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Just about everyone who builds a PC out of pocket wants the same thing. The best possible performance at the lowest possible price. However, that can be tricky at times. When I’m asked by someone what the best price to performance motherboard they can buy is, I always say Aorus. We were first introduced to Aorus branded motherboards in January of 2017, at CES when the 7th generation of Core processors launched alongside the Z270 chipset. Previously, Gigabytes gaming quality motherboards were reflected by the name, G1 Gaming, and the Aorus name was reserved for higher-end laptops. Late last year, Intel launched the Z370 chipset. The Z370 chipset was compatible with Intel’s 8th generation of Core Processors. This included Intel’s first hex-core processor, the I7 8700k.  At the beginning of October, we attended Intel’s Fall Desktop launch event in New York. This was where we got our first look at the I9 9900k. Not only Intel’s first consumer I9 but also their first consumer octa-core processor. At this same event, they also showed off an array of motherboards sporting their all-new Z390 Chipset. There really isn’t too much difference between the Z370 and Z390 chipsets. However, the Z390 chipset does have support for USB 3.1 Gen 2 and support for gigabit WIFI.

There are a few differences between the Z390 Aorus Pro and its Z370 counterpart, the Z370 Aorus Gaming 5. These differences go deeper than the naming scheme and the aesthetics of the boards. The Z390 Aorus Pro has a beefed up, 12+1 phase power delivery, compared to the 8+3 power phase on the Z370 Gaming 5. The Z390 Aorus Pro has also added multi-cut heatsinks with heat pipe to cool the VRMs. Both of the boards M.2 slots come equipped with thermal guards which are M.2 heatsinks. Unlike past generations, every Aorus board in the Z390 line up is built with the same, high-end components. In the past, lower tier boards were constructed with lower grade parts. However, this generation, each tier going up has a few things added. So, in theory, this should make the Z390 Aorus Pro one of the best “budget” motherboards that Gigabyte has ever produced.

Review Sample Provided By: Gigabyte
Product Name and Website: Z390 Aorus Pro

Specifications

  • CPU
    1. Support for 9th and 8th Generation Intel® Core™ i9 processors/ Intel® Core™ i7 processors/ Intel® Core™ i5 processors/ Intel® Core™ i3 processors/ Intel® Pentium® processors/ Intel®Celeron® processors in the LGA1151 package
    2. L3 cache varies with CPU

    (Please refer to “CPU Support List” for more information.)

  • Chipset
    1. Intel® Z390 Express Chipset
  • Memory
    1. 4 x DDR4 DIMM sockets supporting up to 64 GB of system memory
    2. Dual channel memory architecture
    3. Support for DDR4 4266(O.C.) / 4133(O.C.) / 4000(O.C.) / 3866(O.C.) / 3800(O.C.) / 3733(O.C.) / 3666(O.C.) / 3600(O.C.) / 3466(O.C.) / 3400(O.C.) / 3333(O.C.) / 3300(O.C.) / 3200(O.C.) / 3000(O.C.) / 2800(O.C.) / 2666 / 2400 / 2133 MHz memory modules
    4. Support for ECC Un-buffered DIMM 1Rx8/2Rx8 memory modules (operate in non-ECC mode)
    5. Support for non-ECC Un-buffered DIMM 1Rx8/2Rx8/1Rx16 memory modules
    6. Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules

    (Please refer to “Memory Support List” for more information.)

  • Onboard Graphics

    Integrated Graphics Processor-Intel® HD Graphics support:

    1. 1 x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096×2160@30 Hz
      * Support for HDMI 1.4 version and HDCP 2.2.

    Maximum shared memory of 1 GB

  • Audio
    1. Realtek® ALC1220-VB codec
      * The back panel line out jack supports DSD audio.
    2. High Definition Audio
    3. 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
    4. Support for S/PDIF Out
  • LAN
    1. Intel® GbE LAN chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
  • Expansion Slots
    1. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)
      * For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the PCIEX16 slot.
    2. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8)
      * The PCIEX8 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16 slot. When the PCIEX8 slot is populated, the PCIEX16 slot operates at up to x8 mode.
    3. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4)
    4. 3 x PCI Express x1 slots
      (All of the PCI Express slots conform to PCI Express 3.0 standard.)
  • Storage Interface

    Chipset:

    1. 1 x M.2 connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 SATA and PCIe x4/x2 SSD support) (M2A)
    2. 1 x M.2 connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2260/2280 SATA and PCIe x4/x2 SSD support, prepared for Intel® Hybrid SSD) (M2M)
    3. 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
    4. Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
      * Refer to “1-8 Internal Connectors,” for the installation notices for the M.2 and SATA connectors.

    Intel® Optane™ Memory Ready

  • Multi-Graphics Technology
      1. Support for NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ and 2-Way NVIDIA® SLI™ technologies

    Support for AMD Quad-GPU CrossFire™ and 3-Way/2-Way AMD CrossFire™ technologies

  • USB

    Chipset:

    1. 1 x USB Type-C™ port with USB 3.1 Gen 2 support on the back panel
    2. 1 x USB Type-C™ port with USB 3.1 Gen 1 support, available through the internal USB header
    3. 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A ports (red) on the back panel
    4. 5 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports (3 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB header)

    Chipset+USB 2.0 Hub:

