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deciding on a z390 mobo

having a hard time deciding on a mobo for a new 9900k build

i narrowed down my list to just 2 high end motherboards: asus maximus xi hero and gigabyte aorus master

the asus one seems to have a much worse VRM design (in comparison) but other than that i think it has much better features (asus software, onboard connections, asus bios)

im planning on overcloking to at least 5.0ghz on all cores , maybe 5.1ghz if i can (memory is a 3200mhz 14cl kit so i'm not as worried) so i don't want to get a board that won't handle it as well as it should

if anyone  has any opinions on what board is better , or if anyone knows of testing done to see just how good/bad each of the VRM solutions are i would be glad to get feedback

 

 

 

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You can learn a BIOS, but you can't fix a VRM

- Buildzoid

CPU: i7-2600K 4751MHz 1.44V (software) --> 1.47V at the back of the socket Motherboard: Asrock Z77 Extreme4 (BCLK: 103.3MHz) CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D15 RAM: Adata XPG 2x8GB DDR3 (XMP: 2133MHz 10-11-11-30 CR2, custom: 2203MHz 10-11-10-26 CR1 tRFC:230 tREFI:14000) GPU: Asus GTX 1070 Dual (Super Jetstream vbios, +70(2025-2088MHz)/+400(8.8Gbps)) SSD: Samsung 840 Pro 256GB (main boot drive), Transcend SSD370 128GB PSU: Seasonic X-660 80+ Gold Case: Antec P110 Silent, 5 intakes 1 exhaust Monitor: AOC G2460PF 1080p 144Hz (150Hz max w/ DP, 121Hz max w/ HDMI) TN panel Keyboard: Logitech G610 Orion (Cherry MX Blue) with SteelSeries Apex M260 keycaps Mouse: BenQ Zowie FK1

 

Model: HP Omen 17 17-an110ca CPU: i7-8750H (0.125V core & cache, 50mV SA undervolt) GPU: GTX 1060 6GB Mobile (+80/+450, 1650MHz~1750MHz 0.78V~0.85V) RAM: 8+8GB DDR4-2400 18-17-17-39 2T Storage: 1TB HP EX920 PCIe x4 M.2 SSD + 1TB Seagate 7200RPM 2.5" HDD (ST1000LM049-2GH172), 128GB Toshiba PCIe x2 M.2 SSD (KBG30ZMV128G) gone cooking externally Monitor: 1080p 126Hz IPS G-sync

 

Desktop benching:

Cinebench R15 Single thread:168 Multi-thread: 833 

SuperPi (v1.5 from Techpowerup, PI value output) 16K: 0.100s 1M: 8.255s 32M: 7m 45.93s

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Quote

 In terms of "stability" or VRM capability to overclock a 9900K to its limits, I've not seen any measurable difference between ASP1400 + 8xSiC639 and ASP1405 + 10xIR3555. More real world testing on the different solutions is really needed before jumping to any conclusions.
- Elmor (Recently Retired Asus Employee) https://www.overclock.net/forum/6-intel-motherboards/1638955-z370-z390-vrm-discussion-thread-296.html#post27701316

2

That said I think it's important to realise that the z370 boards, that is the Maximus X Hero/Formula/Code, use the same VRM as the Z390 versions and have been clocking with tightly controlled vcores just fine albeit for a 6core cpu vs the 8core 9900K. While the VRM is objectively running hotter on the z390 Hero vs its similarly priced competitors there isn't enough evidence to suggest that it has impacted overclocking stability.

 

The implication with a subpar VRM outside of extremely overclocking is its ability to achieve a stable clock with a lower voltage however there hasn't been enough tests done to validate this specific point. Current rhetoric is around what it may imply and as mentioned previously the higher VRM temps which in all honesty can run at 150 C before throttling. 

 

If you are talking value for money in the context of just the VRM design then yes the Asus boards in question are definitely at the bottom of the ladder. If you consider the misleading marketing then yes Asus deserves all and any flack it gets. It is wholly unacceptable. 

