Asus ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi Mini-ITX Motherboard Review: Perfect For A Mini Gaming PC? – Forbes

0
155

Asus ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi
Asus usually outs its mini-ITX motherboards a few weeks after the launch of a new chipset such as Intel’s Z690, which lands today along with the release of Intel’s 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs. However, I was delighted to receive my ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi review sample from Asus way ahead of schedule and squeezed a review in for today’s Intel 12th Gen launch.
Asus ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi
Pricing is fairly steep – there’s no denying that. In the US this board will set you back around $430 and in the UK you’re looking at around £375. Given its predecessor only costs £310, you can see the price hike is substantial, but with dual Thunderbolt 4 ports, extensive power circuitry and cooling as well as the grunt to deal with Intel’s mighty Core i9-12900K 16-core CPU, there is at least some justification for the assault on your wallet.VRM
Asus ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi
There’s a 10+1 power phase design, with the VRMs cooled by large heatsinks connected by a heatpipe and extra cooling provided by a small fan embedded in the I/O shroud. However, this didn’t spin up or become audible, probably because the cooling array kept the VRMs below 55°C under a 10 minute load test anyway.
Asus ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi
There’s a large triple stack of heatsinks and PCBs that provide two M.2 ports with both SATA and PCI-E 3.0/4.0 compatibility, as well as cooling both sides of each SSD. They’re not quite as easy to access as the more exposed ports on larger boards or indeed the usual rear-mounted M.2 ports you often see on mini-ITX boards, but with my PCI-E 4.0 SSD not topping 60°C under load, they clearly do a good job. There are also tool-free latches that hold the SSDs in place, which are very handy indeed.
Asus ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi
The rear I/O panel offers seven Type-A USB ports and five of these are USB 3.0 or faster. You also get two Thunderbolt 4-compatible Type-C ports, which could be used to output to displays, add 10 Gigabit networking or offer higher power output for charging mobile devices. There’s also an HDMI port should you wish to use your 12th Gen Intel CPU’s onboard graphics and 802.11ax WiFi is built-in too.
Asus ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi
A vertical riser card is included that saves space on the main PCB by housing the four SATA ports, two RGB headers and the front panel connector. However, if you’d prefer to not use the card then you can power on your PC using a 2-pin connector on the PCB, albeit with no power and hard disk activity lights or reset switch.
Asus ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi
The ROG SupremeFX 7.1 audio is based around the Realtek ALC4080 codec and offers a trio of minijacks, but you also get an optical output too. I measured a dynamic range of 118dBA and noise leel of -118dBA using RightMark Audio Analyzer so this is about as good as it gets from onboard audio. There’s also a USB BIOS FlashBack button to upgrade the BIOS should you buy the board at a later date and need to drop in an unsupported CPU – this will allow you to update the BIOS to a supported version.
The CMOS clear button is handy too for overclockers, but getting to the 5.1GHz P-core, 4GHz E-core overclock I managed with my Core i9-12900K didn’t see me needing it – the board recovered well from over-zealous overclocks and proved to be very stable despite this being a new CPU architecture and chipset.
Asus ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi
There’s the usual trio of fan headers – it’s a shame Asus didn’t find a way to include more, and it’s also ditched the thermal probe input found on its other ROG Strix mini-ITX boards, which water-cooled system owners may find annoying. The Asus EFI and software fan control is otherwise excellent.
You can check out more details of the ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi on the official product page.
Asus ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi
Having used the Asus ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi for my own Intel 12th Gen testing this week, I can honestly say it proved to be a solid, stable platform that looks fantastic, has plenty of features and keeps itself and your M.2 SSD cool – important given the often cramped confines of mini-ITX cases. I love the added engineering and attention to detail and apart from a slightly cramped PCB, it’s ultimately very drool-worthy.
The price is certainly extremely high, which is likely going to be a stumbling block for many, which is a shame given the Core i5-12600K offers plenty of performance for a reasonable amount of cash. There will obviously be other options for 12th Gen CPUs when it comes to mini-ITX motherboards and building small gaming PCs for Intel’s fantastic 12th Gen CPUs, including Asus’ own cheaper chipset boards though. A fantastic Z690 mini-ITX motherboard? Definitely. Fantastic price? Not so much.

I’m a technology journalist with a 25 year-long interest in computer hardware, gadgets and technology. I cover the latest news and rumors about companies such as Intel,

I’m a technology journalist with a 25 year-long interest in computer hardware, gadgets and technology. I cover the latest news and rumors about companies such as Intel, AMD and Nvidia and cover major hardware launches, including my own benchmarks in the latest games and content creation software.

source