BIOSTAR Racing Z690 GTA Motherboard Advertisement Banner

Introduction

The motherboard we are looking at today is the BIOSTAR Racing Z690 GTA (Z690GTA Ver. 5.0) Socket 1700 motherboard. It is a DDR4, LGA 1700 motherboard based on Intel’s Z690 chipset. Given the transitional nature of the chipset, you can get some motherboards with either DDR4 or DDR5 support. However, none of the boards we’ve seen that have variants supporting either memory technology do so at the same time, meaning you have to buy the version you want and you are stuck with it.

Additionally, all of the DDR4 motherboards can best be classified as mid-range offerings at best. All of the higher-end motherboards are DDR5 based and the majority of those are considerably more expensive. Even DDR4 motherboards are expensive with the BIOSTAR Z690 GTA Racing coming in at $319.99 at the time of this writing.

BIOSTAR Racing Z690 GTA

The packaging for the Biostar Racing Z690 GTA is relatively basic. It has this sort of TRON aesthetic to it which extends to the motherboard itself. Inside the box, there isn’t a whole lot bundled with the Z690. You get a user manual some SATA cables, M.2 screws, and a driver CD-ROM you’ll just throwback in the box and ignore. The motherboard itself sits in a foam protector and is zip-tied in place. This is similar to what ASRock does with its boards, but is generally not done by most manufacturers.

BIOSTAR Racing Z690 GTA Features

The motherboard features support for all current Core i9/i7/i5 and i3 series processors that use the LGA 1700 socket type. The motherboard also features PCIe 5.0 support, DDR4 memory support, dual-channel memory mode operation, 8x SATA ports, 3x M.2 sockets, 2.5GbE networking, WiFi antenna connections, Optane technology, USB 3.2 Gen 2, HDMI 2.0, etc.

The BIOSTAR Racing Z690 GTA is built on a 6-layer “Moisture Proof” PCB. BIOSTAR isn’t the first to use a PCB with moisture-resistant properties. This feature isn’t something I would have thought all that important, but evidently, it can be a problem in more humid areas across the world.

The BIOSTAR Racing Z690 GTA features all-metal heat sinks like any other motherboard. However, BIOSTAR does mention its air diffuser which is used to direct air from the active heat sink fans to the heat sinks cooling the VRMs. Biostar’s Armor gear feature protects the I/O interfaces while continuing the Tron-style racing aesthetic that Biostar is going for on this board.

Unfortunately, BIOSTAR hasn’t said much about the configuration of the Z690 GTA’s VRMs and voltage hardware. I had to track down a press release to find out how many phases we were talking about here, and even that wasn’t helpful. BIOSTAR claims the motherboard has 17 power phases. Exactly how these are configured is a bit of a mystery. What we do know is that it does use digital PWM controls and features Dr. MOS MOSFETS. That combines the high side and low side MOSFETs into the same package with the driver IC. These are very efficient MOSFETS.

The selection of these MOSFETs is cited by BIOSTAR on its product page as being done to improve efficiency and performance. Dr. MOS makes a good MOSFET, so that’s something. As to what the power stages are rated, I have no idea. You can find out a lot about the Z690 Valkyrie, but finding out anything on the Z690 GTA is another matter. What I have learned is that it isn’t likely the 70a power stages as those are found on a higher-end motherboard utilizing the same basic design. It’s likely these are 60a power stages which should be more than sufficient.

The PCB also has a Thunderbolt header, TPM header, 2x 5v RGB LED headers, 1x 12v RGB LED header, 6x 4-pin fan headers, and a dedicated water-pump header. Additionally, you have 8x SATA ports, 2x USB 2.0 headers supporting 2 ports each, 1x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type C header, and 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 header supporting two USB 3.2 Gen1 ports.

The motherboard supports what BIOSTAR calls “AI FAN”. It is an automatic detection and fan control tool for optimizing your cooling. It allows the system to increase fan speeds in response to system temperature.

Motherboard PCB Layout

The layout of the PCB is good with no major issues or problems. About the worst offense is the location of the CMOS battery. However, while it’s not conveniently located it is visible with all of the M.2 heat sinks in place. That’s nice as you know what you are getting into if you’ve only ever seen a picture of it before deciding on this specific motherboard.