    1. 8 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (4 ports on the back panel, 4 ports available through the internal USB headers)
  • Internal I/O Connectors
    1. 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
    2. 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
    3. 1 x 4-pin ATX 12V power connector
    4. 1 x CPU fan header
    5. 1 x water cooling CPU fan header
    6. 4 x system fan headers
    7. 2 x system fan/water cooling pump headers
    8. 2 x digital LED strip headers
    9. 2 x digital LED strip power select jumpers
    10. 2 x RGB LED strip headers
    11. 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
    12. 2 x M.2 Socket 3 connectors
    13. 1 x front panel header
    14. 1 x front panel audio header
    15. 1 x S/PDIF Out header
    16. 1 x USB Type-C™ port, with USB 3.1 Gen 1 support
    17. 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 header
    18. 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
    19. 1 x Thunderbolt™ add-in card connector
    20. 1 x Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header (2×6 pin, for the GC-TPM2.0_S module only)
    21. 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
    22. 2 x temperature sensor headers
  • Back Panel Connectors
    1. 4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
    2. 1 x HDMI port
    3. 1 x USB Type-C™ port, with USB 3.1 Gen 2 support
    4. 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A ports (red)
    5. 3 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports
    6. 1 x RJ-45 port
    7. 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
    8. 5 x audio jacks
  • I/O Controller
    1. iTE® I/O Controller Chip
  • H/W Monitoring
    1. Voltage detection
    2. Temperature detection
    3. Fan speed detection
    4. Water cooling flow rate detection
    5. Overheating warning
    6. Fan fail warning
    7. Fan speed control
      * Whether the fan (pump) speed control function is supported will depend on the fan (pump) you install.
  • BIOS
    1. 2 x 128 Mbit flash
    2. Use of licensed AMI UEFI BIOS
    3. Support for DualBIOS™
    4. PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.7, WfM 2.0, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI 5.0
  • Unique Features
    1. Support for APP Center
      * Available applications in APP Center may vary by motherboard model. Supported functions of each application may also vary depending on motherboard specifications.
      3D OSD
      @BIOS
      AutoGreen
      Cloud Station
      EasyTune
      Easy RAID
      Fast Boot
      Game Boost
      ON/OFF Charge
      Platform Power Management
      RGB Fusion
      Smart Backup
      Smart Keyboard
      Smart TimeLock
      Smart HUD
      System Information Viewer
      Smart Survey
      USB Blocker
    2. Support for Q-Flash
    3. Support for Xpress Install
  • Bundle Software
    1. Norton® Internet Security (OEM version)
    2. cFosSpeed
  • Operating System
    1. Support for Windows 10 64-bit
  • Form Factor
    1. ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm
  • Remark
    1. Due to different Linux support condition provided by chipset vendors, please download Linux driver from chipset vendors’ website or 3rd party website.
    2. Most hardware/software vendors may no longer offer drivers to support Win9X/ME/2000/XP. If drivers are available from the vendors, we will update them on the GIGABYTE website.

* The entire materials provided herein are for reference only. GIGABYTE reserves the right to modify or revise the content at any time without prior notice.

* Advertised performance is based on maximum theoretical interface values from respective Chipset vendors or organization who defined the interface specification. Actual performance may vary by system configuration.

* All trademarks and logos are the properties of their respective holders.

* Due to standard PC architecture, a certain amount of memory is reserved for system usage and therefore the actual memory size is less than the stated amount.

Z390 Chipset

Essentials

  • Product Collection Intel® 300 Series Chipsets
  • Code Name Products formerly Coffee Lake
  • Vertical Segment Desktop
  • Status Launched
  • Launch Dat eQ4’18
  • Bus Speed 8 GT/s DMI3
  • TDP 6 W
  • Recommended Customer Price N/A
  • Supports Overclocking Yes

Supplemental Information

  • Embedded Options Available No

Memory Specifications

  • # of DIMMs per channel 2

Processor Graphics

  • # of Displays Supported ‡ 3

Expansion Options

  • PCI Express Revision 3.0
  • PCI Express Configurations ‡ x1, x2, x4
  • Max # of PCI Express Lanes 24

I/O Specifications

  • # of USB Ports 14
  • USB Configuration 10 Total USB 3.1 Ports
    – Up to 6 USB 3.1 Gen 2 Ports
    – Up to 10 USB 3.1 Gen 1 Ports
    14 USB 2.0 Ports
  • USB Revision 3.1/2.0
  • Max # of SATA 6.0 Gb/s Ports 6
  • Integrated LAN Integrated MAC
  • Integrated WirelessIntel® Wireless-AC MAC
  • Supported Processor PCI Express Port Revision 3
  • Supported Processor PCI Express Port Configurations 1×16 or 2×8 or 1×8+2×4

Advanced Technologies

  • Intel® Optane™ Memory Supported ‡ Yes
  • Intel® vPro™ Platform Eligibility ‡ No
  • Intel® ME Firmware Version 12
  • Intel® HD Audio Technology Yes
  • Intel® Rapid Storage Technology Yes
  • Intel® Rapid Storage Technology for PCI Storage Yes
  • Intel® Smart Sound Technology Yes
  • Intel® Platform Trust Technology (Intel® PTT) Yes

Security & Reliability

  • Intel® Boot Guard Yes 

 Packaging

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The packaging for the Z390 line up looks much like the packaging for the Z370 series. This isn’t a bad thing as I am a big of the Aorus Falcon head logo and its featured prominently on the front of the box. Right above is another Aorus logo. Below is the Z390 Aorus Pro branding as well as several Intel logos such as The Z390 Chipset, Core Processors and Optane logos. The front also makes mention of the 12+1 Digital Power of the Z390 Aorus Pro.

Like always, there is a ton of information on the rear of the box. There is an image of the Z390 Aorus Pro on the top left corner. Just below that is a diagram of the IO on the board, followed by a list of specifications. Across the top are the Aorus logo, the Z390 Aorus Pro branding, and several Intel logos. These include the Z390 chipset and Optane logos to name a couple. The rest of the back of the box depicts several of the main features of the Z390 Aorus Pro. Some of these features are the 12+1 phase power delivery, the Z390 Aorus Pros advanced thermal design, dual thermal guards for the M.2 slots and RGB Fusion support plus several more.

The very top of the box has a few key features listed in several different languages, 18 to be exact. The is also an Aorus logo next to the list. The left side of the box has the Aorus falcon head logo followed by the Z390 Aorus Pro branding and several Intel badges. The right side is essentially the same. One difference being the Aorus logo is replaced with the UPC code, model and serial numbers. The bottom of the box is identical to the left side.

