GIGABYTE X399 Aorus Gaming 7 TR4 Motherboard Review

We review GIGABYTE’s X399 Aorus Gaming 7 and see how it stacks up in the world of HEDT motherboards. This motherboard is not priced all that high considering the amount of features it touts and certainly it is not priced high for the stability we were afforded while overclocking the Threadripper to 4GHz.

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Overclocking

I will have to defer to Kyle's overclocking experiences with the X399 Aorus Gaming 7 since I did not have proper cooling at the time of testing. That said, Kyle spent a lot of time overclocking the Threadripper 1950X on this motherboard.

Conclusions

Dan's Thoughts:

AMD’s socket AM4 platform, using it’s X370 chipset has been nothing short of a nightmare to deal with for some people. X399 and socket TR4 have been a little bit easier to work with. I had zero trouble with random memory modules on the ASUS’ ROG Zenith Extreme. I used modules that weren’t "AM4" or designated as being designed or tested on AMD systems of any kind with that motherboard and things worked well. Things were quite different with the GIGABYTE X399 Aorus Gaming 7. RAM compatibility with this motherboard isn’t great in my experience. I tried no less than 9 different DDR4 memory kits with no success. I had to get some "AM4" RAM from Kyle that came in a quad-channel kit. My dual channel kit worked, but you won’t unlock Threadripper’s full potential using that. I had issues with installing to specific SSD’s and NVMe devices like Intel’s PCIe x4 SSD 750 800GB. In the end I found an old SATA based Intel SSD 320 that worked well. I couldn’t even install the OS to the Corsair MP500 256GB drives I normally use for M.2 testing. As it turns out this was a BIOS issue with F2 series BIOS revisions. Fortunately, F3g fixed my issues and got me going. This UEFI version does not state that it has NVMe RAID capability, so you won’t get that here while ASUS’ 0801 UEFI BIOS does provide this functionality. This is the case at the time of this writing, anyway.

While GIGABYTE’s X399 Aorus Gaming 7 was a bit of a nightmare to get going, it shouldn’t be for you. Once I got the OS install done, I did experience a few more quirks. The biggest issue I found is that if I powered up the system without the keyboard and mouse plugged in, they wouldn’t work without me rebooting the system. I couldn’t always duplicate this and it was something I discovered by accident while moving things around on my test bench to accommodate a second test platform. I didn’t have any more issues outside of relatively poor wireless performance which isn’t something I blame GIGABYTE or AMD for. I believe this is something regarding my setup.

AMD has admitted that Threadripper and targeting the HEDT market was an afterthought and only something it decided to do as it’s been able to build on the success of Ryzen and AM4 despite issues with memory compatibility and a few other flaws. Similarly, to Intel’s offerings, Threadripper is a server product that has been adapted for high end desktop use. When I first heard about the relatively rapid design and subsequent launch of X399 and Threadripper, I was afraid of how awful this platform would be to deal with. AMD is learning, and it has learned quickly as Socket TR4, Threadripper and X399 haven’t been nearly as hard to deal with as AM4 and Ryzen have been. On the surface the platform has a lot to offer and through some questionable choices of Intel’s, AMD is finally in a good place to compete and not just offer something that’s almost as good, but cheaper too. Speaking of the platform specifically, AMD’s Threadripper offers not only more bang for the buck, but represents a solid value that is In a few ways better than Intel’s Core i9 / X299 platform. Still, the platform is less mature than Intel’s platform is and it shows. Memory compatibility is still not great, but it’s better than AM4 in my experience.

The real question comes down to whether or not I would recommend GIGABYTE’s X399 Aorus Gaming 7. The answer is yes. I had a lot of issues with mine, but those were solved with a UEFI BIOS update. As we’ve been saying since Ryzen and Z370 came out, you’ll want to stick with memory that’s on the motherboard QVL list. At one point, this was a suggestion that was only taken seriously in workstation and server builds, but seems to be a must these days. This motherboard isn’t necessarily a value proposition by any means and right now we’ve only got higher end Threadripper boards on the market. I don’t know if this will change anytime soon, but I think you do get a lot for your money here.

