Final Words & Conclusion
For this review, we used a DDR4 3600 CL16 kit (which has significantly sharper timing than normal, but it is almost baffling to see how close performance is when compared to a DDR5 5200 MHz CL40 setup.) What a wonderful motherboard this is, especially for the price. With little to no performance differences, DDR4 may be the more valuable path to choose as you'll safe money on that steep DDR5 pricing level. Let me explain.
While we would normally recommend DDR5 usage in favor of DDR4 on Alder Lake, we have to factor in the component shortage, and DDR4 memory certainly is cheaper than a 5200 MHz DDR5 kit. In that respect, it can make absolute sense to re-use that DDR4 of yours on a compatible Z690 motherboard in combination with any Alder lake Core 12th gen processor of choice, as really, the differential in between the two technologies currently is petite, whereas you can easily save 50~75 bucks with such a decision. But strictly looking at things from a performance point of view, really at this day and age the differential just ain't substantial enough ...
Added chips, RGB, and BIOS configuration are a bothersome factor when testing stuff like this. the MSI MPG Z690 Edge Wi-Fi DDR4 performs quite well with comes back at 60 Watts power draw in IDLE. Under total stress on the processors, the system comes back at roughly 200 Watts with a 12600K. Energy efficiency for this motherboard and processors as such are average at best. Keep that in mind with your cooling choice, as processor wattage usually is 1:1 in line with cooling performance. We recommend an excellent LCS.
Noteworthy is that Intel no longer provides a total design power (TDP), instead referring to a 'processor base power' of 125W and a 'maximum turbo power' that is significantly greater. Intel, at the very least for the overclockable K processors, has ended the confusion that the PL1 and PL2 power constraints produced in previous generations with this announcement. The current norm for these CPUs is that they can boost indefinitely unless the PC maker (or, in the case of self-build, the user) decides otherwise to keep within the limitations of the cooling and power supply systems.
We see the same results on all Z690 motherboards we tested; ergo, the limiting factor is the processor and not the motherboard. Depending on your objectives, there are numerous approaches to overclock an Intel platform. With a Core i9-12900K, you'll achieve roughly 5.1-5.2 GHz across all performance cores. And the proc is going to need something like 1.4 Volts. Most modern motherboards will have an automated setting for that. All eight performance cores were overclocked to 5.3 GHz but at the cost of yet another 125W in energy consumption.
MSI's MPG Z690 Edge Wi-Fi DDR4 is a streamlined and intriguing ATX motherboard that migrates away from DDR5 and toward the more mature DDR4 interface. Thus, we have a well-designed motherboard that incorporates all of the Z690 platform's features except for the DDR5 interface. The performance of the storage, network, and audio solutions is excellent. To summarize, if you're interested in the performance of Intel's 12th generation microprocessors while maintaining DDR4 as your chosen memory platform, this motherboard will not disappoint. We feel that board is a compelling offer. It might not sit in that uber-high premium segment, but has the price that is okay, that and you'll save on the bill of cost for not using DDR5. Definitely recommended.