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Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Xtreme Review: On the Edge of Excellence

How We Test

We don’t have any other boards in the Z390 Aorus Xtreme’s $500-plus price class, so we’re instead comparing it to every ATX board priced above $270. These include the Maximus XI Hero from Asus, the Z390 Taichi Ultimate and Phantom Gaming 9 from ASRock, and Gigabyte’s own Z390 Aorus Master and Z390 Designare.

SoundIntegrated HD audio
NetworkIntegrated gigabit networking
Graphics DriverGeForce 399.24


The same platform that cooled the 10 cores of our Core i9-7900X worked equally well with the eight cores of the Core i9-9900K, as we’ll show in the overclocking evaluation on the next page.

Comparison Products

Benchmark Settings

Synthetic Benchmarks & Settings
PCMark 8Version 2.7.613Home, Creative, Work, Storage, Applications (Adobe & Microsoft)
3DMark 13Version 4.47.597.0Skydiver, Firestrike, Firestrike Extreme Default Presets
SiSoftware SandraVersion 2016.03.22.21CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia, Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth
DiskSPD4K Random Read, 4K Random Write128K Sequential Read, 128K Sequential Write
Cinebench R15Build RC83328DEMOOpenGL Benchmark
CompuBenchVersion 1.5.8Face Detection, Optical Flow, Ocean Surface, Ray Tracing
Application Tests & Settings
LAME MP3Version 3.98.3Mixed 271MB WAV to mp3: Command: -b 160 --nores (160Kb/s)
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.9.9Sintel Open Movie Project: 4.19GB 4K mkv to x265 mp4
BlenderVersion 2.68aBMW 27 CPU Render Benchmark, BMW 27 GPU Render Benchmark
7-ZipVersion 16.02THG-Workload (7.6GB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=9"
Adobe After Effects CCRelease 2015.3.0, Version 13.8.0.144PCMark-driven routine
Adobe Photoshop CCRelease 2015.5.0, 20160603.r.88 x64PCMark-driven routine (light and heavy)
Adobe InDesign CCRelease 2015.4, Build 11.4.0.90 x64PCMark-driven routine
Adobe IllustratorRelease 2015.3.0, Version 20.0.0 (64-bit)PCMark-driven routine
Game Tests & Settings
Ashes of the SingularityVersion 1.31.21360High Preset - 1920 x 1080, Mid Shadow Quality, 1x MSAACrazy Preset - 1920 x 1080, High Shadow Quality, 2x MSAA
F1 20152015 Season, Abu Dhabi track, RainMedium Preset, no AFUltra High Preset, 16x AF
Metro: Last Light ReduxVersion 3.00 x64High Quality, 1920 x 1080, High Tesselation, 16x AFVery High Quality, 1920 x 1080, Very High Tesselation, 16x AF
The Talos PrincipleVersion 267252Medium Preset, High Quality, High Tesselation, 4x AFUltra Preset, Very High Quality, Very High Tesselation, 16x AF

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  • eye4bear
    For the kind of money they are asking, you would think there would be no RAM issues, but then again this is typical Gigabyte.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    21749632 said:
    For the kind of money they are asking, you would think there would be no RAM issues, but then again this is typical Gigabyte.
    Not typical from what I've seen. This is the first Gigabyte board I've tested that didn't support overclocking this RAM.

    Reply
  • njbmw5
    Mobo's so good, Even the price is Xtreme...
    Reply
  • joevt1
    Where does that "shared 36Gb/s" number come from regarding the Thunderbolt ports? PCIe 3.0 x4 is limited to 31.5Gb/s. Each Thunderbolt port (40Gb/s) is limited to 22Gb/s of PCIe data, with the remaining usable only by DisplayPort data which has priority over PCIe data. Attempting to get PCIe data from both ports simultaneously might get you a little over 23Gb/s (that's the number I get when I try to RAID the two Thunderbolt ports).

    The built-in Thunderbolt ports aren't great for Thunderbolt displays because the Thunderbolt controller gets DisplayPort data from the integrated graphics. The I/O panel should have included two DisplayPort inputs for the Thunderbolt controller. Unpopulated inputs could force a switch to integrated graphics maybe (otherwise DisplayPort outputs would be required to use integrated graphics).

    A Thunderbolt controller has an extra DisplayPort output which the I/O panel could also include. The two DisplayPort signals used by the Thunderbolt controller can be output through a single Thunderbolt port or any combination of two ports from the three (port 1, port 2, or DisplayPort). The DisplayPort port would be useful in the case where devices connected to the Thunderbolt ports don't include a DisplayPort output.

    With all that said, I guess it would be better to not include Thunderbolt (frees up 4 PCIe lanes), and just allow using a Thunderbolt add-in card like the GC-TITAN RIDGE which does have two DisplayPort inputs, the extra DisplayPort output, two Thunderbolt ports, and 100W of power delivery to the first Thunderbolt port.

