Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Xtreme Review


Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Xtreme Review


Any time you're dealing with a product very much sitting at the premium end of the price spectrum, you bring to the party a few expectations that just have to be met. The Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Xtreme unquestionably is at the upper end of their range, indeed if you discount the watercooled version it's at the peak. Does it tick all the things that are demanded of something which demands so much of your bank account?

Firstly let's talk about the physical board itself. It's a behemoth. Many of the Z690 motherboards we've reviewed have been chunky monkeys and the Xtreme is no exception. One just has to look at the monstrous heatpipe that ties the north and west heatsinks together to get a feel for the heft of the Aorus Xtreme. It's robustly built from the 8 layer, 2oz copper PCB through the nanocarbon backplate to the actual power phase heatsink itself. The heatsink is a high fin density and in conjunction with that fat pipe does a fantastic job of keeping the 105A power phases cool even under hefty loading. If you're a fan of the stylised Aorus logo design they've certainly catered to you with lights on the IO section, the RAM cover, and down on the chipset area. More of that in a moment. We're also huge fans of the amount of connection options you have and their placement. We often bemoan vertical SATA ports as indicative of a less costly motherboard, but the problems inherent in vertical ports and the cable management are just as true. By utilising the high-end horizontal connectors on every port, and taking care to group them all together, makes the whole thing a doddle and is totally our jam. Gigabyte also haven't scrimped on fan headers with more than enough for even the most dedicated cooler enthusiast.

Performance is very much in keeping with such a high end motherboard as was clearly demonstrated in our testing. That does come with some caveats though. At stock Gigabyte have definitely ensured that getting enough voltage to your processor will never be a problem. Unfortunately for them the new Intel 12th Gen Core i9 follows the 11th Gen in being toasty warm at the best of times, and more voltage equals more heat and thus manually detuning the VCore brings you some pretty significant gains. We recommend locking it to 1.2v for best possible results. On our silicon at least. This also holds true on the overclocking side. The BIOS just wants to be generous with the voltage, and whilst running at stock is fine for the most part, be aware that this isn't a build and forget motherboard. At least not with the current BIOS. Maybe a revision will smooth things out.

Our negatives are definitely a couple of strange design choices. Firstly the VRM heatsink has had a serious amount of engineering nouse put in to it, with all the things one demands and indeed hopes. To then cover it up with a very plastic topping that seems to exist solely to limit airflow feels like a marketing department justifying their fee by insisting that you get a lot of RGB on your new purchase. Which brings us neatly to the RAM cover. Although neatly is perhaps the one word that doesn't suit it. Not only does it look like the type of thing you'd test print on your new, affordable, 3D printer, but the design is also tailored to standard height RAM. We don't know about you but we can't imagine anyone going all in on a new DDR5 system and then scrimping on the RAM. Surely you get something with RGB, or perhaps even a beefy heatspreader. If you do, as you saw in our pictures, then you can't use this device. Not doing so means you've paid for something you'll leave in the box, you're missing out on some RGB, but you're also having some ugly screw holes left poking through the Thermal Armor. We're not keen. Bad design in our opinion.

The RAM cover and slightly over-eager VCore are very much the only flies in the ointment. The Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Xtreme is built like a tank and performs admirably no matter what we threw at it. The performance, once finely tuned, is excellent and the care and attention to detail taken with the horizontal headers makes keeping your system tidy a joy. It's irritating that more care wasn't taken with that RAM cover, either making it more optional or more flexible. The engineering of the Aorus Xtreme is undeniable but we feel that considering the price and the fact that if you dont use the DRAM cover (anyone with performance kits wont) and the lack of trim to clean lines up when you dont is just too many points for such an expensive board.

The engineering and electrical powerhouse has been overshadowed by the other silly flaws. Couple this with the price we would just expect more and genuinely feel like Gigabyte need to fix this -AND- if you've had the displeasure of already buying one we think they should send you out the trim parts they need to make. BIOS - as with every review we have ever done - needs work. So we have decided no award on this. For £750 there is just too many things that NEED fixing right now.

Discuss the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Xtreme in our OC3D Forums.

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