ASUS X399 ROG Zenith Extreme and Ryzen 1950X Threadripper Review
Published: 10th August 2017 | Source: AMD | Price: |
We've got one item of hardware which comes with an unhesitating recommendation and one that has a little bit of a caveat to it, although nothing that you probably couldn't have imagined yourself.
Starting with the unhesitating one, the ASUS X399 ROG Zenith Extreme is a spectacular motherboard. It looks like a million bucks with some smooth design on both the heatsinks and the placement of the CPU power inputs. We've spoken a lot recently about the importance of good VRM cooling and ASUS have absolutely nailed the problem by combining their "hewn from a single element" IO shield via a heatpipe to the MOSFET heatsink itself. This gave us a mere 57°C VRM temperatures even with our beefy overclock and Prime95 doing its damnedest to melt everything. So definitely a tick in the success box there. The heatpipe necessitated the moving of the 8+8 CPU power from its usual place in a finger-grazing position at the top left of the motherboard to the top right. This has the added benefit that all your power inputs are on the same edge of the motherboard allowing for easier cable routing behind the scenes.
Everything about the X399 ROG Zenith Extreme shows how good premium ASUS motherboards continue to be. Sure it's not exactly cheap, but if you're planning to invest in the AMD Ryzen Threadripper then price is far down your list of concerns.
The Ryzen 1950X Threadripper is either the best thing ever or slightly disappointing depending upon your intended use. The AES256 performance is staggering, far better than anything else we've ever tested. Perfect if cryptographic endeavours are a major part of your daily work. As befits a processor with sixteen cores and thirty-two (32!) threads, the rendering performance is blistering. In Cinebench R15 the previous record holder was the overclocked Intel i9-7900X with 2516 points, whereas the Threadripper 1950X pumped out 2973 at stock and 3441 when overclocked. Those are meaty numbers in anyone's book. Conversely the other main element we expected to really rock and roll on the latest AMD offering, video encoding, was disappointing. Realbench liked it, but HEVC and x265 definitely didn't score anything like the numbers we were hoping to see.
The tasks we consider to be day to day ones - browsing, office stuff, gaming - were all somewhat disappointing on the Threadripper, particularly when at stock. We can't remember the last CPU which was so Jekyll and Hyde between stock and overclock. The stock VR Mark results for example were terrible, but in overclocked form it was pretty handy. It helps that the ASUS X399 ROG Zenith Extreme makes it so easy to overclock.
How much you'll enjoy your time with the Ryzen 1950X and how much value for money you'll believe you've received will largely depend upon what you plan to do with it. As a gaming rig, or a basic system that needs to be a jack of all trades, the enormous amount of cores and threads rarely see it performing better than the i9-7900X which has a significant thread deficit. On the other hand if you're someone who owns a copy of Maya or Blender and needs to be able to have a system that will save you huge amounts of time from your workflow, it's such a bargain that you'd be crazy not to invest.
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