AMD Ryzen X399 Motherboards Revisited – The ASRock X399M Taichi and ASUS X399-E ROG STRIX Review
ASUS ROG STRIX X399-E Gaming Motherboard- Close Up
The ASUS ROG STRIX X399-E is an extended ATX form factor motherboard and is fitted with a range of high quality components. Just out of the box, the motherboard feels like a gargantua due to its sheer size and an astonishing amount of features that are packed within it.
The ASUS ROG STRIX design is unique on every board. The solid and aggressive looking heatsinks come in dark grey coating while the motherboard PCB which is colored in black comes with white textured lines that extend from top to bottom.
On the back of the motherboard, we see three unique features. These include the large SP3 back plate which is included on all Ryzen Threadripper motherboards, a large metallic plate underneath the CPU VRMs and the similar motherboard PCB texturing we see on the front.
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 four 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 128 GB in capacity.
Scattered around the CPU socket is a 8+2 phase DIGI+ VRM system that uses ASUS’s best in class components such as high-end chokes, MOSFETs and Digital IR chips for best stability and overclock performance.
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. All power inputs are located near each other which would make cable routing slightly congested.
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.
On closer inspection, I can spot that the heatpipe from the VRMs lead towards a large aluminum heatsink that is found under the I/O panel cover. The cover actually houses a small wing blade fan that offers active cooling, making the temperatures fall in normal range.
Here, we can see a better shot of the aluminum heatsink and the fan which rests right below the I/O cover and over the USB 3.1 ports. It’s a unique feature and I have heard that this fan operates on the basis of temperature so it will stay idle if the temperature doesn’t exceed a certain limit that will help noise levels down.
The AMD X399 chipset is hidden beneath a large aggressively styled heatsink that comes with brushed metallic and triangular metal surface which reflects light. The ROG eye logo in the middle features ASUS AURA Sync technology and can lit up and be customized according to users own preference.
The top of the heatsink has a very glossy surface which looks really cool even when the RGB is not operating.
Another thing about this heatsink is that it serves two purposes, one is that it can embed a M.2 fan holder on itself when the top frame is removed.
The second purpose it serves is that it can be used as a M.2 heatsink which lies under the top frame. You can mount your M.2 SSD by removing the PCH frame and use the enlonged aluminum frame to cool the storage device.
In terms of storage, we are looking at 6 SATA 3 6Gbps ports which support RAID, 2 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 four PCIe 3.0 x16 slots which operate at (PCIE1/PCIE3/PCIE4/PCIE6: single at x16 (PCIE1); dual at x16 (PCIE1) / x16 (PCIE4); triple at x16 (PCIE1) / x8 (PCIE2) / x16 (PCIE4); quad at x16 (PCIE1) / x8 (PCIE2) / x16 (PCIE4) / x8 (PCIE5)). There’s also a single PCIe 3.0 x4 and a single PCIe 3.0 x1 slot.
The motherboard can house four way SLI and Crossfire GPUs. It also uses the latest metal shielded PCIe slots for extra durability and anti-bend support.
The second M.2 slot is a vertical one which can support full height devices. A USB 3.1 Gen 2 front panel header can also be spotted beneath the M.2 port.
Within the motherboard, there are a large variety of connectors which include the following:
1 x Q_Code
1 x Aura Addressable Strip Header(s)
1 x U.2 port
2 x RGB Header(s)
2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 3.1 Gen 1 port(s)
2 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x M.2 Socket 3 with M key, type 2242/2260/2280 storage devices support (SATA & PCIE 3.0 x 4 mode)
1 x M.2 Socket 3 with M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (SATA & PCIE 3.0 x 4 mode)
6 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
1 x M.2_FAN connector
1 x CPU Fan connector(s)
1 x CPU OPT Fan connector(s)
3 x Chassis Fan connector(s)
1 x AIO_PUMP connector
1 x W_PUMP+ connector
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x 4-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x System panel(s)
1 x 5-pin EXT_FAN(Extension Fan) connector
1 x Thermal sensor connector(s)
1 x Power-on button(s)
1 x Clear CMOS jumper(s)
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 front panel connector
Audio on the ASUS ROG STRIX X399-E Gaming is provided by the SupremeFX S1220A Codec which has its own dedicated PCB area and provides dual headphone amplifiers, impedance sense for front and rear, premium nichicon audio capacitors and audio line shielding.
The I/O cover, as mentioned before goes with the theme of this motherboard really well. There’s also the cut out for the fan that’s located beneath it and it doesn’t take away the elegance of the motherboard at all.
I/O on the ASUS ROG STRIX X399-E Gaming include an ASUS 2×2 WiFI 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and BT 4.2 module which comes with dual antennas, a single Optical SPDIF out port, 2 USB 3.1 (Type-A + Type-C) ports, 8 USB 3.1 ports, 1 RJ-45 LAN port, a single BIOS flash back switch and a 7.1 channel high quality HD audio jack.