Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Master: Excessive in a good way

Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Master

Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Master, as the name suggests, is a z690 motherboard that supports intel 12th gen alder lake. So that's the new coreo 912 900k, which is installed in the board right now. Also, it supports ddr5 memory i'll be installing this corsair vengeance. 

Ddr5 momentarily it's relatively expensive, 445 pounds here in the uk, it's towards the upper end of the gigabyte range, but it's not quite at the extreme end of the scale. However, the spec is very high-end. The layout of the board is interesting. 

If we start at the top, we've got a pair of 8-pin eps connectors. These are high-end, solid, pinned connectors. You don't need two eight pins to run the core. I9 past say 400 watts. One of them will do the job nicely. The fact you got two it's overkill. It looks good, but unless you're into ln2 you simply don't need that amount of power. 

You'Ll see we have a single pci express time, 16. Graphics slot it's gen 5, because that's the latest standard supported by intel. We don't have any gen 5 cards, yet you might expect to see a pair of graphic slots. 

You don't have that you got the 1 x 5 running directly off the processor at the foot of the board. You have a pair of gen 3 slots each running at times, four, so they're supporting a sound card or a network card. Something like that. This is essentially a single slot board under this hefty great big heatsink. Here we've got five m.2 slots. 

One is connected directly to the processor. Two are connected to the chipset, the two at the bottom there's a bit of lane sharing going on. So if you want to populate those two slots, you're not going to be able to use all six of the laid down sata connectors. 

Realistically, that's not a problem! If you look at the top of the board, you'll see plenty of fan connectors two over by the eps connectors and four at the top of the memory slots where we also have the power button and the postcode debug moving down the side of the board. 

We'Ve got the 24 pin connector a pair of usb 3.1, a usb type-c and various headers for things like temperature sensors. As you go across the foot of the board, you'll see, we have the front panel. Headers we've got more fan connectors. The reset button is down here and we've also got usb 2

In terms of the layout of the board it's clean and tidy, it might not be immediately obvious to you. It'S actually e atx, it's quite a narrow eatx, but there is a lot of hardware packed in here. Turning to the rear, i o panel we've got a q flash button, so you can update the bias without having a processor memory or graphics card installed and we have a clear cmos button. 

We'Ve got the antenna points for the wi-fi 6e, so it's triple band 2.456. Gigahertz we've got loads of usb 3.1 and 3.2 we've got a single display port, which is a bit odd. We'Ll come to that. We have one ethernet, that's 10 gigabit ethernet we've got two type c's, but they are not identical. One is two gen two, the other is gen two by two. 

So double the bandwidth and then we've got full audio support. The heat sinks on the m.2s preclude you from using ssds that already have a heatsink such as this pny accelerate. If you want to use a specific drive like that, you'll need to use it in the primary slot, because you can remove this one heatsink and install the ssd. 

What lies beneath these enormous heat sinks on the vrms, it's worth pointing out the main heatsink under this piece of shrouding, which has some lighting going on in the gigabyte auras logo. It'S worth pointing out that that heatsink is very large. It looks like it's been made that large, so it extends to cover both the vrm's and also the equantia 10 gigabit ethernet chip, because those things use a few watts of power and they require cooling. 

You can see the finned coolers have a large amount of surface area and that the fins themselves they have ventilation that allows air to pass through them. It would appear that a great deal of work has gone into those heat sinks. You do, however, have to wonder about the fact that the main heatsink is covered by that shielding. On the i o panel. 

Moving on to the vrms themselves, we have a 19 plus one plus two arrangement. The vrm controller uses a 20 phase, renaissas renis 229131 chip. The main event is 19 phases of 105 amps from renisas. These are smart power stages and we have a single 90 amp phase from isl powering the igp. When i mentioned, i have my doubts about a display port on the rear i o. 

Generally speaking, i prefer display port to hdmi. The thing is, i don't think anybody's going to be using this board using igp. The only function for that connector is for fault. Finding your graphics card appears to have a problem. Something'S gone wrong. 

You need to plug directly into the processor and use the igp clear that doesn't apply to the f skewer processors. If you're doing that, you may well find your system still doesn't behave. We'Re seeing reports that hdmi is the get out of jail. Connector displayport can be a bit peculiar. Sometimes you have to boot off hdmi before you can then switch to displayport. 

