Gigabyte TRX40 Aorus Xtreme review

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Final words & conclusion

There is an ongoing trend with gigabyte to release insanely expensive motherboards, well, you just had a peek at one. The Gigabyte TRX40 Aorus Xtreme is extreme, and that does come with a price tag of ... wait for it .... 999 EUR. Yeah, a thousand bucks for a motherboard, even writing that is contradictory. The other side of that coin is that we're reviewing PC gear in a segment that is way beyond premium with the 24, 32 and next year 64-core processors. Obviously such a processor deserves a fantastic motherboard. Gigabyte went all out, with a 10-gigabit ethernet jack from Intel (and any chip from intel is expensive). Then the AX WIFI6 solution (again Intel), 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 four M2 NVMe units, AORUS Gen4 AIC adaptor alongside eighth 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 strongest we've seen thus far with 16 70A phases. The motherboard is lovely as it has very great looks (once powered on with RGB). Simply put this very a feature-rich product, and being Gigabyte for its flagship 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). Gigabyte also offers an easy to tweak platform from within their (updated) UEFI BIOS. The LED design is not too much out there but intricate enough to impress. 




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. 

The Memory

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. 

The Tweak

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 conclusion

Everything in a PC is all about the symbiosis of all components, and thus this symbiosis can only be as good as the processor will allow it to be. Looking at purely the motherboard then it is all very simple, it is lovely and features rich enough, has a proper nice dark design and is well built with proper components. Features wise this kit offers many SATA 6 Gbps and M2 slots, the 10 Gbps Ethernet jacks, AX WIFI, improved 7.1 channel HD audio and even additional AIC M2 slots. Gigabyte did not go over the top with RGB LEDs and did things subtle, I like that as well. The new architecture brings many advantages, first and foremost each and every one of the 32 cores gets that ZEN2 design IPC benefit, and that makes them fast cores. More impressively, AMD managed to fire off really high base and turbo bins at these processors. Think Ryzen 7 3800X level performance quadrupled. Add to that the fact that UMA/NUMA memory configurations are a thing of the past. Meaning even gaming-wise the Threadrippers now put out very mature numbers. That said, not all games and software will like 32 cores, we had one game behaving weird, Far Cry 5, but other than that it's all been smooth sailing gaming wise. Now you're not going to buy a 32-core processor to play games on with its 6 to 8 used threads (if even that), but the fact that you can is, again, impressive. Let me add to that that tweaking the processor was an option as well, 32 cores at 4100 MHz, think about that for a second, would you? The elephant in the room is heat and power consumption. As you've noticed from the 280W TDP, AMD needed more power to use all the many PCIe 4.0 lanes and, of course, four dies. If you take the 16-core Ryzen 9 3950X it serves you extremely fine at a 105W TDP. Ergo logic dictated to me that the Threadripper 3970X with double the amount of cores would sit in that 210W region. Yep, it needs an extra 70 Watts on top, that's due to reasons of PCIe Gen 4.0 everywhere and anywhere in massive numbers (88 lanes in total for the platform), but also the usage of four dies and the fact that AMD wanted such a high base-clock on all the processor cores. So yes, you will need to take that for granted. Overall, this has got to be one of the most impressive motherboards I have seen and tested to date. It could have easily deserved a top pick award if it had not been this expensive. Crazy prices, but it is a crazy platform. As a motherboard, we certainly can wholeheartedly recommend it though we like to remind you that TRX40 motherboards can be spotted starting as 'low' as 400 USD.

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