GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Tachyon Review: Built for SPEED

One of the most unique models on the Z590 chipset is the GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Tachyon. While it functions as a ‘relatively’ normal day-to-day motherboard, the main focus is on extreme overlcoking. Building on the design of its previous XOC models, which are part of its long lineage of performance-inspired designs, the Tachyon has just two memory slots that have been designed to shorten the distance between the memory and the CPU for improved latency and overall performance. The PCIe slots are also designed to allow for massive GPU coolers as well as ancilliary power connections for graphics benchmarking. Other features include an extensive toolkit for overclockers, plenty of premium controllers such as 2.5 Gb Ethernet, Wi-Fi 6E, and a premium onboard audio solution. Aiming to offer a solution that extreme overclockers can push Rocket Lake to its breaking point, as well as plenty for less aggressive enthusiasts, the GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Tachyon looks to take Z590 to the next level.

Getting the most out of Intel’s Rocket Lake silicon requires a solid platform with multiple aspects, and there are quite a lot of premium Z590 models capable of pushing the limits of both the memory and CPU. One of the more specific models aimed purely at squeezing as much performance from Rocket Lake is the GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Tachyon. Designed for overclockers, particularly extreme overclocks wanting to go sub-zero, the Z590 Aorus Tachyon has one of the most interesting designs with an extended ATX sized frame but with just two memory slots.

GIGABYTE has adapted the memory slots to get closer to the CPU socket, reduce latency, and allow for high-speed memory overclocks. GIGABYTE has DDR4-5333 memory from both Kingston and TeamGroup on its approved compatibility lists. Still, GIGABYTE’s own legendary overclocker Hicookie has already achieved DDR4-6623 with the Tachyon with the help of liquid nitrogen (known in the business as LN2), which is very impressive and a testament to GIGABYTE’s engineering capabilities.

Aside from the memory slot layout, other notable design aspects of the Tachyon is the PCIe slot placement. Here GIGABYTE has gone for an elongated layout, allowing extreme overclockers enough room at the top for the CPU cooling, or for two graphics cards for large copper liquid nitrogen cooler pots, or graphics cards with modified power delivery. Here’s an example of GIGABYTE’s extreme overclocker HiCookie getting the board ready for breaking world records.

At the top is the copper pot for pouring in liquid nitrogen, while the board is protected from moisture due to the cryogenic cooling. Underneath the towelling, the motherboard is often additionally prepared with protective moisure coating, such as liquid eletrical tape or artists eraser. As seen in the picture above, the board also includes a right-angled 24-pin power connector, making cable management easier.

The CPU socket area is physically almost flat and clear of any extraneous capacitors that might come off when removing some of the moisture protection, as traditional motherboards can sometimes have that issue. The near flat and clear design helps mounting copper pots for sub-zero overclockers, with bare sockets much easier to insulate to prevent condensation from forming on the electronic components and circuitry.

Focusing more on the power front, the GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Tachyon uses a 12-phase design with a direct design. It uses high-quality 100 A power stages, with Tantalum Polymer capacitors, further enhancing the specifications and adding certain design characteristics associated with extreme overclockers. The overall design is all-black, with a single RGB LED strip separating the chipset heatsink from the PCIe slot armor and M.2 heatsinks. 

Looking at the conventional features of the board, two full-length PCIe slots are operating at PCIe x16 and x8/x8, with two full-length PCIe 3.0 slots that are electronically locked down to x4 and x1, respectively. For storage, GIGABYTE includes one PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2, two PCIe 3.0 x4, and SATA M.2 slots, with eight SATA ports. Six of these are from the chipset and support RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays, while the other two are running from an ASMedia SATA controller. Networking is handled by a pair of Intel controllers, including 2.5 gigabit Ethernet and the latest Wi-Fi 6E CNVi, as well as plenty of premium connectivity, including USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, HDMI 2.0, and a premium onboard HD audio codec.

In our performance testing, the Z590 Aorus Tachyon displayed strong and efficient power consumption performance, with equally competitive performance in our POST time testing. In our computation performance, the majority was either leading or highly competitive, except in our WinRAR benchmark, which was still decent, but not to the level of other boards on test. But the question is if it overclocks any good. We don’t do sub-zero overclocking here at AnandTech often, so we want to see if this board offers something to casual users as well.


The GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Tachyon undergoing VRM thermal testing

We managed to overclock our Core i9-11900K to 5.3 GHz stable on all cores, which is the highest overclock we’ve achieved with our testbed processor since we began testing Z590. In our manual testing, we saw good levels of CPU VCore under-compensation, which means the Tachyon is using less CPU VCore than it needs at full-load, despite setting higher variables in the firmware. This had a positive effect on both CPU core temperature and power consumption, which shows the efficiency of the power delivery and the board’s design. Our thermal testing on the power delivery confirmed our finding, with temperatures ranging from 64ºC to 77ºC across the integrated thermal sensor and our pair of K-type thermocouples. A lot of the heat from the power delivery is, however, being dumped into the power plane, which means it is hotter than the actual componentry of the power delivery itself.

As the GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Tachyon represents a tiny handful of overclocking focused boards, there’s not much competition. It isn’t easy to track down at regular retailers like Amazon or Newegg at the time of writing, although we found it at B&H for $530 on pre-order. Other overclocking-focused models include the ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Apex ($599), with ASRock’s Z590 OC Formula also another to consider, although it also isn’t available at retail yet. It would be difficult and somewhat unfair to compare the Z590 Aorus Tachyon directly to most other Z590 models, given its overclocking-based feature set. Still, it does have plenty of conventional usability with 2.5 GbE, Wi-Fi 6E, and decent rear panel connectivity.