    I understand that having an HDMI port is useful for quickly connecting to an HDMI display, but their HDMI 1.4 port only allows 4K 30Hz. I think motherboards should only include DisplayPort (or USB-C) to allow 4K 60Hz on all displays connected to integrated graphics because it is much easier and less expensive to convert DisplayPort to HDMI 2.0 or whatever than it is to do the reverse. VGA, DVI, and HDMI adapters are cheap. Only including DisplayPort ports frees up space on the motherboard that would be used by converter chips (or voltage level shifters in the case of HDMI 1.4 from integrated graphics).
    Reply
  • Crashman
    21750957 said:
    Where does that "shared 36Gb/s" number come from regarding the Thunderbolt ports? PCIe 3.0 x4 is limited to 31.5Gb/s.
    Thanks for catching that, I meant to say 32Gb/s ;)

    Reply
  • joevt1
    21751134 said:
    Thanks for catching that, I meant to say 32Gb/s ;)
    When you say 32 Gb/s, I wonder if you mean the bits on the wire or if you're rounding the bits they encode which is 32 Gb/s * 128b/130b. For example, if you were talking about PCIe 2.0, then the bits on the wire would be 20 Gb/s but the decoded data would only be 20 Gb/s * 8b/10b or 16 Gb/s (not considering all the PCIe overhead). I guess it doesn't matter since you're not talking about PCIe 2.0 (although some laptops do use PCIe 2.0 for their Thunderbolt 3 controller).

    I guess the real problem is that you say it's the latest Thunderbolt 3 controller sharing 32 Gb/s for both ports when the actual obtainable speed of approximately 23 Gb/s is probably not any greater than that of the previous generation Thunderbolt 3 controller. Other devices limited by PCIe 3.0 x4 (such as NVMe) can achieve speeds much closer to the theoretical 31.5 Gb/s max. Someone familiar with the max speeds of previous Thunderbolt 3 controllers might be wondering if this newer controller performs better when they read the 32 Gb/s number. I guess that's a problem of the reader since your review only states the bandwidth of the data pathway and does not make any claims about the amount of actual data that can be sent on that pathway by the controller and it's ports.

    One of the most significant improvements in the latest Thunderbolt 3 controller is that it allows DisplayPort 1.4, but that's not a consideration here because the controller is connected to Intel integrated graphics which is limited to DisplayPort 1.2. The other significant improvement in the latest Thunderbolt 3 controller is that there is a version for Thunderbolt peripheral devices that allow some of the features of the device to be connected to hosts that have USB-C + DisplayPort alt mode but no Thunderbolt. That is also not a consideration here, because the motherboard is not a peripheral.

    So, while the controller is the latest, it does not make the motherboard significantly better.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    21751631 said:
    21751134 said:
    Thanks for catching that, I meant to say 32Gb/s ;)
    When you say 32 Gb/s, I wonder if you mean the bits on the wire or if you're rounding the bits they encode which is 32 Gb/s * 128b/130b. For example, if you were talking about PCIe 2.0, then the bits on the wire would be 20 Gb/s but the decoded data would only be 20 Gb/s * 8b/10b or 16 Gb/s (not considering all the PCIe overhead). I guess it doesn't matter since you're not talking about PCIe 2.0 (although some laptops do use PCIe 2.0 for their Thunderbolt 3 controller).

    I guess the real problem is that you say it's the latest Thunderbolt 3 controller sharing 32 Gb/s for both ports when the actual obtainable speed of approximately 23 Gb/s is probably not any greater than that of the previous generation Thunderbolt 3 controller. Other devices limited by PCIe 3.0 x4 (such as NVMe) can achieve speeds much closer to the theoretical 31.5 Gb/s max. Someone familiar with the max speeds of previous Thunderbolt 3 controllers might be wondering if this newer controller performs better when they read the 32 Gb/s number. I guess that's a problem of the reader since your review only states the bandwidth of the data pathway and does not make any claims about the amount of actual data that can be sent on that pathway by the controller and it's ports.

    One of the most significant improvements in the latest Thunderbolt 3 controller is that it allows DisplayPort 1.4, but that's not a consideration here because the controller is connected to Intel integrated graphics which is limited to DisplayPort 1.2. The other significant improvement in the latest Thunderbolt 3 controller is that there is a version for Thunderbolt peripheral devices that allow some of the features of the device to be connected to hosts that have USB-C + DisplayPort alt mode but no Thunderbolt. That is also not a consideration here, because the motherboard is not a peripheral.

    So, while the controller is the latest, it does not make the motherboard significantly better.
    True. I never thought about the limitations of the onboard graphics as being anything more than "they're so weak that nobody in this market will use them anyway".

    Reply