GIGABYTE Aorus X399 Designare EX Motherboard Review @ [H]

FrgMstr

Just Plain Mean
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GIGABYTE Aorus X399 Designare EX Motherboard Review

GIGABYTE’s X399 Designare EX is a rich, full featured solution for AMD’s Threadripper CPUs. At $370, this isn’t a budget-oriented offering. The thing people usually want to know when looking at motherboards in this price bracket is if such products are worth the extra cost. Read on to find out if this gaming and workstation offering is worthwhile.
 

DejaWiz

Fully [H]
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Apr 15, 2005
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21,651
Hot damn...Gigabyte hit a home run with this.

Glad to see them coming back as strong as they have been.

My favorite MoBo was the GA-K8NXP-SLI paired with an Opteron 170 CCBBE oc'd to rock solid stable 2.75 GHz (replaced with an O180 at one point, but that was short lived since I was the lucky, and very gracious, winner of an A64 X2 6400+ BE in a [H] giveaway).
 

BitMaster

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Nov 10, 2016
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This would have been my board if I went AMD TR4. I honestly regret the 8700k and missing the black friday TR4 deal...damn..
 

lostin3d

[H]ard|Gawd
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Oct 13, 2016
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2,043
Thanks Dan & Kyle for the review. As always a good read. This board very much reminds me of a modernized(and better) AMD themed version of the X79 UD3 I use for my 4930k rig. Pretty happy with mine and if I was going TR I'd seriously look at this. Definitely options for gaming/media rendering/mining all in one.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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35,406
Looks like a great motherboard, but why the ridiculous marketing?

How are you even supposed to pronounce "Designare". Like it's italian, with a pronounced "e" on the end?

I wish for a return to simpler times, when motherboards had simple model numbers, were simple PCB green, had no fancy heatsinks or frag harder lights, and only minimalistic stuff was on-board.

Whenever something, anything, is marketed with fancy colors, lights or a fancy name, it is because they couldn't think of, or were unwilling to make actual product improvements. As long as the motherboard manufacturers compete on branding color schemes, heatsinks, and lights we won't see any true innovation.

I just wish all branding would die.
 

LuxTerra

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Jul 3, 2017
Messages
220
Thank you for the excellent review. I appreciate the attention to small details.

I've been looking at this board because I love building prosumer workstations for my desktops. Most of the x299 motherboards don't work for my next setup because I really want OC (locking all core turbo), ECC, and enough PCIe for dual GPUs, Intel XVV710-DA2 25GbE, and an Intel 900P. Ideally, that's 16x/16x/8x/8x; I'm expecting future upgrades to the 900Ps to need 8x vs. 4x. I also want to add TB3 to the build, but the chipset lanes work fine for that.

Gigabyte specifies ECC support, have you tried it? Can you enable ECC and memory OC at the same time?
 

sirmonkey1985

[H]ard|DCer of the Month - July 2010
Joined
Sep 13, 2008
Messages
22,231
Looks like a great motherboard, but why the ridiculous marketing?

How are you even supposed to pronounce "Designare". Like it's italian, with a pronounced "e" on the end?

I wish for a return to simpler times, when motherboards had simple model numbers, were simple PCB green, had no fancy heatsinks or frag harder lights, and only minimalistic stuff was on-board.

Whenever something, anything, is marketed with fancy colors, lights or a fancy name, it is because they couldn't think of, or were unwilling to make actual product improvements. As long as the motherboard manufacturers compete on branding color schemes, heatsinks, and lights we won't see any true innovation.

I just wish all branding would die.

pronounced designair.

as far as specific branding goes i'm fine with it like the designare, or taichi, or ROG, etc. what really irritates me is the crap a lot of manufactures do with gaming k5 gaming k6 gaming k7, yet it's damn near impossible to figure out what the differences are between each one without side by side comparing a list of the 300 different marketed features on them which it usually ends up just being 1 or two things that are different in the middle of the list somewhere that has no effect on the vast majority of users.
 

