Quick Look Review: GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS PRO ATX and Mini-ITX Motherboards

Manufacturer: GIGABYTE Quick Look Review: GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS PRO ATX and Mini-ITX Motherboards

Two Z390 Motherboards in Heavy Rotation

The GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS PRO and Z390 I AORUS PRO WiFi

What’s this? Talking about Intel Z390 motherboards during Ryzenber (the month formerly known as July)? Believe it or not, Intel processors are still being sold – plus those Ryzen vs. Intel benchmarks require motherboards for both platforms.

On the Intel side we have been using Z390 solutions from a couple of vendors this year on the test bench, with these GIGABYTE AORUS PRO motherboards in particular getting some heavy usage around here for various review categories.

How have they fared after months of use? Have there been any issues, compatibility problems, design quirks, or other annoyances observed with either board? I will tell you, but not for another few paragraphs. (Why would you keep scrolling otherwise?)

Product Specifications

Z390 AORUS PRO Basic Specs (for full specifications visit the GIGABYTE page here)

  • Form Factor: ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm
  • CPU: Support for 9th and 8th Generation Intel processors in the LGA1151 package
  • Chipset: Intel Z390 Express Chipset
  • Memory Support:
    • 4x DDR4 DIMM sockets supporting up to 128GB (32GB single DIMM capacity) of system memory
    • Dual channel memory architecture
    • Support for DDR4 2133/2400/2600 MHz and O.C. up to 4266 MHz
    • Support for non-ECC Un-buffered DIMM 1Rx8/2Rx8/1Rx16, ECC Un-buffered DIMM 1Rx8/2Rx8 (operate in non-ECC mode)
    • Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
  • Onboard Graphics: Intel HD Graphics support
    • 1x HDMI port, HDMI 1.4 version and HDCP 2.2, 4096×2160@30 Hz max resolution, 1GB max shared memory
  • Audio: Realtek ALC1220-VB codec, 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel, S/PDIF Out
  • LAN: Intel GbE LAN chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
  • Expansion Slots
    • 1x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)
    • 1x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8)
    • 1x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4)
    • 3x PCI Express x1 slots
      • The PCIEX8 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16 slot. When the PCIEX8 slot is populated, the PCIEX16 slot operates at up to x8 mode
  • Multi-Graphics Technology
    • 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
  • Storage Support
    • 1x M.2 connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 SATA and PCIe x4/x2 SSD support) (M2A)
    • 1x M.2 connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2260/2280 SATA and PCIe x4/x2 SSD support) (M2M)
    • 6x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
    • Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
    • Intel Optane Memory Ready
  • USB (Chipset):
    • 1x USB Type-C port with USB 3.1 Gen 2 support on the back panel
    • 1x USB Type-C port with USB 3.1 Gen 1 support, available through the internal USB header
    • 2x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A ports (red) on the back panel
    • 5x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports (3 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB header)
    • 8x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (4 ports on the back panel, 4 ports available through the internal USB headers)
  • Back Panel Connectors
    • 4x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
    • 1x HDMI port
    • 1x USB Type-C™ port, with USB 3.1 Gen 2 support
    • 2x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A ports (red)
    • 3x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports
    • 1x RJ-45 port
    • 1x optical S/PDIF Out connector
    • 5x audio jacks
  • Operating System: Support for Windows 10 64-bit

Z390 I AORUS PRO WiFi Essential Specifications (full specs from GIGABYTE here)

  • CPU: Support for 9th and 8th Generation Intel processors in the LGA1151 package
  • Chipset: Intel Z390 Express Chipset
  • Memory:
    • 2x DDR4 DIMM sockets supporting up to 64GB (32GB single DIMM capacity) of system memory
    • Support for DDR4 2133/2400/2600 MHz and O.C. up to 4400 MHz
    • Support for non-ECC Un-buffered DIMM 1Rx8/2Rx8/1Rx16, ECC Un-buffered DIMM 1Rx8/2Rx8 (operate in non-ECC mode)
    • Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
  • Onboard Graphics:
    • Integrated Graphics Processor + MegaChips MCDP2800 chip
    • 1x HDMI port, HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2, and HDR, supporting 4096×2160@60 Hz max resolution, 1GB max shared memory
  • Audio: Realtek ALC1220-VB codec, 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel, S/PDIF Out
  • LAN: Intel GbE LAN chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
  • Wireless Communication module
  • Intel CNVi interface Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, supporting 2.4/5 GHz Dual-Band, Bluetooth 5
  • Support for 11ac 160 MHz wireless standard and up to 1.73 Gbps data rate
  • Expansion Slots
    • 1x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16
    • 1x M.2 Socket 1 connector for an Intel CNVi wireless module only (CNVI)
  • Storage Support
    • 1 x M.2 connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2260/2280 SATA and PCIe x4/x2 SSD support) (M2P)
    • 1 x M.2 connector on the back of the motherboard (Socket 3, M key, type 2260/2280 SATA and PCIe x4/x2 SSD support) (M2M)
    • 4x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
    • Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
    • Intel Optane Memory Ready
  • USB (Chipset):
    • 1x USB Type-C port with USB 3.1 Gen 1 support, available through the internal USB header
    • 1x USB Type-C port on the back panel, with USB 3.1 Gen 2 support
    • 1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A port (red) on the back panel
    • 6x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports (4 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB header)
    • 2x USB 2.0/1.1 ports available through the internal USB header
  • Back Panel Connectors
    • 1x DisplayPort
    • 1x HDMI port
    • 1x USB Type-C™ port, with USB 3.1 Gen 2 support
    • 1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A port (red)
    • 4x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports
    • 1x RJ-45 port
    • 2x SMA antenna connectors (2T2R)
    • 1x optical S/PDIF Out connector
    • 5x audio jacks
Pricing
Manufacturer Description

