Gigabyte’s Z690 Aero G DDR4 is designed for the Creators looking to get into Intel’s latest platform, without spending a lot of money. The Aero G costs $289.99 and is one of the least-expensive Z690 boards marketed to creators and professional types. The Aero G comes with four M.2 sockets and six SATA ports for ample storage options, plenty of USB ports on the rear IO, the latest Realtek audio codec, 2.5 GbE and integrated Wi-Fi 6, competent power delivery, along with a more professional appearance than many other boards aimed at gamers and overclockers.
Compared to the previous-generation Z590 Vision G, the Z690 version adds more metal, particularly around the VRM area. Gone is the plastic cover over the VRM. Instead you get a large chunk of aluminum that not only looks better but cools better too. Outside of that, there aren’t too many physical changes as the new board keeps the grey/brushed aluminum theme.
Performance on this DDR4-equipped board was similar to the Asus TUF Gaming Z690-Plus WIFI D4 we just looked at. In short, most tests were comparable with DDR5 boards, though some showed significant differences. Between the Aero G and the other DDR4 board we’ve tested, the Aero was negligibly slower. On the memory front, the Aero G ran our DDR4 3600 sticks without issue, though it did default to Gear 2 with some very high latency. Gear 1 worked flawlessly when enabled. It also ran our DDR4 4000 sticks by simply enabling the XMP profile. Read on for much more, including overclocking and any features that set this board apart from others. Before we share what happened with our testing, here’s a complete list of the Gigabyte Z690 Aero G DD4 specifications from Gigabyte.
Specifications - Gigabyte Z690 Aero G DDR4
|Voltage Regulator||16 Phase (16+1+2, 70A MOSFETs for Vcore)|
|Video Ports||(1) USB Type-C (via VisionLINK)|
|Row 5 - Cell 0||(1) HDMI (v2.1)|
|Row 6 - Cell 0||(1) DisplayPort (Input - v1.4)|
|USB Ports||(1) USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type-C ports (20 Gbps)|
|Row 8 - Cell 0||(1) USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port (5 Gbps)|
|Row 9 - Cell 0||(2) USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps)|
|Row 10 - Cell 0||(4) USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)|
|Row 11 - Cell 0||(2) USB 2.0 (480 Mbps)|
|Network Jacks||(1) 2.5 GbE|
|Audio Jacks||(2) Analog + SPDIF|
|PCIe x16||(1) v. 5.0 (x16)|
|Row 16 - Cell 0||(2) v. 3.0 (x4)|
|CrossFire/SLI||AMD Quad-GPU CrossFire and 2-Way Crossfire|
|DIMM slots||(4) DDR4 5333+(OC), 128GB Capacity|
|M.2 slots||(3) PCIe 4.0 x4 (64 Gbps) / PCIe (up to 110mm)|
|Row 23 - Cell 0||(1) PCIe 4.0 x4 (64 Gbps) / PCIe + SATA (up to 110mm)|
|SATA Ports||(6) SATA3 6 Gbps (Supports RAID 0/1/5/10)|
|USB Headers||(1) USB v3.2 Gen 2x2, Type-C (20 Gbps)|
|Row 27 - Cell 0||(1) USB v3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)|
|Row 28 - Cell 0||(2) USB v2.0 (480 Mbps)|
|Fan/Pump Headers||(8) 4-Pin (CPU, WaterCPU, System, System/Pump fans)|
|RGB Headers||(2) aRGB Gen2 (3-pin)|
|Row 31 - Cell 0||(2) RGB (4-pin)|
|Internal Button/Switch||Reset button|
|Ethernet Controller(s)||(1) Intel I225-V (2.5 Gbps)|
|Wi-Fi / Bluetooth||Intel AX201 Wi-Fi 6 (2x2 ax, MU-MIMO, 2.4/5/6 GHz, 160 MHz, BT 5.2)|
|USB Controllers||ASMedia ASM1074, ASM3242|
|HD Audio Codec||Realtek ALC4080|
|DDL/DTS Connect||✗ / ✗|
After opening the box and taking the board out, you’ll find several accessories stashed away under a cardboard partition. It comes with all of the basics to get you started, but not much more. Surprisingly our sample didn’t include a driver disk/DVD, so you’ll have to get those from the Gigabyte website. Below is a list of everything included with the Aero G.
- (2) SATA 6Gb/s cables
- Wi-Fi antenna
- (4) M.2 screws
- User Manual
I was pleasantly surprised with how the appearance of this board had changed at first glance. The distinct Aero/Vision look remains, with the black and silver theme on the heatsinks. On the VRM heatsink, you’ll find Gigabyte and Aero branding, along with a premium brushed aluminum finish. The M.2 and chipset heatsink has the same black/silver contrast as the VRM heatsinks, giving the areas a nice contrast. If you want integrated RGB lighting, you’ll have to look elsewhere or use the headers found on the board. Overall I like the new look. It doesn’t call attention to itself, yet is still capable of being the centerpiece of your build.
