Gigabyte B660M Aorus Pro AX DDR4 Review: Frugal Falcon?

Since Alder Lake’s release, we’ve covered a wide variety of boards at various price points and sizes, with today’s focus hailing from the budget side, Gigabyte’s $169.99 B660M Aorus Pro AX DDR4. While this is a budget board, it’s actually one of the higher-priced B660-based Micro-ATX options. Still, it offers a comprehensive feature set and sports Gigabyte’s familiar (for Alder Lake) black-on-grey appearance that many will find appealing.

Hardware-wise, the compact board has almost everything you’re likely to look for in a budget offering. You get four SATA ports, two M.2 sockets, 2.5 GbE and integrated Wi-Fi 6, sufficient power delivery, and a slew of USB ports on the rear I/O, including a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (20 Gbps) Type-C port. Our performance testing was a mixed bag, however. Heavily multi-threaded applications ran longer or slower than some other boards due to thermal throttling. On the other hand, lightly threaded benchmarks, including Procyon Office and our gaming benchmarks, ran well overall.

Below, we’ll get into all the details, including a deep dive into the hardware and performance. This board won’t make the best motherboards list but is certainly worth a look among its peers. But before we get into all of that, below are the B660M Aorus Pro AX DDR4 detailed specifications from Gigabyte.

Specifications: Gigabyte B660M Aorus Pro AX DDR4

Socket LGA1700
Chipset B660
Form Factor Micro-ATX
Voltage Regulator 14 Phase (12 Vcore, 60A MOSFETs)
Video Ports (1) HDMI (v2.1)
(1) DisplayPort (v1.2)
USB Ports (1) USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (20 Gbps)
(1) USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps)
(4) USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
(4) USB 2.0 (480 Mbps)
Network Jacks (1) 2.5 GbE
Audio Jacks (2) Analog, (1) SPDIF
Legacy Ports/Jacks
Other Ports/Jack
PCIe x16 (1) v4.0 (x16)
(1) v3.0 (x4)
PCIe x8
PCIe x4
PCIe x1
CrossFire/SLI AMD Quad-GPU and 2-Way Crossfire
DIMM Slots (4) DDR4 5333+(OC), 128GB Capacity
M.2 Sockets (1) PCIe 4.0 x4 (64 Gbps) / PCIe (up to 80mm)
(1) PCIe 4.0 x4 (64 Gbps) / PCIe (up to 110mm)
U.2 Ports
SATA Ports (4) SATA3 6 Gbps (Supports RAID 0/1/5/10)
USB Headers (1) USB v3.2 Gen 2, Type-C (10 Gbps)
(1) USB v3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
(2) USB v2.0 (480 Mbps)
Fan/Pump Headers (6) 4-Pin (CPU, Watercooling, System fans)
RGB Headers (2) aRGB (3-pin)
(2) RGB (4-pin)
Diagnostics Panel EZ Debug LED
Internal Button/Switch Q-Flash and Reset buttons
SATA Controllers
Ethernet Controller(s) 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)
USB Controllers Realtek TS54111 USB 3.0 Hub
HD Audio Codec Realtek ALC897
DDL/DTS Connect ✗ / ✗
Warranty 3 Years

Inside the Box of the Gigabyte B660M Aorus Pro AX DDR4

Inside the box, Gigabyte stores a couple of accessories along with the board. The contents are downright sparse, but includes most of what you need to get started. If your retail board doesn’t include a driver disk like our sample, you can get all the drivers from the Gigabyte website. Below is a complete list of the included extras.

  • (2) SATA Data cables
  • (2) M.2 screw/standoff sets
  • Wi-Fi Antenna
  • User’s Manual

Design of the Gigabyte B660M Aorus Pro AX DDR4

The B660M Aorus Pro AX hails from the gaming side of Gigabyte’s lineup, as the Aorus branding implies. Gigabyte’s design on most of these Alder Lake boards use a black PCB with contrasting grey heatsinks and shrouds that give the boards a distinctive appearance. The VRM heatsinks have a brushed aluminum finish, and at a glance it looks like they will do a good job due to their mass and surface area. You’ll find the Aorus falcon etched on the top of one heatsink, along with additional Aorus branding on the chipset.

Under the chipset heatsink are the only RGBs LEDs thata give off a nice glow, with saturated colors around the base. If the included illumination isn’t enough, you can add more glow via the onboard headers. Overall, we like the appearance, especially when looking at the direct competition, though some may not vibe with such a stark contrast.

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

Starting in the upper half, the 6-layer PCB gives way to large silver heatsinks covering the VRMs, top M.2 socket, and the chipset. All sport a brushed aluminum finish, with lines cut out for looks and increased surface area. Above the left VRM bank are an 8-pin (required) and 4-pin (optional) EPS connectors to power the processor.

