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GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS Pro Motherboard Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Features and Motherboard Layout

Features

Courtesy of GIGABYTE

  • Supports 9th and 8th Intel® Core™ Processors
  • Dual Channel Non-ECC Unbuffered DDR4, 4 DIMMs
  • Intel® Optane™ Memory Ready
  • 12+1 Phase Digital VRM Solution with DrMOS
  • Advanced Thermal Design with Screw mounted Heatsinks and Heatpipe
  • ALC1220-VB Enhance 114dB(Rear)/ 110dB(Front) SNR in Microphone with WIMA Audio Capacitors
  • Intel® Gigabit LAN with cFos Speed
  • RGB FUSION with Multi-Zone LED Light Show design, support Addressable LED & RGB LED strips
  • Smart Fan 5 features Multiple Temperature Sensors and Hybrid Fan Headers with FAN STOP
  • Front USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C™ Header
  • Dual Ultra-Fast NVMe PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 with Thermal Guards
  • CEC 2019 Ready, Save the Power as Easy as One Click

Motherboard Layout

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The Z390 AORUS Pro motherboard features a matte black PCB with silver plastic overlays and black heat sinks common to the latest generation of the GIGABYTE AORUS line of boards. The plastic overlay sits over the rear panel components, functioning to spruce up the board's aesthetics as well as offering protection for the covered components. The AORUS logo is silk-screened on the upper left of the PCB surface to ensure you know what you're getting. Further AORUS logos appear on the chipset heat sink as well as on the rear panel cover. The CPU VRMs are cooled by two heat sinks connected via a heat pipe. The board's ATX form factor provides more than enough surface area to house the designed-in integrated features, as well as giving the board compatibility with most available consumer enclosures.

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The board's rear is completely free of components with the exception of small capacitors and power circuitry sitting in the center hole of the CPU backplate. LEDs are integrated directly into the audio PCB separator line and into the lower portion of the board by the DIMM slots to illuminate the Turbo XMP labels on the board front. The area surrounding the CPU is completely free of components, so there should be no issues encountered when mounting a CPU cooler backplate.

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GIGABYTE integrated a 13-phase (12+1) digital power system into the Z390 AORUS Pro, capable of providing more than enough power to the CPU for whatever torture tests you choose to throw at it. The board includes an IR Digital PWM Controller and DrMOS ICs, high grade chokes, and all-metal long-life capacitors in its digital power system design. The CPU VRMs are cooled by two inter-connected aluminum heat sinks to the top and right of the CPU socket.

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The board's dual ATX12V power connectors are located to the upper right of the CPU socket, in between the two VRM heat sinks. GIGABYTE included both an 8-pin and 4-pin connector.

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GIGABYTE designed the board with two M.2 slots, one to the left of the CPU socket and the other in between the primary and secondary PCIe x16 slots. All M.2 slots include integrated port covers with thermal tape along the inside. In previous reviews, such plates where found to reduce M.2 card heat by over 10C when used in a strict passive configuration with optimal cooling obtained when used in conjunction with active air-flow over the port plate.

The M.2 slot by the CPU socket supports devices up to 110mm in length (M2A_SOCKET), while the other slot supports devices up to 80mm in length (M2M_SOCKET). Both M.2 ports are keyed for M-key slot devices with port M2A_SOCKET supporting standard SSD, PCIe x2, and PCIe x4 type M.2 drives and port M2M_SOCKET supporting PCIe x2, and PCIe x4 type M.2 drives. Note that the port M2M_SOCKET and the SATA3 slots 4 / 5 share bandwidth, so SATA3 slots 4 / 5 are automatically disabled when an M.2 drive is seated in the M.2 port.

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The board has a total of four DIMM slots with Dual Channel memory mode active with modules in slots 1 / 3 or 2 / 4. The board supports up to 64GB of memory running at a maximum speed of 4266MHz. Note that memory speeds above 2667MHz are considered overclocked speeds and are outside of the official Intel stock memory speed specifications. The memory slots are steel reinforced for extra strength. Further, GIGABYTE integrated RGB LEDs in between the slots, configurable via the RGB Fusion Windows applet.