Read on for our extended analysis.

The GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Tachyon is designed primarily for overclockers looking to push Rocket Lake processors on extreme cooling methods such as liquid nitrogen (LN2) and dry ice (DICE). This includes a clutter-free LGA1200 socket for easy mounting of LN2 pots, with a very simplistic all-black design which includes a single strip of customizable RGB LEDs on the chipset heatsink. The rear panel cover doubles up as a power delivery heatsink, while GIGABYTE is using diagonal lines which resemble the letter S across the M.2 heatsinks, across the chipset heatsink, and includes the fins on the power delivery heatsink.

The Tachyon has four full-length PCIe slots set in two banks of two. This type of array is designed for extreme overclockers looking to push graphics cards, with single slot spacing for video card benchmarking in extreme cooling situations such as LN2 and DICE. The top two full-length PCIe slots operate at PCIe 4.0 x16 and PCIe 4.0 x8/x8, while the bottom two slots are electronically locked to PCIe 3.0 x4 and x1, respectively. Located above the PCIe 4.0 slots is one PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slot, which two PCIe 3.0 x4/SATA M.2 slots located in the center of the PCIe slot area. 

Looking at onboard connectivity across various areas of the Tachyon, there are a USB 3.2 G2 Type-C header, one USB 3.2 G2 Type-A port, one USB 3.2 G1 Type-A header (two ports), and two USB 2.0 headers (four ports). For cooling, there’s a total of eight 4-pin headers, including one CPU fan header, one water cooling pump header, four designated for chassis fans, and two for either chassis fans or water pumps. 

Other storage options include eight SATA ports, six of which are driven by the chipset and include support for RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays. The six chipset-driven SATA ports are located in the bottom right-hand corner of the board with right-angled connectors. In comparison, the other two SATA ports are located further up and are powered by an ASMedia ASM1061 SATA controller. Designed to make cable management easier, GIGABYTE uses a right-angled 24-pin 12 V ATX motherboard power connector.

Focusing on memory support, the Z590 Aorus Tachyon has just two memory slots, despite being a larger E-ATX board. GIGABYTE has done this intentionally with a lot of design choices implemented designed to improve overall memory performance. The Tachyon officially supports up to DDR4-5333, but this is likely to be pushed much higher with highly overclockable memory, as such as GIGABYTE’s in-house extreme overclocker Hicookie has achieved by pushing DDR4-6624 under liquid nitrogen cooling. Some of the design implementations include closer memory slots to the CPU socket, which should reduce memory latency and shielded memory routing to prevent external electrical interference.

GIGABYTE includes an extensive toolkit designed for extreme cooling situations, with plenty of dip switches and buttons for overclockers to use. Included are a power button, a reset button, a cold reset button, a clear CMOS button, a LIMP mode switch, and an OC trigger switch. There’s also a pair of buttons that allow users to adjust the CPU frequency ratio in real-time. The dip switches provide various functionality, all of which are designed for LN2 cooling, and includes an SB switch, a BIOS switch to allow users to switch between the dual BIOS chips on the board, an enhanced LN2 mode switch, an LN2 mode switch, and an OC profile switch. One of the switches is marked as reserved, with the possibility that a new OC function may be enabled by GIGABYTE at a further time. GIGABYTE also includes voltage measurement points, including VCCCST, CPU VCore, VCCVTT, and VPLL_OC voltages.

Flanking the LGA1200 CPU socket, GIGABYTE uses a Tantalum Polymer Capacitor Matrix. This allows extreme overclockers better access to mount a liquid nitrogen pot due to the flat design of the capacitors. These types of designs also make CPU socket insulation easier as there are fewer gaps to fill with materials such as eraser putty, nail varnish, and vaseline.

The GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Tachyon uses a direct 11-phase power delivery for the CPU, which is controlled by an Intersil ISL69269 PWM controller operating at 11+0. GIGABYTE uses highly premium componentry, which includes eleven Vishay SiC840 100A DrMOS power stages, with a maximum power output of 1100 A for the CPU. Each power stage includes a single Ferrite Choke, with routing through the Tantalum Polymer capacitor array for a better transient response and better power efficiency. For the SoC element, GIGABYTE uses a second PWM controller, notable the Renesas RAA229001, which controls a single Vishay SiC840 100 A power stage. Providing power to the power delivery is a pair of 12 V ATX CPU power inputs.

Cooling the power delivery is a large two-part heatsink that forms a solid connection between the heatsink elements. A large and single heat pipe runs through the large and weighty heatsink, while the top section of the heatsink includes large and channeled fins to promote airflow for better heat dissipation. As the above image shows, the imprint on the thermal pads is deep, which shows a solid and snug connection between the heatsink and the power delivery.

Looking at the onboard audio solution, GIGABYTE is using a Realtek ALC1220-VB HD audio codec. This is assisted by six gold Nichicon Japanese audio capacitors, with an array of four premium WIMA red audio capacitors. There is a front panel HD audio header, while the audio PCB is separate from the rest of the board’s componentry by a thin line of PCB separation.

On the rear panel is one USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, three USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, and four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A ports. At the far left are two buttons, one OC Ignition and one Q-Flash Plus button, with separate PS/2 ports for legacy keyboard and mice. There’s an Intel I225-V 2.5 GbE controller on the networking front, with Intel’s AX210 Wi-Fi 6E CNVi providing both wireless and BT 5.2 connectivity. For users looking to utilize Intel’s UHD integrated graphics, GIGABYTE includes a single HDMI 2.0 video output. Finishing off the rear panel are five 3.5 mm audio jacks and a single S/PDIF optical output powered by a Realtek ALC1220-VB HD audio codec, which also includes support for DTS:X Ultra high definition audio.

