Since our target audience is gamers and enthusiasts, the bulk of the Intel 600 series motherboards that arrive for evaluation ends up being Z690 series platforms. I sent a message to GIGABYTE to see if we could get their newest B660 platform sent over for review as we started to close up our coverage of Alder Lake.
In order to appeal to a wider audience, the GIGABYTE B660 AORUS Master, which sits at the top of the B660 motherboard stack, offers both DDR5 and DDR4 options. For our review, we chose the DDR4 variant because it is more practical for customers to assemble a gaming PC on a tight budget.
The B660 Master’s hardware is not dissimilar to those of its Z690 cousins. It has three PCIe express slots, with the top x16 slot running at Gen4 and the other two at Gen3 x4 and x1, respectively. One m.2 slot for storage is located above the top PCIe slot, coming off the CPU. To the left of the chipset heat sink, there are two more Gen4 and Gen3 m.2 slots. SATA connectivity has four 6Gbps ports.
When we previously examined the Z690 Aorus Master, we discovered that the upper-midrange board had reliable power delivery and a large number of M.2 connections for the newest storage. Today, we’ll take a look at the B660 Aorus Master, which has a chipset that forbids CPU overclocking and is located a little lower on the product stack. The B660 edition of the Aorus Master, which ranges in price from $190 to $210 depending on where you find it, is a good option in terms of functionality and also comes well-equipped.
The GIGABYTE B660 AORUS Master has practically all of the features you’d anticipate from a B660 board. Three M.2 ports, competent 16-phase 60A power delivery, a flagship audio codec from the most recent generation, integrated Intel Wi-Fi 6, and 2.5 GbE are all present. Some people might not find Gigabyte’s usage of a black and gray heatsink mix very appealing. Despite this, the board still has a nice appearance thanks to the heatsinks and shrouds that cover the majority of it.
The B660 Aorus Master’s tested performance was comparable to that of other DDR4 modules. It performed quite well in the Procyon suite but lagged behind competitors in the video and photo editing section. While power consumption was often better than most, gaming performance was comparable to the others. As usual, it would be difficult to identify any performance deficiencies absent their appearance in a benchmark result.
GIGABYTE B660 AORUS Master overall look & specs
The Master and the rest of the 600 series family have a similar style. The rear I/O cover and chipset heat sink both have RGB, and all boards have a gunmetal heat sink layout covering the VRMs, chipset, and m.2 slots.
Four USB 2.0 ports are located at the top of the rear I/O, followed by the Wi-Fi antenna. The display outputs and USB 3.2 Gen2 are shown in red after that. At the bottom, there are audio and 2.5Gbe ports that are off to the side. The blue ports are Gen1 USB 3.2 connections functioning at 5Gbps.
On this platform, just next to the front panel audio connection, we have WIMA audio caps. As we proceed down the board, a couple RGB ports and the USB 2.0 headers join. Four SATA connections and two Thunderbolt headers for an AIC are located nearby. Fans and the 24-pin are situated below a Gen1 and Gen2 USB 3.2 header. We have RGB and fan hookups across the top.
With fewer overclocking options, the BIOS interface is same to that of the Z690 Xtreme and Master. Starting in simple mode, you will see all CPU and RAM statistics along the top, including frequency and temperature. The mounted disks and fan controls are shown to the right during the boot phase. You can adjust voltages and other CPU and memory parameters in advanced mode. In the IO Ports menu, AORUS offers extra choices, such as the ability to disable IGP and set up LAN controls, Thunderbolt, and storage.
We’ll examine the Aorus Master’s features, software, and performance in more detail below to see how it compares to the competition and whether we should include it on our list of the best motherboards. Here is a comprehensive list of the GIGABYTE B660 AORUS Master specifications, straight from Gigabyte.
