NZXT is a company that continuously produces motherboards, though late with the Z690. But today, we’re writing our NZXT N7 Z690 Motherboard Review to discuss one of their Z690 motherboards. It is the NZXT N7 Z690.
The company plans to bring their signature N lineup, design ideas, and brand image to Intel’s 12th Gen CPUs. For this release, the N7 caters to high-end and budget-conscious users.
Both boards come in different colours for various aesthetics, and their features differ too. It allows you and other users to create a build based on your tastes, needs, and preferences.
The N7 Z690 is pricier than the N5. It has a more premium design and variety in its available features.
In this NZXT N7 Z690 Motherboard Review, we’re looking at the N7 Z690 from NZXT. We will discuss its features, design, functions, specifications, and performance to help you decide if it’s worth the purchase.
Before we look deeper into the motherboard, our NZXT N7 Z690 Motherboard Review will check out its packaging. We’re also looking at the extras NZXT included in the box.
Our motherboard arrived in a white-coloured cardboard box with a minimalist approach to its design.
What you’ll see in front is an image of the board, its name, and a few details about it. The rear showcases more information about the motherboard. These are details about its specifications and features written in different languages.
Inside, there’s another box that’s coloured plain brown without any distinct features or marks.
Aside from the N7 Z690, the box contains three M.2 screws, a stand-off, and four SATA cables. There are also wireless antennas and a user guide.
NZXT N7 Z690 Motherboard Review – Design and Functionality
Let’s start with the design and functions of the motherboard in this section of our NZXT N7 Z690 Motherboard Review.
First, you’re likely wondering why there’s a price increase between the N7 and N5 motherboards. The hike is primarily due to the motherboard’s aesthetics. While the two motherboards have the same features, they differ in visual design.
The N7 Z690 adopted a “covered-up” look and style for its exterior. And even if it comes in two different designs (black and white), both have barely-exposed PCBs. Any exposed circuit boards sport a matte black finish.
Across the N7’s extended metallic cover design, you’ll find a few perforations on the motherboard. These give it an exterior that isn’t too different from the H7 line from NZXT.
Overall, this motherboard we have for review looks clean and refined. Its cover spans the motherboard except for some cutouts for essential connectors like PCIe, power, M.2, etc.
However, we think the biggest downside to the board is the lack of RGB strips. It also might become tricky to place a few because of its metal cover.
You won’t find a backplate at the back of the motherboard. However, it isn’t much of an issue since it’s mostly for aesthetics.
The N7 Z690 utilises the Z690 chipset, hence, its name. It’s the upper tier of the four latest chipsets that appeared alongside the 12th Gen processors from Intel. For those who want to access all the latest features, this Z690 chipset is an ideal option.
One of the other primary features available on the Z690 boards is the PCIe 5.0. It’s a convenient element since it’s a need for the latest generation of SSDs and GPUs.
New cards have higher wattage and bandwidths. That means they require the latest technology to work efficiently and at full power.
One last point to discuss is its support for PCIe Gen4 M.2 SSDs. These are the fastest options on the market. Some of the products offer read/write speeds of up to 700MB/s.
Since the Z690 has the most PCIe lanes, it’s better to have multiple drives. So if you always want fast storage, you need the N7 Z690.
There are notable changes in the N7 Z690 compared to its older sibling, the N7 Z590. First, the current model has an M.2 heatsink for its primary slot. It’s for people who rely on PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs as their OS drive.
It helps avoid thermal throttling while dissipating heat. Technically, the presence of an M.2 heatsink for its main slot is a notable improvement. Then, there’s an extra new M.2 slot which totals ti three slots available.
There are three full-sized PCIe 5.0 slots for the GPUs and other expansion cards. The RAM speed caps at DDR4-5000, which is fast. Also, NZXT added three PCIe 4.0 M.2’s to the board for faster SSDs drives.
All three M.2 slots can run at PCIe 4.0 speeds.
The first thing to notice close to the CPU socket is its memory slots. The board features DDR4 memory slots, giving you a better price and compatibility with current memory kits.
Above the socket are the CPU power connectors featuring an 8+4 pin design for power delivery. Close to these, you’ll find the AIO pump header, CPU fan header, and two additional system fans.
