Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro DDR5 motherboard review: A solid Alder Lake Platform

Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro DDR5 motherboard review: A solid Alder Lake Platform

Intel pulled the trigger on its latest Z690 motherboard chipset to support the launch of its new 12th-gen Alder Lake processors. These new motherboards carry the new LGA 1700 CPU socket along with some other advancements including PCIe Gen 5 as well as DDR5 memory support. It’s been a few months since the arrival of new Alder Lake CPUs on the market and there’s no shortage of these Z690 boards. The Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro happens to be one of the first Z690 motherboards to arrive on the market. In fact, this is one of the first mid-range boards in the Z690 universe.

At $329, the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro stands as one of the less expensive Z690 boards that support DDR5 memory along with a long list of other noteworthy features. But is it actually worth considering for your next Alder Lake PC build? Well, let’s find out in this review.

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Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro motherboard: Specifications

Begin we jump into the review, let’s take a quick look at the specifications of the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro motherboard:

SpecificationGigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro
Motherboard ChipsetIntel Z690 Express Chipset
SocketLGA 1700
Form FactorATX
VRM19 Phase (16+1+2, 90A MOSFETs for Vcore)
Memory4x DDR5 6200+(OC), Up to 128GB
M.2 slots
  • 3x PCIe 4.0 x4 (64 Gbps)
  • 1x PCIe 4.0 x4 (64 Gbps)
SATA6x SATA3 6 Gbps
Expansion Slots
  • 1x PCIe 5.0 x16
  • 2 x PCIe x16 slots, running at x4
Rear Panel IO
  • 1 x USB Type-C® port, with USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 support
  • 4 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports (red)
  • 4 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports
  • 4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
  • 2 x SMA antenna connectors (2T2R)
  • 1 x DisplayPort
  • 1 x RJ-45 port
  • 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
  • 2 x audio jacks
Warranty3 Years

The Z690 Aorus Pro motherboard comes with a bunch of stuff inside the box including SATA cables, a Wi-Fi antenna, M.2 screws, RGB extension, and more. You’ll also get an installation guide along with the user’s manual, so be sure to keep it handy while building the PC. Now that’s out of the way, let’s jump into the design and hardware section to see the kind of component support you get on this board.

Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro motherboard: Design & Hardware

When it comes to the design, the Z690 Aorus Pro looks pretty basic. You’re essentially looking at a matte-black PCB with some contrasting grey lines on the board to match the heatsinks and shrouds. Unlike a lot of other premium motherboards on the market, this one has less coverage on the shrouds and heatsinks front. The VRM heatsink sports the Aorus branding while the chipset shroud has an Aorus Eagle with a mirror finish. The M.2 slots are also covered with heatsinks to maintain the thermal output. It’s essentially covered by metal plates with thermal pads on the inside.

The motherboard, as you can see, comes with reinforcement on the primary PCIe slot and all four DRAM slots. This is a welcoming addition, although not rare for a motherboard in this price range. It’s also worth pointing out how the only RGB illuminated part on the motherboard is the Aorus branding on the VRM heatsink. It’s not necessarily a deal-breaker, but you may have to look elsewhere if you’re planning to buy something with more RGB bling.

 

The VRM heatsink takes up a huge portion of the board. This particular heatsink consists of two separate chunks of aluminum, with the left bank reaching out over the IO area. There’s enough ventilation in the heatsink for thermal transfer, so that’s good. The CPU itself gets its power from a combination of 8-pin and 4-pin EPS connectors that are located on the top edge above the heatsinks. You only need 8-pins to power the CPU but you can plug in both.

The next thing you’ll notice is the LGA 1700 CPU socket itself. This socket, as you probably already know, is physically bigger than other LGA sockets we’ve seen in the past. It’s surrounded by some capacitors and stenciled writing on this particular motherboard, giving it a unique look. There are four reinforced DRAM slots on the right side of the socket that are capable of handling up to 128GB of DDR5 RAM.

According to Gigabyte, this particular motherboard supports up to DDR5 6200(OC), which means it offers plenty of headroom over the baseline DDR5-4800 specs. We were able to run our Kingston Fury Beast DDR5-5200 RAM kit without any issues. You then have an array of fan and RGB headers along with a bunch of USB headers. Notably, the Z690 Aorus Pro has a two-character debug display along with four LED debug features next to the 24-pin ATX connector. While the two-character debug LED gives you codes to detail an issue, the four LEDs keep you informed about the problems during the POST process.

