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ASRock Fatal1ty X399 Professional Gaming Motherboard Review

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,106
Location
Montreal
When AMD unveiled the ThreadRipper X399 platform back in July it caused huge shockwaves since this was an HEDT platform with absolutely no artificial limitations, superior capabilities, and an attractive processor lineup that was much cheaper than the competition's. When we finally got our hands on this new platform it was clear to us that AMD had successfully delivered a product that would satisfy the needs of the most demanding power users.

Now that the ThreadRipper platform has been available for a few months and has matured a bit we thought it was the perfect time to start testing out some X399 motherboards. Since the first AM4 motherboard that we reviewed was the ASRock X370 Taichi - and it was pretty much perfect from the get-go - we thought we would tap ASRock again and try out their flagship $660 CAD / $440 USD Fatal1ty X399 Professional Gaming motherboard. While "Professional" and "Gaming" don't intuitively go together, the end result is nevertheless a motherboard that looks fantastic on paper.

When it comes to specs, this model has an 11-phase CPU VRM with top-notch components, four steel-reinforced PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots that support both 4-way CrossFire and 4-way SLI, one PCI-E 2.0 x1 slot, three full-speed M.2 x4 slots, one U.2 connector, and eight SATA 6Gb/s ports. High-speed USB connectivity is fantastic thanks to two high speed USB 3.1 Gen2 ports on the rear I/O panel, one Type-A and one Type-C, eight USB 3.0 ports, two internal USB 3.0 headers, and two USB 2.0 headers for a grand total of sixteen possible USB ports. The only thing missing is that we would have liked to see an internal USB 3.1 Gen2 header to provide next-gen USB connectivity to the front of the case.

While the above specs basically highlight the native features of this HEDT platform - which is to say they are similar on most other X399 motherboards - it is this model's networking capabilities that really standout. First and foremost, this motherboard has a high speed 10 gigabit LAN port powered by a brand new Aquantia multi-gigabit controller that also supports 5 Gbit/s, 2.5 Gbit/s, 1Gbit/s connections speeds. This add-on by itself likely contributes about $100 to the final price of the motherboard. As far as we can tell, this 10GbE LAN port is the principal difference between ASRock's $440 X399 Professional Gaming and the $340 X399 Taichi. Whether you need the higher-speed networking solution will ultimately decide your choice.

Not to be completely overshadowed, there are also two Intel-powered gigabit LAN ports and onboard Wi-Fi in the form of an Intel-based dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi module that supports Bluetooth 4.2. Onboard audio duties are handled by the Purity Sound 4 design that supports Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 3 software. It is based on the Realtek ALC1220 ten-channel codec, linked to an array of Nichicon audio-grade capacitors, and a physical PCB-level audio separation line that protects the audio components from EMI. There is also dedicated Texas Instruments op-amp that serves as headphone amplifier for the front panel headphone jack. While the audio section on this model doesn't have any illumination, there are a few RGB LEDs placed under the chipset cooler. If that is not enough lighting for you, there are also two light strip headers that can be fully controlled from within the ASRock RGB LED utility.

The X399 Pro Gaming features a grand total of five fan headers, which is one or two less than we would consider optimal for high-end maxed out system build. Having said that, they are all 4-pin that are fully controllable via both DC and PWM fan control modes from within the UEFI or the F-Stream utility. Two of the five headers are also of the high amperage variety that can be used to power all-in-one coolers, high speed fans, or water pumps. While we are on the topic of cooling, this model has two sizeable MOSFET heatsinks that are connected via heatpipe, so it will be interesting to see what the VRM temperatures are like under the load from an overclocked 180W TDP processor.

At first glance, this motherboard has just about everything that we could want, so our job now is to see whether it has all been well implemented, how it handles overclocking, and determine if we can justify the sizeable price tag.

 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
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Messages
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Location
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Packaging & Accessories

Packaging & Accessories


Now that we have gone over the X399 Pro Gaming's features and specifications, it is time to examine the packaging and then crack open the box to take a look at the bundled accessories. Let's check it out:



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The packaging for this motherboard is identical to one that ASRock first unveiled for their Intel Z270 lineup, which is to say a big bright red G that obviously stands for Gaming. The front of the packaging is still adorned with the usual array of badges and logos, the most prominent of which is obviously the Fatal1ty Gaming Gear designation - 'Fatal1ty' being the gamertag of former professional eSports player extraordinaire Johnathan Wendel - which has been exclusively licensed to ASRock for a number of years now, at least when it comes to motherboards.

