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My impressions of the MSI PRO Z690-P DDR4 Motherboard: ATX, LGA 1700 (2024)

My thoughts on the MSI PRO Z690-P DDR4: specs, cooling, connectivity, good value for a midrange build.
Robert Williams



December 27, 2023


On an office pc I have been using the MSI PRO Z690-P DDR4 motherboard for a year. I initially got it because of its compatibility with the latest 12th Gen Intel Core processors and its support for DDR4 memory. It’s made for those not looking to break the bank but still wanting a robust system for work or play.


Property Value Property Value
Brand MSI CPU Socket LGA 1700
Compatible Devices 12th Gen Intel Core, Celeron processors RAM Memory Technology DDR4
Compatible Processors Intel Celeron, Intel Pentium Chipset Type Intel
Memory Clock Speed 5600 MHz Platform Windows 11, Windows 10
CPU Model Pentium Memory Storage Capacity 128 GB


Click on photos to enlarge them:

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Technical Specifications and Compatibility

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One aspect I always look into before buying a motherboard is its technical specifications and compatibility, and the MSI PRO Z690-P DDR4 does bring a lot to the table in that department. For starters, it supports the 12th Gen Intel Core processors, which is great for any setup aiming to capitalize on the latest CPU power. It is also crucial to mention the advantage of having DDR4 support with memory clock speeds up to 5600 MHz; this ensures that the system can handle heavy tasks with relative ease.

Although there’s a lot of excitement around DDR5 and its faster speeds, I appreciate that this board is sticking with DDR4 because it gives flexibility for those of us who aren’t ready to make the jump to DDR5 due to its current high costs.

Here is a quick rundown of the core features that caught my attention:

  • Support for 12th Gen Intel Core, Pentium, Celeron processors for LGA 1700 socket

  • DDR4 Memory Technology, up to 5600(OC) MHz

  • ATX Form Factor with LGA 1700 Socket

  • VRM Cooling: extended heatsink design to keep temperatures down during high-performance tasks

However, it’s not all sunshine and roses. The lack of built-in Wi-Fi is a bit of a downer; although it’s not a dealbreaker, it does mean an additional purchase for a Wi-Fi card if wireless connectivity is needed. And when I saw the mention of only 4 SATA ports, it did make me wince a little, considering I have multiple drives. But for a mid-range build where cutting-edge networking and a plethora of drives aren’t crucial, these aren’t major setbacks.

One thing to watch out for if you’re eyeing this motherboard is the BIOS update issue for those planning to use a 13th Gen CPU. The board requires a BIOS update with an existing 12th Gen CPU installed, which isn’t ideal and can be a roadblock for builders not having an extra CPU lying around.

On a personal note, I’ve noticed the memory speeds achievable with XMP profiles in the MSI BIOS are optimized well, making for a smooth setup and reliable performance, though, as with any overclocking, it’s wise to have some know-how before tweaking settings.

All things considered, the MSI PRO Z690-P DDR4 offers a solid foundation for a build that’s not chasing the bleeding edge of technology, especially considering its appealing price point. It’s versatile enough for a range of CPUs, has adequate thermal solutions, and provides substantial memory speed and support. Just keep in mind you might need to add a few extras, like Wi-Fi, or address the BIOS update if you’re going beyond 12th Gen Intel CPUs.

Performance and Cooling Features

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When it comes to the performance and cooling capabilities of the MSI PRO Z690-P DDR4 motherboard, I’m mostly impressed. Here’s a quick rundown before I delve deeper:

  • Support for 12th Gen Intel processors: Ensures compatibility with some of the latest CPU offerings.

  • DDR5 Memory Support up to 5600(OC) MHz: Orients the board towards future-proofing and high-performance scenarios.

  • Premium Thermal Solutions: Including an extended heatsink and M.2 Shield Frozr for maintaining optimal temperatures.

  • Lightning M.2 with PCIe Gen4: For super-fast NVMe SSD speeds.

  • VRM Cooling and Frozr AI Cooling: Smart thermal management for sustained performance.

Starting with the thermal design, the extended heatsink is definitely a welcome feature. It suggests that the board can handle heat dissipation pretty effectively, making it a reliable choice for intensive tasks. This is crucial as it often means the difference between a stable workhorse and a system that’s prone to throttling under load. Combined with the M.2 Shield Frozr, it’s clear that MSI isn’t skimping on keeping components cool, which eases worries about SSD throttling—a common issue when these drives overheat during prolonged data transfers.

The board also offers some nice overclocking headroom with DDR5 support, although this will depend on other factors such as your CPU choice and cooling system. But let’s not ignore the fact that to truly take advantage of these speeds, investing in more expensive DDR5 RAM is a must—and that’s not always an option for everyone.

One of the highlights for me is the inclusion of PCIe Gen4 on the M.2 slots. Fast storage speeds are critical in a professional environment, where every second saved on file transfers counts. However, note that your CPU choice may affect the M.2 slot capabilities, which is a little restriction to keep in mind.

While features like VRM Cooling and Frozr AI Cooling show MSI’s dedication to temperature management, they do maintain the board’s lean towards high performance. It’s heartening to see that AI is being harnessed to dynamically adjust cooling in response to CPU and GPU temps, preventing any possible thermal-induced performance caps.

