We took for a spin the motherboard which is considered to be in the middle between the latest product line of GIGABYTE - To find out if there is a significant reason to crave something more prestigious and expensive
Another review and another motherboard pops up on the operating table. This time it's the turn of the hardware manufacturer GIGABYTE and we're with a "mid-market" product of the Z690 chipset and an LGA1700 chassis of Intel Which was recently launched alongside 12th generation processors Intel, The machine Alder lake.
Every motherboard maker today has a variety of ways to brand its various motherboards in order to create different market shares. Sometimes different motherboards only get a visual change when most of the interfaces are similar to those of other boards, which is enough to change the entire price tag and branding.
For GIGABYTE there are four main brands for its motherboards - UD, GAMING, AORUS and AERO. The UD is the cheapest series of products, which we usually encounter in the form of entry-level products Example Z690 UD for example. Above this series there is the GAMING which is mostly based on UD with little color like fixtures Cooling Enhanced or colorful LED lights.
GIGABYTE's AERO series is based on relatively fresh branding that appeals to content creators such as image and video editors. It's a brand That we got to meet on laptops Of the company designed to create content for example. It will usually be possible to find an increased amount of fast interfaces such as USB at 20 Gbps or Thunderbolt.
The best known brand of all with gaming of GIGABYTE he is AORUS. This brand carries a large portion of the series' advanced motherboards and it includes gaming and overclocking. Virtually everything from the budget GAMING series to the most advanced motherboards for the chassis. For motherboards, there are names that indicate the different price levels and features in ascending order:
- MASTER (MPS)
In this review we look at the Z690 AORUS PRO. PRO rank Has always been considered To the middle of the market Of the brandAORUS, Usually this name is accompanied by strong combinations of features with a fair price tag. This time it's the turn of the new PRO based on the chipset Z690.
This motherboard like its predecessors comes in a standard ATX size standard, which means it fits the vast majority of standard computer cases today. This motherboard comes with a recommended price tag of NIS 1,699 Same price we saw the motherboard in the PRO generation of the previous generation So there are actually no captions despite the move to a new bracket. This motherboard comes with DDR5 memory support. There is a version that supportsDDR4 This is indicated in the product name (Z690 AORUS PRO DDR4).
The target audience of this motherboard is primarily a combination of gamers who want as much overclocking as possible for Alder Lake processors. Even now we will say that we do not expect or recommend users who are building on a purchase Core i5 or less to purchase Motherboard So advanced unless specifically they have an obsession with overclocking and using the various motherboard aids for it.
The expansion interface array on the motherboard is interesting thanks to the Z690's rich connectivity and chassis processors. We are usually used to seeing standard PCI-Express interfaces take up most of this space but here advanced volumes take up the real estate space of those expansion card interfaces. There are two bodies Cooling Made of aluminum designed for no less than four M.2 interfaces.
This is what it looks like after removing these heat sinks. There is a thermal pad between the drives and the aluminum base as well so there is Cooling On both sides of the drives. We would be happy if each interface had a body Cooling Own, but we can understand the aesthetic and practical considerations in the body Cooling One designed for three interfaces. Not optimal for future installations and future extensions, but not terrible.
All four interfaces use the standard PCI-Express 4.0 X4 with the top (the one above the interface for the video card) running in direct communication with the processor. The other three work with chipset communication Z690. In practice the implications for performance mean that there is a difference of a few nanoseconds in communication between the CPU and the volume. The average speed for a drive is not significantly different. Still, it is recommended that you install the drive that carries the operating system on top of the one that will be installed in the top interface.
InterfacesPCI-Express For expansion cards they are also divided between the chipset and the processor. The white interface runs on standard 5.0 on 16 channels and is connected directly to the processor. Standard 5.0 is considered very fresh to the point that the video cards that support it have not yet been launched. Next year we may see the first video cards that come standard PCI-Express 5.0 but these are also not expected to produce special speeds that depend only on it compared to using the previous standard.
A positive point in favor of the PRO rank of these motherboards is that they do not seem to skip the minimum of a built-in sound card. GIGABYTE Makes use here of Realtek's ALC4080 sound controller which is not in itself sensational news, but also increases the position of ESS amplifiers to deal with the resistance of such and other headphones. Quality amplification and filtering are key components in a clean and healthy sound range, even at high volume. This is not an audiophile solution, as we always recommend an external sound card inUSB Which are products available today for a fair price to those who appreciate quality audio.
The rear interface system is also a strength for the PRO rank of the AORUS brand. Here we find 12 USB ports at speeds of 480Mbps (black), 5Gbps (blue) and 10Gbps (red). There is a Type-C configuration interface that delivers 20Gbps speeds to suit drives SSD Extremely fast external, for example.
The network input (in red) corresponds to a speed of 2.5Gbps (a speed that is currently already available for certain areas in fiber optics in the country, including the home of your faithful servant). This interface comes to visit a product network Intel Which is in the motherboard.
In this part of the motherboard you will also find wires for antennas used for WiFi andBluetooth. Although compared to other motherboards that take care to indicate this by name (by adding a device name like AC or AX), the Z690 AORUS PRO supports the advanced WiFi 6 standard in AX200 technology. This is not the most advanced WiFi standard that Intel has to offer, as we know that AX201 and AX210 versions are already available for users on other motherboards. This is not a slow standard at all, as it supports Dual Band with 5Ghz and a maximum speed of 2.4Gbps, anyway.
The Lonely DisplayPort interface represents the display interfaces of this motherboard for use with the built-in graphics core of processors Intel. GIGABYTE Not building here on users who need multiple built-in display interfaces, it Motherboard For gaming designed for use with an advanced video card.
