GIGABYTE TRX40 AORUS XTREME: Premium Elegance For an Xtreme CPU

GIGABYTE APP Center and Software

As an optional download, GIGABYTE offers their APP Center, which holds shortcuts to the various add-on software for their motherboard, as well as helpful shortcuts to sometimes-buried Windows configuration options. Clicking on “Power Options,” for instance, brings up Control Panel -> Hardware and Sound -> Power Options -> Edit Plan Settings for the current power profile. The Third-party Software tab is just a list of shortcuts to launch third-party programs like Chrome (which was the only program that auto-populated in it on our test bench).

The first program on the list is @BIOS. It’s a quick way to flash the BIOS from within Windows. GIGABYTE also offers a way to change the POST screen from the AORUS eagle logo to an image of your choice.

Next is the USB Blocker tool. This is a quick program to help block different types of USB devices from functioning on the computer. Mass Storage is the most important, as it’s the means of potentially infecting a system via a malicious USB. Of course, mass storage or USB ports in general can be disabled via full End-Point Protection software, but the ability to block Smart Cards, Printers, etc granularly is somewhat unique to this program. This blocking is password-protected as well, to prevent unblocking unauthorized users, which is a nice touch.

Next we have Home Cloud. It’s an interesting feature for sure, as it allows you to remotely access files on your home computer from another device like a phone, with the appropriate app installed of course. They helpfully provide a QR code to scan with your phone that takes you directly to the App/Play store page to install the requisite app. Other features of Cloud Station are remote keyboard+mouse from Android devices, remote overclocking (choice of three “Quick Boost” options), system monitoring, and power management, and the ability to turn your PC into a HotSpot. Outside of the LAN parties of yester-year, I can’t think of many occasions to use that last particular feature.

Next up is the rather feature-dense EasyTune app. The Smart Boost tab has some preset options. There’s one to overclock All-Core to 4GHz and also an AutoTuning option which will try to work out the best balance between power consumption and performance.

We tried out the AutoTuning and what it does is increase the All-Core of the CPU in 50MHz increments and runs a stress test between each increment to determine power usage and stability. Our run settled on 4050Mhz which yielded a 169W max CPU package power during the stress test and our CPU only saw 65C on the temps with no audiable increase to our NZXT Kraken X62 cooler. However, further validation utilizing Handbrake x265 encoding crashed Handbrake within seconds of starting, so the AutoTuning will require some more work before it’s ready. The 4GHz OC button froze our system and required a hard reboot. In contrast, using Ryzen Master’s built-in auto overclocking feature got us a 4050MHz overclock which ran at 185W power draw and 91C during our Handbrake load test and completed the run successfully, shaving 30 seconds off our run giving us a 5.9% performance boost. The high temp suggests we need to run our NZXT fan profile more aggressively though, as we still had very quiet operation.

Next is the advanced OC, where you can adjust the various overclocking tunings for frequency and voltages with easy sliders and pulldowns. Advanced DDR OC has fewer knobs to turn, with just a quick XMP profile or frequency setting. Advanced Power allows modification of load line calibrations and current protections. There’s also a HotKey tab to enable a quick toggle hotkey between two profiles if you have a configuration that remains stable in certain workloads but not others.

Next is Fast Boot. With the system already taking 50.2 seconds to boot from power button to Windows desktop, anything would help. Simply setting to “Enabled” brought us down to 44 seconds. Ultra Fast knocked that down even further to 42.1 seconds. 8 seconds doesn’t seem terribly impressive, to be honest, but 30 seconds of that was spent initializing before the AORUS BIOS logo even showed up on the screen, so GIGABYTE essentially cut their own load time fairly significantly with that in mind. We may have to see some AGESA improvements to cut down the startup time any more significantly. When I have to reboot a physical enterprise server, waiting for a reboot can take upwards to five minutes, so for something that’s practically server class, I’m happy to see the relatively short boot time.

Game Boost isn’t much to write home about. It attempts to do what Windows Game Mode does: minimize memory and CPU use of background applications. USB TurboCharger enables fast changing of Android or iPhone devices from the front USB ports vs the standard Amp output. Smart Keyboard gives you the ability to macro your function keys and adjust mouse movement and keyboard delay.

System Information Viewer is a good spot to look at various readouts from the motherboard and fans. You can quick-set Smart Fan profiles and adjust fan curves if you want more granular control. There’s options to set up monitoring and alerting for voltages and temperatures, as well as a data logger to record those metrics over a designated period of time. Upon initial launch, the software does a quick calibration and you’re good to go.

The last bundled application on our list is the Smart Backup, which is certainly the most important item in the toolbox in my opinion. The backup software has the hallmarks of retail backup software, such as individual file recovery, rescue disk creation, whole-system restore, and multiple restore points. It’s rather straight forward to use, and maybe even too simplistic. It’s unclear if there’s deduplication or compression involved in the final backup image that’s created, but for a quick and easy solution, it checks the main boxes.

Power Consumption

Using a Ubiquiti mFi mPower device, I was able to observe Total System Power at the outlet during several stages of our testing. I documented the MAX power reading observed during a 30 second run in the middle of our benchmarks. Again, this is MAX power draw during that time frame, so the average is likely tens of watts lower. In highly variable tests, such as Handbrake and our Stress Test, I can attest the wattage covered a range nearly 70 watts wide. We only tested with our Threadripper 3960X. You may see slightly higher power use from the Threadripper 3970X.

We didn’t have another TRX40 motherboard to run the whole set of tests with for comparison, however we did cover a variety of use-cases and normal workloads are at very reasonable power levels. Things only get exciting when we put the whole system under heavy load.

Conclusion

The GIGABYTE TRX40 AORUS XTREME certainly lives up to its name, packing every feature they could to deliver one of the most extremely complete motherboard offerings out there. The server-grade dual 10GbE is a must for working with extremely large files from a network share, as even 1Gbps can spend a long time transferring hundreds of gigabytes of data (easy to accomplish if you have b-roll fotage to deal with). The AIC for extra M.2 drives is a nice bonus, especially the built-in RAID0 function, and seems an ideal solution for a scratch drive for recording and editing 4K and 8K video. The over-the-top I/O options is certainly welcome as well. I have no less than six 3.5″ HDDs in my personal rig, so I know the struggle of having enough full-bandwidth, reliable SATA connectivity without having to resort to add-in boards that eat up PCIe slots.

The extremely robust power delivery and cooling is, frankly, expected for this sort of top-tier motherboard. GIGABYTE does go a step above alternatives in this range however, offering a full backplate and generous amounts of metal for thermal absorption.

Being tied as the most expensive TRX40 board sets a lot of expectations and for each feature on this motherboard, we’ve seen GIGABYTE consitantly make a good choice without sacrifice; be it 2-slot spacing on all PCIe slots, premium networking, extra upgrades in the audio, or even extra SATA connectors even though they already piled on extra M.2 connections. Even the requisite RGB is tastefully subtile. It all leaves me rather impressed with the decisions made in the design of this motherboard, and if you’re getting a Threadripper, it makes it an absolute list topper in my book.

In This Review

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