When you open the box, the motherboard will be set in a cardboard tray and placed in an anti-static bag. Underneath the tray is all the accessories that come with the Z390 Aorus Pro. These include a Gigabyte G Connector, SATA cables, user manual, temperature probes, RGB connectors and my personal favorite, an Aorus case badge. There is also a driver disk and a multi-language installation booklet.

A Closer Look at the Z390 Aorus Pro

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Ever since the inception of Aorus motherboards with the Z270 chipset, Gigabyte has put out beautiful boards. The Z390 Aorus Pro is no exception. Not that the G1 Gaming boards didn’t look good, but the is something about the Falcon head that says quality to me. One thing I love about the Z390 line up is all the boards use the same components from the elite to the extreme. The difference being that from the top down, each tier has a few features removed. Where in the past, the cheaper boards used cheaper components.

Over the last few generations, Gigabyte has gone for a more neutral color scheme. This actually seems to be a trend in the industry. I’m not complaining though. As much as I loved the G1 Gaming line up, I’m not a fan of red in my builds. So, the black, gray and white colors of the Z390 Aorus Pro will fit in almost any build, color wise that is.

The Aorus Z390 Pro uses the same LGA 1151 socket Intel has been using for their consumer platform since the 6th generation and Z170 chipsets launched. However, the Z390 chipset is only compatible with 8th and 9th generation processors. So, if you decided you want a new board, but want to stay away from the 9900k and its FX 9590 levels of heat production, you can keep your 8th generation processor and still use the Z390 Aorus Pro or any other Z390 board for that matter.

The Z390 Aorus Pro, like all other consumer boards, has four DIMM slots that support up to 64 GB of DDR4 2666 MHz in dual channel mode. It has support for XMP, or Extreme Memory Profiles, as well as Support for overclocking up to 4266 MHz and beyond. This, of course, depends on the memory you’re using. Gigabyte has validated several brands on this Z390 Aorus Pro and the Aorus line up in general. Some of these brands include G. Skill, Corsair, Patriot, HyperX, their own Aorus brand and many more. Check the Gigabyte website for more compatible brands. The Z390 Aorus Pro also has support for both non-ECC unbuffered DIMMs and ECC un-buffered DIMMs. So, you could use this board in a home server and have the benefit of ECC memory.

Since the first Aorus motherboard, I’ve loved the design of the I/O cover. I think the cover on the Z390 Pro is my favorite so, that I’ve personally owned that is and I love how they integrated the RGB lighting on the I/O cover. As I’ve said before, RGB lighting can be a good thing when it’s done right.

I can’t count how many times I’ve built a PC, go to pack up the tools and accessories just to find the I/O shield sitting under a box or somewhere other than where its supposed to be, in the case. This is part of the reason all my PCs run on a test bench. So, I really hope the integrated I/O shield on the Z390 Aorus Pro becomes the standard for all motherboard going forward. It is just one less thing you need to worry about as PC builders.

Previous generation Aorus boards, as well as their old G1 Gaming boards all, kept the PS/2 port on the I/O. The Z390 Aorus Pro is the first Gigabyte board I’ve seen in a while without a PS/2 port and yellow USB ports on the I/O. Instead, the Aorus Pro has 4 USB 2.0 ports with the Ps/2 ports and yellow DAC UP USB ports usually are. Next, there is a single HDMI port alongside the 2 USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A, a single USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C and 3 USB 3.1 Gen1. Gigabyte opted for only a single RJ45 Intel GbE LAN on the Aorus Pro. Past generations have had two. I think this is the one thing I miss from my previous generation Aorus board. The Intel GbE LAN features cFosSpeed, a network traffic management application which helps to improve network latency and maintain low ping times to deliver better responsiveness in crowded LAN environments, such as a LAN party. Last, the I/O has a SPDIF optical port and 5 3.5 mm jacks for 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel high definition audio.

The Z390 Aorus Pro features an advanced thermal design with multi-cut heatsinks. The mosfet heatsinks are mounted to the board with screws. They use 1.5 mm thick thermal pads and have a heat pipe that connects the two heatsinks.

Z390 AORUS PRO motherboard uses an 12+1 phases digital CPU power design which includes both digital PWM Controller and DrMOS. The combination of the digital controller and the 8+4 pin CPU power connection deliver plenty of power to the board’s components. This allows you to get the absolute best performance and the highest possible overclocks with the new 9th generation Core I9 9900k and other 9th gen processors. Keep in mind that the Z390 chipset is also compatible with the 8th gen processors as well. So, if you’re running an 8700k on an Aorus Z370 Gaming 5, you could benefit from an upgrade to the Z390 Aorus Pro. Due to its improved power delivery, you could get better performance out of your 8th gen processor.

The Z390 Aorus Pro features Intel’s new Z390 chipset, as its in the boards name. There isn’t a huge difference between the previous Z370 and the Z390 chipsets. Both chipsets have a TDP of 6 watts, have 24 PCIe gen 3 lanes and support dual channel memory. Both chipsets support up to 14 USB ports. However, it’s the type of ports that are different. The Z390 chipset supports up to 14 USB 2.0 ports, up to 6 can be USB 3.1 Gen2 or 10 USB 3.1 Gen1. On the Z370 chipset, it supports only USB 3.0 or 2.0. Also, the Z390 chipset has added support for gigabit speeds over WIFI, not just LAN.

Gigabyte is boasting their Z390 Aorus boards are designed for 5.0 GHz on all cores. We’ll see if that’s true later in the review. They say its in part to the larger CPU power deliver plane, compared to the size of a traditional power plane. Another reason is the 2X copper PCB on their Aorus boards. The 2x copper PCB is equal to two ounces of pure copper. GIGABYTE’s 2x Copper PCBs design provides sufficient power trace paths between components to handle higher than average power loads and to remove heat from the critical CPU power delivery area. This is essential to ensure the motherboard is able to handle the increased power loading that is necessary when overclocking. In total, there are four layers of copper in the PCB. Two of which are the 2x copper layers. The single layers are .035 mm in thickness and the 2x layers are .070 mm thick.

