Best X399 Motherboards for Threadripper 2990WX/2950X

Posted by James I. on 24 oct 2018

The X399 chipset is featured on motherboards that support the socket TR4 from AMD which is their HEDT (high-end desktop) Ryzen part, also known as Threadripper. Just like their Ryzen desktop CPUs, AMDs Threadripper has two different generations with the first featuring the 1900x, 1920x and 1950x with up to 16 cores on the Zen architecture and the second with the 2920x, 2950x, 2970WX and 2990WX featuring up to an insane 32 cores on the Zen+ architecture. They are meant for heavy workloads that can take advantage of the huge number of cores like 3D modeling, content creation etc. and are unlocked, which means you can overclock them if you so wish. It competes with Intel’s X299 platform and offers very good value compared to the Intel lineup. The specifications of the platform can be found on the AMD website and in this picture with the main features being quad-channel memory and multi-GPU support as well as a huge number of USB and SATA ports.

Below are our top X399 motherboard recommendations based on different preferences, such as the optimum boards for overclocking, or for particular boards such as the 2950X, or perhaps form factor such as the best mATX X399 motherboard. Enjoy!


Best X399 motherboard for overclocking Threadripper

MSI

MEG X399 Creation

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Photo credit: MSI
  • 16-phase VRM
  • High number of fan headers
  • Support up to seven M.2 drives
  • Missing 10Gbit Ethernet
  • VRM heatsink could be improved
  • Very expensive

If you are looking for the best of the best in terms of overclocking, the MSI MEG X399 Creation has to be the one of the top options. It is a motherboard that was specifically released to handle the second generation of Threadripper, especially the 32-core 2990WX, compared to ASUS and ASRock who haven’t updated their lineup for the 2000 series of TR4 CPUs and it also competes against Gigabyte’s flagship model, the X399 Aorus Xtreme, which was also released alongside the second generation of Threadripper. If you are interested in some comparisons between the different flagship boards, these videos from Hardware Unboxed and Optimum Tech may be interesting to watch.

The MSI MEG X399 Creation is a motherboard in the E-ATX form factor that features a massive 16 phase Vcore-VRM using doublers with the 3 phases of the SoC-VRM having a separate controller, as the IR35201 used for the Vcore-VRM can only run at a maximum configuration of 8+0, which MSI uses in this case. It features four PCIe x16 slots like most of the X399 boards, which are all steel-reinforced, but due to their positioning and the middle two slots sitting right next to each other, you can only run up to 3-way SLI or CrossFire. Another use for a PCIe slot can be found in the included M.2 Xpander-Aero add-in PCIe card that sports a graphics card-like design with a single fan to cool up to four M.2 NVMe drives that can run at PCIe 3.0 x4 speed each. The motherboard features a total amount of ten 4-pin PWM headers to connect and control your fans and includes a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C front panel connector in addition to the port on the rear I/O as well as the standard overclocking and debugging tools you would expect, namely a debug-LED, POST-Code and clear CMOS and BIOS flashback buttons on the rear I/O. What it lacks however is the inclusion of 10Gbit Ethernet that all the flagship models of the other manufacturers do have which is a real letdown for many people, as well as the VRM heatsink, which is more or less just a solid block of aluminum (unfortunately pretty common nowadays because of the looks) which in turn may lead to temperatures that are definitely improvable, especially if there is no airflow over the VRM area as shown for example in this video from Tech YES City.

So, even though the MEG X399 Creation does have some downsides and is the most expensive X399 motherboard on the market, sitting at around $500, it does have the beefiest VRM design out of them all which allows it to comfortably handle the flagship 2990WX, even overclocked to 4.1 GHz at 1.4V shown in this article by guru3d. And because of that, it gets my recommendation for the best performing X399 motherboard and best board to overclock Threadripper (especially the 2990WX or 2970WX).


Best X399 motherboard for Threadripper 2950X and below

ASRock

Fatal1ty X399 Professional Gaming

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Photo Credit: ASRock
  • Good overclocking capability
  • 10Gbit Ethernet
  • Great value
  • 4-way SLI/CrossFire
  • U.2 port
  • Strange EPS connector placement may lead to PSU compatibility issues
  • 433Mbps W-LAN
  • Chipset X399
  • Form Factor ATX
  • Max RAM Speed 3600 MHz
  • PCIe 3.0 4/0/0
  • Fan Headers 5
  • Power Phases 11
  • SATA 3 8
  • See more
    specs…

If you aren’t looking to overclock your Threadripper CPU or you’ll run with a 16-core variant or lower, all of the options will become available to you, as the original X399 motherboards were designed to handle the 1950X, not the 32-core 2990WX. From what I have seen, all the available X399 boards should be able to handle 16-core CPUs, even overclocked. Because of that, you have more freedom to choose depending on your aesthetic preferences and needs. From the whole lineup, I would go for one of the ASRock offerings, either the Fatal1ty X399 Professional Gaming or the X399 Taichi. They are mostly identical, with the main differences being the inclusion of AQUANTIA 10Gbit LAN on the more expensive Professional Gaming and the obvious visual differences. The other differences and a general overview can be found in the overclock.net forums. I’ll be focusing on the X399 Professional Gaming in the next part, but keep in mind that most of the things presented also hold true for the Taichi.

