Intel’s launch of a whole series of CPUs comes with it a new chipset and new socket. That also means new motherboards and the motherboard companies aren’t messing around with the number of options that have available. That means everything from cheap to crazy expensive. The Z490 Aorus Master is one of Gigabyte's higher-end boards and today I’m going to check it out. I’ve been extremely impressed with Gigabytes boards, especially on the higher end for the last few years due to their VRMs and cooling capabilities. With Intel pushing things even farther on what is still a very small socket size I am excited to see what the Aorus Master has to offer! Let’s check it out.

Product Name: Z490 Aorus Master

Review Sample Provided by: Gigabyte

Written by: Wes Compton

Amazon Affiliate Link: HERE

 

 

Specifications

CPU

Support for 10th Generation Intel® Core™ i9 processors/Intel® Core™ i7 processors/Intel® Core™ i5 processors/Intel® Core™ i3 processors/Intel® Pentium® processors/Intel® Celeron® processors in the LGA1200 package

L3 cache varies with CPU

(Please refer to "CPU Support List" for more information.)

Chipset

Intel® Z490 Express Chipset

Memory

Intel® Core™ i9/i7 processors:

Support for DDR4 5000(O.C.) - 3000(O.C.) / 2933 - 2133 MHz

Intel® Core™ i5/i3/Pentium®/Celeron® processors:

Support for DDR4 2666/2400/2133 MHz memory modules

4 x DDR4 DIMM sockets supporting up to 128 GB (32 GB single DIMM capacity) of system memory

Dual channel memory architecture

Support for ECC Un-buffered DIMM 1Rx8/2Rx8 memory modules (operate in non-ECC mode)

Support for non-ECC Un-buffered DIMM 1Rx8/2Rx8/1Rx16 memory modules

Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules

(Please refer to "Memory Support List" for more information.)

Onboard Graphics

Integrated Graphics Processor-Intel® HD Graphics support:

1 x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096x2160@30 Hz

* Support for HDMI 1.4 version and HDCP 2.3.

Maximum shared memory of 512 MB

Audio

Realtek® ALC1220-VB codec

* The front panel line out jack supports DSD audio.

ESS ES9118EQ DAC chip

Support for DTS:X® Ultra

High Definition Audio

2/4/5.1/7.1-channel

Support for S/PDIF Out

LAN

Intel® 2.5GbE LAN chip (2.5 Gbit/1 Gbit/100 Mbit)

Wireless Communication module

Intel® Wi-Fi 6 AX201

WIFI a, b, g, n, ac with wave 2 features, ax, supporting 2.4/5 GHz Dual-Band

BLUETOOTH 5.0

Support for 11ax 160MHz wireless standard and up to 2.4 Gbps data rate

* Actual data rate may vary depending on environment and equipment.

Expansion Slots

1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)

* For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the PCIEX16 slot.

1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8)

* The PCIEX8 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16 slot. When the PCIEX8 slot is populated, the PCIEX16 slot operates at up to x8 mode.

1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4)

(All of the PCI Express slots conform to PCI Express 3.0 standard.)

Multi-Graphics Technology

Support for NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ and 2-Way NVIDIA® SLI™ technologies

Support for AMD Quad-GPU CrossFire™ and 2-Way AMD CrossFire™ technologies

Storage Interface

1 x M.2 connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 PCIe x4/x2 SSD support) (M2P_SB)

1 x M.2 connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 SATA and PCIe x4/x2 SSD support) (M2A_CPU)

1 x M.2 connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 SATA and PCIe x4/x2 SSD support) (M2M_SB)

6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors

Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10

* Refer to "1-9 Internal Connectors," for the installation notices for the M.2 and SATA connectors.

