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Cheapest Intel Alder Lake Motherboards with PCIe 5

Intel Alder lake socket

Intel’s Alder Lake or 12th-gen processors have been launched and though we are in the midst of a global silicon shortage, there is a lot of anticipation as to what the new processors would bring to the table. For those unknown, the new processors come with a completely new architecture designed on the 7nm process and promises to offer performance never seen before.

With the new line of processors, Intel had clarified in its October 27th announcement that we would need motherboards with a new socket called the LGA 1700. The new release also brings with them official support for both DDR4 and DDR5 memory and Xtreme Memory Profile 3.0 that now must be included in the supported motherboards. Alder Lake comes with a combination of power and efficiency cores of which performance cores can go up to 5.2 GHz on boost.

Conventionally there have always been multiple chipsets for every generation of processors by both AMD and Intel but for the first time in quite a few years, the Alder Lake currently supports only one chipset that is the Intel Z690 series. There is no news if more chipsets would be released with support for LGA 1700 socket in the future.

Here are some of the cheapest Alder Lake motherboards from the most renowned manufacturers that you can purchase and get ready to unlock the power of the 12th Generation Intel processors.

Being a “budget roundup”, most of these motherboards don’t have Wi-Fi included. You’re going to need a separate Wi-Fi 6 adapter. If you prefer to get a motherboard with Wi-Fi included, check out this article.

Best Cheap Alder Lake Motherboards – Our Top Picks

ImageProductDetailsCheck Price
MSI PRO Z690-A on Amazon
MSI PRO Z690-A Socket: LGA 1700
Form Factor: ATX
Memory Type: DDR4
Memory Frequency: 5200+ (OC) MHz
Memory Slots/ Channel: 4/Dual
Video Ports: 1 x HDMI 2.1 with HDR, 1 x DisplayPort 1.4
Expansion Slots: 3 x PCIe 5.0 X16, 1 x PCIe 3.0 X1
Audio: 7.1 Channel, Realtek ALC897 Codec
Storage: 6 x SATA 6Gbps, 4 x M.2
RGB Support: Yes
LAN: Intel I225-V 2.5GbE
Wi-Fi: No
USB: 8 x USB 2.0, 6 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type -A, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type A, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type C, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type C
Buy on Amazon
Gigabyte Z690 Gaming X DDR4 on Amazon
Gigabyte Z690 Gaming X DDR4 Socket: LGA 1700
Form Factor: ATX
Memory Type: DDR4
Memory Frequency: 5333 (OC) MHz
Memory Slots/ Channel: 4/Dual
Video Ports: 1 x HDMI 2.1 with HDR, 1 x DisplayPort 1.2
Expansion Slots: 1 x PCIe 5.0 X16, 2 x PCIe 3.0 X16 (X4)
Audio: 7.1 Channel, Realtek ALC1220-VB Codec
Storage: 6 x SATA 6Gbps, 3 x M.2
RGB Support: Yes
LAN: Realtek 2.5GbE
Wi-Fi: No
USB: 8 x USB 2.0, 5 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type -A, 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type A, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type C, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type C
Buy on Amazon
Gigabyte Z690 UD on Amazon
Gigabyte Z690 UD Socket: LGA 1700
Form Factor: ATX
Memory Type: DDR4
Memory Frequency: 5333 (OC) MHz
Memory Slots/ Channel: 4/Dual
Video Ports: 1 x HDMI 2.1 with HDR, 1 x DisplayPort 1.2
Expansion Slots: 1 x PCIe 5.0 X16, 1 x PCIe X16 (X4), 1 x PCIe X16 (X1), 2 x PCIe X1
Audio: 2/4/5.1/7.1 Channel, Realtek Codec
Storage: 6 x SATA 6Gbps, 2 x M.2
RGB Support: Yes
LAN: Realtek 2.5GbE
Wi-Fi: No
USB: 8 x USB 2.0, 6 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type -A, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type A, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type C, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type C
Buy on Amazon
MSI PRO Z690-A on Amazon
MSI PRO Z690-A Socket: LGA 1700
Form Factor: ATX
Memory Type: DDR5
Memory Frequency: 6400 (OC) MHz
Memory Slots/ Channel: 4/Dual
Video Ports: 1 x HDMI 2.1 with HDR, 1 x DisplayPort 1.4
Expansion Slots: 3 x PCIe 5.0 X16, 1 x PCIe X16 (X1)
Audio: 7.1 Channel, Realtek Codec ALC897
Storage: 6 x SATA 6Gbps, 4 x M.2
RGB Support: Yes
LAN: Intel I225-V 2.5GbE
Wi-Fi: No
USB: 4 x USB 2.0, 4 x USB 2.0 Type-A, 6 x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type C
Buy on Amazon
GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Elite AX on Amazon
GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Elite AX Socket: LGA 1700
Form Factor: ATX
Memory Type: DDR4
Memory Frequency: 5333 (OC) MHz
Memory Slots/ Channel: 4/Dual
Video Ports: 1 x HDMI 2.1, 1 x DisplayPort 1.2
Expansion Slots: 1 x PCIe 5.0 X16, 2 x PCIe 3.0 X16 (X4)
Audio: Realtek ALC1220-VB CODEC
Storage: 6 x SATA 6Gbps, 3 x M.2
RGB Support: Yes
LAN: Realtek 2.5GbE
Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi 6 AX201
USB: 8 x USB 2.0, 4 x USB 2.0 Type-A, 5 x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type C, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type C
Buy on Amazon
ASUS Prime Z690-P on Amazon
ASUS Prime Z690-P Socket: LGA 1700
Form Factor: ATX
Memory Type: DDR5
Memory Frequency: 6000 (OC) MHz
Memory Slots/ Channel: 4/Dual
Video Ports: 1 x HDMI 2.1, 1 x DisplayPort 1.4
Expansion Slots: 1 x PCIe 5.0 X16, 1 x PCIe 4.0 X16 (X4), 2 x PCIe 3.0 X16 (X4), 1 x PCIe 3.0 X1
Audio: Realtek 7.1 HD Audio CODEC
Storage: 4 x SATA 6Gbps, 3 x M.2
RGB Support: Yes
LAN: Realtek 2.5GbE
Wi-Fi: No
USB: 4 x USB 2.0 Type-A, 4 x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type C, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type C
Buy on Amazon
ASUS Prime Z690-P D4 on Amazon
ASUS Prime Z690-P D4 Socket: LGA 1700
Form Factor: ATX
Memory Type: DDR5
Memory Frequency: 5333 (OC) MHz
Memory Slots/ Channel: 4/Dual
Video Ports: 1 x HDMI 2.1, 1 x DisplayPort 1.4
Expansion Slots: 1 x PCIe 5.0 X16, 1 x PCIe 4.0 X16 (X4), 1 x PCIe 3.0 X1, 2 x PCIe 3.0 X16 (X4)
Audio: Realtek 7.1 HD Audio CODEC
Storage: 4 x SATA 6Gbps, 3 x M.2
RGB Support: Yes
LAN: Realtek 2.5GbE
Wi-Fi: No
USB: 4 x USB 2.0, 4 x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type C, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type C
Buy on Amazon

