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OCC Best AMD Motherboard Picks 2018

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This article has been updated as of October 22th, 2018

 

OCC Workstation Platform Top Pick: #1 MSI MEG X399 CREATION

The AMD (sTR4) enthusiast workstation platform isn't a good choice for those who are planning budget originated PC builds. However, AMD does not compromise with the Threadripper platform and offers up to 32 Cores / 64 Threads with its flagship AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX Processor. If you want the best of the best, then the MSI MEG X399 CREATION is what you need. It is almost like MSI had a checklist of everything someone is looking for in a motherboard. The MEG X399 CREATION uses a 16-phase VRM design that can keep up with the 2990WX under full load and not flinch. The motherboard screams POWER from across the room in its E-ATX form factor.

Of course, everything you would expect is included at this price point with things like Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and 12v RGB headers. However, what is a little unexpected is that MSI equipped this monster with seven M.2 slots! Three are located on the motherboard itself with the remaining four housed in a 16x PCIe expansion card (included) that allows each M.2 slot to run at 4x PCIe mode.

Once again there is no compromise with this motherboard and if you are willing to spend over $1,000 on a CPU, then you already know this build is going to pricey.

Image courtesy of https://www.msi.com

 

With that in mind, this motherboard isn't for everyone. If you are not looking to maximize your storage at breakneck NVMe speeds or planning on buying a 2990WX, then we have a few other options better suited for the less extreme. But before we move onto the next contender, we only uncovered a few minor flaws while researching this motherboard.

We feel that the MSI MEG X399 CREATION should have a bit more flare in its built-in tighting department. It's not to say that a company can't go overboard sometimes, but at least include a few more onboard LEDs across the VRM for the amount of money this costs and let the user choose to turn them off if they wish. Besides that minor issue, this motherboard is rock solid.

 

OCC Top Pick:
MSI MEG X399 CREATION

Pros:

  • 16-phase VRM (Great for Overclocking)
  • Good onboard audio (Realtek® ALC1220 Codec)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • 2x RGB LED 12v headers
  • Corsair RGB header (JCORSAIR1)
  • 7x M.2 slots (with M.2 XPANDER-AERO)
  • 10x PWM fan headers

Cons:

  • Price point
  • E-ATX form factor
  • Basic RGB lighting

Buy on Amazon

Buy on Newegg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OCC Workstation Platform Runner-Up: #2 GIGABYTE X399 Designare EX

With so many good choices, it was hard to choose one over the other. After careful consideration, we present the GIGABYTE X399 Designare EX. GIGABYTE knows the enthusiast market and realized some people actually use the Threadripper for work and not just gaming and want a very minimalist look with a lot of power behind it. That is where the Designare EX plays a role. After comparing many X399 motherboards, this one falls right in the middle. It isn't overly expensive nor does it sacrifice anything critical to what the Threadripper is designed to do. GIGABYTE didn't forget that not everyone can be tethered to a wall and included Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac.

It doesn't stop there, with three M.2 slots routed through the PCIe bus intended to maximize that NVMe SSD bandwidth to fill most peoples needs. Then for standard storage, SATA ports are also available too if the need arises. The clean and clear sound is provided by Sound BlasterX 720° Software.

Wrap all that up into an ATX Form factor and the Designare EX can fit in most cases including the NZXT H500i that we recommend in our OCC Best Mid ATX Computer Cases 2018 list.

Image courtesy of https://www.gigabyte.com

 

As explained above, the GIGABYTE X399 Designare EX is oriented towards those who focus on what it should be used for, rather than extra flare and maybe some unnecessary ports that will go unused (user dependent). This means the Designare EX only includes one 12v RGB header and a basic 8-Phase VRM to get the job done, but overclocking might be questionable above certain voltages and frequencies. At stock settings all Threadripper CPUs will work just fine, that is what the 8-phase VRM is designed to do, just maybe not much more in the overclocking department.

We think this motherboard is perfect for those who might not need those extras port and RGB headers, but do want an AMD Threadripper that has 12 Cores or more.