On the downside, advanced overclockers might find the thermal solutions a tad modest, especially when pushing the envelope with high-tier CPUs. Also, the absence of built-in WiFi is somewhat of a letdown for current standards, necessitating an additional purchase to get your rig wirelessly connected.

From a personal angle, I appreciate when a motherboard doesn’t force me into a thermal corner. It’s all about having a system that remains stable and responsive during those long work marathons or intense creative sessions. The PRO Z690-P doesn’t shy away from this challenge, showing itself to be a workhorse at its core, despite not flaunting the most robust cooling on the market.

Connectivity and Expansion Capabilities

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When assessing the connectivity and expansion capabilities of the MSI PRO Z690-P DDR4 motherboard, I find myself impressed by its generous offerings, which juxtapose neatly against a few notable shortfalls. Here’s a rundown from my perspective:

  • 2.5G LAN Solution: For professional and multimedia use, this robust network connection is a definite plus. It provides the bandwidth needed for seamless video conferencing or transferring large files quickly.

  • Lightning M.2: With PCIe Gen4 x4, this feature maximizes performance for the latest NVMe SSDs, ensuring blistering data transfer rates that are essential for heavy workloads.

  • USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type-C port: I was pleased to see that this motherboard includes support for ultra-fast 20Gbps data transfer rates, which is quite forward-thinking for a board in this price range.

  • Multiple PCIe slots: The inclusion of Steel Armor on the primary PCIe slot is reassuring for those of us with heavyweight GPUs, plus additional slots are available for expansion cards.

  • Limited SATA ports: Only having four SATA ports can feel restricting if you’re looking to connect multiple storage drives or other SATA devices.

  • No onboard WiFi: Not having built-in WiFi could be seen as a drawback for some, though I personally use Ethernet or add a dedicated WiFi card if needed.

These features hint at a board that is ready for a professional environment but may require a couple of extra purchases, such as a WiFi card, for a completely wireless setup. I also appreciate the board’s orientation towards future-proofing with fast memory support and the latest USB standards. However, for users with a plethora of SATA devices or who are in need of onboard wireless connectivity right out of the box, there could be some disappointment.

With regards to expansion, while the board is not brimming with excess, it offers what I consider the essentials for a modern PC. We’re talking PCIe 5.0 for cutting-edge GPUs and two Gen4 M.2 slots for top-tier storage. However, it’s worth noting that the 2nd M.2 slot’s bandwidth could vary depending on which CPU is installed.

In a niche where every port and slot counts, the MSI PRO Z690-P DDR4 does strike a balance, providing sound options for expansion while keeping the cost reasonable. For those looking to build a reliable workstation, this motherboard delivers on the crucial fronts without inflating the price with features you may not need. As with all purchases, it’s about weighing what’s provided against your specific use-case scenario and the motherboard’s price point, to determine its true value for your setup.

Value and Overall Experience

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In navigating the features of the MSI PRO Z690-P DDR4 Motherboard, my overall impression weighs heavily on its value proposition. For those dipping their toes into building or upgrading a PC, this motherboard presents an attractive balance of functionality and cost. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Stable functionality and high-quality assembly lean into reliability, which is essential for any build.

  • Strong support for the latest 12th Gen Intel processors offers future-proofing capabilities.

  • DDR4 compatibility means access to affordable, readily available memory modules.

  • Extended heatsink and thermal solutions are a nod to sustained performance under load.

However, it’s not without its drawbacks:

  • Limited I/O and connectivity options could narrow expansion in the future, something to consider for those who might need more USB or WiFi out of the box.

  • Just four SATA ports may be a disappointment for storage-heavy users.

Let’s start with the good. MSI’s reputation for reliable motherboards isn’t unfounded, and the PRO series continues to live up to that legacy. Stability, especially in a work environment, cannot be overstated; a system crash in the middle of a workday is more than an inconvenience—it’s potential income loss. That’s why the promise of less troubleshooting resonates with me.

Additionally, the Premium Thermal Solution and Lightning M.2 features cater to enthusiasts like me who appreciate the nifty details optimizing a system for performance.

On the practical side of things, the motherboard has a 2.5G LAN Solution, offering a stable network connection that’s imperative for both professional and multimedia use. MSI’s focus on business and productivity is evident in the design with its emphasis on user comfort.

However, the motherboard isn’t without its limitations. The lack of built-in WiFi forced me to invest extra for a compatible add-on, which was an inconvenience I hadn’t anticipated. It’s critical to read the specifications thoroughly to avoid such surprises. And while the MSI PCI Express Steel Armor slots are a thoughtful addition, I was slightly taken aback by the minimal number of SATA ports.

Also noteworthy is the 8+4 pin power connectors which might limit overclocking capabilities with high-end CPUs—a consideration for the future-proofing aspect if that’s part of your plan.

Despite the drawbacks, my experience has been largely positive. The contrasts come down to:

  • A focus on stability and productivity against possible expansion hindrances due to fewer ports.

  • A balance between performance-driven features like the ability to handle high-speed DDR4 memory and a competitive price point that leaves room for additional component purchases.

In conclusion, the MSI PRO Z690-P DDR4 strikes me as a motherboard that hits the sweet spot for budget-conscious users who are after a reliable and performant system foundation. It’s clear that the board has been designed with cost-saving trade-offs, but for my needs, it’s been a solid performer—straightforward to set up, resilient under stress, and ultimately, it’s a good return on investment in the budget-to-midrange motherboard market.