Best Motherboards for 3rd Gen AMD Threadripper CPUs 3990X, 3970X, 3960X

CG Director Author Jerry James  by Jerry James   ⋮   ⋮   40 comments
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Best Motherboards for 3rd Gen AMD Threadripper CPUs 3990X, 3970X, 3960X

With the release of AMD’s Threadripper 3000 processors (3rd Generation Threadripper), Intel has finally lost the lead in both single-core and multi-threaded workloads.

It seems funny to say this, but if you want the best, an AMD Threadripper 3970X is it.

If you’re looking for a great balance between platform extensibility, CPU performance, and value, nothing beats the Threadripper 3960X CPU. At ~$1400 it offers 24 powerful cores and 48 threads.

With this CPU, gone are the days when you needed two separate systems to get the best rendering performance and a smooth viewport experience.

Threadripper 3000 processors boast high single-core performance, making the viewport experience as snappy as anything else available in the market.

threadripper performance comparison

Source: AMD (altered for readability)

They also feature a high core count, making them excellent for even heavy rendering workloads.

If you want to find out more about these Threadripper processors and how they compare to their Intel counterparts, do check out our Threadripper 3000 launch article.

Quick Motherboard Recommendations:

If you’re in a hurry and want a quick look at what motherboards we’re recommending, here you go:

Price-Tier / FeatureBest Motherboard for Threadripper 3000Link
Under $500ASRock TRX40 CreatorInfo / Buy
Under $600ASRock TRX40 TaichiInfo / Buy
Dual 10G Intel LanGigabyte TRX40 Aorus ExtremeInfo / Buy
Thunderbolt SupportGigabyte TRX40 DesignareInfo / Buy

Factors You Need to Consider:

Do You Need a Threadripper or Ryzen CPU?

Before getting started with picking a TRX40 motherboard, you have to make sure that you’re going with Threadripper out of genuine need and not falling prey to marketing.

Now, I’ll assume that you do need a high core-count processor for your workloads.

So, here’s a list of reasons why you might want to pick a Threadripper CPU instead of a Ryzen 9 3900X/3950X CPU:

  1. Quad Channel Memory: There’s a world of difference between needing ‘more’ RAM and needing more bandwidth. Memory channels increase the bandwidth available, and only some professional workloads can actually use this bandwidth. The mainstream platform’s dual-channel memory bandwidth should be enough for most workloads. You can find more information about memory channels and benchmarks in our Single vs Dual vs Quad Channel Memory post.
  2. Triple or Quad GPU setups: If you’re rendering using multiple high-end GPUs, or plan to soon, the TRX40 platform would be perfect.
  3. A lot of PCI-E 4.0 Lanes: If you need access to a lot of PCI-E 4.0 lanes, either for storage or getting ready for future GPUs, an argument could be made for grabbing a Threadripper system.
  4. ‘Many’ Powerful Cores: If you need the very best CPUs out there that deliver both core count as well as astonishing single-core performance bar none, the Threadripper 3960X and 3970X are an ideal choice.

If any of the above applies to you, Threadripper is the right choice!

If the above doesn’t apply to you and you can make do with something like a 12 or 16-core CPU, I’d recommend the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X.

AMD Product Stack Threadripper 3rd gen

Source: AMD

If you want to go Ryzen, our Best Motherboards for Ryzen article will help you pick an excellent motherboard for your Ryzen workstation.

Power Delivery (VRMs)

When it comes to power delivery, almost all the TRX40 motherboards for Threadripper seem well-built. Even the entry-level motherboards come equipped with beefy VRMs to ensure that powering these processors isn’t an issue.

In fact, they seem pretty well-equipped to handle even the recently-announced 64-core Threadripper 3990X, if it does end up being compatible with the TRX40 platform.

Yes, I do realize that entry-level boards do cost upwards of $400.

PCI-E Slot Spacing and Expandability

This is one factor that can vary from professional to professional.

Normal GPUs will come in double-slot width sizes, so if you’re planning to run a quad-GPU setup, I recommend opting for the motherboards that have enough space to house those graphics cards.

On the other hand, if your work is more CPU and storage-focused, slot spacing wouldn’t be too much of an issue.

In fact, if you want to go with graphics cards that have thicker heatsinks, you might want to prefer motherboards that allow at least one triple-slot width card.

Form Factor

Motherboards usually offer standard ATX and M-ATX form factors, with the odd E-ATX here and there. However, the extensibility of the Threadripper platform has resulted in some not-so-common form factors out there, including XL-ATX.

If you’re shopping for a motherboard that needs to go into an existing cabinet, please do make sure that the case will support it.

ATX Form Factors Comparison with xl-atx

Just to make things easier, I have listed a few cases that are compatible with the form factors I’ve recommended.

I/O Ports

Back panel connectivity, especially ports that support the latest USB standard could be critical to the workflow of professionals who want to connect faster external devices.

It’s not just speed.

