MSI MEG Z690 ACE & MAG Z690 Tomahawk Motherboards Review – High-End & Mainstream Tier In Action!

The MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk WIFI is themed in all-black. This is a mainstream product that retails at over $300 US. The motherboard comes in the standard ATX form factor and is jam-packed with features.

The board uses the LGA 1700 socket to support Intel Core processors. The socket is compatible only with Intel’s 12th Generation core family. The socket has a protective cover on top of it that points out the exclusivity with Alder Lake 12th Gen CPUs & refrains users from running an older 11th and 10th generation CPUs as they won’t fit in the socket at all and forcing them in the socket is only going to cause permanent damage to your motherboard.

Next to the socket are four DDR5 DIMM slots that can support up to 128 GB dual-channel memory. These slots are rated to support XMP profiles up to 6400 MHz (OC Plus). Each slot is labeled, making it easier to install DIMMs in the proper orientation. DDR5 memory comes with a different latch position so forcing a DDR4 module into a DDR5 slot will cause permanent damage.

The MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk WIFI packs a 16+1+1 phase power delivery configuration that makes use of the Renesas 70A MOSFETs. The motherboard also makes use of a 6 layer PCB with a 2oz copper design.

As you can see, the VRMs are getting ample cooling from two aluminum-based heatsinks, one of which features an extended fin design. The Tomahawk series weren’t always designed to overclock but this one should be an exception.

The CPU is supplied power through an 8+8 pin power connector configuration. This will feed the CPU with up to 300 Watts of power. The Intel 12th Gen Unlocked CPUs are very power-hungry with the maximum turbo power rated at 241W for the Core i9-12900K and more if you are planning to overclock these chips.

Getting a closer look at the VRM heatsinks reveals an aluminum fin design underneath the baseplate for the topmost heatsink. Each heatsink has 7w/Mk thermal pads located underneath for efficient transfer of heat.

The MAG logos are laser-etched on both heatsinks and provide a nice aesthetic for the motherboard.

Expansion slots include three PCI Express x16 (one Gen 5 x16 / 2 Gen 3 x4/x1), and 4 M.2 slots. The M.2 slots are rated to support NVMe PCIe gen4 x4 (1 Gen 3 x4) and Intel Optane series memory.

MSI is using a metallic cover on the sides of the Lightning Gen5 expansion slots which provides protection to some extent. It adds more retention and shearing resistance by reinforcing the slots with metal plates. Aside from adding more protection, they do look really sweet.

The quadruple M.2 slots are cooled off by the thermal pad and aluminum baseplate cooling. This is part of MSI’s M.2 Shield Frozr cooling technology and ensures stable operation for M.2 storage devices. The thermal adhesive has a plastic cover over them which needs to be removed before using them with the storage devices.

The Z690 PCH is housed beneath a large heatsink with the Tomahawk logo on top of it. The design on the heatsink cover is just for aesthetic since it has several RGB LEDs running on MSI’s Mystic Light technology underneath it.

The PCH heat sink has RGB LEDs and provides a good light show for those that are interested in RGB trends. You can also turn off the LEDs entirely through MSI’s bundled software if you are not a fan of such LEDs.

Storage options include six SATA III ports rated to operate at 6 GB/s. These can support six different storage devices at once. There are also dual USB 3.2 (1x Gen 2 / 1x Gen 1) front panel connectors. Many fan headers and jumpers can be found beneath the storage ports.

MSI is using its Audio Boost 5 HD system for audio which is a combination of hardware, software audio solutions. 7.1 CH HD audio with the latest Realtek ALC4080 audio codec.

The full list of connectors on the motherboard is listed as follows.

  • 1x 24-pin ATX main power connector
  • 2x 8-pin ATX 12V power connectors
  • 6x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
  • 4x M.2 slots (M-Key)
  • 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 10Gbps Type-C port
  • 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 5Gbps connector (supports additional 2 USB 3.2 Gen 1 5Gbps ports)
  • 2x USB 2.0 Type-A connectors (supports additional 4 USB 2.0 ports)
  • 1x 4-pin CPU fan connector
  • 1x 4-pin water-pump fan connector
  • 6x 4-pin system fan connectors
  • 1x Front panel audio connector
  • 2x System panel connectors
  • 1x Chassis Intrusion connector
  • 1x TPM module connector
  • 1x Clear CMOS jumper
  • 1x TBT connector (supports RTD3)
  • 1x Tuning Controller connector

MSI is using Intel’s Wi-Fi 6E to power wireless connectivity such as 802.11ax WiFi (2.4G WiFi) and Bluetooth 5.2. In terms of Ethernet, there is a single Gigabit Ethernet LAN port which includes an I225V 2.5G Networking chip.

The I/O plate comes with an I/O cover with MSI’s iconic dragon logo imprinted over it. Following is the full list of I/O ports on the MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk WIFI motherboard:

  • DisplayPort 1.4
  • USB 2.0 Port
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2 10Gbps Type-A
  • 2.5G LAN Port
  • Wi-Fi / Bluetooth Antenna
  • HD Audio Connectors
  • HDMI 2.1 Port
  • Flash BIOS Button
  • USB 3.2 Gen 1 5Gbps Type-A
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2 10Gbps Type-A
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 20Gbps Type-C
  • Optical S/PDIF OUT