Review: MSI MEG Z690 Unify-X

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The PCB and connectors:

The clocker tools :

Let’s start with the elements included on the PCB that can be interesting tools for overclockers. They are quite numerous on this model but also on the remote control included in the bundle. This confirms its position as a board dedicated to overclocking.

  • Power button: allows to power up the motherboard.
  • Reset button: allows to restart the motherboard in case of failure. The button can now be assigned to another task via the BIOS.
  • BIOS switch: allows you to switch between the two BIOS. You can choose to have an overclocking BIOS and a more stable BIOS for a H24 configuration.
  • Slow Mode jumper: allows you to boot with a coefficient of 16x and once in the OS to put back the one chosen in the bios. This is mainly for max screens.
  • Low Temperature jumper: allows to facilitate the boot of the motherboard during tests under liquid nitrogen.
  • Safe Boot jumper: allows the board to be rebooted even if the parameters chosen in the bios do not allow the boot. This avoids having to do a CMOS Clear to reboot and thus lose your encoded settings.
  • Retry Button: during cold tests, sometimes the OS freezes and a reset does not allow the motherboard to restart: only solution 6, 7 seconds by holding down the START button. With the Retry button, it restarts immediately.
  • EZ debug LED’s: 4 LEDs (CPU – DRAM – VGA – BOOT) which allow to diagnose errors during the boot of the board. If one of them remains lit, it means that the corresponding component is in trouble.
  • Debug code LED: displays a code corresponding to the component responsible for the error during boot.
  • ProbeIT : allows you to measure voltages with a multimeter directly on the PCB.
  • Clear CMOS button: allows you to erase the BIOS settings in order to return to the default ones.
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A bonus remote control:

As we mentioned in the bundle overview, this MSI Z690 Unify-X comes with a wired remote control for overclocking. Following are the different functions it offers. The length of the cable is 130cm, so there’s plenty length for convenient placement for tweaking!

  • Debug code LED: displays a code that corresponds to the component responsible for the error during boot.
  • OC Button +/-: allows you to increase either the BCLK frequency or the multiplier coefficient depending on your choice in the BIOS.
  • Power button: allows to power up the motherboard.
  • Reset button: allows to restart the motherboard in case of failure. The button can now be assigned to another task via the BIOS.
  • OC Retry: during cold tests, sometimes the OS freezes and a reset does not allow to restart the motherboard: only solution 6, 7 seconds by keeping the START button pressed. With the ReTry button, it restarts immediately.
  • OC Fail Safe : allows to restart the board even if the parameters chosen in the bios do not allow the boot. This avoids having to do a CMOS Clear to reboot and thus lose your encoded settings.
  • Clear CMOS button: allows you to clear the BIOS settings to return to the default settings.

The PCB:

Our MSI Z690 Unify-X is based on a 19 + 2 phase power supply. The CPU part consists of 19 phases and on this model there is no doubler, but please note that the phases are placed in parallel. The controller is a RAA229131 chip (X+Y=20).

The 19 mosfets are all RAA 22010540 rated at 105A. The other two mosfets in the SOC are 40A RAA 22010540s. The mosfets in the power stages generate the most heat because they are responsible for voltage conversion and delivery to the CPU from the 12-volt EPS connector.

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The connectors :

The rear panel has the following components. First of all the Clear CMOS and the button to flash the bios from a USB stick. One of the special features of the motherboard is a PS/2 slot for connecting a keyboard, mouse or combo. But why still use this type of connector in 2021? Simply because some benchmarks perform better under Windows XP (e.g. Super Pi) and the use of non-USB devices makes the installation of the OS much easier.

In terms of USB ports, this MSI Z690 Unify-X has two USB 2.0, seven USB 3.2 Gen 2 and one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C. Then there are the antenna mounts for dual band Wi-Fi. Audio is provided by a Realtek ALC4080 chip. Finally, there are the various audio outputs as well as the two network ports (2.5G).