1. MSI PRO Z690-A – Budget Intel LGA 1700 Socket with PCIe 5.0

The MSI PRO Z690-A is the cheapest Alder Lake board of the lot but comes with an exciting set of features such as triple PCIe X16 slots and 5.1 audio output. Along with the reliability of MSI, you get a six-layered PCB with 2 ounces of thickened copper for higher performance and long-lasting system stability. There is protection against bending of PCIe cards on X16 slot with the use of steel-reinforcements for better performance and stability.

There are extended heatsinks and M.2 shields for excellent heat management on a budget with support for most essential and cosmetic features such as pump fan support and RGB and rainbow LED connectors. The ATX sized board has support for high-speed memory with a maximum overclocked frequency above 5200 MHz. Sadly, the memory supported still conforms to DDR4 standards.

The MSI PRO Z690-A is an excellent budget board that and has a large number of latest-generation USB ports and six high-speed SATA III ports and four M.2 SSD slots. There is support for RAID setups in both SATA and NVMe storage. Although multi-GPU setups are not so popular anymore but MSI has added CrossFire Technology with AMD cards.

Our Take

The MSI PRO-Z690 A is a nice entry-level board with most of the necessary features but there are a few misses such as support for DDR5 memory which is introduced by Intel’s latest processors. However, with support for a higher overclock frequency and Xtreme Memory Profile, MSI has somewhat tried to offer the taste of high-speed memory. A standout feature is the use of a multi-phase power delivery system which is usually not found in entry-level boards.

