B660 VS Z690: What’s the Difference?

Matt Vallence
Matt Vallence
13 Min Read

Alder Lake marks Intel’s return to form, bringing sweeping changes and monumental gains. It uses the LGA 1700 socket, so you’ll have to get a new motherboard if you wish to experience the full benefits of this amazing CPU generation.

The B660 and the Z690 are two of the most popular chipsets supporting Alder Lake, but, which one of them should you get? What sets them apart? The differences can be confusing if you haven’t been keeping up with motherboard development, so we’ve done the research to set your mind at ease.

A Brief Overview

The two most talked about LGA 1700 chipsets have much in common. They both work with either DDR4 or DDR5 RAM and feature the new WiFi 6E standard or the possibility of its implementation anyway. You can also slot any processor from the 12900KS to a lowly Celeron into either board type.

We’ll go over everything in more detail below, but overclocking prospects, connectivity, and PCIe lane count are the main points to consider in the Z690 vs. B660 debate. The table below provides an exact overview of these differences. Naturally, manufacturers have come up with a wide variety of boards for both chipsets that fulfill their potential to varying degrees.

Chipset FeaturesZ690B660
CPU overclockingYesNo
Memory overclockingYesYes
PCIe 5.0 lanes1×16 / 2×81×16
PCIe 4.0 lanes126
PCIe 3.0 lanes168
SATA ports84
USB 3.2 Gen 2×242
USB 3.2 Gen 2104
USB 3.2 Gen 1106
USB 2.01412

Understanding Chipsets

When we’re talking about B660 and Z690, we refer to them as chipsets. Think of the chipset as a motherboard’s control center. It’s made up of one to several chips and controllers that ensure the CPU, GPU, RAM, and other parts of the motherboard are connected and work in sync. Essentially, the two chipsets differ based on the number and complexity of their components. These then impact the sophistication and amount of features a motherboard can support, like available storage devices, USB ports, headers, etc.

Users familiar with Intel’s naming structure can already get an idea of what to expect. Z-series chipsets are aimed at enthusiasts and are the most sophisticated in each generation. The B-series has a reduced feature set with a lower price point that makes it more appealing to budget-conscious buyers.

While these two are the most well-known, two more motherboard types were released in January of 2022. H670 boasts most of Z690’s features, overclocking being the most significant omission. H610 is on the other end of the spectrum. It lacks all but the essentials and is best suited for users running locked CPUs who don’t have high storage or connectivity demands.

CPU & RAM Overclocking

ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-Plus chipset
ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-Plus front shot

Overclocking almost always comes up when discussing how to push your PC to its limits. For the CPU, it means tinkering with the multiplier and voltages to get its cores to run as fast as they can while remaining stable. It used to be a tedious and tricky affair. Now, all you need is a processor with a K in its name and a willingness to adjust a few advanced settings in the BIOS.

This is the only B660 vs. Z690 metric where there’s no room for compromise, as B660 doesn’t allow overclocking. This makes Z690 highly desirable among enthusiasts and is likely the single greatest reason some of them will go for one. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pair a CPU like the 12600K with a B660 board – you just won’t be able to push it past factory safety limits.

Any Alder Lake processor paired with B660 will work within the manufacturer’s specified parameters. This means technologies like Turbo Boost function as intended even though conventional overclocking doesn’t. While you can’t reach the pinnacle of a processor’s capabilities without it, advances in CPU architecture have made the practice less impactful.

The situation is reversed when RAM is concerned. You’re practically obliged to overclock since sticking to a kit’s stock frequency means leaving a considerable chunk of potential performance unutilized. The drawbacks of not overclocking are more pronounced for DDR4, but DDR5 owners will also experience a performance hit if they forget to turn XMP on.

Luckily, both Z690 and B660 come with the XMP profile feature. It allows you to enter the BIOS and bring the RAM to its maximum advertised factory clock. Some kits with quality ICs also allow for further overclocking at the cost of more power consumption or looser timings.

PCIe Lanes

PCIe Lanes
PCIe Lanes on a Z690 | Courtesy of Michael Sexton, PC Mag

The type and number of PCIe lanes supported by each motherboard type have a significant impact on connectivity and future-proofing. LGA 1700 mobos are particularly interesting as they’re the first to house three generations of lanes.

