– For the first Ryzen Threadripper CPUs 1950X and 1920X (test) you need a suitable mainboard with X399 chipset and huge TR4 socket. An overview of the models from ASRock, Asus, MSI and Gigabyte that are currently available for purchase. Comparing is popular because the prices are high.
Ryzen Threadripper needs its own mainboards
AMD's new HEDT platform, which is in direct competition with Intel's high-end platform around Core X, requires an appropriately designed mainboard with the TR4 socket in combination with the X399 chipset. On the one hand, the processor relies on a much larger package in LGA format, on the other hand Ryzen Threadripper offers up to 64 PCIe lanes and a quad-channel interface. The AM4 chipsets are not aware of either. With Threadripper and the X399 chipset, however, there are never before available options for motherboard manufacturers on boards for CPUs from AMD and not everyone goes the same way with their offer in the ATX or EATX form factor.
It depends on the format and the wiring
Even the format can make a difference when used in your own housing. EATX (305 mm × 330 mm) is slightly wider than ATX (305 mm × 244 mm) and, in case of doubt, hides the openings in the mainboard tray for laying cables or conflicts with the drives. So far, only Asus offers three boards in this format.
ASRock, on the other hand, sets with the X399 unveiled in early 2018M Taichi to a reduced design in size. Designed in the micro ATX form factor (244 mm × 244 mm), it is not only related by name to the sister model in ATX format (X399 Taichi). The design is identical and the equipment is almost the same despite the reduced size. One of the otherwise four PCI Express x16 slots was canceled with the shrinking cure at an almost the same price of just under 330 euros. Thus, the ASRock X399M Taichi is well positioned in the upper class and also unrivaled at a comparatively low price.
At least as important as the range of functions and connection options is their connection on the board. With Threadripper with 64 PCIe lanes a problem only late, it can be decisive which slots share the connection with which additional chips on the board. The manual available online from the manufacturer usually provides information.
Significant differences in detail
"It's been a long time since such prices could have been asked for a motherboard for AMD, but it's justified“, A supplier of motherboards was pleased this week with BitcoinMinersHashrate. In fact, the first TR4 boards from ASRock, Asus, Gigabyte and MSI are priced high.
While Intel's Core X CPUs (test) boards with an X299 chipset are still available for around 200 euros, X399 now only “has to” invest around 300 euros. Prices have dropped well here in the past few months after the start of sales. Although the mainboards brought to market by manufacturers so far only show the upper and high-end class with a TR4 socket. Boards that have already been announced in the lower price segment are still a long time coming.
Offers in the price range from 300 euros to 537 euros
The Asus ROG Zenith Extreme already used by BitcoinMinersHashrate in the Threadripper test still ranks at the top of the price pyramid with a price of 537 euros. However, the price is driven by a 10 Gbit / s Ethernet card included in the scope of delivery, which Asus sells in a different design separately for EUR 100. With the ASRock Fatal1ty X399 Professional Gaming listed for 364 euros, there is already such a connection on the I / O panel. The latter representative of the X399 motherboard family has fallen in price by around 80 euros since its publication, whereas the Asus flagship maintains the high price level.
The Gigabyte X399 Aorus Gaming 7, which is now around 339 euros, is a good 60 euros cheaper than having it at the market launch. The BitcoinMinersHashrate editorial team had the chance to make a direct comparison with the Asus ROG Zenith Extreme right from the start of Threadripper.
The range in the luxury class is expanded by the MSI X399 Gaming Pro Carbon AC, which is available from € 341, and the ASRock X399 Taichi, which is now available in larger quantities from retailers at a price of € 336. The price drop for both is around 40 euros. The latest addition to Asus with X399 chipset is the ROG Strix X399-E Gaming, which currently costs 385 euros with immediate availability.
At Asus, the Prime X399-A, which is priced cheaper at EUR 329, started selling in September 2017. The Threadripper budget mainboard is currently available for a reduced price of 293 euros. In similar price regions, the MSI X399 SLI Plus is another inexpensive X399 board. With currently a good 296 euros, this is currently one of the cheapest representatives for AMD processors with a TR4 socket in the retail trade.
Asus ROG Zenith Extreme in EATX with 802.11ad and mini fan
The ROG Zenith Extreme is the spearhead in Asus' portfolio and can offer, for example, three M.2 slots (two M.2-2110) and one U.2 port for SSDs.
In addition to the (price-driving) 10 Gbit / s Ethernet card included in the scope of delivery, it offers 802.11ad WLAN (WiGig) for the first time as a further highlight for fast connection to the network.