PROS
  • Native support for water-cooled pumps
  • Extensive monitoring and optimizing applications
  • A large number of storage connectivity options
  • Studio-grade audio
CONS
  • DDR5 memory support is missing
  • Xtreme Memory Profile 3.0 missing

2. MSI PRO Z690-A Pro Series – Budget Intel LGA 1700 Socket with DDR5 Support

MSI has a penchant for manufacturing products that offer good value for money, and the MSI PRO Z690-A Pro Series is the best offering in the cheapest segment. It comes with the best of what Intel’s latest processors have to offer in terms of memory support, the newest PCIe version, and Intel Optane technology. Through Xtreme Memory Profile 3.0, the motherboard supports up to 6400 MHz memory. Three PCIe X16 slots allow multiple GPUs through CrossFire technology, with the primary slot conforming to the PCIe 5.0 version while the other two operating at PCIe version 3.0 X4 and 3.0 X1, respectively.

There is ample use of heatsinks on the critical components for thermal management; the M.2 slots feature next-generation M.2 thermal solution that reduces the heat generated from SSDs. Powerful customization features allow fan control, pump control, and RGB customization. The motherboard features four high-speed M.2 slots and six SATA 6Gbps slots in convenient locations to aid in chassis cable management. Storage slots are compatible with Intel Optane and support Intel Smart Response Technology.

There are many physical connectivity options with support for the latest and older peripherals. Audio is managed by high-end gold-plated capacitors that use the Realtek ALC897 IC to deliver rich and crisp audio that thrive with high impedance headphones. The motherboard features a robust design built to last long, even in heavy usage. Advanced welding techniques and Surface Mount Technology reduce chances of interference, electromagnetism, and joint soldering failures.

Our Take

The MSI PRO Z690-A is a gaming-ready ATX motherboard board that supports the latest technology and comes with the latest features. It uses premium components in the manufacturing process that gives your system robust future-proofing and keep you in the game even when temperatures peak. Overall, the PRO Z690 allows you to somewhat future-proof your new Alder Lake build on the cheap.

PROS
  • Advanced thermal management features
  • XMP 3.0 support for DDR5 memory
  • Built for heavy use
  • High-speed LAN
CONS
  • No native wireless support

3. GIGABYTE Z690 Gaming X DDR4

A robust and well-built board available in the budget category is the Gigabyte Gaming X board with the Z690 chipset. It comes with a multi-phase digital VRM design and native PCIe 5.0 support. The power delivery mechanism is powered using Tantalum Polymer Capacitor MOSFET heatsinks. The motherboard has thermal guards built on the MOSFET and main voltage capacitors to enhance cooling.

The Gigabyte Z690 comes with Realtek ALC1220-VB audio CODEC for high-resolution audio output, and 7.1 audio is supported through a S/PDIF port. There are three full-sized PCIe X16 slots, one of which conforms to PCIe 5.0 standard for connecting graphics cards while the other two operate at X4 speed for add-on cards. As the board is CrossFire compatible, you can connect a second graphics card in one of the X4 slots.

Thermal guards have been extensively used over the M.2 slots preventing thermal throttling and bottlenecks. 2X copper PCB design prevents heat build-up. The Gigabyte Z690 Gaming X has audio powered by Realtek ALC1220-VB IC, which delivers high-resolution audio for immersive gaming. Finally, the Ultra Durable mark that most Gigabyte boards come with ensures a high-precision and high-quality manufacturing process.

Our Take

The Gigabyte Z690 Gaming X is a DDR4 powered board that some might frown upon as Alder Lake opens immense possibilities with support for DDR5 memory. However, there is a lot to be excited about the overall package, thanks to the fully covered design and high native customization support. The BIOS is detailed, and the Easy Tune applications allow users with a lot of enthusiastic level features usually not seen in cheap boards.

PROS
  • Fusion RGB
  • Plenty of storage options
  • Native support for liquid cooler
  • Fully covered thermal design
CONS
  • No DDR5 support

4. GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS ELITE AX DDR4

Next on our cheap list is an elite board from Gigabyte’s Aorus line up the Aorus Elite AX. It is a mainstream gaming board that unleashes the full potentials of the new Alder Lake processors. It comes with sixteen VCORE phases for powering the CPU, one VCGGT phase for the integrated GPU performance in the CPU, and two VCCAUX phases for PCIe and memory controllers in the CPU. There are four memory slots, each supporting 32GB RAM with a maximum speed of 5333MHz. Unfortunately, you don’t get a taste of DDR5, but the memory routing comes with ground shielding for reduced interference.