As you can see above, there is active cooling for the MOSFETs. While fans like these can be annoying, I never really heard them in my testing. I’m not massively sensitive to noise as long as it’s consistent. If the changes are very rapid in one direction or another, I get annoyed quickly and the active cooling never did that. Most of the time, I forgot it was even a feature of the board. The motherboard also has both an eight-pin and a four-pin CPU power connector. These are BIOSTAR’s “Tough Power Connectors” which have thicker voltage pins to handle higher loads for longer periods of time.

As you can also see in the images, the VRM heat sinks are fairly stout. However, they aren’t especially tall. That is to say, they don’t have the same clearance issues that some recent ASUS motherboards have with some cooling solutions. Unfortunately, the usual clearance issues are present with taller DIMMs and some air coolers. This is due to the distance between the CPU socket and the DIMM slots. This problem isn’t unique to BIOSTAR or even Intel-based systems as it’s more of a technical limitation of having a memory controller integrated into the CPU.

Expansion

When it comes to expansion slots, the BIOSTAR Racing Z690 GTA is well thought out and offers a solid amount of expansion capability. There are two PCI-Express x16 slots. The primary x16 slot is a Gen 5.0 compliant slot with 16 PCI-Express lanes while the second is a Gen 4.0 PCIe x4 slot in the x16 form factor. There are also 2x PCIe 3.0 x1 slots.

BIOSTAR utilizes its “Iron Slot Protection” for both PCI-Express x16 form factor slots. This is steel reinforcement to prevent bending of the PCB and reduce stress on the slots from the use of heavier graphics cards. Modern GPUs can weigh a lot and seem to get heavier nearly every generation making this a more prudent feature than it has been in the past.

You will also find 3x M.2 slots on the BIOSTAR Racing Z690 GTA and one additional M.2 slot which is reserved for Wifi 6E cards. This one also has two leads for the wireless antenna ports located on the I/O shield. For NVMe devices, Two of the slots support devices up to 80mm in length while one supports 110mm devices. One of the slots also supports SATA-based M.2 devices.

Interestingly, I do not see PCIe Gen 5.0 support on any of the M.2 slots. For whatever reason, BIOSTAR decided to forgo that possibility. Today, that’s not a huge deal as I have yet to see any PCIe 5.0 NVMe devices for sale. However, if you want to try and future-proof your rig as much as possible, this is potentially a downside. That being said, that requires lanes from the CPU in order to implement. So I can see why Biostar didn’t go that route. However, options are never a bad thing.

Additionally, you do get eight SATA III 6Gb/s ports with the BIOSTAR Racing Z690 GTA. However, only four of them support RAID 0, 1, 5, &10, and Intel’s Rapid storage technology. The other ports are connected to an ASMedia 1064 controller. It has been a very long time since we’ve seen a third-party controller integrated into a motherboard, so it was surprising.

Audio Hardware

For audio, the BIOSTAR Racing Z690 GTA utilizes a Realtek ALC1220 HD audio CODEC. This is a budget CODEC for this generation, though it was once the higher end of the Realtek options. It’s since been supplanted by the Realtek ALC4082 on higher-end motherboards. That being said, implementation with a CODEC is more important than the CODEC itself. You can have the best custom audio CODEC available, but if the implementation isn’t sound it won’t really matter.

As one would expect on a modern motherboard, BIOSTAR uses a ground isolation circuit design, which isolates the power for the audio from the rest of the motherboard electrical system to reduce crosstalk. BIOSTAR refers to this as its “Hi-Fi” Audio. Additionally, the Z690 GTA has “Hi-Fi Ground” which is a noise-blocking multilayer PCB design to isolate analog signals from digital sources. The layout is designed to be optimal to reduce noise. Additionally, the motherboard features a “Hi-Fi Cap”, or dedicated low noise, low distortion audio capacitors.

There is also BIOSTAR’s “Hi-Fi AMP”, which is a built-in amplifier for driving headphones from the front panel audio. BIOSTAR claims it can drive 100dB+ loads with low distortion.

