AORUS has officially unveiled their flagship Z690 Xtreme WaterForce motherboard which is going to cost over $2000 US.
AORUS Z690 Xtreme WaterForce Motherboard Pictured, Costs Over $2000 US & Only 200 Units Will Be Produced
The AORUS Z690 Xtreme WaterForce is the company's flagship offering, even one step above the Xtreme itself. The main difference is that the WaterForce rocks a full cover monoblock that covers the CPU, VRM, and PCH. Aside from that, the motherboard looks absolutely fantastic but it will be produced in limited quantities.
Videocardz states that the motherboard will have only 200 units in its production timeline and as such, we can expect a huge price for this motherboard. Australian retailer, PLE Computers, has listed the motherboard for $2999 AUD which converts to over 2000 USD. This makes this motherboard the most expensive Z690 option so far.
Gigabyte has a lot of new features to talk about so let's talk about the new VRM design that they are offering this generation. Gigabyte is going with a fully direct Digital VRM design that will comprise up to 20 VCore Phases (105A Power Stage), 1 VCCGT Phase (105A Power Stage), and 2 VCCAUX Phases (70A DrMOS). Just like the previous generation, Gigabyte is using Tantalum Polymer Capacitors for higher efficiency and lower voltage while maintaining lower temperatures so expect top-notch overclocking performance on the AORUS Z690 Xtreme WaterForce board.
Moving over to DDR5 memory, Gigabyte has said that their motherboards are designed to support up to DDR5-8000 overclocked DIMMs out of the box in dual-channel mode. Furthermore, the brand new Xtreme memory design on Z690 motherboards includes DDR5 SMD DIMMs and the Shielded memory routing to minimize all noise and electrical interference to achieve higher performance. It also looks like Gigabyte has two modes for DDR5 voltages, a secure mode where the PMIIC will be locked at 1.1V and a Programmable mode which unlocks Native DDR5 voltage control & increases the overall memory overclocking performance and capability.
Gigabyte also features a new feature known as DDR5 Auto booster which can automatically increase native DDR5-4800 to 5000 Mbps with the click of a button within the BIOS. The same function is also included to boost XMP profiles that are validated by memory makers. So rather than sticking to the default XMP profiles, you end up with slightly faster XMP 3.0 specs for a free performance.
One of AORUS's & Gigabyte's strongest suites over the last few generations has been their cooling designs on motherboards. The Z690 series takes it to the next level with Fins-Array III. The new heat sink solution has almost double the per-fin surface area with extended fins and an increase of more than 900% in total. The heat sinks themselves are NanoCarbon Coated to enhance thermal radiation and have shown to be 10% cooler than the standard design.
Underneath these massive heat sinks is the Direct-Touch Heatpipe II solution which will comprise 8 mm heat pipes and feature a narrow gap design to dissipate heat more effectively. The same is true for M.2 heatsinks which are receiving a huge upgrade in the form of M.2 Thermal Guard Xtreme which features an extended fin design and even dual Heatpipe on top-tier Z690 boards.
Obviously, we can't move on without mentioning some features such as PCIe 5.0 where Gigabyte is offering up to two Gen 5.0 slots (x8 / x8 mode). The slots come with an SMD Iron Claw that reduces overall signal degradation while the multi-point stainless steel pins increase the overall durability of the slots. You also get up to 4 PCIe 4.0 x4 slots, Thunderbolt 4 support, 20 Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 ports, and USB Type-C front panel headers on all Z690 motherboards,
The top motherboards are outfitted with 10 GbE Aquantia LAN ports while you will find 2.5 GbE networking as a standard on all Gigabyte Z690 motherboards. There's also WiFi 6E support with brand new Antennas and you will find a new HEX ESS ES9080A 8x8 channel DAC line driver on the high-end designs. Of course, the standard Z690 Xtreme won't cost as much as the WaterForce since it doesn't feature an AORUS monoblock that literally is 30% of the entire cost of the board. But even the standard variant is aimed at premium users and should cost close to $1000 US if not over that. You can see AORUS's complete Z690 motherboard lineup here.