Heat management is excellent in the Aorus Elite AX, with thermal guards present over all the critical components like the MOSFETS, M.2 slots, and capacitors. Thermal conductivity pads help reduce thermal throttling and dissipate the heat by sensing temperatures through the internal sensors and activating the cooling fans. Like other Gigabyte boards, the Aorus AX supports Easy Tune and RGB headers customizing and tweaking performance. It is also the cheapest Alder Lake board to feature native Wi-FI support and a Bluetooth 5 module.

Storage features are abundant, with RAID supported across three M.2 SSD slots and six SATA 6Gbps headers. There is support for PCIe 5.0 in one of the X16 slots, while the other two X16 slots run at X4 speed and conform to PCIe 3.0 standards. Audio features are well boosted with Realtek ALC1220 SNR codecs with Smart headphone Amp that works equally well with headphones of different impedances.

Our Take

The Gigabyte Aorus Elite AX is a premium gaming motherboard with an Ultra Durable mark and the most advanced features. The absence of DDR5 memory is a big miss, but Gigabyte has mitigated it somehow by offering a high speed and high-capacity memory support in the Elite AX. It is a mainstream gaming board and fit for even the most powerful Alder Lake processor and comes ready with almost all the advanced features of the enthusiast category.

PROS
  • High-speed memory support
  • Extensive thermal shielding
  • Native Wi-Fi 6 support
CONS
  • Last generation memory and XMP

5. ASUS PRIME Z690-P DDR5

Asus Prime Z690-P is an entry-level Alder Lake board that comes in a neat and spacious layout. The mainboard is powered through a 14+1 DIGI+ VRM DrMOS system with a highly efficient and synchronous buck power module. Two asymmetrical MOSFETs with an integrated driver closely match a single unit enabling optimum switching performance. The board has four memory slots supporting up to 6000MHz DDR5 memory modules through XMP 3.0.

A standout feature in Asus’s board is a more significant number of expansion slots. The primary PCIe X16 slots are compatible with version 5.0, while three more X16 slots run at X4 speeds. Additionally, there is an X1 slot for connecting SATA or Wi-Fi cards. Unlike most other boards in the segment, the Asus mainboard supports only four SATA 6Gbps slots but retains three M Key compatible M.2 slots, conforming to PCIe 4.0 standards. One of the M.2 slots also supports SATA SSD and NVMe SSD.

There is no native Wi-Fi support, but there are heavy personalization features through AURA, Addressable, and regular RGB headers. Cooling fans and liquid cooling can be managed through the Fan Xpert 4 application that comes bundled, and the BIOS is well equipped with EZ and Advanced mode for multi-level system tweaks. A feature to catch my attention was on-board support for Thunderbolt 4. The Z690 Prime-P comes with 7.1 HD Audio CODEC supported with premium audio capacitors and a rear S/PDIF out port.

Our Take

Asus has equipped the Prime Z690-P with most of the necessary features of a premium board, yet more heatsinks would have been appreciated. However, high-quality PCB and a tried and tested manufacturing process over the years gives Prime Z690-P an edge over most manufacturers in terms of reliability and consistency under high loads. Support for multi-generation USB ports ensures none of your peripherals are left incompatible.

PROS
  • High speed DDR5 memory support
  • Premium 7.1 audio support
  • Detailed BIOS for advanced system tweaks
  • Robust power design with DrMOS
CONS
  • No native Wi-Fi support
  • Less SATA ports

6. ASUS PRIME Z690-P D4 DDR5

Asus Prime Z690-P D4 shares most of its features with the Prime Z690-P above, barring the memory. This one support DDR4 memory but is strangely priced a tad higher than its predecessor. The mainboard supports 5333MHz maximum memory frequency with the backing from OptiMem II that improves memory stability and reduces memory latencies. The board has minimal thermal management heatsinks. In addition to 14+1 DrMOS power delivery, ProCool Connectors with solid pins that can handle more current and generate less heat.

The motherboard comes with three M.2 slots supporting up to 64Gbps data speeds via PCIe 4.0. It also has five PCIe slots with a single reinforced version 5.0 X16 slot and three other X16 slots running at X4 speeds. It has the same four SATA 6Gbps slots as in the above motherboard with RAID configurations supported in both M.2 and SATA storage.

There is no native Wi-Fi support, and ASUS LANGuard powers the LAN. USB connectivity options are abundant with support for USB 2.0, 3.2 Gen 1, Gen 2, and Gen 2×2 ports. Realtek 7.1 audio uses high capacity, interference-free capacitors, and dedicated audio PCB layers with provisions for multi-streaming and 24-bit/192 kHz playback.

