MSI MEG Z690 UNIFY and DDR5
MSI sent us their flagship Z690 motherboard, the MSI MEG Z690 UNIFY. This motherboard supports Intel Alder Lake LGA 1700 socket, Intel Z690 chipset, and DDR5 memory. It has an appealing all-blacked-out design, with minimal logos and graphics, but instead takes on a stealth approach that is aesthetically pleasing, and well equipped to keep everything cool and protected well.
MSI also sent us a 32GB kit of Kingston FURY Beast DDR5-5200 memory. Kingston’s FURY Beast memory is its enthusiast-focused high-performance gaming memory line. Their newest line is the DDR5 memory line, including a variety of different options. Kingston offers 16GB and 32GB kits with speeds of 4800MHz, 5200MHz, 5600MHz, and 6000MHz in single or double kits. The specific one we are using is the 32GB 5200MHz Kit of 2, part number KF552C40BBK2-32. It features a low-profile heat spreader and XMP 3.0 support.
The MSI MEG Z690 UNIFY supports Intel 12th Gen Intel Core Processors on LGA1700. It has 4x DDR5 DIMM slots supporting up to 128GB. It supports the official 1R 4800MHz JDEC spec but also overclocking speeds up to a whopping 6666MHz. It supports Intel XMP 3.0 OC, dual-controller dual-channel mode. It has 2x PCIe x16 slots from the CPU and supports PCIe 5.0, and also 1x PCIe x4 slot from the Z690 chipset supporting PCIe 3.0 x4.
It has a ton of M.2 slots, 5 in fact. It has the primary M2_1 slot coming from the CPU supporting PCIe 4.0 x4. Then, it has 4 more M.2 slots coming from the Z690 chipset with three of them supporting PCIe 4.0 x4 and one supporting PCIe 3.0 x4 including Intel Optane Memory.
It uses the Realtek ALC4080 Codec with 7.1 channel support. It has two Intel I225-V 2.5Gbps LAN controllers onboard. It also has built-in Intel Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2. On the rear panel are seven USB 3.2 Gen 2 10Gbps Type-A ports and USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 20Gbps Type-C. Internal it has one USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 20Gbps Type-C, and four USB Gen 3.2 Gen1 ports internal.
MSI has built this motherboard on an 8-layer server-grade PCB with 2oz thickened copper. It is based on a direct 19+2 power phase delivery system with 105A Smart Power Stage. The two MOS heatsinks are connected via a heatpipe to enlarge the surface area of heat dissipation. It is covered with an aluminum cover and uses 7W/mK thermal pads. The M.2 slots support MSI’s double-sided M.2 shield FROZR design, which keeps your SSDs cool front and back. The entire motherboard even has a backside aluminum backplate with thermal pads on the underside of the MOSFETs. There is so much more to this motherboard, so stay tuned for our full dedicated review of it.
Intel Core i7-12700K Installation
Installing our Intel Core i7-12700K and DDR5 went smoothly, with no issues. 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 both CPUs in this review.
We are using the latest official non-Beta BIOS for this motherboard, which is 7D28v10. There is a Beta-BIOS available, but at this time we encountered issues with it not recognizing E-Cores randomly. However, the official non-Beta BIOS worked just fine so we stuck with it. We also installed the latest Intel Chipset drivers from the website which is version 10.1.18836.8283. In addition, we installed the optional drivers for this motherboard including Intel Management Engine Driver and Intel Serial IO Drivers.
CPUz and HWiNFO64 show all the right information, and we are running at DDR5-5200 in Gear 2 mode by default with XMP profile 1 enabled.