 

All that said in your case I would look at what features matter to you most because while Asus's VRM design may not be worth what it is charging, as you mentioned their BIOS is better. In addition, their AURA sync tech is arguably the best of the four major vendors, they tend to have good memory compatibility out of the box and a good track record of maintaining bios updates.

 

While you can't fix a VRM that only matters if the VRM needs fixing. I'm not saying it doesn't but current evidence only points to the VRM's reduced comparative efficiency and the resulting implied effect on overclocking, not necessarily its real-world impact on overclocking. This is not helped by the silicon lottery that is the 9900K with some not capable of simple stable overclocks to 5.0 regardless of VRM design (Tech YES City). 

 

At the end of the day what we need is more testing, so if you are in a position to wait I would give it a week or two to see how this plays out. 

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The Gigabyte is good option, but their problem is their bios are not as good as asus. A Alternative is the Asrock Z390 Taichi or Extreme, great motherboards and have great bios.
Probably even cheaper :)

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Gamer's Nexus has a VRM breakdown for the ASUS board.  Check it out. It's Builzoid doing the review.  As usual.  

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8 hours ago, nick name said:

Gamer's Nexus has a VRM breakdown for the ASUS board.  Check it out. It's Builzoid doing the review.  As usual.  

+1 on the Gigabyte. Have the Z390 ultra, slightly different vrm no backplate from the master. Very happy, 9900k overclocked well. After bios update, actually think it's pretty good. 

 

Asus this go around seems to have misleading info on their vrm liked you mentioned. I do find their AI overclocking cool.

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13 hours ago, antimatterdynamite said:

having a hard time deciding on a mobo for a new 9900k build

i narrowed down my list to just 2 high end motherboards: asus maximus xi hero and gigabyte aorus master

the asus one seems to have a much worse VRM design (in comparison) but other than that i think it has much better features (asus software, onboard connections, asus bios)

im planning on overcloking to at least 5.0ghz on all cores , maybe 5.1ghz if i can (memory is a 3200mhz 14cl kit so i'm not as worried) so i don't want to get a board that won't handle it as well as it should

if anyone  has any opinions on what board is better , or if anyone knows of testing done to see just how good/bad each of the VRM solutions are i would be glad to get feedback

 

 

 

I have the same ram kit and processor for my build, but I bought z390 e gaming board from asus. I mostly just play games, but I would like to consider getting better board as well. Are the gigabyte boards really that much worse in terms of the bios? I mean, is the performance on par or better than the Xi board? (Looking for a place to sell my z390-e board (unopened- cheap.)) Also, I mean what's the differences between the bios's? 

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I remember GN covering how the new overhauled BIOS for Gigabyte boards can be frustrating. Personally I would go in the middle with MSI since their features are very competitive with Asus but with better VRM design, though still not as good as Gigabyte.

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My initial whittling down of boards came down to the exact same two boards, and then I introduced the Gigabyte Aorus Pro into the mix for reasons I'll explain. I'm still torn. I like ASUS mid-to-high end boards. I've had good luck with them, and their BIOS and software is well-regarded by people who build more machines than I do. My default was the Maximus XI Hero but I was already looking to see if there was a better price-to-performance/features option - I wasn't "settled" even before this new wrinkle.

 

I don't know much about VRMs, but my limited understanding tells me that the 4-phase on the Maximus XI will run hotter, and possibly overclock worse. Not really sure how much the extra large spikes causes by fewer actual phases will really be a problem. I am inclined to punish Asus a bit for deceptiveness about this cost-cutting move, but I don't want to suffer needlessly to do so and I have to consider the value of an easier-to-use BIOS. Also, I'm planning now to use an i7-9700k and not the 9900 so that might take some pressure off, too. I'm unlikely to really try to push my overclocks that hard. If you assume I can get a decent overclock on the Asus board (and so far nothing I've seen objectively shows you can't), then I don't know how big a deal this is.... more heat which means more cooling demand and I'm noise sensitive, but... how much more?

