ASRock x399 Taichi
ASRock first introduced their Taichi Series of mainboards with Intels X99, and later Z270 and AMD x370, Mainboards. The goal was rather simple: Deliver something different in a market where high end desktop mainboards were almost always targeted at a gaming or overclocking audience which was reflected in the design of the boards themselves.
The Taichi on the other hand was targeted at a wider range of customers with ASRock calling it an All-Rounder. With the unique design and equipped with premium components the Taichi series will handle every workload you throw at it perfectly fine like any other high end motherboard out there while still being something different to look at.
ASRock RGB LED
Dual Intel® Gigabit LAN
Intel® 802.11ac WiFi
Hyper BCLK Engine III
IR Digital PWM, 11 Power Phase & Dr. MOS
NVIDIA® 4-Way SLI™, AMD 4-Way CrossFireX™
ASRock Steel Slots
ASRock Full Spike Protection (for all USB, Audio, LAN Ports)
Quad Channel DDR4 Memory Technology
Memory slots: 8
Memory type: DDR4
PCIe 3.0 x 16 Slots: 4
PCIe 2.0 x 1 Slots: 1
Ultra M.2 Slots: 3
SATA Ports: 8
USB 3.1 Gen 1: 8 + 4
USB 3.1 Gen 2: 1 Type A, 1 Type C
Audio connectors: 5 x 3.5mm, 1 x Toslink
Codec: Realtek ALC1220
Networking: 2 x 1 GBit
RGB: 1 Zone on Board + 2 Header
Bluetooth & WiFi
Double GBit Lan
Quad Channel Memory
Having nothing left to want
With the X399 Taichi ASRock yet again expanded their high-end lineup of Taichi mainboards which aim to deliver the best performance while not being solely targeted at the gaming market. This gives room for a completely different design approach and a not so narrowly focused feature set. Enough for us to take a look at this beast that will set you back around 340€..
Besides the usual I/O shield, manual, driver CD and quick installation guide you’ll find two SATA cables, M.2 screws and three SLI bridges for 2-, 3- and 4-way SLI setups. And let’s not forget about the WiFi antennas and the postcard sporting the Taichi design.
Layout and features
With the x399 Taichi ASrock moved away from the pure black and white design of earlier Taichi boards while still keeping the main theme of dichotomy that defines the Taichi series as a whole. The Yin and Yang, a symbol over 3000 years old, on the PCB of a modern-day technical product (and as a kind of logo for the lineup) has an almost philosophical touch to it: Two opposites complementing each other. Adding to this the symbol itself is made out of cogs with a big one in the center of both halves. In any case this is not your everyday design and we think it looks absolutely stunning.
But looks are not everything, so let start of by checking out the rear I/O of our x399 Taichi. Starting at the top you’ll see the BIOS flashback button (We’ll get to that later) and the PS/2 connector. Then you’ll get not only 8 USB 3.0, but also 2 USB 3.1 (one Type C) ports that should be enough for nearly all intents and purposes. The audio ports, all of which are gold-plated, are located at the center and everything is rounded up by WiFi and two Intel Gigabit Lan ports.
Back to the design part of things the heatsink of the x399 Taichi does not consist of just a piece of coloured metal but sticks to the cog theme. Stylish indeed.
As with all high-class boards from ASRock that are capable of overclocking Dr. Debug has to be there somewhere. As in most cases it’s at the bottom of the board together with a power and reset button.
To give you the whole range of possibilities the x399 Taichi sports 8 SATA ports, two U.2 ones as well as three M.2 Slots.
Like most of the currently available boards the x399 Taichi has reinforced PCI slots and since it designed to offer up to 4-way SLI all the slots are equipped with this feature called steel armor.
The feature set of the x399 Taichi offers a wide range of features. While some of those, like 60A Power chokes, Nichicon 12K Black caps, multi layered PCB and I/O Armor (to name a few), can be found in a wide array of x399 boards on the market others can be credited to the fact that this board is designed to offer best all round performance, even for professionals. One of those is the ECC-memory support.
Another interesting design choice, or feature if you will, is the split CPU power connector that promises better thermals.
Now we’re getting back, as promised, to the BIOS Flashback mentioed earlier. If you ever had the misfortune to have CPU that can only be supported by your board after updating your BIOS you, like us, will love the BIOS flashback feature. For quite some time now you had to stick to ASUS to find something like it but now ASRock has jumped the train. Just put in a USB drive with the BIOS you want, press the button and relax. The only thing needed to flash your BIOS is a power supply. How neat is that?
Last but not least we got overclocking and the sound to cover. The x399 Taichi is equipped with the Hyper BCLK Engine III so that you don’t have to stick to normal overclocking via multiplier, a feature well-known from other lineups. As far as audio goes we got the Purity Sound 4 setup, consisting of a bunch of hard and software solutions to offer a good experience. Of course audiophiles might still opt for a dedicated solution but the Nichicon Gold Series audio caps, gold audio jacks, TI NE5532 headset amps and impedance sensing of the front out, together with the ALC1220 audio codec sure offer something.