LuxTerra

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Jul 3, 2017
Messages
220
as far as specific branding goes i'm fine with it like the designare, or taichi, or ROG, etc. what really irritates me is the crap a lot of manufactures do with gaming k5 gaming k6 gaming k7, yet it's damn near impossible to figure out what the differences are between each one without side by side comparing a list of the 300 different marketed features on them which it usually ends up just being 1 or two things that are different in the middle of the list somewhere that has no effect on the vast majority of users.
I agree. I can tolerate the branding to an extent, depending on the market segment. I think the manufacturers have gotten lazy/unfocused in their segmentation and component selection. The objective seems to be, build a board for every possible price segment even when it doesn't make any sense and then market every board feature as if it's amazing...from a $100 budget board to $500 monsters. It's silly.

It's a price focused segmentation vs. a functional focused one. Obviously, price is very important and needs to be considered, but when the bean counters take over and dilute the functional segmentation into oblivion, that's a problem.

Here's just one example for me...putting dual integrated NICs everywhere, but going cheap and putting a Intel/Realtek combo with no teaming. This, combined with a few extra bells and whistles is obviously done to create just enough price segmentation to up sell, but it's usually stupid. For me the functional analysis goes like this:

1. The vast, vast majority of users only need one NIC. Some may argue that two provides "redundancy," but that's silly. Just spend the $ that would have gone to the second NIC making the primary NIC top notch. Better components, better layout, better materials, etc. Some want cheap (Realtek), some want quality (Intel), some want "features" (Killer), etc. Build a series of motherboards with each if you must, but group the NIC with other features/functions that will appeal to the same type of user.

2. There's a small minority of people who could use two non-teamed NICs for network segmentation. Perhaps a pfSense firewall, direct connect to a NAS, some sort of security segmentation (a weird VLAN setup?), etc. In my experience, of those that could use this setup, many are playing with Linux/BSD and really prefer Intel NICs for the quality of support. It's really a minority of a minority that really need/want dual NICs, where the Intel/Realtek split makes any sense. Most are better off doing dual Intel client NICs w/o teaming for marginally more cost vs. Intel/Realtek. If you really need an Intel/Killer on the gaming board, fine.

3. There's a segment of premium users who want to build higher end workstations, NAS, etc. and they really need two teaming capable Intel server oriented NICs. It's fine to leave these at GbE and they don't have to be the whole virtualized server NICs either (e.g. X550s).

4. Of the highest end users, full virtualized server NICs (e.g. X550s, 710s, etc.) 2-4 ports and IPMI are needed. These really should have 10GbE BaseT as standard IMHO unless they're the lowest end. Many more of them should have integrated SFP+/SFP28 ports. At this point, it's build your own server.


Applying this logic to this workstation class board and the gaming variant...

Both boards should be identical except a few features. The clock generator segmentation is silly. The gaming board only needs one client focused NIC (two if you really must), doesn't need official ECC support or support for registered/load reduced DIMMs, and can keep all the RGB bling. The workstation board should additionally have 10GbE standard, as well as integrated TB3. Yes, there's plenty of PCIe slots to add those, but I hate filling them up just to get basic workstation features. I want my PCIe available for a slew of GPUs (e.g. AI), super fast Ethernet (e.g. 25/50GbE) and NVMe drives. It's a workstation, I need to compute and move data with as few bottle necks as possible.

That split would put the gaming board a bit closer to $350 and the workstation board closer to $500, but I think that makes more sense based on expected use. Two boards with silly segmentation (e.g. clock gen) and eye candy is lazy...not to mention, they're practically the same price.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 18, 2017
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Thank you for the review! (y)
This motherboard got a Thunderbolt header near the SATA ports, it is not officially
sported yet, but I wonder what happens if we plug a Thunderbolt card... :geek:
L7c3wga.jpg
 
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