GIGABYTE Z390 Aorus Pro (Intel Z390) Motherboard Review

GIGABYTE Z390 Aorus Pro (Intel Z390) Motherboard Review

If you are looking for a motherboard under the $200 range then look no further than the GIGABYTE Z390 Aorus Pro.

@StevenBassiriTT
Published Wed, Dec 12 2018 10:00 AM CST   |   Updated Thu, Jul 30 2020 4:20 PM CDT
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

Today we take at our second GIGABYTE Z390 motherboard, and while the first one had an excellent VRM, this model is more cost effective, so we aren't expecting the same quality VRM, but still a good one.

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VIEW GALLERY - 81 IMAGES

GIGABYTE has told us they have used DrMOS in many of their models that would have previously been discrete PowerPAKs because of the increased power requirements of the 9900K CPU. Let's see how this motherboard stacks up.

Specifications

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The Z390 Aorus Pro features two M.2 slots, Intel LAN, USB 3.1, and SATA6Gb/s.

Pricing

The Z390 Aorus Pro costs $181.

Packaging and Z390 Aorus Pro Overview

Packaging and Overview

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The box is much like previous Aorus motherboard boxes; the packaging is decent.

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The accessory package includes four SATA6Gb/s cables, two thermal probes, a digital RGB LED extension cable, RGB LED extension cable, G-connector, case badge, stickers, DVD, and manual.

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GIGABYTE has upped the number of fan headers to eight, all of them being flexible hybrid PWM or DC mode headers. The headers circled in red are 1A headers, while the three circled in blue are rated up to 2A. Two external headers will accept external temperature sensor readings; we circled them in green. The motherboard has a neutral color design, so it can fade into the background if you want it to. The rear of the motherboard is bare of most components except a USB 2.0 hub.

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The rear IO panel features four USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, three USB 3.0 ports, two type-A USB 3.1 ports, one type-C USB 3.1 port, 1Gbit LAN, and 7.1 audio outputs with S/PDIF out.

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The PCI-E layout is as follows; all x1 slots are routed to the PCH as is the bottom x16 electrical x4 PCI-E 3.0 slot. The top two PCI-E x16 slots operate at x16/x0 or x8/x8. The motherboard features two M.2 PCI-E x4 slots that support SATA ports and share some lanes with the SATA ports.

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We get six SATA6Gb/s ports on the motherboard. We also find one USB 3.0 internal header and a USB 3.0 type-C internal header.

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At the top right corner of the motherboard, we get an 8-pin power connector and a 4-pin power connector. At the top right corner of the motherboard, we find a digital (addressable) RGB LED header and a normal RGB LED header. There is also a digital RGB voltage selection jumper.

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At the bottom right corner, we find a Thunderbolt 3 GPIO header and boot LEDs near the front panel header. We also get two USB 2.0 internal headers, an RGB LED header, a digital RGB header, and a digital RGB voltage selection header.

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The motherboard's heat sink uses a heat pipe, which is an upgrade from the last generation. All the heat sinks make solid contact with the components they are designed to cool.

GIGABYTE Z390 Aorus Pro Circuit Analysis

Circuit Analysis

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The Z390 Aorus Pro shows us the goods with the heat sinks removed!

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The VRM is a large 12+1 phase VRM with the CPU and iGPU power rails using the Intersil ISL69138 in 6+1 phase mode, and doublers on the rear (ISL6617) work in synchronous mode and are used for current balancing the DrMOS. The Vishay SiC632 is used for the iGPU, while the SiC634 are used for the 12 VCore power stages. The SiC634 and SiC632 are both rated for 50A, but the VCore ones are slightly better.

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The VCCSA and VCCIO are controlled by Richtek RT8120 single phase PWMs with integrated drivers, and they control some miniature On Semiconductor PowerPAKs labeled "4C06". The memory VRM uses the same Richtek PWMs, but with larger On Semiconductor "4C06N" N-channel PowerPAKs in a two low single high configuration.

GIGABYTE Z390 Aorus Pro Circuit Analysis Continued

Z390 Aorus Pro Circuit Analysis Continued

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The audio solution consists of a Realtek ALC1220 rated up to 120dB and supports an integrated headphone AMP, and GIGABYTE added some WIMA audio capacitors and some Gold series audio capacitors as well as a PCB divide to enhance audio performance.

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We get an i219v PHY for the Gbit LAN. All three of the rear IO panel USB 3.1 ports have a PI3EQX re-driver, and the type-C ports use a Texas Instruments HD3220 type-C controller.

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The GL850S is a USB 2.0 internal hub to provide four USB 2.0 ports on the rear IO. We also find an NXP level shifter that provides us with HDMI output on the rear IO.

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An ITE IT8688E is the SuperIO controller on this motherboard, and it's capabilities for fan control and temperature monitoring are expanded by the IT8795 helper EC.

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We find an ITE IT8297FN microcontroller used for digital/addressable RGB LED control. The motherboard also features dual BIOS in the form of two 128Mbit ROMs.

BIOS and Software

BIOS

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GIGABYTE has revamped the GUI a bit, but it's not reflected in these BIOS shots because this is an earlier version of the UEFI. The UEFI has both an Easy mode and a Classic, more advanced more. All the settings you need to overclock are there, and control is present in the form of a GUI. GIGABYTE's newer skin is much nicer than the red one, so if you get it by default, you can just update your UEFI.

