Asus ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha Review: an X399 Thoroughbred

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Test Configuration and Benchmark Results

Test System Components

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RAM(1) G.Skill Trident Z F4-3466C18Q-32GTZRXB 4x8GB DDR4-3466 CL18 (1) G.Skill Flare-X F4-3200C14Q-32GFX 4x8GB DDR4-3200 CL14 (1) Corsair Dominator Platinum CMD32GX4M4C3466C16 4x8GB DDR4-3466 CL16 (2) Viper Steel Series PVS416G373C7K 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4-3733 CL17
SoundIntegrated HD audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit networking
ChipsetAMD X399
Graphics DriverNVIDIA GeForce 399.24
OSMicrosoft Windows 10 Anniversary Update (not 1903)

Our X399 test stand continues to sport its original launch Ryzen Threadripper 1950X processor and is cooled by the Fractal Design Celsius S36 AIO.  We've thrown several memory kits at this board for our overclocking segment, but our main benchmarks continue to use the G.Skill Flare X kit listed above. Also, we continue to test our X399 boards with the previous Windows updates and do not want to muddy the water with the 1903 update. 

Benchmark Settings

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Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
PCMark 8Version 2.7.613Home, Creative, Work, Storage, Applications (Adobe & Microsoft)
SiSoftware SandraVersion 2016.03.22.21CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia, Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth
IOmeterk Random Read, 4k Random Write 128k Sequential Read, 128k Sequential Write
Cinebench R15Build RC83328DEMOOpenGL Benchmark
CompuBenchVersion 1.5.8Face Detection, Optical Flow, Ocean Surface, Ray Tracing
3D Tests and Settings
3DMark 13Version 4.47.597.0 Test Set 1: Skydiver, 1920x1080, Default Preset Test Set 2: Firestrike, 1920x1080, Default Preset Test Set 3: Firestrike Extreme, 2560x1440 Default Preset
Application Tests and Settings
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.9.9Sintel Open Movie Project: 4.19GB 4K mkv to x265 mp4
LAME MP3Version 3.98.3Mixed 271MB WAV to mp3: Command: -b 160 --nores (160Kb/s)
Adobe After Effects CCRelease 2015.3.0, Version routine
Adobe Photoshop CCRelease 2015.5.0, 20160603.r.88 x64PCMark-driven routine (light and heavy)
Adobe InDesign CCRelease 2015.4, Build x64PCMark-driven routine
Adobe IllustratorRelease 2015.3.0, Version 20.0.0 (64-bit)PCMark-driven routine
BlenderVersion 2.68aBMW 27 CPU Render Benchmark, BMW 27 GPU Render Benchmark
7-ZipVersion 16.02THG-Workload (7.6GB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=9"
Game Tests and Settings
Ashes of the Singularity: EscalationVersion 2.50.28527 High Preset - 1920x1080, Mid Shadow Quality, 1x MSAA Crazy Preset - 1920x1080, High Shadow Quality, 2x MSAA High Preset - 3840x2160, Mid Shadow Quality, 1x MSAA Crazy Preset -3840x2160, High Shadow Quality, 2x MSAA
F1 20152015 Season, Abu Dhabi Track, Rain 1920x1080 - UltraHigh Preset, 16x AF 3840x2160 - UltraHigh Preset, 16x AF
Metro: Last Light ReduxVersion 3.00 x64 High Quality, 1920x1080, High Tesselation Very High Quality, 1920x1080, Very High Tesselation High Quality, 3840x2160, High Tesselation Very High Quality, 3840x2160, Very High Tesselation
The Talos PrincipleVersion 267252 1920x1080 - Medium Preset, High Quality, High Tesselation, 4x AF 1920x1080 - Ultra Preset, VeryHigh Quality, VeryHigh Tesselation, 16x AF 3840x2160 - Medium Preset, High Quality, High Tesselation, 4x AF 3840x2160 - Ultra Preset, VeryHigh Quality, VeryHigh Tesselation, 16x AF

Synthetics, Applications, and Gaming Benchmarks

The Asus Zenith Extreme Alpha is a thoroughbred when compared to our other offerings today but shows middle-of-the-pack performance in the PCMark basic tests. It outperforms the field with both the Adobe and Office suite. Sandra continues to show tight performance margins across the scenarios, though the Asus board takes the prize with memory bandwidth.

NVMe performance is a strong showing for the Alpha as well, and note this data is not from the DIMM.2 riser but from the onboard slot. Though losing in single-core performance in Cinebench R15, multi-core performance is excellent. Compubench shows mixed results across all platforms, adding confidence that we have not introduced any systematic errors at least into the graphical segment of our test bench.

Handbrake render times are impressive, showing a nearly 2% difference compared to the slower performers. Since the Asus board performed well in PCMark’s Adobe runs, digging further into the results shows hefty wins in both Photoshop Heavy, InDesign, and Illustrator (though After Effects does tend to struggle). Blender and Lame64 show slower times for the ROG, but 7-zip favors its memory bandwidth and shaves a few seconds compared to the Gigabyte Gaming 7.

For 3DMark, we see pretty noisy results across the samples with Skydiver, but moving on to Firestrike and Firestrike Extreme, performance stabilizes and ultimately favors no board. 

Ashes of the Singularity shows similar behavior across the resolutions and graphical settings. Metro Last Light appears to favor the Asus Zenith and Gigabyte Gaming 7 boards across all presets and resolutions and all measurements land within 10 frames per second (fps) for all samples today.

The Talos Principle bucks the trend for the Asus board by favoring both Gigabyte boards, seeing a near 10 fps advantage across resolutions and settings. F1 brings our gaming segment to a close-by shocking us with the Aorus Gaming 7's result at 1080p, but it loses steam at higher settings and the Asus X399 Zenith Extreme Alpha takes the win for average frame rates at 4K.

Overall performance shows nearly perfect marks for the Asus X399 Zenith Extreme Alpha, but it slips up in applications by a hair. Interestingly, the Gigabyte Aorus X399 Xtreme manages to nearly hit that 100% performance mark in all respects and the Aorus Gaming 7 pulls off impressive gaming marks. ASRock's Cadillac offering, meanwhile, struggles in all but applications.

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