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Preview: ASUS ROG Strix Z690-E Gaming WiFi Motherboard

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Quick on the heels of Intel announcing their latest 12th Gen Alder Lake chips, ASUS has announced its new ROG Strix Z690-E Gaming WiFi Motherboard. Intel’s 12th Gen desktop processors usher in a new era of the company’s chips, lead by the flagship Core i9-12900K CPU, which Intel claims is the world’s best gaming processor.

Alder Lake will need a motherboard built on Intel’s newly announced Z690 chipset, which adds more modern conveniences such as Wi-Fi 6E support and faster USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 data transfer. Intel is using a new LGA 1700 socket here, so you may even need a new cooler or slightly updated standoffs from the manufacturer.

Intel is also heavily pushing Windows 11 as a key part of its Alder Lake lineup, noting that it’s worked with Microsoft to optimize its Intel Thread Director software to better manage tasks across threads when using the new OS.

ASUS sent us the new ASUS ROG Strix Z690-E Gaming WiFi Motherboard for a test drive and in this article, we will be previewing the motherboard. The ASUS Z690 platform, which covers ROG Maximus to the ROG Strix, TUF Gaming, ProArt, and Prime motherboards, are built to support the new 12th Gen Intel Core processors that feature up to 16 cores and 24 threads.

The ASUS Z690 motherboard series delivers standard-defining performance for Intel processors with power delivery and a wide range of cooling options. Featuring DDR5 memory modules and extensive support for PCIe 5.0 devices, the series supports the latest 12th Gen Intel Core processors. ASUS’ Z690 motherboards also include an exclusive new overclocking technology called ASUS Enhanced Memory Profile (AEMP), offering blistering-fast DDR5 performance in just a few clicks.

ASUS has also included something with Z690 motherboards, which will make your life easier when it comes to removing the graphics card from the motherboard. The company calls it the PCIe Slot Q-Release. This feature allows users to easily remove a graphics card installed in the primary PCIe 5.0 slot on a Z690-based motherboard.

According to the documentation provided by ASUS, it “unlocks the first PCIe slot’s security latch with one tap, greatly simplifying the process of detaching a PCIe card.” While you won’t be switching out graphics cards on a daily basis, it is still good to know that ASUS has put some thought into this, especially for reviewers like us, who are constantly swapping out graphics cards to run benchmarks.

In terms of processor support, this motherboard supports Intel Socket LGA1700 for 12th Gen Intel Core, Pentium Gold, and Celeron Processors. It also supports Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 and Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0. You also get four DIMM slots that can support a maximum of 128GB of DDR5 memory at 6400(OC), 6200(OC), 6000(OC), 5800(OC), 5600(OC), 5400(OC), 5200(OC), 5000(OC), and 4800 Non-ECC, un-buffered memory.

When it comes to ports, you get one DisplayPort 1.4 and one HDMI 2.1. You also get a total of 12 USB ports on the rear, which include one USB 3.2 Type-C Gen 2×2 port, two USB 3.2 Type-A Gen 2 ports, one USB 3.2 Type-C Gen 2 port, four USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, and four USB 2.0 Type-A ports. On the front, you get one USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C connector, one USB 3.2 Gen 1, and two USB 2.0 headers that support an additional four USB 2.0 ports.

ASUS Z690 motherboards are also equipped with up to two PCIe 5.0 slots ideal for video cards. Select models even feature an onboard PCIe 5.0 M.2 slot or a bundled ROG Hyper M.2 card. The ASUS ROG Strix Z690-E Gaming WiFi Motherboard, for instance, comes with a bundled ROG Hyper M.2 card.

You also get three M.2 slots onboard, which includes one M.2 2242-22110 (PCIe5.0 x4), one M.2 2242-22110 (PCIe4.0 x4), and one M.2 2242-2280 (PCIe 4.0 x4 and SATA). You also get two M.2 slots on the bundled ROG Hyper M.2 Card, which includes two M.2 2242-22110 (PCIe4.0 x4).

There’s also a specially illuminated acrylic display on the I/O cover that gives the illusion that the circuit board is visible beneath an RGB ROG logo. Each motherboard within the ASUS Z690 series features built-in Windows 11 support, with mounting holes that are compatible with CPU coolers designed for either LGA 1200 or the new LGA 1700 socket.