A light in the dark
Of course RGB wasn’t left out of the equation either even though you’ll find much less bling than on other boards. There is only one RGB-zone on the x399 Taichi: the chipsets heatsink. But fear not. If you really feel the need to illuminate your rig while sporting this board you still got two RGB headers to play with that should do the trick. Both of them are situated right below the CPU so that lighted coolers or waterblocks can be connected without any problems at all.
With previous ASRock boards we always had the issue of the boards colors getting in the way with some possible RGB settings. Not with this one. Even though the x399 Taichi has a distinctive and unique design its coloring is rather subtle and less prominent than for example previous Taichi or Gaming series boards with their striking black and white / red colors. So there is nothing keeping you from chosing any coloring you like, be it a bright pink, dark blue or something else completely.
We’ll keep it short at this point. Spoilers: ASRock finally added a simple Overview and there even are some kind of OC presets! Other than that it’s what you would expect seeing previous ASRock BIOS Versions: Everything you need to get the most out of your components. In the above image you can see that the operating mode of your memory is chosen automatically based on the memory you put in.
The EZ Mode covers a rough overview of your system so that you donÄt have to dive in too any deeper than you have to.
The OC Modes might need a bit of tweaking in the future, but it’s something to work with and more than any other ASRck Ryzen board offered previously.
To sum it up: x399 starts right were x370 is right now. With the full memory support and tunability included in the latest x370 AGESA updates so there are no big hurdles to climb.
According to AMD Threadripper should be build using the top 5% of all dies. So we expect some solid numbers from a board in this range. All our previous Ryzen processors were able to get above 4 GHz with some almost getting close to 4.2. That said anything belowe 4.1 would be a shame and not worthy of the impression we got testing previous ASRock mainboards, their build quality and chosen components. And sure enough, thanks to the easily tunable BIOS, it was a piece of cake to get up there to 4.2 GHz.
But you should not only consider the CPU speed itself but rather the whole deal since memory speeds are very important as well when using Ryzen based processors. So it’s even more impressive that we could get our G.SKill Trident-Z RGB to 3600 MHz while maintaining the numbers mentioned above.
One thing we just had to check were the temperatures of the VRM given all the fuzz about a so called “VRM disaster” in x299 boards and the fact that the heat sinks of the x399 Taichi are quite small. But worry not: with a max of about 60°C at stock speeds there is nothing to worry about. And even though the overclocked system reached 85°C that too was nowhere near a point were it gets ugly.
Since this is our first x399 review, we will run the x399 Taichi against the already tested x370 Professional Gaming equipped with a Ryzen 7 1800X to get a feeling where we’re at in terms of performance, given the fact that the 1950X is just two 1800X combined. Every future x399 review will then be included in the results. To assure that this review is comparable with all the others, we stuck to our trusted components and settings like the memory timings we used in the first Ryzen based systems. This assures real comparability across all systems and will give you a better overview.
- Processor: Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
- Mainboard: ASRock x399 Taichi
- Memory: 4 x G.Skill Trident-Z RGB @ 2666 (16-16-17-35)
- GPU: Zotac NVidia GTX 780Ti AMP! Edition
- System disk: Samsung 850 Evo 256 GB
- Storage disk: Western Digital Blue 2 TB
- Power supply: Seasonic Prime Titanium 750W
We ran all tests at least 5 times and the results listed here represents the average values of these measurements. For FPS data from games, the same scene was selected and the average images per second was measured over 10 minutes.
As can clearly be seen ASRock did a good job with its x399 Taichi. Not only were we able to get single core performance higher than that of the 1800X, which was a bit surprising considering the fact that both CPUs should (in theory) boost to the same speeds, but the multicore performance was also in line with an upscaled 1800X, an interesting feat seeing that the base clocks are 200 MHz lower. On top of that you’ll not only get double the memory channels, but also a slightly better latencies. Given the fact that the chipset is the same as in the x370 boards, called Promotory, it’s no wonder that the I/O performance is the same. On the other hand: why should you change something that works perfectly already?
To sum it up: The x399 Taichi gets you the pure Threadripper performance you’d expect given the same quality they put in their x370 lineup.
Even though you won’t be buying a Threadripper purely for gaming we can’t miss out on testing this category either, so here it is.
It’s pretty obvious that you won’t profit from the higher core count at all at this point. But you won’t have to miss out on a good time either seeing that you get the same, if not slightly higher, performance as with a 1800X. We might see some improvements in the future when developers choose to utilize all available cores but right not that isn’t the case for AAA titles.
We said it before and we’ll do it again here: The x399 Taichi itself is a real beauty on the outside with a unique design concept. On the inside however the beauty gives way to the beast. Honestly speaking there is nothing we did miss on this board and it delivers as promised.
And it clearly it capable of catering to all possible clients out there be it customized show builds with its one of a kind design and yet capability of it being lighted any way you want it to be, gaming with multiple GPUs or even professional workstations to name just a few.
Kudos to ASRock for this marvelous piece of hardware that absolutely deserves our gold award.