Today we're going to do some AMD TRX40 motherboard VRM thermal tests with the powerful 64-core 3990X thread ripper. This is a continuation of a test I did with the 32-core 3970X last year. Back then, we compared eight extreme motherboards that support 3rd generation thread rippers. We wanted to see how these cards deal with the CPU when overclocked at 1.3 V to 4.2 GHz. In the end, we were satisfied that all boards ran cool and passed the torture test with ease.
The worst motherboard in the pack was installed in a large ATX case with relatively low airflow and an ambient temperature of 21 ° C and reached a VRM peak of only 60 ° C, while the best, MSI & # 39; s Creator, peaked at only reached 49 ° C. In second place was Asus & # 39; ROG Zenith II Extreme, which was 2C hotter than the MSI, followed by Gigabytes Aorus Xtreme, which was another 3 degrees hotter.
Although we finish second with what we consider to be a negligible lead – we will emphasize that we were not looking for a direct winner – it doesn't matter whether the board peaks at 49 ° C or 51 ° C, both are very satisfactory results. That still didn't go well with Asus, so they went back and did some quick upgrades. The previously used performance levels Infineon TDA21472 70A were replaced by Infineon's TDA21490 90A. That seems like a solid plan to create the ultimate Threadripper power system.
Everything else remains the same, including the PWM controller and of course the VRM configuration itself. Asus believes this will result in the coolest TRX40 motherboard on the market. That is why we have prepared ourselves for a complete top-down retest with the 64-core 3990X. Now let's discuss the test configuration and then jump into the results.
Test configuration and benchmarks
To load the system, we use a real Blender workload that runs for an hour. Then we record the maximum VRM temperature. The CPU of choice is of course the Threadripper 3990X. For testing, we have two configurations: a fully stocked configuration with only XMP loaded, and a second OC configuration where the 3990X is overclocked at 1.3V to 3.8GHz. We could have run at 4 GHz, but we didn't think much would change. To ensure stability on all boards, we chose 3.8 GHz.
For those who are wondering, the typical power consumption from the wall in the warehouse was around 450 watts, while the overclocking configuration sucked around 850 watts (!).
All tests take place in a 21C room in a DeepCool New Ark 90SE housing. The reason we used this case was simple: it was the only one we had on hand that could hold the Aorus Xtreme and it just pushes in there. The fan configuration is somewhat unusual in this case, as the front fans are not mounted on the front but on the side. We have three 140 mm fans at the front / side and a single 140 mm exhaust fan at the rear. This is a fairly typical fan setup for a full tower case, although for the VRM we will still call it low airflow since no fan pumps air directly over the VRM heatsink.
To record the temperatures, we used a digital thermometer with K thermocouples. For this test we measure the PCB temperature behind the power levels and indicate the highest temperature of the 8 probes.
This is how the Alpha and some other high-end TRX40 motherboards handle the standard 3990X. Pretty easy, actually. The ROG Zenith II Extreme Alpha is very impressive with only 50 ° C and thus 5 ° C cooler than the previous champion, the MSI Creator.
In this test, it was also 5C cooler than the original Zenith II Extreme. An impressive result, but if you are simply not looking for the best VRM performance, there are many other powerful boards worth considering.
Please note that we have changed the "Voltage monitor" setting in the BIOS from Die Sense to Socket Sense for the Asus cards. Asus is now using "The Sense" method instead of "Socket Sense" to increase accuracy, because Socket Sense displays are generally higher. However, the socket sense is used by everyone else. The socket sense was used to compare apples to apples when manually adjusting the voltage.
With the TR 3990X system, which sucked about 850 watts out of the wall, it got hot and in one case …
Let's start with the Zenith II Extreme Alpha: what a beast. Despite the massive load, the board reached a maximum of only 82 ° C, which corresponds to a reduction of 8 degrees compared to the original Zenith II Extreme. Interestingly, Asus would have won with this huge charge anyway, if only by 2 degrees. The passively cooled MSI Creator is still very impressive and still keeps the temperatures below 100 ° C with minimal airflow.
The Aorus Xtreme also did well, although we were surprised to find that it ran 6C hotter than the original Zenith board, but again both did well and passed this test with certainty, so we wouldn't say that The zenith is a must on these results. Even the Aorus master passed, although he roasted a little at 103 ° C. You want to improve airflow with this board, and we wouldn't recommend it for hotter environments … if you're a crazy man and plan to overclock the snot from the 3990X, that is.
If you are a crazy man, you should avoid the Asrock Taichi. With the 3990X in stock it does a good job, but overclocked the power consumption was just too high and it threw in the towel, throttling the CPU regularly for a breather to 500 MHz before cranking it up for a few seconds. This process was repeated over and over again, keeping the hot spot at 97 ° C.
Out of interest, we lowered the load line calibration of the Taichi to level 3, thereby reducing the Vcore to only 1.10 V and the power consumption from the wall to 700 watts. Here the Taichi managed to avoid throttling. It still reached a maximum of 92 ° C, but the system was stable even though the voltage was raised a little to 1.15 V, which led to a new throttling.
This shows that overclocking can be optimized with a little voltage adjustment, although you won't get to 4 GHz with this setting.
What we have learned
The new Asus ROG Zenith II Extreme Alpha is a seriously high quality TRX40 motherboard and certainly the most impressive board in terms of VRM thermal performance. This should mean that it is one if not the best option for extreme Threadripper 3990X overclocking.
How many of you are interested in overclocking Threadripper, especially the 64-core part, is hard to say, but we would say we could count the number of readers on one hand.
Asus originally planned to replace the original Zenith II Extreme with the updated Alpha model. However, due to the uncertainty caused by the spread of COVID-19, the transition will take longer than expected and the alpha is expected to become scarce. Both models currently exist side by side. So if you want the Alpha, make sure that this is the version you buy. There is no big difference in price, or at most $ 50. Currently, both boards are listed on Amazon for $ 850, although the Alpha is out of stock, while the original model is available at the same price.
Obviously, $ 850 is a lot of money for a motherboard, but TRX40 boards are generally quite expensive. If you're already spending $ 4,000 on a CPU, $ 850 shouldn't be a problem for the motherboard, especially if you're looking for the best of the best. Boards like the Asrock Taichi are a lot cheaper at around $ 500, but as you've seen, with extreme 3990X performance, they're not nearly as powerful as the Alpha.
We still think MSI's TRX40 Creator at $ 700 is a gem after we passed our tests relatively easily. The Asus remains the superior platform for extreme overclocking, but we doubt that many of you are overly interested in extreme overclocking from workstations. The two don't really go hand in hand because reliability is paramount for workstation applications.
If you look at all the features on offer and are looking for a great TRX40 motherboard, we choose between the Asus Zenith II Extreme Alpha, the MSI Creator and the Gigabyte Aorus Xtreme.
- AMD Threadripper 3990X at Amazon
- AMD Threadripper 3970X at Amazon
- AMD Threadripper 3960X at Amazon
- AMD Ryzen 9 3950X at Amazon
- AMD Ryzen 5 3600 on Amazon
- Asus ROG Zenith II Extreme Alpha on Amazon
- MSI Creator TRX40 at Amazon
- Gigabyte TRX40 Aorus Xtreme on Amazon