ASRock offers the board in the ATX form factor, meaning that there shouldn’t be any problems with compatibility in Mid-Tower cases. The motherboard uses an 8+3 phase VRM design with two separate IR35201 PWM controllers for the Vcore and SoC, like most of the other boards do. The heatsink for both of parts of the VRM is connected with a heatpipe, but it doesn’t feature any active cooling. In the box ASRock includes two-way, three-way and four-way SLI-Bridges, because the board supports all of them with its evenly spaced PCIe slots. In terms of connectors, it offers five 4-pin fan headers, two 12V RGB headers, a U.2 port and two front panel audio connectors, with one of them being angled, amongst other things. On the bottom right-hand corner of the board you will find a Debug-LED, a start and reset button as well as a clear CMOS button, which means only the BIOS flashback button is on the rear I/O. And the main distinguishing feature of the X399 Professional Gaming is - as I have already mentioned in the beginning - the inclusion of the AQUANTIA AQC107, a 10Git Ethernet controller in addition to the dual 1Gbit LAN available. One thing that is a little bit strange however is the separation of the EPS power connectors, with the 4-pin connector being on the top left while the 8-pin is on the top right corner of the motherboard which may prove problematic for some power supplies.

Overall, I think ASRock offers the most complete feature set of the X399 motherboards. Overclocking seems to be pretty good as well according to tweaktown and HardwareCanucks. Additionally, ASRock gives the user the option to add 10Gbit Ethernet with a fair price increase if you so need with the X399 Professional Gaming sitting in the midfield of X399 motherboards at around $365 while the X399 Taichi is on the lower side of the price spectrum at around $290. Both of their options are a pretty simple design without much RGB, which doesn’t appeal to everyone, especially for these workstation systems. These are the reasons why I recommend these motherboards as the best overall/value boards.


Best Micro ATX (mATX) X399 Motherboard

ASrock

X399M Taichi

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Photo credit: ASRock
  • Retains good VRM design
  • Feature-rich board in a small form factor
  • Only mATX motherboard on the market
  • Realistically only supports 2-way SLI/CrossFire due to form factor

If you’re in the market for a TR4 socket CPU but want to go with the smaller micro-ATX form factor, there is just one motherboard on the market that will offer you that which is the ASRock X399M Taichi. It is pretty crazy considering the amount of features that the X399 platform offers to put most of that on an mATX motherboard without sacrificing too much.

The X399M Taichi is, just as the name implies, very similar to the ATX version in terms of features and design. ASRock manages to cram three PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 and three PCIe 3.0 x16 slots on this small board, where the massive socket takes up a pretty significant amount of the space available. The only other major thing missing here compared to the ATX variant is of course four of the DIMM slots which is to be expected on an mATX form factor board, which means you can run a maximum of 64gb of RAM in Quad-channel. It keeps the same strange EPS power connector placement and the 433Mbps W-LAN, but these are pretty minor downsides in my opinion. Other than that, it retains most of the features you know from its bigger counterpart including the internal buttons, Debug-LED and the five fan headers as well as using the same VRM design and rear I/O.

It really is impressive what ASRock managed to pack onto this small of a motherboard while still making use of all the stuff the X399 platform offers. Also, it is the only micro-ATX motherboard in the X399 lineup, so if you want to go with this form factor, it will be your only option anyways. It is normally available for around $340, but can also be commonly found just around the $300 mark which is very reasonable for this platform.


Are there any mini ITX (mITX) X399 motherboards?

There were some rumors and images floating around for an mini-ITX X399 motherboard but it turned out that they were just some concepts. There is also this discussion about whether it would be possible to see a mini-ITX board with the TR4 socket because Intel’s HEDT X299 platform does feature an mITX offering (comparison between the two can be found here), but it boils down to the bigger TR4 socket taking up too much space in this little form factor and the sacrifice of many of the features that the X399 platform offers, e.g. the massive amount of PCIe lanes, USB and SATA connectivity which is why it probably isn’t feasible or even possible to create an mini-ITX motherboard for this platform. You can see that it was already really hard to make a good micro-ATX board which is why only ASRock has taken up that challenge and released one.


Other useful resources:

  1. https://www.hardwareluxx.de/community/f12/amd-x399-mainboards-news-specs-reviews-bilder-sockel-tr4-1164898.html
  2. https://www.guru3d.com/articles_pages/msi_meg_x399_creation_review,21.html
  3. https://www.reddit.com/r/Amd/comments/97du7u/pcb_breakdown_msi_meg_x399_creation_actually/
  4. https://www.overclock.net/forum/11-amd-motherboards/1638140-asrock-x399-taichi-fatality-overclocking-unofficial-support.html#post26338358
  5. https://www.anandtech.com/show/11685/amd-threadripper-x399-motherboards
  6. https://www.hardwareluxx.de/community/f12/lga-tr4-mainboard-vrm-liste-1171058.html

Click here to view all X399 motherboards compatible with AMD Threadripper 2