If i was going to pick one connector for the rear, i o panel for graphics, i would use hdmi rather than displayport. In that sense, i think that might be a bit of a mistake by gigabyte returning to the vrms. The other two phases for the vcc in are from monolithic power systems, so we have a two phase: controller and two 70 amp power stages. 

So in total we have 22 power stages, two for the vcc in one for the igp 19 for the cpu. You'Ve got something like two kilowatts of power for the cpu you're, never going to use anything like that. Clearly, this system would melt where you to pump two kilowatts through it, so we're running at something like 20 percent of the maximum potential of the vrms. 

It looks very impressive. Clearly, it's going to run as cool as ice uh, but when all said and done, this is to make gigabyte look good on paper. It'S so they can say. Look we've got 19 power stages for your cpu, which is more than 16 or 14 or 12.

Also worth pointing out, the master has an eight layer pcb other members of the z690 family from gigabyte use six layers, the master is the lowest of a handful of boards that offer you eight layers and that helps them to dissipate heat from the system. 

Our test system consists of an intel core: 9 12 900 k separate rocket 4.0 ssd, corsair vengeance, ddr5 memory, the power supply sea, sonic, prime titanium 850 watt and the graphics card from pallet gaming pro rtx 3080 and the cpu cooler is a corsair h150i elite lcd. 

So that's a 360 mil aio. Here we are in the bios and, as you can see, we're in easy mode, and the irony is that this high-end motherboard doesn't need all the features on offer. So sata no device found true pci express well, yes, you've got a graphics card m.2. 

Well, yes, you've got an ssd. I'Ve connected the fans from the all-in-one directly to the motherboard, so it's reporting the fans spinning away the cpu fan is actually the pump and then the three sis fans are, the three fans on the rad xmp is enabled and the boot manager is booting off the Single ssd could hardly get more straightforward. Let'S go into advanced mode. 

Everything is on auto the whole. Damn lot now cpu upgrade. I wondered about this feature and it turns out you can go into either gaming profile or maximum performance profile. Max performance profile adjust the turbo ratio plus one i mean that's max performance gaming profile, disables. All e cores. I mean a reasonable thing to do, but not quite as exciting, as you might hope, xmp. 

Well, it works. So why mess around with manual settings? We don't need to do any manual settings advanced voltage settings everything on auto, cpu vrm settings here we go right load line calibration. What options do we have? All i mean ultra extreme good, lord, let's put it on auto and we'll see what happens. 

Oh here we go here's something that might be of interest app center download. This is the as soon as the pc fires up. It wants to download the gigabyte app center and a whole bunch of software thing. You might choose to disable that it's equivalent of a zeus arm crate and we can ignore all that cis info well obvious and then boot i mean it's actually amazingly simple. 

I think we can exit out saving because we haven't made any changes. Yep, you see load line calibration, auto auto, so i've tinkered, but i've changed nothing. We'Ve done a good deal of benchmarking. With the gigabyte z690 aorus master played some games, run, cinebench use, blender, handbrake ada64 and a number of other tests. 

Of course, we have to distinguish between how the core i9 12900k runs in general against how it runs on this specific motherboard against the other motherboard that i've previously tested, which was the msi meg unified. The figures on the charts for the meg unify are now relatively elderly. 

Although you can see they're very similar to the gigabyte figures, i am going to review the mega unifi in the near future, so i'll be retesting it just to see how much those figures have changed. The gigabyte has tightened up voltages slightly over the msi is using less power to produce frankly the same performance. 

That'S the key takeaway here, but having said that, let's dive into the benchmarks and see what we've got in cinebench r23 multi-core, the core i9 12 900k - is right up the top of the chart. While the gigabyte performs slightly better than the msi on auto. 

When you overclock, the msi pulls ahead by the tiniest of margins in the grand scheme of things, there's nothing to choose single core performance in cinebench r23. It'S a similar story, good performance doesn't matter which of the two motherboards you choose, bapco crossmark. The gigabyte is up the top of the charts slightly. 

Bizarrely, the auto processor settings beat the overclocked settings and you can see the difference in the two scores. Absolutely negligible, so essentially, overclocking in bapco makes no difference. Handbrake h.264 conversion. We see here a reasonable jump in performance over the earlier testing, with the meg unify i'll, be interested to see how the mega unified performs when i retest. 

I suspect this is down to windows 11, rather than the difference in the platforms in the handbrake h.265 conversion. Again very little to choose between the two motherboards, but it is clear that the msi somehow sneaks a small advantage 3d mark times by cpu score gigabyte, beats msi. 