What’s in The Box

The most notable accessories bundled with the Z590 Aorus Tachyon include four premium braided SATA cables, a user manual, a G-Connector, a rear I/O shield, an Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E antenna, and three M.2 installation screws. For extreme overclockers, GIGABYTE also includes two thermistor cables and a 2-pin speaker cable.

  • User manual
  • Installation guide
  • Aorus sticker sheet
  • 4 x Black braided SATA cables
  • G-Connector
  • Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E Antenna
  • Rear I/O shield
  • 3 x M.2 installation screws
  • 2 x Thermistor cables
  • RGB extension cable
  • 2-pin Speaker cable

The GIGABYTE UEFI firmware has remained consistent throughout the previous generations on both Intel and AMD models. Looking at the design, GIGABYTE is using a primarily black background with orange accents, white text and fits in with its Aorus gaming theme. The Z590 Aorus Tachyon BIOS has two primary modes, Easy Mode and Advanced Mode.

Entering the firmware upon system POST and pressing the F2 key will bring users into the Easy Mode area of the firmware. The Easy Mode is designed for users without much experience in customization options in the firmware. Also, it provides a lot of useful information and access to functional areas of the BIOS. In the top left-hand corner is a basic list of information which includes the model (Tachyon), the firmware version, the installed processor, and the total capacity of the memory installed. Below is an option for users to enable X.M.P 2.0 memory profiles. On the right-hand side is a list of hotkey indicators, including a help menu that can be accessed by pressing the F1 key, the Smart Fan 6 utility, which can be accessed by pressing the F6 key, while pressing the F2 key allows users to enter the Advanced Mode.

Entering the advanced mode, which can be done by pressing the F2 key when in the firmware, allows access to all of the board’s overclocking, chipset, power, and security options. The Tweaker section hosts the Tachyon’s extensive overclocking features, including options for adjusting the CPU frequency, Cache frequency, integrated graphics frequency, and all of the relevant voltage settings. For memory, GIGABYTE includes extensive memory overclocking options, including ratio adjustment and latency options, as well as Intel’s new Gear Mode, which allows the integrated memory controller to operate at half the speed of memory in a 2:1 or 1:1 ratio, which should theoretically allow for more aggressive frequency overclocks. There’s also a section within the Advanced CPU Sections sub menu for adjusting the loadline calibration profile for more aggressive or slacker VDroop control.

Gallery: GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Tachyon BIOS Gallery

Given the obvious overclocking infused pedigree of the Z590 Aorus Tachyon, GIGABYTE provides an easy and intuitive firmware that is also responsive. The functionality of both the Easy and Advanced modes allows users of all experience levels access to key functions such as the Smart Fan 6 utility and flashing the firmware through the BIOS.

GIGABYTE includes a wide variety of software and utilities with the Z590 Aorus Tachyon, which all focus around the Aorus App Center, which acts as a centralized hub for all of GIGABYTE’s installed software, Windows related settings, and also third party software. Some of the most notable applications include the EasyTune software, the RGB Fusion 2.0 software for customizing the aesthetic of the board, and the System Information Viewer (SIV) utility.

Perhaps the most interesting and intuitive piece of software in the bundle is the Aorus EasyTune software. This allows users to perform overclocks to both the CPU and memory within Windows. There are options for adjusting the CPU frequency ratio, base clock frequency (BLCK), and various voltages, including CPU VCore, CPU VCCSA, and VCCIO. The EasyTune software also allows users to overclock the memory, including memory frequency and primary latency timings. Users can alter power settings such as CPU VCore current protection values, the CPU VCore load-line calibration profile, CPU VCore protection, and CPU VAXG protection.

Gallery: GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Tachyon Software Gallery

Other useful software applications include the RGB Fusion 2.0 utility, which allows users to customize the strip of integrated RGB LEDs on the Tachyon, and the four RGB headers located around the board’s edge. The System Information Viewer or SIV application provides an informative list of installed hardware. Also, it allows users access to the Smart Fan 6 utility, where users can customize fan profiles depending on the levels of cooling performance required. 

The software package supplied with the GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Tachyon omits any audio software, although users can download the Realtek Control Center from the Microsoft store. 

The GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Tachyon is an E-ATX motherboard designed primarily for enthusiasts and extreme overclockers, with plenty of functionality for regular users such as gamers and content creators. Included in the feature set are four full-length PCIe slots, with two operating at PCIe 4.0 x16 and x8x/8, and two at PCIe 3.0 x4 and x1 respectively (top to bottom). For storage, the Tachyon has three M.2 slots, one PCIe 4.0 x4, and two PCIe 3.0 x4/SATA, with eight SATA ports in total. Six of the SATA ports are controlled by the chipset with support for RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10, while the other two are driven by an ASMedia ASM1061 SATA controller. The Z590 Aorus Tachyon has two memory slots, despite being a larger E-ATX board, which is purposely designed to enhance the overall memory performance, including latency and frequency overclocking. Both slots officially support up to DDR4-5333, with capacities up to 64 GB in total. Users looking to use extensive cooling options can do so through eight 4-pin headers. These headers are split into one for a CPU fan, one for a water cooling CPU fan/pump, four for chassis fans, and two that can either be used for water pumps or chassis fans.

GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Tachyon E-ATX Motherboard
Warranty Period 3 Years
Product Page Link
Price $530
Size E-ATX
CPU Interface LGA1200
Chipset Intel Z590
Memory Slots (DDR4) Two DDR4
Supporting 64 GB
Dual-Channel
Up to DDR4-5333
Video Outputs 1 x HDMI 2.0
Network Connectivity Intel I225-V 2.5 GbE
Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E
Onboard Audio Realtek ALC1220-VB
PCIe Slots for Graphics (from CPU) 2 x PCIe 4.0 (x16, x8/x8)
PCIe Slots for Other (from PCH) 1 x PCIe 3.0 x4
1 x PCIe 3.0 x1
Onboard SATA Six, RAID 0/1/5/10 (Z590)
Two (ASMedia)
Onboard M.2 1 x PCIe 4.0 x4
2 x PCIe 3.0 x4/SATA
Thunderbolt 4 (40 Gbps) N/A
USB 3.2 (20 Gbps) 1 x USB Type-C (Rear panel)
USB 3.2 (10 Gbps) 4 x USB Type-A (Rear panel)
1 x USB Type-C (One header)
USB 3.1 (5 Gbps) 4 x USB Type-A (Rear panel)
2 x USB Type-A (One header)
USB 2.0 4 x USB Type-A (Two headers)
Power Connectors 1 x 24-pin Motherboard
2 x 8-pin CPU
Fan Headers 1 x 4-pin CPU
1 x 4-pin Water Pump/chassis
4 x 4-pin Chassis
2 x 4-pin Chassis/Water pump
IO Panel 2 x Antenna Ports (Intel AX210)
1 x HDMI 2.0 output
1 x USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C
3 x USB 3.2 G2 Type-A
4 x USB 3.2 G1 Type-A
1 x RJ45 (Intel)
1 x Q-Flash BIOS Flashback button
1 x OC Ignition button
1 x PS/2 Keyboard port
1 x PS/2 Mouse port
5 x 3.5 mm audio jacks (Realtek)
1 x S/PDIF Optical output (Realtek)

Despite the Tachyon being focused on performance for extreme overclockers, it does include a varied selection of connections on the rear panel. Using features new to Z590, the Tachyon includes one USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C port, which is useful for content creators. Other connections include three USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, one HDMI 2.0 video output, one PS/2 keyboard, and one PS/2 mouse port. Onboard audio is handled by a Realtek ALC1220-VB HD audio codec which includes five 3.5 mm audio jacks, a S/PDIF optical output, and a front panel header. Focusing on networking, GIGABYTE includes an Intel I225-V 2.5 GbE controller, as well as an Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E CNVi which also allows for the connectivity of BT 5.2 devices. 

Test Bed

With some of the nuances with Intel’s Rocket Lake processors, our policy is to see if the system gives an automatic option to increase the power limits of the processor. If it does, we select the liquid cooling option. If it does not, we do not change the defaults. Adaptive Boost Technology is disabled by default.

Test Setup
Processor Intel Core i9-11900K, 125 W, $374
8 Cores, 16 Threads 3.5 GHz (5.3 GHz Turbo)
Motherboard GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Tachyon (BIOS F5d)
Cooling Corsair iCue H150i Elite Capellix 360 mm AIO
Power Supply Corsair HX850 80Plus Platinum 850 W
Memory G.Skill TridentZ DDR4-3200 CL 14-14-14-34 2T (2 x 8 GB)
Video Card MSI GTX 1080 (1178/1279 Boost)
Hard Drive Crucial MX300 1TB
Case Corsair Crystal 680X
Operating System Windows 10 Pro 64-bit: Build 20H2

We must also thank the following:

Hardware Providers for CPU and Motherboard Reviews
Sapphire RX 460 Nitro MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X OC Crucial MX200 +
MX500 SSDs
Corsair AX860i +
AX1200i PSUs
G.Skill RipjawsV,
SniperX, FlareX
Crucial Ballistix
DDR4
Silverstone
Coolers
Noctua
Coolers

Not all motherboards are created equal. On the face of it, they should all perform the same and differ only in the functionality they provide – however, this is not the case. The obvious pointers are power consumption, POST time and latency. This can come down to the manufacturing process and prowess, so these are tested.

For Z590 we are running using Windows 10 64-bit with the 20H2 update.

Power Consumption

Power consumption was tested on the system while in a single MSI GTX 1080 Gaming configuration with a wall meter connected to the power supply. Our power supply has ~75% efficiency > 50W, and 90%+ efficiency at 250W, suitable for both idle and multi-GPU loading. This method of power reading allows us to compare the power management of the UEFI and the board to supply components with power under load, and includes typical PSU losses due to efficiency. These are the real-world values that consumers may expect from a typical system (minus the monitor) using this motherboard.

While this method for power measurement may not be ideal, and you feel these numbers are not representative due to the high wattage power supply being used (we use the same PSU to remain consistent over a series of reviews, and the fact that some boards on our testbed get tested with three or four high powered GPUs), the important point to take away is the relationship between the numbers. These boards are all under the same conditions, and thus the differences between them should be easy to spot.

Power: Long Idle (w/ GTX 1080)Power: OS Idle (w/ GTX 1080)Power: Prime95 Blend (w/ GTX 1080)

Non-UEFI POST Time

Different motherboards have different POST sequences before an operating system is initialized. A lot of this is dependent on the board itself, and POST boot time is determined by the controllers on board (and the sequence of how those extras are organized). As part of our testing, we look at the POST Boot Time using a stopwatch. This is the time from pressing the ON button on the computer to when Windows starts loading. (We discount Windows loading as it is highly variable given Windows-specific features.)

Non UEFI POST Time

DPC Latency

Deferred Procedure Call latency is a way in which Windows handles interrupt servicing. In order to wait for a processor to acknowledge the request, the system will queue all interrupt requests by priority. Critical interrupts will be handled as soon as possible, whereas lesser priority requests such as audio will be further down the line. If the audio device requires data, it will have to wait until the request is processed before the buffer is filled.

