Hardware News and Reviews

Asus Zenith Extreme X399 Motherboard For AMD’s Threadripper Revealed at Computex 2017

One of the first X399 motherboards for the upcoming AMD Threadripper CPU is the Asus Zenith Extreme motherboard. This beast of a motherboard features a massive CPU socket, which if you look closely looks like four sockets put together. The Asus Zenith Extreme features all the bells and whistles for a high-end desktop platform; and of course it has RGBs. Since AMD hasn’t officially released their Threadripper and the X399 chipset, there is little that we know about this motherboard, except from the ones you can decipher just by looking at the motherboard. Linus was able to get a hold of the motherboard at Computex 2017 for a closer look. More details below.

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Meet The Asus Zenith Extreme X399 Motherboard

The Asus Zenith Extreme features a huge CPU socket (server-style TR4), larger than the socket on the X299 motherboards. The layout of the motherboard is pretty much similar with Intel’s X99 and new X299 motherboards; having 8 DIMM slots (4 on both sides) and a very familiar PCIe layout on the bottom.

However, looking at the first PCIe slot, it’s very close to the DIMM slots and the CPU socket. There could be a clearance issue between the CPU cooler, DDR4 memory modules and the graphics card if installed on the first slot. Some DDR4 memory kits have a large heat spreader and could potentially get in the way of the graphics card’s PCB or backplate.

Aside from the 4 DIMM slots, the Asus Zenith Extreme features a DIMM.2, something that we have already seen on some of Asus’ Z270 motherboards. You can install an M.2 SSD on that slot using an add-in adapter, since there are no other M.2 slot on this motherboard.

It features two 8 pin CPU power connector to power AMD’s Threadripper CPU. It also has the usual on-board start and reset buttons, USB headers, SATA connectors, U.2 connector, four PCIe x16 slots, 1 PCIe x4 slot and one PCIe x1 slot. It also features a built-in IO shield and the audio ports on the I/O section have individual lighting (inside). And let’s not forget the stylish RGB lighting effect – located on the I/O portion, chipset heatsink and on the back side of the motherboard.

Check out Linus’ video below:

According to Asus:

Comprehensive cooling for liquid and air
Designed to propel high-end AMD desktops to the next level, the Zenith starts by optimizing everything around the CPU and its beefy, server-style TR4 socket. The board uses the same power solution as the Rampage VI Extreme based on Intel’s competing X299 platform for Skylake-X and friends. This incarnation adds cooling for serious overclocking with a finned VRM heatsink and fan tucked under the I/O shield. The fan only comes on when demand dictates, making it stealthy for day-to-day use.

Cooling improvements extend to liquid loops with a special header capable of monitoring leaks, flow rates, and temperatures in compatible water blocks. You also get standard headers for off-the-shelf pumps, flow meters, and all-in-one water coolers. These are complemented by a comprehensive assortment of fan headers and accompanying enhancements, like auto-detection for 3-pin DC and 4-pin PWM fans, and calibration routines that tune RPM curves based on the individual properties of each one.

The proverbial “Cool and Quiet” mantra got its start with the old Athlon 64, and we’ve really taken the theme to heart. Our motherboard fan controls constantly evolve to give you smarter cooling with quieter acoustics. Recent additions include adjustable hysteresis, which controls how quickly or slowly fans react to brief bursts in activity; and grouping, which lets you bind multiple temperature sensors to a single fan so it can react intelligently to a wide range of workloads. The addition of GPU temperature sensing for compatible graphics cards lets you tailor your cooling specifically for gaming loads that heat up the GPU more than any other component. This capability is especially important considering the Zenith Extreme can hold up to four graphics cards in its structurally reinforced SafeSlots.

The new breed of insanely quick M.2-based NVMe SSDs can overheat when they’re pushed to the limit for sustained periods, which is the last time you want to suffer slowdowns. To help maintain performance under pressure, the Zenith applies cooling to storage as well. Drives in the onboard slot are covered by the substantial chipset heatsink. Two more slots are available in an included DIMM.2 card that stands up drives next to the memory slots. This placement puts SSDs in the path of typical chassis airflow, and the module has mounts for fans up to 60 mm if you want direct cooling.

Premium upgrades all around
Threadripper’s Moar Bandwidth philosophy extends to the Zenith Extreme’s networking, which is highlighted by integrated Wi-Fi based on the latest 802.11ad standard. For even faster speeds, we include a 10G Ethernet card that pushes throughput an order of magnitude higher than typical Gigabit. The 10G card also supports intermediate 2.5G and 5G standards, so you can step up to faster wired networking gradually.

Customization is one of the best things about building a PC. Thanks to RGB lighting, you can pick any colors you want along with effects that range from tastefully discreet to practically obscene. Our Aura Sync lighting synchronizes an ecosystem of components to harmonize illumination across an entire PC, both inside and out. In the Zenith Extreme, it manifests in diffused LED slashes across the I/O shield and PCH heatsink. We turn off the usual LEDs on the DIMM.2 module to preserve the concentrated illumination our designers desired. A bit of restraint goes a long way in the RGB world.

If you want to light up the inside of your chassis or add glowing ground effects below it, the Zenith Extreme has dual headers for off-the-shelf RGB strips. Like with our new ROG X299 motherboards, you also get a separate header for addressable strips that offer individual control over each LED along the line. Addressable strips open the door to advanced lighting control, and developers will be able to fully harness them with an update to our new Aura SDK. We’re also working with Bitfenix, Cooler Master, Thermaltake, In Win, Phanteks, and CableMod to integrate addressable LEDs into their products, some of which are on display at Computex in Taipei.

The Zenith Extreme enables further personalization through an integrated OLED that can play small animated GIFs, display static text and graphics, and monitor system variables like temperatures and clock speeds. The subtle addition provides one more way to make your build unique and keep an eye on your hardware.

Upgraded audio is a staple of the ROG family; for all but the most ardent audiophiles, our integrated SupremeFX solution is good enough to replace a separate sound card. This latest iteration is based on the S1220 codec, and we’ve specifically focused on improving recording quality to make sure streamers can broadcast crisp, clear sound to their audiences. On top of that, the Zenith Extreme adds enhancements for VR by allowing you to inject our HRTF-based surround emulation effects into audio streams for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

My favorite part of the audio is admittedly a guilty pleasure: color-coded backlighting inside the rear audio jacks. It’s a small detail inherited from a high-end ASUS Xonar sound card, but one that makes plugging in devices much easier in a dimly lit LAN party or the shadows beneath a desk. The integrated I/O shield is another thoughtful touch; you’ll never forget to add it when assembling a system.

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