The two motherboards from MSI that I tested today show us how their mainstream and high-end lineup stacks to one another. The Tomahawk costs $309 US while the ACE costs more than twice that. So you should also expect the ACE to be a much more feature-rich offering. It is true that the ACE is a much better-looking board with lots of features but don’t think that Tomahawk is any less. It offers a lot within a $309 US price tag and to be very honest, the RGB-less design approach that MSI is approaching is an eye-pleaser.
MSI MEG Z690 ACE Motherboard
Starting with the MSI MEG Z690 ACE, you are getting literally the best of the best. A powerful VRM for overclocking, top-notch DDR5 memory support, dual PCIe Gen 5.0 slots, and also quadruple the M.2 slots, all of which have their own dual-sided thermal-padded heatsinks. The Z690 ACE has all that you want and so much more in terms of storage expandability. You still get the standard six SATA III ports but with a board like this, you would want to invest in those high-end Gen 4 drives. The second PCIe Gen 5.0 slot can be used with something like a Gen 5 AIC which will let you install a next-gen M.2 drive without any hassle, in fact, MSI has a Gen 5 AIC solution on the horizon.
Getting rid of the RGB wouldn’t be something that everyone wants but the board itself rocks in terms of looks, with its brushed black heatsinks and 24K gold plated film, the motherboard is an icon by itself. There are still those ARGB headers for users who want to go that route but if I was building a PC with this motherboard, I would definitely go the non-RGB route. As for thermals, the VRM heatsinks did a good job in keeping temps under control at stock and while they did get warm at overclocked loads, they are still under the maximum threshold.
The strongest suite of the ACE is its abundance of IO, with several 3.2 Gen 2×2 headers internally and externally and dual 2.5G LAN ports, this motherboard just tops them all out. What I would have loved to see on the ACE was a 10 GbE LAN or at least one 5GbE LAN port but I guess that may have been kept for the more premium GODLIKE offering. The Z690 ACE from MSI is designed for users who prefer elegant looks in a package that offers an abundance of IO, features, and a solid design that will let you unleash the true power of your 12th Gen Intel Desktop CPUs, the $699 US pricing is really high but in the case of the ACE, it is fully justified.
MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk WiFi Motherboard
Now let’s head over to the MAG Z690 Tomahawk, and my oh my, MSI, you are just teasing us now! This has to be without a doubt one of the best Tomahawk designs to date, rocking that all-black & stealthy look which we usually see on the higher-end Unify series. All the essential features are on this motherboard and at its mainstream $309 US pricing, it is one of the stronger offerings in the MSI Z690 lineup. We can see why most builders will be buying this motherboard as it offers an 18 phase power delivery and a powerful design that matches some of the high-end Z690 designs.
The motherboard is complimented with a nice set of IO with internal and external USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 ports and a 2.5GbE LAN port along with WiFi6E connectivity. The VRMs did get warmer than the ACE but as expected, the motherboard delivered fantastic performance out of the box at stock and overclocked specs. Now in a perfect world, I would want some of the changes on the Tomahawk to be right-angled SATA/USB ports and a slightly better cooling design. Storage is once again a strong part of this motherboard with quadruple M.2 slots, all with their own set of heatsinks. Tomahawk should definitely be on your list of motherboards in the $300 US range considering its fantastic IO, storage, and design.
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