ASUS RoG Zenith Extreme
The price may be pointy, but this truly is a board that’s at the top of its game.
The word ‘zenith’ describes a point at which something is most powerful or successful. It seems, then, that this motherboard, the RoG Zenith Extreme is fittingly named.
Leading a tight race through this month’s X399 benchmark suite, the Zenith delivered a consistently positive user experience from start to finish. As the only offering in the trio of boards tested that fits the Extended-ATX form factor, or ‘EATX’, the Zenith has extra precious PCB space upon which to mount and engage additional features. Perhaps a little unusual is the comparatively fewer M.2 slots mounted near the PCH and between PCIe slots, with a single port hidden beneath part of the PCH heatsink for passive cooling. With the Gigabyte and MSI X399s both sporting three M.2 slots each, the Zenith looks a little sparse for NVMe SSD support by comparison. That is, until you notice the DIMM.2 solution developed and integrated by ASUS, which provides an alternative mounting for a second M.2 drive via a custom daughterboard, and further rounding out NVMe SSD support with a U.2 port — something both the Gigabyte and MSI options lack. Depending on your storage needs, this approach could be either a positive or a negative.
The Zenith design takes a number of different routes to the competition. For example, the RoG engineers didn’t deem it necessary to include eight SATA 6Gbps ports, opting instead for just six. For some storageoriented owners, this may be a shortcoming, but for others, it means resources can be allocated elsewhere.
Many of the strengths and intriguing attributes of the Zenith aren’t typically caught on the first look — but rather the second or third pass — requiring some thought and consideration as to whether this board will be appropriate and suitable for your needs.
For extreme performance buffs, especially those that like to dabble in exotic cooling solutions and high overclocks, the Zenith is packed with additional OC-focused features. These type of board features and capabilities are actually common to ASUS’s RoG Extreme range, and offer attributes like PCIe slot dip switches, LN2 mode, PCBbased voltage measuring points for digital multimeters (DMMs) and connectivity for peripherals like the RoG OC Panel. However, it’s worth noting that this Extreme series ‘ board doesn’t come bundled with that now-discontinued OC Panel, so you’ll have to already own one or search the second-hand market.
At almost $250 dearer than the next board in the ranks, some may cringe at the price. However, if you’re building a system that can properly take advantage of what the platform offers and use the bundled extras, there is value to be found. Though admittedly that’ll differ on a case-by-case basis. Examples of this one’s rarer bundled extras include parts like 2-, 3- and 4-way SLI bridges (while competitors only include a 2-Way bridge), a fan controller card for an additional three 4-pin fan ports, and the RoG Areion 10G PCIe x4 add-in card, that delivers 10Gbps Ethernet connectivity. The Areion 10G alone sells for a touch over $200 in the ITC channel. Oh, and it rocks 802.11ad Wi-Fi support, too!
Overall, the Zenith offers a pleasant user experience, with good performance and a welcoming aesthetic.