The back of the box is packed with all the features that make this particular motherboard model unique in some way, which is truthfully quite a number of things. There is also a nice specifications list, as well as a handy diagram highlighting the connectivity on the rear I/O panel.




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Once you remove the outside packaging, you are greeted with two inner boxes. The thicker top half holds the motherboard, while the bottom half is where you find the accessories bundle, the software DVD and several pieces of documentation.

Most of the time a motherboard is wrapped in an anti-static bag and we have nothing more to say about how it is packaged. However, not only is the X399 Pro Gaming wrapped in an anti-static bag, but ASRock have also placed this motherboard in a protective foam cradle and secured it with zip ties. This is high-end protection that ASRock also bestows on their mainstream models like the X370 Taichi and Z270 Gaming K6.





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The X399 Pro Gaming's accessories bundle is quite decent, especially when it comes to SLI bridges. Given the fact that this motherboard has four full-sized PCI-E x16 slots and ThreadRipper CPUs have enough PCI-E lanes to power all those slots, ASRock have included two-way, three-way, and four-way SLI bridges. The two-way part is an SLI HB Bridge - the HB stands for High Bandwidth - and it is a very nice addition to this bundle for those who plan on running two GeForce GTX 1070 or GTX 1080 series cards.

When it comes to the basics, there is a bunch of documentation, an ASRock sticker, a driver/software DVD, and even a postcard. There are also four SATA 6Gb/s cables, a rear I/O panel cover, three M.2 screws, and two basic Wi-Fi antennas.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,106
Location
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A Closer Look at the X399 Pro Gaming

A Closer Look at the X399 Pro Gaming




The Fatal1ty X399 Professional Gaming motherboard has a relatively muted aesthetic that is just a combination of blacks and greys and various metal components, but we like it that way. We did it find it somewhat funny that its rear I/O shroud clearly comes from the exact same mold as the one on the X299 Taichi, but that type of price-saving doesn't bother us at all.

This model is based on the conventional full-size ATX form factor - 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm / 12.0-in x 9.6-in - so there are no compatibility issues to worry about with any properly designed case. The overall layout is very well-thought-out and there are no critical shortcomings that we can point out. All the numerous connectors and ports are easily accessible and free from possible obstruction. We appreciate the fact that there is a large amount of space between all four PCI-E x16 slots, so there won’t be any issues fitting four dual-slot graphics cards on this motherboard. We are also impressed by the fact that the engineers managed to squeeze all three full-size M.2 slots far away from the primary first PCI-E x16 slot, since this ensures that in most builds the SSDs won't heat-soaked from the graphics card.



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When you look at the CPU socket area on any X399 motherboard all you are going to see is...the CPU socket. The TR4 socket with its 4094 pins and large mounting mechanism is downright massive, so large that it almost touches the memory slots on both sides. In fact, it occupies so much space that there isn't even any room for the handful of electrolytic capacitors that you will find surrounding the CPU socket on every other platform for the last 20+ years. Having said all of that, since CPU cooler attaches directly to the socket hardware the restricted space is really not an issue when it comes time to assembling a system.

After we removed the two-piece VRM cooler, we were able to get a good look at this motherboard's VRM area. It features a 8+3 phase CPU power design that utilizes two Infineon IR35201 digital PWM controllers and a total of eleven excellent Infineon PowIRstage IR3555M 60A MOSFETs. The VRM breakdown is one PWM controller and eight MOSFETs for the CPU cores and one PWM controller and three MOSFETs for the SOC (Fabric, memory controller, I/O, etc). The remaining parts are high current 60A power chokes and almost three dozen super-pricey Panasonic tantalum capacitors mounted on the rear of the motherboard. Overall, this motherboard has been built with the best of the best components that shouldn't have any issues handling the elevated power demands of high core count processors over the long haul.

