A look into the AORUS X399 Xtreme
Since the introduction of AMD’s 2nd generation Ryzen Threadripper, it has brought focus to the supporting platform known as TR4. This is significant for manufacturers of motherboards. AMD also announced the backward compatibility of the new Threadripper chips on the existing X399 boards with a BIOS update. With this, Gigabyte branch out to their gaming line, Aorus, equipped to the X399 party with the Xtreme.
AORUS X399 XTREME
Aorus feels the board’s standard ATX form factor footprint (305mm x 244mm) simply isn’t large enough. They therefore go with an Extended ATX (E-ATX) (305mm x 269mm), so better make sure your chassis can support it.
First impressions are that it’s an absolute beast in build. Part of the reason for the heavyweight is a full-size base plate on the back. Aorus claims it can lower backside temperature by up to 10°C.
The lower part of the PCB mainly consists of masses of cooling for storage drives. The actual provision is not different from the initial release of the X399, so two 22110 and one 2280 for M.2. We prefer the amount of cooling coverage that was implemented, though SATA support has been cut from eight to six.
Aorus has put in 48 lanes for GPU. In some sense, the first and third slots run at x16 electrically and there’s enough space between the two to house a double-width card. Putting the four cards in will result in an x8, x16, x8, x16 configuration, with all the lanes coming from the CPU. A favourable display is that they placed these right next to the SATA ports is to supplement 6-pin connector for more juice.
Of course, when you overclock the components tend to get hot, so in order to keep everything somewhat cool. the Xtreme uses direct-touch heat pipes under several chunky, many-fin heatsinks that are indirectly cooled by twin 30mm fans.
Aorus groups its eight DIMM slots really closely to the socket. We generally prefer more breathing room for cooling and of course, it enables larger coolers. It would be almost impossible to install memory modules like the Corsair Vengeance Pro RGB and G.Skill Trident Z RGB because the cooler fouls them out. Some may consider this minor, as standard coolers or RAM combination will fit but it’s something worth taking note of.
RBG is there, obviously. Centered on three primary zones and edge lighting, Aorus takes away the extra bling from the DIMM slots – possibly to push users to their own RGB memory.
Aorus embeds 802.11ac 2×2 Wifi and a combination Bluetooth 4.2 card. Nice and fast it is, though we hoped to see the faster Intel AC-9260 instead of the standard AC-8265 here.
Aorus X399 boards consist of eight USB 3.1 Gen 1, one USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A and one Type-C that are on the back. All powered from the chipset, while ASMedia provides support for the PCB-mounted USB 3 Gen 2 header. Aorus also includes power and clear CMOS buttons on the back.
The AMD Threadripper CPU has been transformed into a workstation chip with the release of the WX line. As such, there is renewed focus on the supporting chipset, X399.
Aorus has definitely seen the opportunity of pushing the new features and performance up by a notch. Reasons to consider would be the fitted 10Gbits/s Ethernet, beautiful layout, and a really rigid backplate. Each represents meaningful upgrades from the first gen Gaming 7.
Though, with the good points, there are some potentially damaging points to consider – the DIMM slots being too close together, last-gen Wifi, and a perfunctory BIOS. Are these enough to take the glitter off the Xtreme? The answer is probably not with us, and the overall feel of the Xtreme is definitely a solid base for the Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX in particular. We are saddened though that we were not able to fully test the capabilities of the Xtreme because we didn’t have a Threadripper at hand.