Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
The majority of Intel 600 series motherboards coming through for review land as Z690 series platforms as these tend to cater most towards gamers and enthusiasts, our intended audience. As we have begun to wrap our coverage of Alder Lake, I sent a note to GIGABYTE to see if we could get their latest B660 platform sent over for review. The B660 AORUS Master lives at the top of the B660 motherboard stack, and it includes both DDR5 and DDR4 variants to cater to a larger audience. We opted for the DDR4 version for this review, as it's more cost-effective for users to build a gaming machine on a budget.
As far as hardware goes on the B660 Master, it's not far off its Z690 brethren with three PCIe express slots, the top x16 operating at Gen4 and the other two operating at x4 and x1 Gen3, respectively. Storage includes one m.2 slot coming off the CPU, this lives above the top PCIe slot. We also have two more m.2 slots to the left of the chipset heat sink, one operating at Gen4 and one at Gen3. SATA connectivity includes four ports at 6Gbps.
Audio is the mid-range Realtek ALC1220, plenty for most headphones, and the networking stack includes the Intel i225v 2.5Gbe chipset and AX201 WiFi6 that includes BT 5.2.
Memory support is DDR4 on this board, with four slots with a maximum capacity of 128GB. Speeds supported include 3200MHz to 5333MHz via OC. Socket support is LGA1700 for Intel 12th Gen CPUs.
The B660 AORUS Master DDR4 carries an MSRP of $209.99 with a three-year warranty.
Packaging, Accessories, and Overview
Packaging and Accessories
Packaging runs with the AORUS black and orange colorway. Chipset, CPU, and memory support are listed bottom right.
Specs are listed bottom left with a board diagram above. To the right, we have features of the board.
The Master includes reding materials, SATA cables, and a Wi-Fi antenna.
B660 AORUS Master DDR4 Overview
The Master shares a similar aesthetic to the entire 600 series family. All boards have a gunmetal heat sink layout covering the VRMs, chipset, and m.2 slots, and RGB is found on the rear I/O cover and chipset heat sink.
We don't find any thermal armor for the Master on the back of the board.
Rear I/O includes four USB 2.0 at the top, followed by the Wi-Fi antenna. We then move into the display outputs and USB 3.2 Gen2 in red. The blue ports are Gen1 USB 3.2 operating at 5Gbps, and at the bottom, we have audio and 2.5Gbe off to the side.
We have WIMA audio caps on this platform next to the front panel audio connection. A few RGB ports join as we move down the board, as do the USB 2.0 headers.
Down the line, we run into a host of fan connections and the front panel chassis connections.
Around the corner, we have four SATA ports and two Thunderbolt headers for an AIC.
Further down, we have a Gen1 and Gen2 USB 3.2 header followed by fans and the 24-pin.
Across the top, we have RGB and fan connections.
Last, 4+8 pin CPU power.
UEFI, Software and Test System
BIOS layout is identical to the Z690 Xtreme and Master with fewer options for overclocking; 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 the RGB functionality on board and on other supported devices.
Motherboard Testing Supporters
Sabrent supports our storage testing with the Rocket 4 Plus.
TweakTown Intel Motherboard Test System
- CPU: Intel Core i9 12900K
- RAM: Kingston Fury DDR5 6000MHz 16GB CL40 (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.
Single thread performance came in at 1921 with the Master.
Multi-thread gave us 27298, similar to past B660 platforms.
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 earlier Z690 reviews.
In AES the B660 Master picked up 206594.
SHA3 came in at 6003.
Memory throughput was on par with other DDR4 600 series boards, 63K read and 58K for write and copy.
PCMark10, 3DMark and CrossMark Benchmarks
UL Procyon Suite
The UL Procyon Office Productivity Benchmark uses Microsoft Office apps to measure PC performance for office productivity work.
The Photo Editing benchmark uses Adobe Lightroom to import, process, and modify a selection of images. In the second part of the test, multiple edits and layer effects are applied to a photograph in Adobe Photoshop.
The Video editing benchmark uses Adobe Premiere Pro to export video project files to common formats. Each video project includes various edits, adjustments, and effects. The benchmark score is based on the time taken to export the videos.
New to our testing is UL Procyon, and this offers us the ability for more real-world testing in motherboard reviews. The Master showed a small difference in performance compared to DDR5 boards, and the Master brought in 8978 in Office, whereas most Z690 boards reach 9100.
CrossMark turned a score of 2301, only 70 points between it and the Z690 average.
The Master ended up on point, scoring 10511 at 16 threads.
Timespy gave us a score of 919 for the Master, on par with Z690 boards.
Firestrike offered a similar scenario, score at 2698 was only 50 points off our top Z690 boards.
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 several motherboards now tested under the new storage benchmark, we are starting to get a good idea of where our Rocket Plus should run. Storage seemed to be slightly lower on the B660 Master, with a score of 499 MB/s.
We have looked at two or three B660 platforms this year, and today's results with the Master show just how good this chipset can be. In the worst case, it's maybe 2% under Z690 with DDR5, and there are some scenarios like daily activities and gaming where you wouldn't know this is a B660 chipset.
Features extend quite well on the Master too. AORUS has stacked this board with connectivity both internal with headers for USB 3.2 and Thunderbolt and on the rear I/O with all three generations represented. It also has a fantastic network stack from Intel and relatively good audio.
The only big "downfall," if you want to call it that, would be the lack of PCIe Gen5, but as no devices are using the technology as of this writing, it's a moot point for now.
On the flip, the Master is a full-featured B660 platform with an MSRP of $209, considerably cheaper than equal Z690 boards, and does have the ability, if ever needed, to add Thunderbolt 4 via an AIC.
The Bottom Line
The B660 Master DDR4 combines value and features in one of the best B660 chipset boards available.