If you are one of those who would like to venture into endless customisation and aesthetics, the Z690 series brings all-new visuals such as the AniMe Matrix display that features mini programmable RGB LEDs to show off personal style with custom lighting designs, unique animations, and live audio visualizations, as well as striking designs that evoke sci-fi worlds from cyberpunk to aerospace exploration.

– Photography by Ranbir Sen

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AMD Announces Zen 4 Dragon Range and Phoenix APUs for 2023

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AMD has released an updated roadmap detailing the chipmaker’s Zen 4 plans. Dragon Range and Phoenix are mobile Zen 4 APUs that will replace AMD’s existing Ryzen 6000 (Rembrandt) product line. Dragon Range will power enthusiast gaming laptops, whereas Phoenix targets thin and light gaming devices. Surprisingly, AMD didn’t specify what process node or the type of graphics that Dragon Range and Phoenix could be using. For reference, Rembrandt is on TSMC’s 6nm manufacturing process and wields RDNA 2 graphics.

According to the AMD, Dragon Range will feature the “highest core, thread, and cache ever for a mobile gaming CPU.” Although AMD didn’t specify just how many Zen 4 cores, rumor has it that Dragon Range could potentially sport up to 16 cores, which would be insane for a gaming or workstation laptop.

Feature-wise, Dragon Range and Phoenix arrive with PCIe 5.0 support. The former, however, leverages DDR5 memory while the latter is on LPDDR5 memory. Ex-Anandtech editor Ian Cutress has confirmed with AMD that the Zen 4 chips’ “exact mem support may include other technologies to be announced later.” Furthermore, since the APUs compete in different segments, they adhere to specific thermal limits. Dragon Range, for example, features a TDP of 55W and higher, whereas Phoenix plays within the 35W to 45W range.

AMD has already given the hardware world a small teaser of Ryzen 7000 (Raphael), so we already know the processors will arrive before the end of the year to replace the Ryzen 5000 (Vermeer) stack. Like its other Zen 4 brethren, Raphael boasts support for PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 while debuting with a 65W+ TDP.

Raphael will hit the shelves in the second half of the year, and if AMD’s illustration is accurate, we may be looking at a late launch in September. In a nutshell, Raphael brings Zen 4 to the mainstream market, commanding TSMC’s 5nm process node and a new AM5 platform. Unfortunately, the AM5 platform may be costly for consumers as we’ve confirmed with multiple sources that Raphael only supports DDR5 memory, which currently carries a hefty premium.

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CORSAIR Launches VENGEANCE DDR5 SODIMM Memory

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CORSAIR today announced a new addition to its lineup of cutting-edge DDR5 memory: VENGEANCE DDR5 SODIMM. Optimized for the latest DDR5 gaming and performance laptops and small-form-factor PCs, these modules deliver groundbreaking DDR5 performance to compatible systems. Launching initially in speeds up to 4,800MHz and capacities up to 64GB (2x32GB), VENGEANCE DDR5 SODIMM pushes the boundaries of laptop and small-form-factor memory performance.

Modern DDR5 gaming laptops such as the Alienware x17 R2, MSI Raider GE66 12UHS, and Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 need high-caliber memory to fully realize their performance potential. DDR5 ensures that today’s high-end CPUs receive data as quickly as possible, elevating system speeds and processing power to greater heights. VENGEANCE DDR5 SODIMM modules harness the faster frequencies and greater capacities of DDR5 to improve load times and multitasking in a wide range of popular laptops* and small-form-factor PCs, so you can bring DDR5 performance wherever you go.

Installing and setting up VENGEANCE DDR5 SODIMM is quick and easy – just a screwdriver is required to install in most laptops. For high-speed kits, the modules’ performance advantages are immediate, as they automatically set to maximum speed on compatible systems without needing to tinker with BIOS settings.

Continuing the CORSAIR tradition of superior DRAM quality and reliability, VENGEANCE DDR5 SODIMM modules are built with only hand-sorted, tightly-screened memory chips to ensure consistent high-frequency performance, along with high-performance PCBs for excellent signal quality and stability. A limited lifetime warranty grants you peace of mind that your new memory will last throughout your laptop’s lifespan and beyond.

If you’re looking to improve the performance and memory capacity of your new laptop or SFF PC, look no further than VENGEANCE DDR5 SODIMM. CORSAIR VENGEANCE DDR5 SODIMM Memory is available immediately from the CORSAIR webstore and the CORSAIR worldwide network of authorized retailers and distributors. For up-to-date availability information, please refer to the CORSAIR website or contact your local CORSAIR sales or PR representative.

