AMD Ryzen X399 Motherboards Revisited – The ASRock X399M Taichi and ASUS X399-E ROG STRIX Review
ASRock X399M Taichi Motherboard- Close Up
What amazes me about this motherboard is that it has all the bells and whistles of the full ATX Taichi in a smaller area. Looking at the motherboard sitting next to the X399 Taichi, we can see that it follows the same design as its full ATX counterpart but manages things really well for a MATX design.
The motherboard comes with a simplistic design language that follows ASRock’s Taichi design as seen on previous motherboards. ASRock has chosen the grey and black color scheme with slight silver accents that give a good touch on this motherboard and it looks great.
The large TR4 socket can be seen at the top of the motherboard. This is the same SP4 design from the server EPYC motherboard, re-engineered for the HEDT masses. The socket has a plastic cover that slides in and out with ease. The AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors also slide in the socket with ease after removal of the protective cover. All X399 motherboards are shipped with this cover since we are talking about 4094 pins and one damaged pin can cause permanent damage to the board.
Talking about the socket, it is also the largest ever designed for a consumer grade motherboard and the number of pins inside the socket are mind blowing. You can fit in almost four consumer Intel CPUs in the socket (although they won’t work).
Around the socket are two DDR4 DIMM slots which can support quad channel memory with clock speeds up to 3600 MHz (OC+). The system is designed to operate both non-ECC and ECC (UDIMM) memory and up to 64 GB in capacity. The lesser DIMM slots were used to accommodate other set of features but you don’t use much and 64 GB of fast 3600 MHz memory is still more than enough for many use cases, even in the high-end professional environment.
Scattered around the CPU socket are 11 power phases that use the IR Digital PWM unit for voltage and power regulation. The motherboard is based on the ASRock Super Alloy technology that has a range of features including 60A Dr.MOS power chokes. 12K black capacitors, a high density glass fabric PCB and premium alloy chokes for the memory too.
The motherboard is supplied power through a 24 pin ATX connector while the CPU socket is ran by a 8 and 4 pin power configuration. This is enough to feed juice to the high-end Ryzen Threadripper CPUs. Overclocking would be a breeze on high-end motherboards of this design.
The motherboard uses premium aluminum metal heatsinks that make direct contact with the VRM and also include copper heatpipe design to channel heat. This effectively leads to better cooling on the motherboard.
The heatpipe actually extends from the I/O heatsink which houses a proper aluminum chassis and redirects it to the top and side heatsink for better heat transfers.
The AMD X399 chipset is hidden beneath a metallic heatsink which is etched with the ASRock label. The PCH heatsink follows the Taichi gear design which we have come to see over the past few gen. This is a decent sized heatsink which embeds ASRock’s RGB LED feature that can be tuned via their bundled software.
In terms of storage, we are looking at 8 SATA 3 6Gbps ports which support RAID, 3 Ultra M.2 ports which run on PCIe x4 (32 GB/s) speeds.
There’s also a single U.2 port if you are running an Intel SSD with U.2 design although that doesn’t seem much of a case nowadays with M.2 in the lead. If a U.2 is connected, that will lead to one M.2 slot being disabled.
The motherboard has three PCIe 3.0 x16 slots which operate at (PCIE1/PCIE2/PCIE3: single at x16 (PCIE1); dual at x16 (PCIE1) / x16 (PCIE2); triple at x16 (PCIE1) / x16.
ASRock is using the latest metallic shielded standard on the PCIexpress slots which adds more strength to the slots when using heavy graphics cards.
The motherboard can house two way SLI and Crossfire GPUs and that is more than enough when considering that multi-gpu support for games isn’t at its best these days.
Within the motherboard, there are a large variety of connectors which include the following:
– 1 x TPM Header
– 1 x Power LED and Speaker Header
– 1 x RGB LED Header* Supports in total up to 12V/3A, 36W LED Strip
– 1 x CPU Fan Connector (4-pin)
– 1 x CPU Optional/Water Pump Fan Connector (4-pin) (Smart Fan Speed Control)
– 2 x Chassis Fan Connectors (4-pin) (Smart Fan Speed Control)
– 1 x Chassis Optional/Water Pump Fan Connector (4-pin) (Smart Fan Speed Control)
– 1 x 24 pin ATX Power Connector (Hi-Density Power Connector)
– 1 x 8 pin 12V Power Connector (Hi-Density Power Connector)
– 1 x 4 pin 12V Power Connector (Hi-Density Power Connector)
– 1 x Front Panel Audio Connector (15μ Gold Audio Connector)
– 1 x Right Angle Front Panel Audio Connector
– 2 x USB 2.0 Headers (Support 4 USB 2.0 ports) (Supports ESD Protection)
– 2 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Headers (Support 4 USB 3.1 Gen1 ports) (Supports ESD Protection)
– 1 x Clear CMOS Button
– 1 x Dr. Debug with LED
– 1 x Power Button
– 1 x Reset Button
– 1 x CPU Xtreme OC Switch
The Purity Sound 4 system on board the motherboard also comes with a plastic shield and powers a 7.1 channel HD audio (Realtek ALC1220 Audio Codec). The isolated PCB uses TI NE5532 Premium Headset Amplifier for Front Panel Audio Connector and supports DTS Connect.
The I/O port comes with a shielded cover which reads Ryzen Threadripper on the top. Similarly, the heatsink next to the I/O cover reads X399 and they look great.
I/O on the ASRock X399 Taichi includes 2 Antenna ports, a PS/2 port, a single Optical SPDIF out port, 2 USB 3.1 (Type-A + Type-C) ports, 8 USB 3.1 ports, 2 RJ-45 LAN ports, a single BIOS flash back switch and a high quality HD audio jack.