Board Features

The MSI MEG Z690 Unify is a premium ATX motherboard that sits below both the Godlike and Ace series. Representative of its MEG enthusiast gaming series, the Z690 Unify has plenty of features and controller sets to keep both enthusiasts and performance users satisfied. One of the biggest features of Intel's 12th gen and Z690 is PCIe 5.0, and MSI includes two full-length PCIe 5.0 slots operating at x16 and x8/x8, with one half-length slot electronically locked down to PCIe 3.0 x4.

For storage, MSI includes a total of five M.2 slots, with three operating at PCIe 4.0 x4, one with PCIe 4.0 x4 and SATA support, as well as a fifth PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot. MSI has two sets of SATA, four of which support RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays, while another two are made available by the use of an ASMedia ASM1061 SATA controller. The MSI MEG Z690 Unify also has support for super-fast DDR5-6666 memory, with a combined capacity of up to 128 GB across four memory slots.

Focusing on cooling, the Z690 Unify has eight 4-pin headers, with one for a CPU fan, one for a water pump, and six for chassis fans.

MSI MEG Z690 Unify ATX Motherboard
Warranty Period 3 Years
Product Page Link
Price $490
Size ATX
CPU Interface LGA1700
Chipset Intel Z690
Memory Slots (DDR4) Four DDR5
Supporting 128 GB
Up to DDR5-6666
Video Outputs N/A
Network Connectivity 2 x Intel I225-V 2.5 GbE
Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E
Onboard Audio Realtek ALC4080
PCIe Slots for Graphics (from CPU) 2 x PCIe 5.0 (x16, x8/x8)
PCIe Slots for Other (from PCH) 1 x PCIe 3.0 x4
Onboard SATA Four, RAID 0/1/5/10 (Z690)
Two (ASMedia)
Onboard M.2 3 x PCIe 4.0 x4
1 x PCIe 4.0 x4/SATA
1 x PCIe 3.0 x4
Onboard U.2 N/A
Thunderbolt 4 (40 Gbps) N/A
USB 3.2 (20 Gbps) 1 x USB Type-C (Rear panel)
1 x USB Type-C (One header)
USB 3.2 (10 Gbps) 7 x USB Type-A (Rear panel)
1 x USB Type-C (One header)
USB 3.1 (5 Gbps) 4 x USB Type-A (Two headers)
USB 2.0 2 x USB Type-A (Rear panel)
4 x USB Type-A (Two headers)
Power Connectors 1 x 24-pin Motherboard
2 x 8-pin CPU
Fan Headers 1 x 4-pin CPU
1 x 4-pin Water pump
6 x 4-pin Chassis
IO Panel 2 x Antenna Ports (Intel)
1 x PS/2 Combo port
1 x USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C
7 x USB 3.2 G2 Type-A
2 x USB 2.0 Type-A
2 x RJ45 (Intel)
5 x 3.5 mm Audio jacks (Realtek)
1 x S/PDIF Optical output (Realtek)
1 x BIOS Flashback button
1 x Clear CMOS button

In terms of connectivity, MSI is offering pretty much everything expected in the sub $500 Z690 motherboard space. On the rear panel are one USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, seven USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, and two USB 2.0 ports, with support for up to four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A (two headers), four USB 2.0 (two headers), and an additional USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C ports through internal headers. Networking is premium with two Intel I225-V 2.5 GbE controllers, and an Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E CNVi. Audio is handled by a Realtek ALC4080 HD audio codec that powers five 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical output.

Test Bed

With some of the nuances with Intel's Rocket Lake processors, our policy is to see if the system gives an automatic option to increase the power limits of the processor. If it does, we select the liquid cooling option. If it does not, we do not change the defaults. Adaptive Boost Technology is disabled by default.

Test Setup
Processor Intel Core i9-12900K, 125 W, $589
8P + 8E Cores, 24 Threads,
3.2 GHz Base (5.2 GHz P-Core Turbo)
Motherboard MSI MEG Z690 Unify (BIOS 7D28v11)
Cooling ASUS ROG Ryujin II 360 360 mm AIO
Power Supply Corsair HX850 80Plus Platinum 850 W
Memory Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB
DDR5-4800 CL 38-40-40-78 2T (2 x 16 GB)
Video Card MSI GTX 1080 (1178/1279 Boost)
Hard Drive Crucial MX300 1TB
Case Corsair Crystal 680X
Operating System Windows 10 Pro 64-bit: Build 21H2

We must also thank the following:

Hardware Providers for CPU and Motherboard Reviews
Sapphire RX 460 Nitro MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X OC Crucial MX200 +
MX500 SSDs
Corsair AX860i +
AX1200i PSUs
G.Skill RipjawsV,
SniperX, FlareX
Crucial Ballistix
BIOS And Software System Performance
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  • mrvco - Tuesday, January 18, 2022 - link

    I embrace our post Peak RGB world.
  • meacupla - Tuesday, January 18, 2022 - link

    MSI VRMs running a bit warmer than the competition seems to be pretty normal.
    I just wish they would use heatsinks with more surface area.
  • erinadreno - Wednesday, January 19, 2022 - link

    agree. People have figured out they should use finned aluminum/copper as heatsinks on CPU. Why couldn't they apply this knowledge on to the VRM
  • olde94 - Wednesday, January 19, 2022 - link

    yeah it's almost as if larger surface area helps!
  • Oxford Guy - Friday, January 21, 2022 - link

    Tons of boards in the past had VRM sinks with lots of pure metal fins. Some even had copper heatpipes to connect to multiple heavy-duty highly-finned sinks.
  • HollyDOL - Wednesday, January 19, 2022 - link

    no RGB? Sold!
  • JamesWoods - Monday, January 24, 2022 - link

    You know you can just turn most RGBs off...right?
  • Mikehawkest - Sunday, March 27, 2022 - link

    Stfu and go watch Barney.
  • PeachNCream - Friday, January 21, 2022 - link

    No RGB is good, but its still far more sensible to buy a budget computing equipment which is already RGB-free and use modest hardware for much lower cost and then you can squirrel away the difference in cost to upgrade more frequently and leap ahead in performance without bothering with overclocking, high wattage PSUs, or loads of waste heat. Or just set your expectations a bit lower and find a way to kill time on lesser, more efficient hardware. For instance, I still do most of my gaming on a Celeron n3060 in a purple HP Stream 11 running Linux and kill off just as many hours being just as amused as someone that spent vastly more money and feeds orders of magnitude more power to their PC. - And I don't have RGB lighting AND I can easily take my computer somewhere else with me rather than being stuck in a fixed location with a stationary, wired-to-the-wall desktop.
  • Badelhas - Saturday, January 22, 2022 - link

    What kind of games do you play?

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