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 AORUS Pro AX is Gigabyte's mainstream offering with a strong feature set and palatable price.
The Gigabyte Z590 AORUS Pro AX features an impressive direct 13-phase VRM utilizing 90 A power stages and Gigabyte's signature finned cooling solution. An ample helping of USB ports as well as 2.5 Gb/s Ethernet and four M.2 slots promote superior connectivity, while Gigabyte's signature AORUS styling provides an attractive, neutral platform to build on. The Gigabyte Z590 AORUS Pro AX is promising on paper, so let's see how it performs in practice!
|CPU Support:||Intel 10th Gen/ 11th Gen Core Processors|
|Power Design:||CPU Power: 13-phase* |
Memory Power: 2-phase
|Integrated Graphics:||Dependent on installed CPU|
|Memory:||4x DIMM, supports dual-channel DDR4-5400 (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 |
4x M.2 ports (SATA3/PCIe x4)
|Networking:||1x Intel 2.5 Gbps LAN|
1x Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX210
|Rear Ports:||1x USB Type-C® port, with USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 support|
4x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports (red)
4x USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports
4x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
2x SMA antenna connectors (2T2R)
1x RJ-45 port
1x optical S/PDIF Out connector
5x audio jacks
|Audio:||1x Realtek ALC4080 codec|
|Fan Headers:||8x 4-pin|
|Form Factor:||ATX Form Factor: 12.0 x 9.6 in.; 30.5 x 24.4 cm|