To the vic­tor, the Thread­rip­per

We benched AMD’s Ryzen Thread­rip­per CPUs on ASUS’ and Gi­ga­byte’s X399 moth­er­boards.

HWM (Malaysia) - - LAB EXAM - Text by John Law

With the ba­sics hav­ing been cov­ered in the ear­lier pages, the en­thu­si­asts amongst our read­ers are prob­a­bly raring to find out just what kind of per­for­mance yields they would be get­ting with the Ryzen Thread­rip­per CPU and its ac­com­pa­ny­ing X399 moth­er­boards.

As luck would have it, both ASUS and Gi­ga­byte pro­vided their re­spec­tive X399 moth­er­boards: the ROG Zenith Ex­treme and the AORUS Gam­ing 7. With them in tow, we tested AMD’s High-End Desk­top (HEDT) CPU for both the en­thu­si­ast gamer and the con­tent cre­ator who seeks raw, un­bri­dled power for pro­duc­tiv­ity.

Ryzen on steroids

Be­fore we get right into the show­down be­tween two of the big­gest names in PC com­po­nents, we thought it’s best to list down a specs sheet of AMD’s two heavy­weight con­tenders. Start­ing off with the 1950X: this top-of-the-line CPU has a base clock of 3.4GHz and a boost clock of 4.0GHz, but more im­por­tantly, it’s cur­rently the only HEDT CPU on the mar­ket that’s pack­ing 16 cores and 32 threads, spread out across AMD’s triedand-tested 14nm Zen ar­chi­tec­ture.

Like­wise, the 1920X is also built upon that afore­men­tioned 14nm lithog­ra­phy, but comes with slightly less cores, specif­i­cally 12 cores and 24 threads. The CPU has a slightly higher base clock at 3.5GHz, but other than that, its boost clock is still set at 4.0GHz.

If, at this stage, you’re won­der­ing why all of AMD’s Thread­rip­per CPUs seem to clock out at 4.0GHz, the an­swer is sim­ple: AMD’s new ap­proach in its mi­crochip de­sign means that the com­pany has placed pri­or­ity on gain­ing as much per­for­mance per watt from a pro­ces­sor over higher clock speed gains, but at the costs of ther­mal ef­fi­ciency.

Of course, you can still over­clock any of these CPUs, but as per our ad­vice on the sub­ject: you will re­quire a re­ally good CPU cooler.

Asus roG zenith Ex­treme

With that short tech­ni­cal sum­mary now out of the way, we’ll be­gin with the first moth­er­board on the list: the ASUS ROG Zenith Ex­treme. Now, in the Lab Exam on ASUS’ ROG Strix X299-E Gam­ing that was found in the pre­vi­ous is­sue, we men­tioned that the de­sign of the moth­er­board is some­what bare­boned. With the Zenith Ex­treme, the com­pany seems to have gone the ex­tra mile with the trim­mings. The board is slightly wider than other ASUS moth­er­boards, and on top of that, it also looks a lot more con­gested.

The board is pep­pered with ports, with one M.2 slot hid­den un­der­neath the metal plate at the bot­tom right (seems to be the trend in moth­er­board de­sign these days), and a pro­pri­etary DIMM.2 slot (ca­pa­ble of hold­ing two ad­di­tional M.2 SSDs) right next to the mem­ory slots on the top right.

For a moth­er­board of this cal­iber, we ex­pected it to come equipped with a back­plate. In­stead, what we got was ap­prox­i­mately a quar­ter of a back­plate, which doesn’t re­ally do much ex­cept to hold the built-in Aura Sync LEDs in place, but does add van­ity points to the moth­er­board’s aes­thet­ics.

But the most fas­ci­nat­ing and in­ter­est­ing fea­ture of the Zenith Ex­treme is the cooler fan that ASUS has in­stalled just on top of the rear I/O panel, along with the mini OLED dis­play that tells us the cur­rent sta­tus of the ma­jor com­po­nents on the moth­er­board. On that note, we should point out that the fan made the Zenith Ex­treme the louder moth­er­board of the two.

Gi­ga­byte X399 Aorus Gam­ing 7

Mov­ing for­ward, the X399 AORUS Gam­ing 7 sports a far hum­bler de­sign than the com­pe­ti­tion, but with Gi­ga­byte’s own machi­na­tions thrown into it.