I/O Panel

BIOSTAR Racing Z690 GTA Motherboard I/O Panel

The I/O panel is packed with connectivity options. On the back panel you’ll find 2x WIFI Antenna Ports, 1x PS/2 Keyboard/ Mouse Port, 1x HDMI Port (HDMI2.0), 1x DP Port, 1x DVI-D Port, 1x USB 3.2 (Gen2) Type-C Port, 5x USB 3.2 (Gen2) Ports, 2x USB 2.0 ports, 1x RJ-45 LAN port and 3x gold plated mini-stereo audio jacks.

I’m not a fan of legacy ports such as the DVI-D-only connector on the back. The primary reason this is here is likely for emerging markets overseas where BIOSTAR has a much bigger footprint. In North America, this is something usually only seen on bargain-basement motherboard models. Granted, the BIOSTAR Racing Z690 GTA straddles the budget and mid-range segments so this connector isn’t entirely surprising even if it is almost totally pointless in 2022.

Like a lot of motherboards these days, the I/O shield on the BIOSTAR Racing Z690 GTA is built into the motherboard. BIOSTAR’s Armor Gear as the company calls it is a plastic shield that protects the I/O panel and offers some RGB lighting.

Go to thread

Don’t Miss Out on More FPS Review Content!

Our weekly newsletter includes a recap of our reviews and a run down of the most popular tech news that we published.

14 comments

  1. Well, I tell you......
    I just finished building a Z690 PC for my daughter.
    I used the ASUS Tuf DDR4 model.
    For 289 it is very much like this Biostar. A very nice feature set for a pretty ressonable price.
    The high range boards are really expensive this time around.
    Maybe Im getting old,but 300 used to be outrageous......now its considered "cheap".
  2. Well, I tell you......
    I just finished building a Z690 PC for my daughter.
    I used the ASUS Tuf DDR4 model.
    For 289 it is very much like this Biostar. A very nice feature set for a pretty ressonable price.
    The high range boards are really expensive this time around.
    Maybe Im getting old,but 300 used to be outrageous......now its considered "cheap".
    It is. I'm running an ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme which is one of the more expensive options out there excluding the Glacial model and the Z690 GODLIKE which cost twice as much. The ceiling for a motherboard without a monoblock is around $1,100 and $2,000 for ones that do.
  3. It is. I'm running an ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme which is one of the more expensive options out there excluding the Glacial model and the Z690 GODLIKE which cost twice as much. The ceiling for a motherboard without a monoblock is around $1,100 and $2,000 for ones that do.

    There are too many gullible fools in the market these days.

    They take a mid range motherboard. Add maybe $100 worth of added premium features to it, and maybe $50 worth in racy paint jobs, heatsinks that look like weapons and colorful lighting, and then charge $800 more for it. $650 in easy money right from the lowest common denominator.

    The rest of us who see the obvious are then stuck trying to decide if we really need those premium features enough to be willing to pay more than 6 times the price they are worth for them...

    Intelligent, technically inclined people used to build PC's. Now it's fickle streamer/youtuber fashion whore types make up most of the market, and that's reflecting the types of products we are getting. No substance, all show and at a serious premium.
  4. There are too many gullible fools in the market these days.

    They take a mid range motherboard. Add maybe $100 worth of added premium features to it, and maybe $50 worth in racy paint jobs, heatsinks that look like weapons and colorful lighting, and then charge $800 more for it. $650 in easy money right from the lowest common denominator.

    The rest of us who see the obvious are then stuck trying to decide if we really need those premium features enough to be willing to pay more than 6 times the price they are worth for them...
    I'd say that there's just a lot more to it. Not to say that there isn't an 'early adopter tax' going on here, but that we're not really violating supply vs. demand.

    One can get an LGA1700 board for US$90.

    I'll take my prior board, the US$399 Gigabyte Z690 Aero D, which has enough power delivery for a 12900K in a custom loop (400W easily, if the CPU could handle it), four NVMe slots, two Thunderbolt 4 ports, 2.5Gbit Intel LAN and 10Gbit Marvell LAN, and of course Intel AX Wifi.

    In my mind, that board was absolutely worth its featureset, when considering the 10Gbit LAN and Thunderbolt 4 options would add around US$100 each and you wouldn't be able to use both of them on any board without sacrificing PCIe lanes to the GPU - and probably also NVMe slots.

