Motherboard Reviews

Aorus Xtreme Waterforce Motherboard Review

A Force to be Reckoned With!

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At CES 2017, Gigabyte officially launched their Aorus line up of motherboards, graphics cards, and peripherals to coincide with Intel’s 9th generation of Core Processors. This included the Aorus Xtreme Waterforce. The Aorus line up replaced their very popular G1-Gaming line and was previously designated for Gigabytes high-end laptop line up. With each generation since the Aorus line up has gotten progressively better. Not only do Aorus motherboards look amazing, but they use only high-end components such as MOSFETs, transistors, and capacitors. Top that with one of the best logos in the business, in my opinion, and Aorus motherboards are just all around great boards. However, when you ask people in forums and on social media who makes the best high-end motherboards, most people answer Asus. Well, with the Z390 line, Gigabyte intends to change this, and they may have done just that.

Gigabytes released their Z390 line up with the aim for any board in their Aorus line being able to hit 5.0 GHz on K Sku processors. To do this, they used the same high-end components across their entire line up. Whether it is on their Aorus Elite or their Aorus Master and Extreme, the components are the same. Sure, you’ll get more power phases, more M.2 slots, and other features as you go up the lineup. But one each and every Aorus motherboard in the Z390 lineup, you’ll get the same high-end MOSFETs, capacitors, transistors, and amazing build that Aorus is known for.

Now, we all know that the I9 9900k is a very hot running processor. So, to keep it cool, you need serious cooling. Especially if you intend to hit 5.0 GHz and beyond. Gigabyte knew this, and they covered all bases on the Z390 line up. Introducing the Z390 Aorus Extreme Waterforce Edition, Gigabytes flagship Z390 Aorus motherboard. This board is the definition of a “Flagship” motherboard. This board comes packed with every feature a motherboard can have. With a 16 Phase IR Digital VRM, Thunderbolt 3, Aquantia 10GbE LAN and an Aorus all-in-one custom Monoblock, the Z390 Extreme Waterforce is designed for extreme performance and overclocking. But, at a price of around $1,000 USD, is it worth the money? We ran the Z390 Extreme Waterforce through every test in our suite of benchmarks in an attempt to answer that very question. So, let’s see how the Z390 Extreme Waterforce did.

Specifications

  • CPU
    1. Support for 9th and 8th Generation Intel® Core™ i9 processors/Intel® Core™ i7 processors/Intel® Core™ i5 processors/Intel® Core™ i3 processors/Intel® Pentium® processors/Intel®Celeron® processors in the LGA1151 package
    2. L3 cache varies with CPU

(Please refer to “CPU Support List” for more information.)

  • Chipset
    1. Intel® Z390 Express Chipset
  • Memory
    1. 4 x DDR4 DIMM sockets supporting up to 128GB (32GB single DIMM capacity) of system memory**
      ** Please note that the support for system total memory size depends on the CPU installed.
    2. Dual channel memory architecture
    3. Support for DDR4 4400(O.C.) / 4333(O.C.) / 4266(O.C.) / 4133(O.C.) / 4000(O.C.) / 3866(O.C.) / 3800(O.C.) / 3733(O.C.) / 3666(O.C.) / 3600(O.C.) / 3466(O.C.) / 3400(O.C.) / 3333(O.C.) / 3300(O.C.) / 3200(O.C.) / 3000(O.C.) / 2800(O.C.) / 2666 / 2400 / 2133 MHz memory modules
    4. Support for ECC Un-buffered DIMM 1Rx8/2Rx8 memory modules (operate in non-ECC mode)
    5. Support for non-ECC Un-buffered DIMM 1Rx8/2Rx8/1Rx16 memory modules
    6. Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules

(Please refer “Memory Support List” for more information.)

  • Onboard Graphics

Integrated Graphics Processor+Intel® Thunderbolt™ 3 Controller:

    1. 2 x Intel® Thunderbolt™ 3 connectors (USB Type-C™ ports), supporting DisplayPort and Thunderbolt™ video outputs and a maximum resolution of 4096×2304@60 Hz
      * Because of the limited I/O resources of the PC architecture, the number of Thunderbolt™ devices that can be used is dependent on the number of the PCI Express devices being installed. (Refer to Chapter 1-7, “Back Panel Connectors,” for more information.)
      * Support for DisplayPort 1.2 version.

Integrated Graphics Processor-Intel® HD Graphics support:

    1. 1 x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096×2160@30 Hz
      * Support for HDMI 1.4 version and HDCP 2.2.

Maximum shared memory of 1 GB
Actual support may vary by CPU

  • Audio
    1. Realtek® ALC1220-VB codec
    2. ESS ES9018K2M DAC and TI OPA1622 operational amplifiers
      * The front panel line out jack supports DSD audio.
    3. High Definition Audio
    4. 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
    5. Support for S/PDIF Out
  • LAN
    1. 1 x Aquantia GbE LAN chip (10 Gbit/5 Gbit/2.5 Gbit/1000 Mbit/100 Mbit) (LAN1)
    2. 1 x Intel® GbE LAN PHY (10/100/1000 Mbit) (LAN2)
  • Wireless Communication module
    1. Intel® CNVi interface 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, supporting 2.4/5 GHz Dual-Band
    2. BLUETOOTH 5
    3. Support for 11ac 160 MHz wireless standard and up to 1.73 Gbps data rate
      * Actual data rate may vary depending on environment and equipment.
  • Expansion Slots
    1. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)
      * For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the PCIEX16 slot.
    2. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8)
      * The PCIEX8 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16 slot. When the PCIEX8 slot is populated, the PCIEX16 slot operates at up to x8 mode.
    3. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4)
      * The PCIEX4 slot shares bandwidth with the M2P connector. The PCIEX4 slot operates at up to x2 mode when a PCIe SSD is installed in the M2P connector.
      (All of the PCI Express x16 slots conform to PCI Express 3.0 standard.)
    4. 2 x PCI Express x1 slots
      (All of the PCI Express x1 slots conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
    5. 1 x M.2 Socket 1 connector for an Intel® CNVi wireless module only (CNVI)
  • Storage Interface

