Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
AMD's ThreadRipper CPUs have been around for a while, and a few months back AMD released refreshed variants for their 1950X and 1920X, and with them came two higher powered models that require better power delivery.
We used the X399 Aorus Xtreme in our reviews of the 2990WX and 2970WX, and it performed quite well. Today we are going to take a closer look at the motherboard.
The X399 Aorus Xtreme features dual Intel NICs, 10G NIC, USB 3.1, USB 3.0, SATA6Gb/s, three M.2 slots, support for up to 4-way SLI/CrossFireX, and even multiple RGB LED headers.
The X399 Aorus Xtreme costs $429.99.
Packaging and X399 Aorus Xtreme Overview
Packaging and Overview
The box and packaging are very similar to what we see from other GIGABYTE Xtreme motherboards.
The accessory package includes six SATA6Gb/s cables, two temperature probes, RGB LED extension cable, two digital RGB extension cables, G-connector, Aorus Velcro straps, an SLI HB bridge, M.2 screws, WIFI antenna, manuals, and driver DVD.
There are seven fan headers on the motherboard, they are circled in red and are hybrid headers so each operates in DC or PWM mode. There are two external temperature probes included with the motherboard, and they plug into the green headers. The motherboard has a sleek silver, and black and most of the circuitry is covered by large heat sinks. The back of the motherboard has a large metal plate that covers most of the rear of the motherboard for protection and to keep the PCB straight.
The rear IO panel Clear CMOS button, power button, eight USB 3.0 ports, WIFI antenna connectors, two Gbit LAN ports, 10G LAN port, USB 3.1 type-A, USB 3.1 type-C, and gold plated 7.1 audio ports with S/PDIF out.
The PCI-E layout is quite simple as there are so many PCI-E lanes from the CPU that switching of bandwidth is almost non-existent board-wide. The first and third metal reinforced x16 slots offers x16 PCI-E 3.0 full time, while the other two offers x8 PCI-E 3.0 all the time. All M.2 slots are x4 PCI-E and support SATA as well. They all have heat sinks too.
We find six SATA6Gb/s ports on the motherboard, as well as a right-angled PCI-E power connector that will supplement PCI-E power. At the bottom of the motherboard, we find two USB 3.0 internal headers and a POST code display.
At the middle of the motherboard, we find a USB 3.1 type-C header and a Thunderbolt type-C GPIO header for an add-in card. At the top right corner of the motherboard, we see a digital RGB LED header and a normal RGBW header.
At the bottom of the motherboard we find another digital RGB LED header, an RGBW LED header, a BIOS selector switch, a dual BIOS disable switch, and two USB 2.0 internal headers. At the top right corner of the motherboard, we find two 8-pin CPU power connectors.
The heat sinks on this motherboard are well built, use copper direct touch heat pipes, optimized thermal pads, and there are two fans that will cool the metal fins under the IO cover.
GIGABYTE X399 Aorus Xtreme Circuit Analysis
The X399 Aorus Xtreme shows us what it's got under the hood when we remove the heat sinks and shields.
The VRM for the core VRM is a 10 phase VRM which is five PWM phases doubled to 10 using doublers. The IR35201 is used in 5 phase mode, and controls ten IR3578. The IR3578 are 50A power stages, but they are much more easily cooled due to their metal tops. However, they are also significantly more pricey than their IR3556 counterparts.
We find five IR3599 doublers on the rear of the motherboard. The SoC VRm is made up of three IR3578 and is controlled by an IR3570.
Each of the two memory VRMs offer two phases for the main DDR made up or IR3553, and then another IR3553 for the VPP. The memory VRMs are controlled by an IR3570 in 2+1 phase mode. That's overkill.
GIGABYTE X399 Aorus Xtreme Circuit Analysis Continued
X399 Aorus Xtreme Circuit Analysis Continued
GIGABYTE is using a Realtek ALC1220 rated for 120dB and contains an integrated headphone amplifier. They do add in an ESS Sabre ESS9118EQ DAC to improve audio quality. Some audio capacitors were also added in.
Two Intel i211AT Gbit NICs provide the two LAN ports on the rear IO. An Intel Wireless AC 867Mbps card is also present. Not pictured is the Aquantia 10G NIC, we couldn't take the heat sink off to take a picture of the AQC107.
Two PI3EQX USB 3.1 re-drivers help to improve USB 3.1 signaling from the chipset's native USB 3.1 controller. The Texas Instruments HD3220 is used as the type-C controller. The internal type-C header is powered by an ASMedia ASM3142 USB 3.1 controller.
The SuperIO is the IT8686E, and two IT8795E chips are used as embedded controllers to expand fan control. The ITE8295 microcontroller is used for digital/addressable RGB LED control.
There are dual BIOS ROMs on the motherboard, and one of them sits in a DOP socket so it can be replaced down the road if a BIOS update isn't enough for future CPU support.
BIOS and Software
GIGABYTE's UEFI for the X399 Aorus Xtreme is very similar to that of older GIGABYTE motherboard, granted these are shots of an early BIOS, so future ones might have the same design as the new Z390 motherboards. Either way, the motherboard's UEFI has pretty much everything you need to configure your system, including all overclocking and fan settings.