Just below the EPS connector are the first (of six) 4-pin fan headers (SYS_FAN1 in this case). All fan headers support PWM and DC-controlled fans, with adjustments through the BIOS or software. To the left of the DRAM slots are two more headers (CPU_FAN and CPU_OPT), with the remainder along the right edge and bottom of the board. All headers output 2A/24W, which should be plenty for most pumps (even for a custom loop) and fans.

Continuing right, we run into four unreinforced DRAM slots with locking mechanisms on both sides. I prefer the lock at the top/away from the graphics card as often (and in this case) the bottom locks are difficult to access with a full-length video card installed. The board supports up to 128GB of DDR4 RAM with four slots, and listed speeds go up to DDR4-5333+(OC). We didn’t have any issues running our DDR4-4000 sticks but, as always, your mileage may vary when overclocking.

At the top right corner are two (of four) RGB headers. In this case, it’s a 3-pin ARGB and 4-pin RGB, with another of each on the bottom edge. Turning the corner and moving down the right edge, we run into the 24-pin ATX connector to power the board, another system fan header, a front panel USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) Type-C header and a 19-pin front panel USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) header. There are plenty of USB ports, between the 10 on the rear IO and the front panel headers.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Power delivery on the non-overclocking B660M Aorus Pro AX comes in the form of a 14-phase VRM with 12 phases dedicated to Vcore. Power comes from the EPS connector(s) and onto the ONSemi NCP81530 12-phase controller. From there, it heads to 12 55A ONSemi NCP302155 MOSFETs. The 660A available to the processor isn’t a lot, but it only needs to handle Alder Lake CPUs at stock speeds. While there was plenty of thermal throttling and the MOSFETs ran hot in our testing, power delivery was not a limiting factor.

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

Shifting focus to the bottom half of the board, we’ll start on the left side with audio. Here we see a fully exposed Realtek ALC897 codec just to the left of the audio separation line that weaves its way up to the rear IO area. Additionally, there are four gold-colored capacitors dedicated to sound. What’s here is a dated mid-range codec, but most users should still find it acceptable. If not, you can always purchase a higher-quality USB DAC or a set of speakers with a DAC built in.

In the middle of the board are two full-length PCIe slots and two M.2 sockets. Starting with PCIe, the top slot uses reinforcement to mitigate EMI and prevent the slot from shearing off or cracking from a heavy video card. This slot sources its lanes from the CPU and runs at PCIe 4.0 x16 (there’s no PCIe 5.0 on this board). The bottom full-length slot connects through the chipset and runs at PCIe 3.0 x4. If you’re still into multi-GPU setups, the Aorus Pro AX supports AMD Crossfire.

Located just above the primary PCIe slot is the first M.2 socket. The top socket, M2A_CPU, sports a heatsink  and up to 80mm PCIe modules. It runs at a maximum of PCIe 4.0 x4 (64 Gbps) speeds, as does the second socket, M2P_SB, below. M2P_SB supports larger devices, up to 110mm. I’d like to see one of these support SATA modules, but the lack of support there shouldn’t be a dealbreaker for most users. Lastly, along the right edge of the board are four SATA ports. If you have an inclination to use RAID, the board supports RAID0/1/5/10 modes. We don’t see any lane/port sharing here, so you can populate all the ports and slots without sacrificing another.

Across the bottom are several headers, including USB ports and RGB. Below is a complete list, from left to right:

  • Front panel audio
  • COM port
  • System fan header
  • Q-Flash Plus button
  • 4-pin RGB header
  • 3-pin ARGB header
  • (2) USB 2.0 headers
  • System Fan header
  • TPM header
  • Reset button
  • Clear CMOS jumper
  • Thunderbolt AIC headers
  • Front panel header

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

The rear IO area comes with a pre-installed IO plate with a black background and gray labels for the ports. The only bit of branding back here is the Aorus name in the middle.

One of the biggest selling points on this board are the copious amounts of USB ports–ten to be exact. From fastest to slowest, there’s a single USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (20 Gbps) Type-C port, one USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) port, four USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) ports, and four USB 2.0 (480 Mbps) ports. If you can manage to fill these, color me impressed, and you still have the front panel ports available.

For video output, The Aorus Pro AX has DisplayPort and HDMI ports. The 2.5 GbE port is in red, above the blue USB ports next to the 2-plug + SPDIF audio stack. Last but not least are the Wi-Fi antenna headers.

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Gigabyte’s B660 firmware looks no different than on pricier Z690 boards, except it excludes processor overclocking functionality. The BIOS starts in an informational EZ Mode that displays system information with limited functionality. You can enable XMP profiles from here, access Smart Fan 6 for fan control, use Q-Flash to update the BIOS, or enter Advanced Mode. When working in the Advanced portion of the BIOS, major headers are listed across the top, with sub-headings below. Page up/down functionality has finally been added in some capacity, and the BIOS is easy to read and well organized to help find what you’re looking for.


