The ASRock X399 Taichi Motherboard Review: Cost-Effective Threadripperby E. Fylladitakis on October 26, 2018 8:00 AM EST
It has been over a year after the introduction of the Ryzen Threadripper processor and still the available compatible motherboards number around a dozen. ASRock is the company that offers the largest number of AMD X399 motherboards and they are merely three.
It is the ASRock X399 Taichi that we will be having a look at today. The ATX version of the Taichi is the most affordable AMD X399 motherboard available at the time of this review, retailing for $320 ($280 after rebate). Although the retail price of the ASRock X399 Taichi is nearly $100 lower than the second least expensive X399 motherboard we reviewed to this date, the specifications of the motherboard remain impressive. We are having a closer look at the motherboard and identify how ASRock managed to achieve this low price and what the X399 Taichi is missing compared to the competition.
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ASRock X399 Taichi Overview
Unlike most motherboards, ASRock does not focus the marketing of the X399 Taichi on any specific group of users. The company's marketing efforts are generalized, hinting that their intent is to promote the X399 Taichi as a general-purpose design that would satisfy the widest user base.
A quick look at the motherboard's features and specifications suggests that the X399 Taichi is hardly different than its more expensive counterparts. It still has four full-size PCIe slots that support up to quad SLI/Crossfire, eight SATA connectors, three M.2 connectors, and even an U.2 port. We also find that it is using the same main subsystem chipsets, such as the Realtek ALC 1220 codec for sound and the Intel I211-AT NICs for dual LAN. Even the power circuitry is basically the same as that used in more expensive models, with an eight plus three phase power delivery design for the CPU and its SoC.
ASRock obviously did not manage to reduce the retail price of the motherboard by means of witchcraft, nor they are selling it at a loss. A closer look at the motherboard reveals that it does not have any of the newest features that we have seen on more advanced models. There is dual Gigabit LAN but no 10G NIC. There is 802.11ac Wi-Fi but no 802.11ad WiGig. There are headers for common 12V RGB LED strips but not for digital LED products. By avoiding the implementation of top-of-the-line features, ASRock's engineers managed to reduce the manufacturing cost of the X399 Taichi significantly without removing any of its core features and/or reducing the motherboard's quality or capacity.
The ASRock X399 Taichi is not the fastest AMD X399 motherboard that we have tested to this date either. As we will see in the following pages of this review, the main reason behind that is that the automated overclocking features of the motherboard are not as aggressive as they are on other motherboards. The ASRock X399 Taichi still does boost the processor's frequency by default but is more conservative in doing so, making it slightly slower than other products out-of-the-box. ASRock's engineers probably wanted to favour stability over performance on this particular implementation. Nevertheless, it is still just as capable as its more expensive counterparts when manual overclocking takes place.