The Bottom Line
Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Each vendor sent over several boards for review shortly before the 12th Gen Alder Lake launch; for GIGABYTE, the first offering we are looking at is the Z690 Xtreme. This solution is their top-of-the-line offering at the moment, but I'm sure the Waterforce model isn't far behind. Let's get into the specification of this platform below.
As per most Z690 platforms, specifications start with LGA1700 socket support, this of course on the Z690 chipset. Now Z690 platforms are split between DDR4 memory and DDR5, the higher-end boards will opt for DDR5, and the AORUS Xtreme follows this with four slots, max capacity 128GB with speeds starting at 4800MHz.
CPU integrated graphics; UHD770 for 12th Gen is accessible through Thunderbolt 4 alongside HDMI and DP connections on the rear I/O. This pulls us into rear I/O expansion, where you will get Wi-Fi 6e alongside 2.5Gbe from Intel and Marvell 10Gbe. USB ports are plentiful as well, with ten ports, all USB 3.2.
Internal connectivity includes three PCIe x16 slots; the top two are Gen5 and operate in x16 or x8 x8 mode. The bottom slot pulls from the chipset at PCIe 3.0. Storage includes four NVMe slots; the top slot under the large heat sink is Gen4 capable from the CPU, the following three are from the chipset at Gen 4.0 as well.
The Z690 AORUS Xtreme carries an MSRP of $899.99 with a three-year warranty.
Packaging, Accessories, and Overview
Packaging and Accessories
The packaging features a large AORUS logo with branding to the right. Down below, we have socket and chipset support.
The rear of the packaging includes features to the right and specs right below, including a rear I/O layout.
Accessories include Wi-Fi antenna, SATA cables, and RGB extensions.
Z690 AORUS Xtreme Overview
The Xtreme is a dark board in the colorway; black and gunmetal panels cover most of the board. We have three PCIe x16 slots; all shielded, heat piped VRM sinks and a large heat sink for the main NVMe slot. Memory and VRM are contained with RGB covers, and the power and reset buttons are tucked to the far right, as they were with Z590.
The back of the board has additional armor to add rigidity to the board.
Rear I/O includes a full host of USB 3.2; ten ports counted for, we also have 2.5Gbe, 10Gbe, and thunderbolt 4 making an appearance.
All ports are placed along the right side of the board; this includes USB 2.0 headers, front panel connections, and SATA, as seen in the image above.
USB 3.2 joins before the 24pin power connection.
Last we have a set of fan connections.
Across the top, we have two temperature probes alongside fan connections.
Far left, two eight-pin inputs.
UEFI, Software and Test System
BIOS layout is still pretty similar to Z590; 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
- GPU: NVIDIA RTX A5000
- 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)
Above, we have our system set up and tested with CPUz.
Cinebench R23 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.
We are starting to populate charts with boards, The Xtreme being our fourth. In 1T, the Xtreme was tested in 1954.
nT showed 28336.
AES offers are the highest performance yet at 145746.
SHA3 tapped in at 5293.
Memory throughput pushed 81K read, 77K write, and 79K 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.
The overall score in PCMark was just under the Hero at 9532; we can see the breakdown in the image below.
Score breakdown shows solid performance in Digital Content.
AORUS Xtreme gave us our highest score yet in CrossMark; adding to this, we actually touched 2631 with this exact board after some tuning giving us the second spot in the world for this bench.
Breakdown of CrossMark showed the highest results in Creativity.
CPU Profile showed a slight edge to the Xtreme at 16-threads, scoring 10877; eight threads give us 8160 while things start to even off at four threads.
Timespy shows lower than normal gaming performance for the Xtreme, about 300 points under the Unify.
The Xtreme sees lower CPU performance in the breakdown while graphics are the highest we have seen.
Gaming and System I/O Benchmarks
Tomb Raider showed equal performance for all boards tested, 195 FPS for 1080p and 146 FPS for 1440p.
FCND showed similar performance here as well, 170 FPS for 1080p and 1440p tapping 150 FPS.
Storage with CrystalDiskMark
Storage performance was fantastic, NVMe topping 7019 MB/s with our Sabrent Rocket Plus; Gen 2x2 at 2011 MB/s followed by Gen 2 at 1071 MB/s and Gen 1 at 459 MB/s.
Power consumption for the Xtreme was 68 watts at idle, and full load with R23 peaked at 362 Watts.
It's quite apparent even at this stage that performance between boards has everything to do with components chosen and the factory BIOS tune these vendors deploy. ASUS, for one, is quite aggressive in this category, as you can see from our charts, whereas MSI, with the Unify at least, was passive. AORUS Xtreme appears to be somewhere in the middle of these two; functionally, the board is stacked with a 20+1 VRM design plenty for the current stack of 12th Gen CPUs, and I/O connectivity is among the best we have seen.
In testing, the AORUS and Hero were consistently at the top of our charts, with the Xtreme taking more of the CPU-designed testing like PCMark and CrossMark, where the Hero was a bit better in 3DMark. In real-world gaming, both of these boards performed identically. Storage performance was a bit lower, 10 MB/s for the Xtreme vs. the Hero, but USB 3.2, SATA, and the like were all on point.
Visually, this board is one of the most stunning to date, the colorway being dark lends many options for building around it, and the controllable RGB allows for themed builds. That all said, this is the most expansive option we have tested to date at $899.99 MSRP and adding in the cost of DDR5 and, of course, the terrible market for GPUs; you will surely need to be committed to building a rig on this platform.
That said, this board is stacked; there is no technology left out on the Xtreme, so the cost, while mighty, is offset by one of the current best motherboards on the Z690 platform.
While being tremendously expensive, the Z690 AORUS Xtreme is stacked, leaving no connectivity behind!