In May of 2017, Gigabyte first teased their thermal guards for their M.2 slots. We first saw the thermal guard on their higher-end boards. At first, they added one thermal guard on the top M.2 slot. They had such success with the thermal guards, that they now offer them on their more budget oriented boards, and on multiple slots. The Z390 Aorus Pro has two M.2 slots. Both of these M.2 slots feature Gigabyte’s thermal guards.  The thermal guard is essentially just a heatsink, with a thermal pad designed to keep your M.2 SSDs cool, and they do work. More on that later. Both M.2 slots support PCIe Gen3 x4 SSDs. X2 NVME and SATA M.2 SSDs are also supported The top slot up to type 22110 and the bottom, 2280. The Z390 Aorus Pro also has Intel Optane support. This includes Optane SSDs like the 900p as well as optane modules. An Optane module can come is handy if you’re using a SATA M.2 or a traditional hard drive as your boot drive. Optane memory is designed to work as a cache memory bridge between RAM and storage, allowing for faster data transfer between the memory, storage, and processor.

In addition to the dual M.2 slots, the Z390 Aorus Pro also has six SATA 6 ports for connecting hard drives, disk drives, 2.5″ SSDs and anything else requiring a SATA cable. As for other connections, the Z390 Aorus Pro has the basicas such as the 24 pin ATX main power connection. There is the standard 8-pin 12 volt CPU power connection and an additional 4-pin, 12 volt CPU power connection as well. As for fan headers, there are a total of 8 4-pin fan headers. One is for the CPU fan, one water cooling fan header, for a pump, 4 system fan headers and 2 for either water cooling pumps or system fans. The Z390 Aorus Pro has the standard front panel connector layout that Gigabyte has used for years. It also comes with their “G Connector” that allows you to plug the front panel connectors into on clip that plugs it. It’s definitely a nice accessory to have. Especially if you have trouble with the front panel connections.

The Z390 chipset can support up to 14 USB ports with 10 being USB 3.1 Gen1 or 6 being USB 3.1 Gen2. So, the Z390 Aorus Pro has plenty of USB connectivity going back to revision 2.0. On the board, there are 2 USB 2.0 headers and both front USB 3.0 and 3.1 headers. The front headers are designed for the front panel USB ports on your case. But, they can also be used for USB expansion cards. Personally, I don’t use a case and will probably never leave my Praxis wet bench. So, I have plenty of USB expansion cards hooked up. In fact, I have the chipset maxed out for USB ports.

 

Motherboard manufacturers have really stepped up their onboard audio in recent years. Gigabyte is no exception to this rule. In fact, I had recently reviewed an add in sound card. In that review , I compared the onboard audio on the Z370 Gaming 7 to the Sound Blaster AE-5. Obviously, the sound card offered better sound. But I was very surprised at how well the onboard audio tested using Rightmark Audio Analyzer, as well as the overall quality of the sound. THe Z390 Aorus Pro uses the ALC1220 120dB(A) SNR HD Audio with Smart Headphone Amp. This Smart Headphone Amp automatically detects the impedance of your headphones or headset. This will help to prevent issues such as low volume and distortion.  The new VB series audio controller will stream your voice clearly to both front/rear microphone SNR up to 110/114dB(A).

The AORUS motherboards use the combination of Hi-Fi grade WIMA FKP2 capacitors and high-end audio capacitors. These high-end audio capacitors are perfect for high-grade audio equipment, The nichicon capacitors use state of the art technology to provide rich sound in the bass and clearer high frequencies. In addition, the WIMA FKP2 capacitors are  used widely in premium grade Hi-Fi systems. The addition of this to the exclusive AOURS AMP-UP Audio technology makes for the best possible onboard audio solution that will even please many audiophiles. I can honestly say that with each generation that has passed, Gigabyte has gradually improved their onboard audio.

The Z390 Pro supports both Nvidia SLI and AMD CrossfireX technology. There are three PCIe X16 slots on the Z390 Aorus Pro and three PCIe X1 slots as well. The Top X16 slot runs at PCIeX16. The second X16 slots runs at PCIeX8. Since it shares bandwidth with the top X16 slot, when the second slot is populated, both it and the top slot both run in X8. The third and final X16 slot runs in PCIeX4 . All PCIe slots meet the PCI Express 3.0 standard.

The last few generations of Aorus boards featured an addressable, hard plastic LED accent strip. They were swappable and you could 3D-print custom strips.  On the Z390 Aorus Pro, this accent strip has been removed. Instead, the Z390 Aorus Pro has two RGB LED headers and two addressable LED headers. Personally, I like this set up better. The 3D printable accent strips were a cool feature and a good concept. Just a concept that didn’t really take off.  I prefer the idea of the addressable strips. Not only does it make adding LEDs an option, but it gives you more customization over your build. With the accent strips, sure, you could remove them. However, this would leave your board looking like it were missing something. One feature Gigabyte has on many of their boards that I love is dual BIOS. I was very happy to see the Z390 Aorus Pro kept the dual BIOS feature. This is great for those of us who constantly play with overclocking. So many times in the past, I’ve bricked the BIOS . I’ve even had to RMA boards to have the BIOS chip replaced. However, with the Z390 you simply switch to the other BIOS. This can eliminate down time which can delay important projects.

UEFI BIOS

The Fist BIOS released for the Z390 Aorus Pro was BIOS F5, released on 9/o6/2018. For testing, we always use the most up to date BIOS. In the case of the Z390 Aorus Pro, it was  BIOS F6, released on 10/22/2018. This BIOS is designed to improve  DDR stability. The UEFI BIOS has two settings, Classic or advanced mode and Easy Mode.

UEFI, or Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, a software interface between an operating system and platform firmware. UEFI replaces the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) firmware interface used in older motherboards. In the UEFI, you can set the basic and advanced functions of your motherboard, as well as update the BIOS. You can set the boot order of specific drives, set fans curves for fans plugged directly into your motherboard and my favorite past time, overclock your CPU to name a few.