On the software side of things, Gigabyte’s primary tool is the App Center. This application is a central repository for all board-centric applications, some Windows settings, and other third-party software. Simply click to download the applications you want, install them, and an icon shows up on the screen. We installed @BIOS (BIOS flashing utility), Easy Tune (overclocking/system tweaking), RGB Fusion 2.0 (to control RGB lighting) and SIV (for system monitoring). The Gigabyte website has many other helpful applications, including USB charging (to control power to ports), LAN, and more that aren’t covered here. Overall, we like App Center’s small footprint and found its modular tools helpful.

Test System / Comparison Products

We’ve updated our test system to Windows 11 64-bit OS with all updates applied. We kept the same (opens in new tab)Asus TUF RTX 3070 (opens in new tab) video card from our previous testing platforms but updated the driver to version 496.13. Additionally, our game selection has been updated, as noted in the table below. We use the latest non-beta motherboard BIOS available to the public unless otherwise noted. The hardware we used is as follows:

Test System Components

CPU Intel Core i9-12900K
Memory GSkill Trident Z DDR5-5600 CL36 (F5-5600U3636C16GX2-TZ5RK)
ADATA XPG Lancer DDR5-6000 CL40 (AX5U6000C4016G-DCLARBK)
GSkill Trident Z Neo DDR4-3600 (F4-3600C16Q-32GTZN)
GSkill Trident Z Royal DDR4-4000 (F4-4000C18Q-32GTRS)
GPU Asus TUF RTX 3070
Cooling Coolermaster MasterLiquid PL360 Flux
PSU EVGA Supernova 850W P6
Software Windows 11 64-bit (21H2, Build 22000.282)
Graphics Driver NVIDIA Driver 496.13
Sound Integrated HD audio
Network Integrated Networking (GbE or 2.5 GbE)

Gigabyte B660M Aorus Pro AX

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

EVGA supplied ourSupernova 850W P6 power supply (appropriately sized and more efficient than the outgoing 1.2KW monster we used) for our test systems, andG.Skill sent us a DDR5-5600 (F5-5600U3636C16GX2-TZ5RK) memory kit for launch day testing.

Benchmark Settings

Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
Procyon Version 2.0.249 64
Office Suite, Video Editing (Premiere Pro), Photo Editing (Photoshop, Lightroom Classic)
3DMark Version 2.20.7290 64
Firestrike Extreme and Time Spy Default Presets
Cinebench R23 Version RBBENCHMARK330542
Open GL Benchmark – Single and Multi-threaded
Blender Version 3.0.1
Full benchmark (all 3 tests)
Application Tests and Settings
LAME MP3 Version SSE2_2019
Mixed 271MB WAV to mp3: Command: -b 160 –nores (160Kb/s)
HandBrake CLI Version: 1.2.2
Sintel Open Movie Project: 4.19GB 4K mkv to x264 (light AVX) and x265 (heavy AVX)
Corona 1.4 Version 1.4
Custom benchmark
7-Zip Version 21.03-beta
Integrated benchmark (Command Line)
Game Tests and Settings
Far Cry 6 Ultra Preset – 1920 x 1080, HD Textures ON
F1 2021 Ultra Preset – 1920 x 1080, HBAO+, RT Med, TAA + 16xAF, Bahrain, FPS Counter ON

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Our standard benchmarks and power tests are performed using the CPU’s stock frequencies (including any default boost/turbo), with all power-saving features enabled. We set optimized defaults in the BIOS and the memory by enabling the XMP profile. For this baseline testing, the Windows power scheme is set to balanced (default), so the PC idles appropriately.

To get the most out of the Intel Alder Lake chips, you need to be on Windows 11 with its updated scheduler to get the most out of the Intel Alder chips. In most cases, Windows 10 performs well. However, some tests (Cinebench R20, Corona and POVRay) take a significant hit. In short, if you’re going with Alder Lake, you must upgrade to Windows 11 for the best results across the board. That may change with patching and updates in the future, though.

Synthetic Benchmarks

Synthetics provide a great way to determine how a board runs, as identical settings should produce similar performance results. Turbo boost wattage and advanced memory timings are places where motherboard makers can still optimize for either stability or performance, though, and those settings can impact some testing.

The B660M Aorus Pro AX DDR4 was a competent performer in the single and lightly threaded synthetics, but itstruggled in 7-Zip (producing the lowest scores from Alder Lake so far) and was below the average in Cinebench R23, Blender, POV-Ray multi-core along with the Photo/Video editing tests from Procyon. On the positive side, Procyon Office results were some of the fastest we’ve seen.

