ASUS Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi ITX Motherboard Review
Any time we're looking at an ITX motherboard, even one as capable and well featured as the ASUS Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi, readers need to be aware that you'll always be making compromises when you have this PCB size. Whether it is the additional difficulties of building in such a tightly packed PCB, or the areas you have to give up certain connection options, or merely the overclocking limits you'll always be up against because a smaller form factor means smaller heatsink which means lower power phases which live in the house that Jack built.
In almost any situation except one where space is at an absolute premium you would be better off going with a full size ATX motherboard. However, if space - either living or your chosen chassis - is limited then an ITX motherboard is the only solution to that particular problem and, thus, we have to ask whether the ASUS Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi is the one for you?
Certainly ASUS have made the most of the limited footprint the ITX form factor by taking their building vertically instead of sticking to the horizontal. Like the old intro of the Outer Limits used to say, they control the horizontal and the vertical. It actually makes perfect sense to build upwards. When you look at old photographs of towns they quickly reached the limits of outward spread and the world of tall buildings and then skyscrapers emerged. With motherboards requiring both the chunk of a 24pin ATX power and CPU Cooling you'll always be building high, so it is a clever idea to utilise this height to stack even more items on the southern edge of the PCB, in this case some fan, lighting and SATA connectors, to maximise the connectivity without compromising that tiny size. We can envisage a future in which motherboards resemble the famous walled Kowloon City.
Performance is right in the middle of the Z690 pack, which is no slight at all on the Strix. After all, the consistency of modern Intel chipsets and processors is such that the gap between the best and the worst in "out of the box" trim, is tiny. At least if you're planning to run at stock then you'll not be losing any performance if you have to go with the ITX format. Our main quibble is the pricing, which just a bit south of £400 is certainly not on the cheap side of things, particularly when you consider the stuff you're losing by having to go with this smaller footprint. It's very much a motherboard for those of you who must have an ITX motherboard, rather than those of you who consider one because it should be cheaper than a full size PCB. If that is you, and ITX is the only way you can get on the Alder Lake train, then the ASUS Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi certainly is about as fully-featured as any ITX offering you're likely to come across. Thus, despite it's steep £379.99 price point, wins our OC3D Approved Award.