By the time you are reading this review the Intel Z490 chipset and Comet Lake line of processors will have been on the market for five months. In that time we have seen everything from high-end motherboards, fully watercooled designs, lackluster and yet amazing overclocking performance and a shortage of RTX 30 Series GPUs. Combine that with the “situation” dominating 2020 and you have a recipe that goes a little something like this.
- Products are released and made available for purchase
- Products sell out because the supply chain algorithm dictates that only X amount of products should be in any given warehouse.
- The “Situation” makes it difficult to ship new products creating a worldwide shortage
- Consumers and Reviewers battle to acquire products that aren’t available
- Delays ensue
Despite the delays there are still plenty of good products out there and the Z490 Aorus Master does not disappoint.
I mentioned early in this review that this motherboard has some weight to it. That isn’t a new thing for Gigabyte and speaks favorably on the build quality of their products. The 2oz copper PCB has always been one of the strongest in the industry resisting distortion and ideally increases the overall lifespan of the motherboard. The VRM and chipset heatsinks are oversized to provide enhanced cooling. Each of the three M.2 slots feature a full aluminum heatsink to ensure the drives stay cool when in operation. Finally the full coverage backplate not only adds to the overall style of the motherboard but fully reinforces the PCB. All great features that work extremely well together giving the look and feel of a quality product.
Overall performance is what you would expect from a Z490 motherboard, it ran flawless from the start and not once failed to boot even during many of my failed overclocking attempts. (Yes even professional overclockers have overclocking failures) . The benchmarks were on par with similar systems and operated without generating a ton of excess heat.
For me I enjoy a bit of overclocking and like how Aorus included some old school overclocking features such as voltage test points and benchtop buttons for power and reset. Unfortunately there are no LN2 friendly buttons which leaves UEFI and software controls for any overclocking adventure. The overall design doesn't lend itself well to LN2 or SubZero cooling but does have plenty of room available for DIY and AIO watercoolers.
When it comes to the complete package I am rather impressed with the Z490 Aorus Master. The design is solid, plenty of cooling features, lots of heatsinks in the proper location which also provide some decorative covering for the “ugly” PCI that modern system builders seem to hate.
I do wish there were additional RGB lighting profiles in the software and a more dynamic auto overclocking feature that reacted more to the hardware and cooling methods instead of preset configurations.
Good Onboard RGB Options
Black and Silver Color Scheme
Great UEFI Menus
Custom Audio System
Some Overclocking Support
Full M.2 Heatsinks
Could use better RGB software
Only three expansion slots