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Windsurf48

AMD Threadripper 3960x vs. Intel Core i7-8700k

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I was impressed by the reviews of the new Threadipper 3960x and 3970x and TRX40 chipset, so I replaced my ASUS ROG Maximus X Apex and Intel Core i7-8700k with a Threadripper 3960x and ASUS ROG Zenith II Extreme two months ago, along with new four-channel Corsair Dominator DDR4-4266 memory in place of the two-channel Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-4500 memory on the old motherboard.  The initial CPU benchmark scores were exciting, as were the PCIe4 M.2 drive scores. 2d and 3d video scores didn't change much, presumably because the same Gigabyte RTX 2080 ti was used on both systems.  Memory scores were less exciting because neither the new nor the old memory was stable at any higher than 3200 MHz, the last non-overclock value for the Zenith II Extreme.

 

There also were issues with one or more M.2 or SSD drives disappearing on reboots, although not on cold starts. Eventually there began to be reports of others having the same problems with disappearing drives and memory limited to non-overclock values, even for memory like mine which was included in the ASUS QVL list, which I've always assumed meant that that memory had been tested and worked at its rated speed on the specified ASUS motherboard.  I RMAed the memory but the replacement memory has all the same issues, so I replaced the power supply, which also had no effect on the issues.

 

There is an additional and probably more important issue: it's been impossible to keep the Threadripper 3960x cool enough to run stress tests using either a Corsair H150i AiO cooler or Noctua NH-U14s TR4 heatsink with two fans.  This is the first system I've had that couldn't run Prime95 or the AIDA64 stress tests at default settings.  Admittedly, the Corsair H150i pump is not designed for the Threadripper heat spreader and doesn't cover its full surface, but based on the Noctua results after reseating it with different thermal pastes twice, I'm not sure am AiO cooler designed for the TR4 heat spreader would make much difference. I wouldn't have purchased the CPU and motherboard if I'd known that it needed custom liquid cooling to function at stock settings.

 

Because of the various issues, ASUS set up an RMA for the motherboard and I had to swap the Core i7-8700k and Maximus X Apex back into the system.  I left the two M.2 drives on the Zenith II Extreme DIMM.2 riser and simply installed that on the Maximus X Apex.  I couldn't use two sticks of the Dominator memory on the Maximus X Apex because they wouldn't fit under the Deep Cool Assassin II heat sink already installed on it, so it's running with the  old Vengeance two-channel memory at DDR4-4000, the highest speed using 1.35v.

 

There are no issues with the old motherboard.  Everything is stable and the systems boots in half the time of the Threadripper system, 20 seconds instead of 40.  Benchmark scores in Performance Test are the same or slightly higher except for the CPU test.  It's not too surprising that six cores is enough for everyday processing, although I'm a little surprised that the reduced speed limits for the two PCIe4 M.2 drives on a PCIe3 system don't make more difference, even in the Performance Test disk tests.  ATTO and AIDA64 disk tests do show the expected reduction from 5 GB to 3 GB, but it's not noticeable otherwise. Similary, Geekbeech 5 shows slightly higher single-thread performance and significantly lower multi-thread performance.  Overall though, the Core i7-8700k system feels faster and more responsive in addition to being more stable.

 

There were some additional issues running applications. The latest version of SiSoft Sandra got an error running CPU tests and couldn't complete the overall benchmark on the AMD system.  I did not reinstall Windows or any applications when I swapped in the Maximus X Apex, but just updated the Intel drivers and removed the AMD drivers.  However, SiSoft Sandra's overall benchmark completed with no issues using the Intel CPU and chipset, so there are issues running applications using the TRX40 chipset and/or Threadripper 3960x CPU.

 

I'm waiting to see what ASUS finds testing the Zenith II Extreme.  If something turns up, then hopefully the Threadripper 3960x system will live up to its promise better than it did previously.  If not, I'll probably look into RMAing the CPU before reinstalling the motherboard. My biggest concern is that nothing is wrong with either the motherboard or CPU, and the two simply aren't all that stable and will always have some memory and drive issues, and will always have heat issues without custom water cooling. If that is the case, then I'll probably end up sticking with the Core i7-8700k and Maximus X Apex.

Edited by Windsurf48

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ASUS will be sending me a new Zenith II Extreme.  However, there's no information about what was wrong with the original one.

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Thanks.  I saved the information for later.  I have no idea how long it will be until ASUS send a replacement Zenith II Extreme.  I've gotten the impression that the board has be replaced in the ASUS line up by the Zenith II Extreme Alpha, but I guess they must have some of the original model somewhere.  However, I was already warned that parts from overseas could take a while.

 

I just learned that I have a bunch of relatives in Texas, in the Dallas area.

 

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Niiiice, I'm back here right now seeing my mom and kids, but go back home in a few days. 

 

I'll say this, Texas is the same Texas I grew up in and that sad. You used to drive down the road and wave at folks and they'd wave back. In general, folks were much friendlier, courteous and kind. 

 

Cest la vie. 

 

Tx 🤠

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I grew up in Washington, DC, when it was a small southern city, so the changes are huge.  However, the small town on the Chesapeake Bay where I live is still very much like an old-fashioned small town.  People wave and say hello, and neighbors help each other when someone gets sick, which could be important in the next months.  A lot of us have lived here for a long time because it's a beautiful area, convenient to DC, Baltimore, and Annapolis, and less expensive than most areas on the Bay. 

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Very nice! Sounds like it's stuck a few decades back and that's alright by me. ;)

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The population density is low and pretty much everyone here wants to be in small towns and/or near the Chesapeake.  It's quiet and undeveloped compared to most of the DC metro area, and the kind of people who like that tend to people who get along easily with other, similar people regardless of political affiliations or other potentially divisive details. We don't have much in the way of beaches, so it's people who  enjoy being on the water in boats.  Several of my neighbors are licensed charter captains, for example.  There is a growing number of DC people who've discovered that they can have a vacation home on the western shore of the Chesapeake for a third or less of the price of the same home at the Delaware-Maryland beaches, and it takes less than half the time to get to it, but they tend to fit it easily because they're less pretentious than people who need to live in more fashionable areas.  Even the weather is a unifying factor.  The Chesapeake Bay has notably erratic weather patterns because it's a large body of shallow water with another, even larger body of water just across the low-lying Delmarva peninsula, and the dramatic changes in the weather resulting from that make you more aware of the natural world.

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ASUS got in touch with me about replacing the Zenith II Extreme.  Because it's been replaced by the Zenith II Extreme Alpha, I'll be getting one of those in a week or two.

 

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Is this a superceded part of what you had or an entirely different mobo altogether? 

 

Tx 

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The Zenith II Extreme Alpha is almost identical to the original Zenith II Extreme.  The newer version has a slightly higher maximum memory speed, and one or more reviews mentioned beefed up power stages.  Since the price was the same for both boards, it was a little disappointing to have an improved version come up a month or so after the original.  I still don't know what ASUS found out about my original motherboard, but hopefully the replacement won't have the same problems.

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