We’ve unboxed the Gigabyte Z390 AORUS Master a while ago, so this article will serve as the part of our take on the performance test of the board. While it’s true that the Z390 chipset is tailored for the 9th gen Intel Core processors, but it has been confirmed that the previous 8th gen Intel Core processors will work just fine on the Z390 motherboards as well. This goes the same for the 9th gen Intel Core processors, it will work as well on an Intel Z370 chipset motherboard.

UEFI Interface

As we mentioned earlier, the Z390 AORUS Master can support both the 8th gen and 9th gen CPU without any issue. Just in case if you wonder, we’ve updated the BIOS from version F4 to F5 for our test. While it’s still not as good as what we hope it would be, it does look a lot better than before.

If you were to go through all the UEFI interface, it’s still pretty much the same as the older one, seriously. The only thing that is different is that you can now customize your own personalized menu by including the options you need from different pages of menu into one.

Software: RGB Fusion

Gigabyte Z390 AORUS Master RGB Fusion

Although we’re not exactly a big fan of RGB lighting, but here’s something that we thought is worth highlighting. The digital LED or addressable RGB are actually pretty good, aesthetic wise. If you look at the list of RGB modes available, it’s actually a lot more than what we’ve expected – and it looks pretty decent as well.

Test System Setup

For our games benchmark test, we’ve selected a number of AAA titles to run at its highest possible settings using the following setup under ambient temperature of 31°C:

CPU Intel Core i7 8700K @5GHz
Motherboard Gigabyte Z390 AORUS Master
Memory G.Skill TridentZ RGB 16GB @3200MHz
Graphics Card ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 2080 Ti AMP
Power Supply Enermax MaxTytan 1250W
Primary Storage Apacer Panther S340
Secondary Storage WD Black 6TB
CPU Cooler ID Cooling Zoomflow 240
Chassis Cooler Master Test Bench V1
Operating System Windows 10

The test is done across 3 different resolution – 1920×1080, 2560×1440, 3840×2160 with both DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 (if available) to see if we are actually getting any performance gain or the other way around.

Games Benchmark

From the test results above, the performance difference definitely exists, but it’s not too much though.

CPU Overclocking

For our overclocking test, we have both the Intel i7-8700K and i9-9900K tested on the Z390 AORUS Master using two different method – manual and system determined overclocking via Easy Tune.

Similar to what we’ve experienced with the Z370 AORUS Gaming 7, while the voltages assigned via Easy Tune appears to be higher than what the CPU actually needs, we’re able to achieve 5GHz on both the CPU with ease. Going above 5GHz isn’t really an issue, but it seems that our all-in-one liquid cooler will not be able to keep up with the heat output as soon as we hit the 5.3GHz mark on the i7-8700K.

The i9-9900K is on the other hand, is pretty much a heat spouting beast on 5GHz and we have to lower our clock speed to 4.8GHz because our all-in-one liquid cooler just can’t keep up with the heat output.

Other than the heat, we’ve also noticed some minor fluctuation on the vcore during stress test with large FFT via Prime95. Though, this can be reduced by adjusting the load line calibration (LLC) level in the BIOS settings, depending on your system. For our case, we adjusted our LLC to Turbo level to deal with the issue.

Memory Overclocking

Despite its decent performance in CPU overclocking, memory overclocking appears to be a tough one for the Z390 AORUS Master. Even when we’re using the G.Skill Trident Z RGB which we’re able to reach 4266MHz CL19 with, the highest memory clock we’re able to achieve is 3866MHz CL16 on the i7-8700K and 3733MHz CL16 on the i9-9900K.

We’ve also noticed a strange behavior of which the system will post with our 4000MHz CL20 timings, but the memory clock remains at 3866MHz.

Gigabyte Z390 AORUS Master (13)

Final Thoughts

If we were to compare it with the highest end Z370 AORUS Gaming lineup, the Z390 can easily sweep away the latter with the features it has. Even if you’re not into overclocking, the built-in WiFI and Bluetooth, improved VRM heatsink, Digital LED features, better onboard audio design, etc is more than enough to satisfy the needs of  most users nowadays.

Since it’s compatible with the 8th gen Intel Core processors, existing users don’t need to fork out an extra fund for the CPU if they plan to migrate to a Z390 motherboard. From our test result, CPU overclocking is pretty decent for both the 8th gen i7-8700K and 9th gen i9-9900K with the Z390 AORUS Master, but we recommend you to go for a custom liquid cooling setup if you plan to go beyond 5GHz on the CPU clock to keep the temperature at bay. The VRM temperature is pretty reasonable as well this time, as it only peaked at 52°C throughout all of our CPU stress test on 5GHz.

As for memory overclocking, being unable to go beyond 3866MHz with the Z390 AORUS Master is something we find to be rather unacceptable, especially when it’s marketed as one of the best in the enthusiasts lineup. Unlike CPU overclocking, memory overclocking is the one which we spend the most time doing throughout the test. It is unsure if it’ll get better with the next BIOS update, but we’ll keep an eye on it just in case. If memory overclocking isn’t really your focus, you shouldn’t face any issue with DDR4 memory kit that has rated speed under 3866MHz.

For the price, you can get the Z390 AORUS Gaming at the price of RM 1,299. Despite the somewhat lacking in memory overclocking, the price is still pretty reasonable and justifiable for all the features it has, especially for the built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, Gigabit Ethernet port. Though, it’ll be even better if the memory overclocking can be improved in the next BIOS update (hopefully).

Pros

  • Solid build quality
  • Good aesthetics
  • Good VRM heatsink design
  • Comes with Built-in WiFi, Bluetooth and Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Built-in rear I/O shield
  • Tons of Digital LED modes to play with

Cons

  • Memory overclocking is rather disappointing
  • Compatibility issue with some CPU coolers due to the metal back plate design

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