Previews

Gigabyte AORUS Z490 Motherboard Preview

Z490 AORUS XTREME GAMING

In the spirit of go big or go home AORUS also sent us one of their flagship motherboards. The Z490 AORUS XTREME is designed to shock and awe the PC market, as it has done for previous generations. The only thing bigger than its feature list will no doubt be its price. I love the new box design as well, with a holographic rainbow of colour on a matte black box, it looks amazing.

Even the interior of the box is just amazingly designed. Everything is beautifully laid out, clearly labelled. Does that say ESSential USB DAC? It sure does, more on that in the full review though.

As you can see, this board is an absolute monster. It’s bloody heavy too, and that’s of little surprise since it appears to be wearing more armour than physics would typically allow. I think it’s made from a collapsed sun, but I’ll have to confirm.

The back of the motherboard isn’t much different either, with another MASSIVE heatsink and armour plate there.

It’s not just armoured to look badass either, this is a very seriously equipped motherboard. The VRM is a 16 Phases Digital design with a 90A Smart Power Stage. It features Fins-Array II, Direct Touch Heatpipe II, and a bunch of other sequels I guess. Those heatsinks are big enough to cool the CPU, and the heat pipe between them is just as huge. There are other cool touches too, such as the aluminium cover at the back with the AORUS logo on it, no plastic here!

Power comes from just 2 x 8 pin headers, which is way more than enough, but the size of the VRM suggests the 240v mains was running into them ha!

The lower section of the motherboard features a triple tone design, mixing stunning matte and semi-gloss metal finishes into this incredible design. It’s protecting and cooling a lot of hardware too, with 3 x M.2 drive bays tucked around the PCIe slots.

All three PCIe slots are armoured, heavily armoured, not that that’s surprising at this point. There’s PCIe Gen 4.0 support too, that includes the M.2. There’s all the ESS Sabre HiFi hardware towards the bottom left too.

For overclocking, you’ll be happy to see a BIOS debug LED and power controls on the board, perfect for use on a test bench.

By far some of my favourite features though are on the right side of the board. all of the inputs and outputs are at 90-degree and hidden under the shroud and armour. This even includes all the fan headers at the top, it looks amazing!

All the “ugly” stuff is tucked under removable covers too, such as these switches.

“Dominant in Darkness” oh dear no, what were they thinking? At least in a PC case you’re unlikely to see that.

The rear I/O is PACKED, and you’ll not be left wanting for much more here. There’s a huge assortment of USB ports, as well as a pair of mighty Thunderbolt ports. Networking is exceptional too, with the same Intel 2.5 GbE LAN we saw on the other boards, but also the even more impressive AQUANTIA 10 GbE port, and 802.11ax WiFi too.

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Peter Donnell

As a child still in my 30's, I spend my day combining my love of music and movies with a life-long passion for gaming, from arcade classics and retro consoles to the latest high-end PC and console games. So it's no wonder I write about tech and test the latest hardware while I enjoy my hobbies!

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