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GIGABYTE X399 Designare EX Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket TR4 Threadripper in Motherboards | Posted: Oct 26, 2017 8:55 pm
TweakTown Rating: 93%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Here are key points about the GIGABYTE X399 Designare EX.

 

What's Hot

 

Redesigned VRM Heatsink: GIGABYTE and other vendors realized after X299 launch that the VRMs on X299 and future X399 motherboards had to be robust, and their coolers had to be excellent. The X399 AORUS Gaming 7 had a heat sink designed to take advantage of airflow but also have enough mass to act as an actual sink in case airflow isn't present. The X399 Designare EX's heat sink is a bit different. GIGABYTE figured that they should optimize more for airflow, and they did that by adding more surface area with more "fins." In the situation where there is no airflow, such as on our test bench, GIGABYTE decided they would create airflow with a built-in VRM fan. The good news is that fan never kicked in on our motherboard because their MOS temperature sensor never went over 90C, meaning the heat sink has a nice failsafe and works in many ways. VRM quality is excellent as well.

 

 

Fan Headers and Sensors: Eight fan headers on board might seem like overkill, but in a workstation or any other type of high-performance motherboard, you might actually be able to use them all. Each header can use one of many temperature sensors, and that includes some built into the VRM as well as two external sensors that are actually included with the motherboard. I also like how they grouped five of the headers in the top right corner of the motherboard, as they were perfectly situated for my water pump and three radiator fans. I should mention, one of the eight fan headers goes to the VRM heat sink fan.

 

gigabyte-x399-designare-ex-motherboard-review_84

 

Triple Intel NICs: GIGABYTE scrapped the Killer NIC and added in two Intel wired NICs. Now the motherboard has two wired Gbit NICs and one 2x2 Intel wireless AC card. The change in NICs alone shows how GIGABYTE shifted more away from a gaming motherboard and more towards a workstation motherboard.

 

More Serious Look: The integrated IO shield is a nice feature, but the shift from RGB LEDs towards a more professional silver look is one many will find appealing for an X399 build. Rear IO shield is also a nice touch, providing protection resulting in a sturdier product.

 

Future Thunderbolt 3.0 Support: We see a Thunderbolt 3.0 GPIO header, but no mention of it in the manual. That is because it hasn't yet been finalized by AMD/Intel/GBT or certified, but it's there, so hopefully, it will come one day. We have seen GIGABYTE add in Thunderbolt 3.0 hardware and not advertise it until it's ready (even after product launch), and hopefully, that's the case here (no promises).

 

What's Not

 

USB header and Clear CMOS Button: I don't understand why they would have a clear CMOS button, of the same color as the power button, right in between the power and reset buttons. So be mindful of that. I also would have liked to see the USB 3.0 internal header further up below the 24-pin connector.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

The GIGABYTE X399 Designare EX is an excellent alternative to the X399 AORUS Gaming 7 from GIGABYTE. Quality is excellent, component selection is top notch, and it's unique in its own right. The X399 Designare EX might seem very similar to the X399 AORUS Gaming 7, but it is not. Where the Gaming 7 is all about gaming, the Designare EX is all about professionalism. The Designare EX dropped the single Killer NIC for two Intel ones and a USB 3.1 internal header for a USB 3.0 type-C header, and it picked up a Thunderbolt 3.0 GPIO header.

 

GIGABYTE also added the rear PCB shield for structural integrity, redesigned the heat sink for better VRM thermals inside a case, added a VRM fan as a failsafe, and slapped on an integrated IO shield for easy installation. For $10 than the Gaming 7, you get a few more features on the Designare EX, and I think they are worth the $10. I should note that the Designare line was actually developed for modding enthusiasts, and that's why it has a silver aesthetic, comes with those cool stickers, and has the light up custom overlay on the chipset heat sink.

 

Regardless, it's a bright addition to GIGABYTE's line up, capable of fully supporting the X399 platform and its features, in a sleek, cool, and professional manner.

Product Summary Breakdown

TweakTown award
Performance89%
Quality92%
Features97%
Value92%
Overall TweakTown Rating93%

The Bottom Line: GIGABYTE's X399 Designare EX is a very unique X399 motherboard loaded with features, re-designed to take full advantage of the platform, and it has a few surprises that are sure to impress.

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