I’ve always been partial to Gigabyte’s BIOS. In part because I have the most experience of their BIOS of all the board partners. However, even before I was a reviewer, I mainly used Gigabyte boards. When your first set up your system, the BIOS is in Classic Mode. However, dragging the pointer to the bottom of the screen will pull up another menu with a few options. These options are Easy Mode, language select, Q-Flash and Smart Fan. There is another pop-up menu to the right of the screen. This pop up displays the current frequency and voltage of the CPU and the memory.

The Q-Flash menu can be accessed through a pop-up menu on the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. Here is also where you find  Easy Mode, the language selection, and the Smart Fan 5 menu. The Q-Flash section is where you update the BIOS. There is also a section where you can save different BIOS settings.

The Classic mode gives you far more options. You can dig into the deepest depths of your motherboard and change settings for just about every part of the board. The first section in Classic Mode is the M.I.T. This is where you can set frequency and BLCK settings for the CPU. Essentially, this is where one would overclock their CPU. This is also where you can enable or disable X.M.P. profiles, adjust memory timings and frequencies and adjust the voltages. You can also get to the Smart Fan 5 menu from here as well. Next is the System section. The system section displays basic system information including the date and time. The system section also displays the model number of the board,  the BIOS version,  BIOS date and BIOS ID.

The BIOS section allows you to set boot priorities for the different drives detected by the motherboard. You can also enable or disable fast boot as well as set the mouse speed for the BIOS. The next section is the peripheral section. This is where you can configure basically anything connected to your motherboard. For example, SATA, USB and NVME configuration just to name a few.

In the Chipset section, you can enable or disable things such as the onboard audio, the internal graphics, and the different LAN controllers. The Power section has exactly what is say, several different power settings. The Save & Exit section is how you exit the BIOS. However, they give you several options before you do. This is also where you can override the boot priority, but just this one time. The next time you boot, it’ll go right back to your first in the boot order.

RGB Fusion

Another useful application is the Gigabyte RGB Fusion app. RGB lighting is customizable through GIGABYTES RGB fusion app. Using the RGB Fusion software, you can customize your motherboard with 16.8 million colors. The software has both basic and advanced settings. On the basic settings, you select one of 8 settings and go.  On the advanced settings, you can set each of the boards six RGB zones separately and with different effects. You can also set the lighting on anything from memory to peripherals, graphics cards and even your case. This isn’t limited to just Gigabyte products either. For example, my G. Skill KM780R keyboard is compatible with the RGB Fusion software. There are also several fans, headsets, keyboards, light strips and much more than can be controlled by the RGB Fusion software.

The Z390 Aorus Pro has eight programmable RGB Zones in which you can set different colors and effects, or sync them all together. There are 8 different lighting effects.  The effects are Pulse, Music, Color Cycle, Static, Flash, Random, Wave and Intelligent. The RGB Fusion software can also control the lighting on any Aorus branded graphics card, as well as several different peripherals. Gigabyte has also developed an RGB Fusion mobile app.

You can now control the RGB lighting on your Aorus motherboards, graphics cards and any other RGB Fusion compatible components right from your cell phone. There are both IOS and Android versions. There is a QR code you can scan with your phone on the product page for the Z390 Aorus Pro. You can also go to the Apple App Store or Google Play store to download the RGB Fusion mobile app. You’ll need the Gigabyte App Center, as well as the RGB Fusion app installed on you PC. Both your mobile device, as well as your PC must be on the same LAN network. You must also set your firewall to allow TCP 9009 and UDP 1980/19801 in order for the mobile app to control your RGB lighting on you PC.

Gigabyte App Center

Gigabytes App Center is an application that stores all of your Gigabyte applications in one place. There are a ton of useful applications that come bundled with Gigabyte motherboards in the App Center. For example, this is where you can find the RGB Fusion software. Gigabyte Easy Raid and EasyTune are a couple more of the numerous applications found in the App Center. There is also a section for Windows applications such as sound settings, Windows Firewall, Devices and Printers and several others. It can be easier for the more casual user to find some of the Windows applications within the App Center. Rather than digging through the control panel to find devices and printers. Last, there is a third party section for applications such as Intel’s XTU, or extreme tuning utility.

If you install all of the applications for the Z390 Aorus Pro, there are 21 Gigabyte applications in total. One of my personal favorites is the Smart Keyboard app. It allows you to set macros on any keyboard and set a sniper key on your keyboard or mouse. You can set the default speed and the sniper speeds of this specific key separately. You can disable any keys on you keyboard. It allows you to set hotkeys to launch applications. I have hot keys set to open Photoshop and Premiere Pro. However, the Smart Keyboard application will only control the 104 standard keys on a keyboard. So, if you’re using the Corsair K95, you can’t set its macros through this application. But, one of my favorite features of the app is you can set hotkeys for overclocking profiles.

 

There are several more applications that come bundles with the Z390 Aorus Pro that can be found in the App Center. Far too many to list without drawing out this review more than needed. I wanted to feature the most used in RGB Fusion and my personal favorite in the Smart Keyboard app. Another useful application could be the EasyTune software. Especially for the beginner that wants to overclock their processor, but who isn’t quite comfortable with manual overclocking just yet. There are many more applications. Some you’ll find more useful than other. Here is a complete list of the bundled applications.