If the device drivers of higher priority components in a system are poorly implemented, this can cause delays in request scheduling and process time. This can lead to an empty audio buffer and characteristic audible pauses, pops and clicks. The DPC latency checker measures how much time is taken processing DPCs from driver invocation. The lower the value will result in better audio transfer at smaller buffer sizes. Results are measured in microseconds.

Deferred Procedure Call Latency

For our motherboard reviews, we use our short form testing method. These tests usually focus on if a motherboard is using MultiCore Turbo (the feature used to have maximum turbo on at all times, giving a frequency advantage), or if there are slight gains to be had from tweaking the firmware. We put the memory settings at the CPU manufacturers suggested frequency, making it very easy to see which motherboards have MCT enabled by default.

For Z590 we are running using Windows 10 64-bit with the 20H2 update.

Rendering – Blender 2.79b: 3D Creation Suite

A high profile rendering tool, Blender is open-source allowing for massive amounts of configurability, and is used by a number of high-profile animation studios worldwide. The organization recently released a Blender benchmark package, a couple of weeks after we had narrowed our Blender test for our new suite, however their test can take over an hour. For our results, we run one of the sub-tests in that suite through the command line – a standard ‘bmw27’ scene in CPU only mode, and measure the time to complete the render.

Blender 2.79b bmw27_cpu Benchmark

Rendering – POV-Ray 3.7.1: Ray Tracing

The Persistence of Vision Ray Tracer, or POV-Ray, is a freeware package for as the name suggests, ray tracing. It is a pure renderer, rather than modeling software, but the latest beta version contains a handy benchmark for stressing all processing threads on a platform. We have been using this test in motherboard reviews to test memory stability at various CPU speeds to good effect – if it passes the test, the IMC in the CPU is stable for a given CPU speed. As a CPU test, it runs for approximately 1-2 minutes on high-end platforms.

POV-Ray 3.7.1 Benchmark

Rendering – Crysis CPU Render

One of the most oft used memes in computer gaming is ‘Can It Run Crysis?’. The original 2007 game, built in the Crytek engine by Crytek, was heralded as a computationally complex title for the hardware at the time and several years after, suggesting that a user needed graphics hardware from the future in order to run it. Fast forward over a decade, and the game runs fairly easily on modern GPUs, but we can also apply the same concept to pure CPU rendering – can the CPU render Crysis? Since 64 core processors entered the market, one can dream. We built a benchmark to see whether the hardware can.

For this test, we’re running Crysis’ own GPU benchmark, but in CPU render mode. This is a 2000 frame test, which we run over a series of resolutions from 800×600 up to 1920×1080. For simplicity, we provide the 1080p test here.​

Crysis CPU Render: 1920x1080

Rendering – Cinebench R23: link

Maxon’s real-world and cross-platform Cinebench test suite has been a staple in benchmarking and rendering performance for many years. Its latest installment is the R23 version, which is based on its latest 23 code which uses updated compilers. It acts as a real-world system benchmark that incorporates common tasks and rendering workloads as opposed to less diverse benchmarks which only take measurements based on certain CPU functions. Cinebench R23 can also measure both single-threaded and multi-threaded performance.

Cinebench R23 CPU: Single ThreadCinebench R23 CPU: Multi Thread

Compression – WinRAR 5.90: link

Our WinRAR test from 2013 is updated to the latest version of WinRAR at the start of 2014. We compress a set of 2867 files across 320 folders totaling 1.52 GB in size – 95% of these files are small typical website files, and the rest (90% of the size) are small 30-second 720p videos.

WinRAR 5.90

3DPMv2.1 – 3D Movement Algorithm Test: link

3DPM is a self-penned benchmark, taking basic 3D movement algorithms used in Brownian Motion simulations and testing them for speed. High floating point performance, MHz, and IPC win in the single thread version, whereas the multithread version has to handle the threads and loves more cores. For a brief explanation of the platform agnostic coding behind this benchmark, see my forum post here.

3D Particle Movement v2.1

NAMD 2.13 (ApoA1): Molecular Dynamics

One frequent request over the years has been for some form of molecular dynamics simulation. Molecular dynamics forms the basis of a lot of computational biology and chemistry when modeling specific molecules, enabling researchers to find low energy configurations or potential active binding sites, especially when looking at larger proteins. We’re using the NAMD software here, or Nanoscale Molecular Dynamics, often cited for its parallel efficiency. Unfortunately the version we’re using is limited to 64 threads on Windows, but we can still use it to analyze our processors. We’re simulating the ApoA1 protein for 10 minutes, and reporting back the ‘nanoseconds per day’ that our processor can simulate. Molecular dynamics is so complex that yes, you can spend a day simply calculating a nanosecond of molecular movement.

NAMD 2.31 Molecular Dynamics (ApoA1)

For Z590 we are running using Windows 10 64-bit with the 20H2 update.

Civilization 6

Originally penned by Sid Meier and his team, the Civilization series of turn-based strategy games are a cult classic, and many an excuse for an all-nighter trying to get Gandhi to declare war on you due to an integer underflow. Truth be told I never actually played the first version, but I have played every edition from the second to the sixth, including the fourth as voiced by the late Leonard Nimoy, and it a game that is easy to pick up, but hard to master.

Benchmarking Civilization has always been somewhat of an oxymoron – for a turn based strategy game, the frame rate is not necessarily the important thing here and even in the right mood, something as low as 5 frames per second can be enough. With Civilization 6 however, Firaxis went hardcore on visual fidelity, trying to pull you into the game. As a result, Civilization can taxing on graphics and CPUs as we crank up the details, especially in DirectX 12.