When it comes to gaming and overclocking, the bottom right corner of Motherboard It includes a wrist button and a BIOS burn button. This is not the best location in our opinion. We think the BIOS burn button is comfortable to use on the back of the motherboard, and the wrist button next to the power button. Four fan connectors in this location are actually a great idea. Most enclosures today include openings for arranging cables at the bottom of the motherboard and connecting the enclosure fans here is always a good idea.
A simple LCD monitor for displaying data and system errors is located on the top right of the board, and next to it is the power button. These are two of the most useful tools for any overclocker and aspirant. Although a monitor of this type is considered a relatively inexpensive component, it is rare to see it on "cheap" motherboards. Is a great reason to please the PRO over other models in this price range. As mentioned, we would have been happy to see here next to the power button also a wrist button, and not in another part of the motherboard.
If in the Z690 UD the simple did GIGABYTE Above and beyond to provide a quality power supply system for the processor, in the PRO model it has bypassed what is considered only one generation back to a flagship. The power supply system to the processor of Motherboard It is suitable for extreme cooling of any kind.
This system consists of 19 stages, 16 of which are designed for the processing cores themselves. Each is an Intersil ISL99390 model (now owned by Renesas). It is a voltage stabilizer with a maximum current capacity of 90A, with very high electrical efficiency in this mode. In fact, as long as you do not stretch a sample processor Core i9 12900K to the end, do not even reach the peak of electrical efficiency with this system. It is definitely suitable for overclocking with Cooling Liquid nitrogen sample, easily.
This system also benefits my body Cooling Extra large, if you only dare to keep warm. We do feel the need to slap GIGABYTE And ask in every language of application to use thermal pads that do not harden and crumble. All the gray you see up in the voltage regulator area is the wet, oily part of the thermal pads that just escaped out, and not much of it remains. As a result, a large portion of the thermal pad crumbled upon removal of the heat sink from the motherboard and therefore could not be used again. GIGABYTE, In Metuta, take care to use a durable reusable thermal pad. It is important for us to note that as long as one does not mess with the heat sinks, there is no problem of disintegration or disintegration here. The motherboard is inspected before the heat sinks are disassembled to maintain performance reliability.
This is the second heat sink designed for the extra part of the voltage stabilizers. Here too unfortunately part of the thermal pad crumbled when the heat sink disassembled. The heat sink itself is quite large and has a respectable surface area. It is made of aluminum as well.
Working for BIOS and here everything is as usual. In fact, we did not see a significant change in the graphical interface of the bios of boards GIGABYTE Since generation Z370. What you see in the picture above is the main opening screen. Here you can set an XMP memory profile, see temperature data, and get general information about the system such as memory volume, CPU model and the BIOS version in use.
Many Z690 boards have undergone many versions of the BIOS since the motherboards landed with us. The frequency of updating the BIOS is definitely significantly higher than what we saw in the generation Z590. Here the motherboard came with an F1 version to us, when it officially hit the market it came with an F3, and the BIOS version now is an F6a only shortly after launch. It is evident that the birth cords of this platform are significantly more complex than what we have seen before, given the special architecture of processors Alder lake.
One of the most useful parts in the BIOS GIGABYTE Is the Smart Fan 6. This fan adjustment system takes care of any fan that is connected directly to the motherboard. There are seven points that can be placed in a graph of the ratio between the speed of rotation and the temperature of different components. It is also possible to synchronize all the fans according to the CPU temperature, for example. It is an excellent tool for optimizing the noise level for any computer system.
Temperature and summary
Installed on the board if it is a processor Core i9 12900K and on it Cooling Noctua NH-D15, and let the CPU run at maximum effort with a constant turbo of 240W. In this mode even though the CPU temperature was very high and stood at about 95 degrees Celsius, the temperature stabilizer temperature (VRM MOS sensor) remained significantly low and stood at only 62 degrees Celsius with minimal airflow from the cooling fan. This, at an ambient temperature of 25 degrees Celsius.
For that matter even 15 degrees more the voltage regulators will have a fantastic working temperature so the irons actually prove what they prove on paper. The Z690's power supply system AORUS PRO can do anything.
When it comes to the set of features you get for the price, about NIS 1,600 is not exactly a cheap cost for a standard motherboard. This is an addition of 600 shekels and more over models like the Z690 UD. In return you get an addition of the M.2 interface, Cooling More advanced for the M.2 drives, an upgraded power supply system, a set of buttons and tools for overclocking on the motherboard and also some additional ports of USB. This, along with an upgraded built-in sound card, some additional fan connectors and an overall aesthetic improvement.
Is the add-on worth it? Very much depends on your needs. This is not a super premium product, but it is a relatively prestigious one compared to the cost of additional system components. Also, it is important to note again that there is a version of this motherboard exactly but with memory DDR4, Which will significantly reduce computer costs. We know today that memory DDR4 High quality as fast זיכרון DDR5 Existing today for most uses, and especially for gaming. This will easily save you hundreds of shekels.
The biggest drawbacks we found in the motherboard are the location of the wrist knob and burner in the odd position, and the condition of thermal pads that do not remain intact after disassembly, but this is a very specific and niche disadvantage that will not affect users who disassemble these heat sinks. Also, a board may not be suitable for those who need a large amount of expansion cards beyond the video card, since apart from a pair of interfaces PCI-Express Attached at the bottom there is not much other than the large interface.
For us, the Z690 AORUS PRO continues a tradition of excellence for the AORUS PRO rank. Specific since Z390, These motherboards are excellent in making features accessible between particularly luxurious boards and accessible boards. The question we asked in the title of the review is "Who needs more?" And we mean it on a practical level. There is currently no Z690 board that provides a significantly higher amount of interfaces and print circuit board quality than the one you will find in the Z690 AORUS PRO.