If you want lighting effects for your build, you can connect any RGB lighting accessory to two NZXT LED headers. You can also manage these via the company’s CAM software.
Down to the board is the 24-pin ATX power connector. You’ll also find a USB-C internal header within a cut-out on the PCB shroud. This layout keeps the overall look clean and organised.
On the lower portion of the motherboard, you’ll find the USB 3.2 internal header sitting at a right angle. It’s next to the four SATA ports.
Although there are only four SATA ports, the two M.2 slots make up for this shortcoming. The primary slot features a heatsink for more powerful NVMe SSDs.
This motherboard has the Realtek ALC1220. The RTL8125BG controller enables 2.5Gb LAN and offers fast DDR4-5000 RAM speeds. With three PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots, you can use faster SSD drives for your convenience.
Key Features of the NZXT N7 Z690 Motherboard
With multiple Z690 motherboards on the market today, how do you select the best one? There are numerous factors to consider, and the key features are some of the things you should consider. Continue reading our NZXT N7 Z690 Motherboard review to determine if this motherboard offers what you need for your PC.
12+1 DrMOS Power Phase Design
NZXT used 12+1 DrMOS power phases for the N7 Z690 to provide sufficient power to the newest processors. Since it has more power phases, the VRMs run better and with outstanding overall system stability.
An Excellent Gaming Motherboard
Since it uses Intel’s Z690, the N7 Z690 is the standard for a high-performing gaming motherboard. This chipset is ideal for those who want to upgrade the next-gen PC components like NVIDIA’s rumoured upcoming 4000 series.
The N7 Z690 is a powerful motherboard that provides a visually appealing backdrop for your build. Its simple and sophisticated design makes it easy to match with any rig.
Easier Building with the NZXT N7 Z690 Motherboard
The N7 Z690 has an integrated rear I/O shield, WiFi 6E connectivity, front panel USB-C, and optimally placed headers. As a result, building your PC is easier than ever.
The black or white cover options of the N7 Z690 offer a clean overall design to complement your chassis. It also has an integrated heat spreader for the topmost NVMe drive.
Access Intuitive Controls via the CAM Software
This motherboard offers smart controls for seven fan channels and four RGB lighting channels via NZXT CAM. It also supports lighting accessories from any manufacturer.
We’re discussing its product specifications in our NZXT N7 Z690 Motherboard review. It’s to help you determine which components will be compatible if you use this motherboard for your build.
It has an LGA 1700 socket for Intel’s 12th Gen Core i9, i7, and i5 processors. The motherboard supports INtel’s Turbo Boost Max 3.0 technology and uses the Intel Z690 chipset.
The board has four DIMM memory slots available, and its total memory support is 128GB dual-channel. It also supports DDR4 non-ECC unbuffered memory of up to 4800+ (OC). Additionally, the N7 Z690 has a 12+1 55A DrMOS power phase design.
For its expansion slots, there are three PCIe x16 slots (Gen5x16, Gen3 x4, Gen4 x4) and two PCIe Gen3 x1. The board supports AMD CrossFireX and the Quad CrossFireX. Plus, it features an M.2 socket (Key-E) that supports the Type 2230 WiFi/BT module and Intel CNVio.
Storage and Networking
It has x2 M.2 2280 Gen4 x4, one M.2 2210 Gen4 x4, and 4x SATA 6Gbps slots for storage. Then, it uses a Realtek 2.5G LA and WiFi 6E dual-band.
Rear I/O of the NZXT N7 Z690 Motherboard
The N7 Z690’s rear I/O has one HDMI, two USB 2.0, and one USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C. There are two USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A ports, three USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A, and Realtek 2.5Gbit LAN. Lastly, it also features 5.1 surround audio jacks.
The motherboard’s internal I/O has seven fan headers and two NZXT RGB, 1x 5V ARGB, and 1x 12V RGB. You’ll find two USB 2.0 headers (up to four Type-A ports) and a USB 3.2 Gen1 header. The latter can go up to two Type-A ports.
Lastly, it also has one USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 header for Type-C.
Hands-on with the NZXT N7 Z690 Motherboard
It’s essential to know how a product works before bringing out your wallet to purchase it. So, we’re sharing our experience with the motherboard in our NZXT N7 Z690 Motherboard Review.
