VRM Thermal Test
While thermals aren't the only measure of VRM performance, but they are one of the most important. While Intel has design minimums for things like ripple tolerance and transient response, they don't tightly regulate VRM thermals. That's why we see issue like early X299 motherboard VRMs overheating. Also, the performance of the VRM goes down when the VRM is heated up. Beyond the VRM throttle argument, MOSFETs have thermal derating curves, and ripple will also go up as the temperature of the capacitors and inductors increases.
We decided to test in controlled conditions and allow our thermal camera to record video, so you can see real-time results. We ran both Prime95 with AVX and then the Blender Benchmark (with AVX) both at stock and at a 5GHz standardized OC, and at the same time, we recorded power consumption and Blender times just to triple check one board wasn't being power limited and that settings were similar enough for direct comparison. The specifications for each test are listed in the first 10 seconds, and to be honest some of these videos are long, so we suggest you just skip to the end if you want. We should mention this test is done with a 120mm fan (low speed/noise) powered by a Molex connector blowing air at the top of the motherboard, it's about 2-3 inches above the VRM heat sink to mimic case airflow.
Stock Prime 95 w/AVX:
The first thing you might notice are the higher temps below the CPU socket on the competitor board at the beginning of the test. These are secondary VRMs for VCCSA and VCCIO, and as the CPU VRM heats up the thermal camera will reduce its color and pinpoint the new highest temperature on the CPU VCore VRM. We can see right out of the gate that the GIGABYTE board has a lead (lower is better of course). Both VRMs are balancing current well, we see the center of the VRM have the highest temperature, and this is normal as all the power is funneled to the CPU and all its surrounding copper is being influenced by other phases, while the same might not apply to outside phases. By the end of the test, we see the Master's lead is about 11-13 degrees on the surface.
5GHz Prime 95 w/AVX:
Now, we can see the difference towards the end is roughly 10C, but we should also notice the importance of letting you know that these are surface temperatures, and that the temperature inside the MOSFETs is much higher, slowly climbing to throttle point for most models.
The results here once again show the Z390 Aorus Master doing better than the equally priced competitor.
Here we see what is the general purpose of this VRM section of the OC guide, at the same price point as the other motherboard, the GIGABYTE Z390 Aorus Master has a VRM designed to run cooler than its competitions' under strenuous loads that will be encountered while using the new 9th generation CPUs. GIGABYTE's Z390 Aorus Master has a VRM, PCB (increased copper helps), and VRM heat sink put into a package that is designed to fully support and overclock the 9900K without restriction. It is not the first time people have compared the VRMs of these two motherboards, but watching it live with a thermal camera is a different experience.
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United States: The GIGABYTE Z390 9th Gen OC Guide & VRM Thermal Test retails for $XXX at Amazon.
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