MSI MEG Z690 ACE Overview
Taking a first look at the MEG Z690 ACE you’ll notice it is slightly larger than your normal motherboard, that is because it is an E-ATX board. As far as looks go you have a mainly black design with gold accents that really pop. Overall I would say the board has an elegant look.
Starting with the CPU socket we have Intel’s new LGA 1700 socket, which you will find on all Z690 motherboards. Most major CPU cooler brands have offered free LGA 1700 upgrade kits so if you were upgrading from LGA 1151 or even LGA 1200 you may not need to buy a new CPU cooler. You will notice a small hole in the center of the CPU socket, this can be used for one of the included thermistor cables.
Surrounding the CPU socket we have our power delivery components. MSI is making use of a 22 phase (19+1+2) power design with 19 phases for the CPU that use 105A Renesas RAA 22010540 MOSFETS and MSI’s Titanium Choke III. This gives you 1995A total for the CPU so you will have no problem running a Core i9-12900K on this board.
Covering the power delivery components are two large heatsinks which are connected by a heatpipe. There is also a cover with the MSI dragon logo on it over the rear I/O which really brings the top half of the board together.
At the top of the board you’ll find dual 8-pin EPS connectors, CPU fan header, pump fan header, and a post code display. Below that if of course your DDR5 DIMM slots. This board supports up to 128GB of 6666 MHz DDR5 memory.
Coming down the edge of the board we have a rainbow RGB header, Corsair RGB header, 4-pin fan header, 24-pin ATX power connection, two USB 3.2 gen 2×2 headers, two USB 3.2 gen 1 headers, and six SATA 6GB/s ports. Both the USB 3.2 gen 1 headers and SATA ports are at a 90 degree angle so they won’t be blocked by your graphics cards.
Along the bottom of the board you’ll find the rest of your headers and connections. From left to right you have your audio header, 4-pin standard RGB header, two thermistor headers, water flow header, five 4-pin fan headers, LED switch, BIOS switch, two USB 2.0 headers, TPM header, reset and power buttons, front panel headers, and a rainbow RGB header.
The bottom half of the board is mostly made up of heatsinks, which I like. They are all back with some slight gold accents. There are three main heatsinks which when removed reveal a total of five M.2 slots. The top slot is a 110 mm slot and supports PCI-Express 4.0 x 4 M.2 drives. The next two slots are 80 mm slots and the first one supports PCI-Express 4.0 x 4 while the second one supports PCI-Express 3.0 x4. The last two drives supports either PCI-Express 4.0 x 4 or SATA M.2 drives. All of these slots have the plastic latches on them so you won’t have to deal with M.2 screws. They also have thermal tape on both the bottom and top of the heatsinks.
As far as expansion slots go you have three x16 slots all of which feature MSI’s PCIe Steel Armor. The first two are PCI-Express 5.0 slots and get their bandwidth directly from the CPU. The top slot will run at x16 speeds when a single card is connected, but if you connect a second card both slots will run at x8 speed. The last slot is connected to the PCH and runs at a maximum speed of PCI-Express 4.0 x4. Keep in mind that this slot does share bandwidth with the 4th M.2 slot, so if you have it populated this slot will only run at x4 speeds and the M.2 slot drops to x2.
Moving along to the rear I/O we have an integrated I/O shield which is all but standard these days. From left to right you have clear CMOS and BIOS flashback buttons, dual 2.5G LAN ports, eight USB 3.2 gen 2 (10 gbps). Seven of these ports are Type-A, while there is a single Type-C port. Then you have two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, two mini DisplayPort in ports, WiFi antennas, and your audio connections.
Flipping the board over we see that MSI has installed a metal backplate which not only helps with cooling, but stability of the board too.