I don’t like, and never have liked M.2 as a form factor. I especially hate it on the PCB where it’s often been problematic. I like GIGABYTE’s captive screws, but you need posts further down with screws for them if you are going to use any drive that isn’t a type 22110 device. The SATA performance is a little slow which is something I saw on ASUS’ ROG Zenith Extreme as well, and was resolved with a UEFI BIOS update. It’s entirely possible this will be the case with GIGABYTE’s X399 Aorus Gaming 7. It isn’t a huge issue as far as I’m concerned as NVMe is the only way to go with today’s higher end platforms. However, it’s something to note at present. USB performance was always a little lower on AMD’s systems vs. Intel’s and again, I don’t think it’s something most people would notice or care about. The motherboard feels very high quality and once I got the right RAM and an updated UEFI BIOS, the motherboard was as solid as any I’ve worked with. In closing, I would and will recommend GIGABYTE’s X399 Aorus Gaming 7, but like everything else I’ve seen lately, you need to do a little research and make sure the hardware you buy will work with it. Furthermore, you may have to put up with a few quirks here and there until the platform matures.

Kyle's Thoughts:

As we have mentioned over and over again, do not expect a lot of older memory kits that were built for Intel systems over the past years to work at rated speeds with AM4 or TR4 socket systems. We used Corsair Vengeance "AM4" RAM (CMK16GX4M2Z3200C16) without issue at 3200MHz. If you are going to be spending money on a new HEDT from AMD, take the time and get memory that is specified on the specific motherboard's Qualified Vendors List, or buy specific "AM4" DIMMs. All that said, I do have older DIMM kits here that will work with AM4 and TR4 Ryzen CPUs, but it is simply hit and miss.

I have been working on with the X399 Aorus Gaming 7 for a couple of months. If you are running Windows 10 (RS2 / Creators Update) you will want to be aware of this issue with the Intel WiFi driver, otherwise you can run into some BSOD issues.

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I got around the issue by turning off the wireless and not allowing Windows Update to run in order to try to install drivers. I am not sure if this has been fixed at this time or not. Gigabyte makes note of this in its Support FAQ, and has an alternative fix listed for this, but I have found its fix to not work for my particular issue. YMMV.

The GIGABYTE X399 Aorus Gaming 7 was the first Threadripper motherboard that we got up and running at a rock solid 4GHz, of course that was under XSPC water cooling.

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While I have seen some other folks suggest they have gotten "stable" 4GHz + overclocks with AIOs, I did not find that to be the case outside of running a quick benchmark or two. And that the time we did get to grab a couple of HEDT benchmark records as well.

I have pages and pages of notes pertaining to overclocking the Threadripper 1950X on this board, and I have to say that the overall experience was painless. I never had issues with "bad" overclocks or getting the system back up and running afterwards.

The UEFI BIOS release is up to version F3g as of 10/02/2017. This updated the board to allow for NVMe RAID support as well as proper support for AMD Ryzen Master Threadripper version. I did not use this tool much for actual overclocking, but I have used it in the past and it is very workable, but for those edge of the envelope overclocks, you are going to likely be served better working in the UEFI. Gigabyte has kept up with all of AMD's AGESA updates as well, so they are keeping an eye this motherboard. As for Gigabyte's UEFI, I find it easy to work with.

I would have no issue putting the X399 Aorus Gaming 7 in my own personal workstation and running it at 4GHz.

The Bottom Line

Gigabyte has built an excellent platform for AMD's Threadripper in the X399 Aorus Gaming 7. It is selling for $390 with Prime Shipping. In the world of HEDT platforms, that is not a lot of money and certainly towards the low end of the pricing spectrum. If you are looking to overclock the Threadripper, we can highly suggest the Gaming 7. The Gaming 7 has the power components and UEFI tweaks needed to push your Threadripper, if you have the cooling. Certainly there are a few caveats with the Gaming 7, but none of these stood out to us as deal-breakers considering the price point, and the price point is good.

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Gigabyte X399 Aorus Gaming 7

Discussion

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