GIGABYTE MZ31-AR0 Conclusion

The GIGABYTE MZ31-AR0 is an example of a high-end single-socket LGA 4094/SP3 motherboard. It is designed for use in server and workstation scenarios, with a rotated CPU socket with compatible with many U1 chassis. Decked out with a GIGABYTE blue PCB, it has some premium features with networking support among the talking points. The MZ31-AR0 is equipped with a Broadcom BCM 57810S 10 G Ethernet controller which provides two SFP+ 10 G ports on the rear panel, in addition to a single Gigabit port with its sole intended purpose for remote access via the Aspeed AST2500 BMC controller. The AST2500 also includes a D-sub video output for those looking to access the operating system without the use of a graphics card.

For professional users not in a position to utilize the increased bandwidth of PCIe 4.0, the GIGABYTE MZ31-AR0 has plenty to offer from a hardware perspective. There's a total of seven PCIe 3.0 slots which operate at x8/x16/x8/x16/x16/x8/x16. Breaking it down, there's four full-length PCIe 3.0 x16, one full-length PCIe 3.0 x8, and two half-length PCIe 3.0 x8 slots on board; that's a total of 88 PCIe 3.0 lanes worth of expansion support. It's worth noting that using a large graphics card will be an issue on the top five PCIe slots as it clashes with the memory slots, but HHHL form factor expansion cards will have no issues at all. Users looking to use a large graphics card with this model will need to install it into the bottom PCIe 3.0 x16 slot. 

GIGABYTE MZ31-AR0 with an AMD EPYC 7351P

Touching more on memory support,  the larger E-ATX form factor has allowed GIGABYTE to include sixteen memory slots which equate to a total memory capacity of 2 TB. This includes both RDIMM and LRDIMM DDR4 memory with a maximum support speed of up to DDR4-2666. The GIGABYTE MZ31-AR0 also has four SlimSAS slots which have support for up to sixteen SATA devices, which means four SATA slots from one SlimSAS with two SlimSAS cables included in the retail packaging. For users looking to used M.2 NVMe drives, the board only has one with support for up M.2 2280. While one could question GIGABYTE for not including more than one, the E-ATX PCB is quite well laid out with barely any room for more, and users could always use a PCIe M.2 adapter if they required more.

In our performance testing, we used the AMD EPYC 7351P and compared it to the ASRock EPYCD8-2T and X399 models tested with the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X and one with a 2950X; all of these feature 16-cores and 32-threads. The performance of the MZ31-AR0 in our system tests showed the highest levels of power consumption in both long idle and idle power states, with a little more power used than the ASRock model at full load. This isn't too much of an issue, but due to a heavier controller set and with BMC initialization taking some time, we did get longer POST times as a result. We expect this from professional-grade server and workstation hardware, and it isn't a negative point. In computational tasks, the MZ31-AR0 is highly competitive against the ASRock model.


Looking at the direct competition in the single-socket LGA 4094 market, the ASRock EYPCD8-2T ($460) and the Supermicro MBD-H11SSL-NC ($470) have a more modest controller set, and both are ATX with twelve memory slots against the MZ31-AR0's E-ATX frame and sixteen memory slots. The GIGABYTE MZ31-AR0 currently retails for $565 at Amazon, which with its dual SPF+ 10 G Ethernet on the rear panel and seven PCIe expansion slots offer real value when paired up with AMD's EYPC 7001 Naples series of processors.

The prices on the 7001 series have dropped to even better levels since AMD introduced its EPYC 7002 Rome family with PCIe 4.0. Users not too fussed about PCIe Gen4 will find real value from the current market on Naples processors, and the GIGABYTE MZ31-AR0 is a very solid option for those considering the LGA 4094 platform.

CPU Performance, Short Form
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  • xyvyx2 - Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - link

    physically the same, but not compatible :(
  • Operandi - Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - link

    Looks like the perfect board for my home Pfsense build. In all seriousness though looks like a pretty baller single socket Epyc board if only I had something lined up that could use it.
  • Deicidium369 - Sunday, April 12, 2020 - link

    a door stop would be an appropriate use for it - unlikely AMD would have the drivers ironed out.
  • MenhirMike - Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - link

    Does anyone know if it's possible to use Unbuffered ECC RAM with EPYC? Thinking of upgrading from a Threadripper to an EPYC for a Server, but I don't want to rebuy RAM as I already got enough DDR4 ECC UDIMMs.
  • Slash3 - Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - link

    Some Tyan boards seemingly support it from their spec sheets, but it's something that most reviews don't cover, unfortunately.

    Patrick at Serve the Home has also mentioned support on some older boards, but unfortunately he didn't mention any specific models in the one comment I was able to dig up on their forums.
  • MenhirMike - Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - link

    Also, curious if the board supports bifurcation - the lack of M.2 Slots would make it perfect for e.g., an ASUS HYPER M.2 X16 or Supermicro AOC-SLG3-2M2 card, but for that it needs to support bifurcation of an x16 into 4x4 or an x8 into 2x4 slots.
  • Slash3 - Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - link

    The Hyper M.2 is long enough that you wouldn't be able to insert the card into the first five slots, which is a bit of a bummer. I can't confirm bifurcation support but I'd be very surprised if it didn't have it.
  • phoenix_rizzen - Thursday, March 26, 2020 - link

    We built our first iSCSI storage box around this motherboard. Have nothing but great experiences with it, and the IPMI implementation is light-years beyond what Supermicro supports (the GB IPMI is fully-web-enabled, using HTML5 KVM/console redirection, compared to the horrid Java implementation that Supermicro uses).

    The only downside if the SlimSAS connectors. It's very easy to find SlimSAS-to-SATA connectors (even comes with some in the box). Pain in the ass to find SlimSAS-to-SFF8084 connectors to connect to multi-lane, direct-attach backplanes! They exist, but nobody actually carries them (at least nobody that we could find in North America). Had to get them from a cable maker in China, which took the very slow boat to arrive.

    For our first build, I messed up the model number for the backplane, ending up with an SAS expander version, so we had to use an HBA anyway.

    For our second iSCSI storage server, we switched to the MZ01-CE0 motherboard. This includes 10GBase-T ports instead of SFP+. Other than that, it's virtually the same board. Got the right model backplane, and the SlimSAS-to-SFF8084 cables, giving 16 SATA connections direct off the motherboard.

    For our next ZFS storage server, we'll be using MZ01-CE0 in a 2U chassis, running the OS off the motherboard connectors, with LSI/Broadcom/whoever-they-are-now HBAs with external connectors going to multiple 45-bay storage chasssis. That setup works great with all the extra PCIe lanes. :)
  • fazalmajid - Friday, March 27, 2020 - link

    What OS do you use for your ZFS/iSCSI servers?
  • phoenix_rizzen - Saturday, March 28, 2020 - link


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