  • 3D OSD
  • @Bios
  • AutoGreen
  • Bios Setup
  • Color Temperature
  • USB Blocker
  • Cloud Station
  • Cloud Station(Server)
  • EasyTune
  • Easy Raid
  • Fast Boot
  • Game Boost
  • Platform Power Management
  • RGB Fusion
  • SIV
  • Smart Backup
  • Smart TimeLock
  • Smart Hub
  • Smart Keyboard
  • SmartSurvey
  • USB DAC-UP 2
  • VTuner

Test System and Testing Procedures

Test System

  • Core I9 9900k
  • Z390 Aorus Pro
  • MSI Gaming X Trio 2080 ti
  • 64 GB G. Skill Trident Z 3200 MHz CAS 14
  • EVGA 1600 Watt Supernova P2 80+ Platinum PSU
  • Swiftech H320 X2 Prestige 360 mm AIO Cooler
  • 512 Intel SSD 6 660p (OS)
  • 500 GB Samsung 860 EVO M.2
  • Primochill Praxis Wetbench

System Benchmarks

  • Aida64 Engineer
  • CineBench R15
  • WinRAR
  • 7-zip
  • 264 FHD
  • 265 HD
  • Handbrake
  • PCMARK 10
  • Performance Test 9

Storage Benchmarks

  • ATTO Disk Benchmark
  • Crystal Disk Mark 5

Utilities

  • CPUZ
  • Core Temp
  • Hardware Monitor

Synthetic Gaming Benchmarks

3DMARK Firestrike
3DMARK Time Spy

Gaming Benchmarks

Assassins Creed Odyssey
Far Cry 5
Shadow of The Tomb Raider
Watch Dogs 2

To keep things as fair and balanced in each review, I keep the ambient temperature at about 21°c, or about 70°f. All benchmarks were done at stock speeds. The exceptions to this were Cinebench R15. Cinebench R15 was tested at stock, and with the CPU overclocked. Although the stock clock for the 99ook is 3.6 GHz, this processor boosts pretty high. Throughout all testing, the I9 9900k used in this review ran at a constant 4.7 GHz and at times, boosted to 4.8 GHz on all cores. All benchmarks, games and utilities, were ran three times each and averaged out the three results. The exception to this was both 3DMARK Firestrike and Time Spy and the read and write speeds on the storage benchmarks. The results for the I7 8700k were tested on the Aorus Z370 Gaming 7 using the same memory and boot drive.

General Performance Benchmarks.

AIDA64 ENGINEER

AIDA64 has a set of several 64-bit benchmarks to measure how fast the computer performs various data processing tasks and mathematical calculations. Multi-threaded memory and cache benchmarks are available to analyze system RAM bandwidth and latency. Benchmark pages of AIDA64 Extreme provide several methods to measure system performance. These benchmarks are synthetic, so their results show only the theoretical maximum performance of the system. The AIDA64 suite has various benchmarks for CPU, FPU, GPU, storage and memory testing.

Memory Testing

The memory I used for testing is a 64 GB, or 4 x 16 GB kit of G. Skill Trident Z 3200 MHz, CAS 14. I usually take out half the memory for testing. However, I forget to and only remembered more than ¾ the way through testing. That’s the only reason I used 64 GB of memory for testing. In the future, I’ll have a 16 gb kit specifically for reviews. This is due to the fact that most people won’t use more than 16 gb in the average system. The first part of the AIDA64 memory test is the latency test. The latency is measured in nanoseconds. With X.M.P profile #1 enabled, I had several issues. The least of which was my CPU phantom throttling. However, with XMP Profile #2 enabled, the system runs great. So, with XMP profile 1 set and the memory running at 3200 MHz, the latency was 51.1 nanoseconds. On the memory bandwidth test, the G. Skill Trident Z kit I used scored 38078 on the read, 39647 on the write and 38670 on the copy. I found these results a bit odd since the 9900k and 8700k used the same exact memory for this testing. For the L1, L2 and L3 cache, the read, write and copy are on the charts below.

CPU Testing

CPU Queen is an integer benchmark that tests branch prediction and misprediction penalties. CPU PhotoWorxx tests the SIMD integer arithmetic execution units of the CPU and the memory subsystem. CPU ZLib is a compression benchmark that tests the combined CPU and memory performance. CPU AES is a multi-core encryption benchmark that uses Advanced Encryption Standard data encryption. CPU Hash is an integer benchmark that measures performance using SHA1 hashing algorithm. FPU Julia measures single precision FP, FPU Mandel measures double precision FP, FPU Sin Julia measures extended precision FP while FPU VP8 is a video compression test utilizing the FPU Julia fractal module. As the chart shows the I9 9900k steadily beat out the 8700k is all tests with CPU Photoworxx being the one exception.

Cinebench R15

Based on MAXON’s award-winning animation software Cinema 4D, CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer’s performance capabilities. It has both the single thread and full performance test for your CPU, as well as an Open-GL test for your GPU. Cinebench R15 is one of the most widely used benchmarks used to test the performance. It puts the CPU under 100% load, but only for a very short time. Its gives a good baseline for your CPU. However, I wouldn’t use it for testing the stability of an overclock. We tested the I9 9900k at both stock and overclocked speeds. The Stock speed of the 9900k may be 3.6 GHz. However, the processor we used in this review booted between 4.7 GHz and 4.8 GHz. One quick side note is the processor used in this review was not a retail sample. It was a confidential chip sent to us by Intel for the means of a review. For the 9th generations life span, it will live on my test bench and be used in the majority of my reviews For the overclocked result, the processor was set to 5.0 GHz. The I9 9900k achieved a stock score of 2011 CB and an overclocked score of 2132. For the single core score, at stock, the 9900k hit 203 CB. I was really impressed with the overclocked score of 220. Overall, the results for Cinebench R15 were the best I’ve personally ever recorded. Even better than in our 9900k review. Just for comparison,  we’ve included scores from the I7 8700k. The 8700k at stock scored 1356 CB and a single core score of 187 CB. Overclocked, it did very well with a multi-threaded score of 1555 CB and a single core score of 208 CB.

7-Zip

 

The 7-zip benchmark shows a rating in MIPS (million instructions per second). The rating value is calculated from the measured speed, and it is normalized with results of Intel Core 2 CPU with multi-threading option switched off. So, if you have modern CPU from Intel or AMD, rating values in single-thread mode must be close to real CPU frequency. There are two tests, compression with LZMA method and decompression with LZMA method. Once the total passes reach 100, the score is taken. 7-Zip gives the resulting score for decompressing, compressing and an overall score. The I9 9900k achieved a decompressing score of 55195, a compressing score of 54944 and a total rating of 54086. This destroyed the I7 8700k and its scores. The 8700k achieved a decompressing score of 34524, a compressing score of 37005 and a total rating of 35764. This is due to the two additional core and four threads of the i9 9900k.

