After almost a decade of total market dominance, Intel has spent the past few years on the defensive. AMD's Ryzen processors continue to show improvement year over year, with the most recent Ryzen 5000 series taking the crown of best gaming processor: Intel's last bastion of superiority.
Now, with a booming hardware market, Intel is preparing to retake some of that lost ground with the new 11th Gen Core Processors. Intel is claiming these new 11th Gen CPUs offer double-digit IPC improvements despite remaining on a 14 nm process. The top-end 8-core Intel Core i9-11900K may not be able to compete against its AMD rival Ryzen 9 5900X in heavily multi-threaded scenarios, but the higher clock speeds and alleged IPC improvements could be enough to take back the gaming crown. Along with the new CPUs, there is a new chipset to match, the Intel Z590. Last year's Z490 chipset motherboards are also compatible with the new 11th Gen Core Processors, but Z590 brings some key advantages.
First, Z590 offers native PCIe 4.0 support from the CPU, which means the PCIe and M.2 slots powered off the CPU will offer PCIe 4.0 connectivity when an 11th Gen CPU is installed. The PCIe and M.2 slots controlled by the Z590 chipset are still PCI 3.0. While many high-end Z490 motherboards advertised this capability, it was not a standard feature for the platform. In addition to PCIe 4.0 support, Z590 offers USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 from the chipset. The USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 standard offers speeds of up to 20 Gb/s. Finally, Z590 boasts native support for 3200 MHz DDR4 memory. With these upgrades, Intel's Z series platform has feature parity with AMD's B550. On paper, Intel is catching up to AMD, but only testing will tell if these new Z590 motherboards are up to the challenge.
The AORUS line from Gigabyte spans a broad range of products: laptops, peripherals, and core components. Across the enthusiast spectrum, the AORUS name denotes Gigabyte's gaming-focused products, with the AORUS motherboard range featuring a consistent naming scheme that includes the Pro, Elite, Ultra, Master, and Extreme motherboards. Within this lineup, the Master serves as the high-end mainstream option offering prime features at a high but attainable price point.
The Gigabyte Z590 AORUS Master features a monster 19-phase VRM utilizing 90 A power stages and Gigabyte's signature finned cooling solution. Both Q-Flash and a dual BIOS have been included, providing a redundant safety net for ambitious overclocking. The Gigabyte Z590 AORUS Master also offers a full-coverage aluminium backplate for added rigidity and additional VRM cooling. Additionally, Gigabyte has included a 10 Gb/s LAN controller from Aquantia. All of the features are in order, so let's see how the Gigabyte Z590 AORUS Master stacks up against the competition.
|CPU Support:||Intel 10th Gen/ 11th Gen Core Processors|
|Power Design:|| CPU Power: 19-phase* |
Memory Power: 2-phase
|Integrated Graphics:||Dependent on installed CPU|
|Memory:||4x DIMM, supports dual-channel DDR4-5000 (OC) MHz|
|BIOS:||Dual AMI UEFI BIOS|
|Expansion Slots:||3x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots (x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4)|
|Storage:|| 6x SATA 6 Gb/s ports |
3x M.2 ports (SATA3/PCIe 3.0 x4)
|Networking:||1x Aquantia 10 GbE LAN|
1x Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX210
|Rear Ports:||1x Q-Flash Plus button|
1x Clear CMOS button
2x SMA antenna connectors
1x USB Type-C® port, with USB 3.2 Gen 2x2
5x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports (red)
4x USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports
1x RJ-45 port
1x optical S/PDIF Out connector
5x audio jacks
|Audio:||1x Realtek ALC1220 Codec|
|Fan Headers:||9x 4-pin|
|Form Factor:||ATX Form Factor: 12.0 x 9.6 in.; 30.5 x 24.4 cm|
Testing for this review was conducted using a 10th Gen Intel Core i9-10900K. Stay tuned for an 11th Gen update when the new processors launch!