Moving on to the bottom half of the motherboard, you’ll see a couple of PCIe slots, an audio section, four m.2 slots hidden under the heatsink, and more headers. The motherboard comes with Realtek ALC4080 codec, which we think is pretty good for most users. It’s not the best codec out there but is on par with most other audio chips you get in this price range.

The primary full-length slot in the middle of the motherboard runs at PCIe 5.0 x16 speeds. It uses Gigabyte’s Ultra Durable SMD PCIe 5.0 Armor for EMI protection and additional support for heavier GPUs. There are two more PCIe slots towards the bottom of the board, but they’re connected through the chipset and run up to PCIe 3.0 x4 speeds. Between the PCIe slots (one above) are four M.2 sockets that are hidden under the heatsink. The M.2 slot above the primary slot supports PCIe 4.0 x4 drives up to 110mm. The second slot connects via the chipset and runs both SATA and PCIe 4.0 x4 modules up to 110mm. Lastly, the bottom two sockets connect via the chipset to support up to 110mm drives and PCIe 4.0 x4 speeds.

M.2 slots on the Aorus Pro motherboard

Additionally, you also get six SATA ports with support for RAID 0/1/5/10 modes. Lastly, towards the bottom of the motherboard, are some headers. This includes both USB ports and RGB headers. the Z690 Aorus Pro also has temperature sensor headers to control your cooling system.

Before we move on to the performance section of this review, here’s a quick look at the rear IO panel. One of the best things about this motherboard is that the rear IO panel shield comes pre-installed which means you don’t have to worry about installing it separately while building the PC. You can refer to the specs table above to check out all the ports that you get on the rear IO panel of this motherboard.

Rear IO panel of Aorus Pro motherboard

Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro motherboard: Performance

The Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro’s BIOS layout is very similar to what get with pretty much every other Gigabyte board. It allows you to quickly fiddle with settings without having to look at any manuals. The Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro is a solid platform for Alder Lake chips and we were able to run an unlocked Core i9-12900K without any issues. With an Intel Core i9-12900K and a potent CPU cooler, we were quickly able to get everything up and running.

Z690 Aorus Pro motherboard CPU-Z benchmark

Here’s a quick look at some of the synthetic benchmarks that we were able to run using the 12900K on this motherboard. These numbers should give you an idea as to how the motherboard handles the CPU and other components, even under heavy load.

TestIntel Core i9-12900KIntel Core i9-12900K (OC)
Cinebench R23 – Single
(Higher is better) 
19622137
Cinebench R23 – Multi
(Higher is better)
2708628597
CPU-Z Single
(Higher is better)
814892
CPU-Z Multi
(Higher is better)
1139611923
Corona 1.3
(Lower is better)
5954
Blender BMW
(Lower is better)
8786
PCMark 10
(Higher is better)
1214511038

Overclocking the CPU with this particular motherboard is also a fairly simple process. We were able to push the 12900K to over 5.0GHz on P-cores and over 4.0Ghz on E-cores to produce a sizable increase in clock speeds. It’s worth pointing out that you’ll still need a good quality CPU cooler to maintain thermal output at overclocked settings.

Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro motherboard: Final Thoughts

For $329, the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro is a solid platform for Alder Lake CPUs. It’s not as expensive as many other premium Z690 boards on the market, yet it offers some noteworthy features including DDR5 compatibility, four M.2 slots, 2.5 GbE, a striking design, and more. The overall performance is also on-par with a lot of other high-end Z690 motherboards, which is good. We were able to run both Core i9-12900K and the Core i5-12600K at both stock and overclocked settings without any issues.

There’s not a lot to say in the name of cons but if we were to pick, then we’d say the board could’ve used WiFi 6E support and even some integrated RGB lights. A lot of people don’t like RGB lights on motherboards, but we think it’s best to have lights that can be turned off rather than not having any lights at all. That being said, the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro stands as a solid offering for those who’re looking to build a new Alder Lake PC in 2022. Other 600 series chipset motherboards are yet to arrive on the market at the time of writing this, but we think the Aorus Pro will continue to remain as one of the best options and is definitely making its way into our collection of the best motherboards to buy in 2022.

    Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro DDR5 motherboard
    The Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro is one of the best Z690 boards on the market right now. It offers a good mix of features including DDR5 support at a relatively affordable price.

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Karthik Iyer
Karthik Iyer

Karthik covers PC hardware for XDA Computing. When not at work, you will find him yelling at his monitors while playing video games.