Final words & conclusion
We have mentioned in the other TRX40 reviews already that an ongoing trend is increasingly more expensive motherboards, this round you've however seen the cheapest one we got our hands on. At a price of 449 USD the board almost sounds cheap compared to what we have been reviewing. You do need to remember though that we're reviewing PC gear in a segment that is way beyond premium with the 24, 32 and next year 64-core processors. The processors, for example, will end up in small businesses as well, for them, this kind of cash is peanuts really inevitably when they pair it with a 64-core processor next year. Obviously such a processor deserves a fantastic motherboard. MSI as well went all out, with a 10-gigabit ethernet jack from Intel, AX WIFI6 solution and then they added an audio solution that is even to the liking of audiophiles. With four full x16 slots Gen 4 ( x16/x8/x16/x8 PCIe 4.0) and the ability to add 3+4 M2 NVMe units, alongside six SATA3 ports, I'd say your storage needs are covered. Looking at the board itself, yeah it is fitted with the most awesome stuff and excellent features. Great to see is the new VRM design, the stronger ones with 16 phases. The motherboard is lovely as it has very great looks (once powered on with RGB). Simply put this very a feature-rich product, this is a well-designed motherboard. There is little you would disagree with me on that one. The looks overall are lovely in its black look (though looks are personal and thus a subjective preference).
TRX40 and PCIe Gen4 all the way
The downside, of course, is that you have to purchase a new motherboard and TRX40 will not be cheap. Knowing AMD, they really have tried to keep the Gen 3 processor on X399, however, PCIe 4.0 was just not possible. So they designed a new chipset and overloaded anything and everything with PCIe Gen 4.0, including a quadruple, interconnect in-between the chipset and CPU. With that PCIe 4.0 x8 interlink, that is just unheard of and unprecedented even in the server segment. A Threadripper 3000 processor brings 64 PCIe Gen 4 lanes to the table, 8 of those have been reserved for the chipset link and then the chipset link brings in a further 24 PCIe Gen 4 links to the table with 8 reserved for that interconnect. That's 88 lanes PCIe Gen 4 lanes in total and thus 72 lanes available to the end-user.
I am happy to report that, with the latest BIOS and the motherboard tested, we really did not run into any significant enough issues. Memory compatibility and stability were truly good. If you pick your memory right, you will not have any issues as the initial Ryzen/Threadripper releases have already removed the launch issues. In the BIOS simply enable the XMP SPD profile and you'll boot straight into Windows with your new timings and frequency. Current memories that work on Gen 2 Ryzen will work just as well on Threadripper. The new Dynamic memory toggle works well and helps to assign the best memory mode required while switching unnoticed in the OS.
Gaming then; at defaults, it's all pretty good really. But please do realize that there will be games out there that will not even start up with 48 or 64-threads fired off at them. The software has got no clue what it is looking at. Luckily with AMD's Ryzen Master software, you can switch to a game mode and have limited cores enabled allowing you to open up compatibility with all and any game(s). The performance itself is good, but surely not the reason why you would buy such a many-core processor. But yeah... very decent framerates.
We mentioned DDR4 memory a couple of times already; the latest AGESA based BIOSes have improved a lot in the past year. Threadripper fully supports most memory even starting at 3200, 3466, 3600 Mhz and upwards. We do recommend you to stick to 3600 Mhz max with some tight timings. Also remember you now have quad-channel memory available, doubling up system bandwidth. So memory-wise you'll benefit a bit more from faster latency memory as opposed to faster frequency memory. Please do check your motherboard QVL list for recommended memory. You can run it, but if you do not need ECC memory, we can recommend the G.Skill FlareX or latest NEO series memory as these have been deeply tested by AMD and the motherboard partners. On my end, I have had no issues with it. Pop it in, enable XMP and you're up and running.
This part will be the same for all brands motherboards, your processor is the limiting factor and not the ecosystem. You can tweak the processor, but you will also understand the complication of running 24 to 32 cores in an all-core overclocked mode. That will generate heat and tremendous power consumption. Surely you are not willing to mess up that 1399 or 1999 USD processor that already runs so very fast. Yes, we're not going to recommend any overclocking. But if you want to, it'll take patience, good cooling and a lot of effort.
The ASRock TRX40 Creator is interesting for many reasons but also has a few negatives. First off, with 24/32/64-cores I really would have liked to see more than the 8-phased it has right now. Granted it is actively cooled, so in that perspective not a bad thing. Thing s, when you really start to use the processor and chipset, both have an active fan, and while you can regulate it in the BIOS, they can be heard when they become active (but are not noisy). Secondly looks, this board is a bit more mat I say 'ordinary'? It does not have the snazzy looks the Tachi for example offers. My moaning ends there though, with a few baseline performance differences that will be tweaked with a future BIOS, the results, however, are impressive, and for half the price of anything, we have tested thus far. ASRock has implemented three m.2 slots, USB 3.2 gen2, eight SATA3 ports and then 10 Gbps as well as 2.5 Gbps ethernet jacks alongside AX wifi. All very impressive features for thus 'budget' (yes I quoted it) motherboard. I do think that the ASRock board needs a bit more BIOS tweaking, we had two spontaneous resets and when you look at single thread power consumption, it's below the rest of the pack. Normally that would be terrific, but that certainly is a little odd next to slightly worse latency values on the memory as well. In the end, it performs well and has all the 2019 features you want and could desire. Again I would have liked to have seen a passive board with 16-VRM phases, but at 449 USD that is the compromise to make. Overall certainly recommended.
Oh and hey now, no RGB :-)