GIGABYTE Z690 GAMING X DDR4 Motherboard
Alder Lake supports DDR5, and that is a big selling point. DDR5 is currently expensive, and hard to find. Thankfully Intel has sought to retain DDR4 support also within Alder Lake. To make this work you simply need a motherboard with DDR4 support instead of DDR5, but with the new Z690 chipset and LGA 1700 socket. These motherboards exist, and we were able to purchase one for around $220 straight off the shelf in retail.
We picked up a GIGABYTE Z690 GAMING X DDR4 motherboard using the new Intel Z690 chipset and LGA 1700 socket with full support for 12th Gen Intel Core Series Processors. It supports PCI-Express 5.0. This is not a low-end board either, it supports modern features, and plenty of it, with robust VRM cooling and M.2 cooling. It is based on a 16+1+2 digital VRM design with 60A power stage. It has a fully covered thermal design with high coverage MOSFET heatsinks and shielded memory routing to avoid interference.
It has modern features like 2.5G LAN, ALC1220 audio, no less than 4x M.2 NVMe slots (one from the CPU the other three from the chipset) with enlarged thermal heatsinks, and USB 3.2 Gen2x2 internal and Type-C external. It has HDMI and DisplayPort. The only thing it’s really missing is built-in WIFI. The motherboard has full support for Windows 11 with drivers on the website.
The important part of this motherboard for us is its 4 DDR4 DIMM slots which support up to DDR4-5333 with overclocking and 128GB. It also supports XMP. Therefore, we can put our standard CRUCIAL DDR4-3600 on this motherboard, and the other motherboards used for comparison today across all platforms to equalize RAM. We did upgrade our BIOS on this motherboard to the latest F6a BIOS.
Intel Core i5-12600K
We purchased this Intel Core i5-12600K in retail, at the same time as the motherboard. The packaging is simple and indicates the CPU and socket type. This is the i5-12600K, 20MB Cache, LGA 1700 S-Spec SRL4T CPU. The CPU does not come with a cooler.
The package and thermal interface shield is larger on this CPU compared to previous generations. It’s not square, it’s a rectangle, and due to the shape and Z-Height change some coolers could have pressure or coverage issues, so make sure to read plenty of reviews to see how coolers performed with these CPUs. Otherwise, these are pinless LGA-type CPUs with the pins residing in the socket itself, similar to the last generation.
Installation went smoothly, it installs like all previous generation Intel CPUs. We are using an LGA 1700 mounting kit that came with our MSI MEG CORELIQUID S360 AIO Cooler that we reviewed which has full compatibility with Alder Lake CPUs. We will be using this same AIO for all the CPUs being compared in this review.
CPUz and HWiNFO64
With the Intel Core i5-12600K installed you can see the CPUz screenshots above. It is reading everything correctly and shows the DDR4 RAM we have installed running at 3600MHz and the correct timings with the “GEAR” mode set in BIOS on AUTO.
HWiNFO64 shows further information about the CPU and our system configuration for testing. It can show and differentiate between the P-core having 6 cores and 12 threads, and then the E-core being 4 cores and 4 threads.