CORSAIR VENGEANCE DDR5 SODIMM Memory is backed by a limited lifetime warranty, alongside the CORSAIR worldwide customer service and technical support network.

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Review: ASUS TUF Gaming Motherboard B660-Plus WiFi D4

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The new ASUS TUF Gaming B660-Plus WiFi D4 motherboard is a capable mid-range option that takes all the essential elements of the latest 12th Gen Intel processors and provides you with an ATX motherboard that is game-ready. It is aimed at those planning to upgrade their PCs with new Alder Lake CPUs while maintaining DDR4 memory at a good price.

The motherboard also comes with a 10 + 1 phase VRM and an Intel Socket LGA1700 for 12th Gen Intel Core, Pentium Gold, and Celeron processors. It also comes with three M.2 PCIe 4.0 slots that support high-end SSDs, and one PCIe 5.0 slot.

Inside the packaging, you get the Asus TUF Gaming B660-Plus WiFi D4 motherboard, two SATA 6Gb/s cables, one ASUS Wi-Fi moving antenna, two M.2 rubber packages, one M.2 SSD screw package, one support DVD, one TUF Certification card, and one user guide. Since ASUS knows this motherboard will be used for gaming setups, it covers everything when it comes to the cooling capability of the motherboard.

There’s an enlarged VRM heatsink included that covers the VRMs and chokes to improve heat dissipation. You also get an enlarged PCH heatsink, that maximises performance and heat dissipation.

In addition, the three M.2 slots also come with dedicated heatsinks, which keep M.2 SSDs at optimal operating temperatures to ensure consistent performance and reliability. TUF GAMING B660 motherboards also feature comprehensive fan controls that can be configured via the Fan Xpert 4 utility or the ASUS UEFI BIOS.

The B660-Plus WiFi D4 motherboard supports WiFi 6 wireless networking standard, which is compatible with the 802.11ax standard and pushes theoretical peak bandwidth up to 2.4 Gbps. There’s also a 2.5 Gb Ethernet onboard that gives your wired connection a boost with speeds that are up to 2.5x faster than standard Ethernet connections.

There are four DIMM slots onboard, each of which supports a maximum capacity of 128GB of DDR4 memory. In terms of display ports, you get one DisplayPort 1.4 that supports 4K@60Hz, and an HDMI 2.1 port that supports 4K@60Hz. There are also four SATA 6Gb/s ports on the motherboard.

In terms of USB ports, there are a total of six ports on the rear. This includes one USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 2×2 port, one USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 2 port, three USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, and one USB Type-A 2.0 port. On the front, you get a total of seven ports which include one USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 2 port, one USB 3.2 Gen 1 header that supports an additional of two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, and two USB 2.0 headers that support an additional four USB 2.0 ports.

For audio, you get the Realtek 7.1 Surround Sound High Definition Audio CODEC, which supports up to 24-Bit/192 kHz playback. The motherboard also comes with all sorts of ASUS TUF Protection features including ESD Guards, TUF LANGuard, Safeslot, and so on. The motherboard also supports AURA Sync which lets you jazz your build-up a bit.

In order to check the overall performance of the motherboard, we tested it against a few games such as The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, GTA V. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and Watch Dogs: Legion. We experienced consistent performance across the board. The ASUS TUF Gaming Motherboard B660-Plus WiFi D4 is a very capable mid-ranger if you are looking to upgrade your PC setup on a strict budget.

With the ASUS TUF Gaming Motherboard B660-Plus WiFi D4, you will have a high-quality base for a gaming PC of almost any complexity. However, you may have to do without the possibility of overclocking the CPU and allowing you to install not more than one video card on the setup. For a price of AED 899.99, the ASUS TUF Gaming Motherboard B660-Plus WiFi D4 motherboard is truly worth the investment.

Price: AED 899.99

ASUS TUF Gaming Motherboard B660-Plus WiFi D4 AED 899.99
  • Final Rating
4

Summary

In order to check the overall performance of the motherboard, we tested it against a few games such as The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, GTA V. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and Watch Dogs: Legion. We experienced consistent performance across the board. The ASUS TUF Gaming Motherboard B660-Plus WiFi D4 is a very capable mid-ranger if you are looking to upgrade your PC setup on a strict budget.

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