Test: Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Master – very well equipped motherboard at a fair price






The 12th generation of Intel Core CPUs is based on the new socket LGA1700. You will need new motherboards for this. We put Gigabyte’s Z690 Aorus Master to the test.

The introduction of Intel’s “Alder Lake” platform for the 12th core generation with the Z690 chipset brings exciting technologies such as PCI-Express 5.0 and DDR5. Of course, the prices of the new main boards are also rising at the same time. We go into the technical data and functions of the Z690 Master – and with which CPUs you can combine the motherboard.

  • Expert rating:

    4.5 out of 5 points

  • Advantage:

    Good build quality, fully equipped for the price, comfortable aesthetics and functional cooling, capable of handling 12900K hotrod CPU, suitable for both gaming and workstation

  • Disadvantages:

    DDR5 is still too expensive compared to the marginal benefits, LGA 1700 requires a special bracket for most CPU coolers, E-ATX can limit the choice of cabinets, PCI-E lane restrictions for those who use 8x / 8x or more than have need a single 16x slot

  • Guide. price: 499 euros

  • Summary:

    The Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Master motherboard is pretty good value for money and offers a wealth of features.

Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Master on Amazon

Unique features

When it comes to equipment, the Z690 Master is really great, which leads to a really good price-performance ratio. So let’s look at some of the highlights and analyze their pros (and cons) in practice.

Advantage:

  • 10 Gbe network connection is available. Something that is otherwise found on many more expensive motherboards.

  • Wi-Fi 6E is the standard for wireless network connections.

  • With five M.2 slots, this motherboard is at workstation level. You get a great level of performance and technology that even supports the powerful Intel 12900K.

  • The board offers a premium feel without the premium price – with a suggested retail price of € 499 it is a very good bargain.

To take advantage of the Intel 12900K CPU, you need a motherboard with the Z690 chipset.

Enlarge

To take advantage of the Intel 12900K CPU, you need a motherboard with the Z690 chipset.

© Thiago Trevisan / Foundry

Disadvantages:

  • DDR5 support only and you will probably need two DIMMs instead of four to get full rated speed. DDR5 is also more expensive.

  • The LGA 1700 means you will need a bracket or a new CPU cooler. LGA 1200 coolers will not work, unlike Asus’ Z690 motherboard, which built-in supports both.

  • 16x PCI-E Gen 5 only on the top slot; Multi-GPU support is not an option if you need 8x / 8x. 4x Gen 3 on the other slots is good for PCI-E cards, sound cards, etc., but not for another 8x GPU for workstation or NVLink use.

  • E-ATX means that this motherboard is wider than a typical ATX motherboard, so extra care must be taken with construction dimensions and box size.

design

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the Z690 Master is certainly attractive. At this price point, you will see design adjustments such as “armor plates” for the M.2 and VRM regions, RGB as well as a typically higher build quality. When you place the Master next to the much more expensive Z690 Gigabyte Aorus Xtreme variant, you’ll have to look closely to see the differences. RGB is tastefully implemented on the motherboard, with two main areas that light up and can be customized using Gigabyte’s “RGB Fusion” software.

A new LGA 1700 connector means you will need a new radiator or bracket.

Enlarge

A new LGA 1700 connector means you will need a new radiator or bracket.

© Thiago Trevisan / Foundry

Performance and BIOS

The Z690 Gigabyte Aorus Master is well-equipped to handle even the mighty Intel 12900K. With 105A in its 19 + 1 + 2 power design, overclocking becomes a breeze. It’s definitely overkill as the VRMs remain decidedly cool. But we are used to seeing overkill performance levels on more expensive models. So it’s great to see them at this price range.

Ideally, this motherboard is paired with an advanced 12th generation Intel CPU, such as 12900K or 12700K. But the specs are attractive enough that those who do not need massive CPU power can even opt for the 12600K and still get great performance (and access to 10 GbE LAN, five M.2 slots, etc.).

If you want to test the VRMs, the Gigabyte BIOS has been improved over the years so that it is generally easy to use and the settings can be adjusted as needed. There is a lot to tinker with here, but remember: overclocking is less and less useful as these chips are already running out of the box quickly.

Conclusion

The Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Master offers pretty good value for money and a wealth of features. For the price, you get Wi-Fi 6E, 10GbE network, five M.2 slots and an attractive design. Of course, PCI-E Gen 5 and DDR5 are not mature yet, but they are here and they also give you something future-proof.

Keep in mind that this is a wider E-ATX housing that needs a CPU bracket for the LGA 1700 as well as DDR5 RAM. Otherwise, it is a solid motherboard that benefits from a generous range of features and an even more generous price level.

Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Master on Amazon

The XMP memory profiles work well with DDR5 – with one caveat: the Z690 motherboards have issues with four DDR5 modules and XMP with the delivery firmware; You will be limited to base speeds. This can be a problem if you need more sticks for higher capacity. As such, you should instead buy dual sets with larger capacity to maximize XMP speeds.

Leave a Comment