As you already know, X399 motherboards are the behemoths conceived to give AMD’s Ryzen Threadripper processors a worthy throne to sit on. These are finely tuned to serve as a platform for workstation computing by the virtue of high core counts and even higher threads. Now a days, every tech junkie sees these processors as a better choice from the price per performance perspective as opposed to Intel processors. Boasting high PCI expresses lanes and highly demanding TDP (180-250 W), Threadripper processors need equally lofty chipsets to get their job done. Come have a look at the 5 best heavy lifters from the X399 chipset market.
Our Rating: 9.7/10 Socket: AMD socket TR4 | Chipset: X399 | Graphics Output: HDMI/DP | Audio: SupremeFX 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC S1220 | Form Factor: E-ATX
1. ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha
Our Rating: 9.7/10
Socket: AMD socket TR4 | Chipset: X399 | Graphics Output: HDMI/DP | Audio: SupremeFX 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC S1220 | Form Factor: E-ATX
As impactful as its name sounds, it packs a strong punch of premium features to assist AMD’s thread ripper 2 processors. Starting off with its bodacious connectivity, it entails three NVMe M.2 drives, up to 64 x PCIe lanes, U.2 connector, and they’ve included Aquantia 10 gigabit LAN networking to the board. ROG DIMM allows for the expansion of the two M.2 slots (with thermal pads) and has heatsinks to prevent throttling. They’ve deployed a massive heatsink over the VRMs having two tiny fans, which kick in once VRM temperature exceeds 60 degrees. Moreover, it has support for up to 124 GBs of DDR4 memory running at 3200MHz. The built in WiFi supports decent transfer speeds of 1.7 gigabits per second, certainly a remarkable upgrade over the previous version.
Moving on to the area where it shines valiantly, the cooling set up. The board has excellent clearance and spacing for the CPU coolers with heatsinks, they could’ve used additional chassis fan ports but there are 8 by default. We ran our processor at 4 GHz manually overclocked and it maintained the temperature well below 60 degrees for the VRM. You can tweak up the fans under the heatsinks to turn on before the 60-degree mark. The dual backplates further contribute to passive cooling. It holds its own easily even under the load of 4 GPUs and still allows you to use an additional 10 GB card depending on the size of the GPUs.
Need I even throw any light on the impressive BIOS and the renown FanXpert which allows automatic overclocking profiles for optimum OC performance. Lastly, it has the very own ASUS Aura Synch RGB lighting through two addressable headers and one RGB header to satiate your aesthetic needs. For the audio system, they’ve employed Supreme FX Japanese Audio capacitors. ASUS has added an interesting novelty to the board, the OLED panel, this panel displays the stats of your CPU temperatures and you can get it animated and whatnot.
To conclude, it is everything an OC freak could ask for. All the premium set of features along with its 8 phase VRM with doublers keep the temperature in check.
Our Rating: 9.6/10 Socket: AMD socket TR4 | Chipset: X399 | Graphics Output: HDMI/DP | Audio: Realtek ALC1220 Audio Codec | Form Factor: ATX
2. ASRock Taichi
Our Rating: 9.6/10
Socket: AMD socket TR4 | Chipset: X399 | Graphics Output: HDMI/DP | Audio: Realtek ALC1220 Audio Codec | Form Factor: ATX
This ASRock motherboard has a rather simple visual design as opposed to other flashy boards from this list but comes equipped with all the right weapons to dazzle its user. We have a U.2 and three M.2 connectors on the board. PCIe slots are armored. The RAM is advertised to run up to 3200 MHz but it showed more stable performance when we toned it down to 3066 MHz. Moreover, it supports dual gigabit which is a major plus.
The secondary heat sink is connected to the MOSFETs heatsink via a heat pipe to help their cooling. When we take a look at the fan headers, there are a moderate number of them but not something to be called as “so many”.
ASRock motherboards have very simple but stable BIOS. Overclock settings in the BIOS works pretty well under “auto” mode and allows apt manual tweaking as well. Of note, we observed a certain degree of heating of VRM under manual overclocks so you are advised to procure a good water cooler for if you’re planning on manually overclocking it. Few users have reported issues with the Windows 10 installation for which you are advised to make sure that the version of Windows 10 is latest for smooth installation.
Besides the slight temperature bumps while overclocking and other minor issues, it is the most easy-to-use and stable, especially in terms of voltages, motherboard from the list and doesn’t fall behind Zenith Extreme.