Since ThreadRipper processors can require quite a bit of power - at least when overclocked - ASRock have included one 8-pin CPU power connector and a supplementary 4-pin CPU power connector. Unless you are doing some sub-zero overclocking you really don't need to use the secondary plug, but it never hurts.

ASRock have also added a little switch that they refer to as the CPU Xtreme OC Switch or MOS_PROCHOT1. There isn't a ton of information available regarding what it does, but we can surmise that it disables the VRM thermal throttling (or at least increases the temperature limits) for those who want to do some really extreme overclocking.


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The MOSFET heatsinks on the X399 Pro Gaming might not have much surface area, but they are pretty chunky and they are also attached via a fairly beefy heatpipe that helps spread the thermal load across both heatsinks.

In order to test the cooling capabilities of these VRM heatsinks we set our manual overclock (4.1GHz @ 1.30V) and ran Prime 95 for a few hours. We are happy to report that the MOSFET temperatures (as recorded by HWiNFO64) peaked at very reasonable 61°C/142°F, while the heatsinks warmed up to the 43-47°C/109-117°F. This is without any active airflow either, so in a well ventilated case those temperatures might even be lower.

While we are on the topic of cooling, this motherboard has two CPU fan headers and three system fan headers. All five of the fan headers are of the 4-pin variety that are fully controllable via both DC and PWM fan control modes from within the UEFI or the A-Tuning utility. Two of the five headers are also of high amperage capable and can be used to power all-in-one coolers, high speed fans, or water pumps with a maximum current draw of 1.5A (18W).



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Since ThreadRipper processors feature a quad-channel memory interface, this motherboard has eight DDR4 memory slots, with each bank of four slots being fed by a 2-phase power design that utilizes Sinopower SM7341EHKP MOSFETs. ASRock have validated this motherboard for overclocked memory frequencies up to DDR4-3600, and for those more interested in capacity than speed it supports up to 128GB of system memory. This motherboard also supports ECC unbuffered memory, which does appear to be working in our brief tests.

Like on all recent ASRock motherboards that we have reviewed, this model's memory slots are clipless on one side, which prevents any clearance issues that can arise between conventional memory clips and the back of any nearby expansion card.


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To the left of the 24-pin ATX power connector is one of the two USB 3.0 front-panel headers, which can add two USB 3.0 ports to the front of your case. We would have preferred that one of the two USB 3.0 headers be a Type-C front panel header since that's what upcoming cases are going to increasingly support. To the left of that header is the U.2 NVMe connector, which we will elaborate upon a little later on.

Behind the aforementioned USB 3.0 header is one of the two RGB LED headers, which is where you can plug in any 12V/3A 36W 5050 RGB LED light strip and have it fully powered by the motherboard and controlled by the RGB LED utility.



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One of the most impressive aspects of this new platform is the fact that it natively supports three full speed M.2 slots. This is made possible by the fact that ThreadRipper processors have 60 free PCI-E 3.0 lanes, and 12 of them are dedicated towards high-speed storage connectivity. As a result, these M.2 slots have a direct connection to the processor instead of needing to be routed through the chipset like on the Intel LGA2066 platform. Back in October, AMD added support for NVMe RAID, which enabled RAID 0/1/10 across all three M.2 slots and up to ten NVME devices in total. Compared to Intel's restrictive and byzantine Virtual RAID on CPU (VROC) feature, AMD is doing this right.

All three of the M.2 slots have a theoretical maximum bandwidth of 32Gb/s, support SATA/PCI-E/NVMe M.2 solid state drives, and can handle 2280 form factor drives, which are 99% of the models on the market.

This motherboard has eight native SATA ports that support RAID 0/1/10, courtesy of the X399 chipset. ASRock have also included a U.2 NVMe connector that has a theoretical maximum bandwidth of 32Gb/s. Since the U.2 port and top M.2 slot share PCI-E lanes, if you install a PCI-E SSD into that M.2 slot the U.2 port will be automatically disabled.

