MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WIFI, Carbon EK X & Z690 Force WIFI

A part of MSI's MPG (MSI Performance Gaming) series, its Carbon WIFI model returns for Z690, with a strong feature set for gamers, content creators, and everyday users. The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WIF combines a fancy all-black aesthetic with plenty of integrated RGB LED lighting built into the rear panel cover and chipset heatsink area.

The only difference between the Carbon and the Force opts for a lighter aesthetic with a wave of silver heatsinks throughout. Both models also boast a solid networking configuration, plenty of storage options, and lots of USB connectivity. There's also an MSI MPG Z690 Carbon EK X model which includes a custom EKWB monoblock and cools the power delivery, the top PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slot, and the processor too. The rest of the controllers and features are shared across all three models.

The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WIFI (left) and MPG Z690 Force WIFI (right) motherboards

Looking at PCIe support, the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WIFI and MSI MPG Z690 Force WIFI include two full-length PCIe 5.0 slots that can operate at x16 or x8/x8, with a full-length PCIe 3.0 x4 slot. Surrounding the PCIe slots and fully covered by M.2 heatsinks, there's four PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, with a fifth PCI 3.0 x4/SATA slot for good measure. Other storage options include six SATA ports with support for RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays. In terms of memory, the board includes four memory slots capable of supporting up to DDR5-6666, with a maximum combined capacity of up to 128 GB.

The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon EK X motherboard

The MSI MPG Z690 Carbon EK X shares the exact same PCB, features, and controller set as the Carbon WIFI and Force WIFI, but it has the added benefit of a custom EKWB monoblock with integrated RGB. This is designed to offer a cheaper alternative to users looking to use custom water cooling to keep the processor cool, but the EK X monoblock also keeps the power delivery and the top PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slot cool too.

On the rear panel of all three models is an impressive selection of input and output, including one USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, five USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, and four USB 2.0 ports. A pair of video outputs including one HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 1.4 allows users to leverage Intel's integrated graphics, while a Realtek ALC4080 HD audio codec powers five 3.5 mm and S/PDIF optical output. For networking, MSI includes one Intel I225-V 2.5 GbE controller, as well as an Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E CNVi. Finishing off the rear panel is a small clear CMOS button. The only difference between both models is the Carbon/Carbon EK X has a black preattached rear I/O shield, and the Force has a silver one.

MSI MEG Z690I Unify (DDR5) MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk WIFI (DDR5)
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  • Dahak - Tuesday, November 9, 2021 - link

    Will there be a list of DDR4 only board as well?
  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, November 10, 2021 - link

    Yes, we're also putting together a guide for DDR4 boards.
  • jh20001 - Wednesday, December 1, 2021 - link

    Any news on the DDR4 story? Would be nice to know what model is the best for performance/features in the eyes of others.
  • Flunk - Tuesday, November 9, 2021 - link

    Intel's actually released a compelling new chipset? I'm surprised to see DDR5 and PCIe 5 support, but USB 4 seems to be notably absent, despite there being no reason at all to omit it. Intel is finally one-upping AMD after a few years of playing #2.
  • Exotica - Tuesday, November 9, 2021 - link

    Thunderbolt4 is usb4 capable…
  • CharonPDX - Tuesday, November 9, 2021 - link

    Yep, the only thing USB4 adds over "USB 3.2 2x2" is Thunderbolt support. Therefore any Thunderbolt 4 device is automatically USB4. In fact, essentially any board with "Thunderbolt 3" along with USB 3.2 2x2 basically get "USB4" status for free.
  • DigitalFreak - Tuesday, November 9, 2021 - link

    USB 3.2 2x2 is 20 Gbps. USB 4 is 40 Gbps.
  • 12345 - Wednesday, November 10, 2021 - link

    That's why they mentioned TB3. 40Gbps support is also optional for USB4.
  • 12345 - Wednesday, November 10, 2021 - link

    DP 2.0 is mandatory for USB4 so TB3 support isn't good enough.
  • KarlKastor - Wednesday, November 10, 2021 - link

    That is only the name. The question is, with what speed you can run USB devices.

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