MSI MEG Z690 ACE Motherboard Review

MSI's MEG Z690 ACE motherboard holds nothing back in terms of both features or connectivity. Join us as we check it out.

@TylerBernath
Published Mon, May 23 2022 9:43 AM CDT
Rating: 94%Manufacturer: MSI (Z690ACE)

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

With the MEG Godlike, a limited-edition motherboard that requires a personal invite from MSI, the Z690 Ace has become the "hot and ready" platform for consumers wanting a top-end motherboard from MSI. The MEG Z690 Ace doesn't disappoint with its hardware or aesthetics. Like last year's Z590 platform, this year's Ace continues with the black and gold theme devoid of any onboard RGB, perfect for consumers who like minimalist builds.

On the hardware side, we have all the typical specs for this year's Alder Lake CPUs; Z690 chipset and LGA1700 socket. Memory is set up across four slots, with a max capacity of 128GB. Speeds on the Ace are supported from 4800MHz DDR5 through 6600MHz with XMP.

We have three full-length PCIe slots: the top two splitting 16 lanes and the third pulling from the chipset. We also have five m.2 slots alongside six SATA ports making this one hell of a storage platform. Further, we move into networking with dual 2.5Gbe ports, both using the Intel i225 chipset and WiFi6e, using the AX211 chipset.

Rear panel expansion is stacked with eight USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, quickly followed by dual Thunderbolt 4 and 7.1 channel audio powered by the latest Realtek LC4082 paired with an ESS 9018 DAC.

Pricing

The MSI Z690 Ace carries an MSRP of $549.99 with a three-year warranty.

Buy at Amazon

MSI MEG Z690 ACE Motherboard

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$549.99$549.99$549.99
* Prices last scanned on 6/28/2022 at 6:11 pm CDT - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Packaging, Accessories, and Overview

Packaging and Accessories

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VIEW GALLERY - 35 IMAGES

MSI has given the Ace a gold and black colorway reflected on the packaging. We also have notes of the chipset and CPU support and its support for Thunderbolt.

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On the back, specifications are available along the bottom next to the rear I/O diagram.

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The Ace includes a host of cables for SATA and Wi-Fi and DP cables for Thunderbolt passthrough.

MSI Z690 Ace Overview

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The Ace, as mentioned in the opening words, carries over the black and gold design from last year's Z590. A large part of the motherboard is covered by black thermal armor, including the VRM and chipset.

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On the back of the board, we have a full thermal armor covering 90% of the motherboard.

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Rear I/O starts with both LAN connections at the top mixed in with USB 3.2 ports. Towards the middle, we find the Thunderbolt 4 ports, followed by Wi-Fi and audio.

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The board layout starts at the bottom with five fan connections, front panel audio, and LED and BIOS switches to the right.

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Further down, we run into power and reset buttons and the front panel chassis connections.

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Up the side of the board, we run into the SATA ports, followed by two USB 3.2 Gen 1 internal headers and Gen2x2 far right.

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The 24-pin connection runs next to a second Gen2x2 header, while the right side has the debug LED and additional fan connections.

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Across the top, we find two eight-pin power right above the memory slots.

UEFI, Software and Test System

UEFI

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BIOS is Click BIOS 5. To the left, we have an EZ mode menu for quick changes of CPU, Memory, and storage configurations, while down below, you can get to LED, VMD, and TPM settings.

Switching over to advanced mode, you get to the standard menus for PCIe, NVMe, and CPU settings. OC also has its own section, complete with clock and voltage control. Further, MSI includes a hardware monitor that allows you to tune your fans and the curve they run.

Motherboard Software

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MSI Center slows hardware monitoring for the motherboard.

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Consumers can also add modules to the Center to further enhance their experience.

Motherboard Testing Supporters

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Sabrent supports our storage testing with the Rocket 4 Plus.

TweakTown Intel Motherboard Test System

Cinebench R23 and AIDA64

Cinebench and AIDA64

Cinebench R23

Cinebench is a long-standing render benchmark that has been heavily relied upon by both Intel and AMD to highlight their newest platforms during unveils. The benchmark has two tests, a single-core workload that will utilize one thread or 1T. There is also a multi-threaded test that uses all threads or nT of a tested CPU.

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Starting our testing, the Ace got off to a great start pulling in 2022 in 1t.

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nT showed 27366.

AIDA64 Memory

AIDA was recently updated to version 6.6, which improved performance in both AES and SHA3 workloads for Alder Lake CPUs. You will notice this performance jump in the charts below compared to any earlier Z690 reviews.

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In AES, Ace was on par with the average, bringing in 207712.

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SHA3 tapped in at 6038.

