Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
With the AORUS Z690 Xtreme and Master now tested and reviewed here at TweakTown, we look at the next model down in the AORUS Z690 lineup, Pro. The Z690 Pro keeps the build quality and aesthetic of its higher-end counterparts, sacrificing a few connectivity items to offer a quality board at a lower price; these items include the swap from 10Gbe in the Xtreme and Master to Intel 2.5Gbe in the Pro, Wi-Fi 6e has been sacrificed with WiFi6 in its place. Audio has been swapped out to the ALC4080; the ESS Sabre DAC was removed.
We still have four DIMM memory support for DDR5. Speeds range from 4800MHz to 6200MHz with an OC and maximum capacity of 128GB. Of course, this on the LGA1700 socket with the Z690 chipset too.
As mentioned above, audio is using the ALC4080 chipset from Realtek, LAN connectivity is now using the Intel suite; i225 for 2.5Gbe and AX201 for WiFi6. Expansion includes three PCIe x16 slots. The top slot colored white is Gen5 compliant, while the bottom two pull from the chipset with a PCIe Gen 3 x4 interface. Storage has a single M.2 pushed by CPU lanes and another two m.2 coming off the chipset; additionally, there are six SATA III ports.
Connectivity for this board takes advantage of a host of USB 3.2 ports; two Gen2x2 split between the rear panel and internal header and four Gen 2 available on the back panel. For Gen 1, we have six ports, four on the rear and two available internally.
Last, eight USB 2.0 with a 4/4 split between rear I/O and internal headers.
Pricing for the Z690 AORUS Pro comes in at $329.99.
Packaging, Accessories, and Overview
Packaging and Accessories
Packaging continues on with an AORUS theme, large logo centered with supporting CPU and chipset to the right.
The rear of the packaging includes specifications to the left and features listed to the right.
Accessories include Wi-Fi antenna, SATA cables, and reading materials.
AORUS Z690 Pro Overview
The Pro is an ATX platform with three PCIe slots split between CPU and chipset lanes. Three M.2 also split between using CPU lanes at Gen4 and chipset lanes at Gen3. The board uses the typical motherboard layout for additional connectivity and power input.
The back of the board is mostly a blank slate, with a few ICs near the rear I/O.
Rear I/O includes four USB 2.0 ports scattered in the middle of the board, followed by DP for display output. The blue ports at the top are USB 3.2 Gen 1, while the red ports are Gen2. Audio has been whittled down to line out and mic with optical audio to connect to an external DAC.
Running around this platform, we have front panel audio, RGB, and two USB 2.0 headers.
Four fan headers wrap up the bottom along with chassis connections.
Around the corner, we have six SATA ports.
Rounding out this side, we have internal headers for USB 3.2 Gen1 and 2x2 top left, 24Pin power, and debug LED.
Across the top, we have two fan headers and RGB connections.
Lastly an 8 and four-pin power connection.
UEFI, Software and Test System
BIOS layout is identical to the Xtreme and Master; starting with the easy mode, you will get all information about the CPU and RAM along the top, including frequency and temperature. The boot sequence shows installed drives and fan controls to the right.
Advanced mode is where you will find tweaking tools for CPU and memory, including voltages. AORUS has additional options in the IO ports menu; these include the ability to disable IGP and configure LAN controls, Thunderbolt, and storage.
RGB Fusion allows you to control all the functionality of the board, including the individual ports.
The easy tune allows you to perform on-the-fly configuration of the Xtreme while in Windows.
Motherboard Testing Supporters
Sabrent supports our storage testing with the Rocket 4 Plus.
TweakTown Intel Motherboard Test System
- CPU: Intel Core i9 12900K
- RAM: Crucial DDR5 5200MHz 32GB CL38 (buy from Amazon)
- OS Storage: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 1TB (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: ASUS Thor 1200W (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 11 (buy from Amazon)
Cinebench R23 and AIDA64
Cinebench and AIDA64
Cinebench is a long-standing render benchmark that has been heavily relied upon by both Intel and AMD to highlight their newest platforms during unveils. The benchmark has two tests, a single-core workload that will utilize one thread or 1T. There is also a multi-threaded test that uses all threads or nT of a tested CPU.
Starting our testing, the Z690 Pro landed in 1984 in 1T R23 testing.
Moving to nT, the Pro picked up 27482 in R23.
AIDA was recently updated to version 6.6, which improved performance in both AES and SHA3 workloads for Alder Lake CPUs. You will notice this performance jump in the charts below compared to any previous Z690 reviews.
In AES, we see 207711 from the Pro, average for the platform.
SHA3 tapped in at 6038, slightly above average.
Memory throughput was on par with expectations, 75K read, 71k write and 73K copy.
PCMark10, 3DMark and CrossMark Benchmarks
PCMark is a benchmark from UL and tests various workload types to represent typical workloads for a PC. Everything from video conferencing, image import, and editing, along with 3D rendering, are tested.
Overall score in PCMark landed at 6331.
The score breakdown shows no issues for the AORUS Pro.
The Pro gave us a score of 2331 in CrossMark.
In the breakdown, the Pro did the best in Creativity at 2527, followed by 2392 in responsiveness.
CPU Profile shows the AORUS Pro running right with the pack throughout.
Timespy gave us a score of 934, on par with past Z690 platforms.
Firestrike too shows the AORUS Pro right on par with other Z690 platforms.
Storage Benchmarks and Final Thoughts
3DMark Storage Benchmarks
UL's newest 3DMark SSD Gaming Test is the most comprehensive SSD gaming test ever devised. We consider it to be superior to testing against games themselves, because as a trace, it is much more consistent than variations that will occur between runs on the actual game itself. This test is in fact the same as running the actual game, just without the inconsistencies inherent to application testing.
In short, we believe that this is the world's best way to test an SSDs gaming prowess and accurately compare it against competing SSDs. The 3DMark SSD Gaming Test measures and scores the following:
- Loading Battlefield V from launch to the main menu.
- Loading Call of Duty Black Ops 4 from launch to the main menu.
- Loading Overwatch from launch to the main menu.
- Recording a 1080p gameplay video at 60 FPS with OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) while playing Overwatch.
- Installing The Outer Worlds from the Epic Games Launcher.
- Saving game progress in The Outer Worlds.
- Copying the Steam folder for Counter-Strike Global Offensive from an external SSD to the system drive.
With our Rocket Plus, the Pro gave us 488 MB/s bandwidth.
The Z690 AORUS Pro was a fantastic board in testing. I had no issues in setup, and XMP worked without a hitch with our Micron DDR5. Build quality is up there with the higher-end Master and Xtreme too. That being said, this board does have its own conundrum due to features and pricing.
GIGABYTE has set MSRP at $329.99 for the Pro, fair pricing in its own right, but a step up to the Master is just $120 at the time of writing, and for that extra bit of cash, you gain a solid set of features that include Aquantia 10Gbe, Wi-Fi 6e, and ESS Sabre 9118 DAC on top of ALC1220. You also get a more robust VRM that's 19+1+2 with 105A stages, the Pro having a 16+1 design on 90A - and to add a quick note of opinion, the Master is just a better-looking board!
That all said, the Pro isn't a bad board. Nearly all Z690 boards will test the same when it comes to performance. I feel too much was cut from it to make GIGABYTE comfortable at its $329.99 MSRP when consumers can save a handful of cash picking up the Z690 AORUS Pro DDR4 for a substantial discount and stick with the readily available DDR4 memory for a bit longer.
The Bottom Line
The Z690 AORUS Pro is a great board for gamers wanting a mid-range board, but for not a lot more money, it may be worth looking a tier up to the Master!