AORUS XTREME Z390 Gaming Motherboard Review
Peter Donnell / 2 weeks ago
A Closer Look
First impressions of this motherboard aren’t what it looks like – it’s how damn heavy it is. It’s packed with a super thick PCB, double layers of copper, a full-size backplate, multiple oversized copper heatsinks, and more. Overall, it’s a monster, so don’t expect to mount this on a chassis stamped out of cheap steal panels any time soon. Don’t drop it on your foot either, that would be bad for you.
The CPU socket is the standard 8th/9th gen socket and is surrounded by a 16 Phase digital power design. The CPU draws its power through a dual 8-pin configuration. Of course, that should be more than enough power for even the highest overclock on this socket.
Cooling comes in the form of a four-piece heatsink design, with heat pipes bridging them for more even heat distribution.
As with all other components on the motherboard, the CPU power connectors are reinforced.
While the external controller is handy, you can’t go wrong with onboard buttons also. You can trigger power, and overclocking profiles here, as well as reset the system, and CMOS with ease. Next to that, you’ll also find a few fan headers, as well as LED and D_LED headers.
No, not the latest family member in the Metal Gear series, but the new 90-degree 24-pin connector. It’s mounted on there pretty darn firm and comes with a durable metal housing and shielding for added reliability. Also, the USB 3.0 is fixed at 90-degrees, so that should make routing its thicker cable a much easier task. There’s also a 3.1 Gen 2 header just below that.
For storage, you’ll find three SATA 6Gbps ports, which are recessed with a small cut-away on the motherboard, which again should ease the cable routing. There’s an additional 6-pin header here also, which will help provide more stable voltages to various motherboard components; such as the PCIe lanes.
For even more high-speed storage, you’ll find three M.2 mounts between the PCIe lanes. Each comes fitted with massive aluminium heatsinks. Of course, they’ll cool the drives, but they’ll also protect them, and they look stunning too.
If you’re installing a few heavy duty graphics cards, you’ll be happy to see all three full-size lanes are armoured too. In fact, it’s fair to say there’s not much on this motherboard that isn’t reinforced and robust.
Under a shielding layer, you’ll find the ALC1220-VB audio chipset, which we all know to be one of the best in the business. This is backed up by the superb ESS Saber DAC, WiMa capacitors and gold capacitors. If you’re running hi-res audio or any high-end audio gear, you’ll have no issues driving it with the XTREME.
I could stick an award on any motherboard that has a pre-installed backplate, it’s easily one of my favourite things. This is also the first motherboard I’ve seen that features two Type-C Thunderbolt connectors on the back! There is both Intel 1GbE LAN, as well as the truly amazing AQANTIA 10 GbE LAN, and 802.11AC WiFi; you’re certainly not short on networking here. If that wasn’t enough, there are eight more USB ports, offering USB 2.0, 3.1, and 3.1 Gen 2.
On the reverse of the motherboard, there’s a huge heatsink and backplate that provides additional strength and cooling to the motherboard. The thicker frosted white edge on the motherboard isn’t just a thick PCB either. It’s actually an addressable LED strip that will provide a lot of ambient lighting to the edge of the motherboard.
If you look closer, you can see there’s a heat pipe running through the PCB from the CPU VRM coolers through to the backplate too; I’ve never seen that done before.