 

WINRAR

WinRAR is a file archiver utility for Windows, developed by Eugene Roshal of win.rar GmbH. It can create and view archives in RAR or ZIP file formats and unpack numerous archive file formats. The chart shows a comparison of the 8th generation I7 8700k and the 9th generation the I9 9900k, with the 9900k being the faster. I was surprised at how much faster though. The I7 8700k had a resulting speed of 13499 KB/s. The I9 9900k more than doubled that speed at 28045 KB/s.

 

Handbrake

HandBrake is a free and open-source video transcoder, originally developed in 2003 by Eric Petit to make ripping a film from a DVD to a data storage device easier. Essentially, it can convert video to almost any modern format. HandBrake is available for Linux, macOS, and Windows. The workload video file is a ~6.27 GB, 3840 x 1714, 73.4 Mbps, 24fps, H.264, .mov video file that is transcoded to a ~1480 MB, 1920×858, ~17.1 Mbps, 24fps, H.264, .mp4 video file. The clip is called Tears of Steel. The I9 9900k encoded the file is 5 minutes and 27 seconds. This was a little over a minute faster than AMDs flagship R7 2700x at 6 minutes and 17 seconds. To my surprise, it was over two minutes faster than the I7 8700k and its 7 minutes and 22 seconds.

PCMARK10

 

PCMark 10 is a system benchmark for Windows PCs which focuses on common tasks performed in the office. PCMARK 10 offers a variety of workloads categorized into four groups. The Essentials group includes web browsing, video conferencing, and app start-up time. The Productivity group includes tests based on spreadsheets and writing. The Digital Content Creation group includes photo editing, video editing, and a rendering and visualization test. The final group, Gaming, includes tests for real-time graphics and physics. It has three different benchmarks, PCMARK 10, PCMARK 10 Express and PCMARK 10 Extended. We ran PCMARK 10 on both the i7 8700k and the i9 9900k. The 8700k results were added just to give a comparison for the 9900k. With the exception of the Web test, the I9 9900k steadily beat out the I7 8700k. However, in the Web test, the 8700k more than doubled the score of the I9 9900k. The 8700k scored 8860 to the 3601 of the 8700k.

Sub System Benchmarks (Storage, Audio and Networking)

Storage Benchmarks

For Storage benchmarks, I used 2 different benchmarks. The first being  ATTO Disk Benchmark and also CrystalDiskMark5. ATTO and Crystal Disk Mark were used to test a 512 GB Intel SSD 6 660p NVME SSD. We also tested a SATA M.2 SSD, a 500 GB Samsung 860 EVO. The Intel 660p is a 512 GB NVME SSD that advertises speeds of 1800 MB/s on the read speed and 1000 MB/s on the write speeds. The Samsung 860 EVO is a SATA M.2 with read and write speeds of 550 MB/s and 520 MB/s respectively.

ATTO Disk Benchmark

The ATTO Disk Benchmark utility was designed to measure regular disk drive performance.  However, its more than capable measuring both USB flash drive and SSD speeds as well. The utility measures disk performance rates for various sizes of files and displays the results in a bar chart showing read and write speeds at each file size. The results are displayed in megabytes per second. Crystal Disk Mark 5. The Intel 660p achieved read a speed of 1794 MB/s and a write speed of 968 MB/s. These were both very close to the drives advertised speeds. The 860 EVO achieved a read speed of 550 MB/s and a write speed of 529 MB/s, essentially saturating the SATA 6 interface and either matching, or going over its advertised speeds.

Crystal Disk Mark 5

“Crystal Disk Mark is designed to quickly test the performance of your hard drives. Currently, the program allows to measure sequential and random read/write speeds.” It’s one of the most commonly used utilities for testing drives. The Intel 660p didn’t do as well as it did in the ATTO Disk Benchmark. It achieve a read speed of only 1568 MB/s and a write speed of 945.9 MB/s. However, the Samsung 860 EVO achieved speeds just slightly slower than in ATTO. The read speed of the 860 EVO in Crystal Disk Mark was 547.6 MB/s where the write speed was  526.6 MB/s.

Audio Testing

To test the on-board audio on the Z390 Aorus Pro, we use the Rightmark Audio Analyzer benchmark. However, before we run the benchmark, we must test the DPC, or Deferred Procedure Call latency. The DPC is checked to ensure the audio can produce useable results in Rightmark. DPC, or Deferred Procedure Call latency, is a Windows function that handles driver efficiency and allows high-priority tasks to defer required, but lower-priority tasks for later execution. We use LatencyMon to test the DPC Latency.

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I left LatencyMon run for a little over 5 minutes.  The highest interrupt to process latency was 309.47. The highest reported ISR routine execution time was 329.67.  The highest reported DCP routine execution was 710.61. At the 4000 microseconds, the system will be unsuitable for real-time audio playback. Since both results were under this range, we can continue to Rightmark Audio Analyzer.

To test with Rightmark, you must first plug into both the rear headphone jack and the rear mic jack using a double-ended 3.5 mm jack cable. This creates an audio loop to test the internal audio performance of the on-board audio. We tested using both 16 and 24-bit settings through a range of frequencies from 44 kHz up to 192 kHz. When we tried to do frequencies beyond 192 KHz, the test would fail and the application would crash. The chart below is to give an idea of what good results for the Rightmark benchmark look like. When compared to the results for the Z390 Aorus Pro, the results show the board to have very good on-board audio.

 

Network Testing

For network testing, I used my Comcast Business class router from Motorola. I used my test bench system as the server PC and the test system as the client. The Test system was used in our 9900k review, with one exception. The MSI Gaming X Trio 2080 has been upgraded to an MSI Gaming X Trio 2080 ti. To test the networking capability of the Z390 Aorus Pro, we use the Networking Test in the PassMark Performance Test 9. We ran both the TCP and UDP Networking tests. Since this test requires both a server and a client PC, I used my previous test system. It has an I7 8700k, Aorus Z370 Gaming 7, 16 gb G. Skill Trident Z RGB 3200 MHz and the MSI Gaming X Trio 2080.

