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B660 Vs Z690: What's The Difference?

The Intel B660 and Z690 chipsets both launched in early 2022 as part of the 12th Generation "Alder Lake" platform. While they‘re both high-performance options for Intel‘s latest CPUs, there are some significant differences between them. The Z690 represents the top of the line with advanced overclocking and connectivity options, while the B660 strips away some of those extras to hit a lower price point. And if you want to build a compact PC, you‘ll also need to choose between standard ATX B660 boards and the smaller B660M using the microATX form factor.

So which one is right for your needs and budget? In this in-depth comparison, we‘ll break down everything you need to know about B660 vs Z690 motherboards, as well as how the B660M fits into the picture. Whether you‘re planning an affordable gaming rig, a maxed-out overclocked beast, or a mini PC, we‘ve got you covered!

B660 vs Z690: The Basics

Let‘s start with a quick overview of the key specifications of these two chipsets:


  • Supports 12th Gen Intel Alder Lake CPUs
  • DDR4 and DDR5 RAM support
  • 12 CPU PCIe 4.0 lanes
  • 6 CPU PCIe 3.0 lanes
  • Overclocking support for RAM only
  • Supports SATA RAID
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (20Gbps)
  • Total 4 USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports


  • Supports 12th Gen Intel Alder Lake CPUs
  • DDR4 and DDR5 RAM support
  • 16 CPU PCIe 4.0 lanes
  • 12 CPU PCIe 3.0 lanes
  • Unlocked CPU and RAM overclocking
  • Supports PCIe and SATA RAID
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (20Gbps)
  • Total 6 USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports

As you can see, both chipsets provide support for cutting-edge technologies like PCIe 4.0 and DDR5 memory. However, the Z690 bumps up the number of high-speed PCIe lanes and USB ports, which can be important for connecting multiple fast SSDs and peripherals. It also fully unlocks overclocking for squeezing the most performance out of your CPU and RAM.

The B660 isn‘t far behind though, especially in terms of raw specs. It still gives you access to the latest 12th gen Intel processors and your choice of DDR4 or DDR5 memory. PCIe 4.0 support means you can install the fastest current-gen SSDs and GPUs. Really, the main sacrifice is in overclocking—you can run your memory faster than stock speeds, but the CPU is locked to Intel‘s official numbers.

Ideal Use Cases

With those differences in mind, let‘s talk about which chipset is the best fit for different types of PC builds. The Z690 is clearly the platform of choice for enthusiasts and power users thanks to its overclocking abilities, beefed-up I/O, and support for multi-GPU setups. It‘s perfect for building a top-tier gaming rig with the fastest possible components. Content creators will also appreciate the extra connectivity for shuttling large video files around.

On the flip side, the B660 is a fantastic foundation for more affordable gaming PCs and general-purpose desktops. Since you can still use Alder Lake CPUs and PCIe 4.0 parts, performance isn‘t much lower than Z690 configs. You just miss out on some overclocking headroom and a few ports. Considering that Z690 boards often cost over $100 more than comparable B660 models, that‘s an easy tradeoff for most people.

Budget-minded builders should definitely stick with DDR4 memory when using B660 to keep costs down. DDR5 is much more expensive and harder to find. Luckily, Alder Lake CPUs don‘t require DDR5 to run well, so this is an easy way to save cash. Serious overclockers will want DDR5 paired with a Z690 board to maximize performance though.

The B660M Form Factor

That covers the main B660 vs Z690 comparison, but there‘s another type of B660 board that deserves some attention: the microATX B660M. As you can probably guess from the name, this uses the smaller microATX form factor that measures 9.6 x 9.6 inches. The larger ATX size is far more common, but microATX is a great choice if you want to downsize your build.

B660M motherboards make a few sacrifices to fit everything into that compact footprint:

  • 2-4 RAM slots instead of 4
  • 1-2 M.2 slots for SSDs instead of 2-4
  • 1-2 PCIe x16 slots for graphics cards instead of 2-3
  • Fewer USB ports on the rear I/O

So you‘ll typically have less room for expansion compared to ATX versions with the same chipset. That means a B660M board is best suited for single-GPU systems with a modest number of storage drives and USB devices plugged in. You can certainly build a respectable gaming rig or workstation in microATX, but multi-GPU setups and tons of fast storage are out of the question.

If you don‘t need those extras and want a physically smaller PC, the B660M is a great way to get capable 12th gen Intel hardware into a compact case. Just make sure your case has microATX support and remember that the majority of aftermarket CPU coolers are made for larger motherboard sizes. Luckily, all microATX cases also fit standard ATX power supplies and other parts.

When it comes to VRM and cooling designs, B660M boards are available with beefy heatsinks and power circuitry similar to their full-size siblings. They won‘t overclock of course, but you can still find B660M models suitable for running power-hungry Intel chips like the 12700K and 12900K at stock speeds. Carefully check the specs and VRM thermal performance before pairing a B660M board with those high-end CPUs though.


