November 26, 2022
United Kingdom
Motherboards Reviews

Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Elite AX Review – A Reasonably Priced DDR5 Board!

Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Elite AX Feature Image

Introduction

Intel’s new 13th-Gen CPUs are here, and so far the launch has been pretty successful. We’ve covered all of the new CPUs and a variety of motherboards and buyers guide comparisons on our website. 13th Gen CPUs were well worth the wait and it seems AMD will again face an uphill battle to take the crown from Intel next-time around,

A number of major manufacturers have supplied the market with updated and refreshed motherboard designs, based on the upgraded Z790 chipset. Today we’ll be taking a look at one of Gigabyte’s latest entries, the Z790 AORUS Elite AX. This DDR5 design offers a multitude of features, while giving consumers plenty of upgrade paths with the newer component interfaces.

Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Elite AX Whole Motherboard
Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Elite AX Rear IO Plate

Buy the Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Elite AX on:

Suggested Article: Intel Core i7 13700K Review – Intel’s Hidden Performance Gem

Z790 Motherboards – What Features Are Available?

The new Z790 chipset refreshes previous motherboard designs while offering updated and matured features that we have previously seen from Z690 boards on the 12th-Gen platform. Although many view Z790 at the top-end chipset, you’ll be glad to know that there are a variety of Z790 motherboards which we’ve covered in full in a roundup on our website.

Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Elite AX CPU Socket

Comparing Z790 and Z690 motherboards side by side you’ll notice that the overall differences aren’t staggering. This ultimately resides in the fact that the new 13th-Gen CPUs haven’t drastically changed in their architecture, over 12th Gen. The new motherboards improve upon the previous generation designs by giving consumers more access to the newer features such as PCI-E 5.0 and USB4 ports.

The newest PCI-E 5.0 interface is starting to become more common on cheaper motherboards, and over time we’ll see newer components utilise this new standard giving consumers access to more bandwidth and the capability to draw more power. Although it seems RDNA 3 graphics cards won’t be using the new standard, now might be a good time to look at upgrade paths for new SSDs and GPUs when they release.

We’re seeing a similar situation for DDR5 memory in terms of maturity. Although the higher latency kits do tend to hurt performance, we’re gradually seeing lower latency kits introduced into the market, along with higher supported clock speeds. I can’t realistically see many users running a stable system with a 7600MHz RAM speed, but the fact this is a possibility shows the gradual improvements to DDR5 memory. Now might not be the time to upgrade to DDR5 RAM, but that point in time isn’t too far off.

Chipset Differences

To provide some context on the kind of sacrifices you might make by choosing one chipset over another we’ve created a table that highlights the key differences between the Z790 AORUS Elite AX to the Z690 version. This way you’re able to see exactly what’s on offer so you can nail down which motherboard you’d rather choose!

FeaturesGigabyte Z790 AORUS Elite AXGigabyte Z690 AORUS Elite AX
CPU Overclocking SupportYesYes
VRM Power Phases16+1+216+1+2
DDR5 Overclocking Speed7600MHz6000MHz
PCI-E 5.0 Slots1x x16 PCI-E 5.0 Slot1x 16 PCI-E 5.0 Slot
PCI-E 4.0 Slots2 x16 PCI-E 4.0 Slots
4x x4 PCI-E 4.0 Slots
4x x4 PCI-E 4.0 Slots
USB Connections (Rear)1x USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C
2x USB 3.2 Gen2
3x USB 3.2 Gen1
1x USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C
2x USB 3.2 Gen2
3x USB 3.2 Gen1
USB Connections (Front)1x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C
2x USB 3.2 Gen1
1x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C
2x USB 3.2 Gen1
LAN Type2.5 Gigabit LAN2.5 Gigabit LAN
WiFi ModuleWiFi 6EWiFi 6E
Estimated MSRPCheck on AmazonCheck on Amazon

Differences Breakdown

From a brief glance, you’ll see that both of these motherboards are pretty much the same. Overall it seems the amount of features hasn’t changed too much, and ultimately this will be due to keeping costs down. The biggest change we’ve seen is the wider adoption of Gen4 slots. The previous generation utilised PCI-E 3.0 for some of the x16 slots, whereas the Z790 version only has Gen4 or Gen5 which is good to see.

The new Z790 board can also support overclocking up to 7600MHz which is an exceptionally high speed. Although your average consumer probably won’t need this, enthusiasts that can navigate the frustrations of optimised overclocking may be able to run a stable system at this speed. The new Z790 AORUS Elite AX hasn’t changed much by contrast to its previous Z690 iteration, but there’s definitely improvements here and there that make it a worthy purchase.

Design & Aesthetics

The AORUS Elite AX is a relatively simplistic motherboard that sports a large heatsink design with plenty of cooling on the VRMs. Much more of the PCB is exposed on this board and this is down to this motherboard being a cheaper product. The rear IO plate offers up a large heatsink which covers a 6mm heatpipe designed to move heat away as quick as possible from the CPU.

Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Elite AX Whole Motherboard

Otherwise this board is relatively barebones in terms of its look. You’ve got access to RGB towards the bottom of the board which can be customised with Gigabyte’s RGB Fusion software. The heatsinks add some more depth to the board, with the ridged metal design while keeping your SSDs and the board itself nice and cool.

