ASUS X399 ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha Review
Published: 23rd April 2019 | Source: ASUS | Price: |
Keen readers of OC3D will know that we have already reviewed the first ASUS X399 ROG Zenith Extreme when we looked at the new X399 chipset. It was, to nobodies great surprise, everything you would expect to find from a motherboard bearing the famous Republic Of Gamers branding.
If there was one element it, and all the other original X399s, suffered from it was the unexpected exponential increase in the number of cores available to the home user. We had barely got used to the idea of hex and octo-core CPUs when the Threadrippers appeared with 32 and then 64 threads available. It doesn't take a genius to realise that powering that many cores is a job that requires much more engineering than something with, for example, 16 threads.
The original Zenith Extreme did just about manage to handle overclocking duties on these high end, second generation Threadripper CPUs, but 'just about' has never been the mantra of the ROG brand. It's always been about taking things to the limit, pushing the boundaries, extracting the maximum possible from your silicon. To this end they have revisited their designs and revised them until this latest Zenith Extreme Alpha can easily deal with all the requirements of the AMD Threadripper 2990WX CPU but if youve looked at any of the results pages youll see that they have probably over engineered this board so its ready to take the possible Threadripper 3 48 Core insanity CPU.
They have been completely successful in this endeavour. Indeed we would go so far as to say that the power phases and VRM cooling available on the Zenith Extreme Alpha should be enough to handle whatever CPU AMD decide to launch next, assuming it has even more cores and threads. Overclocking on the Alpha was a breeze thanks to the extremely usable ASUS UEFI and near limitless capabilities of the motherboard itself. We could run all 32 cores at 4 GHz without a single issue. Just stop and take stock of that for a moment. 32 cores. 4 GHz. It's an unbelievably testing environment for anything this side of a server farm, and the idea that you can have this power and performance on your desktop still makes us shake our heads. The original Zenith would have needed torrents of air to have been able to pass tests and the newer version didn't even break a sweat!
Best of all when we first looked at the redesigned power phases and its attendant 40mm fans we were fearful that they'd be making a hell of a noise all the time. Instead they not only are quiet when they're working, but the heat sink itself is designed well enough that they almost never spin up. You can disable them entirely if you are so inclined, but the automatic cooling sensors really make that a non issue. It's there as a belt and braces thing, rather than something necessary to allow the Zenith Extreme Alpha to work at peak performance. The new, old school, heat sink does that just fine enough thank you.
Elsewhere the Zenith Extreme Alpha echoes that of the original X399 Zenith Extreme and ticks all the ROG boxes you would expect. Build quality is tremendous, there are oodles of things to adjust, connectivity options, high bandwidth features - including 10G networking if your home network is designed to handle it - RGB lighting and all the bells and whistles that make the ASUS Republic Of Gamers brand the famous one that it is. It wants for nothing and now, thanks to the upgraded power phases, it goes as well as you would expect from a premium motherboard.
All in all the revised ASUS X399 ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha is a triumph. It would be easy enough for ASUS to have decided that the original Zenith Extreme did well enough and leave any revisions for a future model, but instead they have taken on board the needs of the high end, extreme performance enthusiasts and fixed a weakness until it's a definite strength. You need a serious amount of cash to build a system that would make fullest use of what the Zenith Extreme Alpha can bring to the party, but if you do then you'll be pleased to note it is never found wanting.
Shut up MEG, the Zenith is back on top.