The latest flagship desktop processor from Intel, the Core i9-11900K, has been out for over a month, and we've been busy putting numerous Z590 motherboards on tests to see how some of the motherboard options stack up against each other. Up for analysis today is GIGABYTE's Z590 Aorus Master, which is one of its premium models and has plenty of high-quality features and controllers onboard. Based on the Aorus gaming series, the Z590 Aorus Master includes 10 gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 6E, three M.2 slots, and large power delivery. From the specifications, it's a behemoth but with an attractive price tag when compared to the flagship Z590 offerings.

From our experience with previous generations of Intel's premium desktop chipsets, including Z490, Z390, Z370, etc., we've seen numerous trends of motherboard vendors stacking features onto its PCBs. Ultimately, the better the feature set, the more it costs, which is understandable, but Intel's Z590 offers some of Intel's biggest updates from a desktop-based chipset from them in years.

Aside from the PCIe 4.0 support that the 11th generation Rocket Lake processors bring to the table, the Intel Z590 chipset, when paired with Rocket Lake, effectively doubles the bandwidth between the CPU and chipset's DMI to x8, as well as native support for Wi-Fi 6E CNVi, which uses the latest 6 GHz Wi-Fi band for uninterrupted wireless access. Another addition native USB 3.2 Gen2x2  connectivity, which is fantastic for content creators and users with compatible devices. 

GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Master Overview

As far as premium GIGABYTE Z590 models go, the Z590 Aorus Master sits just behind GIGABYTE's flagship water-cooled Z590 Aorus Xtreme WaterForce and air-cooled Z590 Aorus Xtreme models. Regarding usable and core features, the Z590 Aorus Master has pretty much what you would expect from a mid-premium model. What GIGABYTE does have is plenty to focus on, including a nice aesthetic, with a predominately black PCB, black heatsinks, and black and silver PCIe slot armor, as well as matching M.2 heatsinks.

Focusing on the features, there are three full-length PCIe slots, all with GIGABYTE's metal slot reinforcement, with the top two slots operating at PCIe 4.0 x16 and x8/x8, with the third electronically locked down to PCIe 3.0 x4 from the chipset. Regarding memory support, GIGABYTE has QVL'd memory up to DDR4-5400, which is impressive, and the four slots can accommodate up to 128 GB. GIGABYTE also includes three PCIe M.2 slots, with one operating at PCIe 4.0 x4 and the other two at PCIe 3.0 x4, with the Gen 3 pairing also with support SATA based SSDs. There are also six SATA ports for conventional storage devices and optical drives, with RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays supported across all six ports.

The networking is as good as it gets on a desktop motherboard with a 10 GbE controller and Intel's latest Wi-Fi 6E CNVi. The rear panel includes USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, with an internal USB 3.2 G2 Type-C front panel header located below the memory slots. GIGABYTE uses an amped-up onboard audio solution with a premium HD audio codec and DAC combination, with one Displayport 1.2 video output for users intending to leverage Intel's integrated graphics. 

Looking at the performance of the GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Master, we saw very competitive performance when compared directly against other models. This includes fast POST times in our system testing and reasonable power consumption, and adequate performance in our DPC latency testing. In our gaming and compute-focused benchmarks, we again saw competitive performance against other Z590 models on test, and we saw no areas of concern or any anomalies.

The GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Master undergoing VRM thermal testing

When we overclocked the GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Master, we saw very tight VDroop control with the default load-line calibration settings on its large 18-phase CPU setup for the power delivery. We managed to get 5.2 GHz all-core on our Core i9-11900K, despite the large 413 W power draw from the wall with a maximum core temperature of 88 degrees Celsius. The performance went up incrementally in our POV-Ray benchmark, with some hit to performance at 5.2 GHz, which is likely related to the thermals or possibly built-in power limitations. We also tested the thermal capability of the power delivery, and although warmer than we expected, we did observe temperatures ranging from 71 to 78ºC with our K-Type thermocouples and the integrated temperature sensor on the board.


At present, the GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Master is available for $410 at Amazon, which is a fair price considering the mixture of premium controllers and features. This is similar to the ASRock Z590 Taichi, which is available for $430 at Newegg and includes Thunderbolt 4, but take away the Thunderbolt 4, and the Master has the better overall specifications on paper, especially within its power delivery capabilities. Other boards to consider are the ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI ($380) and the MSI MEG Z590 Ace ($500), which both should be judged on their own merits. GIGABYTE looks to dominate the market below the flagship models. The Z590 Aorus Master looks to solidify its position as a leading model with 10 GbE, Wi-Fi 6E, and plenty of other high-quality features.

Read on for our extended analysis.

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  • JVC8bal - Friday, April 30, 2021 - link

    I don't understand your point you responding to what I wrote. This has nothing to do with AMD vs. Intel. I guess there is a MAGA-like AMD crown on here looking for conspiracies and confrontations.