We‘ve touched on this already, but it bears repeating: Z690 motherboards are significantly more expensive than mainstream B660 models. There‘s a clear price hierarchy from B660M at the low end to B660 in the middle and Z690 at the top:

  • B660M microATX: $100-200
  • B660 ATX: $150-250
  • Z690 ATX: $200-$1,000+

At each tier, you tend to get nicer VRMs, heatsinks, and power components as you increase your budget. More expensive boards also commonly have better networking hardware, RGB lighting, and premium styling. So while you can find a basic B660 or B660M board for not much over $100, spending more within the same chipset family will get you a tangibly better motherboard.

Once you get into Z690 territory, higher prices give you access to extreme overclocking features and the fanciest designs. This is where you‘ll see over-the-top VRM cooling, multiple unreinforced PCIe slots, 10 Gbps LAN ports, and premium add-in cards. Most of those perks aren‘t necessary unless you‘re building a showcase PC with a giant budget, but that‘s part of the fun for enthusiasts.


If you want to overclock your Alder Lake CPU, Z690 is the only option for unlocked multipliers. Despite some early rumors, B660 boards do not support CPU overclocking at all. You can run your memory faster than default, but the processor is completely locked down. Intel doesn‘t officially allow RAM overclocking on B660 either, though some motherboard makers have added it.

This is worth highlighting because overclocking used to be more common on midrange chipsets like B460. As Intel has restricted the feature to high-end platforms over the years, it has become a privilege you have to pay extra for. Now if you want to run your CPU at anything other than stock speeds, Z690 is a must-have.

The good news is that Intel‘s 12th Gen processors are extremely fast at their default frequencies. Games and most apps don‘t benefit much from manual CPU overclocking. You‘ll see bigger improvements from using higher-speed memory and enabling Intel‘s built-in boost algorithms. Think carefully about whether a 5% overclock is worth the premium for a Z690 board and an unlocked "K" series CPU.


Aside from overclocking, the other major advantage of Z690 over B660 is its more extensive connectivity options:

  • PCIe Lanes: Z690 bumps the number of CPU-provided PCIe lanes up to 16 PCIe 4.0 and 12 PCIe 3.0. B660 drops that to 12 PCIe 4.0 and 6 PCIe 3.0 lanes. This matters most for adding high-speed PCIe 4.0 SSDs and expansion cards.
  • USB: You get a total of 14 USB ports on Z690 vs 12 on B660, including more 20Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 and 10Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports. That‘s helpful for VR headsets and other bandwidth-hungry USB devices.
  • Networking: Both chipsets can handle 2.5 Gbps Ethernet and the latest Wi-Fi 6E standards, but Z690 opens the door for even faster 5-10 Gbps wired networking on certain motherboards. That‘s overkill for most home networks but good future-proofing.
  • Multi-GPU: If you want to install more than one graphics card, Z690 is the only choice. It can split 16 PCIe lanes into an 8x/8x configuration for SLI or CrossFire. B660 is limited to a single x16 slot for one GPU.

While those differences can matter for specialized use cases, the vast majority of PC builders won‘t be limited by the B660‘s capabilities. It still gives you access to ultra-fast PCIe 4.0 storage, the latest networking standards, and plenty of USB ports. Unless you‘re certain you need Z690‘s extra lanes for exotic USB configs and multi-GPU arrays, sticking with B660 lets you put more of your budget towards the CPU and graphics card.

Which Should You Buy?

Putting it all together, here are our recommendations for when to choose each chipset:

Buy B660M if:

  • You want to build a compact, affordable gaming PC or general-use system
  • You don‘t need a large number of PCIe slots, M.2 slots, or USB ports
  • You‘re on a budget and don‘t plan on overclocking

Buy B660 if:

  • You want a capable foundation for a mid-range gaming rig
  • You‘d like the option to use multiple M.2 SSDs and several PCIe slots
  • You don‘t need CPU overclocking and are okay with the locked multiplier

Buy Z690 if:

  • You want to overclock your CPU and push your system to the max
  • You need the most possible PCIe 4.0 lanes for SSDs and expansion cards
  • You‘d like to run multiple graphics cards in SLI or CrossFire
  • You have a large budget and want the most fully-featured motherboard

No matter which one you pick, all three platforms are an excellent starting point for a powerful Intel 12th Gen PC. The B660 and B660M give you nearly all of the performance of Z690 in more affordable packages, while Z690 is the no-compromises choice for the fastest possible configurations.

Between the ATX and microATX form factors, B660 boards have enough flexibility to function as the backbone for a wide range of systems. You can spend well under $200 for a reliable model and put the rest of your money towards your GPU, SSD, and CPU. Just make sure any B660M board you consider has a VRM and cooling setup that matches your processor.

Of course, if you want the absolute best Alder Lake platform, a Z690 motherboard with an overclocked CPU and DDR5 RAM is the pinnacle of Intel‘s current lineup. Expect to spend close to $1,000 on the motherboard, CPU, and memory alone for that kind of setup though. For everyone else, the B660 and B660M hit the sweet spot of price and performance for Intel‘s latest generation.