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 Intel 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 Intel Core Processors, but Z590 introduces 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 2×2 from the chipset. The USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 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. The AORUS motherboard range features a consistent naming scheme that includes the Pro, Elite, Ultra, Master, and Extreme motherboards.
The Gigabyte Z590I AORUS Ultra features a robust VRM utilizing 90 A power stages, along with Q-Flash for a redundant safety net for ambitious overclocking. Along with the standard Z590 updates, the Gigabyte Z590I AORUS Ultra has also added two additional Vcore power stages, which takes the total from 8 to 10. The Gigabyte Z590I AORUS Ultra also offers a full-coverage aluminium backplate for added rigidity and additional VRM cooling. Let’s see how the Gigabyte Z590I AORUS Ultra stacks up against its predecessor!
|CPU Support:||Intel 10th Gen or later processors|
|Power Design:|| CPU Power: 11-phase* |
Memory Power: 2-phase
|Integrated Graphics:||Dependent on installed CPU|
|Memory:||2x DIMM, supports dual-channel DDR4-4600 (OC) MHz|
|BIOS:||AMI UEFI BIOS|
|Expansion Slots:||1x PCIe 3.0 x16 slot|
|Storage:|| 4x SATA 6 Gb/s ports |
2x M.2 ports (SATA3/PCIe x4)
|Networking:||1x Intel 2.5 Gb/s LAN|
1x Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200
|Rear Ports:||1x DisplayPort|
1x HDMI port
1x USB Type-C® port, with USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 support
3x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports (red)
2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports
2x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
1x Q-Flash Plus button
1x RJ-45 port
2x SMA antenna connectors
3x audio jacks
|Audio:||1x Realtek ALC1220 Codec|
|Fan Headers:||4x 4-pin|
|Form Factor:||ITX Form Factor: 6.7 x 6.7 in.; 17.0 x 17.0 cm|
Testing for this review was conducted using a 10th Gen Intel Core i9-10900K. Stay tuned for an 11th Gen update when the new processors launch!