Intel® Optane™ Memory Ready

USB

Chipset:

2 x USB Type-C™ ports, with USB 3.2 Gen 2 support (1 port on the back panel, 1 port available through the internal USB header)

3 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports (red) on the back panel

4 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB header)

Chipset+2 USB 2.0 Hubs:

8 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (4 ports on the back panel, 4 ports available through the internal USB headers)

Internal I/O Connectors

1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector

2 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connectors

1 x CPU fan header

1 x water cooling CPU fan header

4 x system fan headers

2 x system fan/water cooling pump headers

2 x addressable LED strip headers

2 x RGB LED strip headers

3 x M.2 Socket 3 connectors

6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors

1 x front panel header

1 x front panel audio header

1 x USB Type-C™ header, with USB 3.2 Gen 2 support

1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 header

2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers

1 x noise detection header

2 x Thunderbolt™ add-in card connectors

1 x Trusted Platform Module header (For the GC-TPM2.0 SPI/GC-TPM2.0 SPI 2.0 module only)

1 x power button

1 x reset button

2 x temperature sensor headers

1 x Clear CMOS jumper

2 x BIOS switches

Back Panel Connectors

1 x Q-Flash Plus button

1 x Clear CMOS button

2 x SMA antenna connectors (2T2R)

1 x HDMI port

1 x USB Type-C™ port, with USB 3.2 Gen 2 support

3 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports (red)

2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports

4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports

1 x RJ-45 port

1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector

5 x audio jacks

I/O Controller

iTE® I/O Controller Chip

H/W Monitoring

Voltage detection

Temperature detection

Fan speed detection

Water cooling flow rate detection

Overheating warning

Fan fail warning

Fan speed control

* Whether the fan (pump) speed control function is supported will depend on the fan (pump) you install.

Noise detection

BIOS

2 x 256 Mbit flash

Use of licensed AMI UEFI BIOS

Support for DualBIOS™

PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.7, WfM 2.0, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI 5.0

Unique Features

Support for APP Center

* Available applications in APP Center may vary by motherboard model. Supported functions of each application may also vary depending on motherboard specifications.

@BIOS

EasyTune

Fast Boot

Game Boost

RGB Fusion

Smart Backup

System Information Viewer

USB TurboCharger

Support for Q-Flash Plus

Support for Q-Flash

Support for Xpress Install

Bundled Software

Norton® Internet Security (OEM version)

cFosSpeed

XSplit Gamecaster + Broadcaster (12 months license)

Operating System

Support for Windows 10 64-bit

Form Factor

ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm

     


Packaging and Accessories

The Z490 Aorus Master’s box has a huge Aorus bird logo across the front with the model name sitting below that. They do have Aorus in the name as well as a logo in the top left corner on top of the huge logo as well which is a little overkill. Then in the background they have a black to purple to nice orange fade. I do wish they included a picture of the board on the front however. They do have pictures on the back, multiple in fact. In the top left corner you have a picture that shows the front and back of the board. Below that is a line drawing of the rear I/O so you know which connection options you are getting and there is a specification listing as well. Gigabyte then breaks down the main features in sections with pictures attached to show off things like the VRMs, cooling design, 2.5 Gbe LAN, wifie, and that the hardware is capable of PCIe 4.0 in the future as well.

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Inside the box is split up into two sections with a tray up top that houses the motherboard. The tray has foam built in all around it and then the board comes wrapped in a static protective bag.

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For documentation the Aorus Master comes with a full user manual along with an installation guide. You also get a disc with drivers and all of Gigabytes software on it. For the launch this works, but in the future downloading the latest drivers on their website is always the better way to go. You also get a nice metal Aorus case badge as well. Last but not least they include a full sheet of stickers which includes a few cable labels if you need them and a variety of sticker designs. The do not disturb one that looks like it should hang from your door handle but is 2 inches tall is a little weird though lol.

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The Aorus Master comes with a few different accessories as well. Most are different cables. You get two sets of black SATA cables. There are two thermal sensors (the long cables on the right) which you can use to keep track of temperatures on things like hard drives or an ambient air temperature. In between those are the two RGB extension cables (one for normal RGB and one for addressable RGBs) and then the red cable is the noise sensor that can be tired into RGB lighting control. They also include a small adapter for your front panel connections so you can hook them up and plug them all in together.

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To support the Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 included on the Aorus Master they include an antenna. It has an adjustable base with a rubber grip and a magnet inside to allow you to stick it on steel cases or on some desks. You can flip the antenna two directions which I have shown below depending on which orientation you need. This is a big improvement over past Gigabyte antennas.