To the left of the SATA ports is the auxiliary 6-pin PCI-E power connector that can be used in order to ensure that the PCI-E slots get all the power that they require for power-hungry dual, triple or quad graphics card configurations.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,106
Location
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A Closer Look at the X399 Pro Gaming pt.2

A Closer Look at the X399 Pro Gaming pt.2




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The lower-right corner of the motherboard is where you will find the auxiliary 6-pin PCI-E power connector, the onboard power and reset buttons, one half of the front-panel header, one of two USB 3.0 headers, the Debug LED display, and the clear CMOS button. You will also find one of the three M.2 slots, but we covered that on the previous page.

The bottom edge of the motherboard is where you will find the two USB 2.0 headers, the speaker header, and one of two case fans (out of five total fan headers). This is also where you will find the one of the two white RGB LED headers, where you can plug in any 12V/3A 36W 5050 RGB LED light strip and have it fully powered by the motherboard and controlled by the UEFI or the ASRock RGB LED utility.

One of the exceptionally cool new innovations debuted on this motherboard is the secondary angled front-panel audio headerr. On other motherboards if you install a dual-slot graphics card in the bottom PCI-E x16 slot you can no longer use the upright front-panel audio header since the case's cable will not find under the graphics card. By including a secondary angled header, ASRock have ingeniously found a fix to this issue. Truthfully, this is a situation that probably affects one-tenth of one percent of all system builders, and ASRock still found it worthwhile to find a solution. We appreciate the effort!


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One of the key selling points of ThreadRipper processors is their abundance of PCI-E lanes. While these processors natively support 64 PCI-E 3.0 lanes, 4 are used for the CPU to chipset interface, and 12 are used for the three M.2 slots. If you do a little math, that means that there are 48 PCI-E 3.0 lanes left over for graphics purposes...and ASRock have made use of all of them. The X399 Professional Gaming features four physical PCI-E x16 slots and it has been certified for up to 4-way CrossFire and 4-Way SLI operation. All of these slots feature a direction connection with the CPU, there are no PCI-E switches to interfere with the signal and degrade performance, so performance should be exemplary.

In a dual graphics card configuration, the first and third PCI-E x16 slots will operate at the full x16 speed (x16/x16). When three graphics cards are installed, both the first and third slot will run at x16, while the second slot will operate at x8 (x16/x8/x16). If four graphics cards are installed, the first and third PCI-E x16 slots will remain at x16, while the second and fourth slots will operate at x8 (x16/x8/x16/x8). This is an unprecedented amount of bandwidth on a consumer-oriented platform.

If you do decide to install a handful of graphics cards on this motherboard, make sure to utilize the auxiliary 6-pin PCI-E power connector in order to ensure that the PCI-E slots get all the power that they require for power-hungry dual, triple or quad graphics card configurations.

As we have come to expect from quality motherboards, all of the PCI-E x16 are steel reinforced, which means steel sleeving and additional anchor points for the slots likely to hold graphics cards. Last, but not least, there is also a single PCI-E 2.0 x1 slot that operates off of the X399 chipset.



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Once we removed the plastic shroud, we were able to verify that this motherboard's onboard audio is based on the new Realtek ALC1220 ten-channel HD audio codec. The codec is accompanied by Nichicon Fine Gold Series audio-grade capacitors and a Texas Instruments N5532 op-amp, which serves as headphone amplifier for the front panel headphone jack.

The PCB isolation line surrounds the audio section of the PCB and protects it from the rest of the system. This helps preserve the signal-to-noise (SNR) ratio and thus ensure the highest possible signal quality. Regrettably, there is no electromagnetic interference (EMI) shield covering the Realtek codec, which is a bit of a disappointment at this price point.

As we mentioned above, we also love the fact that this motherboard has two front-panel audio headers. It really does fix an issue that plagues certain system configurations.


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The X399 Pro Gaming has excellent connectivity on its rear I/O panel. Starting from left to right, there is the BIOS Flashback button, a PS/2 combo port, two USB 3.0 ports, WiFi/Bluetooth antenna ports, two more USB 3.0 ports, five analog audio jacks plus the S/PDIF output, a ten gigabit LAN port powered by an Aquantia AQC107 controller, two gigabit LAN ports powered by an Intel I211-AT controllers, four more USB 3.0 ports, and two USB 3.1 Gen2 ports (one Type-A port and one Type-C).

