To the victor, the Threadripper
We benched AMD’s Ryzen Threadripper CPUs on ASUS’ and Gigabyte’s X399 motherboards.
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.