MSI MPG Z690 Edge WIFI DDR4 motherboard review: affordable happiness for enthusiasts?

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The MSI Z690 Edge WIFI DDR4 comes from the MPG line of motherboards, in the middle of the company’s product stack. While it may not have all the bells and whistles that some high end MEG cards have, the MPG line (and the Edge WIFI) are all well equipped and ready to take on anything Alder Lake processors have to offer. , including our i9-12900K test chip.

The Z690 Edge WIFI DDR4 ($299.99) is at the bottom of the MPG series, along with the Z690 Force WIFI and Z690 Carbon WIFI/Carbon EK X we reviewed above. The board features a capable power supply, loads of storage (including four M.2 sockets and six SATA ports), high-end audio and networking solutions, fast USB connectivity, and a busy but good-looking appearance, all for 299 $.99. There’s not much not to like here that isn’t subjective. If you want to use the latest and greatest RAM (and pay a lot more), there’s also a Z690 Edge WIFI DDR5 option for $329.99.

Performance tested on our Z690 Edge WIFI DDR4 was good everywhere, but especially in our Procyon/MS Office suite, where it recorded some of the highest values. The difference between DDR4 and DDR5 is evident in 7Zip compression tests and x264 benchmarks, but the card competes well against other DDR4 models we’ve tested.

Benchmarks during gameplay were also perfect. In short, you’d be hard-pressed to notice a difference between this card and the others we’ve tested.

Let’s take a closer look at the features and performance of the MSI MPG Z690 Edge WIFI DDR4 and see if this $300 motherboard has a chance of making it onto our best motherboards list. But before you do that, here are the full specs of the card, straight from MSI:

Specifications: MSI MPG Z690 Edge WIFI DDR4

Plug LGA1700
chipset Z690
Form factor ATX
Voltage Regulator 18 phases (16x MOSFET 75A for Vcore)
Video Ports (1)HDMI (v2.1)
(1) DisplayPort (v1.4)
USB Ports (1) USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C (20Gbps)
(5) USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps)
(2) USB 2.0 (480Mbps)
Network sockets (1) 2.5GbE
Audio jacks (5) Analog + SPDIF
Legacy ports/sockets
Other ports/socket
PCIe x16 (1) v5.0 (x16)
(2) v3.0 (x4)
PCIe x8
PCIe x4
PCIe x1 (1) v3.0 (x1)
CrossFire/SLI
DIMM slots (4) DDR4 5200+ (OC), 128GB capacity
M.2 slots (1) PCIe 4.0 x4 (64Gb/s), PCIe (up to 110mm)
(1) PCIe 4.0 x4 (64Gb/s), PCIe (up to 80mm)
(1) PCIe 4.0 x4 (64Gb/s), PCIe/SATA (up to 80mm)
(1) PCIe 4.0 x4 (64Gb/s), PCIe/SATA (up to 80mm)
Supports RAID 0/1/5/10
U.2 Ports
SATA Ports (6) SATA3 6Gb/s (supports RAID 0/1/10)
USB headers (1) USB v3.2 Gen 2, Type-C (10 Gbps)
(1) USB v3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
Fan/Pump headers (8) 4 pins (CPU, system, water pump)
(8) 4 pins (CPU, system, water pump) (3) aRGB Gen 2 (3 pin)
(1) AURA RGB (4 pin)
Diagnostic panel EZ Debug LEDs
Internal button/switch
SATA controllers ASMedia ASM1061
Ethernet Controller(s) Intel I225-V (2.5 Gbps)
Wi-Fi / Bluetooth Intel Wi-Fi 6 (2x2ax, MU-MIMO, 2.4/5/6GHz, 160MHz, BT 5.2)
USB controllers
HD audio codec Realtek ALC4080
DDL/DTS ✗ / ✗
guarantee 3 years

Inside the box of the MPG Z690 Edge WIFI DDR4, MSI includes a standard collection of accessories: SATA cables, a USB drive with drivers (a nice touch at this price), and more to help you get your device up and running. system. Here’s a full list of what’s in the box with the board:

  • 2 SATA cables
  • Wi-Fi antenna
  • Quick Setup Guide
  • EZ M.2 clamps
  • USB key (drivers)
  • 1 to 2 RGB LED Extension Cable
  • RainboRGB LED Extension Cable
  • cable stickers
  • MPG stickers
  • case badge
  • Screwdriver
  • cleaning brush

Z690 Edge WIFI Design

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MSI MPG Z690 Edge WiFi

(Image credit: MSI)
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MSI MPG Z690 Edge WiFi

(Image credit: MSI)
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MSI MPG Z690 Edge WiFi

(Image credit: MSI)

Looking closely at the board, we see a jet black PCB with heatsinks and shrouds that cover a good portion of the surface. All of these are a lighter black compared to the board. The dot matrix style makes the board look busy. There are large heatsinks with many cutouts and surface covering the VRMs. This is also where we find the first RGB element: the MSI Dragon is lit from below, illuminating the branding. The second RGB zone, located under the chipset heatsink, illuminates the lower part of the card. Overall, the MPG Z690 Edge WIFI DDR4 looks good, although the cluttered nature of the design may put some builders off.

(Image credit: MSI)

Starting with the top half of the board, we take a closer look at the large heatsinks connected to the heat pipe to cool the power delivery. Additionally, the MSI Dragon’s RGBs are saturated and colorful, without being too bright and overwhelming. The board gives off a glow that illuminates the inside of your case, but doesn’t make it the center of attention. Just above the heatsinks, we spot two 8-pin EPS power connectors (one required) to power the CPU.

