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Review of MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI and MSI MPG Z690-A DDR4 with Intel 12th Generation Processors

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Intel’s 12th-generation Desktop Processors have been eagerly anticipated, especially with manufacturers refining the 14nm+++ technology over several years. Alongside these processors, MSI has introduced two noteworthy motherboards – the MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI and MSI MPG Z690-A DDR4. These motherboards promise to complement the capabilities of the latest Intel processors, providing users with diverse options for their computing needs. Let’s delve into the details of these components and see how they fare in real-world performance.

Intel 12th Generation Processors: Power and Efficiency

Intel 12th-generation processors are larger in size, and they utilize both performance and power-saving cores, along with a new LGA 1700 processor socket. Intel 12th-generation processors come with PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 RAM support, but motherboards with Intel Z690 chipset supporting DDR4 are also available.

Even DDR5 memory is not freely available for purchase at the moment, but we managed to obtain it for testing, so we could properly run some of the new Z690 motherboards with Intel Core i9-12900K and DDR5 memory. At the time of writing, from Intel’s 12th generation, Core i9-12900K, Core i7-12700K, and Core i5-12600K processors are available.

The Core i5-12600K and Core i7-12700K models are relatively cool and consume a reasonable amount of power (around 250W), which is similar to Intel’s 10th and 11th generations. Unfortunately, the Core i9-12900K runs extremely hot and will require a powerful cooling system and a well-ventilated computer case.

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The biggest issues with the Core i9-12900K are seen during rendering and in specific performance tests where the processor is pushed to its limits. In day-to-day use, the temperatures of the Core i9-12900K are not too crazy with a 360mm AIO cooler.

Also Read: Review Of the MSI Cyborg 15 A12V (Core I7 12th Gen, RTX 4060) Laptop

MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIF: An Overview

MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI is only a visible part of the Z690 motherboards built by MSI. In total, MSI currently offers 16 different Z690 motherboards:

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MEG Z690 ACE

MEG Z690 UNIFY

MEG Z690 UNIFY-X

MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI

MPG Z690 CARBON EK X

MPG Z690 FORCE WIFI

MPG Z690 EDGE WIFI DDR4

MPG Z690 EDGE WIFI

MAG Z690 TOMAHAWK WIFI

MAG Z690 TOMAHAWK WIFI DDR4

MAG Z690 TORPEDO

PRO Z690-A WIFI

PRO Z690-A WIFI DDR4

PRO Z690-A

PRO Z690-A DDR4

PRO Z690-P DDR4The motherboard has space for four RAM modules and five M.2 NVMe SSDs. The M.2 slots are covered by removable heatsinks, which also have thermal paste on the underside to better dissipate heat from the memory module chips to the heatsink. The motherboard has four DIMM slots where we can install DDR5 RAM up to a total capacity of 128 GB, and the motherboard even supports DDR5 6666 (OC).

The motherboard’s I/O panel is quite impressive:

USB 2.0

DisplayPort

2.5G LAN

Wi-Fi/Bluetooth

Audio Connectors

Flash BIOS Button

HDMI

USB 3.2 Gen 2 10Gbps Type-A

USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 20Gbps Type-C

Optical S/PDIF Out

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The package includes a Wi-Fi antenna with a magnetic base that securely attaches to the computer case. There aren’t any particularly noteworthy accessories included this time. Yes, there’s a USB flash drive, screwdriver, and brush, but they’re not unique items.

It’s nice that NVMe SSDs don’t need to be fastened with small screws; instead, plastic clips are used that securely hold the memory in place. Other manufacturers also employ this innovation.

Overall, it gives the impression that the MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI is a well-built motherboard that sits slightly above the average price range. All the connectors and headers are in their proper places, MSI hasn’t invented anything unique, but the materials used are excellent, and you’ll also find some subtle RGB LED illumination.

