Everything you need with an efficient design
PCIe 5.0, DDR5 compatibility and a VRM strong enough for your i9-12900K. Its expansion and storage capacity is so numerous that it will be rare that you get to occupy it completely.
Eye-catching PCB design
Excellent VRM performance
High expandability and storage
Quite attractive price
Does not include WiFi or BT
Does not include Debug LED
Does not include clear CMOS button
Within the mid-range, in my opinion we find designs that attract our attention. They tend to go out of the ordinary in some way, either because of the shape of their heatsinks or because of their color. That happens to me with the Z690 TORPEDO, which comes with a very striking blue color.
Packaging and accessories
The cassette box arrives in black with a perforated metal plate print on the front next to the gray silkscreen model and more detailed features on the back.
Open the box we will find the motherboard and underneath the accessories, which MSI itself details well.
Design and build
With ATX format but not rectangular, we have dimensions of 30.5 x 24.4 cm with a black pcb and white screen printing. The heatsinks come with bluish gray colors of different tones and textures, being partly brushed and others in matte. They have silkscreen printing and lines forming geometric figures in black.
Accompanying the chipset heatsinks and the VRM we have 2 for the M2 units sharing the design with their pre-installed thermalpads. Unlike the high-end models, we will not find our own RGB lighting on the TORPEDO’s pcb.
However, we can connect other components that add lighting to the equipment, for this we have 3 Rainbow 3-pin ports together with a 12v 4-pin RGB port. All the lighting can be deactivated, I still don’t know why, if we use the lever located next to the SATA ports.
Being ATX format, it is normal to find 4 DIMM ports for memory and this is the case, also adding its compatibility with DDR5. The maximum supported capacity is 128 GB while the maximum frequency according to the installed modules is 6400 MHz.
The sound comes from the Realtek ALC4080 codec, which turns out to be very standardized. It offers 7.1 high definition audio with support for optical output. This time we did not find Debug LED screen, however we have the witnesses that will warn us of errors in the boot or its status. The situation of the battery does not make it ideal to do a clear CMOS while under the installed GPU. Luckily we have a jumper located next to the front audio connector, by simply activating it we will clear CMOS.
It also adds DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.1 (HDR) video outputs with 4K 60 Hz capability in case of using the integrated graphics.
For the connections we have LAN thanks to the 2.5Gbps Intel I225-V chipset being the new standard in this generation. We do not have wireless connectivity although in this format it is not my predilection but for its price they could include it.
We get up to 4 PCIe ports with the TORPEDO model, although the usual thing is to only use one for the GPU. We will have 3 X16 ports, the main one being managed by the CPU offering PCIe 5.0 while the remaining two remain in 3.0 managed by the chipset. We also have a PCIe X1 port also managed by the chipset with 3.0 compatibility.
As data to take into account, the managed PCIe X16 ports controlled by the chipset offer X4 and X1 bandwidth respectively.
For the storage units we can use up to 6 SATA III ports, 2 horizontal and 4 vertically in the lower right area of the PCB, all managed by the chipset.
In this generation we are seeing an increase in the number of M2 ports, with which the TORPEDO has 4. The first of them managed by the CPU with PCIe 4.0 support and being the only one compatible with models up to 22110. The rest of ports managed by the chipset offer PCIe 4.0 support except for the M2_3 that offers PCIe 3.0 and being compatible with models up to 2280.
Of course we have Intel Optane compatibility on all its ports and support for Intel Smart Response.
Internal USB ports
The number of ports is widely exceeded in the TORPEDO model, both for the front and the rear panel. Here you have broken down the internal connectors.
- 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 5Gbps Type A port dividing into two front ports.
- 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 10Gbps Type-C port for the front.
- 2 x USB 2.0 ports with capacity for 4 Type A ports.
VRM and power delivery
For the power supply we will have 3 ATX connectors, the main one of 24 pins together with two extra 8-pin EPS connectors.
The VRM consists of 18 phases (16 + 1 + 1) made up of Monolithic Power Systems 2128 70A mosfets with a total of 1260A. For voltage management it makes use of an MPS 2125 controller with which together we have plenty of power for an i9-12900K
One of the successes is how well explained they have everything on their website, both graphically and in writing.
Extracted from the manual so that you are more clear about the location of each port or component on the PCB.
BIOS and software
MSI bios is very careful both in terms of design and options. All necessary controls including offset overclocking aids are enabled. I miss aids for memories such as presets but being compatible up to 6400 MHz, the XMP profiles work at 100%. Without a doubt the capabilities of the bios are exaggeratedly complete for the range.
Then, from the Windows environment, we have at our disposal the MSI Center suite that is common to most of the brand’s devices. This software allows us to keep the drivers updated, modify the behavior of the RGB lights that we install or simply monitor the equipment among a multitude of things. Here you have a sample of how it works on an MSI MAG Z690 TOMAHAWK.
The overclocking capabilities are really good, although we don’t have an automatic mode that determines how much OC. However, we can make a selection in its manual mode or from its BIOS with its boost mode, apply an offset, although this does not seem well implemented.
From the manual mode we have managed to establish a frequency of 5.2 GHz for the P-Core cores while the E-Core reached a frequency of 4 GHz.
The VRM shows its robustness allowing to work with temperatures below 50 degrees with a CPU. The configuration and size of heatsinks for the VRM does its function perfectly so that we can obtain the best performance for our CPU. In our stress tests, with an ambient temperature of 20 degrees and after 30 minutes the VRM had a maximum temperature of 45 degrees.
Verdict and alternatives
Its design is simpler than that of high-end models that include RGB effects, screens and other aspects. However, it has something striking for the colors used and the look that the TORPEDO model looks like. I must say that it totally catches my attention and that with few additions we have an excellent configuration.
The VRM performs excellently, not exceeding 45 degrees in stress tests with a model such as the Intel i9-12900K. Connections are plentiful for most deadly gamers and professionals, both storage and expansion. Although the LAN port is over with 2.5 Gbps we lack a wireless connectivity that we can introduce with the PCIe or USB ports.
Its price of around 285 euros seems very attractive to me to obtain excellent performance from our CPU with PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 compatibility. However, if we still want to take advantage of our DDR4 memories that can offer us better performance than the current DDR5 we have the MSI MAG Z690 TOMAHAWK for 295 euros that we analyze here in NEWESC.