AMD’s Ryzen Threadripper processors don’t come cheap, so a race for the top in motherboards to support the platform was expected before the latest CPU series was even confirmed. Asus got to us first with its $850 ROG Zenith II Extreme, and it was only a matter of time before Gigabyte sent its own $850 entry.
|Form Factor||"EATX" (10.8"-deep)|
|Voltage Regulator||16 Phases (+3)|
|USB Ports||10Gb/s: (7) Type A, (1) Type-C|
|Network Jacks||(2) 10GbE, (2) Wi-Fi Antenna|
|Audio Jacks||(5) Analog, (1) Digital Out|
|Other Ports/Jack||Q-Flash+, CLR_CMOS buttons|
|PCIe x16||(4) v4.0 (x16/x8/x16/x8)|
|CrossFire/SLI||4x / 4x|
|DIMM slots||(8) DDR4|
|M.2 slots||(4) PCIe 4.0 x4* / SATA^ (Excludes SATA ports *4/5, ^4-7)|
|SATA Ports||(10) SATA 6Gb/s (four shared w/4th M.2 slot)|
|USB Headers||(1) v3.x Gen2, (2) v3.x Gen1, (1) v2.0|
|Fan Headers||(7) 4-Pin|
|Legacy Interfaces||System (Beep-code) Speaker|
|Other Interfaces||FP-Audio, (2) RGB LED, (2) ARGB, LED-Demo, Thunderbolt AIC, TPM, (2) Thermistor, Noise Sensor|
|Internal Button/Switch||Power, Reset / BIOS mode, IC selector|
|SATA Controllers||AMS1062 PCIe x2, Integrated (0/1/10)|
|Ethernet Controllers||Intel X550 PCIe 3.0 x4|
|Wi-Fi / Bluetooth||Intel AX200 802.11ax (2.4 Gb/s) / BT 5.0 Combo|
|USB Controllers||ASM3142 PCIe x2|
|HD Audio Codec||ALC1220|
|DDL/DTS Connect||DTS Connect|
The biggest advantage we can find in TRX40 Aorus Xtreme specs is Intel’s 10GBASE-T network controller, which offers users a way to get 10GbE over copper (Cat 6A) cabling in addition to 5GbE, 2.5GbE, and standard Gigabit Ethernet compatibility over the same cable. That kind of interoperability explains why Intel calls this its Converged Network Adapter and moreover, it provides two of these 10GbE connections compared to the 10Gb/1Gb Ethernet set of the competing Asus product.
Asus counters that single expensive feature with one of its own, a Gen 2x2 USB port that pairs two 10Gb interfaces over a single Type-C USB port. Yet while Gigabyte’s Type-C port makes do with a single 10Gb connection on each of its USB ports, the fact remains that is has eight ports at this speed, compared to Asus’ five.
The rest of the I/O panel is filled with a Q-Flash Plus button for firmware updates, Clear CMOS to erase custom firmware settings, a pair of antenna connectors for the semi-integrated Intel AX200 (2.4Gb/s) Wi-Fi module, a vent for the integrate voltage regulator fan, five analog audio jacks, and an optical S/PDIF output.
Gigabyte optimized its TRX40 Aorus Xtreme for four graphics cards at double-slot spacing, differing from the Asus board which has a single space between the second and third slots. While that might seem like a win for Gigabyte, moving the first slot to the case’s top position meant sliding up the DIMMs as well, which in turn limits the amount of space available for voltage regulator cooling. Heat is redirected to a second sink between DIMM slots and the I/O panel, where the cooling fan resides, via a thick heatpipe.
The mounting depth concern we had with the competing board remains in the TRX40 Aorus Xtreme; its 10.8-inch width exceeds the available space of many high-quality ATX cases. And though this 10.8-inch board is rated as EATX, that’s far less than the limit of that specification, and many ATX cases with a bit more than 10.6 inches of mounting space still exist. So be extra sure about your case clearances before buying.
One of the more annoying things about building with the TRX40 Aorus Xtreme is the number and variety of screws required to remove its M.2 covers. Another is that those covers are inseparable from the fan cover, making it less likely that builders will want to use heatsink-integrated M.2 drives. But removing those covers reveals one nice feature: four PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots.
The forward-bottom M.2 slot steals I/O pathways from SATA, reducing the number of ports from ten to six, but the competing Asus board has similar sharing that reduces its ports from eight to four. And while the Asus board supports up to five M.2 drives thanks to its M.2 riser card, one of its onboard slots steals another four lanes from its eight-lane lower PCIe card slot. Gigabyte’s TRX40 Aorus Xtreme supports one fewer drive, but since its PCIe slots are always x16-x8-x16-x8 regardless of the number of drives installed…pick your resource-sharing poison.
Front-panel audio, dual ARGB and dual RGB, Thunderbolt add-in card and Trusted Platform Module headers are found beneath all those slots, along with switches to select between two firmware ROMs and enable or disable automatic backup BIOS implementation following a crash.
Many of the TRX40 Aorus Xtreme’s front-panel headers are hidden along the forward edge, and some require custom (included) breakout cables. From left to right are supplemental power for PCIe slots, two USB 3.0 headers, ten SATA ports (two from an AMS1062 controller), a custom four-port USB 2.0 header to mate with an included adapter cable, 24-pin power, a noise sensor header for an included internal microphone used in SPL-based fan tuning, a custom front-panel header for an included button/LED/PC Speaker breakout cable, and five of the board’s available seven fan connectors.
Two more fan headers are located between the onboard power/reset buttons and twin CPU power headers, while a USB3 Gen2 front panel header is located next to the two-digit diagnostics code display.
An Infineon XDPE132G5C drives sixteen core phases along the TRX40 Aorus Xtreme’s top edge, with another three phases on a separate controller behind the rear DIMM bank for CPU SOC. All phases use 70A, TDA21472 VR MOS.
A light diffuser for front-edge RGB LEDs is sandwiched between the back of the TRX40 Aorus Xtreme’s circuit board and a steel back brace and secured via three screws. Four additional screws and standoffs support the rest of the brace farther back, and two more screws secure the factory-installed I/O shield to the brace. The brace also contacts the rear of the voltage regulator through a thermal pad, thereby adding heat dissipation to its functionality.
Included in the retail box are the TRX40 Aorus Xtreme motherboard, a manual and two quick installation guides, custom breakout cables for USB 2.0 and front-panel button/LED/PC Speaker connections, a USB thumb drive with included drivers and applications, the AORUS Gen4 four-M.2 to PCIe x16 add-in-card adaptor previously described in our X299X Designare 10G Review, two Wi-Fi antennae, six SATA cables with braided sleeves, an internal microphone lead for SPL-based fan tuning, two RGB extension and two ARGB adapter cables, two Velcro cable ties, two thermistor cables, and a G-Connector front-panel button/LED/PC Speaker bundling block for which the function is already built into the custom front-panel breakout adapter.
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