Pricier doesn’t always equal premium.
The final board to hit our test bench also proved to be the most expensive. We’re sure Gigabyte will have cheaper offerings in the future, but we were quite surprised that this was the most affordable board they had at the time of the roundup, at 50% higher price than the Asus board. But just because it’s vastly more expensive doesn’t always means this is a thoroughbred.
Aorus has really gone to town with the RGB lighting on this board, with the memory modules, PCIe lanes, I/O cover and bottom heatspreader all lit up like a Christmas tree. It calls its lighting solution ‘RGB Fusion’, and is compatible with most RGB products on the market. If you’re looking for bling, look no further.
Considering this is a standard ATX board, Aorus has crammed an awful lot of PCIe x16 lanes onto it – a total of five in fact, all steel reinforced. The price for this is that there are no other PCIe lanes, but you can still run a PCIe x4 product in a PCIe x16 lane. There are three M.2 slots, but only one comes with a heat spreader.
Given the high price, we expected to see more than the default eight SATA 3 slots. Overclockers will make use of the on-board power, reset, OC mode and ECO mode buttons, but we had major issues getting overclocking to work with the included software, EZTune. It only allows a maximum speed of 4.7GHz, but even when we set this, the board stuck at 4.34GHz maximum during our stress tests. Once again it seems Turbo Boost Max 3.0 isn’t working correctly with this board yet, as it should at least hit 4.5GHz automatically. Speaking of which, we tried to reinstall the special TBM3.0 drivers on each and every board, but encountered the error message you can see in the photos. Yet checking the Task Manager, this service was running at all times.
Gigabyte often uses the Creative Sound Blaster chipset on its high-end products, so to see the stock ALC1220 codec was disappointing. However, it does still include Gigabyte’s ‘Amp-Up’ feature which allows the user to change the amp to their liking.
Networking is provided Killer’s dual Gigabit Ethernet Killers’ DoubleShot Pro ports, along with Killer’s AC 1535 802.11ac Wi-Fi. As for USB, the usual plethora of different options are provided. On the rear I/O port there’s a single USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C, along with four USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type A ports and another four USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A ports. Another eight USB ports are available via internal headers.
If you want Thunderbolt support, you’re going to have to pay extra for the optional Thunderbolt card, which has a dedicated internal connector. Given the excellent fan support on Z270 boards, the X299 seems to lack the same flexibility. For example, on this board, only one header supports a 3A water pump, while there are four basic system fan headers and twin water cooling pump headers of lower amperage.
Given the high price, we expected performance to be top notch, but as our benchmarks show, this board generally came in the last half of the pack. It even failed to complete the PCMark 8 home benchmark, despite us uninstalling and reinstalling the benchmark several times. We tried running this at least five times, but it would always hang on the first pass, an issue none of the other boards had. It was also around 40% slower in the minimum frame rate test in Tomb Raider than the MSI Carbon, a board that is $170 more affordable.
To be frank, we’re not sure why Gigabyte is charging so much for this motherboard. Compared to the likes of the ASRock, it’s missing many extra features, and performance is nothing to write home about. Considering the lack of extras, average performance and extremely high price, this is one of those rare occasions when Gigabyte swings and misses.