 

OCC Runner-Up Pick: #2 
GIGABYTE X399 Designare EX

Pros:

  • Sound BlasterX 720° software
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • 3x M.2 PCIe slots
  • Dual BIOS
  • Price point
  • ATX form factor

Cons:

  • Only 1x 12v RGB header
  • 8-phase VRM
  • Very basic RGB lighting

Buy on Amazon

Buy on Newegg

 

 

OCC Workstation Platform Runner-Up: #3 ASRock X399 Taichi

During our search for the best X399 motherboards, we came across this gem. The ASRock X399 Taichi has a simliar design philosophy as the previous GIGBAYTE offering. That is in keeping a minimalist approach to the design, focusing on performance over extra style points. We chose this motherboard because it hit all the big points on our checklist, but switches a few things up from our second best choice. ASRock has chosen not to ignore the overclocking community and included a 11-phase VRM design that should be able to handle most moderate overclocks without any issues.

Of course, the Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac is included for those who do not have easy access to a wall Ethernet jack. Then ASRock surprised us with oddities like USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C and U.2 Connectors. This is something a lot of manufactures have been ignoring whether because of its targeted market or price point, making neither of those connectors a very common occurrence.

Image courtesy of https://www.asrock.com

 

Like anything, it seems nearly impossible to get everything right. The X399 Taichi lacks a few things that may turn some users away from purchasing. First is the U.2 and M.2 Slot is shared over the same PCIe bus, making the user have to choose which is better for them because one of the three M.2 slots is disabled when the U.2 connector is used. Finally, ASRock does not include any RGB lights on the motherboard besides the single section near the PCIe slots leaving the motherboard very plain to look at. That's not to say RGB lights are the answer, but this motherboard is kind of ugly to look at from the start and anything would help.

 

OCC Runner-Up Pick: #3 
ASRock X399 Taichi

Pros:

  • 11-phase VRM
  • Good Onboard audio (Realtek® ALC1220 Codec)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • U.2 Connector
  • USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C/A Connectors
  • 2x 12V RGB Headers
  • Price point

Cons:

  • U.2 and M.2 PCIe lanes shared
  • Only 3x PCIe bus M.2 slots
  • Basic onboard RGB

Buy on Amazon

Buy on Newegg

 

 

 

Alternate Choices: Still Worth A Look!

We had quite a few motherboards to look at and narrow down what is best. It is never easy and this time we chose a few that might not be everyones top pick even though they are all top sellers and have a good amount of features. Thefore we expanded our search for two alternate choices just in case the top three aren't what you are looking for. With that said, don't forget to check back periodically as we update the lists as new products hit the market.

 

Alt Choice #1 GIGABYTE X399 AORUS XTREME

Our second best pick was the GIGABYTE X399 Designare EX because it fit well within our checklist of quality without being absurd. But sometimes that is what you need; something absurd. We present the GIGABYTE X399 AORUS XTREME that takes everything the Designare EX had and brings it to the next level. If you want lots of RGB LEDs and the ability to overclock, this is the board for you. GIGABYTE took no chances and made sure practically everything has a LED on it.

Image courtesy of https://www.gigabyte.com

 

OCC Alt Pick #1:
GIGABYTE X399 AORUS XTREME

 

Alt choice #2 ASUS ROG ZENITH EXTREME

Because we didn't include any ASUS on our list this time, we felt the need to put at least one on and honestly if the MSI MEG X399 CREATION didn't exist, this motherboard would be number one. Instead, the ASUS ROG ZENITH EXTREME gets the runner-up this time around. ASUS made sure to include everything you could want and keeps it classy with RGB lights and a U.2 Port. Not to mention its insane amount of onboard connectors for everything you could think of. It's hard to put this behind MSI, but there is always next time!

Image courtesy of https://www.asus.com

 

OCC Alt Pick #2:
ASUS ROG ZENITH EXTREME


  1. OCC Best AMD Gaming Platform (AM4) Motherboards
  2. OCC Best AMD Workstation Platform (sTR4) Motherboards
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