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Board Layout and Pictures

While I do miss the black and orange boards, the look of the Aorus Master here is sharp. They went with a combination of black, grey, and a chrome finish which most boards have been moving to and using RGB lighting for accents to give more color options. Being a higher-end board it is also decked out in heatsinks, shields, and covers. Part of that is for the always great Aorus cooling, but they also have integrated covers over the rear I/O down to over the audio circuitry as well as one large cover that is the chipset cooler, a cooler for the M.2 slots, and also more of the aesthetics for the board as well with the chrome section and the large Aorus eagle logo that is backlit. The board is a full ATX form factor coming in at 30.5cm x 24.4cm, not an extended version that isn’t going to fit in every case.

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Some people may not care, but I am always impressed with just how much better a board looks with the silver rear I/O covered up. The Aorus Master has its branding on the cover and they also managed to tie in the black, two different greys, and the glossy finish as well. The cover tucks in right up against and over the left heatsink for the VRM as well making it look all integrated together. Of course it does also black some of the airflow going to that heatsink as well.

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The reason I have mentioned the cooling on this board a few times already is because Gigabyte for the last few generations has been slipping in propper actual heatsinks on their boards, not just machined or extruded aluminum design which does work but not as well as sheet metal heatsinks. You can spot them on the left and above the CPU socket on the Aorus Master being combined with the aluminum heatsinks for some styling. They go over the top of the 14 phase power configuration, sitting right on top of the VRMs and next to the chokes.

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The bottom half of the cooling is the combined cooler that covers the chipset on the right and all three of the M.2 slots. The bottom left portion which covers two M.2 slots is one section then the top M.2 slot is on its own heatsink. You can see the small mirrored section up on the top edge then the rest of the right which covers the chipset is a brushed silver. It does however still have backlighting on the logo that lights up.

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Starting up in the top left corner, let's take a look at some of the features that Gigabyte has included on the Aorus Master. This section is taken up mostly by the rear I/O and the CPU socket which has those larger heatsinks to the left and top. There are still the two 8-pin power connections for the CPU power up above the VRMs and they also slipped in a 4-pin fan header next to them.

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The top right on the other hand has a LOT going on starting with the four DDR4 slots to the right of the CPU socket. Each has metal reinforcements. Up above the memory slots there are two CPU fan headers and near the corner RGB headers for traditional RGB lighting and addressable RGB lighting. Also there is a power button and two LEDs. Below that on the right edge is the 24-pin motherboard power which has also been reinforced with metal around it and another 4-pin fan header which is labeled for a fan or water pump. Then down at the bottom on the right edge is the USB 3.2 header and the new USB 3.2 gen 2 front panel header as well.

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The bottom right corner of the Zorus Master has the chipset heatsink taking up a majority of the space, but they do still pack a lot along the edge on the right and bottom. On the right edge above the SATA ports there are two headers for the Thunderbolt integration. Then you have six SATA ports, all sitting at a right angle for cleaner wire management. Then in the bottom right corner just below the mounting screw they packed in four LEDs which are labeled for VGA, CPU, BOOT, and DRAM to help with diagnosing boot issues, the PC will stop on the LED of the area of the boot which it locked up. Next to that is the front panel connection which has labels printed under it but sadly doesn’t have the color-coded inside of the plug like in the past. To the left of that there are three more four-pin fan headers, which makes 7 so far. Then the reset switch is next to those. I don’t know why the reset button is so far from the power button. The noise sensor plug goes with the noise sensor included with the board, you can tie in outside noise control into your lighting which is cool. Then on the far left there are two USB 2 headers.

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The bottom left corner has the M.2 slots along with that huge cover but I will talk about those in a minute. Beyond that you get three full-length PCIe x16 slots. They don’t however all have that x16 bandwidth. The top slot is the x16 slot, but it shares bandwidth with the second slot which runs at x8. So if you use the second slot your GPU slot will run at x8 as well. Then the bottom x16 slot runs at x4 at all times. This is where the Aorus Master ups the game. The current Socket 1200 CPUs don’t support PCIe 4.0 but the board does have future support in mind. In other words, even though nothing about future CPUs has been announced, IF they were to have PCIe 4.0 support this board would support it which does mean that you won’t be out of date a year later when new CPUs come out (or whenever they come out). The bottom edge has two more RGB headers, one addressable and one traditional, and a TPM header next to them. On the left of the bottom edge you have the audio front panel header which as you can see is on the left side of the PCB split and then to the right of that one of the headers for the included thermal sensors.  There are also two switches for the dual BIOS support. One lets you switch between the two BIOS and the other can turn off the dual BIOS support altogether.