    But here's the real kicker: Z690 is hard

    And by hard, I mean that good implementations are really worth a bit more. You see, I don't have that Gigabyte board today because it a) wasn't stable at any DDR5 speed from 6000 on up and b) it really, really liked killing G.Skill memory sticks. In researching the issues that I ran into, I found that I wasn't the only one having problems with Gigabyte and Z690 - and that the problems likely centered on how RGB had been implemented. Thing is, other folks were having issues with Gigabyte's DDR4 boards too - very similar to what @Dan_D noted in his review with Biostar.

    Now, these could be rectified at any time by a software update, BIOS update, DDR5 revision, or some combination of the above - but what I can say for certain is that the MSI MEG Z690 ACE, a 50% increase in price and a reduction in features (no 10Gbit) from the Gigabyte Z690 Aero D, hasn't had this issue. It still can't run DDR5-6000+ stable, but it also hasn't killed any DDR5 modules either.



    Parting thoughts:

    Gigabyte's had a rough go at Z690. They're not the only ones - every manufacturer has struggled, especially with DDR5 boards. This is round one, and I don't really hold it against Gigabyte - I have several of their boards on hand for personal builds. One Z390 ITX board that has served well over the years, and I just picked up - meaning after my struggles with their Z690 board - one of their B550 ITX boards as well. It's currently hosting a 5700G and running spectacularly.

    Also, mentioning Newegg here. They took my Gigabyte board back after the return period had ended. I realize that they're still smarting from having their return process thrown in the spotlight by Gamers' Nexus, but I feel it's important to highlight good behavior on the part of vendors.
  5. I'd say that there's just a lot more to it. Not to say that there isn't an 'early adopter tax' going on here, but that we're not really violating supply vs. demand.

    One can get an LGA1700 board for US$90.

    I'll take my prior board, the US$399 Gigabyte Z690 Aero D, which has enough power delivery for a 12900K in a custom loop (400W easily, if the CPU could handle it), four NVMe slots, two Thunderbolt 4 ports, 2.5Gbit Intel LAN and 10Gbit Marvell LAN, and of course Intel AX Wifi.

    In my mind, that board was absolutely worth its featureset, when considering the 10Gbit LAN and Thunderbolt 4 options would add around US$100 each and you wouldn't be able to use both of them on any board without sacrificing PCIe lanes to the GPU - and probably also NVMe slots.

    But here's the real kicker: Z690 is hard

    And by hard, I mean that good implementations are really worth a bit more. You see, I don't have that Gigabyte board today because it a) wasn't stable at any DDR5 speed from 6000 on up and b) it really, really liked killing G.Skill memory sticks. In researching the issues that I ran into, I found that I wasn't the only one having problems with Gigabyte and Z690 - and that the problems likely centered on how RGB had been implemented. Thing is, other folks were having issues with Gigabyte's DDR4 boards too - very similar to what @Dan_D noted in his review with Biostar.

    Now, these could be rectified at any time by a software update, BIOS update, DDR5 revision, or some combination of the above - but what I can say for certain is that the MSI MEG Z690 ACE, a 50% increase in price and a reduction in features (no 10Gbit) from the Gigabyte Z690 Aero D, hasn't had this issue. It still can't run DDR5-6000+ stable, but it also hasn't killed any DDR5 modules either.



    Parting thoughts:

    Gigabyte's had a rough go at Z690. They're not the only ones - every manufacturer has struggled, especially with DDR5 boards. This is round one, and I don't really hold it against Gigabyte - I have several of their boards on hand for personal builds. One Z390 ITX board that has served well over the years, and I just picked up - meaning after my struggles with their Z690 board - one of their B550 ITX boards as well. It's currently hosting a 5700G and running spectacularly.

    Also, mentioning Newegg here. They took my Gigabyte board back after the return period had ended. I realize that they're still smarting from having their return process thrown in the spotlight by Gamers' Nexus, but I feel it's important to highlight good behavior on the part of vendors.

    Gigabyte huh?

    I wonder if there is more going on here than we realize. Gigabyte sure seems to be having a lot of issues lately. My TRX40 Aourus Master was a hot mess as well. Killed 3x Threadrippers on me before I found links to forum posts online about incorrect voltages in some Gigabyte boards that presumably was the issue.