The onboard Wi-Fi module supports both dual-band 802.11ac and Bluetooth v4.2. Although it is not mentioned anywhere in the official literature, the system manager clearly reveals that it is an Intel Wireless-AC 3168 M.2 adapter, which means that it's plugged into a vertical M.2 E-key slot. This 1x1 solution supports wireless transfer speeds up to 433 Mbps, which is obviously slower than most 2x2 AC-867 solutions. We haven't yet made the leap to the 802.11ac standard, but our 802.11n connection was solid courtesy of the included 1T1R antennas. The antennas feature RP-SMA connectors, and thus can be easily replaced with larger ones.



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One of the most unique aspects of this motherboard is the fact that it has a next-generation ten gigabit LAN port. This capability is courtesy of a brand new Aquantia AQC107 10GbE LAN controller, which adheres to the NBASE-T standard and thus also supports 5 Gbit/s, 2.5 Gbit/s, 1Gbit/s and 100Mbit/s connections speeds. This is an incredibly impressive add-on when you consider that standalone 10GbE NIC adapters based on this same Aquantia controller currently retail for at least $100 USD.

The two gigabit LAN ports are each powered by an Intel I211-AT controller, which is very well supported across a wide range of operating systems. While this platform has native USB 3.1 functionality, an ASMedia ASM1543 switch is still needed in order to add a USB 3.1 Type-C port. The PS/2 port is courtesy of a Nuvoton NCT6779D Super I/O controller, which also serves monitoring and fan control duties.


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When we take a look at the back of the motherboard, there are really no notable ICs, but there are a ton of beefy SMD Tantalum capacitors that help support the CPU VRM and the rear I/O components.

While the PCB isolation line that surrounds the audio subsystem is quite visible, there are no LEDs mounted on the rear (or front) of the motherboard since the audio section is surprisingly not lit on this model.

As we have come to expect from a motherboard in this price range, all of the heatsinks and the plastic shroud are attached with metal screws.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
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Nov 8, 2006
Messages
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Location
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Hardware Installation

Hardware Installation


In the Hardware Installation section we examine how major components fit on the motherboard, and whether there are any serious issues that may affect installation and general functionality. Specifically, we are interested in determining whether there is adequate clearance in all critical areas.



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Since most ThreadRipper processors have a default TDP of 180W, and AMD recommends liquid cooling at a minimum, we elected to use a Thermaltake Floe Riing 360 all-in-one liquid CPU cooler. This was helped along by the fact that in every ThreadRipper retail box AMD bundles an Astek TR4 CPU bracket and a very useful little torque wrench. Overall, the ThreadRipper installation process, both in terms of the actual CPU and the liquid cooler was as easy and idiot-proof as any that we have encountered.

While we have never really encountered any clearance issues when installing an all-in-one liquid cooler you will want to carefully where you place the hoses, since when you place them on the side they can get pretty close to the memory modules.


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There is a relatively amount of space between the back of the graphics card and the memory slots, but at least the memory slots are clip-less on that side. The 24-pin ATX power connector is ideally placed in its common location, but the 8-pin CPU power connector has been relocated to the top-right corner of the motherboard. This is unusual, but not problematic. The extra 4-pin CPU power connector is sandwiched between the rear I/O shroud and a kink in the MOSFET heatpipe, which again is perfectly fine.





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This motherboard can hold one, two, three or even four dual-slot graphics cards without any serious issues. The cards obviously overhang the motherboard, but the angled and edge-mounted SATA ports, U.2 connector, and auxiliary six-pin PCI-E power connector are still easily accessible. As on all motherboards, if you install a dual-slot expansion card in the bottom PCI-E x16 slot it will block the headers at the very bottom of the motherboard and make access to the various headers and the power/reset buttons basically impossible. This has historically made it really hard to use the front-panel audio header, which is needed to route audio to your case's audio jack. ASRock have brilliantly fixed this issue by adding a second front-panel audio header, an angled one that can be used no matter what graphics card configuration you have.


As mentioned above, thanks to the fact that they are angled the eight SATA ports and the U.2 connector are obviously accessible no matter how many graphics cards are installed. This holds true for the auxiliary six-pin PCI-E power connector as well.


