Threadripper finds a fancy home in the Asus ROG Zenith Extreme

Looming large like an alien spacecraft, Ryzen Threadripper is upon us. The size of AMD's new high-end desktop CPUs cannot be overstated, and such a prodigious processor needs a suitably massive motherboard. In a post on its EdgeUp blog, Asus is showing off its first three Threadripper-compatible motherboards: the Prime X399-A, the ROG Strix X399-E, and the ROG Zenith Extreme. All three are E-ATX platters primed to serve up a cornucopia of connectivity. Let's have a glance at each one.

The top-tier ROG Zenith Extreme is quite possibly the most feature-filled motherboard I have ever seen in 25 years of system building. Eight DDR4 slots surround the TR4 socket, and Asus claims that memory slotted into all eight slots can hit 3600 MT/s. That ninth DIMM slot is for Asus' included DIMM.2 accessory, which lets builders mount M.2 devices vertically. The CPU's power delivery hardware is cooled by a small fan underneath the I/O shield's shroud, and there are more jumpers, buttons, and switches than I care to ponder the functions of.

The ROG Zenith Extreme comes along with support for four-way SLI or CrossFire, three M.2 sockets, an Aquantia 10-Gigabit Ethernet controller, and both 802.11ad WiGig and 2×2 802.11ac Wi-Fi. You also get an Intel gigabit Ethernet controller for good measure. The audio chip is Realtek's S1220, in this case paired up with fancy ESS Sabre DACs. The board has a U.2 port if you should be of a mind to hook up some enterprise-class NVMe storage. Asus even included a tiny LED readout in the I/O shroud that can display the CPU clock rate or an animated GIF of your choosing.

In contrast, the ROG Strix X399-E is a Threadripper motherboard that mere mortals might be able to obtain—thought it's still a high-class offering. Asus says this board is intended for gamers and streamers, as well as anyone who wants to make a showcase of their PC. Compared to the ROG Zenith above, it loses an M.2 socket, the 10-Gigabit Ethernet controller, WiGig support, and the ESS Sabre DACs. Otherwise, the feature sets appear similar across both boards. Asus unfortunately didn't share a picture of this board, so all we have to go on are the specifications.

Finally, the Prime X399-A skips the Republic of Gamers branding for a slightly more subdued appearance. Asus says this board is aimed at prosumer workstations and intended to be business-friendly. It is fundamentally similar to the ROG Strix X399-E, with the primary change being the loss of any kind of wireless connectivity. That means you still get all four PCIe x16 slots, a pair of M.2 sockets, Intel-powered gigabit Ethernet, and a trio of USB 3.1 ports.

Asus says the ROG Strix X399-E will be available in August, but doesn't say anything about how much it will cost. The prosumer-oriented Prime X399-A will also be available in August for approximately $350. If you simply must have the best, the ROG Zenith extreme is already up for pre-order on Newegg. Lay down $550 for this beast and it could ship as soon as August 10.

Comments closed
    • shank15217
    • 2 years ago

    I want the nano-itx version of this with all the ports! *tantrum*

    • ronch
    • 2 years ago

    I’m still absorbing the fact that AMD now has a high end quad-channel HEDT platform. It’s been so long since the K8’s glory days.

      • BurntMyBacon
      • 2 years ago

      I appreciate the comparison to the good ole days of yore, but I think it is a little premature to start talking glory days yet. In the K8 days, AMD moved from a platform that was competitive with Intel to a platform that arguably exceeded Intel in both single and multi threaded performance. With Ryzen, AMD is moving from a platform that wasn’t competitive to a platform that is (wins some, loses some). I do, however, think competition in the HEDT space was long overdue and still find it a bit new and weird to be talking about AMD in the same sentence as HEDT. Here’s hoping they maintain their momentum.

    • just brew it!
    • 2 years ago

    The custom active VRM cooling worries me, from both a noise and reliability standpoint.

      • Chrispy_
      • 2 years ago

      Don’t worry about reliability, it is not an issue because these ridiculous boards are discarded soon after purchase by their buyers who fit into one of two demographics:

      1. The LN2 overclockers trying to break a record.
      2. The super-rich who have to have the best and upgrade every 6 months.

      Normal, sensible people do not buy $550 boards that offer practically zero benefit over $200 equivalents that are sure to be out before Threadripper is available. This is simply the traditional milking of the impatient rich folk and a fan that lasts more than 90 days is simply hurting the profits.

        • just brew it!
        • 2 years ago

        The Prime X399-A ($350) is actually within the realm (i.e. less than a factor of 2 more) of reasonably priced boards.

          • Chrispy_
          • 2 years ago

          Except all of these “initial pricing” prices are bonkers. $350, $550?

          X99 boards start at $140. I know they’re previous-gen tech, but that’s what a [i<]normal[/i<] board starts at. The only x299 and x399 boards that the manufacturers are realeasing right now are their "super-duper, extra-expensive, pointless bells-and-whistles-galore" boards. [quote<]quite possibly the most feature-filled motherboard I have ever seen in 25 years of system building.[/quote<] Who is really going to want 4 m.2 slots including a 9th-DIMM-mounted slot, Dual-wireless AND dual Ethernet, including 10GbE to connect to nothing any gamer will own before faster cheaper solutions are around. But don't worry, there's a super-useful U.2 port and an animated GIF player built into the board itself. Holy biscuitballs that is a lot of stupid stuff. I'll be waiting a few months for the bog-standard x399 chipset, a TR4 socket and some completely normal-looking feature list for <$200.

        • albundy
        • 2 years ago

        i wouldn’t necessarily classify this as a build for rich people. lest we forget the 90’s when a pentium 60mhz compaq presario ran for $3,000.

          • just brew it!
          • 2 years ago

          But that was then, this is now. You can put together a very capable system without spending anywhere near that much. “Time is money” use cases that benefit from a few extra percent of performance aside, people don’t tend to buy $400+ motherboards unless they’ve got substantial disposable income (or a lack of common sense).

            • ermo
            • 2 years ago

            [quote<]"unless they've got substantial disposable income (or a lack of common sense)."[/quote<] Or both.

        • MOSFET
        • 2 years ago

        I don’t disagree with “Normal, sensible people do not buy $550 boards that offer practically zero benefit over $200 equivalents” but who cares? That’s not you – you’re sensible. Who cares if they “waste” their money? Such bitterness.

      • kalelovil
      • 2 years ago

      Hopefully just an overreaction to the LGA2066 VRM situation.
      With far lower peak theoretical FLOPS, TR should be a lot easier to feed.

        • just brew it!
        • 2 years ago

        FLOPS != Watts

    • End User
    • 2 years ago

    The ROG Zenith Extreme looks awesome. Cripes! It is $690 CDN on newegg.ca. 🙁

    • DPete27
    • 2 years ago

    Seeing a mixture of 8+4 and 8+8 CPU power on the boards announced by the big 3 so far. Interesting.

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