The Bottom Line
Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
GIGABYTE's AORUS brand has been designing and building these high-end full board block motherboards for three generations. Looking back, you can certainly see the evolution. Of course, the Z590 is the latest and, in my eyes, the best looking of the three platforms, but underneath the nearly 10lb block of aluminum and copper lies a legit hardware platform.
The AORUS Xtreme comes in two flavors; the model we have in-house, Waterforce, that happens to carry one of the highest MSRP for a Z590 platform at $1599.99 and a standard "air" cooled model that arrives at $849.99. Both of these platforms are identical in hardware, from power design to connectivity.
GIGABYTE went into designing this board with one thing in mind, leaving nothing on the table, and judging by the board's design, we can undoubtedly say they accomplished their goal. Top to bottom, this board supports both 10th and 11th Generation Core processors with memory support ranging from DDR4 2133 through 5400 with an overclock. This is across four slots, 288 pin DIMMS max capacity 128GB.
Power design is huge on the Waterforce, 20+1 phase all SIC840 100A power stages with an ISL69269 PMIC to control the group.
Next up, we look into storage where the Xtreme supports six SATA ports alongside two Ultra m.2 coming off the chipset. An additional m.2 comes off the CPU with Hyper m.2 support and Gen4 lanes. USB 3.2 connectivity is stacked as well, with eight ports on the back, another four supported via internal headers, and to cap it off, Thunderbolt 4 supports via the rear I/O. Networking includes the whole gambit, Marvel 10Gbe, Intel 2.5Gbe, and AX210 WiFi6e.
The GIGABYTE Z590 AORUS Xtreme Waterforce carries an MSRP of $1599.99 with a three-year warranty.
Packaging, Accessories, and Overview
Packaging and Accessories
Packaging is quite colorful for the Waterforce; we have AORUS branding covering most of the box with Intel chipset and CPU support logos on the right side.
On the back, we have board specs along with the bottom and board diagram to the right.
The board, waterblock, and fan commander are all boxed separately.
Unboxing the fan commander, we have several sets of cables, including power, data, and fan extensions.
The waterblock itself is a full board block that cools everything from the CPU to the chipset and even m.2 slots. It also houses a small OLED screen in the central part of the block. Inlets and outlets are labeled appropriately.
Accessories for the Xtreme Waterforce include dual Wi-Fi antennas, PCIe AIC for 2x NVMe, along with reading materials. Top left, we have SATA cables, extensions for USB, and a USC DAC device.
GIGABYTE Z590 AORUS Xtreme Waterforce Overview
AORUS Xtreme is a stacked platform, and out of the box, you can see nearly everything. We have three x16 slots shielded alongside 3x m.2, chipset to the right, and up above, all memory slots are shielded.
The rear of the board is entirely covered in armor.
Rear I/O is in another realm with eight USB 3.2 Gen 2 in red, two Thunderbolt 4, and a full complement of 3.5mm audio jacks gold plated.
Running around the board, the bottom houses the front panel audio under a cover.
Along the right side of the motherboard, every connection is tipped over 90 degrees making for clean installations in your chassis. The bottom includes SATA and USB 3.2 headers.
Further up the side, GB has used eight-pin headers to extend functionality away from the board. The 24pin resides here as well alongside the fan connection to the right.
Across the top, we have dual eight-pin CPU power connections.
PCB and Circuit Analysis
Power design is stacked on the AORUS Xtreme, with 20 stages all Vishay SIC840 100A. The PMIC resides between the two banks, Intersil ISL69269.
The chipset is our focus above, but we do have the ITE Super I/O below.
UEFI, Software and Test System
EFI on the AORUS Xtreme includes the AORUS orange and black colorway; Easy Mode offers information about the hardware installed across the top with current frequencies in the middle. The bottom left offers XMP support, along with the boot sequence down below.
F7 moves us to advanced mode with a breakdown between several tabs; the first is Tweaker which gives you basic controls for overclocking CPU and memory, while the settings tab is split between platform power settings and IO Ports. Within IO Ports, the breakdown includes audio, LAN, and bifurcation support. Further down, we have menu items for USB, SATA, and NVMe.
RGB Fusion is our first piece of software; this allows you to control motherboard lightning along with any connected RGB strips.
Next, we move to EasyTune, overclocking software for AORUS and GIGABYTE platforms. This software does offer several preset modes.
If we move to Advanced OC, we can change frequency, voltage, and power limits.