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Installing an SSD in any of the three M.2 slots is relatively simple. You simply need to select your preferred slot, pick an M.2 screw in the accessories bundle, and then simply screw down the drive.
 

MAC

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Joined
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Messages
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Location
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UEFI Explored

UEFI Explored


As we mentioned in the ASRock X299 Taichi review, in the last year ASRock have updated the layout and aesthetic of their UEFI BIOS and made it largely uniform across both the Intel and AMD platforms. This uniformity is both in terms of aesthetics and layout, which means that the UEFI is still divided across two distinct modes. The Easy Mode is simplified and features a mouse-friendly graphical user interface (GUI) for basic tasks, while the Advanced Mode is still mouse-compatible but also has all the settings, options, and features that you could ever want. From within the Easy Mode you can switch to the Advanced Mode by pressing F6, and vice-versa to get back to the Easy Mode. Overall, both UEFI modes were very smooth and responsive, as we have come to expect now on any modern motherboard.




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The EZ Mode makes very good use of the graphical user interface (GUI) and was designed to be used with a mouse. It obviously does not have all the functionality of the Advanced mode, but it is not meant to. It simply gives novice users an easy way to visualize and alter some of the most common settings. First and foremost, the top-right corner shows CPU and motherboard temperatures, as well as CPU core voltage. The Fan Status feature can be found in both BIOS modes, but fundamentally it gives you very basic manual control over the CPU and systems fans. You can enable or disable RAID, as well as selecting which storage device to boot from. The Instant Flash feature allows you to update the UEFI via a USB flash drive, while the Internet Flash feature allows you to update directly from the internet. There is the FAN-Tastic Tuning feature which gives you full manual or preset-based control over the CPU and systems fans.


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The first section in the Advanced Mode is the Main tab, which displays some basic system information. This section lists some rudimentary specification info, including the BIOS date & version, the type of processor and the amount of memory installed. You can also access the My Favorite sub-menu, which allows you to have all your most useful or most used settings in one place, so you no longer have to search through the whole bios to find what you need time and time again.






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The OC Tweaker section is where all the fun happens. Once you set both the 'Overclock Mode' and 'CPU Frequency and Voltage Change' settings to manual you can now adjust the BCLK frequency, the CPU frequency and the CPU voltage. The SMT Mode option allows you to enable or disable the simultaneous multithreading (SMT).

The DRAM Timing Configuration area is a little confusing, since you can't actually change the DRAM Frequency option doesn't actually show up until enable/activate the XMP Profile. Having said that, UEFI versions prior to v1.70 didn't even have an easy way to change memory timings. When it comes to the Voltage Configuration section, there is an abundance of voltage options as well as the ability to adjust the load-line calibration (LLC) setting for both the Vcore and the SOC voltage.





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The Advanced tab is where you can tweak countless motherboard settings and enable or disable all the onboard components like audio, Wi-Fi, SATA ports, etc. You can also tweak CPU-specific settings like CPU virtualization, of which there are three settings. The AMD PBS menu is quite interesting since it gives you control over the processor's onboard PCI-E switching capabilities, as well as the ability to enable or disable NVMe RAID.





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In the AMD CBS section, you will find a ton of CPU options to fool around with, but you probably shouldn't since most are extremely esoteric. The only one that is worth taking a look at is the Custom Core P-States menu, which as indicated allows you to set your own per-core P-state (CPU frequency, multiplier, voltage). This is a very high level feature and it requires the user to understand confusing elements like FID, DID, and VID.

Shoehorned at the bottom of the Advanced tab are the UEFI Configuration options, such as whether the UEFI should initially load into the EZ or Advanced mode, and what the landing page should be if you do select the Advanced mode.
 

MAC

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UEFI Explored pt.2

UEFI Explored pt.2






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The Tool tab is where you can find a bunch of the handy tools that ASRock have developed to make setting up the motherboard a little more user friendly. The RGB LED sub-menu is where you can simply enable or disable the onboard LEDs that are under the chipset heatsink. The Easy RAID and Easy Driver Installers simplify the job of installing drivers via the included DVD. The Instant Flash tool allows you to update the UEFI from a storage device, while the Internet Flash is a unique feature that permits users to update the UEFI directly from the internet. Both are quick, painless, and take the worry out of BIOS flashing.



