ASUS RoG Zenith Ex­treme

The price may be pointy, but this truly is a board that’s at the top of its game.

APC Australia - - Labfeature -

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.

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