NZXT N7 Z690 Motherboard Review 

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NZXT N7 B550 Motherboard Review
NZXT N7 Z690 Motherboard
Company: NZXT
Type: Motherboard
MSRP: $299.99
CGM Editors Choice

NZXT are on a roll, bringing out some fantastic cases, coolers, and motherboards. With the Intel 12th Gen and 12th Gen CPUs now out, it was time to give a look at the N7 Z690, the brand’s flagship Intel board.  Released in tandem with the N5 Z690, the new range offers Socket 1700 in the style NZXT is known for. Released featuring DDR4 and keeping all the features you could want from a mid-range Intel board, the N7 Z690 is a great option for people not ready to give up DDR4 but demand a computer oozing with style.  

We have already given the N5 Z690 a look previously, but with the N7 Z690 being the flagship option for Intel, it was time to dive in and see how it compares. Available in both black and white, the N7 Z690 features 802.11ax Wi-Fi, PCIe 5.0 support, and three M.2 slots for the latest SSDs. With so many new cards and cases opting for a simple look, both colour options for the N7 Z690 feel like a PC builder’s dream come true.  

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The N7 Z690 also features three M.2 slots with the top slot offering a heatsink, something that was lacking in previous boards from NZXT. This is a great addition, especially for people running the latest PCIe 4.0 SSDs for the speed and temperatures they can get up too. While testing, I never saw any of the M.2 SSDs we used for our test bench rise above 45 °C, with it sitting at a comfortable 30 °C for most of our benchmarks and tests, well within reasonable levels.  

One area I am happy to see NZXT not skimp on is I/O. There are a lot of ports on the back of this baby. In addition to Wi-Fi, there’s a 2.5 Gigabit LAN port. Plus, there are seven USB ports – USB 2, USB 3 and USB 3.2 Gen 2 – and a Type-C 2×2 port and if your case supports it, there is a Type-C header ready to be used to give additional options. 

“…the N7 Z690 features 802.11ax Wi-Fi, PCIe 5.0 support, and three M.2 slots for the latest SSDs.”

Looks wise, the N7 Z690 is a slick, modern looking board. All the PCB is covered up in black, and any exposed circuit board has a matte black finish. It’s got some perforations across the metal cover, making it look not too dissimilar to other NZXT products.  

The N7 Z690’s clean look is thanks to the fact that its cover spans the entirety of the board, with cut-outs only for important connectors. This not only gives your computer a neater look, but also protects your delicate components from dust and other debris. However, people who love their computer to light up will be disappointed since the N7 Z690 does not feature RGB lighting, making it look a bit drab in comparison to many of the mid-range boards currently on the market. 

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Speaking of RGB lighting, the N7 has 4 RGB LED connectors, two of which are NZXT specific connectors, giving options to bring some life to your new build. For your front panel USBs, you can connect up to four USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports with the internal header. As mentioned before, this board also has an included USB 3.2 Gen 2 header for USB Type-C. 

Much like many of the enthusiast boards on the market now, the N7 Z690 also offers USB BIOS Flashback, on board power, reset and CMOS clear switches and Realtek 1220 audio. The power delivery boasts 13 CPU power phases, and the board features even fan headers, all of which can be controlled via the NZXT CAM software. 

“…the N7 Z690 motherboard from NZXT is a top-of-the-line option for anyone wanting a high-end board that looks great and has plenty of features.”

Speaking of NZXT CAM, much like with the H7 Elite, the N7 Z690 has full support, giving you access to a range of adjustments and features. I have talked about in detail about why I think the CAM software is such a robust package when I looked at the NZXT Canvas monitor, but the same is true here. This is a well fleshed out software package that is easy to use and understand.  

The CAM software is very user-friendly and works great, letting me change the speed or custom curve of each fan header on the motherboard in response to either the processor or graphics card temperature. I would have liked a bit more features to adjust the lighting, but honestly, this is a minor gripe, and the simplicity is a great thing to see, especially as more software packages are getting more bloated and complex as time goes on.  

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Another note about the N7 Z690, and the new Z690 chipset is it can utilize PCI-E Generation 5.0 slots. This will depend on your motherboard, but for NZXT’s N7 board you’ll be able to upgrade to Nvidia and AMDs latest additions to the GPU market when they release. While not pressing now, this is a fantastic future to future-proof your PC. While there are no GPUs that take advantage of this currently, it is only a matter of time before one ship can push the platform even further. 

There is one issue for people looking for the latest and greatest and that is the lack of a DDR5 version of the N7 Z690. Currently DDR5 only provides a slight increase in performance compared to its DDR4 counterpart, but for a board that is future-proof in every other area, to not offer a version with DDR5 seems odd, especially for a board aimed at enthusiasts. 

Even with small gripes, the N7 Z690 motherboard from NZXT is a top-of-the-line option for anyone wanting a high-end board that looks great and has plenty of features. As always, NZXT has gone for a premium look with this board, and they definitely hit the mark. There are plenty of options for I/O, storage, and expansion slots, so you really can’t go wrong.  

Final Thoughts

REVIEW SCORE

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