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Software

GIGABYTE's software package includes 3D OSD, @BIOS, AutoGreen, Cloud Station, EasyTune, EasyRAID, Fast Boot, Game Boost, ON/OFF Charge, Platform Power Management, RGB Fusion, Smart Backup, Smart Keyboard, Smart TimeLock, Smart HUD, SIV, Smart Survey, and USB Blocker.

Test System Setup

Steven's Motherboard Test System Specifications

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We used GIGABYTE's stock images because we totally forgot to take shots of the system while it was installed. Regardless, it looks quite good, and there aren't too many integrated RGB LEDs.

Overclocking

Overclocking Results

CPU Overclocking

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We set CPU multiplier to 52x, XMP to enable, core current to 255A, vcore to 1.325v, and LLC to Turbo mode. That's all we did, and the motherboard handled the OC with ease.

CPU, Memory, and System Benchmarks

CINEBENCH 11.5

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wPrime

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AIDA64 FLOPS and IOPS

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AIDA64 Memory

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ScienceMark

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HandBrake

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3DMark: Fire Strike

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3DMark: Cloud Gate

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ResidentEvil 6

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Overall, the Z390 Aorus Pro is performing normally, there is nothing that stands out, and there is nothing to worry about.

System IO Benchmarks

CrystalDiskMark SATA6G:

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CrystalDiskMark M.2:

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ixChariot Network Throughput:

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The Z390 Aorus Pro's storage and networking performance are excellent.

Audio RMAA 5.5:

I disable all audio features, set the correct bitrates, and then test the audio with a loopback test.

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Sound Judgment by Ear: GIGABYTE did a fine job with its implementation of the ALC1220. There are five ratings for audio: 1. Problems, 2. Okay, 3. Acceptable, 4. Very good, 5. Excellent

Thermal Imaging and Power Consumption

System power is measured at the wall with an AC power meter.

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Note on Thermal Images: In the temperature section, we use our Seek thermal imaging camera to capture the surface temperatures of major components on the board. I look at the VRM and then all other things that light up the screen. If there is something to worry about, then I will state it. Otherwise, I will just show the hotter running parts of the board for fun. Unless some component is over 80-90C, then there isn't anything to worry about.

All systems will act differently, so I will look for commonalities, such as how far from the VRM the heat spreads through the PCB and the difference in temperature between the front side and back side of the PCB. Keep in mind, the majority of the heat from the VRM goes into the PCB as it is a giant soldered on copper heat sink. A larger difference in temperature between the back and front of the PCB points towards a more effective heat sink.

Thermal Testing at Stock Speeds:

The image on the left is always at idle, and the image on the right is at load. During ALL TESTS, fans to the right of the motherboard from the (Corsair H110i) radiator are left on automatic mode (ramps with internal block temperature). Additionally, a 120mm fan is situated right above the VRM, and it blows down at a medium rate (very quiet). Thermal Images are taken at loop 15 of Intel Burn Test

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Full frontal.

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Up-close of the front of the VRM.

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Up-close of the back of the VRM.

These results are just a few degrees higher than the Z390 Aorus Master, and its performance is excellent. The thermal performance of this motherboard will be hard to beat by other sub-$200 boards. Anything under 60C is great, 60-80C is acceptable, and anything above 80C is a bit worrisome (if at stock).

What's Hot, What's Not & Final Thoughts

What's Hot

Excellent VRM : Thermal testing reveals that the VRM on this motherboard is excellent. While it might not be at the level of the Aorus Master, temperatures were still extremely impressive. The 50A DrMOS and heat sink with heat pipe did a solid job of keeping things cool.

Fans: GIGABYTE has added more fan headers for a total of eight on this motherboard, and with that comes full control in the slightly revamped UEFI and through GIGABYTE's software. We also like that GIGABYTE included two external temperature sensors.

Quality: At this price point it might be fair to say that GIGABYTE has taken a loss to win over more market share, and we say this because the quality of certain things on this motherboard are rare for a sub $200 motherboards. Take the DrMOS, the 2x copper in the PCB, heat pipe heat sink, and even things like integrated IO shield as examples.

What's Not

No future rear IO WIFI: Considering that GIGABYTE has a WIFI version of this motherboard, many might assume that later on they could buy a WIFI card and toss it in. While the solder pads are there for a WIFI M.2 card, the actual slot is not.

Final Thoughts

We very much enjoyed the motherboard, and at this price point we have looked at similar motherboards, but none of them had the same level of quality in the VRM, which resulted in slightly poorer performance. If the VRM is of concern to you, then you should definitely look at this motherboard if you can't afford to spend over $200 on a Z390 motherboard.

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The feature set is also pretty good, mostly platform features and not many aftermarket ones, but that isn't a negative, it means all the ports will work at reasonable speeds and perform admirably in regards to compatibility. Overall, if overclocking is one of your main concerns, then the Z390 Aorus Pro is an excellent buy.

TweakTown award
Performance89%
Quality95%
Features90%
Value95%
Overall92%

The Bottom Line: At the sub-$200 level, you would never expect to find a Z390 motherboard with this level of quality.

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

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DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

Steven went from a fledgling forum reader in 2003 to one of the internet's brightest tech stars by 2010. Armed with an information systems degree, a deep understanding of circuitry, and a passion for tech, Steven (handle Sin0822) enjoys sharing his deep knowledge with others. Steven details products down to the component level to highlight seldom explained, and often misunderstood architectures. Steven is also a highly decorated overclocker with several world records.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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