Si’s MPG Gaming Carbon range of motherboards has proved pretty popular among PC enthusiasts, with EK even teaming up with MSI to water-cool them for the Carbon EK X range of motherboards. As with many Z690 boards, though, while it looks like another solid effort on paper, the DDR5-based MPG Z690 Gaming Carbon WiFi will also set you back over £, which isn’t a small sum of money.
Thankfully, it does look fantastic, with a splash of RGB lighting on the I/O shroud and PCH heatsink, full M.2 port heatsink covers and some substantial VRM heatsinks too. You get a total of five PCI-E 4 M.2 ports as well and, just like the MSI MEG Z690 Unify, the Gaming Carbon WiFi kept our M.2 SSD at a chilly 52°C under load, which was the second lowest M.2 temperature on test. The temperature of the VRMs was trickier to measure, as MSI’s software lacks a VRM reading, but our probe measured them at 57°C, which is rather average but still miles away from any dangerzone.
That price also bags you 802.11ax Wi-Fi and Realtek ALC4080, with the latter offering the second best audio results on test, with a noise level of-121dBA and dynamic range of 116dBA. You get plenty of on-board features as well, including an LED POST code display and the ability to flash the BIOS without a CPU present, which could be handy if you buy this board at a later date with a future LGA1700 CPU.
CPU socket Intel LGA1700
Memory support 4 slots: max 128GB DDRS (upto 6666MHz)
Expansion slots Two 16x PCI-E 5, one 16x PCI-E 3
Sound 8-channel Realtek ALC4080 HD Audio
Networking 1 x Intel 2.5 Gigabit LAN, 802.11ax Wi-Fi
Cooling Eight 4-pin fan headers, VRM heatsinks, M.2 heatsinks
Ports 6 x SATA 6Gbps, 5 x M.2 PCI-E 4, 5 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 4 x USB 2,1 x USB 3.1 Type-C header, 1 x LAN, 3 x surround audio out
Dimensions (mm) 305 x 244
Sadly, other overclocking and testing tools are absent, although you do at least get video outputs, which can be useful for troubleshooting if you suspect your graphics card might be on the blink.
As with MSI’s MEG Z690 Unify, it was a shame Thunderbolt 4 support hasn’t made it to the party, but you get nine Type-A USB ports on the back, as well as a USB 3.2 2×2 Type-C port. The eight fan headers are welcome as well, but there are no thermal probe inputs here to allow you to control them using coolant temperature. However, you can at least alter the temperature input in the EFI to an input other than the CPU.
The software MSI provides isn’t the best example on test either, and it’s clunky and simplistic compared with Asus and Gigabyte’s offerings. We suggest sticking to the EFI for the majority of your tweaking.
There were no issues overclocking our Core i5-12600K, and we hit the usual 5GHz P-Core and 4GHz E-Core frequencies with a vcore of 1.36V, with around 50W added to the load
power consumption as a result. However, the benefits were significant, with the Cinebench R23 multi-threaded score rising from 17,409 to 19,278 and the Far Cry 6 99th percentile result increasing from 99fps to 104fps.
Ultimately, the MSI MPG Z690 Gaming Carbon WiFi costs significantly more than MSI’s MAG Z690 Tomahawk WiFi DDR4, which also has Wi-Fi and similar audio quality, but it only shaves £ or so off the price of more droolworthy boards, such as MSI’s own MEG Z690 Unify. That doesn’t prevent the Z690 Gaming Carbon WiFi from being a decent motherboard, but it struggles to justify its price in this situation. If you really want a high-end board, put the extra money towards the MEG Z690 Unify.
A great motherboard with plenty of features and RGB lighting, although you have to pay a high price for it
- Funky lighting
- Great audio performance
- Excellent EFI
- No Thunderbolt 4
- Sub-par software