PCIe 5.0 is the 600-series’ most forward-thinking technology. Current graphics cards don’t come close to maxing out PCIe 4.0 bandwidth, and the same will likely be true for the next generation. Still, it’s a feature worth considering if you plan on sticking with Alder or Raptor Lake for a while.

The chipset may present a bottleneck to the amount of data required to support a graphics card, so the associated lanes are always CPU-bound. Z690 motherboards can either run the primary PCIe 5.0 x16 slot at full speed or include the second slot in a 2×8 configuration. B660 boards can only do the former.

Keep in mind that these are theoretical maximums not guaranteed to exist on every model. Combining multiple GPUs has fallen almost completely out of favor and might even be counterproductive in some cases, so not many Z690 models support the split. Most B660 models prudently offer no more than PCIe 4.0 to keep the cost down and don’t support PCIe 5.0 natively. There are exceptions, but they are few and far between.

Both chipsets offer several PCIe 4.0 and 3.0 lanes for your high-speed storage and expansion card needs. However, there’s a sizeable difference since B660 comes with eight PCIe 3.0 and six PCIe 4.0 lanes, which is only half of what you can theoretically get on the more advanced chipset.


M.2 Slot
M.2 PCIe 4.0 Slot on the ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-Plus

The uptick in overall lane availability has put high-speed storage at the forefront. To put this into perspective, three M.2 slots were reserved for high-end Z models until Rocket Lake. Now, most B660 motherboards have them.

Five is the maximum amount of M.2 slots available on Z690 boards. Some support them natively, while the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 HERO has an add-in card that provides room for two on top of three integrated into the board itself. Moreover, it’s not uncommon for all the M.2 drives on a Z690 board to be PCIe 4.0.

The CPU-fed slot will always make use of PCIe 4.0×4 speeds. Depending on the quality of the drive you put inside, you can expect transfer speeds greater than 6,000MB/s! B660 boards usually have two PCIe 4.0 and one 3.0 slot, PCIe 4.0 x2 sometimes replacing the latter. Familiarize yourself with the layout before populating the slots to ensure you’re not artificially hindering your drives’ transfer speeds.

Let’s not forget good old SATA 3 either. There’s no question about who wins in this B660 vs. Z690 matchup. Most Z690 motherboards come with the standard six SATA plug configuration, but eight is the platform’s maximum. The legacy drives are limited to four on B660. Some manufacturers get around this by adding two more ports through additional chips.

Port Selection

I/O Ports
I/O Ports on a ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-Plus

One of the ways you can quickly tell B660 and Z690 apart is by examining the board’s I/O. While not as drastic as the cut to PCIe lanes, B660 boards come with noticeably fewer USB ports.

They theoretically max out at two 20Gbps USB-C ports and almost always come with one, if that. There’s also room for twice as many 10Gbps and six 5Gbps connections. USB 2.0 has seen the least pruning, so you’ll often find it taking up half or more of the back I/O’s USB lineup.

There are no hard & fast rules when it comes to other connection types, but general principles still apply. B660 motherboards are more likely to have fewer headers for system fans and Thunderbolt add-in cards. They are also unlikely to come with better audio and advanced features like voltage read points, sensor headers, and LED debugging tools.


Expansion Slots
Expansion slots on a ASUS TUF Gaming Z690-Plus

Z690 is the generation’s flagship chipset, so having to pay more for it comes as no surprise. However, knowing that a chipset is the best doesn’t tell you what kind of variety or pricing extremes to expect.

You could end up paying around $250 for a model that’s only slightly better equipped than the best B660 boards. Conversely, models like the Gigabyte AORUS Xtreme or ASUS ROG Maximus Apex prove that the sky’s the limit if you have the cash to spare.

B660 boards are noticeably cheaper, but they come with their own challenges. On the one hand, B660 is more expensive as a whole than B560 was. It used to be that you could build a fierce gaming PC around a $100 mobo, which is no longer possible. On the other hand, you have to pay close attention to reviews and spec sheets since not all similarly priced models offer the same value.

B660 vs Z690 – Which Motherboard Is Right for You?

Which features can you not live without? The answer to that question goes a long way in determining the better pick. Overclocking, room for many current-gen M.2 drives, and a heap of USB ports to connect all of your devices make getting a Z690 motherboard a no-brainer for enthusiast buyers. There’s also more robust VRM that ensures the CPU’s surroundings will remain cooler.

