first, the users will notice that overclocking does not seem to have undergone a remarkable change between Z790 and Z690 chipsets. High-end motherboards like these two have more VRMs, enabling them to suffer with lesser power phases. However, out of these two, Z790 is a better consideration when looking at the overclocking of any 13th Generation processor.

Feature Z790 Z690
CPU Socket LGA 1700 LGA 1700
PCIe Lanes 28 28
PCIe Gen 5 Lanes 20 20
PCIe Configurations 1X16+1X4 or 2X8+1X4 1X16+1X4 or 2X8+1X4
12th Gen Support Yes Yes
13th Gen Support Yes Yes
Overclocking Support Yes Yes
DMI 4.0 Lanes 8 8
RAID Modes 0, 1, 5, 10 0, 1, 5, 10
Max number of SATA 6 GB/s 8 8
Max Number of USB ports 14 14
Max USB 3.2 Gen 2X2 Ports 5 4
Max USB 3.2 Gen 2X1 Ports 10 10
Max USB 3.2 Gen 1X1 Ports 10 10
Max USB 2.0 Ports 14 14
Memory Support DDR 5-5600B DDR4-3200 DDR 5-4800B DDR4-3200
Memory Channels 2/2 2/2
Memory Slots 128 GB 128 GB
No. of Displays Supported 4 4
No. of DIMMs per Channel 2 2
Integrated WiFi Intel WiFi 6E AX211 (Gig+) Intel WiFi 6E AX211 (Gig+)
Thermal Design Power 6 Watts 6 Watts
Overclocking Yes Yes

Which to choose, Z790 or Z690?

Deducing from the comparison table given above, one might point out that there is not much difference between the Z790 and Z690. Both of them are completely compatible with the 13th Generation processors. Also, there are no extra benefits of the upgraded Z790. Therefore, both will be the same in performance for gaming purposes and computing purposes.

The major difference between the two is that the Z790 provides an extra 8 X PCIe 4.0 lanes from the chipset but at a similar expense of 8 X PCIe 3.0 lanes. This implies that the Z790 still allows 28 X PCI lanes when seen against Z690 but possesses extra flexibility to use an extra PCIe 4.0 lane for additional Thunderbolt 4 controllers and high bandwidth M.2 slots. Also, the Z790 features PCIe 3.0 lanes which can be used for streaming cards, additional NICs, or any other non-bandwidth critical activities.

With the Z790, Intel has decided that it will not support the Optane Memory of the brand. They still offer the same kind of support, but the Z790 does not let the system use the Optane memory.

Final Word

The primary reason for choosing the Z790 over the Z690 is the extra PCIe 4.0 I/O compatibility with an additional USB 3.2 G2X2 Type-C port compared to Z690. When comparing the two chipsets based on gaming or computing, users should not expect any difference if they are using the existing Z690 or the new Z790. We have tried to discuss all the features of the chipsets in detail to give you a clear idea about the two.

If you still have doubts, do write in the comments section below.

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