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I’ll be honest, nearly every PC I’ve built recently has only used M.2 drives so getting loaded up on M.2 slots is huge for me. The Aorus Master has a total of three and they are all positioned in between the PCIe slots. All three of them support PCIe x4 and the bottom two also support SATA. RAID 0,1,5, and 10 are all supported as well. Each of the slots has its own thermal interface material to help pull heat out on to the larger heatsink.

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All of the audio is tucked in along the edge on the bottom left corner. It is mostly covered by the shield but you can spot a few of those Nichicon gold caps. It runs on the Realtek ALC1220-VB codec and you get an ESS SABRE reference DAC ES9118.

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What I love the most about mid to higher-end motherboards is the connection options you get on the rear I/O. I run far too many devices to get by with just a few USB ports and honestly I’ve never seen a board have as many as I would like to have. But the Aorus Master does get you a good mix. You get a stack of four normal USB 2.0 ports in black. Then you have two USB 3.2 ports in blue and three Type-A USB 3.2 gen 2 ports in red along with the one Type-C. They could have done a much better job labeling these though, the color does help but it is the only indication that the red ports are all Gen 2 speeds. I also wouldn’t be against trading one of those Gen-2 ports for a second Type-C. They also didn’t include a Gen 2x2 port where even our cheaper board had one which is a bummer, those are the only ports capable of full speed from the fastest M.2 based external drives. Over on the far left you have the clear CMOS button and a button for their Q flash to update the BIOS without a CPU. Next to that are the two connections for the included wireless antenna, That hooked up to the Intel Wi-Fi 6 based AX201 controller which gets you AX or Wi-Fi 6 and AC with Wave 2 features as well as Bluetooth 5 as well as 11ax 160MHz wireless. There is just a single NIC and it is running on an Intel 2.5GbE LAN chip. Then on the far right are the audio connections. They aren’t color-coded but they are labeled. All of the rear I/O is surrounded by the I/O shield which comes pre-installed.

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The back of the board does give us a look at some of that black painted PCB. But most of it is covered with a partial shield that helps protect the board. The shield is blacked out but does have the Aorus branding on it and the areas it doesn’t cover keep things around from all of the standoff positions as well as the back of the CPU for cooler backplate installation.

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BIOS

We used to get lots of pictures to show some of the BIOS functionality but I’ve found that it is a lot easier just to have a video clicking through all of the options where you can pause and check anything out. Even though all of the orange accents have vanished from the board itself, the BIOS on the Aorus Master was still decked out in orange. While it does have an easy mode and an advanced mode it dropped me right into the advanced section, in the overclock settings in fact which does save time but seems to defeat the point of having an easy mode to protect people who don’t know what they are doing from getting into options that can do some damage. You can see the easy mode al the way at the end of the video but it gives you a look at clock speeds and temperatures up top and the status of your ram slots. You can drag and drop your boot devices to get the order correct and see any fan that is hooked up as well. They also let you turn on XMP for your memory which is nice.

Back in the advanced mode, the Tweaker page is where Gigabyte has put all of their overclocking options. Up at the top you can jump right in with CPU clock speeds as well as the option to turn Enhanced Multi-Core Performance on or off which is MCE and auto overclocks your CPU. It comes set to auto but I test with it turned off to see stock Intel performance. The advanced CPU options menu gets you all of the more detailed options including full menus for adjusting turbo ratios, c-states, power limits, and hyperthreading settings. Back in the Tweakers menu below the CPU options are the memory overclocking settings and they are in a similar layout with the XMP at the top, manual adjustment of the clock speed, and then in the advanced settings you can get into changing timing manually and other settings. Also on the Tweaker page down at the bottom are all of the voltage settings for both CPU and memory.

The Settings tab is the next one and it is relatively simple at first when you only see five options but each is its own menu. The power settings cover wake options which I feel like should be in the boot menu. The I/O menu gets into all of the chipset features and controllers like the onboard LAN, USB options, NVMe configuration, and SATA. Anything not covered in there is just tossed into the miscellaneous option. This has options like how onboard LEDs are handled and the now extremely old 3DMark01 enhancement option. The Settings menu also has a PC Heath page which just lists off all of the current voltages and if the case is open or not. I was surprised this didn’t have more fan speeds and temperatures. Then there is Smart Fan 5 which does have those readouts as well as options to control how your fans act. You can set fan profiles and even more important you can decide what temperature sensors they should go off of.

