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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  • Richy65 - Sunday, June 6, 2021 - link

    Not sure if this is normal (never seen it with anything from ASUS) but when the board is powered on and you press DEL to enter BIOS it takes up to 35 seconds before it actually opens the BIOS application. Then, unless I enable "Fastboot (Not Ultra Fast) it can take 38 seconds before Windows starts loading. something seems amiss here. Reply
  • meacupla - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    If I understand this correctly, if Gigabyte had chosen not to go with the plastic cover over the I/O and VRM area, they could have gone with passive cooling for the 10Gbe NIC?
    :thonk:
    Reply
  • abufrejoval - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    While a cover without a fan is probably a bad idea, a cover with a fan is likely to make cooling more efficient.

    The PHY part of the AQC-107 needs quite a bit of power when it operates at 10GBit/s speeds sustained across a 100m CAT7 cable without EEE or green Ethernet coming to the rescue. I've never been able to find a number, only that Aquantia was proud to use significantly less then the >10Watts that the 10Gbase-T competition required at the time.

    Their PCIe NICs have a significant passive heat sink which does get hot under load.

    I guess I'd also prefer a large passive heat sink because I use big slow fans on my cases to create airflow. But with these Rocket Lake aberrations gamers may resort to water cooling and that would leave too little of an airflow around the AQC107 to work properly... A variable speed fan might just keep things safe... until it's clogged by dust. But by then the warranty has most likely expired.
    Reply
  • gizmo23 - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    "users looking to overclock Rocket Lake ... will need ... premium cooling"

    Understatement of the year!
    Reply
  • Linustechtips12#6900xt - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    I do have to ask, do you think you could get the same power draw/ clocks on something like a 9900k compared to a 10900k or 11900k "ik the 11900k is a new achritecture" cause frankly I don't see the point to buy a 11900k over something like a 9900k other than PCIe gen 4 and maybe integrated 10gb lan but I can get a 60$ adapter anyway. Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    Premium tinnitus. Reply
  • Linustechtips12#6900xt - Wednesday, May 19, 2021 - link

    makes sense Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    'When we overclocked the GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Master'

    1) Intel just recently eliminated its overclocking warranty program.

    2) Overclocking an already inefficient CPU (Rocket Lake, given its 14nm construction) seems even more unwise than overclocking in the first place (given today's sophisticated boost algorithms and the lack of headroom).
    Reply
  • Richy65 - Sunday, June 6, 2021 - link

    The App Centre software is riddled with Trojans (28 found by MBAM), it is a piece of garbage and will disable Windows Update and totally screw up your system. Starting SIV for whatever reason invokes Windows Update, then disables it, you can no longer get updates and the process - windowsupdate is no longer visible under services. It has so much bloated malware running in the background that my i7 11700K is at 14% CPU load when I am doing nothing. Temperatures for the CPU sit at high 60C- mid 70C. Uninstall all Gigabyte software . malware and my PC is back and running at 40-50C. Also, the BIOS, unless Fastboot is enabled, it will sit there for at the POST screen for 38 seconds before even attempting to start Windows, I thought Asus made some junk, but Gigabyte leave them way behind, the worst garbage bundled with a motherboard ever, they even have the APP CENTRE configured to be downloaded and installed by default via the BIOS, never seen anything like it with any other motherboard. Disgusting for a product costing this much. Reply

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