In addition to the flagship, Asus has also given the flagship eight standard DDR4 slots for TR4 motherboards as well as a DIMM.2 slot for using an additional SSD in an adapter card. In addition to the obligatory 24-PIN ATX power connector, two additional 8-PIN connections for the power supply are also unusual. VRM cooling is not only passive, but also active: a small 40 mm fan is hidden behind the cover of the I / O ports. Although it can be influenced in the BIOS, it was ultimately the loudest component in the test with all-in-one water cooling.
Graphics cards can sit in four PCIe 3.0 x16 slots of the Asus ROG Zenith Extreme. Up to four AMD and Nvidia GPUs are supported in the network. When the configuration option with all slots is fully used, only two are fully connected electrically, the other two are only half connected. With the Armada on USB connections, however, there are no surprises: Two sockets are specified in accordance with the USB 3.1 Gen2 standard and each have one type C and type A port. Eight additional USB 3.0 plugs are placed on the I / O panel of the ROG Zenith Extreme.
The second Ryzen Threadripper mainboard from Asus, the significantly cheaper Prime X399-A, is set up slimmer. "Only" two M.2 slots for SSDs are offered, graphics card combinations are only supported in three of the four PCIe-x16 slots in the network. For most private purposes, what is offered is still clearly sufficient.
ROG Strix X399-E gaming without 10 GBit LAN, 802.11ad & DIMM. 2
Asus has slightly delayed the ROG Strix X399-E Gaming, a third base for thread rippers in its range. The new EATX mainboard is positioned between the two first Asus releases in terms of equipment and, at the same time, the price. In contrast to the top model, WLAN is not available in the latest version (802.11ad), the use of which in practice is very limited at the current time anyway. The selection of correspondingly certified remote sites in the form of routers and access points to maximize the faster transmission speed compared to 802.11ac is still manageable months after its market launch. The Strix branch also lacks the option of establishing a direct connection to 10 GBit networks via an additional card. Another distinguishing feature is the slimmed-down power supply, which “only” takes place via a 24-PIN ATX, an additional 8-PIN and a further 4-PIN connection. The new-fashioned DIMM.2 slot, as a slot for additional storage media in M.2 format, is also not part of the Asus ROG Strix X399-E Gaming.
Only two recordings are available for storage media in M.2 format. One can accommodate drives with a length of 110 millimeters and one is designed for 80 mm plug-in cards. A U.2 port can be equipped with another data carrier. Graphics cards can sit in four PCIe 3.0 x16 slots of the ROG Strix X399-E Gaming. According to the data sheet, up to four GPUs from AMD and Nvidia are supported in the network. When the configuration option with all slots is fully used, only two are fully connected electrically, the other two are only half connected. The Armada is also tied to the Extreme offshoot on USB ports: two sockets are specified according to the USB 3.1 Gen2 standard and each have a Type-C and Type-A port. Eight additional USB 3.0 plugs are placed on the I / O panel.
Fatal1ty X399 Professional with three LANs
At ASRock, the Fatal1ty X399 Professional is the flagship for Ryzen Threadripper. As with the premium model from Asus, graphics cards from AMD and Nvidia are supported in all four PCIe-x16 slots at the same time as a GPU team. In addition to two Gigabit LANs, a natively connected 10 Gbit chip from Aquantia is also offered. A WLAN module, which "only" works according to the 802.11ac standard at ASRock, is one of the identical features of the premium boards, just like three times M.2.
As interfaces, the ASRock Fatal1ty X399 Professional has a U.2 port, eight SATA ports, two USB 3.1 Gen2 ports (type C and type A) and eight USB 3.0 sockets.
ASRock X399 Taichi does without 10 Gbit / s Ethernet
According to ASRock, the 10 Gbit chip was saved on the X399 Taichi, which is why the connection to the network can only be made via two classic Gigabit LAN sockets (Intel I211AT) and WLAN. The Taichi also lacks one of the PCIe x1 slots. Even if not explicitly mentioned by the manufacturer, further distinguishing features can be found in the configurability of the LED lighting and also the setting options possible in the BIOS.
Gigabyte X399 Aorus Gaming 7 lights up the most
In comparison to the competition from Asus and ASRock, the Gigabyte X399 Aorus Gaming 7 is served with three M.2 receptacles, each connected via four lines, with covers for cooling, one U.2 and a classic Gigabit LAN connection. As a (small) plus point, the network solution can go through Killer E2500 and WTFast, a combined WLAN module (Intel 8265) with Bluetooth 4.2 can also be regarded as standard in the class.
As an audio solution, Gigabyte also relies on the Realtek ALC1220 for the X399 Aorus Gaming 7. Gigabyte can stand out with the RGB lighting, which includes all PCIe-x16 and DIMM slots. If desired, it can also be switched off on this board.
With the Gigabyte X399 Designare EX, a second motherboard for AMD processors from the Ryzen Threadripper family (test) made it to the public in early October 2017, around two months after the sister model X399 Aorus Gaming 7. Visually not similar to the X399 Aorus Gaming 7, the equipment is different only in detail.