GTX 1080: Civilization VI, Average FPSGTX 1080: Civilization VI, 95th Percentile

Shadow of the Tomb Raider (DX12)

The latest installment of the Tomb Raider franchise does less rising and lurks more in the shadows with Shadow of the Tomb Raider. As expected this action-adventure follows Lara Croft which is the main protagonist of the franchise as she muscles through the Mesoamerican and South American regions looking to stop a Mayan apocalyptic she herself unleashed. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the direct sequel to the previous Rise of the Tomb Raider and was developed by Eidos Montreal and Crystal Dynamics and was published by Square Enix which hit shelves across multiple platforms in September 2018. This title effectively closes the Lara Croft Origins story and has received critical acclaims upon its release.

The integrated Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark is similar to that of the previous game Rise of the Tomb Raider, which we have used in our previous benchmarking suite. The newer Shadow of the Tomb Raider uses DirectX 11 and 12, with this particular title being touted as having one of the best implementations of DirectX 12 of any game released so far.

GTX 1080: Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Average FPSGTX 1080: Shadow of the Tomb Raider, 95th Percentile

Strange Brigade (DX12)

Strange Brigade is based in 1903’s Egypt and follows a story which is very similar to that of the Mummy film franchise. This particular third-person shooter is developed by Rebellion Developments which is more widely known for games such as the Sniper Elite and Alien vs Predator series. The game follows the hunt for Seteki the Witch Queen who has arisen once again and the only ‘troop’ who can ultimately stop her. Gameplay is cooperative-centric with a wide variety of different levels and many puzzles which need solving by the British colonial Secret Service agents sent to put an end to her reign of barbaric and brutality.

The game supports both the DirectX 12 and Vulkan APIs and houses its own built-in benchmark which offers various options up for customization including textures, anti-aliasing, reflections, draw distance and even allows users to enable or disable motion blur, ambient occlusion and tessellation among others. AMD has boasted previously that Strange Brigade is part of its Vulkan API implementation offering scalability for AMD multi-graphics card configurations. For our testing, we use the DirectX 12 benchmark.

GTX 1080: Strange Brigade DX12, Average FPSGTX 1080: Strange Brigade DX12, 95th Percentile

Experience with the GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Tachyon

Over the last couple of years, both Intel and AMD have been having a competitive war of cores, core frequency, and IPC performance. Both companies are trying to eke out as much from the manufacturing as possible, not only by aggressive binning and testing, but also including mechanisms on the chips that allow the sold product to ride closer and closer to the maximum, leaving no room for overclocking. This war of attrition regarding processors has largely been beneficial to users and consumers, with the last few years providing some of the best value in high core count desktop processors for years. Other avenues where both Intel and AMD have been competing is in its interpretations of turbo and boost, with Intel employing some of the most aggressive methods with its Thermal Velocity Boost (TVB), and more recently with Rocket Lake, its new Adaptive Boost Technology (ABT) on its 11th Gen Core i9 K and KF processors.

This leaves little room for manually overclocking the processor. Not only that, but the latest designs are also pushing the boundaries on both thermals and power consumption right out of the box. For Intel and its Z590 platform, it allows users to overclock all of the physical CPU cores, both synchronized and individually, which should allow more overclocking freedom. However with even more CPU VCore voltage being used, which is required to push CPU frequencies to higher levels, the high thermals mean users will require premium cooling such as large AIOs, or custom water cooling loops. Another issue to consider is the high power draw when overclocking Rocket Lake, which means users also need to make sure there’s adequate headroom available from the power supply.

As we’ve stated throughout our review, the GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Tachyon is designed for extreme overclocking, and as such, both the hardware and the firmware are geared towards this. Most of the refinements for overclocking are hardware-related, with a dedicated section of PCB set aside for an extensive overclocker’s toolkit. Focusing on the firmware, the Tachyon has a typical Aorus themed firmware, with plenty of options for overclocking, which can be found within the Tweaker section. 

Users can overclock the CPU, memory, base clock (BLCK), and the integrated Intel UHD graphics in the Tweaker section. These options are listed in a long menu, with the CPU/iGPU related settings at the top, the memory towards the middle, and the voltage settings at the bottom.

Under each of the different sections is an advanced submenu, including Advanced CPU options, Advanced Memory Settings, and Advanced Voltage settings. Each of these menus is an intricate and detailed list of customizable options for fine-tuning both the processor and memory. For the CPU, there’s plenty of power-related options, as well as options that allow users to disable the CPU thermal monitoring and CPU over-temperature protection. We do not recommend users use these functions unless experienced or overclocking in the art of benchmarking.

Looking at memory-related options, GIGABYTE provides lots of options for users to overclock the memory, from allowing the enabling of X.M.P. 2.0 profiles on compatible memory, to overclocking manually with the frequency and Intel’s two Gear Mode 1:1 or 2:1 memory controller ratios. There’s also a very detailed list of customizable memory latencies, including primary, secondary, and tertiary. 

The firmware also includes extensive power-related, load-line calibration, and voltage settings under the Advanced Voltage Settings submenu. In this menu, users can customize CPU Core PLL Overvoltage, RING PLL Overvoltage, as well as DRAM training voltages. There are also plenty of CPU-specific power options such as load-line calibration and more intricate CPU VCore Protection adjustment, which can be set automatically (default), or in millivolts. 

Overall the firmware is very intuitive and easy to navigate around in regards to overclocking. There’s plenty of customizable options for simple overclocks and more extensive functionality required for extreme overclockers. The key for extreme overclocking in addition to the firmware is the well-equipped overclockers toolkit located in the top right-hand corner of the board.

