I have had the opportunity to test the ASRock X399M Taichi motherboard with a 2990X CPU. I have posted the results in a few places, and several people have asked me about the correct settings to make this board fly, so I thought I would make an overclocking guide and share all the info that I have learned.
I am not going to get too deep into VRM specs or other tech specs, as those have been well covered by other media sources. However, none of the reviews out there talk about how amazing this board is for overclocking so I figured it was time.
To my knowledge this is the only 4-Dimm slot motherboard for this socket. It is this fact which makes this board so unique for overclocking. With reduced DRAM capacity the overall memory overclockability is higher than other motherboards with the same socket. This may not mean much for the average user, but for those who enjoy memory overclocking it's a huge advantage.
General overview, picture taken from asrock.com
CPU: Threadripper 2990WX
Motherboard: ASRock X399M Taichi
Memory: 32GB Teamgroup Dark Pro DDR4 3200Mhz (Samsung B-DIE)
Power Supply: Seasonic 1200W Platinum PRIME
Graphics: 9400GT (I use a very basic GPU for 2D testing)
Storage: OCZ Vertex 2 (64GB)
Cooling: Custom water with 2x360 radiators
OS: Windows 10 64-Bit (Latest build works best)
Maximum memory: Restricting the memory seen by OS to 1.8GB (Required for CL12 tests)
The first hurdle to overcome with this motherboard is cooling. As you likely already know, this CPU produces an incredible amount of heat, and in order to overclock it well it needs proper cooling. I am using the Alphacool Eisblock XPX CPU block with the TR4 adapter plate. The waterblock does not cover the entire IHS, but it does cover the DIEs underneath the IHS, which is the critical part. XPX Block Link
As you can see in the picture below, the majority of the IHS is covered by the waterblock. I would like to actually measure the DIEs width underneath the IHS, but I have not been able to find any information about it up to this point.
With cooling taken care of and a strong fan blowing directly on the VRM, I felt comfortable diving right in. I quickly found out that this CPU builds up heat quickly and has a hard time releasing the heat, even with high quality liquid cooling. Often, benchmarks like Cinebench R15 will fail after it has completed 50% of the run. This is a clear indicator that heat is the issue and the CPU cannot recover quickly enough. It should be no mystery that the key to overclocking is finding the right balance between voltage, frequency, and heat.
Looking at Hwbot and other places, we can see that typical overclock results for this CPU are in the 4000Mhz to 4200Mhz range. My methodology for overclocking was to find a voltage setting that would keep the CPU below 85c during load with my particular water loop.
With this particular CPU was able to achieve Cinebench R15 stability at 4200Mhz with 1.30. I was able to pass 4250Mhz with 1.36v; however, the temps were out of control, so I decided to do all my testing at 4200Mhx. This overclock resulted in 85c Max CPU temp, 70c max VRM temp, and over 900W from from the wall.
Here you can see a video of this processor pulling over 950W from the wall while running Cinebench R15.
The key advantage of this motherboard is memory overclocking. The performance gain from memory overclocking on this motherboard is amazing. I was able to increase my Cinebench R15 score by over 10%, purely from memory configuration. Many other benchmarks show a gain of 10%, or even more in some cases, from memory overclocking.
I spent many hours testing different memory configurations using Samsung B-Die, and I ended up at 3600 12-12-12.
The board achieve higher memory overclocks, such as 3733 CL12-11-11. However, in order to achieve the higher frequency with tighter primary timings, I was forced to sacrifice the secondary and tertiary timings. I found that for a few different benches 3600 12-12-12 Tight was better than 3733 12-11-11 loose. Unfortunately, with my memory kits I was not able to achieve 3733 12-11-11 tight with any reasonable stability.
I am happy to share the memory profile and general bios settings I used for the best efficiency:
You will see that I set Performance Enhancer and Performance Bias to 'auto' in the screenshots. I have been testing them, and they do seem to have a small impact of the score for some benchmarks. I don't yet have a good understanding of what they do or how they work, so I will leave that up to you to figure out.
Overclocking this motherboard and CPU with liquid nitrogen is really quite easy. However, there are a few key changes you need to make in the bios in order to achieve full pot temperatures.
- Disable HD Audio
- Set PCIe Gen 1
- Increase 1.8v vail to 2.1v-2.2v
: If you are planning on mounting a LN2 pot, you will need to get size M3.5 threaded rod. That size seems to be extraordinarily rare, at least in the US. The only source I found online is at McMaster Carr: LINK
Here is an example overclock on LN2: 5300Mhz @ 1.55v
Due to the large metal socket, this board freezes very quickly. My sessions typically only last about an hour due to condensation and/or frost on the motherboard.
Here are bios screen shots of the settings I used for liquid nitrogen cooling:
Thanks for reading! I am still testing this motherboard, so I don't want to end this with a conclusion. This was not intended to be a review where I post it and forget it. I made this to actively help people overclock this board. Please ask questions, as I am happy to help if I can.
Lapping results to come later ...