Features

Although the Z790 AORUS Elite AX is a DDR5 compatible board, it is more positioned towards the budget/mid-range end of the market based on the price and performance. This is one of the cheapest DDR5 motherboards we’ve had the pleasure of taking a look at, and we’ve noted down all of the important features below:

DDR5 DIMMs

The AORUS Elite AX uses DDR5 memory and you can overclock your DIMMs to an astonishing 7600MHz. Those looking for a performance boost will want to make use of the high RAM overclocking capability of this board with new XMP 3.0 profiles.

Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Elite AX DIMM Slots

HiFi Audio

The WIMA and Fine Gold capacitors provide power to your audio ensuring a studio-quality experience. On the rear IO you’ll also be able to find a line out and mic in, along with S/PDIF providing plenty of options for speaker setups or surround sound systems.

Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Elite AX AMP Audio

Rear IO

The rear IO has a fair few options when it comes to high speed USBs. Your fastest USB port is a Type-C format USB 3.2 Gen2x2 rated up to 20GB/s. Networking is also great with options for high speed 2.5 Gigabit LAN, along with onboard WiFi 6E.

Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Elite AX Rear IO

PCI-E 5.0 Slot

The new standard for PCI-Express is starting to be seen in use for graphics card slots, M.2 SSDs, and for power consumption. As this new standard becomes widely adopted we’ll see more components use the interface drive more performance for gaming PCs. The AORUS Elite AX has a singular x16 slot compatible with the new PCI-E standard opening up your upgrade paths for the future.

Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Elite AX Heatsink

What’s In The Box?

Although this motherboard is definitely a cheaper option when compared to the rest of the market, Gigabyte has included a couple of extra accessories that will aid in the building experience while saving you some money on extra components for your system.

WiFi Antenna

Gigabyte AORUS X670 Elite AX WiFi Dongle
Gone are the days of using a NIC to connect to WiFi. The Z790 AORUS Elite AX has an onboard WiFi 6E module which allows you to connect to WiFi without any hassle using the included antenna.

Q-Connector

Gigabyte X670E AORUS Master Front Panel Q-Connector
Installing your JFP1 front panel connectors is a fiddly and frustrating experience. With the Q-Connector you can simply guide the wires into the labelled holes and install the Q-Connector with ease!

SATA Cables

Gigabyte X670E AORUS Master SATA Cables
If you’re using older storage devices that utilise the SATA interface, you can save yourself some money for extra cables by using the included ones found in the box.

Compatible CPUs

Intel Z790 motherboards support the entire range of 12th and 13th-Gen processors giving you access to a wide range of choices if you’re looking to build a PC for the first time or upgrade. However, despite there being plenty of options from a compatibility standpoint we’d recommend sticking to the Core i7 and Core i5 ranges with this board.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend DDR5 for Core i5 motherboards, but if you can find a lower latency kit for a reasonable price this motherboard will be a great pairing. The high memory overclocking support coupled with the cheaper design will make for a powerful build with an excellent price tag. Overclocking will be slightly limited based on having less VRMs, but you can still get a lighter overclock underway with some trial and error and a good CPU cooler.

CPU NameCompatibilityDo We Recommend?
Intel Core i9 13900K
Intel Core i9 13900KF
Intel Core i7 13700K
Intel Core i7 13700KF
Intel Core i5 13600K
Intel Core i5 13600KF
Intel Core i9 12900KS
Intel Core i9 12900K
Intel Core i7 12700K
Intel Core i5 12600K
Intel Core i5 12400F
Intel Core i3 12100F

Conclusion

Gigabyte Z790 AORUS Elite AX

Product Name: Z790 AORUS Elite AX

Brand: Gigabyte

  • Features
  • Design
  • Performance
  • Value For Money
4.1

Summary

Gigabyte’s Z790 AORUS Elite AX is one of the cheapest DDR5 motherboards we’ve ever looked at in the office. Despite sporting the much more expensive generation of RAM, Gigabyte has managed to keep costs down while still offering a competitive amount of features for consumers to sink their teeth into. You’ve got access to a PCI-E 5.0 ready GPU slot, set to handle the next generation of graphics cards, while offering plenty of Gen4 compatible M.2 slots for those looking to pick up some blazing fast storage. The design is somewhat more simplistic by reducing the amount of heatsinks seen on the board, but what it lacks in aesthetic, it makes up for in features. Overall I’m very happy with this board. Although DDR5 isn’t quite worth upgrading to as of yet, we’ll be seeing significant returns with motherboards like the AORUS Elite AX when DDR5 starts to provide a big performance boost in both gaming and workstation applications.

Pros

✅ Very cheap for DDR5.

✅ Supports PCI-E 5.0 for GPUs.

✅ Plenty of usability features.

Cons

❌ DDR5 tech is still expensive and hasn’t matured.

❌ Not that many high speed USB ports on the rear.

❌ Not much in the way of RGB.

editor
Jay joined Geeka Media in April of 2022, bringing with him a wealth of technical knowledge and a background in Computer Science. Jay is an avid gamer, keyboard-builder and tech wizz with years of PC-building passion under his belt.