Our Take

The Asus Prime Z690-P D4 is almost similar to the Prime Z690-P, and the only real difference seems to be the absence of DDR5 memory. However, the maximum supported frequency is quite high at 5333MHz. Pricing could be an issue for this mainboard.

PROS
  • XMP supported
  • 128GB memory capacity
  • RAID configuration on both M.2 and SATA storage
CONS
  • Priced higher than the advanced variant

Choosing the Cheapest Alder Lake Motherboard – A Comprehensive Buying Guide

Intel has drawn first blood with the new 12th Gen processors, and it is now up to AMD to see how they respond. Motherboard features and support list depend mainly on its chipset. The latest Intel releases currently supporting only a single chipset in the Z690 series make compiling a buying guide tricky. It all boils down to the versatility of the Z690 chipset and the price you could aim for.

Price Comes First

For the cheapest products, price is the primary concern. There are currently quite a few boards available around the “budget” price point, with more players like ASRock, Mercury, and Biostar still to enter the market with their offerings. However, you must consider that cheaper boards might compromise on thermal management, stability, and other good to have features.

Manufacturer Counts

You are in the market for the cheapest motherboard supporting the latest Intel processors. However, you would still want your product to last for at least 2-3 years, and hence opting for a reputed manufacturer would be advisable. Sapphire, American Megatrends, and other unknown Chinese brands might offer boards at jaw-dropping prices. You would do good to ensure the manufacturer you choose has a history of making quality products with good after-sale service.

Memory Woes

Alder Lake thankfully supports both DDR4 and DDR5 memory. While you might be tempted to go for a motherboard supporting DDR5 memory, you also must consider that DDR5 memory prices would be sky-high right now. Perhaps going for the cheap and best DDR4 board right now and upgrading to a better DDR5 board later in a couple of years after the latest generation memory prices subside a bit could be a better option for the pocket.

DDR4 memory on Alder Lake boards supports up to 5333MHz when overclocked, which is already close to what DDR5 offers. Hence, going for the cheapest board that offers high memory speeds might not be much of a compromise after all. Alternatively, there are some cheap boards with the DDR5 option available, and you could also opt for them.

Latest Expansion Slots

12th Generation Intel processors support the newest generation PCIe X16 slots. PCIe version 5.0 offers breathtaking performance from compatible graphics cards. However, the latest graphics cards all support up to PCIe 4.0, and hence most Z690 motherboards would offer future-proofing for your PC. In this regard, it would be wise to go for a motherboard with additional X16 slots running at X8 or X4 speeds and conforming to PCIe version 4.0 or at least 3.0.

Thermal Management

Heat management is an essential feature of motherboards where manufacturers use thermal pads and heatsinks to shield the heat generated by a component from throttling the performance of the other. In other cases, heatsinks efficiently dissipate the heat away from SSDs to reduce performance downgrade. You might have to compromise with physical heatsinks with cheaper boards, but there should be adequate chassis fan headers and temperature sensors.

Cheapest Alder Lake Motherboard – Frequently Asked Questions

Will Alder Lake motherboard support both DDR4 and DDR5 memory?

Alder Lake processors have support for both DDR4 and DDR5 memory, but none of the motherboards would have any scope for hybrid support. Both the memory generations would not be supported simultaneously. Manufacturers instead could opt for a manufacturing process where the same motherboard would be available in both DDR4 and DDR5 variants.

Will any other chipsets be supporting Alder Lake beside the Z690?

Chipsets have conventionally had a say in the expansion, peripheral support, USB support, storage options, and most importantly, overclocking support of motherboards supporting processors from a particular generation. Currently, there is only one chipset supporting the Intel 12th Gen release, which contrasts with how previous releases have approached.

Intel has approached this with a single Z690 board supporting from USB 2.0 to overclocking, and it is doubtful that there would be any other chipset in the future, and this could now be the new normal.

How is future proof of my Alder Lake motherboard?

Intel 12th Generation processors fit into the LGA 1700 socket of Alder Lake motherboard boards right now. From what rumors suggest, Rocket Lake could also retain the same LGA 1700 socket. However, the issue is that with new silicon being released every year for both desktops and mobile, if you build a PC for even three years, your processor and motherboard would become outdated for any partial upgrade. This is because, at most, two of the subsequent releases could support the changed specifications of the present generation in terms of socket size.

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