    As written above, the PCIE 4.0 specification implementation first found on x570 showed up on Intel's first go-around. If anything can be said, those working on the Intel platform motherboards learned nothing from prior work on the AMD platform. But whatever, read things through whatever lense you do.
  • TheinsanegamerN - Friday, April 30, 2021 - link

    I thought it was more of a BLM- like intel crowd that looks for any pro AMD comment and tries to railroad it into the ground while dismissing whatever merit the original comment may have had
  • TheinsanegamerN - Wednesday, April 28, 2021 - link

    I'm dissapointed that these newer boards keep cutting down on I/O. This board only offers 3 PCIe X16 slots, the third is only x4 and the second cuts half the bandwidth from the first slot despite multi GPU being long dead. So if you had, say, a sound card and a capture card, you'd have to cut your GPU slot bandwidth in half AND have one of the cards right up against the GPU cooler.

    IMO the best setup would have all the x1/x4 slots ont he bottom of the motherboard so you can use a tiriple slot GPU and still have 3 other cards with room between for breathing, with all the bottom slots fed fromt he chipset not the CPU.

    And for those whoa re going to ask: "why do you want more expansion everything is embedded now blah blah". If you only have a GPU and dont use the other slots that's why you have mini ITX, or micro ATX if you want a bigger VRM. Buying a big ATX board for a single expansion card is a waste.
  • abufrejoval - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    While I am sure they'd love to sell you everything you're asking for, I'm less convinced you'd be ready to pay the price.

    You can't get anything but static CPU PCIe lane allocations out of a hard wired motherboard, with bi/tri/quad-furication already being a bonus. You need a switch on both ends for flexibility.

    That's what a PCH basically is, which allows you to oversubscribe the ports and lanes.

    In the old 2.0 days PCIe switch chips were affordable enough ($50?) to put next to the CPU and gain full multiple x16 slots (still switched), but certainly not without a bit of latency overhead and some Watts of power.

    All those PCIe switch chip vendors seem to have been bought up by Avago/Broadcom who have racked up prices, probably less because they wanted to anger gamers, but because these were key components in NVMe based storage appliances where they knew how much they could charge (mostly guessing here).

    And then PCIe 3.0 and 4.0 are likely to increase motherboard layout/trace challenges, switch chip thermals or just generally price to the point, where going for a higher lane-count workstation or server CPU may be more economical and deliver the full bandwidth of all lanes.

    You can get PCIe x16 cards designed to hold four or eight M.2 SSDs that contain such a PCIe switch. Their price gives you some idea of the silcon cost while I am sure they easily suck 20 Watts of power, too.

    If you manage to get a current generation GPU with PCIe 4.0, that gives you PCIe 3.0 x16 equivalent performance even at x8 lanes. That's either enough, because you have enough VRAM, or PCI 4.0 x16 won't be good enough either. At both 16 or 32GByte/s PCIe is little better than a hard disk, when your internal VRAM delivers north of 500GB/s...because that's what it takes to drive your GPU compute or the game.

    The premium for the ATX form factor vs a mini ITX is pretty minor and I couldn't care less how much of the tower under my desk is filled by the motherboard. I tend to go with the larger form factors quite simply because I value the flexibility and the ability to experiment or recycle older stuff. And it's much easier to manage noise with volume.
  • TheinsanegamerN - Friday, April 30, 2021 - link

    Boards like the gigabyte X570 elite exist, which have a plethora of USB ports and multiple additional expansion ports none of which sap bandwidth from the main port.

    This master is a master class is taking money for looking "cool" and offering nothing of value.
  • Spunjji - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    Agreed, that layout is a big mess and rather defeats the point of having an ATX board - but then a huge number of these are just going to go into systems that have one GPU and nothing else, but the buyer wants ATX just because that's what they're used to 🤷‍♂️
  • Linustechtips12#6900xt - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    AGREED, my b450m pro 4 has like 4 USB 3, 1 USB-a 10gbps, 1 USB-c 10gbps and 2 USB 2.0. frankly amazing io and i couldn't appreciate it more
  • Molor1880 - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    Not completely the motherboards fault though. There are only 20 PCIe 4.0 lanes from the CPU. 4 for IO and 16 for graphics. There are no general purpose PCIe 4.0 lines off the Z590 chipset, and the DMI link is wider, but still just PCIe 3.0. When Intel starts putting general purpose PCIe 4.0 lanes on the chipset (690?), a lot of those issues would be resolved. Otherwise, it's a bit of a wonky workaround to shift things for one generation.
  • Silver5urfer - Wednesday, April 28, 2021 - link

    Unfortunately GB BIOS is not that stellar ? And why does this mobo have a fan to cool the 10G LAN chip ? I do not see that with some other boards like X570 Xtreme, X570 Prestige Creation and Maximus XIII Extreme.
  • TheinsanegamerN - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    Gigabyte BIOS is fine, the UI is a tad clunky, but hey it's a huge leap from BIOSes from the core 2 era. Just takes a little getting used to.

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