“This should be quoted and leave the EM brackets, as it is set up to be a real description from the Manufacturer themselves”

Usage Impressions

If you have checked out our Ryzen 3700X and 3900X review, any case review this year, or recent CPU cooler reviews, you’ve seen results from GIGABYTE boards. Two new additions to the test platforms in the office this year have been the AORUS Z390 PRO (ATX form-factor) and the Z390 I AORUS PRO WiFi (mini-ITX).

There are big and little things of note when it comes to motherboard design and use, and the biggest is of course functionality. While these AORUS boards have been used exclusively for benchmarking they are gaming models (if only there was time for gaming) meant for both high performance and greater durability – which is a great combo for a test bench scenario, too.

Quick Look Review: GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS PRO ATX and Mini-ITX Motherboards - Motherboards  1

When relying on a board for benchmarking the objectives are simple: it needs to work reliably without any compatibility issues as CPUs are swapped, with RAM running at the correct speed without any more manual intervention than is typical to hit advertised numbers (usually enabling XMP is as far as I go with RAM).

Of course power delivery matters, as does storage, USB, and even network performance as things are loaded onto the system for testing and results saved.

There are some little details to consider when comparing motherboards as well, such as PCIe slot placement / relation to the CPU socket, CMOS battery access (that one’s for you, Morry), and even DIMM slot retention mechanisms.

Quick Look Review: GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS PRO ATX and Mini-ITX Motherboards - Motherboards  2

Pushing down clips on both sides feels so right…

In all of the above-mentioned areas both of these Gigabyte Z390 boards have been outstanding examples of solid motherboard design, with 100% reliability, no compatibility problems, zero blue screens under Windows 10, no performance issues, and excellent usability.

Little things like the space between the CPU socket and the first x16 PCIe slot make life easier when swapping GPUs, and I had forgotten how much I prefer hinged clips on both sides of a DIMM, which even the mini-ITX board offers. (A little thing, sure, but it still makes swapping DIMMs just a bit faster and easier.)

Quick Look Review: GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS PRO ATX and Mini-ITX Motherboards - Motherboards  3

The cooling design of both boards is solid with some fairly substantial VRM heatsinks, but their designs do a good job of not encumbering heatsink installation with any of the coolers used this year so far (be quiet! Dark Rock 4, Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition, SilverStone Argon AR11, etc.).

Where are Performance Numbers?

As this is more of a quick look than a full review, rather than providing new testing and A/B comparisons with other boards I will simply point to all of the 2019 reviews that make use of these two GIGABYTE Z390 boards. Used most recently to produce all Intel benchmark numbers in the Ryzen 7 3700X and Ryzen 9 3900X review, they have been consistent and trouble free across all installations, with no issues running the latest build of Windows 10 (1903).

Quick Look Review: GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS PRO ATX and Mini-ITX Motherboards - Motherboards  4

I was motivated to share my experience with both boards given their trouble-free operation for me over these long months of testing, and both are holding up nicely to constant component swaps and occasional rough handling. I have no complaints.

Another aspect of these boards is aesthetics, and here I really like GIGABYTE’s overall look with AORUS boards and with their implementation of RGB lighting. These are stylish without being overstated, and the lighting – in particular I like the AORUS logo on the chipset heatsink – looks good. Both of these are rather photogenic, as you may have noticed.

Conclusion

At current pricing – $189.99 for the Z390 AORUS PRO and $164.99 for the Z390 I AORUS PRO WiFi – these motherboards are a good value given their features and overall quality. Intel Z390 boards currently start at around $100, but for this platform I have found these AORUS PRO boards to offer a taste of the premium experience without approaching the high end of the market, which currently sees Z390 motherboards ranging all the way up to $500 (or more).

Quick Look Review: GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS PRO ATX and Mini-ITX Motherboards - Motherboards  5

The included accessories are pretty basic, with the usual compliment of SATA cables and a WiFi antenna for the Z390 I AORUS PRO mini-ITX board, but for sub-$200 motherboards I had no complaints.

In short, if you’re shopping around for an Intel Z390 motherboard in direct opposition to AMD Ryzen mania, give these a look as I can personally vouch for their performance and reliability. And no, GIGABYTE is not a sponsor, nor is this a paid post.

And now back to your regularly scheduled Ryzenber programming.

Video News

About The Author

Sebastian Peak

Editor-in-Chief at PC Perspective. Writer of computer stuff, vintage PC nerd, and full-time dad. Still in search of the perfect smartphone. In his nonexistent spare time Sebastian's hobbies include hi-fi audio, guitars, and road bikes. Currently investigating time travel.

3 Comments

  1. lobstershaver

    Why has there been so few reviews lately?

    • Sebastian Peak

      Time spent freshly benchmarking 10 CPUs on Windows 10 1903 killed productivity. Currently re-vamping GPU testing as well, also on 1903. But there will be more reviews, and soon! Should be a couple of things this week.

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Latest Podcasts

Archive & Timeline

Previous 12 months
Explore: All The Years!