ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha Motherboard Review With AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX – The Alpha Predator of The X399 Series
ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha2019
ASUS's 2nd Generation ROG Zenith Extreme - The Alpha Predator
The ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha is the flagship X399 motherboard that ASUS has to offer and it has a lot to offer. It's time to dissect our findings on each aspect of the motherboard.
ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha Design
When you take this motherboard out of the massive box, you would be warmly welcomed by a fresh take on next-generation high-end desktop motherboard designs. AMD X399 motherboards have made AIBs rethink their design methodologies for high-end motherboards and the ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha is a monster in all departments.
First of all, the entire matte black finish on the motherboard looks neatly done and even with the heatsinks, the motherboard is a sight to look at. The original ROG Zenith Extreme launched back in 2017 and it was one of the top X399 motherboards and the first X399 chipset-based product to be unveiled by AMD themselves. The ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha learns from the first iteration of the Zenith series and takes it one notch ahead with a better cooling design and an enhanced set of IO.
ASUS has done a lot of work in the cooling department. There are a total of 8 heatsinks on the ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha. There's also a full coverage heat pipe for the VRMs and if that is not enough, there are also two fans on the topmost heatsink that provide active cooling the VRMs. During tests, I saw a huge decrease in VRM temperatures with the active cooling enabled which shows that they are designed to do their job quite well.
The other feature is the whole build quality of the motherboard. It feels very premium & the ROG designed that is splattered all over the board is very professional. There's not an overdose of RGB but that PCH and I/O cover heatsinks do include those and provide for a nice aesthetic. The LEDs on the side of the motherboard also provide a nice touch when the board is operational and those with test benches would find it eye-catching.
ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha Features
There are a ton of features jam-packed in this motherboard. And by so many features, I mean that they are so many to mention that most users will hardly use most of them. I like the wireless WIFI and Bluetooth capabilities on these motherboards and a nice audio driver is a must and the Supreme FX 8 with ALC1220 CODEC system does a good job in delivering great audio playback.
Then there's 10 GbE LAN from Aquantia which is a must for workstation and server heavy setups. The use case of such applications on this motherboard is a lot as the WX series processors are definitely aimed at those workloads. There is also an additional Intel GbE LAN port which is a must for networking heavy users. There are lots of connectivity and PCIe storage options on the board but I'd love to have seen more SATA ports.
I think that the biggest standout features of the Zenith Extreme Alpha come in the form of the ROG DIMM.2 and the Fan Extension II hub. The ROG DIMM.2 provides two additional M.2 ports with the ROG heatsink solution that should give you high-end SSD performance without the need to worry about thermal performance. The Fan Extension II hub is also a great addition for users who want to add more fans while keeping cable management neat and tidy in their systems. The board also has an ample amount of USB 3.1 Gen 2 and USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports which should keep your latest IO devices hooked up perfectly.
ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha Performance
Talking about performance which is a key aspect that the X399 refresh motherboards are focused towards, the first thing that comes to mind is the power delivery system. The board rocks a 16 CPU VRM, 4 Phase memory VRM and 4 Phase SOC VRM. I can go on and tell you the names of all the high-end components that it rocks but that won't matter to you since you want numbers since there's no use of high-end designs if you can't get more performance out of it over previous generation parts.
With the new PWM system, I managed a overclock of 4.2 GHz on my Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX processor, with a voltage of 1.40V. The Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX is definitely a power hog but the Zenith Extreme Alpha with its high-end VRM design and more importantly, the added VRM cooling did a good job in keeping the chip stable. Cooling for the CPU was another thing as the AIO cooler was just on the edge of being pushed to the limits and the power numbers went off the chart with this overclock but it was stable which is a good thing.
The overall performance went up in various benchmarks which include productivity and rendering with the ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha and its impressive overclocking capabilities. Plus in general, I saw applications become a little snappier since the processor was able to utilize faster DIMMs and also ran at slightly better clocks, even at stock configuration due to Precision Boost Overdrive in effect which wasn't the case on older X399 motherboards.
ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha Pricing
The ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha packs a lot of punch but it also comes in at an extremely high price. The $699.99 US figure puts it in the premium category which is way higher than the $599.99 US X399 refresh options, the MSI MEG Creation and the AORUS Xtreme. However, the ASUS Zenith Extreme Alpha has a lot to offer and if you're paying for a processor that costs around $2000 US, a $699 US motherboard would be the least of your concerns but if you want a better deal, cheaper options exist but you obviously lose a few features here and there.
ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha Overall Conclusion
The latest Zenith Extreme is here and ASUS has done a fine job in offering all of their expertise in motherboard development in a single product. The ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha is a mighty board for a mighty processor lineup, the AMD Ryzen Threadripper. The WX series, in particular, will be a great companion with a board of this tier and with all the features that the Zenith Extreme Alpha rocks, you wouldn't have to worry for an upgrade for many years. At $699 US, the ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha is the ultimate X399 motherboard that you can buy for AMD's disruptive Ryzen Threadripper processors.
At $699 US, the ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha packs so many features, an incredible power delivery system and lots of IO, making it the ultimate X399 motherboard that you can buy for AMD's disruptive Ryzen Threadripper processors.
- 16+4+4 Phase IR Digital PWM Power Supply (60A MOSFETs)
- Dual 8-Pin Power Connectors For Unrestricted Power Delivery to CPU
- Proper Aluminum Fin Based heatsinks with heat pipe interconnection
- Dual Fan Active Cooling For VRMs with Idle Fan Tech (Finned Aluminum heatsink)
- Supports Up To 128 GB of DDR memory with speeds of 3600 MHz+ OC
- Matte Black Finish on the entire board + dual backplates
- ROG DIMM.2 With Dual M.2 ports (Includes Heatsink / Heatpad)
- ROG Fan Extension II Hub with 6 additional fan ports, 3 RGB and 3 Thermal sensor ports
- Impressive AURA Sync RGB Capabilities With Good Software Support
- Aluminum cover for PCIe and M.2 slots (includes heatsink for M.2)
- Full I/O cover with aluminum heatsink + Aura Sync + OLED Live Dash
- Metal Shielded PCIe Slots
- Metal Shielded DIMM Slots
- Metal Shielded M.2 Slots
- Integrated Intel 802.11 ac Wireless capabilities
- 10G Ethernet Port (Aquantia) + 1 Gigabit LAN ports
- SupremeFX 8 Sound (Superb onboard sound capabilities)
- Tons of USB 3.1 Gen 1 and Gen 2 ports on rear panel IO
- Pre-mounted IO Shield
- Internal USB 3.1 Gen 2 Header
- Dual BIOS for easy tuning if anything goes haywire
- Extremely High Price ($699.99 US)
- Can consume a lot of power when CPUs (especially the WX models) is overclocked beyond 4 GHz
- OLED Live Dash is very clunky and often unresponsive