Software

Here we come to the warning section – officially, during the review of the MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI, version 1.00 of the BIOS is available. Judging by the provided documentation, tests with this motherboard have already been conducted in the factory, but it had version 1.07 of the BIOS installed at that time. The MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI arrived to us with BIOS version 1.13.

I cannot claim that there is any kind of foul play going on here, but this approach is not entirely flawless. We ran performance tests using the 1.13 BIOS version provided to us. I’ll say right away that the MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI showed quite good results in the tests, but our Intel Core i9-12900K processor, paired with the ASUS ROG RYUJIN II 360 cooler, occasionally revved up too much and started to reduce performance. With the previously reviewed ASUS motherboard, this same processor, with the same cooler and without overclocking, never overheated. It raises suspicions that MSI may have made some adjustments with the 1.13 BIOS version, which could be considered overclocking.

In addition to the BIOS, we can also control the system’s cooling – both system fans and additional liquid cooling. This kind of BIOS will be informative for both beginners and professional overclockers.

In the Windows environment, it is definitely worth taking a look at the MSI Center program, which offers various useful functions – software and BIOS updates, RGB LED lighting control, fan/cooler control, lighting synchronization with games, as well as other useful features.

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Also Read: MSI Raider GE67 HX Gaming Laptop Review, Specs and Features

Performance Tests of MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI

Unfortunately, it must be said that from the old system to the new Z690 system, we were able to transfer the power supply unit, graphics card, and NVMe memory for testing the motherboards. I’m rather concerned about the Deepcool E-SHIELD computer case, which was already compacted and not very comfortable for previous generation processors and graphics cards. Now, there’s a feeling that the Deepcool E-SHIELD could be the bottleneck that could affect temperatures and, consequently, the overall system performance.

Performance tests are conducted without overclocking (the cooling system simply can’t handle it), but with Resizable BAR enabled.

Testing is carried out with the following setup:

Motherboard: MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI

Processor: Intel Core i9-12900K

Processor Cooler: ASUS ROG RYUJIN II 360 with corresponding LGA 1700 mounting

Graphics Card: KFA2 GeForce RTX 3070 EX Gamer

RAM: G.SKIL Ripjaws S5 DDR5-5200 MHz CL40-40-40-76 1.10 V, 32 GB (2x 16 GB)

Storage: Patriot Viper VPN100 1 TB NVMe

Power Supply Unit: Xilence, 1050 W, Performance X, 80+ Gold

Computer Case: Deepcool E-SHIELD

Mouse: Viper V550

Monitor: LG 27UK850-W

Operating System: Windows 11 64-bit

Nvidia GeForce Game Ready Driver WHQL 496.49 (released on 26.10.2021)

I should note that Arctic MX-2 (2019) thermal paste was used together with the ASUS ROG RYUJIN II 360 cooler. In the previously reviewed ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero and Intel Core i9-12900K combo, the processor temperature did not exceed 90 degrees in any performance test, but with the MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI, the temperatures quickly reached 99.5 degrees, and the processor began to throttle itself.

Immediately, it must be said that the new Intel 12th-generation processors did not perform very well with several previously used performance testing programs. AIDA64 was only able to conduct measurements after the latest update was installed. Even with a motherboard from a different manufacturer, the Intel Core i9-12900K behaved strangely in some tests. The wPrime and HEVC Decode Benchmark tests showed errors right away. SuperPi hung during the load.

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In AMD Ryzen Threadripper motherboard tests, we have also incorporated AIDA64 memory performance tests, and it is expected that we will continue to use them in the future to better compare the real performance of various motherboards specifically in memory operations. Compared to Z590 motherboard tests, the processor’s performance in AIDA64 tests has nearly doubled. When comparing the MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI with other Z690 motherboards, the differences are negligible. The MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI motherboard (tested after the ASUS motherboard) was slightly faster, but not significantly.