 

When I was comparing the Maximus Hero vs. Aorus Master, in my mind it came out to mostly a wash. I was no longer HAPPY with the Maximus XI Hero plan, but the reality is it is still probably "good enough" for my purposes.  However, then I noticed that the Aorus Pro uses the same VRM setup as the Master, and it's a LOT cheaper at $180 (it's like $10 off right now on NewEgg). It doesn't seem to give up too much compared to the Master that I really care about, and now it becomes a comparison between a board with better VRMs AND $100 cheaper but maybe with a less rich BIOS. That's now closer to tipping me over the edge. Maybe it's time to stop being scared of a less polished BIOS, accept that Gigabyte too might have a BIOS that is "good enough" and keep an extra $200 ($100/board x2) in my pocket?

 

For the Pro vs the Master, at first I was put off my loss of USB 3.1 gen2 on the USB-C port, since gen2 was a big point of the Z390 boards over the Z370, but when I started really thinking about it... The Pro has a USB-C port too so it's really just that it only runs 5GB vs the 10GB of gen2. I don't really have a USB use case that is likely to challenge the throughput of USB 3.1 gen 1 by that much... I think the biggest sustained USB throughput use I have is using SATA 6GB SSDs in drive enclosures.... so technically those would get a little faster with gen 2, but AFAIK a lot of the potential there will get bottlenecked by SATA III (6GB) regardless... so the Pro looks like a pretty strong value proposition vs the Master as far as I can tell.

 

OP: Did you look at the Aorus Pro? If so, what kept you looking at the Master instead?

 

Anyone else want to comment on the BIOS differences? I'm still in "read, learn, analyze" mode aka choice paralysis. Probably stuck there until Black Friday sales force me to make a choice in one direction or another. :)

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to be honest i wouldn't really mind using the pro but there is just enough extra junk in the master that makes it better than the pro for me, like the rgb, better dac and wifi support (and can even see myself eventually populating 3 m.2 slots) even though these are not that important to me im still basically maxing out on this build so getting the extra features is just a nice to have, and since im not willing to go up to an eatx that's pretty much the ceiling 

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I hear that on the extras... I'm still torn on this call. In addition to supporting 1 more total M.2 drive, the way they share bandwidth the Master allows for 1 extra PCIe M.2 drive without blocking SATA ports. Two of the three M.2 slots don't block SATA ports on the Master when using PCIe M.2 drives. With 2 PCIe M.2 drives, the Master caps at 8 drives total but the Pro would be limited to 6. (The Pro can get 7, but only if you use 1 M.2 drive.) Since I might reasonably expect to use both M.2 drive slots someday, still plan to use an optical drive (I know, I know) AND a single big-capacity HDD, that's 4 drives total right there, leaving me with only 2 open SATA ports on the PRO vs 4 on the Master. That starts to feel a little lighter on flexibility than I want, which is helping push me back towards the Master (or the Asus Maximus Hero XI, back to the software vs. VRM decision point.)

 

NOTE: If you are picking either of these boards note that the "M2M" slot that blocks 2 SATA ports is in a different position on the two boards.

 

PRO:
TOP (M2A) blocks neither (when PCIe)
MID (M2M) blocks 2 (either mode)

 

MASTER:
TOP (M2M) blocks 2 (either mode)
MID (M2A) blocks neither (PCIe, blocks 1 if SATA)
BOT (M2P) blocks neither (when PCIe, which is only option in this slot)

 

The Master's M2P is sharing lanes with the bottom PCIex4 slot. The manual doesn't state if the other two share from some of the other PCIe slots but I think they would.

 

The master supports a quickcharge port on the front-panel connector. That's nice and I use that for my phone, but... not sure I'd use the front-panel of my PC for that due to location of the PC. I did find a deal on the version of the case that I want that actually has the 3.1 gen 2 front panel header, making that gen.2 USB-C more valuable. I also really like backplate on the master which adds some rigidity and also cools the backside of the vrms (for real - thermal pads and all - not just cosmetic...) Though I don't know that I'd OC enough for any of that to matter.

 

Argh. I'm leaning back away from the Pro a bit. which means I'm back to considering the Gigabyte vs Asus decision all over again. Maybe November sales will sweeten one decision vs. the other...

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