There are only very few motherboards currently available for Ryzen Threadripper processors. ASRock is the company with most AMD X399 motherboards and they only have three available. Still, ASRock took a more daring approach with their designs and also released the one and only mATX motherboard for Ryzen Threadripper. In this review we will be having a look at their currently best AMD X399 motherboard, the Fatal1ty X399 Professional Gaming.

The ASRock X399 Professional Gaming, as the name suggests, is a motherboard that is being marketed towards advanced gamers. Although the Ryzen Threadripper (currently) is not an appealing processor for casual gaming, when a gamer also wants to be concurrently downloading, chatting, and transcoding a video in the background while streaming a game online, the many cores of the Threadripper start making sense. The X399 Professional Gaming is ASRock's most featured-packed motherboard, with a very impressive list of specifications. However, with a price tag of $440, the X399 Professional Gaming also is one of the most expensive Ryzen Threadripper motherboards available. We will be seeing if that cost is justified in this review.

AnandTech's AMD Ryzen Threadripper and X399 Motherboard Coverage

ASRock Fatal1ty X399 Professional Gaming Overview

The ASRock X399 Professional Gaming is a motherboard that has been designed to entice advanced gamers. Even the nickname of the former well-known former esports player, Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel, appears along with the motherboard's name to help with the marketing of the motherboard. However, after having a closer look at the motherboard and its specifications, it feels as if the X399 Professional Gaming is having an identity crisis, which isn't necessary a bad thing. 

The design of the X399 Professional Gaming is not in any way extravagant, as one would expect from a top-tier motherboard that is almost exclusively targeting gamers. On the contrary, the aesthetic design is subtle, yet elegant, focused on simple geometric shapes. Onboard RGB lighting is present but is limited around the chipset's heatsink, with headers for additional LED strips. We also spotted very high-quality components, such as the Nichicon solid-state capacitors that account for every single capacitor on this motherboard.

In terms of connectivity, the ASRock X399 Professional Gaming supports up to three M.2 PCIe ×4 drives, one U.2 PCIe ×4 drive, and eight SATA drives. Each of the M.2 sockets have four PCIe lanes with no sharing between them and/or with other devices, except for one of the M.2 slots to be switched with the U.2 port. Using the U.2 connector will disable one of the M.2 ports entirely. It is not possible for two devices to be installed with shared lanes.

A look at the rear panel of the motherboard reveals that the ASRock X399 Professional Gaming has three network interface controllers (NICs), plus the Wi-Fi 802.11ac/Bluetooth 4.2 module. Two of the NICs are typical gigabit chips from Intel (211AT) but the third is an Aquantia 10GBASE-T chip, the AQC107. This level of network connectivity is needless for a gaming motherboard and none of the used chipsets are designed exclusively for gaming, it should be noted. The use of three NICs is one of this motherboard's unique features but, on the other hand, this approach does not make much sense for a gaming motherboard. A gaming-specific NIC such as a Killer E2500 would make the motherboard more appealing to gamers, whereas the more expensive Aquantia 10G chip primarily serves other users.

The second feature that stands out is the 11-phase (8+3) power design with a fully digital PWM controller and separated CPU connectors. We will examine the circuitry in more detail in the following pages of this review. The sound chipset is provided by Realtek and is the ALC1220. It supports the Sound Blaster Cinema 3 software and ASRock is using Nichicon's golden audio-specific capacitors to drive the physically isolated audio channels. The motherboard also has a USB 3.1 Gen 2 controller that provides one Type-A and one Type-C port.

We are unsure why ASRock decided to focus their marketing efforts on just gamers with this motherboard. Overall, it feels as if the designer was initially trying to create a reliable and fully-featured motherboard that would be an appealing product for practically every advanced user, not just gamers.

Visual Inspection
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  • tmediaphotography - Thursday, July 05, 2018 - link

    From pg#1 "but there is no mention of circuitry/channel isolation."

    From pg#2 "To help achieve that performance figure, ASRock physically isolated the right/left channel audio channels on individual layers"

    May want to fix this up.
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Friday, July 06, 2018 - link

    Right you are. Thanks! Reply
  • PaoDeTech - Thursday, July 05, 2018 - link

    My guess is that a 10GbE port adds ~$30. I'd be very interested to know what prosumer use cases would benefit from 10GbE. I would be great if Anandtech did a test with, e.g., some kind of 4K video rendering farm that makes use of 10GbE enabled PCs / switches / NAS /... (I know: easy to ask, hard to do). Reply
  • oRAirwolf - Friday, July 06, 2018 - link

    I have the z370 gaming professional version of this board that also includes 10gbe. I have a direct connection between my desktop and my file server. It's really nice being able to transfer backups and video files between the two computers at much higher speeds. I usually read and write at about 600 megabytes per second, with it being limited by the 8x8tb wd reds. I think it is one of those things where once you have it, it sucks not having it. Like nobody needs internet faster than 10 megabits per second but it sure is nice having gigabit internet. Reply
  • Gunbuster - Thursday, July 05, 2018 - link

    Opens the ASRock support page: 2017 2017 2017, all software/drivers/prod BIOS from 2017. Reply
  • rtho782 - Thursday, July 05, 2018 - link

    >A gaming-specific NIC such as a Killer E2500 would make the motherboard more appealing to gamers, whereas the more expensive Aquantia 10G chip primarily serves other users.

    That's funny, I consider myself a gamer, and yet I won't touch any board with a "Killer" NIC, I'll avoid it in favour of an Intel NIC at all costs.
    Reply
  • PeachNCream - Thursday, July 05, 2018 - link

    Anandtech has weird love butter for Killer NICs and no substantiation for it via benchmarks. It's been that way since sometime in 2016 and a lot of us don't get why there appears to be some sort of institutionalized need to champion the dumpster fire over at Rivet Networks. Reply
  • rhysiam - Thursday, July 05, 2018 - link

    I agree... why does AT keep obsessing about Killer NICs? I pay more if necessary to avoid them for an Intel NIC. Although it is possible to create a scenario where the traffic prioritisation software on the LAN connection can help, it's so rarely impactful in the real-world. The most common real world causes of lag, like family members smashing your internet connection, aren't addressed at all by some local software prioritisation. Reply
  • oRAirwolf - Friday, July 06, 2018 - link

    Agreed. Any enterprise-grade router will enhance your latency way more than some nonsense software. With vendors like Ubiquiti and Mikrotik, as well as software routers like pfSense and Sophos, there's really no good reason to spend the money on a consumer-grade router. You can have an enterprise-grade setup with a high quality access point for the same price as some of these crab-looking routers they sell at Best Buy. Reply
  • phoenix_rizzen - Wednesday, July 11, 2018 - link

    Aren't the latest Killer NICs just Intel NICs with custom Killer drivers? IOW, wouldn't it be possible to just install the Intel drivers for it instead of the Killer drivers? Reply

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