GIGABYTE's software suite includes AppCenter, 3DOSD, @BIOS, AutoGreen, EasyTune, Fast Boot, Game Boost, ON/OFF Charge, RGB Fusion, Smart Backup, Smart Keyboard, Smart TimeLock, Smart HUD, System Information Viewer, Smart Survey, USB Blocker, and V-Tuner.
Test System Setup
Steven's Motherboard Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: GIGABYTE X399-Aorus Xtreme
- CPU: AMD Ryzen ThreadRipper 2990WX
- Cooler: Corsair H150i Pro - Buy from Amazon
- Memory: TridentZ 8GBx4 RGB 3200MHz
- Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage - Boot Drive: Samsung 950 Pro 256GB
- Storage - SATA6G Drive: Corsair LS 240GB / Read our review
- Storage - USB Drive: Corsair Voyager GS 64GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Case: ThermalTake Core P5 - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Power Supply: Corsair RM1000 - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 - Buy from Amazon
- Monitor: ASUS PA328 ProArt 32" 4K - Buy from Amazon
- Keyboard: Corsair K70 LUX - Buy from Amazon
- Mouse: Corsair M65 PRO RGB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Headset: Corsair VOID RGB Wireless - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
The X399 Aorus Xtreme has addressable RGB LEDs built into it, and it looks great.
CPU, Memory, and System Benchmarks
3DMark: Fire Strike
3DMark: Cloud Gate
The X399 Aorus Xtreme's performance is quite good, but so are the other motherboards in the charts. There isn't too much of a difference at this level with these high-end X399 motherboards, perhaps with PBOC enabled there could be, but that's not standard operating mode.
System IO Benchmarks
ixChariot Network Throughput:
The X399 Aorus Xtreme's storage and networking performance are excellent.
Audio RMAA 5.5:
Sound Judgment by Ear: Excellent, the extra DAC does make a difference depending on your headphones/speakers. There are five ratings for audio: 1. Problems, 2. Okay, 3. Acceptable, 4. Very good, 5. Excellent
Thermal Imaging and Power Consumption
System power is measured at the wall with an AC power meter.
Note on Thermal Images: In the temperature section, we use our Seek thermal imaging camera to capture the surface temperatures of major components on the board. I look at the VRM and then all other things that light up the screen. If there is something to worry about, then I will state it. Otherwise, I will just show the hotter running parts of the board for fun. Unless some component is over 80-90C, then there isn't anything to worry about.
All systems will act differently, so I will look for commonalities, such as how far from the VRM the heat spreads through the PCB and the difference in temperature between the front side and back side of the PCB. Keep in mind, the majority of the heat from the VRM goes into the PCB as it is a giant soldered on the copper heat sink. A larger difference in temperature between the back and front of the PCB points towards a more effective heat sink.
Thermal Testing at Stock Speeds:
The image on the left is always at idle, and the image on the right is at load. During ALL TESTS, There is no airflow direct at the VRM
Up-close of the front of the VRM.
Up-close of the back of the VRM.
The X399 Aorus Xtreme is doing very well in regards to performance here. However, you might notice the temperature decreased under load on the front, and that is because of ambient temperature, which is the same 5C difference between lowest temperature and highest. We can see these new PowIRstages and the revamped heat sink are doing their job. The rear temperature is 41C under load (it's off screen). Maximum temperature is 43C at load on the front and back, so heat is being moved around and dissipated. Overall, excellent thermal performance.
What's Hot, What's Not & Final Thoughts
VRM Quality and Cooling: With the new CPUs with very high TDPs rated around 250W, and then Precision Boost Overdrive, the CPU can pull upwards of 400W even in stock conditions where PBOC is enabled by default. In this case GIGABYTE went and got some top-exposed IR3578 PowIRstages, and put them in a 10-phase configuration controlled by the IR35201 digital PWM controller. The results are quite good with the new heat sinks with direct copper touch and optimized thermal interface material.
Networking: Apart from the two 1Gbit Intel NICs, we also find a 10Gbit Aquantia NIC and a WIFI controller capable of 867Mbps.
Aesthetics: The motherboard features addressable RGB LEDs built into its PCH, audio shield, and IO area shield. The diffusion is done very nicely. At the rear of the right side of the motherboard, sandwiched between the back shield and PCB are a bunch of addressable RGB LEDs. The motherboard also features two RGBW headers and two addressable RGB headers.
A few fewer SATA: Most X399 motherboards have eight SATA ports, but this motherboard only offers six, presumably so there is more PCI-E from the chipset for things like the 10Gbit NIC.
The GIGABYTE X399 Aorus Xtreme is a member of GIGABYTE's Xtreme family and has earned its name in full. It's loaded with the latest over-the-top features, including the latest in 10Gbit LAN, high-end upgraded audio, killer looks, a high-end VRM, and real heat sinks.
The motherboard's looks are quite stunning, and we really like the addressable RGB LED inclusion. The motherboard also offers a lot of fan headers, all of which can reference many temperatures, including two external probes that are included in the package. If you are looking for a high-end X399 motherboard that bares it all, give the X399 Aorus Xtreme a look.
The Bottom Line
GIGABYTE's X399 Aorus Xtreme is loaded to the brim with features, quality, and craftsmanship. If you are looking for a high-end X399 motherboard capable of handling your 2990WX, give this one a look.