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The H/W Monitor tab is mostly dedicated to monitoring the various voltages, temperatures, and fan speeds. This whole section is really quite impressive, it has all the essential temperature and voltage readouts, as well as truly excellent and comprehensive fan control functionality.


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The Security tab is where you can set the Supervisor Password, as well as a subordinate User Password. By doing so, you can enable the Secure Boot option.



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The Boot tab is essentially where you set storage device priority, select the boot drive, enable/disable Fast Boot or the full screen logo, and ton of other boot settings that can help with the installation or troubleshooting of various OS installations.


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You can either hit F10 key or enter the Exit tab in order to save your settings and exit the UEFI. We wish ASRock implemented a pop-up window that lists the changes you made during the session. If and when you want to reset all the settings, the Load UEFI Defaults will obviously come in handy.
 

MAC

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Included Software

Included Software


ASRock APP Shop


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The ASRock APP Shop is an all-in-one centralized hub for all the BIOS, drivers, and utilities that ASRock bundles/requires with their motherboards. It permanently resides in the notification area/icon tray in the right corner of your screen. Not only does it give you one location from which to open or even uninstall all motherboard-related pieces of software, but it also feature a Live Update feature that lets you know if the there's a new version of the software available.


ASRock F-Stream

For those users who like to tweak their systems, the most important and all-encompassing piece of software in ASRock's broad range of programs is the F-Stream software suite. This system management utility is the hub from which you can select performance or energy-saving modes, enable automatic overclocking of the CPU and/or GPU, allow users to manually adjust frequency and multiplier settings, monitor system clock speeds/temperatures/voltages and fan rotation speeds. You can also automatically set fan speeds based on temperatures. Lastly, there is a feature that allows users to contact tech support from within the app.


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The Operation Mode tab is where you can select between three modes that balance performance and power consumption. While the Normal and Power Saving modes are fairly self-evident, the Performance Mode is the most interesting since it features an Advanced sub-menu with a fair bit of performance settings. In this menu, you can enable automatic overclocking of the CPU and/or GPU via presets. Regrettably, there is no Auto Tuning feature available on this platform yet.


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The OC Tweaker tab is where you can manually adjust the BCLK frequency, as well as the CPU and cache multipliers. There is also an impressive eleven adjustable system voltages. You can adjust all these settings on-the-fly without having to reboot the system.


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The System Info tab is where you will find the Hardware Monitor, which displays some basic system frequencies, system temperatures and fan speeds, as well as a bunch of system voltages. The System Browser button pops up a full diagram on the motherboard, and if you drag your cursor across the various parts of motherboard, some additional information about the ports or the installed components is listed.


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The Fan-Tastic Tuning tab is, as you might expect, where you can fully manage and optimize the all CPU and system fans. While there are no preset options, you can manually adjust the fan speed curve to your preferences, or simply use the fully automated Fan Test feature.


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The Settings tab is limited to just enabling or disabling the auto-run on Windows startup option.
 

MAC

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Included Software pt.2

ASRock RGB LED


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The ASRock RGB LED software utility allows users to control the RGB LEDs that are integrated into the chipset cooler, and any lighting strip that is plugged into the RGB header. The LEDs can be adjusted to any number of different colours and customized to create cool lighting effects, like pulsating with the beat of your music, ‘breathing’, strobe, cycling through all the colours, statically displaying one colour, or just totally disabled if that is your preference. Definitely check out our ASRock RGB LED feature test page to see what the lighting effects look like.


ASRock XFast LAN


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The XFast LAN utility is designed to help reduce latency courtesy of cFosSpeed traffic-shapping technology. It provides users with a lot of control and monitoring capabilities over every application that is accessing the network. It displays CPU usage, NPU usage, ICMP and UDP average ping, and the network utilization of every system process and program. This tool also allows you give priority to certain applications, and throttle or block others to free network resources for other applications. It is your one-stop tool for monitoring and controlling all network traffic, and it even comes with a little widget for real-time bandwidth information.


Key Master


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The Key Master is a user-friendly utility that allows for the easy programming of spider modes, macro keys, assigning of function keys, the tweaking of mouse and keyboard speeds, etc. There’s a even a little built-in game that allows you to see how well your mouse tweaks are working.