DDR OC offers options for you to change frequency and timings on-the-fly.
Further, you can set custom fan profiles for the entire motherboard.
Motherboard Testing Supporters
Sabrent supports our storage testing with the Rocket 4 Plus.
Thermaltake has come onboard with their Toughram XG for all Z590 reviews.
TweakTown Intel Motherboard Test System
- CPU: Intel Core i7 11700K
- GPU: ASUS TUF RTX 3080 10GB
- RAM: Thermaltake Toughram XG 2x8G DDR4 4000 (buy from Amazon)
- OS Storage: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 1TB (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: Corsair RM1000X (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 (buy from Amazon)
Cinebench, Realbench and AIDA64
Cinebench is a long-standing render benchmark that has been heavily relied upon by both Intel and AMD to showcase 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.
AORUS Xtreme did quite well in a single thread, 1557 in R23. Multi-thread results reached 14808.
Realbench uses both video and photo workloads to benchmark your CPU. We use all three workloads in this scenario.
Realbench offers 22.9 seconds in Image Editing, 25.1 seconds in H.264 Encoding, and 37 seconds in multi-tasking.
Memory bandwidth topped 57K read, 57K write, and 49K for copy.
Memory Latency came in at 60.7 seconds.
In AES, results come in at 164930 for the Xtreme.
SHA3 showed 5349, right in line with other platforms.
PCMark10 and PugetSystems 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.
PCMark testing gave us a score of 7973 overall. Peak results come in essentials and digital content.
Application testing touched 22K in Excel at peak, 12879 for PowerPoint, and 10734 for Edge.
PugetBench comes from the fantastic people over at Puget Systems that have done countless hours and years benchmarking hardware. For our testing, we will utilize their Davinci Resolve, Photoshop, and Lightroom benchmarks, you can look into them more here.
Puget for Photoshop ended with a score of 931.
Davinci Resolve gave us a score of 1110.
Microsoft Flight Simulator
Comparing the AORUS Xtreme to the rest of our charts, we are right on par near 64FPS in testing.
System I/O Benchmarks
Storage with CrystalDiskMark
Storage tests are all handled by our Sabrent Rocket Plus NVMe 4.0 SSD. Secondary storage tests are conducted with our WD_Black P50 SSD.
Storage testing showed 7015 MB/s reads, and 5314 MB/s write.
Q1 Random showed 75 MB/s reads, and 329 MB/s write.
In our external storage testing, we see 480 MB/s from Gen 1, 1067 MB/s from Gen 2, and 2012 MB/s from Gen 2x2.
Audio - Dynamic Range
Testing audio, we set up RMAA with a 3.5mm cable from the line-in to speaker out (green to blue) and set both to 24Bit 192KHz. AORUS Master gave us 102 dBA.
With networking, we have 2.5GBe and WiFi6e. WiFi6 tested at 1216.56, and the 10Gbe gave us 2409 MBps on our 2.5Gbe test setup.
Power, Thermals and Final Thoughts
Wrapping up testing, power consumption saw a low of 131w at idle and a peak of 491 watts under CPU load.
Thermals were on par at 21c idle and peak of 57c during testing.
The Xtreme Waterforce is the top-end AORUS platform on Z590. It's an enthusiast board based on features and certainly caters to the crowd that wants every bit of technology baked in. This board lacks no feature with a stacked rear I/O that includes eight USB 3.2 and Thunderbolt alongside one of the vest networking groups we have seen; Marvel 10Gbe, Intel 2.5Gbe, and the AX210 for WiFi6e.
Power delivery is absolute overkill; 20-phase with 100A power stages can push even the most power-hungry Rocket Lake CPU with ease; in fact, most overclocking boards like the Apex or OC Formula use a 16 or 18 phase design.
For most, the price is quite stunning; $1599.99 is no laughing matter for a motherboard, but if your one with the spare cash, this board makes a strong case for the most full-featured platform. I would hazard to say it even beats the Maximus XIII Extreme Glacial.
What We Like
Socket Compatibility: In-Socket upgrade for 10th Gen users.
Connectivity: This board has every bit of connectivity an enthusiast would want.
Networking: Impressive networking group with 2.5Gbe, 10Gbe and Wi-Fi 6e.
What Could Be Better
Price: $1599, need we say more?!
The Z590 AORUS Xtreme Waterforce is an amazing board that's packed with features, but misses out on our Editors Choice Award due to its high cost.