Biostar Z690 Valkyrie (DDR5)

Despite not having a large stack at the moment, Biostar has launched three Z690 models for Intel's Alder Lake desktop platform. The most premium of these and subsequently the only one of the three that has support for DDR5 memory is the Z690 Valkyrie. The Biostar Z690 Valkyrie has a sort of 'anime' look to it, with a primarily black theme and colorful elements with RGB enabled backlighting in the rear panel cover and chipset heatsink. The Z690 Valkyrie combines a decent controller set, along with all the typical Z690 and 12th gen features such as PCIe 5.0, and of course support for the latest DDR5 memory.

The Biostar Z690 Valkyrie has plenty of PCIe slot expansion slot real estate, including two full-length PCIe 5.0 slots that can operate at x16 and x8/x8, with a third full-length PCIe 4.0 x4 slot. Storage options include a total of four PCIe M.2 slots, including three PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, one PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot, and eight SATA ports. Biostar also includes four memory slots which can be found in the top right-hand corner, with support for DDR5-6000 and a maximum capacity of up to 128 GB.

On the rear panel is a high-speed USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C port and a total of seven USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, with plenty of options for integrated graphics. For those users, Biostar includes two DisplayPort 1.4 and two HDMI 2.0 video outputs which shows lots of potential integrated GPU support. On the networking front, there's one Realtek RTL8125B 2.5 GbE port, and although it has the connectors for a Wi-Fi 6E CNVi, Biostar isn't clear on whether the Z690 Valkyrie actually includes the CNVi; the rear panel says yes, but the specifications say no Wi-Fi 6E card is included. Finishing off the rear panel are five 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical output powered by a Realtek ALC1220 HD audio codec, as well as a PS/2 combo port.

ASUS Prime Z690-P WIFI (DDR5) & Prime Z690-P (DDR5) Colorful iGame Z690 Ultra D5
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  • Flying Aardvark - Wednesday, November 10, 2021 - link

    "essentially any board with "Thunderbolt 3" along with USB 3.2 2x2 basically get "USB4" status for free."

    TB3 can run USB 4.0 devices, while USB 3.2 2x2 should be able to, it would be capped at its 20Gbit/sec and run over the backwards compatibility protocol for USB. USB4 ports can be either 20 or 40Gb.

    I wouldn't want just USB 4.0 ports as Apple has, capped at 20Gbps. We'll probably see some of that on the AMD side. The best thing is just to have TB3 or TB4 to be sure you have fullspeed 40Gbps ports.
    Reply
  • KarlKastor - Wednesday, November 10, 2021 - link

    Just optional. If you have Thunderbolt and 10 Gbit USB, you can call it USB 4. See Apple. Reply
  • OFelix - Tuesday, November 9, 2021 - link

    I agree. How come there are so few boards with USB4 or TB4 ?
    And how come the article doesn't mention them at all before it starts listing specific features of individual boards?
    Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Tuesday, November 9, 2021 - link

    The only way to get USB4 on a PC was by using Intel's Thunderbolt 4 chipset (or having it built into Tiger Lake). Since Thunderbolt is kind of a niche thing on desktop PCs, motherboard makers aren't interested int spending the money on Intel's TB4 chip except in high end or specialty boards. I would assume there will be some third-party USB4 chips coming soon. Reply
  • OFelix - Wednesday, November 10, 2021 - link

    Thanks for your reply.

    So USB4 was built in to Tiger Lake but its not built in to Alder Lake / Z690????

    That would explain somethings but not explain why on earth Intel would do that or AnandTech would not think this major regression worth mentioning!!!

    The main reason I want to upgrade from my Sky Lake system (which i purchased to get built in USB3) is to get USB4/TB4.
    Reply
  • KarlKastor - Wednesday, November 10, 2021 - link

    TB is only integrated in the mobile Dies. The Desktop Die has no TB. Reply
  • Alistair - Tuesday, November 9, 2021 - link

    DDR5 is not faster in almost every case, and there are no PCIe 5 devices (unlike when PCIe4 was launched at least you got video cards and storage immediately). Not really an advantage. Prices are too high also. Frankly I like PCIe 3.0 boards when they are under $100 USD. Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Tuesday, November 9, 2021 - link

    It's the same thing that happened during the DDR3 to DDR4 transition. The first DDR4 products weren't really any faster than the best DDR3. Eventually DDR4 speeds got faster and left DDR3 behind. Same thing will happen with DDR4 to DDR5. Reply
  • Kevin G - Tuesday, November 9, 2021 - link

    PCIe 4.0 support was significantly delayed on the desktop but it arrived in servers in 2017 (IBM Power9). AMD was planning on adopting PCIe 4.0 after Intel on the desktop but Intel's train wreck of their 10 nm manufacturing node derailed the chips what were going to add it (Ice Lake on desktop).

    I would expect both PCIe 5.0 graphics and storage by the end of 2022 on the desktop, though their benefits will be marginal outside of a few niches. (Single lane PCIe 5.0 chips for USB4/Thunderbolt 4 and 10 Gbit Ethernet vs. using four PCI 3.0 lanes are cost driven examples.)
    Reply
  • Samus - Wednesday, November 10, 2021 - link

    Kevin G - I agree, I think in a year there will be PCIe 5.0 devices, but the performance advantages, much like initial PCIe 4.0 devices (RTX 30xx, NVMe SSD's, etc) won't be there until 2023-2024, by which time this platform will already be replaced or significantly less expensive.

    I don't think Intel is looking to drive a lot of sales with this platform. Not many people are buying $3000 desktop PC's at the moment (and when you consider the platform alone is $500, with a $500 CPU on top of it, $3000 is pretty conservative considering most people buying something like this will want a $1000+ GPU, so that's $2000 for three components.)

    Put in perspective, the last launch like this that had a lot of tech that you couldn't take advantage of right away was probably X58. PCIe 2.0 at a time no PCIe 2.0 products existed, and 36 lanes no less, left a ton of room to expand a platform that was already stacked to the gills with embedded tech. In fact it would be years before applications were fully optimized for the bandwidth offered by triple channel memory, let alone quad channel memory that Intel introduced on later HEDT platforms.

    The difference though is X690 isn't even HEDT.
    Reply

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