Restart to UEFI


The Restart to UEFI utility allows users to boot directly into the BIOS without having to repeatedly hit delete during the POST screen. It is a pretty hand tool when you are rebooting as often as overclockers tend to do.


Sound Blaster Cinema 3


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The Sound Blaster Cinema 3 software suite is a feature-rich app with a ton of effects and settings. There is the SBX Pro Studio tab which boasts features like a full-band equalizer, noise reduction capabilities, and allows for the tweaking of individual channel volume levels. There is also the SBX Surround feature, which enhances the soundstage for improved positional auditory cues in games. While a poor substitute for a multi-speaker surround sound configuration, when used in conjunction with a pair of good headphones it has the capability to provide a noticeable advantage that you would not normally get from ‘onboard’ sound solutions. This utility is mostly focused on music and movies, and is certainly not as gaming-oriented as the Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 utility, but it is still a welcome addition.


AMD Ryzen Master


The AMD Ryzen Master utility is an incredibly useful tool when it comes to overclocking Ryzen and ThreadRipper processors. First and foremost - in our opinion - is the fact that this utility is currently the best way of accurately monitoring the CPU temperature, as well as the real-time CPU voltage. There's many monitoring apps out there, but very few are properly tuned for Ryzen processors at this time.

The other key element is that Ryzen Master gives you is obviously full overclocking control over Ryzen processors, all of which are multiplier unlocked. With this tool, not only can you manually set individual core clocks, but you can also disable cores, overclock your DDR4 memory, adjust memory timings, and even increase/decrease system voltages.

If you can to create different overclocking profiles for different workloads you can do that as well, with the ability to save up to four performance profiles.
 

MAC

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Test Setups & Methodology

Test Setups & Methodology


For this review, we are going to be testing the performance of the Fatal1ty X399 Professional Gaming with four different configurations: default settings @ DDR4-2666, default settings @ DDR4-2666 with Game Mode enable (6-core/12-threads), default settings @ XMP DDR4-3200, and with our manual overclock settings. The components and software are the same across all four configurations, and aside from manually selecting the frequencies, timings, and voltages in the manual overclock configuration, every option in the BIOS was at its default setting.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper Socket sTR4 DDR4 Test Setup​

For all of the benchmarks, appropriate lengths are taken to ensure an equal comparison through methodical setup, installation, and testing. The following outlines our testing methodology:

A) Windows is installed using a full format.

B) Chipset drivers and accessory hardware drivers (audio, network, GPU) are installed.

C)To ensure consistent results, a few tweaks are applied to Windows 10 Pro (Creators Update) and the NVIDIA control panel:
  • UAC – Disabled
  • Indexing – Disabled
  • Superfetch – Disabled
  • System Protection/Restore – Disabled
  • Problem & Error Reporting – Disabled
  • Remote Desktop/Assistance - Disabled
  • Windows Security Center Alerts – Disabled
  • Windows Defender – Disabled
  • Screensaver – Disabled
  • Power Plan – High Performance
  • V-Sync – Off

D) All available Windows updates are then installed.

E) All programs are installed and then updated, followed by a defragment.

F) Benchmarks are each run three to eight times, and unless otherwise stated, the results are then averaged.


Here is a full list of the applications that we utilized in our benchmarking suite:
  • 3DMark Vantage Professional Edition v1.1.3
  • 3DMark11 Professional Edition v1.0.132.0
  • 3DMark 2013 Professional Edition v2.4.3819
  • AIDA64 Engineer Edition v5.92.4350 Beta
  • Cinebench R15 64-bit
  • FAHBench 1.2.0
  • Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward Benchmark
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • HEVC Decode Benchmark (Cobra) v1.61
  • LuxMark v3.1
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
  • PCMark 10 v1.0.1275
  • Prime95 v29.2
  • SuperPi Mod v1.9 WP
  • Unigine Superposition Benchmark Download v1.0
  • Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark v1.0.0.0
  • WinRAR x64 5.50
  • wPRIME version v2.10
  • X3: Terran Conflict Demo v1.0

That is about all you need to know methodology wise, so let's get to the good stuff!
 
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