The ASRock X399 Professional Gaming Motherboard Review: 10G For Allby E. Fylladitakis on July 5, 2018 8:00 AM EST
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There are only very few motherboards currently available for Ryzen Threadripper processors. ASRock is the company with most AMD X399 motherboards and they only have three available. Still, ASRock took a more daring approach with their designs and also released the one and only mATX motherboard for Ryzen Threadripper. In this review we will be having a look at their currently best AMD X399 motherboard, the Fatal1ty X399 Professional Gaming.
The ASRock X399 Professional Gaming, as the name suggests, is a motherboard that is being marketed towards advanced gamers. Although the Ryzen Threadripper (currently) is not an appealing processor for casual gaming, when a gamer also wants to be concurrently downloading, chatting, and transcoding a video in the background while streaming a game online, the many cores of the Threadripper start making sense. The X399 Professional Gaming is ASRock's most featured-packed motherboard, with a very impressive list of specifications. However, with a price tag of $440, the X399 Professional Gaming also is one of the most expensive Ryzen Threadripper motherboards available. We will be seeing if that cost is justified in this review.
AnandTech's AMD Ryzen Threadripper and X399 Motherboard Coverage
- The AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X and 1920X Review: CPUs on Steroids
- An AMD Threadripper X399 Motherboard Overview
- Analyzing Threadripper Thermals: Big Base Cooling Wins
- The GIGABYTE X399 DESIGNARE EX Motherboard Review
- AMD Reveals Threadripper 2 : Up to 32 Cores, 250W, X399 Refresh
- GIGABYTE’s X399 Aorus Extreme: The Threadripper 2 Halo Motherboard
- MSI's New Threadripper 2 Motherboard on Steroids: X399 Creation
- New EKWB Threadripper X399 Monoblocks for GIGABYTE and MSI
ASRock Fatal1ty X399 Professional Gaming Overview
The ASRock X399 Professional Gaming is a motherboard that has been designed to entice advanced gamers. Even the nickname of the former well-known former esports player, Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel, appears along with the motherboard's name to help with the marketing of the motherboard. However, after having a closer look at the motherboard and its specifications, it feels as if the X399 Professional Gaming is having an identity crisis, which isn't necessary a bad thing.
The design of the X399 Professional Gaming is not in any way extravagant, as one would expect from a top-tier motherboard that is almost exclusively targeting gamers. On the contrary, the aesthetic design is subtle, yet elegant, focused on simple geometric shapes. Onboard RGB lighting is present but is limited around the chipset's heatsink, with headers for additional LED strips. We also spotted very high-quality components, such as the Nichicon solid-state capacitors that account for every single capacitor on this motherboard.
In terms of connectivity, the ASRock X399 Professional Gaming supports up to three M.2 PCIe ×4 drives, one U.2 PCIe ×4 drive, and eight SATA drives. Each of the M.2 sockets have four PCIe lanes with no sharing between them and/or with other devices, except for one of the M.2 slots to be switched with the U.2 port. Using the U.2 connector will disable one of the M.2 ports entirely. It is not possible for two devices to be installed with shared lanes.
A look at the rear panel of the motherboard reveals that the ASRock X399 Professional Gaming has three network interface controllers (NICs), plus the Wi-Fi 802.11ac/Bluetooth 4.2 module. Two of the NICs are typical gigabit chips from Intel (211AT) but the third is an Aquantia 10GBASE-T chip, the AQC107. This level of network connectivity is needless for a gaming motherboard and none of the used chipsets are designed exclusively for gaming, it should be noted. The use of three NICs is one of this motherboard's unique features but, on the other hand, this approach does not make much sense for a gaming motherboard. A gaming-specific NIC such as a Killer E2500 would make the motherboard more appealing to gamers, whereas the more expensive Aquantia 10G chip primarily serves other users.
The second feature that stands out is the 11-phase (8+3) power design with a fully digital PWM controller and separated CPU connectors. We will examine the circuitry in more detail in the following pages of this review. The sound chipset is provided by Realtek and is the ALC1220. It supports the Sound Blaster Cinema 3 software and ASRock is using Nichicon's golden audio-specific capacitors to drive the physically isolated audio channels. The motherboard also has a USB 3.1 Gen 2 controller that provides one Type-A and one Type-C port.
We are unsure why ASRock decided to focus their marketing efforts on just gamers with this motherboard. Overall, it feels as if the designer was initially trying to create a reliable and fully-featured motherboard that would be an appealing product for practically every advanced user, not just gamers.
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bug77 - Thursday, July 5, 2018 - link"However, with a price tag of $440, the X399 Professional Gaming also is one of the most expensive Ryzen Threadripper motherboards available."
And yet, the title of the article says it's "for all".
Also, Threadripper is a rather poor choice for gaming. Even if you're streaming, you don't need that many cores. Threadripper is really good is you massively edit photo or edit video or do 3D rendering and few other specialized things. But not for much else.
This is not a criticism, with today's CPU one has to carefully weigh whether they need more cores or faster cores, depending on their usage patterns. There no universal solution like there was back in the single-core CPUs day. (And even then, if you didn't need FPU performance, a much cheaper AMD CPU could have been the better pick.)
Myrandex - Thursday, July 5, 2018 - linkEh the original single core Athlon 64 CPUs even had pretty banging FPU performance back in the day too.
bug77 - Thursday, July 5, 2018 - linkTrue, but the original K6 didn't ;)
DanNeely - Thursday, July 5, 2018 - linkIt's "10G For All", the for all is attached to the 10G ethernet support, meaning it's a thread-ripper board with 10G for both gaming and work station use. It's more expensive than general use boards of either category because the 10G controller is still seriously expensive. If you don't need 10G ethernet, it's probably not the board you want because of the price premium attached for it.
bug77 - Thursday, July 5, 2018 - linkSo... it's not for all.
eek2121 - Thursday, July 5, 2018 - linkI would have to disagree there. Windows has hundreds of thousands of processes running in the background and when Threadripper is set up properly it performs great with gaming. Even if you do able 8 of the cores you can easily beat out the 1800X from an IPC perspective thanks to lower cache latencies (Threadripper has similar cache latencies to the 2700X). The higher XFR boost (4200hz), slightly better IPC, quad channel memory, and more cores means a better gaming experience than the 1800X...if you can afford it.
bug77 - Friday, July 6, 2018 - linkI didn't say it performs poorly. But perf/$ isn't the best for many workflows.
Marlin1975 - Thursday, July 5, 2018 - linkIt says Creative SoundBlaster on the cover yet the description says Onboard Audio Realtek ALC1220A?
This just some marketing/software so it makes it seem nicer?
tmediaphotography - Thursday, July 5, 2018 - link"It supports the Sound Blaster Cinema 3 software"
Realtek hardware, but anyone who is perversely attached the Creative Labs software can feel free to install and use the Cinema 3 software.
DanNeely - Thursday, July 5, 2018 - linkSound blaster switched from custom hardware to just being a custom driver for other audio hardware a few years ago.