Focusing on the top half of the board, we get a better look at the oversized heatsinks and the Aero branding. There’s a strip with a rainbow/color-changing strip giving the board a bit of bling outside of the black, white and silver that covers the majority of the board. The heatsinks are heavily grooved, which increases surface area and cooling ability. Above the VRM heatsinks are two EPS connectors feeding power to the processor. The first is a required 8-pin and the second is an optional 4-pin.
To the right of the socket are four double-side locking DRAM slots that support up to 128GB of RAM at speeds listed to DDR4 5333+(OC). As always, your mileage may vary in reaching these speeds, as it depends on the quality of the CPU’s memory controller and the kit you use.
The first two (of eight total) 4-pin fan headers are located just above the DRAM slots. All headers support both DC and PWM-controlled fans, with each one supporting up to 2A/24W. There’s plenty of power for your fans, AIO, and even a water pump. Off to the right are the first RGB headers. There’s a 3-pin ARGB and 4-pin RGB, with the other two located across the bottom edge.
Along the right edge, working our way up from top to bottom, we run into the 24-pin ATX connector to power the board, two system fan headers, a 2-pin header for a temperature probe, and two more fan headers (Pump and System). There’s also a front-panel USB 3.2 header and USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type-C front panel header. Also in this area are the four Q-LEDs that light up during POST. If the system runs into an issue, the area where the problem is remains lit. Since the Aero G doesn’t have the more informative 2-character debug LED, you’ll have to rely on this high-level information if you have boot issues.
The Aero G is configured with a 19-phase VRM with 16 phases dedicated to Vcore. Power comes from the EPS connector(s) to a Renesas RAA229131 20-phase controller and then to the OnSemiconductor 70A MOSFETs. The 1,120 Amps available certainly isn’t one of the higher values we’ve come across, but it handled our Intel Core i9-12900K when it was at stock speeds and overclocked without concern.
Shifting focus to the bottom half of the board, we’ll work left to right and start with the audio. In the fully exposed audio section, you’ll find the latest generation Realtek ALC4080 audio codec, along with several Nippon audio capacitors. I was pleasantly surprised to see a high-end audio codec in use for a board that’s priced under $300.
In the middle of the board, we’ll start with the PCIe slots. The Z690 Aero G has a total of three full-length slots. The top slot (white) is reinforced and is the only PCIe 5.0 x16 capable. The bottom two full-length slots (black) source their PCIe 3.0 x4 lanes from the chipset. If you’re still into multi-GPU technologies, this configuration supports AMD Quad GPU CrossFire and 2-Way AMD CrossFire.
Located above and between PCIe slots are four M.2 sockets. The top socket, M2A_CPU, connects directly to the CPU and runs up to PCIe 4.0 x4 (64 Gbps) speeds while supporting up to 110mm drives. M2P_SB and M2Q_SB also run PCIe 4.0 x2 and support 110mm drives. Finally, the last slot, M2M_SB, supports both SATA and PCIe-based modules up to 110mm. There’s plenty of fast M.2 storage available on the Aero G.
Moving right over the chipset to the board’s edge, we run into Thunderbolt AIC headers and six SATA ports. When M.2 socket M2M_SB is used with a PCIe-based SSD, SATA ports 2/3 are disabled. The worst-case scenario for storage is when you run four PCIe-based M.2 SSDs, you’ll have four SATA ports (instead of six) available. If you don’t want to lose any SATA ports, run a SATA-based M.2 module on M2M_SB, leaving three M.2 sockets for PCIe-based modules and all six SATA ports. The Aero G supports RAID0/1/5/10 modes on the SATA ports.
Across the bottom edge of the motherboard are several headers, including USB, SATA ports, and RGB. Here’s the complete list, from left to right:
- Front panel audio
- COM port
- 3-pin ARGB header
- 4-pin RGB header
- TPM header
- (2) USB 2.0 headers
- Q-Flash Plus button
- 4-pin System Fan headers
- Clear CMOS jumper
- Front panel header
Swinging back to the rear IO area, we’ve got a pre-installed IO plate that matches the Aero’s theme. It has a white background with black writing, so the port information is easy to read. There are 10 total USB ports around the back: two USB 3.2 Type-C ports (20 Gbps and 10 Gbps), two USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) ports, four USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) ports and two USB 2.0 (480 Mbps) ports. The eight USB Type-A ports should be enough for most users. For video, you can use the HDMI out or the VisionLINK Type-C port. A DisplayPort port is also found on the rear IO and used as an input. Additionally, you’ll find the 2.5 GbE port, Wi-Fi antenna connections, and finally, a 3-plug plus SPDIF audio stack.
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