The next tab is the System Info tab and this has all of the information you normally get on the home page like the model and BIOS revision, CPUJ, and system date and time. You can also get to Q-Flash here which is what you use to update the BIOS but that option, as well as Smart Fan 5, are on the bottom of every page as well. Then the last tab is the boot tab which has the main startup options like boot device priority, fast boot options, setting a boot password, and so on. All together the Aorus Masters BIOS was easy to navigate though I will say given its price I thought we might see even more overclocking options. All of the basics are there and that is all I would need, but higher-end boards sometimes get crazy with the level of detail you can get in and change but most of that wasn’t there.

eo


Test Rig and Procedures

Test System

CPU: Intel Core-i9 10900K – Live Pricing

Cooling: Noctua NH-U12S for cooling - Live Pricing

 Noctua NT-H1 Thermal Paste - Live Pricing

Memory: Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB 16GB 3000 MHz – Live Pricing

Storage:     WD Black SN750 1TB – Live Pricing

Video Card: Nvidia RTX 2080 SUPER FE - Live Pricing

Power Supply: Corsair TX750M - Live Pricing

Case: Dimastech Test Bench - Live Pricing

 

OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit - Live Pricing

Motherboard Testing

Passmark Performance Test 9.0

Overall PCMark score

PCMark 10

PCMark 10 standard test, not the quick or extended versions

3DMark

We run the 2013 Fire Strike test on the performance setting and Time Spy on its regular setting

In Game Tests

The Division 2

1080p, In-Game benchmark, Ultra detail with v sync turned off

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands

1080p, built-in benchmark run at the high setting

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

1080p, In-Game benchmark, High detail setting

Far Cry 5

1080p, In-Game benchmark, High detail setting

Subsystem Testing

Passmark

Passmark Advanced network test

VRM Temps

Temperatures tested using a Flir One Pro while running AIDA64 stress test on the FPU setting

 


Performance

For testing, I have been saying for years that motherboard benchmarks don’t hold much weight because you are still using the same CPU, memory, and GPU and those are what play big roles in how fast your PC is. But I do run a few tests just to make sure everything is running the way it should and it also lets us see what the system can do. In this case, it is the i9-10900K and an RTX 2080 which is a potent combination. The 3DMark scores and PCMark 10 scores all put the Aorus Master right with the MSI Gaming Carbon which is to be expected. They do show some variation, but they go back and forth without any obvious trend. Gaming was the same as well in all three games that I tested with.

It was only in the network tests that I could see any testable differences between the boards at stock speeds. Specifically in the WiFi 6 tests which ironically have the same Intel controller, onboard boards but the antenna for the Aorus Master did much better. The wired tests were only to check performance on a 1G network, let's not forget that both boards have 2.5G NICs even though they used two different controllers. But I didn’t have a 10G or 2.5G switch to do proper full speed testing there. It is worth noting though that I did have network issues with the Aorus Master on every boot. The NIC would need to be restarted every time. It wouldn’t connect to the network until I did that. I didn’t experience it with any of the other boards I tested with so I am unsure if it was a driver or hardware issue. But disabling and enabling the NIC fixed the issue every time. Beyond that network performance was amazing and had the potential to be even faster on a new switch.

3DMark – Fire Strike

Motherboard

Overall Score

Graphics Score

Physics Score

MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon WiFi

20727

23120

29879

Z490 Aorus Master

20396

22915

31001

3DMark – Time Spy

Motherboard

Overall Score

Graphics Score

CPU Score

MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon WiFi

11179

10907

13021

Z490 Aorus Master

11142

10807

13524

PCMark 10 Score

Motherboard

Overall Score

Essentials

Productivity

Content Creation

MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon WiFi

8041

11286

9964

12548

Z490 Aorus Master

7878

11298

9342

12570

Passmark PerformanceTest 10.0 - Overall Score

MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon WiFi

8981.5

Z490 Aorus Master

9129.2

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands – High Detail - Average FPS

MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon WiFi

114.24

Z490 Aorus Master

113.15

Shadow of the Tomb Raider – High Detail - Average FPS

MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon WiFi

150

Z490 Aorus Master

148

Far Cry 5 – High Detail - Average FPS

MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon WiFi

147

Z490 Aorus Master

149

Average Network Speed - Mbits/Sec

MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon WiFi – Wired

(1G network) RTL8125B

950.9

MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon WiFi – WiFi 6

616.5

Z490 Aorus Master – WiFi 6

811.7

Z490 Aorus Master – Wired (1G Network) Intel 225

950.9

VRM Temperatures

On Heatsink

On VRM

MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon WiFi

131.1F

159.7F

Z490 Aorus Master

139.6F

161.1F

           

I did also take a look at thermals. I ran the AIDA64 Stress Test on the FPU setting which is extremely demanding and once things were warmed up I took a look using the FLIR around the CPU socket and down in the bottom half of the board around the chipset. What I found around the socket was to be expected, the power circuitry gets hot with the hottest point being around 161c. The great heatsinks did work on keeping things cool and even after running for a while they were staying cooler at just under 140c. Around the chipset there was some additional heat over the room temperature coming out from under the multiple covers and heatsinks but not enough to be considered hot or an issue.

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I did also take a look at the board's lighting. This consisted of the lighting on the rear I/O cover which by default was orange and the backlit eagle logo on top of the chipset cooler. There is also the status LEDs which were up in the top right corner. I like the lighting design on top of the rear I/O and how it slips up under the branding there.

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Overall and Final Verdict

Before going over the pro’s and con’s of the Z490 Aorus Master, I just have to point out how much I love this much simpler naming. The Gigabyte branding isn’t in the name and they start with the chipset name. They also aren’t using weird numbering or adding “gaming” branding at all other than that we know Aorus is their gaming brand. The simple name of course doesn’t make it perform any better or add any extra features other than being able to fit on that cool looking cover over the rear I/O with lighting in it. It’s the features that help the Aorus Master stand out and a lot of what you get can just be felt when picking the board up. It is a 6 layer PCB and it has double the copper in it than a cheaper board which none of that translates to better performance numbers at stock speeds, but it does help with durability and overclocking. Being a higher-end board it also has thick heatsinks and covers over most of the board which also adds more to that weight as well. Those also give it a really clean styling which I think is the board's best feature.

It also has a proper traditional sheet metal heatsink design on the VRMs to help keep things cool and you are going to need that if you are looking to run the i9-10900K. Some of the same features that the cheaper MSI board I already took a look at are there, of course, like the 2.5G wired network and the WiFi 6 wireless which by the way when combined with the antenna that they include with the board performed significantly better than the MSI even with the same controller. I couldn’t fit in into the Pro’s list below but the onboard audio setup is a big step up on this board as well and you do get three M.2 slots which most boards don’t have. You also have at least some future potential as well with it being PCIe 4.0 capable when/if Intel brings out LGA1200 CPUs that support it.

I only had two issues with the Z490 Aorus Master and only one was a design issue. I think they dropped the ball by not having a USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 port. Even the cheaper MSI board I already took a look at has one and that is the only way you can see speeds similar to today's fastest M.2 drives in an external drive.  The other complaint was with the issues I did have with our wired NIC which wouldn’t pick a network after a restart until it was disabled and enabled. It may be a driver issue or a hardware issue, but it was a frustrating issue considering how many times I restart when testing.

As for pricing, I mentioned before where the Z490 Aorus Master fits into Gigabytes product lineup. This board is the third from the top of their lineup and the top two boards are watercooled and air-cooled versions of a similar board. But even then it comes in at half of what the next board up is. This is the high-end board that is more realistic with its MSRP of $389.99. I’m not saying that is cheap that is a lot of money. But when the mid-range boards are in the upper $200’s I think the Aorus Master does have a lot to offer and it feels a lot closer to a flagship than a budget board. The ASUS ROG MAXIMUS XII HERO which is close to this same price point does also offer a second NIC which is 5G. SO that is the tradeoff for the larger shield/cooler and the VRM heatsinks. I like what Gigabyte is doing though and it makes me curious what doubling down for the Aorus Xtreme gets you!

fv5recommended

Live Pricing: HERE

 

 

Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: http://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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