    First time I RMA'd the board they returned it to me with "no fault found". Only after the second time I RMA'd it did they replace it with a new revision board, and now it's just sitting here gathering dust, as I bought an Asus board in the meantime as I was tired of waiting to have a functional desktop.

    In other words, tiny sample size, but between your board that was killing ram sticks, mine that was killing threadrippers, their "explosive" power supplies... I'm wondering if something is going awry over at Gigabyte.
  6. In other words, tiny sample size, but between your board that was killing ram sticks, mine that was killing threadrippers, their "explosive" power supplies... I'm wondering if something is going awry over at Gigabyte.
    I really wouldn't go to far with it. When I said every manufacturer has had issues with DDR5, that's very real - ASUS' premier memory overclocking line, the Apex, has had unending complaints with some users unable to push memory at all while others are pushing to the limits of watercooling setups - running 1.6v+ on memory that starts at 1.1v. One of the more famous overclockers on YouTube runs Gigabyte boards for the most part and hasn't mentioned this yet.

    The failure mode I was seeing was pretty weird, too. One - and only one - stick would die. But it wouldn't take the system with it. In fact, I was hard pressed to even notice, which is why it took me so long to zero in on it. Basically, one stick would report everything about itself correctly, except for showing '0MB' as opposed to the expected 16384MB.

    And... that's it. Thing is, with DDR5, the only really 'viable' configuration on the market since release has been 2x16GB. Well, with 1x16GB DDR5, you have plenty enough RAM for a lot of things - and even in single-channel mode, you still have enough bandwidth to not even notice that you only have one module working. I gamed and edited photos on the system while a stick was in this failure mode.

    I figure that DDR5, like your TRX40 system, is one of those niches where there are so many moving parts and just enough margin for guesswork due to lower volume and lower testing resources that hiccups like these are bound to happen. We're enthusiasts, this is part of the hobby, right?

    So I try to focus more on how companies handle these things than how they occasionally slip up.
  7. There are too many gullible fools in the market these days.

    They take a mid range motherboard. Add maybe $100 worth of added premium features to it, and maybe $50 worth in racy paint jobs, heatsinks that look like weapons and colorful lighting, and then charge $800 more for it. $650 in easy money right from the lowest common denominator.

    The rest of us who see the obvious are then stuck trying to decide if we really need those premium features enough to be willing to pay more than 6 times the price they are worth for them...

    Intelligent, technically inclined people used to build PC's. Now it's fickle streamer/youtuber fashion whore types make up most of the market, and that's reflecting the types of products we are getting. No substance, all show and at a serious premium.
    There is a lot more to the cost of a board like the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme than you'd think. No, I don't think it costs $1,100 to make. I know ASUS has to make a profit and I'm sure there is a healthy margin in it. However, it's not nearly as large as you might imagine. Computer hardware rarely has a lot of profit margin in it unless its super high end.

    There are a lot of little details that differentiate the ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme from something like the BIOSTAR Racing Z690 GTA. First off, 90A power stages aren't cheap. Then you have things like the more expensive voltage controllers, diagnostic features, additional thermal sensors and monitoring stuff. Even the ability to flash a BIOS without an installed CPU and RAM takes specialized ASICs.

    Is all that stuff worth it? Not for most people. But it's fair to say that people falsely assume that you are only paying extra for some bling and that's simply not true.

    Also, while you can get an LGA 1700 motherboard for $90, it's not necessarily a good idea.
    I really wouldn't go to far with it. When I said every manufacturer has had issues with DDR5, that's very real - ASUS' premier memory overclocking line, the Apex, has had unending complaints with some users unable to push memory at all while others are pushing to the limits of watercooling setups - running 1.6v+ on memory that starts at 1.1v. One of the more famous overclockers on YouTube runs Gigabyte boards for the most part and hasn't mentioned this yet.

    The failure mode I was seeing was pretty weird, too. One - and only one - stick would die. But it wouldn't take the system with it. In fact, I was hard pressed to even notice, which is why it took me so long to zero in on it. Basically, one stick would report everything about itself correctly, except for showing '0MB' as opposed to the expected 16384MB.

