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Last updated on July 8th, 2021 at 08:33 am

From Mini ITX and Micro ATX through to full sized ATX and even over-sized ETX, motherboards come in many configurations – both for Intel and AMD chipsets. Do you need something special? Focusing on memory speeds, PCi slots or power modulation maybe?

Gigabyte X570 Aorus Master

Packed to the brim with useful features and built around a high-performance 14-phase power delivery solution, Gigabyte is aiming for enthusiasts with its high-end X570 Aorus Master motherboard. The deployment of a true 14-phase digital PWM controller from Infineon backs up that claim. It's great to see Gigabyte continuing its 'performance-first' design philosophy for VRM cooling on high-end motherboards as it truly is an important factor in the overall performance and stability equation.

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ASUS ROG Zenith II Extreme Alpha (TRX40)

The rewards for offering a high-performance flagship motherboard on the TRX40 platform are clear. Vendors are all competing at price points well above £600 which culminates in motherboard options filled to the brim with the features that almost anybody could wish for. ASUS' ROG Zenith II Extreme was no exception to that point. However, ASUS has taken the fight up a notch by releasing an updated 'Alpha' model which is buffed-up with a set of sixteen 90 Amp power stages.

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ASUS ROG Maximus XII Hero Wi-Fi

Asus ROG Maximus XII Hero (Wi-Fi) is the entry point for the Asus ROG range of Z490 motherboards that support Intel 10th Gen Comet Lake-S. The model name sounds like a minor upgrade from the Z390 Maximus XI Hero however the VRMs have been overhauled with an increase to 14 stages that are each rated at 60A... and that makes a massive difference!

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Overclocking performance throughout our testing was good, despite the awkward LLC settings. VRM performance was fine even when coupled with the mediocre heatsink and fan solution. The lack of a proper or accurate VRM temperature sensor is annoying, but the VRM heatsink and 30mm 5700 RPM fan worked well together to cool the eight CPU-focused Vishay SiC639 50A power stages beneath.

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MSI MEG Z490 Ace

MSI has made a series of correct decisions with the MEG Z490 Ace, though it is not quite perfect. The motherboard has every feature you could reasonably expect to see at this price point as £400 will buy you a significant number of headers and connectors, a good selection of micro buttons on the I/O panel and at the foot of the board along with a POST code debug display. More importantly the VRMs pack 16 stages each rated at 90A which is awesome.

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