Overclocking Methodology

Our standard overclocking methodology is as follows. We select the automatic overclock options and test for stability with POV-Ray and Prime95 to simulate high-end workloads. These stability tests aim to catch any immediate causes for memory or CPU errors.

For manual overclocks, based on the information gathered from the previous testing, start off at a nominal voltage and CPU multiplier, and the multiplier is increased until the stability tests are failed. The CPU voltage is increased gradually until the stability tests are passed. The process is repeated until the motherboard reduces the multiplier automatically (due to safety protocol) or the CPU temperature reaches a stupidly high level (105ºC+). Our testbed is not in a case, which should push overclocks higher with fresher (cooler) air.

Overclocking Results

As the Z590 Aorus Tachyon is geared up towards overclocking, it’s no surprise that it performed well in our testing. Despite lacking any legitimate overclocking profiles, it does include what it calls its Gaming and Advanced Profiles. At default settings, the Tachyon displayed some of the most conservative load CPU VCore values, with just 1.176 V, which kept temperatures in check and overall power consumption low. When testing the Gaming and Advanced Profiles, we noticed some incremental performance in our POV-Ray benchmark, with slightly more CPU VCore at load, and as a result, higher temperatures and power consumption.

Eco Mode and OC Mode can both be accessed and enabled via the EasyTune software, and while Eco Mode saw dramatic drops in both CPU VCore at full load and power consumption, the OC mode proved unstable and overzealous as it tried to overclock our Core i9-11900K to 5.4 GHz all-core, something our particular testbed sample is not capable of. 

We saw a consecutive increase in POV-Ray performance as we went through every 100 MHz ratio from 4.7 GHz to 5.2 GHz, with very tight VDroop control on the CPU VCore, which in most cases resulted in much lower and more efficient CPU VCore values. This had a positive influence on both temperature and overall power consumption, which goes in some way to show the overall efficiency of the direct 12-phase power delivery. For the first time in our Z590 testing, we managed to overclock our Core i9-11900K to 5.3 GHz, which was stable, although we did experience a drop in POV-Ray performance which is likely due to thermal throttling as we pushed the 90ºC mark. 

Overall our experience with the Tachyon proved fruitful, and the general performance in our testing shows more than positive results when compared to other Z590 models we’ve tested so far.

A lot more focus has been put on power delivery specifications and capabilities, not just by manufacturers but as a result of users’ demands. In addition to the extra power benefits from things like overclocking, more efficient designs in power deliveries and cooling solutions aim to bring temperatures down. Although this isn’t something most users ever need to worry about, certain enthusiasts are bringing more focus onto each board’s power delivery. The more premium models tend to include bigger and higher-grade power deliveries, with bigger and more intricate heatsink designs, with some even providing water blocks, while others are spending more just to make sure the most efficient parts on the market are being used.


The direct 12-phase power delivery on the GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Tachyon (operating at 11+0/1+0)

Testing Methodology

Our method of testing is if the power delivery and its heatsink are effective at dissipating heat. We do this by running an intensely heavy CPU workload for a prolonged method of time. We apply an overclock which is deemed safe and at the maximum that the silicon on our testbed processor allows. We then run the Prime95 with AVX2 enabled under a torture test for an hour at the maximum stable overclock we can which puts insane pressure on the processor. We collect our data via three different methods which include the following:

  • Taking a thermal image from a birds-eye view after an hour with a Flir Pro thermal imaging camera
  • Securing two probes on to the rear of the PCB, right underneath CPU VCore section of the power delivery for better parity in case a probe reports a faulty reading
  • Taking a reading of the VRM temperature from the sensor reading within the HWInfo monitoring application

The reason for using three different methods is that some sensors can read inaccurate temperatures, which can give very erratic results for users looking to gauge whether an overclock is too much pressure for the power delivery handle. With using a probe on the rear, it can also show the efficiency of the power stages and heatsinks as a wide margin between the probe and sensor temperature can show that the heatsink is dissipating heat and that the design is working, or that the internal sensor is massively wrong. To ensure our probe was accurate before testing, I binned 10 and selected the most accurate (within 1c of the actual temperature) for better parity in our testing.

To recreate a real-world testing scenario, the system is built into a conventional desktop chassis which is widely available. This is to show and alleviate issues when testing on open testbeds which we have done previously, which allows natural airflow to flow over the power delivery heatsinks. It provides a better comparison for the end-user and allows us to mitigate issues where heatsinks have been designed with airflow in mind, and those that have not. The idea of a heatsink is to allow effective dissipation of heat and not act as an insulator, with much more focus from consumers over the last couple of years on power delivery componentry and performance than in previous years.

For thermal imaging, we use a Flir One camera to indicate where the heat is generated around the socket area, as some designs use different configurations and an evenly spread power delivery with good components will usually generate less heat. Manufacturers who use inefficient heatsinks and cheap out on power delivery components should run hotter than those who have invested. Of course, a $700 flagship motherboard is likely to outperform a cheaper $100 model under the same testing conditions, but it is still worth testing to see which vendors are doing things correctly. 

Thermal Analysis Results


We measured 77.7ºC on the hottest part of the CPU socket during our testing

The GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Tachyon is using a premium direct 12-phase power delivery, which is operating at 11+1. Something that’s interesting is GIGABYTE is utilizing two PWM controllers, one for the CPU section and another for the iGPU. For the CPU area of the power delivery, GIGABYTE is using an Intersil ISL69269 PWM controller operating at 11+0, with eleven Vishay SiC840 100 A DrMOS power stages. GIGABYTE is using a Renesas RAA229001 PWM controller that independently controls one Vishay SiC840 100 A power stage which is modulating the iGPU voltages. Cooling the power delivery is a large heatsink that consists of two parts, but is molded into one unit and uses a single heat pipe. This heatsink has a lot of mass and has some channeling to resemble fins and direct airflow over the surface area to help transfer heat with the aid of passive airflow when installed into a chassis. 

