This review assumes you are looking at this motherboard for a general function build. That means possibly anything you might want to build a personal computer for so it will also assume your range of options isn’t limited to the current crop of K/KF CPUs. I point this out because down the line, Intel will release non-K CPUs for Alder Lake but for those who may be looking at this board in the future as an entry board before they decide to jump to a possible K-series, I’d like to point that this may not be that board as that should be the DDR4-equipped boards. But this puts us into the discussion of what actually comprises a starter board for this generation?
Intel definitely wants a lot of IO and boards do have the option of using all of those. With the likes of the PRIME Z690-A, ASUS decided to make use of 4x M.2 slots which is a strong argument for those that want to build a storage infused workstation with a couple of PCIe devices also equipped in it. One of the rare occasions that a board has an healthy PCIe slot offering, the PRIME Z690-A skips the secondary 16x length PCIe slot and goes for more x1 slot plus an x2 and x4 options for capture cards and audio cards. While this limits its flexibility when using multi-GPU solutions, its rare nowadays to actually multi-GPUs in modern systems for both gaming and multimedia use.
Talking about overall, quality this is where it actually takes off. Given the higher asking price of the Z690-A, which is significant jump from the PRIME Z590-A but if there’s anything to go by from that previous generation, you will know that ASUS was already intent in positioning their top PRIME board in a more mainstream position compared to its more pedestrian PRIME models. The PRIME Z390-A was arguably the last sub-$200 PRIME as later models so an increase in functionality as well as design. That reaches full speed for the Z690 as the PRIME Z690-A is certainly a competitor one of the best looking mainstream “white” motherboards around despite being a more black-and-silver color scheme.
Perhaps one of the strongest argument against the PRIME Z690-A is its lack of anything specialized. Its not a gaming board nor a creator board and personally, I feel that is fine. At this price range, we’re not talking about a budget board here but a flexible one. Single GPU gaming builds are the norm and fast storage options for either USB3.2 Gen2 or internal ones via M.2 are also common so multimedia work is also rich in the PRIME Z690-A. With that in mind, the primary function of this board will be a position wherein you just want a flexible motherboard that can expand for storage but still be robust enough to handle the higher CPUs on the 12th-gen stack. With no promise of Intel sticking with the LGA1700 socket, the sole upgradeability promise here would be in the same stack and the PRIME Z690-A definitely can handle a Core i9-12900K as well as DDR5. All of that, wrapped in this very presentable design that I actually feel bad isn’t present in the lower PRIME boards. Its a rare design and something I’d like to see more of being done in future releases.
In closing, ASUS raises the bar here for their top PRIME motherboard and the PRIME Z690-A ticks all the right boxes for a professional-tier motherboard for Intel’s 12th-gen platform. Its flexibility is a nice breathe of fresh air rather than the more generic slot options of most entry-series motherboards. Its tough to really say anything bad about the PRIME Z690-A but it’d be just nitpicking at this point. Ultimately, the ASUS PRIME Z690-A would appeal more to those looking for slightly cheaper option versus the ASUS ProArt Z690-Creator. If you’re looking for a get-up and go platform for the Intel 12th-gen CPUs, then the PRIME Z690-A is a very decent option thanks to its good, all-rounder approach. An easy recommendation for work-oriented builds based on the new Alder Lake CPUs.
ASUS backs the PRIME Z690-A with a 3-year warranty. I give it my B2G Recommended Seal and a B2G Silver Award!
ASUS PRIME Z690-A LGA1700 Motherboard Review
The PRIME Z690-A is a very decent option thanks to its good, all-rounder approach. An easy recommendation for work-oriented builds based on the new Alder Lake CPUs.