Visual Inspection

Back in 2017, GIGABYTE debuted its Aorus gaming series, which by all accounts was to segment its gaming-focused products much like ASUS does with its Republic of Gamers series and MSI's Gaming branding. Over the years, the overall design and aesthetic have mutated, and GIGABYTE's Aorus range of motherboards encapsulates its most premium models.

Focusing on the current design via one of its most premium models, the GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Master blends a mixture of RGB-enabled zones, including a large rear panel cover and a large chipset heatsink. It features an ATX-sized PCB that is all-black, with black armor that doubles up and amalgamates the board's M.2 heatsinks into the overall design.

On the lower section of the motherboard are the PCIe slots, of which GIGABYTE includes three. This includes one full-length PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, and two full-length PCIe 3.0 x4 slots. While many users will question the decision as to why GIGABYTE hasn't opted for two PCIe 5.0 slots operating at x16 and x8/x8, the answer comes in the way of storage. There is a total of five M.2 slots nestled underneath the armor, with four of these supporting PCIe 4.0 x4 (one with SATA) and one with support for PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 drives. For conventional SATA devices and storage, GIGABYTE includes six SATA ports capable of supporting Intel RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays.

GIGABYTE includes ten 4-pin headers for cooling, with one for a CPU fan, one for a water pump, and eight for chassis fans. Located in the top right-hand corner are four memory slots, with support for speeds of up to DDR5-6400 and a combined capacity of 128 GB. Next to the memory slots in the top right-hand corner is a small power button with a two-digit LED debugger.

Focusing on the power delivery, the GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Master has a large 20-phase design that is configured at 19+1. The CPU section includes nineteen Renesas 22010540 105 A power stages that are operating in a direct configuration. There's one Intersil 99390 90 A power stage for SoC, while GIGABYTE also includes two Monolithic PS MP87992 70 A power stages specifically for the VCCAUX. Controlling the power delivery is a premium Renesas RAA229131 20-phase PWM controller operating in a 19+1 configuration. Providing power to the CPU is a pair of 8-pin 12 V ATX CPU power inputs, with the power delivery capable of providing up to 1995 A to the processor.

Keeping the power delivery cool is a large two-part heatsink that is interconnected by a large flat heat pipe. As you can see from the image above, the heatsink is making decent contact with the power delivery components, although one section has notably deeper imprints than the other section.

Looking at the audio solution, the Z690 Aorus Master uses a Realtek ALC1220-VB HD audio codec, with an assisting ESS Sabre ES9118 DAC. The ALC1220-VB is surrounded by five Japanese gold Nichicon audio capacitors, while there are also four red WIMA audio capacitors closer to the ESS Sabre DAC. GIGABYTE also includes a line of PCB separation to keep the audio PCB away from the rest of the board's components.

On the rear panel, there is one USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, one USB 3.2 G2 Type-C, five USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, and four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A ports. For networking, GIGABYTE uses a premium Marvel AQtion AQC113C 10 GbE controller, with an Intel AX211 Wi-Fi 6E CNVi offering both wireless and BT 5.2 connectivity. There are also five 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical output powered by a Realtek ALC1220-VB HD audio codec and ESS Sabre ES9118 DAC, with one DisplayPort 1.4 video output and a clear CMOS and Q-Flash button.

What's in the Box

The most notable accessories bundled within the packaging of the Z690 Aorus Master include six SATA cables, an Intel AX211 Wi-Fi 6E antenna, five M.2 installation screws, a front panel G-connector and an instruction manual. Also present is an Aorus branded sticker sheet, an Aorus case badge, two temperature sensor cables, one RGB extension cable, and a noise detection cable.

  • User manual
  • Installation guide
  • G-Connector
  • 6 x SATA cables
  • 5 x M.2 installation screws
  • RGB LED extension cable
  • 2 x Temperature sensor cables
  • Noise detection cable
  • Intel AX211 Wi-Fi 6E antenna
  • Aorus sticker sheet
  • Aorus case badge
GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Master Overview BIOS And Software
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  • megapleb - Friday, February 25, 2022 - link

    "Still, one that aims to offer users something of a sweet spot for enthusiasts and gamers with a mixture of premium features and gaming-inspired aesthetics is the GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Master."

    $490 is a sweet spot? I understand there are more expensive boards, but that's already a hell of a lot of money for a consumer motherboard. I think we have normalized way too high a price for "premium" motherboards.
  • timecop1818 - Friday, February 25, 2022 - link

    There's no reason to spend more than 250-ish on a z690 board, like the MSI pro-a. this dumb thing covers up half the board with shitty heatsinks and makes working on a board already in case or swapping SSDs etc a real chore. and 10gb? lol, you can buy 10g sfp+ cards for like $40 on eBay.
  • Samus - Sunday, February 27, 2022 - link

    The audio implementation on this board is $100 alone. While $499 is a stretch, this is clearly a premium product with substantially more attention to detail than a $250 board that will likely have weaker VRM's, an ALC887, and definitely no 10Gbe.
  • damianrobertjones - Monday, February 28, 2022 - link

    Its' not £100 when the price is artificially created from thin air.
  • Samus - Thursday, March 3, 2022 - link

    Not sure what you are on about. The only thing artificially created from thin air is your statement. A quality audio solution on par with that integrated with this board is $100. That was my point.
  • Tom Sunday - Tuesday, April 5, 2022 - link

    Greetings from Stehekin, WA. Still enjoying high speed internet access at 25mbps Besides I would never appreciate the difference of 10Gbe under any circumstances. Almost $500 for any Z690 MB is insane I can simply not afford it like probably 95% of the viewers here. Realty and the 'man on the street' like me seems to be a totally forgotten segment seen at most tech-channels. As to thin air...the high mountain air here in Stehekin is indeed thin and super clean.
  • firewrath9 - Monday, February 28, 2022 - link

    Most people dont have fiber in their home. A 10 gbase-t card costs $75-100+
  • lilkwarrior - Tuesday, March 1, 2022 - link

    It's primarily for NAS and other high-end use cases.
  • lilkwarrior - Tuesday, March 1, 2022 - link

    *productive use cases.
  • ddhelmet - Friday, February 25, 2022 - link

    Just get a Z690-A PRO and a 10gig pci-e if you really want one. I just don't see the point of this board.

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