MSI MEG Z690 ACE Motherboard Review 44 | TweakTown.com

Memory throughput was perfect, 81K read followed by 77K write and 79k copy.

PCMark10, 3DMark and CrossMark Benchmarks

UL Procyon Suite

The UL Procyon Office Productivity Benchmark uses Microsoft Office apps to measure PC performance for office productivity work.

The Photo Editing benchmark uses Adobe® Lightroom® to import, process and modify a selection of images. In the second part of the test, multiple edits and layer effects are applied to a photograph in Adobe® Photoshop®.

The Video editing benchmark uses Adobe® Premiere® Pro to export video project files to common formats. Each video project includes various edits, adjustments and effects. The benchmark score is based on the time taken to export the videos.

MSI MEG Z690 ACE Motherboard Review 45 | TweakTown.com

New to our testing is UL Procyon, and this offers us the ability for more real-world testing in motherboard reviews. As seen above, the Ace was the highest performing board to date, outperforming the Taichi that had just taken top honors.

CrossMark

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Crossmark turned a score of 2374; this is about 40 points higher than average.

3DMark

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The Ace ended up in the middle of the pack in CPU Profile. The score came in at 10540 for 16-threads.

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Timespy showed the Ace on par with all other platforms. The score came in at 922 using the UHD graphics.

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Firestrike, like Timespy, shows performance on par with other Z690 motherboards.

Storage Benchmarks and Final Thoughts

3DMark Storage Benchmarks

UL's newest 3DMark SSD Gaming Test is the most comprehensive SSD gaming test ever devised. We consider it to be superior to testing against games themselves because, as a trace, it is much more consistent than variations that will occur between runs on the actual game itself. This test is, in fact, the same as running the actual game, just without the inconsistencies inherent to application testing.

In short, we believe that this is the world's best way to test an SSDs gaming prowess and accurately compare it against competing SSDs. The 3DMark SSD Gaming Test measures and scores the following:

  • Loading Battlefield V from launch to the main menu.
  • Loading Call of Duty Black Ops 4 from launch to the main menu.
  • Loading Overwatch from launch to the main menu.
  • Recording a 1080p gameplay video at 60 FPS with OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) while playing Overwatch.
  • Installing The Outer Worlds from the Epic Games Launcher.
  • Saving game progress in The Outer Worlds.
  • Copying the Steam folder for Counter-Strike Global Offensive from an external SSD to the system drive.
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With several motherboards now tested under the new storage benchmark, we are starting to get a good idea of where our Rocket Plus should run. The Ace was middle of the pack, scoring 508 MB/s.

Final Thoughts

The ACE has been one of the better platforms from MSI over the last several generations. As a matter of fact, in the previous two generations, MSI has used this platform as their media launch motherboard, and as our testing has shown, this board is more than worthy as a flagship solution.

Hardware alone, this platform is stacked on connectivity with eight USB 3.2 ports on the rear I/O with the capability of expanding that with another four Gen 1 via headers and two Gen2x2. Dual LAN is offered as well but beefed up with both ports using the i225 2.5Gbe chipset from Intel, and no corners were cut on Wi-Fi either, with WiFi6e in tow. Moreover, expansion is enhanced with dual Thunderbolt 4 ports as well.

MSI MEG Z690 ACE Motherboard Review 51 | TweakTown.com

In testing, the ACE was at the upper end of our charts in nearly every scenario, most notably solid numbers in R23, Crossmark, and Procyon, where it took the top spot. Thermals for the board can be seen in the image above, a quick snapshot taken during Procyon testing. As you can see, we have a hotspot around the CPU socket that reaches upwards of 51c, and the VRM heat sinks hover around 40c.

In closing, the MEG Z690 ACE is a solid platform, one of my personal favorites on Z690. It encompasses what a high-end bang for your buck board should be, cutting no corners with full connectivity, both internal and external, without breaking the bank.

Buy at Amazon

Performance

95%

Quality

90%

Features

95%

Value

95%

Overall

94%

The Bottom Line

Consumers wanting to build on a flagship platform that lacks nothing and cuts no corners will surely want to take a look at the MEG Z690 ACE.

TweakTown award
94%

MSI MEG Z690 ACE Motherboard

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$549.99$549.99$549.99
* Prices last scanned on 6/28/2022 at 6:11 pm CDT - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Tyler joined the TweakTown team in 2013 and has since reviewed 100s of new techy items. Growing up in a small farm town, tech wasn't around, unless it was in a tractor. At an early age, Tyler's parents brought home their first PC. Tyler was hooked and learned what it meant to format a HDD, spending many nights reinstalling Windows 95. Tyler's love and enthusiast nature always kept his PC nearby. Eager to get deeper into tech, he started reviewing.

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