The board struggled due to thermal throttling from default settings. To prevent throttling, you can use a negative voltage offset if needed. That said, I wish more boards could handle these ‘real life’ loads better out of the box, as a majority of Alder Lake motherboards behave in this way.

Timed Applications

In our timed applications, the LAME result was solid, running faster than most. However, Corona Ray Tracing was the slowest Alder Lake result. In fairness, its result was only about 2 seconds (a couple of percent) slower than average. The Handbrake results were also slower than average in both tests. Here again, the thermal throttling under high-intensity loads is rearing its head.

3D Games and 3DMark

Starting with the launch of the Z690 chipset, we’ve updated our game tests, updating to Far Cry 6 and shifting from F1 2020 to F1 2021. We run the games at 1920×1080 resolution using the Ultra preset (details listed above). As the resolution goes up, the CPU tends to have less impact. The goal with these settings is to determine if there are differences in performance at the most commonly used resolution with settings most people use or at least strive for. We expect the difference between boards in these tests to be minor, with most falling within the margin of error differences. We’ve also added a minimum FPS value, as that can affect your gameplay and immersion experience.

In F1 2021, the B660M-A DDR4 averaged 164 frames per second (fps) with minimums of 139 fps, an average result. In Far Cry 6, the board averaged 136 fps, with a minimum of 122 fps, both right around the average. In our synthetic GPU tests, the Gigabyte scored 14,182 on 3DMark Time Spy and 16,682 on Fire Strike Extreme. The synthetics were a bit slower than average, but nothing you’d notice in a game.

Power Consumption / VRM Temperatures

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

We used AIDA64’s System Stability Test with Stress CPU, FPU and Cache enabled for power testing, using the peak power consumption value. The wattage reading is from the wall via a Kill-A-Watt meter to capture the entire PC minus the monitor. The only variable that changes is the motherboard; all other parts are the same.

At idle, the DDR4-based Pro consumed 44W, with load wattage peaking at 333 Watts. The idle result is one of the better we’ve tested, while the load power use was on the high side. Overall, there’s nothing to be concerned about here.

During stock stress testing, we saw thermal throttling from the CPU almost immediately. Still, the VRMs peaked at around 80 degrees Celsius on our sensors and around 87 degrees, according to the internal temperature sensor. Although one of the VRM banks ran hot, it was still within the operating parameters of the MOSFETs.


(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Overclocking the CPU isn’t possible on B660-based chipsets, but the platform allows memory speed adjustment. With our DDR4-3600 and DDR4-4000 kits, we simply set XMP, and off we went without a hitch. Surely there’s some headroom left, but I’m not convinced spending a premium for higher-end DDR4 memory is worth it at this time. Stick with the sweet spot around DDR4 3600 with the low CL rating.

Bottom Line

The Gigabyte B660M Aorus Pro AX DDR4 is a solid board overall. While the appearance may not jump out at you compared to more expensive Z690 boards, you’re not going to want to hide this board within your chassis either. Hardware-wise, it has plenty of USB ports to go around, including a rear 20 Gbps Type-C port. But those who need a lot of storage may find the six total (four SATA and two M.2) drive options limiting. Outside of that, it’s pretty much standard fare.

Performance out of the box was disappointing during our heavily multi-threaded tests but otherwise fine in everything else, even for gaming. If your planned uses include a heavy dose of multi-threading, you’ll want to make some tweaks to get the most out of this board to prevent throttling. Gaming performance was solid, mixing in with the other results, so there are no worries. It comes down to how you use your system and if you’re willing to make some adjustments if your workflow calls for it.

Competition is fierce in this budget price range, as the major board partners each have an option. MSI has the MAG B660M Mortar WIFI DDR4 ($159.99), Asus the Prime B660M-A WIFI D4 ($152.99), and ASRock’s B660M Steel Legend is the most affordable at $114.99. Hardware-wise, these boards are all similar, but the ASRock doesn’t have integrated Wi-Fi. If you need more storage, the MSI and ASRock include six SATA ports (compared to four in the Gigabyte and others) and the two M.2 sockets. The MSI also has a better audio codec. These are all capable boards, so it’s going to come down to looks and price point for most users.

To that end, my weapon of choice out of these four would be the MSI. At $10 cheaper than the Gigabyte, you get better audio and more SATA ports. The Gigabyte is certainly nipping at the MSI board’s heels. For $10 more, you get what I feel is a better aesthetic and integrated RGBs if that’s your thing. Sadly, we haven’t tested the B660M Mortar, so we don’t know how it performs (thopugh I’d imagine similarly). Overall, the B660M Aorus Pro AX DDR4 is certainly a viable option in the B660M space, but doesn’t stand out for its features, performance or price.

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