That being said, B660 is a compelling platform for a large segment of the market. If you’re fine with having 1-2 fast SSDs and just want everything to run smoothly without tinkering, then Z690 might be overkill. Putting the money you’d save on the motherboard towards a better CPU or graphics card would immediately elevate your build.

Whichever chipset you go with, remember to look into individual boards more thoroughly to get one you are happy with at the best possible price.

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Matt has been staring at one monitor or another for much longer than he'd care to admit. He enjoys keeping up with trends in gaming & related hardware, exploring immersive worlds in RPGs, as well as crafting his own using Blender.
  • Many of the B660 series intel motherboards don’t have a flash back/q-flash/flash bios button and a dedicated usb socket for flash drive bios upgrade.

    When buying a motherboard and cpu combination that doesn’t work out of the box, you will have to have two cpus. One that works without a bios update insert it into the socket slot then plug the appropriate plugs from power supply to the motherboard (40 pin power and the CPU 4 or 8 pin power), power on, press button to enter bios, flash bios, power down, take it out and swap to other cpu.

    Example: B660 Alder Lake upgrade to Raptor Lake requires having at least a former mentioned cpu be it a celeron for flashing the bios then switch over to latter mentioned cpu. Or find a computer store/computer service that offers bios upgrade service at a fee (of course).

    They tend to have not so good quality onboard audio and ethernet port(s).

    • Yup, all of your points are valid.

      The article first came out when Raptor Lake wasn’t around, so forwards compatibility and ease of updating the BIOS without a CPU wasn’t even an issue back then.

  • When I went to the store and found out the new computer was 20 Times faster then my old core 2 duo running X running XP, I instantly bought a Z690 . I just got an Azus Z690P D4. Seem to work pretty good, I plugged it into the TV through the HDMI and it sort of didn’t come up immediately which was disturbing to me But I went ahead anyway, Then about a month later I upgraded it and and I didn’t get anything on the TV I put in a graphics card. I tried at 256 MB graphics some kind of rage. they told me I needed 3 go by But it was working with the 256 MB. but one day after those updates it just when to put out anything So I went down to the store and bought a brand new one and it didn’t put out anything either. I think that they updated the colonel for Windows 10 and Windows 11 I reinstalled it over and over and and I never saw anything come out of the TV ever again. Then I went down and bought an off the shelf Dell, I can’t remember what model it was I think it was something with a B660 It was the cheapest computer they had. I was very disturbed when I heard the audio come on that indicated that it had finished booting But yet there was nothing on the display screen. TV was blank but I knew that it had booted successfully. Some kind of instinct drove me to put my digital port to HDMI adapter into the DP out of the computer and when I saw that the display was working I was so mad because I tried every manufacturer there was and I couldn’t get anything out of any of them And now and now here I was with this brand new Dell and it did exactly the same thing as the others But why did the ASUS ever work? I still don’t know but I know that now I can’t get anything out of any board at all by any manufacturer except MSI. But yet MSI requires the digital port to HDMI converter to work. I can’t get anything out of the HDMI port. I have tried every board all over again and none of them will work even with the HDMI converter. So once again,::: no boards work with a TV as a monitor except MSI. and MSI only works if you put a DP to HDMI converter into the DP output of the Z 690. Now I haven’t tried to be 660 yet for obvious reasons. but I understand that there is some kind of A desperate problem with developing a computer that with the TV. And that only MSI has conquered that dysfunction. And that’s only if you use a deep HDMI converter. I didn’t tear apart my DP to HDMI Converter to see if it was just simply a cross wire adapter or if it had an active demodulator modulator in it. but it only cost $1.50 So I imagine it’s just cross wire. Interestingly if so cheap that when I pulled the HDMI out one day the piece of steel in the converter on the HDMI output the goes around the outside and contacts the ground literally just fell out, I have two of these connectors, they both work work but only this one the ground actually just fell out and I popped it back in and it still works, it works with no problem at all the same way it did before, But yet I wonder why I have to use this DB converter. I ordered 10 brand new DP2HDMI converters. As soon as I come I’m gonna tear this thing apart. But I have a question for you.::: why did the HDMI stop working? And why does no board work with a monitor through any kind of adapter except MSI? Now when I say it didn’t work, I mean I couldn’t get the bios for all the money in the world I rebooted it over 100 times waited for days for it to come up And I and I never saw the bios on any computer other than the MSI with the DP to HDMI converter Plugged in. then. thank you for reading.

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