There is plenty of space on board for adapter cards, Actively cooled VRM heatsinks with fins with massive surface area, Solid performance while multi-tasking, onboard 10 gigabit
Our Rating: 9.3/10 Socket: AMD socket TR4 | Chipset: X399 | Graphics Output: HDMI/DP | Audio: Realtek ALC1220-VB codec | Form Factor: E-ATX
3. GIGABYTE AORUS Extreme
Our Rating: 9.3/10
Socket: AMD socket TR4 | Chipset: X399 | Graphics Output: HDMI/DP | Audio: Realtek ALC1220-VB codec | Form Factor: E-ATX
This is a powerful step up from the previous X399 GIGABYTE Aorus 7 motherboard to make up for its shortcomings with more beefy VRM set up of 10+3 with a load of features increased to a certain degree compared to its predecessor. There are four PCI-e slots, a bunch of M.2 drives, 8 DIMM slots, integrated WiFi, RGB and many more. It would have been better if they boarded the latest WiFi on it, still, it is not a fatal blow to the worth. On the upside, it has a pair of Gigabit Intel NICs and a 10 gigabit LAN Aquantia, it improves your internal networking for your router and whatnot, which comes pretty costly if you buy it separately
Gigabyte has been pretty generous with their cooling solution, providing separate heat-sinks for M.2 drives, Aquantia 10 Gigabit Ethernet, and the lofty VRM heat-sinks comprising of two aluminum plates, which are finned coolers, connected to each other by heat pipes. The air passing through the heat-sinks is then handled by two little 30mm fans inserted in the I/O shield. Moreover, the back-plate which has thermal pads on it to further aid heat dissipation. This is rather brilliant from Gigabyte as they’re trying to mend their past mistakes with a much better cooling set up for their boards. Lastly, you can attach a fan around the back of the board to critically improve the cooling further. In terms of performance, it runs pretty smoothly at stock loads, however, when we turned it up a notch with overclocking, we observed few V core voltage jump-ups to 1.6 Volts. We had to manually tone down the voltages in the BIOS to 1.2 V to get 4 GHz on all cores of our processor, should it go higher than 1.2 Volts, it would start blue screening.
Taking a look at the software department, we have our traditional Smart Fan 5 which features multiple temperature sensors with hybrid fan headers and Fan Stop. Furthermore, you can disable RGB LED lights from the BIOS. To conclude, it is a great board if we exclude the voltage spikes which must be handled through manual tweaking from BIOS and precision Boost. Lastly, the windows task manager fails to read the CPU frequencies correctly so IMMOU for the Windows to run correctly. As a summary, this board is design to hit all the boxes in your list with its all-rounder features emboldened to a degree to fulfill gaming as well as other needs.
Our Rating: 9/10 Socket: AMD socket TR4 | Chipset: X399 | Graphics Output: N/A | Audio: Realtek ALC1220-VB codec 7.1 Channel High Definition Audio | Form Factor: ATX
4. MSI GAMING PRO CARBON AC
Our Rating: 9/10
Socket: AMD socket TR4 | Chipset: X399 | Graphics Output: N/A | Audio: Realtek ALC1220-VB codec 7.1 Channel High Definition Audio | Form Factor: ATX
This is MSI’s white knight redeeming its predecessors’ shortcomings. It is one sturdy ATX board reinforced with metal backplate and all the slots are aluminum reinforced. This shines the brightest in the connectivity department, this board emboldens the M.2 performance as all the shielded M.2 drives are directly wired to the CPU, unlike the Intel motherboards, boosting the M.2 throughput to mind-blowing levels i.e, 12 Gbps out of three 4 Gbps M.2 cards. We have an MSI overclock switch on the board, which is a knob that can be turned up to 11 levels of preset overclocks.
For those fellows who are suckers for dynamic designing and cool visuals, this is an absolute feast. You can lace up the board with RGB LEDs all over and the adjustable heatsink covers bring more playfulness to the mix. There are three colors for the covers, namely, carbon, silver, and golden available for you to change the looks once in a while.
They’ve churned out a smart cooling set up to cope with different temperature ranges. There are plenty of fan headers onboard and you have complete control over them via Total Fan Control, you can set four temperature targets which will adjust the fan speeds automatically. We’ve observed impressive thermals of 26 degrees C at idle and 40 degrees C under load for the VRM.
It has the new BIOS which is pretty much similar to the previous one with few additional features. You can now switch between simple and advanced interface to tweak up the system per your expertise. We observed mouse lag while using the BIOS, this is merely a product of MSI’s measure to make the BIOS usable even without the processor or RAM installed.
It is safe to say that this board is a jack spot for the gamers who seek out stable performance while gaming whether the system is under a load of minor background tasks or not, it efficiently utilizes the multi-core threading of the processor.
Next up is the ASRock’s beautiful motherboard which enjoys the least degree of cons from this list with a stable performance equally acclaimed by all the users. It runs the RAM up to 3000 MHz like a champ and easily handles the speeds even when all the slots are filled. Make sure to choose the RAM from this board’s QVL list. It has 10-gigabit Aquantia ethernet. Its PCIe slots are arranged in standard 16×8 layout and have an additional 6 pin power connector in case you want to run graphics card on them and one x1 PCIe slot for slower peripherals like ethernet card, etc.
On the edge of the motherboard, there are VRM heatsinks which have heat pipes to carry the heat to the back of the motherboard. And then there’s an Extreme OC switch for extreme overclocking, just flip the switch and it will override some of the safeties on your CPU.
ASRock BIOS is very seamless and works efficiently, the BIOS reset button comes in handy on many occasions. However, its boot times are slightly slow, boots in about 26-27 seconds on an SSD and the BIOS load is probably the slowest part of the boot but as once the Windows actually starts loading, it’s ready in seconds. More importantly, this board fully supports Linux and Debian based OS besides Windows 7 and 10. Furthermore, due to the more favorable IOMMU mapping on Linux, this board is especially good for supporting VMs using PCIe/IOMMU pass through.
At the bottom of the motherboard, there is a cleverly placed right angle front panel audio connector which will give space to your fourth graphics card which might hang over it, impressive touch by ASRock. Moreover, there is a handy feature called Doctor LED debug which will give you a code on it when you’re faced with a problem or hitch in the motherboard and you can simply look up the code in manual to troubleshoot immediately and effectively. All-in-all this is a safe investment for those looking to run servers on Linux or Windows along with decent gaming and overclocking.
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Prices taken/valid at the time of review.