While we’re down by the expansion slots, let’s check them out! GIGABYTE has made an excellent decision to provide full 2-slot spacing between all x16 slots, granted only slots 1 and 3 are electrically x16, whereas the other two are only x8. With PCIe 4.0 lanes, this is not a problem by any means. However, if you do use the provided AORUS Gen4 AIC Adaptor, you’ll want to use that in the x16-capable slot 3 for full x4 connectivity to all four x4 NVMe slots in the AIC.
The spacing allows for Quad CrossFire and SLI configurations for some serious GPU computation applications. As you can see, you’ll want to make sure you limit yourself to 2-slot-wide cards if you want to do the full Quad-GPU setup. My AORUS 1080 Ti (left picture above) obscures PCIe slot 2 and would limit me to a dual-GPU, but my AORUS RX 570 leaves slot 2 clear and available.
One thing we discovered in our Threadripper 3960X Review was that our AORUS 1080 Ti video card had a rather unique bracket that made it particularly susceptible to interacting with audio chipset heatsinks. The heatsink on the audio for the AORUS XTREME was just low-profile-enough to allow our video card to slot in while just barely touching the heatsink (you may have to right-click and view image in new tab and zoom in to see just how close it really was). We found out the hard way that our MSI Creator TRX40 didn’t fare as well, so GIGABYTE does get a (very) close pass on this one.
GIGABYTE provides an extra 6-pin PEG power connector on the bottom-right edge of the motherboard to help power all those GPUs if you do end up running Quad-GPUs in this system.
Speaking of the right-edge of the motherboard…
The top three 4-pin FAN headers are actually labeled for water pumps. The next two 4-pin headers are for SYS_FAN. The next set of pins is the front-panel header, to be used with the front-panel extension cable provided for easy connection to the front-panel leads. The last two pins, shown with a jumper plugged in, is for the noise sensor, which can give you a current dB rating of case internal noise levels. Do note the jumper should remain in place if the noise sensor is not in use.
Next you see the 24-pin power connector, turned 90°, and below that is the USB 2.0 header. This is also to be used with the provided extension cable, which breaks it out into two USB 2.0 headers.
Continuing in the center picture above, there’s a USB Type-C header on the front. The picture to the right shows our Type-C front-panel lead plugged in, however, the molding of the shroud contacts and obstructs our thick lead and prevents it from laying flat, but the connection is made non-the-less (you may have to right-click view image in new tab to see clearly). This is, honestly, the biggest issue I’ve found with the physical hardware of this motherboard, which is quite telling of how excellent everything on this board truly is.
Next we have ten (yes, 10) SATA headers, eight from the chipset and an extra two from an ASMedia Controller. The M2C_SOCKET M.2 slot (which we’ll see in a moment) does share connections with some of the SATA headers, so headers 3 and 4 will be disabled if you use a SATA M.2 SSD, or headers 3, 4, 5, and 6 if you use an NVMe SSD.
The next two connectors are USB 3.2 Gen 1 headers, followed by an optional OC_PEG 6-pin power connector that can provide auxillary power to the x16 PCIe slots for additional GPU power. If you’re using two or more GPUs, it’s recommended you plug in 6-pin power to this plug.
The last picture above shows the two 8-pin CPU power plugs and just below that, the CPU_FAN and CPU_OPT headers that can be used for the CPU water pump or fans. Just to the right of those, there’s two 2-pin headers used for the two thermal sensors provided with the motherboard. These sensors are on long 34-inch leads, so can be routed cleanly to virtually anywhere inside your case.
Last along this edge is the white plastic that lines the entire right edge. This is internally illuminated with RGB lighting, as well as a small strip above the SATA ports and the AORUS logo on the top face of the rear-I/O shroud (seen in orange in the last picture below). The color is fully customizable in GIGABYTE’s RGB Fusion software in their App Center.