As its predecessor has now been recalled, the Gigabyte Z690I Aorus Ultra Plus is now the company’s flagship Z690 board for mini PCs. It gets off to a good start price-wise, costing nearly £ less than the Asus ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi and comes in both DDR4 and DDR5 flavors.
INTEL Z690 MOTHERBOARD
Gigabyte has gone for a double-stacked PCB and heatsink array for its M.2 SSDs, which is a far cry from the poor effort with its X570 sibling this month. The large heatsink on top directly connects with the M.2 SSD beneath, which benefits from an underside thermal pad, cooling both sides.
There’s a second M.2 port beneath this arrangement, although only the top side is cooled with a heatsink. It’s worth noting that neither port supports SATA-based M.2 SSDs, but our PCI-E 4 SSD was kept at 5TC under load, even cooler than the Asus ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi.
Chipset Intel Z690
CPU socket Intel LGA 1700
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Memory support 2 slots: max 64GB DDRS (up to 6400MHz)
Expansion slots One 16x PCI-E 5
Sound 8-channel Realtek ALC4080
Networking 1 x Intel 2.5 Gigabit LAN, 802.11ax WiFi
Cooling Four 4-pin fan headers, VRM heatsinks
Ports 2 x SATA 6Gbps, 2 x M.2 PCI-E 4, 3 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C, 4 x USB 3,2 x USB 2,1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C header, DisplayPort, HDMI, 1 x audio out
Dimensions (mm) 170×170
Look just above the 16x PCI-E 5 graphics slot. You’ll see that the top PCB in the aforementioned stack also sports a Reset button, 3-pin RGB header, and a small proprietary port for one of several 4-pin fan headers, with adaptors for these included in the box. This brings the total number of fan headers to four. Less impressive is the number of SATA 6Gbps ports, though, with Gigabyte cutting these to two, although, to be fair, it’s rare that there are more storage mounts in most mini-ITX cases anyway.
Sadly, there’s no Thunderbolt support, which is present on the Asus board. You get a super-fast USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C port on the I/O panel, though, and a Gen 2 Type-C header on the PCB, so it’s slightly more forward-thinking than its B660-based sibling. As you’d expect at this price, you also get 802.11ax WiFi and 2.5 Gigabit LAN.
However, the board has a slightly odd audio arrangement, with just a single output and input jacks on the rear l/O panel. Meanwhile, the front panel audio connector is tucked away under the I/O shroud and connects to your case’s cable using its own cable.
Meanwhile, the VRMs have 13 power phases, and the heatpipe-linked heatsinks kept them to a maximum temperature of 51″C with our Core i7-12700K under full load for ten minutes. Socket clearance was slightly better than average, and we managed to slot an NZXT Kraken Z53 pump section into the area, albeit using low-profile DDR5 memory. We’d suggest using a cooler with a smaller waterblock/pump unit, such as those from Corsair or EK.
Audio performance was good, if not spectacular, from the Realtek ALC4080 codec, with a dynamic range of 95dBA and noise level of -99dBA. It also managed to edge out the other two Intel boards on test in Far Cry 6’s 99th percentile frame rate, and both Cinebench tests, albeit not by much.
It might not have the lavish feature set of the Asus ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi, but the Gigabyte Z690I Aorus Ultra Plus packs a punch and will leave you with change from £. Just beware that it only has two SATA ports, lacks Thunderbolt, and has a slightly cramped CPU socket area.
As long as you know its limits, a well-featured sub-£ motherboard for Intel's latest CPUs.
- Four fan headers
- Excellent M.2 and VRM cooling
- Reasonable price
- No Thunderbolt support
- The cramped CPU socket area
- Only two SATA ports