The N7 Z690’s BIOS has numerous features and options you can tweak to suit your performance needs. You can access basic settings like fan control and also advanced settings like overclocking.
The BIOS of most motherboards have similar settings to their BIOS, but there are subtle differences too. How these features function and how we use them can differ. So we’ll look at the N7 Z690’s BIOS and start with the EZ mode.
EZ Mode is the section of the BIOS where you can access simple settings. In this section, you’ll notice that everything is simpler and easier to understand, so new users can easily understand.
On EZ Mode, you won’t get a lot of options aside from managing your fan control. Opening the settings for the fans within EZ Mode gives you access to the Hardware Monitor tab.
Aside from the basic settings, EZ Mode has an option for setting XMP profiles and changing the boot priority. But instead of fan profiles, it lets you cycle through the types of coolers.
Advanced Mode of the NZXT N7 Z690 Motherboard BIOS
Advanced Mode is the best part of the BIOS if you’re an experienced user who likes tweaking PC settings.
The main page of this section only displays your system’s hardware information. It’s convenient if you’re experiencing issues and need a quick check.
The first tab is the overclocking page which features four subpages containing the options for adjusting voltages and frequencies. It’s the tab you should visit to tweak your CPU or memory’s frequency for a performance boost. This page also has ten profiles that you can easily set and apply.
The advanced page features multiple subpages with the correct options and settings for 4G decoding. You’ll find sub-pages for CPU, chipset, storage, NVMe, ACPI, and USB configuration.
The next tab is the tools page which only has a few useful options. One of these is Instant BIOS Flash to improve your motherboard’s compatibility and stability. You’ll also find the SSD Secure Erase Tool and NVMe Sanitization Tool.
The PC Monitoring tab provides information on temperature and fan speeds. You can also access a live look at your system’s power usage. When you scroll down, you’ll find the option to adjust fan curves and profiles individually.
The security tab allows you to set supervisor and user passwords for the BIOS. It also has the option for a Secure boot to enable or disable the Intel Platform Trust Technology.
On the boot tab, you can change activate fast boot and change the boot priority. There are also other options for booting from the LAN.
The last tab is the exit page. It’s where you can choose to save or discard your changes. You can also use the default settings instead.
The CAM is NZXT’s all-in-one software for customising your build’s look and performance. Aside from the N7 Z690, you can also tweak other compatible peripherals like keyboards and mice. You can also tweak fan speeds and additional settings.
While testing the software with this motherboard, we only got the chance to adjust fan profiles. We liked this feature since it allowed us to find the right balance between noise and cooling without accessing BIOS.
There wasn’t much tweaking on this motherboard since we didn’t connect any RGB accessories to the NZXT LED headers.
Performance of the NZXT N7 Z690 Motherboard
Of course, we didn’t skip testing the motherboard. We always use the products we review so we can share how well they can perform.
During our gaming tests, the N7 Z690 performed great. It wasn’t the best when comparing the product to some other Z690 boards since it only uses DDR4. But we don’t have complaints since we didn’t experience issues, and everything worked seamlessly.
Despite using DDR4, this motherboard still delivered fast speeds in our tests.
For memory tests, these delivered lower scores in the read performance compared to other Z690 motherboards with DDR5. On this part, it was highly dependent on memory speed. However, the motherboard’s write and copy speeds were what we wanted.
Although the N7 Z690 didn’t match the speeds of DDR5 motherboards, it was still superior in terms of latency. Our test has shown that DDR4 still has benefits over DDR5, aside from being more affordable.
Overall, the N7 Z690 is an impressive motherboard. It didn’t deliver the highest speeds, but it was stable and efficient throughout our tests. The board has appropriate features to offer above-average performance for gaming, video, editing, and other heavy tasks.
NZXT N7 Z690 Motherboard Review Summary
The N7 Z690 from NZXT is an outstanding choice if you want a high-end motherboard that combines aesthetics and performance. The company always integrates these two elements in their products, and this motherboard also ticks the right boxes. It has a lot of options for storage, I/O, and expansion slots. Although it only uses DDR4, it has some advantages over DDR5 and is more affordable. Plus, it supports overclocking. We were satisfied with the product’s results when we tested it for our NZXT N7 Z690 Motherboard review. We recommend it to anyone looking for a top-notch motherboard with the latest specs.