Directly below the memory port block are the 24-pin ATX power connector, a USB 3.0 header, 4-pin system fan and pump headers, a 4-pin RGB LED header, a 3-pin Digit-addressable LED header, and an LED voltage jumper. To the left of the DIMM port block is a USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C header. To the upper right of the DIMM slots are the CPU and secondary CPU 4-pin fan headers. The LED voltage jumper sets the RGB LED header to 5V or 12V operation (12V operation is the default setting). The 4-pin water pump header can be used to power and monitor a standard 12V water pump - an AIO cooler's integrated coolant pump or a pump integrated into a DIY loop.

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The Intel Z390 chipset is covered by a low profile chromed black heat sink with an AORUS overlay. The overlay has an embedded RGB LED that can be configured via the RGB Fusion Windows applet. In addition to the two PCIe x4 M.2 slots, the board features six SATA3 ports in the port block directly below the chipset heat sink. To the left of the SATA3 port block is the Thunderbolt 3 header.

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The board contains a total of six PCIe slots - three PCIe x16 slots and three PCIe x1 slots. The PCIe x16 slots can be used in x16 / 0 / x4 or x8 / x8 / x4 configurations.

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The board's audio subsystem components live on an isolated PCB to minimize line-noise and distortion caused by other integrated components. There are RGB LEDs integrated into the yellow colored divider line that separates the main and audio PCBs. These LEDs illuminate in accordance to the color scheme configured through the RGB Fusion Windows applet. To ensure balanced audio performance using headphones or external speakers, GIGABYTE designed the audio subsystem with a Realtek ALC1220-VB CODEC, a smart headphone AMP, and Nichicon Audio capacitors.

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GIGABYTE integrated support for connecting both RGB and digit-addressable RGB LED strips directly into the board using the 3-pin and 4-pin RGB LED headers located in the upper left and lower right quadrants of the board. Connecting an RGB LED strip to the header synchronizes the LED strip color and activity with that of the motherboard's integrated LEDs. The board is shown with an external RGB strip connected to the header in the board's upper left quadrant (by the CMOS battery). Notice that the board has multiple integrated RGB zones (in addition to the RGB headers) integrated into the rear panel cover, lining PCIe x16 slots 1 and 3, integrated into the chipset heat sink, and in between the DIMM slots.

In addition to the 3-pin digital-addressable RGB LED and 5-pin RGB LED headers, the front panel audio header, S/PDIF audio header, LED voltage header, and LED demo header are located in the upper left corner of the board.

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Along the mid and lower left side of the board are the the LED demo header, debug headers (MCU_PH1 / MCU_PH2), trusted module port header, USB 2.0 headers, the CMOS battery, 4-pin system fan and pump headers, the front panel header, and the CMOS reset jumper.

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GIGABYTE chose to integrate an attached rear panel shield into the rear panel assembly. The rear panel plate is a matte black base with white colored port text, making it easy to read under most lighting conditions. Additionally, GIGABYTE integrated a glowing AORUS logo into the rear panel plate that can be configured using the RGB Fusion Windows applet. The Z390 AORUS Pro motherboard contains the following integrated ports in its rear panel assembly: four USB 2.0 ports (black), three USB 3.0 ports (blue), three USB 3.1 10Gbps ports (red, two Type A and one Type C), an Intel I219-V GigE RJ-45 port (above the USB 3.0 ports), an HDMI digital video output port, a S/PDIF digital audio output port, and five analog audio output ports.

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November 28, 2018 | 10:05 AM - Posted by Anonymouse (not verified)

Unfortunately, GIGABYTE did not integrate direct RGB LED control into this board's UEFI.

The ability to switch off LED's in the UEFI is nice though. Not having to run a buggy app that requires administrator privileges and installs firewall exceptions (looking at you MSI) is a pleasant change.

December 14, 2018 | 01:20 AM - Posted by Rene (not verified)

The Z390 AORUS Pro features a matte black PCB, armored rear panel assembly, and an integrated rear panel shield.
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