However, we all know that futuremark updates their software all the time when i retest the msi we'll see whether this is truly an advantage for gigabyte or whether it's actually down to the software, and then we move on to games far cry 6 gigabyte at the top Of the charts at 1080p and also at 1440p, far cry new dawn. It'S close, the msi beats gigabyte, but the scores are very similar. 

However, the gaming performance, both at 1080 and 1440, is excellent. Watchdog'S legion at 1080 gigabyte tops the charts at 1440. It'S the amd's that take over out of intel, however, gigabyte once again beats the msi ada 64 memory bandwidth we're only looking here at intel, 12th gen because, of course, ddr5 versus ddr4. As you can see, the numbers are huge. 

There is nothing to choose between the msi mega unifi and the gigabyte auras master power consumption. This is where things get interesting. Gigabyte is using significantly less power than msi. This is system power at the wall socket we're talking 50 watts on auto 35 watts overclocked. 

However, as i say when i re-test the msi's there's bound to be some bias, updates i'll be fascinated to see what difference the latest test results are from. The msi cpu temperature on auto gigabyte has the advantage over the msi, but you've just seen the gigabytes using less power, so it makes perfect sense that it runs cooler by a five degrees celsius. 

That'S well worth having again i'll, be retesting the msi fascinated to see how those figures change. When you overclock the core i9, you get very little extra performance because the thing is delivered close to its thermal limits and now it's running at 100 celsius on both the gigabyte and the msi motherboards. 

And then we come to the vrms when you pound the core i9 in this system on auto it's pulling 207 watts when you overclock it, the cpu is pulling 290 watts, but all those vrms being hurt by the shroud only way to tell is to do some Back-To-Back testing, it's not difficult, removing the shroud from the vrm heatsink on the rear. I o. However, it is slightly fiddly. 

You have to remove the back plate from the rear of the motherboard. That'S about eight screws, thermal pads on the back of the vrms and also on the 10 gig ethernet. You also need to remove the heatsink from the m.2 slots because it covers at least one of the screws and then a few more screws. 

Later you can remove the rear. I o shield got a total of 8 10. 12. 14. 16. 20 fasteners. In order to remove the shroud also worth pointing out that the shroud includes a thread which secures this end of the primary m.2 heatsink. So you've got a gap just there. 

Removing the shroud is certainly doable just for this little experiment, but it's not something you do in day-to-day use that i am quite sure about on with the testing after 10 minutes, the cinebench r23, with the shroud removed the vrm temperatures actually increased by two degrees celsius. I

 did not expect that also, i'm not at all sure i prefer the industrial look of the board with the shroud removed, so my expectations and my preconceptions dashed onward with the review. So, amazingly, the answer is on auto. The vrms are running at 57 celsius. Remove the shell, the temperature is 59 celsius when you overclock, the vrms run at 61 celsius.

 Remove the shroud 63 celsius. The range, therefore very tight, 57 to 63. So the vrm temperatures on this open test bench icy, cold, significantly cooler than the cpu. They are no problem whatsoever. You'Ve seen the quality of the hardware used by gigabyte. 

This does not come as a surprise to you, i'm quite sure. The vrms in this motherboard are next level. Let'S wrap up with my pros and cons about the gigabyte, z690 aorus master pros the good points. Those vrms are epic and the heatsinks on them are really good pieces of work. 

I like the clean design with the single pci express gen, 5 graphics slot and the pair of gen 3 expansion slots further down the board. On the other hand, i'm sure there'll be plenty of people that don't like that setup.

In which case this board's, not for you you've got superb support for m2 usb wi-fi 6e and bluetooth latest specs and finally, a huge number of pwm fan headers and they are distributed liberally around the board in good locations, cons the negatives. 

These might sound quite minor to you, they kind of are, but they got to me first. There are two type c's on the rear i o panel. They are not the same spec as each other. They look identical, that's annoying. It has single 10 gigabit ethernet and i think there should be a secondary connector. 

After all, that 10 gig would be great for connecting to a nas or transferring video files, in which case you need a connection to connect to the internet. A two and a half gig intel would do nicely, and finally, we have displayport on the rear. I o. I think it should be hdmi. That'S it relatively minor points. I think it's a solid, eight and a half out of ten and i think it's worth buying.