Articles

GIGABYTE X399 Aorus Xtreme TR4 Motherboard Review

Author:Daniel Dobrowolski

Editor:Kyle Bennett

Date: Thursday , October 04, 2018

GIGABYTE expands its Threadripper lineup with its X399 Aorus Xtreme motherboard. This motherboard has a solid, professional focused feature set, and has a lot to offer. We’ve seen some amazing socket TR4 motherboards thus far so the X399 Aorus Xtreme has a lot of competition. We did get to use the Xtreme for a lot of Threadripper testing.
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Motherboard Overclocking Software

GIGABYTE includes its App Center software which is a common launcher for several applications. There are a lot of potential applications one can install but for the sake of brevity, I’ll limit this coverage to the three which are most relevant to the enthusiast as these applications have to do with PC health monitoring and various types of tuning. As you can see the App Center itself is straightforward as it just shows icons for each installed application and allows you to launch them separately.

The first software package we’ll concern ourselves with is GIGABYTE’s EasyTune. This software allows for performance tuning, overclocking, and PC health monitoring from within the Windows operating system environment. When you first launch the application, it presents a dialog box warning of the dangers inherent to overclocking which as we all know potentially void your warranty. The application can be navigated via five tabs at the top of the application window. These correspond to various functions or categories, containing settings specific to that category, the bottom quarter of the application window is dedicated to showing some basic system information. This can be collapsed if desired. There are two radio buttons which bring up the system monitor show more information.

The application is very simple. It provides rudimentary automatic overclocking which unfortunately, lacks incapability. By that I mean that the preset overclocking settings are rather anemic. The auto-tuning mode doesn’t take the system beyond the OC preset. Settings can be manipulated either via drop downs or sliders. Changes made in the application are highlighted, so that you can see what settings have been changed at a glance. This is helpful to know what’s been adjusted beyond the default values allowing you to double check the setting before committing to it or by highlighting what may have been changed inadvertently.

Some applications have so many settings and functions as to be daunting to the uninitiated or the novice. However, EasyTune is very simple and has a very easy learning curve. This is one of those cases were less is more. EasyTune also has a gaming hotkey function which allows non-macro capable keyboards the ability to use macros making any keyboard a gaming keyboard. GIGABYTE has also incorporated more of the power settings such as switching frequencies and more into EasyTune. In the past, it has sometimes been lacking in this area.

Oddly, some functions like system information and fan control aren’t part of EasyTune. Instead, these are part of the badly named "System Information Viewer." I say its badly named because the name doesn’t correctly indicate what the software is used for. While it does certainly provide system information, and does so very well, that is only one small function the application performs. Primarily it is your fan control, power control software. This is what allows you to set up your system for power savings or not as you choose. The application performs automatic fan configuration if desired. It also allows for PWM and DC fan control. After running the auto configuration, the software can tell you what your fans are capable of. System fans, like the CPU, can be controlled via profile presets or manually.

Smart fan mode can be adjusted by moving a series of points across a graph that has both temperature and workload. You can plot these out however you wish. A fan stop mode is also provided. Interestingly, I don’t see the usual fan speed ramp up or down adjustment. Meaning, there isn’t a way to control the speed at which fans adjust their RPMs based on temperature or workload changes. When a profile forces fan speed changes that may be drastic the sudden switch and speed can be abrupt and very annoying. Being able to adjust the speed at which the fan RPM range changes makes the fans less annoying. Lastly, SIV provides system alert thresholds for voltages, fan speeds, and temperatures. Simple sliders are used to adjust these warning thresholds. A recording function allows you to record PC health data in the event of a crash, so it can be reviewed for troubleshooting after the system is brought back up. This is a nice function and a virtual necessity for troubleshooting certain issues.

Again, the applications are user-friendly as they are intuitive and follow a logical workflow progression. While there are certainly more robust utilities out there, some of them can be more complex than necessary. I think GIGABYTE strikes an excellent balance between complexity and capability. However, I think Intel’s XTU and AMD’s Ryzen Master and more useful overclocking tools.

RGB Fusion

Love it or hate it, RGB lighting doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. GIGABYTE’s RGB Fusion software is used to control the RGB LED lighting. As expected, it offers a wide range of color palettes and visual effects for the onboard RGB LED lighting. It is capable of controlling external RGB LED light headers. It can even configure compatible devices installed on the motherboard. Is not a whole lot to say about this utility other than it has been changed recently, so it is a different interface than I’m used to. However, I feel this for the better as this is much easier to use than the older version. Lighting, and visual effects can be controlled by zone, which is something all motherboard manufacturers seem to offer. To summarize, the RGB fusion software is easy to use and vastly improved from the older iteration.