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These Alder Lake motherboards cost the same as some GPUs

ASRock has announced the prices for its Z690 Aqua motherboards, and they’re going to rival premium graphics cards in terms of cost.

The Z690 Aqua will be available for $1,299 on January 28, while the Z690 Aqua OC variant is slightly pricier at $1,399. The latter board will launch on February 4 via Newegg.

ASRock's OC model of the Z690 Alder Lake motherboard.

Availability for the OC edition of the powerful Z690 Aqua motherboard will be limited to 500 units, while the production run for the standard model will not be capped to a specific number.

With a price tag exceeding $1,000, the motherboards certainly offer some notable features. In addition to support for Intel’s 12th-gen Alder Lake processors, a CPU and VRM cooler named monoblock has been improved by optimizing the Z690 Aqua’s fin thickness, spacing, and water passage. ASRock has also implemented ultra-high heat conductive thermal grease in order to ensure maximum efficiency.

Additionally, the company integrated a water block for the CPU and the voltage regulator module (VRM) that is outfitted with a water leaking detector.

An enhanced cooling system will be capable of handling the most demanding Alder Lake CPUs, even those that have been fully overclocked by enthusiasts. As highlighted by Tom’s Hardware, when compared to the Z490 Aqua board, the Z690 Aqua sports an upgraded 20 phase power delivery design, joined by 105A smart power stages. Theoretically, both boards can therefore support 3,000W of power.

Intel’s flagship Core i9-12900K Alder Lake processor recently achieved a world-record benchmark, with the motherboard used for the test being none other than the Z690 Aqua OC. Granted, liquid nitrogen cooling was required, but it showcases how powerful and capable this particular board is.

As for the primary differences between the standard Z690 Aqua board and the OC version, the former offers four RAM slots with DDR5 support, while the overclocking speed can reach 6400MHz. Due to a reduction in DIMM slots from four to two, the OC variant, meanwhile, is capable of reaching 7,000MHz. The Z690 Aqua OC will also feature various physical buttons used for controlling overclocks for both the CPU and memory.

Connectivity-wise, the Z690 Aqua includes two front USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C ports, a pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports, PCI Express 5.0 with surface-mount technology, a 10GB Ethernet port, WiFi 6E, and an HDMI port. In regard to storage, the boards come with four SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors and three M.2 sockets.

Elsewhere, both motherboards will come with a useful OLED display component that showcases the status of the motherboard, such as the CPU voltage, CPU temperature, CPU/system fan speed, and system status. These content options can be configured through the BIOS.

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