Lean heavily on Realtek to improve their audio drivers!
Screw it, don't "lean" on them, outright order them
to fix issues that are affecting the quality your product.
This Z690-I is decent, but my experience with it has been very disappointing because of the audio chipset. Frankly, I don't really feel like this motherboard was worth the money, and it's almost entirely because of the Realtek ALC4080 onboard sound.
First, when I power on the PC it sends a thump through my speakers. I've never had a PC do this before. It's probably not loud enough to damage components, but it's annoying and is disappointing and cheap-feeling to hear from a high-end motherboard.
The big issue, however, is that this ALC4080 audio chip does not allow port reassignment like past Realtek chips have. This means that when I run surround sound out, I can't output all channels using the motherboard's rear ports. Per the manual, running a 4.1/5.1 setup requires that a channel be output on the front panel connector
, and not even on the front headphone port, but on the microphone port
. This leads to several phenomenally dumb things to have on a supposedly high-end motherboard:
- You have to run a surround channel through the front panel. So, if your PC has front panel connectors then you always have a cable running out the front of it (particularly ugly for a nice home theater PC).
- If your PC doesn't have a front panel connector, like mine, then you have to connect a front panel audio board and leave it hanging out the rear of the PC like some crappy hack, not like a nice >$400 motherboard. Stupid.
- Because of the port assignment limitations, if you run 4.1/5.1 surround you can't use any onboard microphone input! Both microphone ports become outputs! So, to use an analog microphone, I had to buy a dinky USB sound card to make up for the deficiencies of my expensive motherboard - even thought it has enough physical ports!
Or, to put it all in perspective, my shiny new Z690-I doesn't have the audio capabilities of my previous motherboard, the 10-year old P8P67 Pro!
For the record, I've also reported this to Customer Service, but it's not really up to ASUS to fix, it's up to ASUS to demand Realtek address the issues.