Chipset:

    1. 1 x M.2 connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 SATA and PCIe x4/x2 SSD support) (M2M)
    2. 1 x M.2 connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2260/2280/22110 SATA and PCIe x4/x2 SSD support) (M2A)
    3. 1 x M.2 connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2260/2280 PCIe x4/x2 SSD support) (M2P)
    4. 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
    5. Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
      * Refer to “1-10 Internal Connectors,” for the installation notices for the PCIEX4, M.2, and SATA connectors.

Intel® Optane™ Memory Ready

  • Multi-Graphics Technology
    1. Support for NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ and 2-Way NVIDIA® SLI™ technologies
    2. Support for AMD Quad-GPU CrossFire™ and 3-Way/2-Way AMD CrossFire™ technologies
  • USB

Chipset+Intel® Thunderbolt™ 3 Controller:

    1. 2 x USB Type-C™ ports on the back panel, with USB 3.1 Gen 2 support

Chipset:

    1. 1 x USB Type-C™ port with USB 3.1 Gen 2 support, available through the internal USB header
    2. 4 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A ports (red) on the back panel
    3. 4 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB header)

Chipset+2 USB 2.0 Hubs:

    1. 6 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 4 ports available through the internal USB headers)
  • Internal I/O Connectors
    1. 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
    2. 2 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connectors
    3. 1 x OC PEG power connector
    4. 1 x CPU fan header
    5. 1 x water cooling CPU fan header
    6. 1 x water cooling kit CPU LED header (LED_CPU)
    7. 1 x water cooling kit Chipset LED header (LED_PCH)
    8. 4 x system fan headers
    9. 2 x system fan/water cooling pump headers
    10. 2 x addressable LED strip headers
    11. 2 x addressable LED strip power select jumpers
    12. 2 x RGB LED strip headers
    13. 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
    14. 3 x M.2 Socket 3 connectors
    15. 1 x front panel header
    16. 1 x front panel audio header
    17. 1 x USB Type-C™ port, with USB 3.1 Gen 2 support
    18. 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 header
    19. 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
    20. 1 x Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header (2×6 pin, for the GC-TPM2.0_S module only)
    21. 1 x GC-OC Touch add-in card connector
    22. 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
    23. 2 x temperature sensor headers
    24. 1 x power button
    25. 1 x reset button
    26. 1 x Clear CMOS button
    27. 1 x OC button
    28. 2 x BIOS switches
  • Back Panel Connectors
    1. 2 x SMA antenna connectors (2T2R)
    2. 2 x Thunderbolt™ 3 connectors (USB Type-C™ ports, with USB 3.1 Gen 2 support)
    3. 4 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A ports (red)
    4. 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports
    5. 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
    6. 1 x HDMI port
    7. 2 x RJ-45 ports
    8. 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
    9. 5 x audio jacks
  • I/O Controller
    1. iTE® I/O Controller Chip
  • H/W Monitoring
    1. Voltage detection
    2. Temperature detection
    3. Fan speed detection
    4. Water cooling flow rate detection
    5. Overheating warning
    6. Fan fail warning
    7. Fan speed control
      * Whether the fan (pump) speed control function is supported will depend on the fan (pump) you install.
  • BIOS
    1. 2 x 128 Mbit flash
    2. Use of licensed AMI UEFI BIOS
    3. Support for DualBIOS™
    4. Support for Q-Flash Plus
      * The USB flash drive used must be a USB 2.0 flash drive.
    5. PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.7, WfM 2.0, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI 5.0
  • Unique Features
    1. Support for APP Center
      * Available applications in APP Center may vary by motherboard model. Supported functions of each application may also vary depending on motherboard specifications.
      3D OSD
      @BIOS
      AutoGreen
      Cloud Station
      EasyTune
      Easy RAID
      Fast Boot
      Game Boost
      Platform Power Management
      RGB Fusion
      Smart Backup
      Smart Keyboard
      Smart TimeLock
      Smart HUD
      Smart Survey
      System Information Viewer
      USB Blocker
      USB TurboCharger
      Smart Fan (for AORUS RGB FAN COMMANDER )
    2. Support for Q-Flash
    3. Support for Xpress Install
  • Bundled Software
    1. Norton® Internet Security (OEM version)
    2. cFosSpeed
    3. XSplit Gamecaster + Broadcaster (12 months license)
  • Operating System
    1. Support for Windows 10 64-bit
  • Form Factor
    1. E-ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 27.1cm

Z390 Chipset

Essentials

Supplemental Information

Memory Specifications

Processor Graphics

  • # of Displays Supported 3

I/O Specifications

Security & Reliability

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Paul Malfy

Paul started building computers in 1994. He studied journalism and computer science in college. Paul loves gaming but hardware is his true passion. News Writer and Product Reviewer.

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