Gaming and Synthetic Benchmarks

For gaming benchmarks, we used some of the newer games in our suite. This included Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Far Cry 5, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and the oldest game tested was Watch Dogs 2. Each game was tested in 1920 x 1080, 2560 x 1440, 3440 x 1440 and 3840 x 2160. We didn’t use in game benchmarks, even though three of the four have them. I prefer benchmarking in game. I feel it gives a more accurate representation of the games real world performance. Each benchmark was run for 120 seconds and ran three times each. Then, the totals were averaged out to give the recorded result. For each benchmark run, I loaded the same game save to keep the results as fair and balanced as possible.

The first two charts show the results for both 1080p and 1440p results. As you can see, there is hardly a difference between the two charts. The major difference is the 1440p results , overall, all games ran at lower FPS than in 1080p. The only game that was even a little demanding on the MSI Gaming X 2080 ti was Assassins Creed Odyssey. This is not only the newest games I tested, but the most demanding as well.

Even looking at the 3440 x 1440 results, they were even worse that the previous results. It wasn’t until you hit 4k resolution that the games were demanding enough to put a real strain on the GPU and make it do some serious work. Far Cry 5 averaged 76 FPS maxed out in 4k with 4k textures enables. Next was Shadow of the Tom Raider with an average of 56 FPS, followed by Watch Dogs 2 with an average of 55 FPS. Last was my personal favorite game of 2018, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. However, even with a monster of a card in the 2080 ti, Odyssey only managed to average 39 FPS in 4k running max settings. My main point her is if you are still playing in 1080p resolution, getting a 2080 ti would almost be a waste. Its far too powerful to mess with anything other than 4k gaming, or possible 3440 x 1440 at a high refresh rate such as 144 Hz.

Overclocking and Temperatures

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I always to my best to keep all testing scenarios the same, even review to review. This way I get as close to an accurate comparison as possible. Throughout every review, I keep the ambient temperature as close to 21°c, or 70°f, as possible. When testing for this review, the ambient temperature was a bit lower, around 19°c or 66°f. The highest I was able to push the I9 9900k was to 5.1 GHz at 1.284 volts. I tried to increase the voltage in an attempt to push the chip a bit further. All I got for my efforts was a blue screen. The first temperature recorded was done so about 30 minutes after the computer was booted for the first time that day. This was the stock idle temperature. The stock speed of the I9 9900k is 3.6 GHz. However, as I mentioned before, it ran a a steady 4.7 GHz when left at its stock setting.

After 30 minutes of allowing the PC to idle, I recorded a temperature of 28°c. I then ran Cinebench R15 three times to put a bit of a load on the processor. At the end of the third run, I recorded a temperature of 46°c. After running Cinebench, I shut down the PC for a while to allow it to cool. I then set my overclock to 5.1 GHz and let the PC idle for about 30 minutes. This time the idle temp was recorded at 34°c. I again, ran Cinebench R15 3 times. At this point, I recorded a temperature of 70°c. For the final step, we ran the AIDA64 CPU Stability Test for about fifteen minutes, or at least tried to. The Aida64 has two parts to its stability test. First is the CPU test. This test is less taxing on you processor. After about 15 minutes, the 9900k hit a max temp of 67°c. THe FPU, or Float Point test. This test is much harder on your processor and therefore, creates more heat. After about 6 or 7 minutes, I stopped the test when it hit 90°c. When I attempted to run the stability test overclocked, it instantly crashed.

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

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Although I may be partial to Gigabyte motherboards, I can be critical when a product has any issues, minor or major. Fortunately, thats not the case with the Z390 Aorus Pro. Since the inception of Aorus branded motherboard, I’ve had little to no issues. Each generation that passes, Gigabyte finds a way to make their boards better. When I reviewed the Z370 Gaming 7, I couldn’t think of what they could do to improve on an already solid line up. Yet, here we are. I can honestly say Gigabyte did a great job on the Z390 Aorus Pro. It has a simple and attractive design. Little things such as using more neutral colors and removing the accent lighting strip changed the entire aesthetic of their motherboards. There are no real flashy, in your face colors like red, orange. Just blacks, grays and a bit of white. this almost guarantees that this board will fit well into really any build. Very often, the term “less is more” can be applied to many things in life. Especially when it comes to the RGB lighting.  One of the many things Gigabyte does well with their motherboards is the RGB lighting.  I’ve said it a million times by now. When RGB lighting is done right, it can work really well and it most certainly works on this board.

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This being a sub 200 dollar motherboard, I was weary on how it may perform. As a rule of thumb, I usually spend around the same on a motherboard that I do on a processor. So for a 500ish dollar processor like the I9 9900k, I’d usually go with something like the Z390 Aorus Xtreme. So you can imagine my surprise with the performance I got from the combination of the Z390 Aorus Pro and the I9 9900k. A huge part of this was Gigabyte decision to use all the same high-quality components across their entire Z390 Aorus line-up. This mean the high-end mosfets, chokes and capacitors that are on the Aorus Xtreme and Master, are the same components on the Pro and the Elite, the more budget oriented motherboard in the Z390 Aorus Line up. They simply just strip the less expensive boards of a couple features here and there to keep costs down. Their though is keeping the same components will allow any board in the Aorus line up to clock your processor to 5.0 GHz on all core. I can’t speak for other boards, but I can say that the 9900k tested in this review hit 5.1 GHz on all cores, stable. The most impressive part is this was done on a motherboard that, at the time of this review is selling for $199.99 on Amazon. I’ve seen it as cheap as $179.99 on other online retailers and also at Microcenter. The price to performance ratio for the Z390 Aorus Pro from Gigabyte makes this board a must have for anyone trying to build the best Intel PC that won’t break the bank for the 2018 holiday season.

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作者 frank

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