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!
Live Pricing: HERE