Computing

Review and Testing of the ROG Motherboard ZENITH EXTREME with AMD X399

Written by Tyler Rondman

Review and Testing of the ROG Motherboard ZENITH EXTREME with AMD X399

In August 2017, AMD pleased its fans with the announcement of a new high-level platform Socket TR4, which currently includes AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors with the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X. The logical explanations the new chipsets released together with the new platform.

Unlike the mass platform Socket AM4, where the user has a choice between chipsets and the functionality he needs, the Socket TR4 offers one single set of system logic – AMD X399. A similar situation we see in the competitors AMD – the company Intel, which the Socket LGA2066 supports only Intel X299.

A large part of the functionality of the Socket TR4 platforms fixed in the processor itself, namely 64 lines of PCIe 3.0, eight USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, four-channel memory operation, and the ability to connect up to three M.2 drives.

The connection between the CPU and the chipsets carried out by means of four of the 64 PCIe 3.0 lines mentioned above. The AMD X399 itself supports eight lines of PCIe 2.0 standard for the implementation of network controllers, connection of additional expansion slots, and a module of wireless interfaces.

It has eight SATA 6 Gbps ports, six by USB 2.0, five by USB 3.1 Gen 1, and two high-speed USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports. In general, we have no complaints about the hardware and functionality of the new platform, because it includes modern technologies, in contrast with the same Intel X299.

If you want to find out more about the products capabilities read our ROG ZENITH EXTREME Motherboard review here.

The motherboards delivered in a durable cardboard box, decorated with the original colors of the ROG line. On its sides, you can find the technical characteristics and description of some interesting features of the model itself. The delivery of the package is fast and done with care.
Packaging

In addition to the usual disk with software and user’s manual, we found in the box the following:

  • Six SATA-loops
  • A set of ASUS Q-Connectors, for connecting the front panel of the PC case
  • Bridge 2-Way NVIDIA SLI HB BRIDGE
  • Bridge 3-Way NVIDIA SLI
  • Bridge 4-Way NVIDIA SLI
  • A set of labeling stickers
  • A set of ROG stickers
  • DIMM.2 expansion board
  • Bracket for massive video cards VGA Holder
  • Combined antenna Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • Antenna WiGig 802.11ad
  • Fan Extension Card
  • Fan Extension card cable and associated screws
  • ROG AREION 10G network card
  • Set of cogs for M.2-drives
  • Cable connecting LED strip

Since the Fan Extension Cards reviewed before , we will dwell more on the ROG AREION 10G. The components based on the Aquantia AQtion AQC107 network controller with a bandwidth of up to 10 Gbps and supports 2.5GHz and 5GHz modes. You can buy it separately for $170, further modifications of the network cards on the chip Aquantia AQtion AQC107 cost about $100 – $120.

Design and Features

Compared to the ASUS or Intel X299 you can confuse the ROG ZENITH EXTREME with it. The only difference is the ROG has a massive processor socket with an 8 DIMM slots. Above the plastic overlay, the first thing that grabs your attention is the grille over the interface panel.

Looking underneath the grille, we found a small fan that helps with the cooling of the power system when working with large loads, as we mentioned in the review of the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X processor.

Nearby is a small monochrome display that could act as a diagnostic indicator, but also display simple graphics and text chosen by the user.

Above the interface panel in a protective plastic casing, you find the ASUS AURA Sync LED-backlight system, which in this case consists of LEDs. On the chipset radiator and along the entire right edge of the printed circuit board, these lights help to add emphasis to the board.

Viewing the back of the board, you can see the traditional support plate of the processor socket. Further, there is a large support plate under the chipset with a low profile radiator on power subsystem but did not fit on the front side.

The following constituents located at the bottom of the PCB:

  • Front panel audio connector
  • 4-pin PCI Express power connector
  • TPM port
  • Fan connectors
  • Slow mode switch
  • RSVD switch to overcome the cold start error (CBB – Cold boot bug) when overclocking in minus temperatures. The “ReTry” and “Safe Boot” buttons instantly reboot the system and transfers, it to the safe mode and the LN2 jumper.

In addition, there are two pads for the activation of USB ports: one for USB 2.0, combined with the ROG_EXT connector, and one for USB 3.1 Gen 1. In total, the board supports two internal USB 2.0, and12 by USB 3.1 Gen 1 (four internal and eight external) and three by USB 3.1 Gen 2 (one internal and two external).

The right upper corner of the PCB also deserves special attention, since there are a number of control elements:

  • Power on and restart buttons
  • Control points for measuring voltages on all key elements of the system using a millimeter
  • Group of switches for managing PCI Express x16 slots
  • Connectors for connecting temperature sensors

Organization of the disk subsystem is endless with the three interfaces M.2 Socket 3, one U.2 and six SATA ports 6 Gbps. Two of the three M.2 interfaces implemented using the DIMM.2 expansion card and installed in the DIMM slot.

ROG ZENITH EXTREME is equipped with eight DIMM slots for the installation of DDR4 memory modules, which for greater convenience are equipped with latches on one side. To implement one of the multi-channel modes, the modules need installation in one of the following schemes.

There is support for modules operating at up to 3600 MHz. The maximum amount of memory can reach 128 GB, which will be enough for any given tasks. In addition, we noted the connection blocks of the remote panels are USB 3.1 Gen 1 and USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports.

The cooling system of the board consists of three main aluminum radiators, two of which are connected by a heat pipe.

During the testing, we recorded the following temperatures:

  • Radiator cooling chipset – 35 ° C (when overloaded- 36.1 ° C);
  • The upper radiator cooling elements of the power supply system – 45.5 ° C (when overloaded – 48.2 ° C);
  • The lower radiator for cooling the elements of the power subsystem is 38.1 ° C (when overloaded – 39.3 ° C);
  • The chokes of the power subsystem are 49.2 ° C (when overloaded – 50.8 ° C).

The results clearly indicate the high efficiency of the installed cooling system, which indicates the correct selection of materials and their design.

Conclusion

The conclusion of our testing with the ROG ZENITH EXTREME is quite simple. You should plan to assemble the system with the new AMD Ryzen Threadripper. With this combination, you get a powerful motherboard. You should be able spend less than $700 when purchased.

However, it is necessary to take into account the fast delivery (including ROG AREION 10G card) and a number of important benefits – the active cooling system on the power subsystem with the backlight. Then there is the wireless interface module and the capacity of the 4600 Mbps battery.

Furthermore, you get the LiveDash OLED display, the ESS Saber 9018Q2C audio subsystem, the excellent disk subsystem, the availability 48 PCIe lines for connecting four video cards and much more.

As for the features, in addition to the cost, we noted the restriction on the simultaneous use of certain interfaces. As a result, ROG ZENITH EXTREME X399 clearly deserves your attention as a fine piece of equipment, fully consistent with its renowned status.

Pros:

  • Can extend the delivery set
  • A module with wireless interfaces supporting WiGig 802.11ad
  • OLED-display LiveDash
  • Sound subsystem with DAC ESS Saber 9018Q2C
  • Reliable 8-phase digital power subsystem
  • The presence of the backlight ASUS AURA Sync
  • Nice design
  • Support for USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports
  • Offers you excellent opportunity to organize the disk subsystem
  • Gigabit LAN controller from Intel with the ability to prioritize traffic
  • Good opportunities for automatic and manual settings
  • Outstanding layout of the interface panel
  • Support for a number of useful brand technologies

Cons:

  • Has limitations interface

About the author

Tyler Rondman

When he isn't enjoying the beautiful Northwest outdoors, you can find Tyler on business and tech sites, writing about the latest news, analyzing trends, and generally making the Internet a more interesting place.