Z690 AORUS Master Motherboard - Features

The Gigabyte / AORUS motherboard lineup is composed of 24 motherboards. The Z690 AORUS lineup comes with more enthusiast and gaming-specific features than the Gigabyte lineup while the Vision series is more so focused on the content creation segment.

Just like every generation, Gigabyte is focusing on a few key principles that will define its Z690 line's dominance.

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These features include:

Better VRM Design:

  • Up To 20+1+2 Phase, 105A Smart Power Stage, All ATX 16+ Phase

DDR5 Xtreme Memory Design:

  • Ultra Durable SMD DDR5 Armor, Shielded Memory Routing, DDR5 Auto Booster, DDR5 XMP Booster, XMP 3.0 User Profile

Better Thermal:

  • Fins-Array III, Thermal Guard III, Fully Covered Heatsink, All 6L 2x Copper PCB and Above

Faster Storage & Graphics Interface:

  • Full PCIe 5.0 Hardware Design, Ultra Durable SMD PCIe 5.0 Armor, Up To 4x PCIe 4.0 M.2

Better Connectivity:

  • Thunderbolt 4, 10 GbE LAN, USB 3.2 Gen 2x2, Front USB Type-C, All 2.5GbE and Above, WiFi 6E
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As you can see, 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). All ATX motherboards will be configured with a 16+ phase VRM design. Just like the previous generation, Gigabyte is using Tantalum Polymer Capacitors for higher efficiency and lower voltage while maintaining lower temperatures. Gigabyte has shown overclock data where they have achieved up to 8 GHz frequencies on LN2 cooling with their top-tier Xtreme design.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

The motherboard we got for testing is the Z690 AORUS Master which comes in as an enthusiast offering with a price tag of $469.99 US (Newegg). Talking about specs, the motherboard features the LGA 1700 socket which is powered by a 19+1+2 phase power delivery that makes utilizes the RAA229131 PWM controller and RAA2201105 (105A) MOSFETs for the VCore. The Vcc GT and Vcc AUX MOSFETs are spec'd at 60A & 70A respectively. The motherboard features four DDR5 DIMM slots which can support up to 128 GB capacities with speeds of up to 5600 MHz (OC+). The motherboard has a very futuristic look to it and also features a decent cooling setup on the VRMs which includes heatsinks that are made of proper aluminum fins and connected together through a heat pipe.

AORUS Z690 PRO AX Motherboard Features:

  • Support 12th Gen Intel Series Processors
  • Dual Channel Non-ECC Unbuffered DDR5, 4 DIMMs
  • Direct 19+1+2 Phases VRM Design with 105A Power Stage and Tantalum Polymer Capacitor
  • DDR5 XTREME MEMORY Design with SMD DIMM and Shielded Memory Routing
  • Advanced Thermal Solution with NanoCarbon Fins-Array III Heatsink, Direct-Touch Heatpipe II, and NanoCarbon Baseplate
  • Intel WIFI 6E 802.11ax 2T2R & BT5 with AORUS Antenna
  • Audio Solution with ESS Sabre ES9118 125dB on Rear Audio​
  • AQUANTIA 10GbE BASE-T LAN
  • 5 x Ultra-Fast NVMe PCIe 4.0/3.0 x4 M.2 with Thermal Guards
  • RGB FUSION 2.0 with Multi-Zone Addressable LED Light Show Design, Support Addressable LED & RGB LED Strips
  • Smart Fan 6 Features Multiple Temperature Sensors, Hybrid Fan Headers with FAN STOP and Noise Detection
  • Q-Flash Plus Update BIOS without Installing the CPU, Memory, and Graphics Card

Storage options include 6 SATA III ports while expansion includes 1 PCIe 5.0 x16, two PCIe 3.0 x4, and five M.2 ports (4 Gen 4 + 1 Gen 3). Two of the four M.2 slots feature Thermal Guard III heatsinks while the rest feature standard Thermal Guard II heatsinks with thermal pad cooling featured underneath them. The PCH heatsink is made up of a metallic grey finish while the IO cover has a matte black finish but does come with RGB LEDs that can be configured through the Gigabyte RGB Fusion software.

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For I/O, AORUS features 1 USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (Type-C), 1 USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-C), 5 USB 3.2 Gen 2 (2 Type-A Rear + 1 Type-C Front), 4 USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, Marvell AQtion AQC113C 10GbE LAN Port, WiFi 6E (2x antenna ports), 1 Display Port 1.4, 1 SPDIF port, Q-Flash Plus + Clear CMOS buttons and an HD audio jack that is powered by the Realtek ALC1220-VB CODEC.

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