In the Cinebench R20 test, the MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI with the Core i9-12900K scored 10,032 points. Previously, with 10th and 11th generation i9 processors, scores ranged from 5737 to 5744 points, while the Intel Core i7-11700K scored 5216 points. The ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero was faster in this test (10,347 points), as the processor did not overheat.

The popular 7-zip archiver also includes a performance test, which helps better understand the specific computer’s archiving and de-archiving capabilities. The MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI scored 126,161, but the ROG Maximus Z690 Hero with the Core i9-12900K showed significantly higher results at 152,904 points.

Previously, the high-end Intel ROG Maximus XIII Extreme with the Core i9-11900K received 74,035 MIPS, which is far from an ideal result.

Geekbench assesses the single-core and multi-core capabilities of the processor by performing various tasks. The MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI scored 2006 Single-Core points and 18,338 Multi-Core test points, but in the OpenCL test, it achieved a modest 142,087 point result.

The ROG Maximus Z690 Hero earned 1965 Single-Core points and 18,226 Multi-Core test points, but in the OpenCL test, it achieved a low 130,137 point result.

In the previous review, the ROG Maximus XIII Extreme showed 1741 Single-Core points and 9371 Multi-Core test points, but in the OpenCL test, it achieved a significantly higher 195,698 point result.

With PassMark PerformanceTest, we can obtain an overall performance assessment of the system. The MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI received 8353 points, which is rather low.

The ROG Maximus Z690 Hero reached 8456 points, which is on par with last year’s i9 processor. However, it should be noted that other computer components have also changed.

In the BMW test, the Ryzen Threadripper system rendered in 1:09 minutes, while the Intel Core i9-9900K handled this task in just 2:48 minutes, similar results were also seen with 10th and 11th generation i9 processors.

The MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI achieved a result of 1:37, while the ROG Maximus Z690 Hero achieved an impressive result of 1:32, which is approaching Threadripper capabilities.

In the Classroom tests, the Ryzen Threadripper system was ready in 3 minutes, but on the Intel Core i9-9900K system, it took a whole 8:40 minutes, and with 10th and 11th generation i9 processors, it rendered in the range of 7:25 to 7:30 minutes.

Today’s hero, the MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI, achieved a time of 4:21, while the ROG Maximus Z690 Hero motherboard and the 12th generation i9 processor completed this task in 4:11, which is a notable improvement.

Also Read: MSI Stealth 15M – Slim Gaming Laptop Review

MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI Review Conclusion

MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI is one of those motherboards that currently uses the nearly unavailable DDR5 memory, which can be quite a significant downside when you actually start adding it to your shopping cart. MSI does offer several motherboards that support DDR4, but the high-end options are reserved exclusively for DDR5. Out of the 16 different MSI Z690 motherboards, only five have DDR4 support.

Another major issue could be related to the BIOS version used – the average user has to make do with version 1.00, the MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI was tested at the factory with version 1.07, but we had BIOS version 1.13. Unfortunately, the BIOS version 1.00 was quite old (from September 23), so I didn’t attempt to install it on the MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI to avoid breaking anything significant. It’s quite strange that the MSI MPG Z690 CARBON WIFI was tested at the factory with Windows 10, which doesn’t fully support Intel 12th-generation processors.

I dare say that the Intel Core i9-12900K is a bit too wild for everyday use. I also measured the overall power consumption of the system. At idle, the system consumed about 200 W, which is already quite hefty. In the Cinebench test, which only loads the processor, the system showed around 325 W consumption, but in 3D Mark tests, which also activate the graphics card, the system consumed up to 390 W. I assume that with overclocking, power consumption could reach close to 500 W, but I don’t have the appropriate cooling system and computer case for that.

It must be said that the Intel 12th-generation processors still seem green and unfinished. I had expected that some performance tests might stumble, but three of the performance tests we used did stumble. The blame here could be placed on the Intel 12th-generation processor’s P and E cores, and their inability to cooperate smoothly with Windows 11 and, consequently, with older programs.

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