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AMD X399 TR4 Threadripper Motherboard Buyer's Guide

By: Steven Bassiri | Guides | Posted: Sep 19, 2017 3:55 pm

BIOS

 

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Most X399 motherboards have built-in USB BIOS recovery. A single port on the rear IO panel is indicated like it is in the image on the left, and with the press of a button on the rear IO panel (or another trigger), the system will flash the on board UEFI with an image on a USB stick, even if there is no CPU installed. One vendor not only implemented USB BIOS recovery but also implemented dual BIOS ROMs for redundancy and auto recovery.

 

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Many times, the USB BIOS recovery is done through a microcontroller implemented into the motherboard, and many times that chip is labeled as such (on the left). Sometimes it's not marked as such (on the right).

 

 

RGB Considerations

 

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Most X399 motherboards also have RGB LED headers, and sometimes they are colored white so users can easily find them. However, we see a second type of header (image on the right) called a digital or addressable RGB LED header. Typical RGB LEDs on a strip or in a group operate as a single unit; they all have the same color and brightness at the same time.

 

However, with digital/addressable RGB LEDs, individual LEDs can be controlled independently. They can do things such as a wave of colors or moving pulses of light; the downside is that they are more expensive and harder to program unique creations. Digital/addressable headers typically only have three pins (D, GND, Power), while RGB LED headers have four (12V, G, R, B).

 

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The image on the left shows a digital RGB header with a twist; it can work with both 5V and 12V digital RGB led strips (jumper above it controls it). The image on the left also shows an RGBW header, which supports RGBW (and RGB) strips that have an extra white LED next to each RGB LED. Another twist on the digital RGB header can be found in the image on the right, as it has four pins.

 

The pins are GND, 5V, D1, and C1, and while we have seen the D pin before for the digital signal, we also get a C signal, which is a clock signal. These digital/addressable RGB LED headers are said to work with specific models of strips, and you can find those supported models in the manual of each board.

 

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We can see how digital/addressable RGB LEDs differ with the images above. In one image the color is grading on the chipset LEDs from green to blue and on the edge from purple to blue. The memory kit used also has digital RGB LEDs built into it, and the colors are doing a wave. The other image shows a single color for all RGB LEDs, and while digital RGBs can also do that, normal RGB LED headers and implementations are typically significantly more cost-effective.

 

Overall, most X399 motherboards offer very similar basic features, as the CPU and chipset offer more than enough IO, so expansion isn't really necessary. I haven't found a USB hub on any X399 motherboard or a 3rd party USB 3.0 or SATA6Gb/s controller, and that is awesome. However, the motherboards still cost a lot because of the huge socket and HEDT chipset.

 

 

I hope this guide has helped many of you better understand our reviews, and if you have any questions, please feel free to comment and ask.

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