Moving past the socket, we come across four unreinforced DRAM slots, which lock RAM on both ends. MSI lists support on this DDR4 card up to 5200+ MHz (with one DIMM per channel and one rank) and capacity up to 128 GB. As for memory speed, your mileage may vary because it depends on the memory kit and CPU BMI to achieve such speeds. We had no problems with our DDR4-3600 or DDR4-4000 kits during testing and there is even more headroom available.

Above the DRAM slots are 4-pin fan headers and RGB headers. At this location are the CPU_FAN1 and PUMP_FAN1 headers, plus six more on the board for a total of eight. All headers support both PWM and DC controlled fans. CPU_FAN1 defaults to automatic control and outputs up to 2A/24W. PUMP_FAN1 defaults to PWM mode and outputs up to 3A/36W, while SYS_FAN1-6 headers default to DC mode and output 1A/12W. There are plenty of headers and power to support your onboard cooling ecosystem. You can control the fans through the BIOS as well as MSI’s Center software.

Next to the CPU and PUMP fan headers are two RGB headers. There are two 3-pin ARGB headers here, while on the bottom edge of the board is a 4-pin RGB and a third 3-pin ARGB. If the RGB lighting on the board isn’t enough, use them to illuminate your chassis and MSI’s Mystic Light software to control the light show.

Looking at the right edge of the board we come across another 4-pin fan header, EZ Debug LEDs (problem area stays on if there is a problem during the POST process), ATX connector connector to power the board, one 15-pin USB 3.2 Gen1 (5 Gbps) port on the front panel, and one USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) Type-C port on the front panel.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

MSI lists VRMs as an 18-phase system, with 16 phases dedicated to Vcore. Power comes from the 8-pin EPS connector(s) and the 20-channel Renesas RAA229131 20-channel controller common to this platform. The power supply then switches to 16 Renesas 75A SPS MOSFETs. Some towel calculations reveal that there’s 1200A available for the CPU, which is enough to handle the top-end i9-12900K we’re using for stock testing and when overclocked using ambient cooling . In short, the power delivery won’t hold you back, your cooling will. This is the case on most Z690 cards.

(Image credit: MSI)

Starting at the bottom left, we see a fully exposed audio section with the Realtek ALC4080 codec. Among comparable (similarly priced) DDR4 cards, this Edge card and the Gigabyte Aero G are the only ones to use a current-gen solution. While that’s not a big deal as the ALC1220 codec sounds good too, it’s great to see it implemented on a card more focused on the budget side of things. In addition to the codec, we spy an audio splitter line to keep audio bits away from the rest of the board (EMI attenuation) and several dedicated Chemicon branded audio caps.

There are three full-length PCIe slots in the middle of the board, one x1-sized slot, and room for four M.2 modules under the heatsinks. Starting with the slots, the top slot (PCI_E1) draws its lanes from the processor and operates at up to PCIe 5.0 x16 speeds. PCI_E3/E4 draw their bandwidth from the chipset and operate at up to PCIe 3.0 x4 speeds. This configuration supports AMD Crossfire technology for the ever-popular multi-card setups.

Squeezed around the PCIe slots are four M.2 sockets. The top socket, M2_1, supports PCIe devices up to 110mm and operates at up to PCIe 4.0 x4 (64Gbps) speeds. The second slot, M2_2, supports up to 80mm PCIe devices at up to PCIe 4.0 x4 (64Gbps) speeds. The bottom two sockets, M2_3 and M2_4, support PCIe and SATA modules up to 80mm. In other words, there’s plenty of storage available, including SATA-based M.2, which some cards lack. It’s also worth pointing out here that MSI uses EZ Latch M.2 clips to secure the devices, rather than the traditional small screws. Although we don’t change them often, clips are still much easier to handle than screws that are easy to lose in the board or your mat.

Along the right edge we encounter the six SATA ports. Four are native to the card/chipset (SATA5-8) while the other two, SATA A/B, operate through the ASMedia ASM1061 controller. The specs and manual don’t mention lane sharing, so you should be able to run all SATA ports and M.2 sockets simultaneously. If RAID is your thing, SATA ports support RAID0/1/10 while NVMe sockets run RAID0/1/5/10.

Several headers are placed at the bottom, including USB and SATA ports, RGB, and more. Below is a full list of all headers at the bottom of the map:

  • Front panel audio
  • 3-pin ARGB header
  • 4 pin RGB header
  • Thunderbolt header
  • (3) 4-pin fan headers
  • (2) USB 2.0 headers
  • 4-pin system fan header
  • LED switch
  • TPM header
  • Front panel header

(Image credit: MSI)

Moving to the rear I/O area, the pre-installed I/O plate matches the theme of the board (black) with labels for each port in gray. An MPG symbol reminds you which family the Edge belongs to.

Working from left to right, we first encounter a BIOS Flashback button used to update the BIOS without a CPU. There are two USB 2.0 ports and an HDMI and DisplayPort video output on the right. Next, in red, are four stacks (plus one on the right) of USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps) ports. Below the single Type-A is a 20Gbps Type-C, while the 2.5GbE port is above. On the right are the Wi-Fi 6 antenna connections and a 5-socket analog audio stack, plus SPDIF.

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