Gigabyte X399 DESIGNARE EX
Sometimes a little out of the ordinary is good?
For this review, we take the 16-cores Ryzen Threadripper 1950X and pair it with that all new Gigabyte X399 DESIGNARE EX. A board that is unique in its design and looks, hence that name. The motherboard was released a few days ago for the TR4 platform.
Threadripper processors do not only offer many CPU cores and threads, they also offer quad channel memory compatibility as well as 64 PCI-Express Generation 3.0 lanes on the processor alone. That last fact opens up a tremendous amount of possibilities for any motherboard manufacturer, as restrictions are lifted since there is plenty of bandwidth to work with. Well, leave it up-to Gigabyte to design something intricate and tasteful, they designed a motherboard that is going completely off the chart when we talk features. Triple M2 SSDs (full x4 PCIe Gen 3), a U2 connector, how about eight DIMM channels. You will spot many PCIe connectors, USB 3.1 ports as well as an abundance of storage options. This 16 cores and 32 threaded Threadripper ready motherboard shows once again that massive SP3/TR4 slot. The board has all the modern age features including shielded M2 slots and carefully borrowed from competitors, an I/O armor shield. Despite it big looks, the board follows a standard ATX form factor. You will spot three M.2 slots (I probably should say 1 open and visible, and two are located under a heatsink being shielded), there is Realtek ALC 1220 for audio and Gigabyte is embedding a Dual Gigabit network NICs into the board as well as proper AC WIFI and sure, RGB. The CPU can be powered by 8+4 pin power connectors.
The board has five (!) PCI-Express x16 slots and an array of buttons, as well as a diagnostic POST LED. Since X399 will bring the support of up-to 64 PCIe Gen3 lanes bringing anything and everything multi-GPU support multi-GPU into play, including full-on quad GPU support, the spacing on the mobo does support it. Unfortunately, no Aquantia AQC-107 LAN chip can be spotted, a bit of a miss for such a high-end product, you’ll get 2×2 MU-MIMO 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac + BT4.2. That AC Intel AC 8265 chip connection can get you can 867 Mbps. Audio is based on the usual Realtek 1220 Codec which then (can) gets optimized by Creative software. You’ll spot extensive shields and heatsinks that mold the board into a bare metal looking design. Well, all that and RGB LEDs on this € 399,- and something similar in USD motherboard of course. But she is pretty (if you dig the looks), we’ll have a lot to talk about. Let’s head onwards into the review, shall we?