|18 Phase (16 55A SPS MOSFETs for Vcore)
|(1) HDMI (v2.1)(1) DisplayPort (v1.2)
|(1) USB v3.2 Gen 2×2, Type-C (20 Gbps)(5) USB v3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)(4) USB v2.0 (480 Mbps)
|(1) 2.5 GbE
|(5) Analog + SPDIF
|(2) v4.0 (x16, x4)
|(1) v3.0 (x1)
|Supports AMD Quad and 2-Way Crossfire
|(2) DDR4 5333+(OC), 128GB Capacity
|(2) PCIe 4.0 x4 (64 Gbps), PCIe (up to 110mm)(1) PCIe 3.0 x4 (32 Gbps), PCIe (up to 110mm)
|(4) SATA3 6 Gbps (Supports RAID 0/1/5/10)
|(1) USB v3.2 Gen 2, Type-C (10 Gbps)(1) USB v3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)(2) USB v2.0 (480 Mbps)
|(8) 4-Pin (CPU, Water Cooling CPU, System)
|(2) aRGB (3-pin)(2) RGB (4-pin)
|4-LED Debug (CPU/Boot/VGA/RAM)
|Reset and QFlash buttons
|Intel I225-V (2.5 Gbps)
|Wi-Fi / Bluetooth
|Intel AX201 Wi-Fi 6 (2×2 ax, MU-MIMO, 2.4/5/6 GHz, 160 MHz, BT 5.2)
|HD Audio Codec
Final thoughts on GIGABYTE B660 AORUS Master
GIGABYTE B660 AORUS Master is an economical entrance to Intel’s Alder Lake platform that’s well-equipped for the price. It costs $209.99 (though it’s sometimes seen for sale at approximately $190). The board has a strong audio section, three M.2 connections, 10 USB ports, including a 20 Gbps Type-C port on the rear IO, and an overall attractive design. There is no need to worry about performance because it was about average for DDR4 boards. Overall, it’s a good motherboard at a fair price.
There aren’t many suggestions for improvements or grievances. The three M.2 connections should be sufficient for the majority of storage needs, although none of them support SATA-based modules. The four available SATA ports, compared to many possibilities in this class that have six, maybe another drawback. Aside from that, the board still has a nice overall appearance, albeit some users may not like the contrast between the heatsinks.
The Gigabyte Aorus Master is an effective board in the B660 price range in the end. It costs the same as the MSI if you can purchase the board during the deal. If anything, the fact that the heatsinks cover a larger portion of the board gives the Gigabyte board a more upscale and refined appearance makes me prefer it to the Tomahawk.
However, if you don’t like the clashing colors, the MSI would be a better option for the same price. The GIGABYTE B660 AORUS Master DDR4 is a fantastic alternative for approximately $200 if B660 is your preferred platform and you want a reliable motherboard that checks off all the anticipated boxes.
Is GIGABYTE B660 AORUS Master good?
This year, we have examined two or three B660 systems, and the Master results from today demonstrate exactly how effective this chipset can be. In the worst case, it’s perhaps 2% slower than Z690 with DDR5, and in other situations, such as daily life and gaming, you wouldn’t even notice that this is a B660 chipset.
On the Master, features are also fairly well-extended. This board is loaded with connection from AORUS, including all three generations on the rear I/O as well as internal connectors for Thunderbolt and USB 3.2. Moreover, it features a great Intel network stack and passable audio.
The absence of PCIe Gen5 would be the sole significant drawback, if you want to call it that. But, because no devices are adopting the technology as of this writing, the issue is now irrelevant.
There aren’t many suggestions for improvements or grievances. Although none of the three M.2 ports support SATA-based modules, they should be suitable for the majority of storage demands. The four accessible SATA ports, compared to many possibilities in this class that offer six, may be another drawback. Apart from that, the board still has a nice overall appearance, albeit some users may not like the contrast between the heatsinks.
Yet, there is very fierce rivalry in this market. At $229.99, Asus offers the ROG Strix B660-A, for $189.99, MSI offers the MAG B660 Tomahawk WIFI DDR4, and for $159.99, ASRock offers the B660 Steel Legend. If you require extra native SATA ports, the ASRock and MSI have you covered with six.
The Asus, while being substantially more expensive, is the only device that supports the most recent Realtek ALC4080 codec if you’re seeking for the greatest audio. Except for the ASRock, which lacks Wi-Fi, all of the boards have a 2.5 GbE and Wi-Fi (Wi-Fi 6). They can each accommodate three M.2 sockets. For the majority of users, it will essentially come down to cost and appearance.
The GIGABYTE B660 AORUS Master is an effective board in the B660 price range in the end. If you buy the board during the offer, it costs the same as the MSI. If anything, the fact that the heatsinks cover a larger portion of the board gives the Gigabyte board a more upscale and refined appearance makes me prefer it over the Tomahawk.
But, if you don’t like the clashing colors, the MSI would be a better option for the same price. The GIGABYTE B660 AORUS Master is a fantastic alternative for approximately $200 if B660 is your preferred platform and you want a reliable motherboard that checks off all the anticipated boxes.