Put them side by side, and the AORUS Gam­ing 7 ac­tu­ally looks smaller, but don’t be fooled. This moth­er­board ac­tu­ally sports a lot more fea­tures than what you can see at first glance. Com­pared to the some­what con­gested de­sign of the Zenith Ex­treme, the AORUS Gam­ing 7 looks cleaner and more uni­formed in its own.

You also get a to­tal of three M.2 NVMe SSD slots, but un­like the Zenith Ex­treme and its DIMM.2 and sin­gle M.2 slot combo, the AORUS Gam­ing 7’s three slots can eas­ily be found be­tween the re­in­forced PCIe 3.0 slots and just be­low the AORUS em­blem, which il­lu­mi­nates in the board’s en­tire RGB splen­dor. Also, the M.2 slots all come with their own Ther­mal Guard heatsinks for the mem­ory mod­ule.

How­ever, com­pared to the com­pe­ti­tion, the AORUS Gam­ing 7 is lack­ing in its rear I/O panel. To make things slightly more com­pli­cated, the CMOS re­set but­ton isn’t even on the rear I/O panel, but is lo­cated at the foot of the moth­er­board, right be­tween the power and re­set but­ton.

Friendly com­pe­ti­tion To test out the moth­er­boards, we re­lied on the com­po­nents be­low: • AMD Ryzen Thread­rip­per 1950X

and 1920X • 32G (4x 8G) G.SKILL Tri­dentz RGB DDR4

3200 (CL tim­ings: 14-14-14-34) • Palit GameRock Pre­mium GTX 1080 • Ther­mal­take Floe Ri­ing 360 TT Pre­mium

Edi­tion 360mm AiO cooler • Ther­mal­take Tough­power iRGB Plus

1250W • Sam­sung EVO 960 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD • Win­dows 10 Pro­fes­sional We also ran a cou­ple of PC game ti­tles to see how big of a dif­fer­ence be­tween the 1950X and 1920X on both moth­er­boards. • Deus Ex: Mankind Di­vided • DOOM • Hit­man Lastly, we over­clocked both the 1950X and 1920X on both boards, mak­ing them run at a con­sis­tent 4.0GHz through­out our testing pe­riod. Ul­ti­mately, the Zenith Ex­treme and AORUS Gam­ing 7 were pretty much neck to neck with each other in the syn­thetic bench­marks, but ul­ti­mately, it was ASUS’ moth­er­board that came ahead, al­beit by just a few points.

Syn­thetic bench­marks aside, it was the gam­ing seg­ment that re­ally pit­ted the two moth­er­boards against one an­other. For the most part, both boards were pretty much on par with each other, but in some sit­u­a­tions, it was the Zenith Ex­treme that was, yet again, the moth­er­board that was lead­ing the charge, and by sev­eral more frames per sec­ond. CON­CLU­SION As it was men­tioned in the fea­ture ar­ti­cle be­fore this, it is be­yond a shadow of a doubt that AMD’s Ryzen Thread­rip­per CPUs were de­signed to be pow­er­ful, but more im­por­tantly, con­sumers now have more op­tions in a mar­ket that has been dom­i­nated by In­tel for so many years.

Ul­ti­mately, both the ROG Zenith Ex­treme and X399 AORUS Gam­ing 7 are ex­cel­lent choices that com­ple­ment AMD’s Ryzen Thread­rip­per CPUs, and frankly, we ac­tu­ally had a hard time choos­ing be­tween the two. If you want a moth­er­board that is loaded with ports, and a sexy (al­beit in a messy sort of way) de­sign, go for the ROG Zenith Ex­treme. But if your per­sonal de­sign pref­er­ences lean to­wards a clean-cut and uni­form aes­thetic, then the AORUS Gam­ing 7 is def­i­nitely for you.

AMD’s Ryzen Thread­rip­per CPU. Seen here is the 1950X.

Un­like the Zenith Ex­treme, the Gi­ga­byte X399 AORUS Gam­ing 7 has three sep­a­rate M.2 slots.

You’d ex­pect ASUS to put on a full back­plate for this moth­er­board.

The X399 AORUS Gam­ing 7 has less ports in its rear I/O panel than the Zenith Ex­treme.

I/O ports on the ROG Zenith Ex­treme.

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