AORUS Releases Z490 XTREME WATERFORCE Motherboard with 16 Phases Digital VRM + AIO Monoblock

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Image Credit: GIGABYTE

With the recent launch of the Z490 platform, we are once again seeing the latest offerings from motherboard manufacturers. GIGABYTE’s AORUS line has a rather unique board directly aimed at overclocking Intel’s newest processors. The AORUS Z490 XTREME WATERFORCE comes loaded with features for even the most demanding enthusiast.

Image Credit: GIGABYTE


  • Processor: Supports 10th Gen Intel® Core™, i9/i7/i5/i3 Series Processors
  • Form Factor: EATX
  • Memory: Dual Channel Non-ECC Unbuffered DDR4, up to 128 GB 4 DIMMs, for i9/i7 processors up to DDR4 3200/3000/2933/2666/2400/2133 MHz, for i5/3 processors up to DDR4 2666/2400/2133 MHz & XTREME MEMORY with SMT DIMM and Shielded Memory Routing
  • Power: 16 Phases Digital VRM Solution with 90A Smart Power Stage and Tantalum Polymer Capacitors Array, 8 Layer PCB, PCIe 4.0 Ready Low Loss PCB, 2X Copper PCB
  • Thermal Reactive Armor with Fins-Array II Heatsink, Direct Touch Heatpipe II and NanoCarbon Baseplate
  • USB: Intel® Thunderbolt™ 3 controller with 2 x USB Type-C™ ports on the back panel, with USB 3.2 Gen 2 support, 1 x USB Type-C™ port with USB 3.2 Gen 2 support, available through the internal USB header, 4 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports (red) on the back panel,4 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB header), 6 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 4 ports available through the internal USB headers with the included front USB header extension cable)
  • Storage: Intel® Optane™ Memory Ready, 1 x M.2 connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2280/22110 SATA and PCIe x4/x2 SSD support)(M2A_CPU), 1 x M.2 connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2280/22110 SATA and PCIe x4/x2 SSD support)(M2M_PCH), 1 x M.2 connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 PCIe x4/x2 SSD support) (M2P_PCH), 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors, Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
  • LAN: AQUANTIA® 10GbE BASE-T LAN and Intel® 2.5GbE LAN with cFosSpeed
  • WiFi: Onboard Intel® WiFi 6 802.11ax 2T2R & BT 5 with 2X AORUS Antenna
  • Audio: 127dB SNR AMP-UP Audio with High-End ESS SABRE 9018K2M DAC, LME 49720 and OPA1622 OP-AMP, WIMA Audio Capacitors, & Exclusive ESSential USB DAC,
  • Bluetooth: BT 5.0
  • PCIe: Triple Ultra-Fast NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 with Thermal Guards II
  • USB TurboCharger for Mobile Device Fast Charge Support
  • RGB FUSION 2.0 with Multi-Zone Addressable LED Light Show Design, Support Addressable LED & RGB LED Strips
  • Smart Fan 5 Features Multiple Temperature Sensors , Hybrid Fan Headers with FAN STOP and Noise Detection
  • Q-Flash Plus Update BIOS without Installing the CPU, Memory and Graphics Card

This flagship motherboard does come with a premium price tag. The cost of all that extra cooling, not to mention trying to cram virtually every possible feature into it, adds roughly $500 to the standard Z490 AORUS XTREME MSRP. This brings it up to a whopping $1299. Another interesting feature it has added is the exclusive ESSential USB DAC. This solution is provided via ESS 9018K2M SABRE DAC.

Peter Brosdahl
As a child of the 70’s I was part of the many who became enthralled by the video arcade invasion of the 1980’s. Saving money from various odd jobs I purchased my first computer from a friend of my dad, a used Atari 400, around 1982. Eventually it would end up being a lifelong passion of upgrading and modifying equipment that, of course, led into a career in IT support.

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