Is GIGABYTE B660 AORUS Master good for gaming?
We’ve updated our game testing as of the Z690 chipset’s release. Far Cry: New Dawn has been upgraded to Far Cry 6, and F1 2020 has been replaced with F1 2021. The games are played at 1920 x 1080 resolution using the Ultra setting. The influence of the CPU tends to decrease as the resolution increases. The vast majority of differences between boards in these tests should be within the margin of error. In order to improve gameplay and immersion, we’ve also set a minimum FPS number.
One of the quicker scores came from the B660 Aorus Master DDR4 at F1 2021, averaging 165 frames per second with minimums of 140. Similar frame rates—a minimum of 125 fps and an average of 137 fps—were used in Far Cry 6. Here, both outcomes are a little better than usual.
The GIGABYTE B660 AORUS Master performed significantly below average in the 3DMark tests, receiving scores of 14,173 on 3DMark Time Spy and 16,912 on Fire Strike Extreme. Our real game testing yielded positive results, despite the synthetic game benchmarks running a little bit slower than usual. On this motherboard, gaming won’t cause you any stress.
The most thorough SSD gaming test ever created is UL’s most recent 3DMark SSD Gaming Test. As it is considerably more constant as a trace than the differences that will happen between runs on the real game itself, we believe it to be better to testing against games themselves. In actuality, executing this test simulates playing the game, but without the inconsistent nature of application testing.
In summary, we think that this is the most accurate technique in the world to evaluate an SSD’s gaming performance and assess how it stacks up against other SSDs.
Which slots does GIGABYTE B660 AORUS Master have?
The GIGABYTE B660 AORUS Master resembles many of its more costly (and overclockable) Z690 siblings overall. Heatsinks in black and gray are used to cover all the hot components, replacing the 6-layer matte black PCB. The motherboard’s left side is dominated by a large, black VRM heatsink that contains Aorus logo and has RGB LED backlighting. Under the board, in the top-right corner, lies the second RGB region. The M.2, chipset, and top VRM heatsinks are gray with grooves carved for additional surface area and aesthetic appeal. The Aorus falcon is also on the chipset heatsink.
We appreciate the aesthetic overall. Although there are alternative boards available that cover a larger portion of the PCB, we must keep in mind that this board is budget-focused. Even so, if you don’t mind the heatsinks’ contrasting hue, it will look nice lighted up within your case.
The massive VRM heatsink, which extends over the IO region and occupies the top left corner of the GIGABYTE B660 AORUS Master, gives the device a tidy appearance. The Aorus logo is shown on top, illuminated up with RGB LEDs from below. To increase the surface area, grooves were carved out. Above the heatsink are two EPS connections, one 8-pin (needed) and 4-pin, to power the processor. The second VRM heatsink, which is to the right, is gray this time, which contrasts with the black PCB and other VRM heatsink.
At the top right corner, there are two 4-pin fan headers (CPU FAN and CPU OPT) and two RGB headers. There are eight fan headers in total, which should be plenty to regulate the cooling in your chassis. They are dispersed across the board. Each header is compatible with devices that are DC- and PWM-controlled.
As each supports up to 2A/24W, you’ll have more than enough power for all of your fans and a water cooling pump. Three-pin and four-pin RGB headers are located next to the fan headers, while the other two light headers are located along the bottom border of the board. The board’s RGB environment is managed by the RGB Fusion program from Gigabyte.
Can you overclock with GIGABYTE B660 AORUS Master?
In B660-based chipsets, the CPU cannot be overclocked, although the platform does support memory speed customization. We just configured XMP with our DDR4-3600 and DDR4-4000 kits, and we were good to go. There is undoubtedly some headroom remaining, but I would guess that individuals trying to purchase a budget-class board aren’t going to purchase costly RAM that is well beyond the sweet spot (DDR4 3600-4000).
How much power does GIGABYTE B660 AORUS Master use?
In order to test for power usage, we utilized AIDA64’s System Stability Test with Stress CPU, FPU, and Cache enabled. The Kill-A-Watt meter is used to obtain the wattage reading from the wall in order to measure the complete Computer, except the display. All other components are the same; the motherboard is the only variance.
The GIGABYTE B660 AORUS Master consumed 43W at idle, which is among the most effective figures we’ve observed. The highest load power consumption was 342W, which is a little more than usual. It will be challenging to notice this on your power bill compared to other boards, despite the fact that the peak load wattage here was higher than many others.
GIGABYTE B660 AORUS Master