This review will be a little different from usual; I strongly suggest you read this first few paragraphs because it will definite a lot the conclusion of this product. First, I need to give special thanks to GIGABYTE to provide the sample of this motherboard, and the CPU used for the tests/benchmarks (AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990X, yes, X, non-WX, probably an engineering sample).
I really feel the CPU needed to stress the motherboard is actually not the 2990WX, but the 2950X. Why I say that? Well, if you are not updated on the 2990WX and 2950X reviews, the 2990WX is a product focused to some specialized workloads, where it can exceedingly excel over the I9 7980XE, while in others, it fails to deliver as expected. There is some mixed results and it is actually a product for a niche consumer base (mostly rendering).
Furthermore, the 2990WX once overclocked, consumes an absurd amount of watts (compared to stock) which breaks the premise that the 2990WX is focused on workstation (hence the W). Workstation CPUs are not based/measured upon “overclock” usage, but reliability and efficiency.
Do not worry, we will probably do a VRM test with the 2990X overclocked, but for some reason, it is actually drawing around 1000w from the wall once the CPU is overclocked. Our PSU unit for HEDT tests might be inefficient once the system load becomes very demanding (it is an 1000w Gold old unit) but we will see check that statement holds true or false once we receive the PSU upgrade.
Coming back to the motherboard, which is the product on review, the 2990WX did not even tickle the VRM under stock. The 1950X overclocked actually stressed more than the 2990WX (stock). We will see that on the VRM section.
I hope that we might have access to a Ryzen 2950X in the future since that CPU is more enthusiast/productivity and gaming focused; and it makes a lot of sense to use PBO or manual overclock using that processor.
Remember we are a gaming/enthusiast and overclock (enthusiast level) portal. I will not take more of your time with this introduction so let us dig in to the review.
Table of contents
Some brands decided to release new motherboards for the Ryzen Threadripper 2000 series launch, mostly due to improve the VRM department versus their existing models. The GIGABYTE X399 AORUS XTREME is INDEED a great upgrade over their existing motherboards in GIGABYTE’s line up, the X399 AORUS Gaming 7 and the X399 DESIGNARE EX.
We will see that statement come true on the VRM testing, but let’s see what features make this motherboard, the top of line motherboard on X399 for GIGABYTE.
VRM Layout Change
The GIGABYTE X399 Gaming 7 and Designare EX uses a IR35201 as controller in a 8+0 configuration (True Eight Phase) and 8 IR3556 PowerStage and another IR35201 to control the VSoC Portion of the CPU (2+0)[*].
The X399 AORUS Xtreme drops the True Eight Phase and achieves the “10” phase VRM (VCore) by using an IR35201 (5 VCore + 3 SoC setup) as the PWM controller and IR3578 as PowerStages (13 in total, 10 for VCore, 3 for SoC). The 5 PWM Signals run in parallel, meaning that two PowerStages work (turn on/off) per each signal.
The IR3578 advertises, “Enhanced top side cooling through exposed pad” which should improve temperatures over the IR3556. As you will see in the motherboard pictures, there is actually thermal pads over the PowerStages, both on top of them and behind the PCB.
In addition, the new model has changed their heatsink design, to Fins-Array Heatsink, which is a good thing. Fins-Array heatsinks are good dissipating heat, instead of using metal/aluminum blocks.
To finalize, the motherboard has two fans on the left side of heatsink/heat pipe that helps to exhaust the heat outside the case. This image makes things easier to understand.
GIGABYTE X399 AORUS Xtreme VRM dissipation layout
Extra features (LAN and Audio)
The motherboard has two LAN ports (Intel I210) and it features a third one that has support for 10 Gbps speeds (Aquantia AQC107). For audio, it uses the Realtek ALC1220 that you normally encounter on top end motherboards. It also features an ES9118 HiFi DAC amplifier.
Here is the image that might be important for users when choosing to purchase a motherboard: the rear I/O.