MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk WiFi – not too cheap, not too expensive

The new Alder Lake processors are undoubtedly interesting, but they also use a new socket, so they require new motherboards. The processors contain both a DDR4 and DDR5 RAM controller – but new memories are expensive and difficult to access.

Still, do you prefer to choose a newer solution in the form of DDR5? In this case, you will need a suitable motherboard – for example, one like our today’s guest.

MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk Wi-Fi – DDR5 version review

MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk Wi-Fi is a well-equipped, but not top-of-the-line motherboard with the LGA 1700 socket. The board is available in both the DDR5 and DDR4 versions (in this case, we will find the appropriate annotation on the box).

The board may not offer such additions as a backplate or other bells and whistles, but the manufacturer emphasizes many other improvements, such as an enlarged heat sink for the power section (16 + 1 + 1) or heat sinks for all M.2 sockets. After looking at its specification, you will admit that nothing significant is missing here.

MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk Wi-Fi – specification

ModelMSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk Wi-Fi
CPU socketLGA 1700
ChipsetIntel Z690
Multi-GPU technologiesyes (AMD CrossFire)
Possibility to use integrated graphicsyes (HDMI 2.1 and DP 1.4)
RAM slots4 x DDR5
Max RAM clock6400 (OC) MHz
Max. Amount of RAM128 GB
PCIe x16 slots1 x PCIe 5.0 x16 + 1 x PCIe 3.0 x4 + 1 x PCIe 3.0 x1
PCIe x4 slotslack
PCIe x1 slots1 x PCIe 3.0
SO-DIMM.2lack
Fan / WC sockets8 (1/1 + 6) – CPU / WC + system
SATA / SATA Express ports6 x SATA III 6 Gb / s
M.2 slots4 (3 x PCIe 4.0 x4 + 1 x 3.0 x4)
Wi-Fi / BluetoothIntel Wi-Fi 6E + BT 5.2
LAN1 (Intel I225V 2.5G)
USB 2.0 (rear panel)6 (2)
USB 3.2 Gen1 5Gb (rear panel)4 (2)
USB 3.2 Gen2 10Gb (rear panel)4 (3)
USB 3.2 Gen2x2 20Gb (rear panel)1 (1)
Power sockets1x 24-pin + 2x 8-pin
AudioRealtek ALC4080
Additional TechnologiesEZ LED, RGB LED, M.2 Shield Frozr, Frozr AI, Mystic Light, Audio Boost 5, 
FormatATX (24.4 cm x 30.5 cm)

Very nice equipment! We find here Wi-Fi 6E (with BT 5.2), USB 3.2 Gen 2, and even Gen 2×2 (20 Gb / s). You may be a bit scared that M.2 version 5.0 is not here, but on the other hand, before such media become popular … we will have time to replace the motherboard again.

MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk Wi-Fi – slots and ports

First of all – slots. The reinforced PCIe x16 slot closest to the CPU socket is 5.0 compliant. The other two x16 slots are already connected to the logic chip and offer x4 (3.0) and x1 (3.0) bandwidths. There is also one PCIe x1 slot that complies with the 3.0 standard.

Under the heat sinks marked with numbers (between the slots) there are as many as four M.2 sockets, three of which are PCIe 4.0 (x4) compliant.

In the case of SATA sockets, there are six standard (for ATX boards) – four of which are placed vertically and two horizontally.

In addition to the 24-pin power socket, there are also two additional 8-pin sockets that should provide the right amount of energy for both the processor and RAM.

On the rear panel we find:

  • Two integrated graphics outputs (DP 1.4 and HDMI 2.1)
  • Two USB 2.0 ports (black)
  • Two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports – 5 Gb (blue)
  • Three USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports – 10 Gb (red)
  • One USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 – 20 Gb port (type C)
  • RJ (LAN) 2.5G socket
  • Two Wi-Fi antenna outputs
  • S / PDIF (optical audio out)
  • Five mini-jack ports for operating audio devices

MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk Wi-Fi DDR4 – is it worth buying?

Due to the post-Christmas frustration associated with the number of cheesecakes consumed, it would be appropriate to stick to something … but there is not much to do. Sure, the price could be a bit lower and it is a pity that there is no M.2 socket compatible with PCIe 5.0, but the current designs require some combination in this matter. We know, however, that it is possible.

Like every benchmark, we love technical innovations, but investing in a platform with a new generation of RAM should be approached with caution. The situation is always the same, i.e. new types of RAM just after the premiere do not offer much more than the old generation. I assume that all the advantages of DDR5 will begin to appear about a year after its premiere. Therefore, if we were to buy a platform based on Intel Alder Lake processors, we would rather invest in a DDR4 motherboard.

However, if you decide to go with DDR5 (and you managed to buy only memory at an attractive price – which is not easy at all), then MSI’s proposal makes sense. If so, you can always choose the DDR4 version.

Pros

  • DDR5 6400 memory support,
  • One slot supporting PCIe 5.0,
  • 16 + 1 + 1 power section,
  • Wi-Fi 6E and BT 5.2 as standard,
  • Four M.2 sockets, three of which are compatible with the 4.0 standard,
  • Built-in M.2 carrier heatsinks,
  • HDMI 2.1 and DP 1.4,
  • 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 and 4 x USB 3.2 Gen 2.

Cons

  • No M.2 slot compatible with PCIe 5.0.

You can buy this product on Newegg for $ 300.

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