In our power delivery thermal testing, the GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Tachyon performs very well, with some of the lowest temperatures observed from our pair of K-type thermocouples, with temperatures of 64ºC and 66ºC. Using GIGABYTE’s integrated temperature sensor, we measured a maximum temperature of 71ºC, which puts it within a couple of degrees celsius of the ASRock Z590 Taichi, which is using an actively cooled design. In terms of designs, the Tachyon has an efficient design with an equally efficient heatsink, which does a good job of removing thermal energy away from the componentry, albeit at the cost of dumping it into the power plane of the power delivery. This is why the CPU socket area around the PCB appears hotter than other elements of the power delivery.

Over the last month or so in our previous Z590 reviews, we’ve highlighted that to get the most out of Intel’s unlocked Core K and KF 11th gen processors, the Z590 chipset is the go-to for performance users. Going beyond Intel’s own integrated overclocking technologies, including both Thermal Velocity Boost (TVB) and Adaptive Boost Technology (ABT), requires adequate and quality hardware, but going beyond that with extreme cooling methods such as liquid nitrogen (LN2) requires the more premium products. While most users won’t be looking at this space, it’s where boards such as the GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Tachyon enter the mix, with intricate and focused designs focused on benchmarking, both from a firmware and hardware point of view. 

The GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Tachyon is primarily designed for extreme overclockers looking to maximize both CPU and memory performance under sub-zero cooling methods. A lot of the design choices point directly to this. The two memory slots, which GIGABYTE has purposely located closer to the CPU socket, are designed to reduce latency penalties. The design includes shielded memory routing of the circuitry connecting the slots to the CPU socket. This is hidden under an inner layer of PCB which uses a larger ground layer that is designed to protect the signal from interference from external sources.

Another element that favors extreme overclockers is the CPU socket, with an array of Tantalum Polymer Capacitors, which inherently have a flatter design than other types of capacitors, making the mounting of pots used in sub-zero cooling methods easier to mount. Looking at the PCIe slot array, this also favors extreme overclockers looking to push limits on graphics cards, with two banks of full-length slots, the top two operating at PCIe 4.0 x16 and x8/x8, and the bottom two electronically locked down to PCIe 3.0 x4 and x1. The layout of these slots uses single slot spacing, which is consistent with an optimized design for extreme overclocking.

Focusing on the core features associated with the controllers used and chipset options, the Z590 Aorus Tachyon includes a solid networking array consisting of an Intel I225-V 2.5 GbE Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E CNVi. Other notable connectivity options include a single USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C port on the rear panel and three USB 3.2 G2 Type-A and four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A ports. Users looking to add more Type-C connectivity can use the USB 3.2 G2 Type-C front panel header. For storage, the Tachyon has three M.2 slots, with one of these allowing for high-speed NVMe PCIe 4.0 x4 drives and the other two with both PCIe 3.0 x4 and SATA support. In terms of conventional storage, there’s a total of eight SATA ports, with six controlled by the chipset with RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 support, while the other two are operating from an ASMedia ASM1061 SATA controller.

In our performance testing, the Z590 Aorus Tachyon was competitive in our system tests, with some of the most efficient power consumption in all three tested states from all the boards we’ve tested so far. In our non-UEFI POST time test, the Tachyon was one of the quickest boards on test, with adequate performance in DPC latency. Our compute section of our test suite saw very competitive performance at default settings, with solid single-threaded performance results in Cinebench R23 and competitive multi-threaded performance. 

Perhaps the bread and butter of the results came in our overclocking experience, with solid under-compensation of CPU VCore at full load, which as a direct result reduced overall CPU core temperatures and power consumption. The Tachyon also managed to run our Core i9-11900K at 5.3 GHz all-core stable, which is the first Z590 board we’ve tested so far to do this. Equipped with a direct 12-phase power delivery that operates with two PWM controllers, the CPU at 11+0 and SoC at 1+0, both elements are using Vishay SiC430 100 A power stages, which seems to point to a very efficient power delivery design. Our VRM thermal testing also confirms this with solid temperatures across the board, although we have to note that so far in our VRM thermal testing on Z590, many of the boards tend to dump a lot of the heat into the power plane of the power delivery.

Final Thoughts

The GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Tachyon offers both elements for gamers and content creators, but it should be noted that to benefit most from the features and functionality, it would require sub-zero cooling. There’s plenty for typical users including Intel 2.5 GbE, Wi-Fi 6E, and USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C connectivity, but the overall design offers much more for extreme overclockers including the design layout, the premium power delivery, and as such, displayed some fantastic results in our overclocking testing. There’s not much in the way of competition with the two main rivals, the ASRock Z590 OC Formula and ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Apex, both offering similar feature sets and containing a similar extreme pedigree. For enthusiasts and extreme overclockers, the Tachyon is a shining example of an extreme motherboard done correctly, but for the average joe, there’s much more value in other Z590 options due to the large $530 price tag.

Overall, this board enables regular users to get the best out of their CPU, however paying the premium for that might not be a cost effective investment. Users who get the Tachyon will want the best of everything out of their processor. That’s why extreme overclockers will fully enjoy the Tachyon.

We’re set to use the Tachyon in an upcoming overclock comparison with some sub-zero cooling on a number of 11900K CPUs. Stay tuned for that review.