In addition to the eight DIMM slots for RAM and five PCIe-x16 slots that are common for AMD's current HEDT platform, three fully connected M.2 recordings for PCIe SSDs are again striking equality features between the Gigabyte X399 Designare EX and the X399 Aorus Gaming 7. In addition, the new top model from Gigabyte in the ATX form factor, which is currently around € 20 and currently around € 20, offers a stabilizing metal backplate in silver and a second LAN port on the I / O panel. Gigabyte saved a U.2 connection, as the X399 Aorus Gaming 7 currently offers for around 339 euros, for the new X399 entry.
MSI advertises 10 + 3 phases power supply for CPU and RAM
MSI starts the Ryzen Threadripper lineup with the X399 Gaming Pro Carbon AC, which typically supports RAM in up to DDR4-3,600 in eight RAM slots. As with the competition, four graphics cards can be placed in the reinforced PCIe-x16 slots on the mainboard from MSI. In contrast, the X399 Gaming Pro Carbon AC offers two smaller x1 shots instead of one x4 slot. Three M.2 slots are provided for fast storage media such as PCIe SSDs, all of which use M.2 cooling “Shield" feature. Eight SATA ports can be equipped with additional HDDs and SSDs.
For the connectivity, the ATX mainboard X399 Gaming Pro Carbon AC with a gigabit LAN (Intel I211-AT) and ac-WLAN (Intel 8265) is set up in a double-track manner via an external plug-in card. MSI sees the power supply to the Threadripper main board as a special feature, which includes 10 + 3 phases for CPU and RAM and is intended to ensure stable operation by means of two additional 8-pin connectors.
Standard food at an accurate price for the MSI X399 SLI Plus
At the beginning of October, MSI also released the number two X399 mainboard under the ID X399 SLI Plus. The cheapest ATX board to date, based on the TR4 socket for Ryzen thread ripper processors, costs less than 300 euros, which does not have a significant impact on a reduced functionality compared to the top model, which is more than 100 euros more expensive. Instead, MSI points out that the X399 SLI Plus “is an optimized motherboard for workstations, which was specially developed for professional use". At least one of the three M.2 slots has the cooling solution M.2-Shield. In addition, drives up to a length of 110 millimeters (M.2-22110) are supported in this drive. Another can hold SSD cards up to 80 millimeters (M.2-2280).
Eight SATA 3.0 sockets are provided for additional drives. Common four PCIe x16 slots are available for graphics cards. Equipped with USB interfaces is also at a typical level for X399 boards. USB 3.1 of the second generation (Gen2) is implemented twice via a Type-C and Type-A connection via an additional chip from ASMedia (ASM3142). A further eight USB 3.0 ports are available on the I / O panel. There are also no surprises in terms of RAM and LAN connection.
In this case no question of guarantee
Buyers should never forget the guarantee aspect. In this case, however, there is unanimity: All manufacturers give the trade a three-year guarantee, which is why processing for the end customer must always be done through the dealer. Gigabyte officially grants the three years only “from the date of manufacture”. In practice, however, the time of purchase on the invoice is also used.
The range of X399 boards currently available on the market is – still – expensive. The manufacturers are trying to build on the good reputation of AMD's first high-end platform since the Athlon FX-62 from 2006, with the design and the lighting clearly aimed at gamers as well as enthusiasts. However, Ryzen Threadripper (test) only has an advantage over Ryzen in games if the computer is required in parallel.
At first hand, the first manufacturers have told BitcoinMinersHashrate that they will also be offering variants with a focus on workstations. The offer for this purpose has grown only slightly in the past few months, even if the end customers are hardly offered any better alternatives through lower prices. 10-Gigabit Ethernet as a standard feature has not (yet) prevailed in the HEDT segment either. WLAN 802.11ad as a special feature of some Threadripper mainboards has not yet been able to establish itself in the mass market. In addition, with the progressive development of the 082.11ax standard, it remains questionable whether the 60 GHz transmission will ever become the focus of the manufacturers. The latest X399 motherboards from the gaming lineup generally do not offer a significant price advantage either. Although greater availability and a slightly larger range have brought prices down – in some cases significantly – in recent months, mainboards for AMD's current high-end processors from the Ryzen Threadripper family remain expensive. A fundamental improvement in prices is not in sight in the short term, because even the second generation of Threadripper CPUs can be run on the existing X399 motherboards via BIOS updates.
The market launch of the Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX as a 32-core CPU with a TDP of 250 watts has already been announced for August 13. Pre-orders are already possible at a price of 1,829 euros. The three other Threadripper 2000 offshoots with 12, 16 and 24 cores follow as Threadripper 2920X, Threadripper 2950X and Threadripper 2970WX in stages until October.
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