    And... that's it. Thing is, with DDR5, the only really 'viable' configuration on the market since release has been 2x16GB. Well, with 1x16GB DDR5, you have plenty enough RAM for a lot of things - and even in single-channel mode, you still have enough bandwidth to not even notice that you only have one module working. I gamed and edited photos on the system while a stick was in this failure mode.

    I figure that DDR5, like your TRX40 system, is one of those niches where there are so many moving parts and just enough margin for guesswork due to lower volume and lower testing resources that hiccups like these are bound to happen. We're enthusiasts, this is part of the hobby, right?

    So I try to focus more on how companies handle these things than how they occasionally slip up.
    We shall see on the APEX. It's next.
  8. I wonder if there is more going on here than we realize. Gigabyte sure seems to be having a lot of issues lately
    I agree with your statement here. Was running a Z690 Aorus master with Aorus DDR5 6000mhz and all of a sudden I got memory errors that I couldn't quite narrow down to either the memory or mother board because of the error codes being given. I ended up sending both back inside of the return window and went with an MSI DDR4 board this time around. Maybe in some cases/manufacturers DDR5 isn't quite ready.
  9. Every motherboard brand has its issues from time to time. That being said, GIGABYTE is a popular brand and one of the largest out there. It's possible they do have a widespread issue, or it could simply be that we are hearing more about their boards due to that popularity. GIGABYTE has been a go to brand for enthusiasts for several years now.

    Keep in mind that it has eclipsed ASUS at some times. It may be more popular now. That being said, I don't have any clear indication of what might be going on here, if there is anything specific going on at all.

    DDR5 is a new memory technology and first generation products using it are always a bit of a mess. Normally, my experiences with high end ASUS boards is superb. I've had occasional BSOD's with my current setup and that's improved over time as Windows 11 and UEFI updates have been applied. It may simply be a matter of product maturity.

    As a side note, the board in this review had some issues with various memory kits of DDR4 as noted in the review. So we have a new chipset, a new CPU, new memory technology and Windows 11 to content with all at once in some cases.
  10. That being said, GIGABYTE is a popular brand and one of the largest out there
    I've been using them for over twenty years and this is the first real issue I've had with them honestly. This just gave me an excuse to try something different.
  11. I agree with your statement here. Was running a Z690 Aorus master with Aorus DDR5 6000mhz and all of a sudden I got memory errors that I couldn't quite narrow down to either the memory or mother board because of the error codes being given. I ended up sending both back inside of the return window and went with an MSI DDR4 board this time around. Maybe in some cases/manufacturers DDR5 isn't quite ready.
    Just realized you listed RAM from Gigabyte as well - there was a point where I'd wished I'd gotten ahold of a Gigabyte kit DDR5 to try.

    Instead, I had an Adata DDR5 6000 kit I started off with, and it wasn't happy, but I readily admit that I simply didn't have the knowledge at the time to dig in deeper. I'm now months of research and testing into understanding DDR5, but even just memory overclocking in general, on both Intel and AMD.

    I've been using them for over twenty years and this is the first real issue I've had with them honestly. This just gave me an excuse to try something different.
    I've used... ASUS, Gigabyte, and now MSI for Z690. I'll say that Gigabyte's UEFI was the least well-developed, but a lot of that was trying to figure out what they'd named things and how that mapped to... how others named things, not just ASUS / MSI in their respective BIOSs but also tools like HWINFO64.

    Learned a lot digging into some of that stuff, and wish I could've applied it to the Gigabyte Z690 Aero D. Wonder if I shouldn't pick up a 'Z790' Gigabyte board when those come out to see how they're doing, as I expect there's going to be plenty of 'lessons learned' coming out of this experience!
  12. Just realized you listed RAM from Gigabyte as well - there was a point where I'd wished I'd gotten ahold of a Gigabyte kit DDR5 to try.
    It was well built and the heaviest memory I have ever owned due to their heat spreaders. I never had Aorus memory, and I am 85% sure that was the culprit. Looking back I should have kept the board and got different memory, but didn't want to take the risk of missing my return window for both just in case it was the board.

Leave a comment

Please log in to your forum account to comment