If you’re used to having plenty of USB connectivity to connect several devices, you should make sure that you have enough.

Moreover, 10G LAN, Wi-Fi 6, Thunderbolt ports, and USB-C ports are a few other determinative factors you should consider when looking at a motherboard’s back panel.

What are you willing to spend on a good Motherboard?

Under $500 (CGDirector’s Best Value Recommendation)

ASRock TRX40 Creator (ATX)

Honestly, ASRock confounded me with this motherboard. I tried very hard to find faults with this board, and I have to say, I could only nitpick.

ASRock’s TRX40 Creator comes equipped with an ideal 4x double-spaced PCI-E slot configuration and even outmatches its pricier competitors when it comes to LAN speed.

ASRock TRX40 Creator Hero

Source: ASRock

Eight phases of 90A power stages should be enough to power even the upcoming 64-core Threadripper SKU (theoretically). So, both the 32 and 24-core processors won’t be limited in any way at all.

Performance-wise, you’re not missing out on anything if you pick the ASRock TRX40 Creator.

When it comes to the I/O, I do take issue with the lack of a pre-installed I/O shield. I know, being at the lower end of the TRX40 motherboards price spectrum must come at the cost of something or the other.

That aside, the USB port selection isn’t too extensive either with 7 USB ports, out of which 3 support the latest, fastest USB standard.

However, it’s the dual LAN (10GbE and 2.5 GbE) and Intel Wi-Fi 6 that vaults this motherboard past even some costlier alternatives like Gigabyte’s TRX40 Aorus Master.

ASRock TRX40 Creator top

Source: ASRock

The PCI-E slot configuration would interest professionals who’re considering quad-GPU setups for rendering.

The evenly-spaced slots make the ASRock TRX40 Creator’s layout far more pleasing for such a setup.

ASRock TRX40 Creator io

Source: ASRock

The only minor issue I could come up with from a hardware point-of-view was the fewer VRM phases and the active cooling solution on the VRM in addition to the chipset fan.

It’s not a bad VRM, by any stretch.

ASRock’s TRX40 Creator puts all other motherboards in its price bracket to shame.

It offers better features, and its beefy VRM even outperforms higher-phase VRM models from other brands – teaching us yet again, quality over quantity.

Here’s a snapshot of a few tests run by Tech Yes City (Big thanks!):

ASRock TRX40 Creator VRM Temps

Data-Source: Tech Yes City

 

ASRock TRX40 Creator pcie4 Temp Test

Data-Source: Tech Yes City

 

ASRock TRX40 Creator pcie4 chipset temps

Data-Source: Tech Yes City

As if the VRM performance wasn’t convincing enough, this TRX40 motherboard comes in a convenient standard ATX form factor, unlike some unusual sizes we’ve been seeing – ensuring that finding a case won’t be an issue.

Unless you have an issue with this board’s PCI-E spacing or lane bandwidth (x16/x8/x16/x8), the ASRock TRX40 Creator is the motherboard I recommend to most professionals out there.

Under $600

ASRock TRX40 Taichi (ATX)

ASRock seems to have done everything right with this release. The Taichi is overbuilt and quite impressive.

Whether it’s the VRM, PCI-E slots, or expansion capabilities.

ASRock TRX40 Taichi hero

Source: ASRock

The Taichi seems to be the only motherboard that offers 3 full-length, full-speed x16 PCI-E 4.0 slots. The layout is perfect for those who want to go with a triple-GPU setup with considerable future-proofing.

Moreover, if you have a GPU with a thicker heatsink, you’ll want a layout that looks like this rather than double-width spaced slots.

However, if you were considering a quad-GPU setup, you’ll have to compromise on lane width and go with something like the ASRock TRX40 Creator.

ASRock TRX40 Taichi top

Source: ASRock

Its VRMs are overdone, and don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining at all!

It features a 16-phase (12+2+2) VRM with 90A MOSFETs.

The heatsink on the board also does an excellent job at cooling it, with the 24-core processor barely pushing the temperatures past 40°C.

What does this mean for an average professional? You could upgrade to a 64-core Threadripper (if possible) without changing anything else, and the Taichi will be able to handle it, even overclocked.

ASRock TRX40 Taichi vrm temps

Data-Source: Tech Yes City

When it comes to rear-panel I/O, the Taichi does compromise a bit compared to the Creator. There is no 10G LAN and instead, the board is equipped with Dual Dragon 2.5 GbE LAN and Intel Gigabit LAN.

Nonetheless, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 are both built-in so you don’t need to use any add-in cards.

ASRock TRX40 Taichi io

Source: ASRock

Like most of the other motherboards in the TRX40 motherboard lineup, Thunderbolt isn’t available on the Taichi either. If that is a factor, there’s no option but to go for the Gigabyte TRX40 Designare.

Honorable Mentions

Dual 10G LAN: Gigabyte TRX40 Aorus Extreme (XL-ATX) ~$850

ASRock’s value just can’t be beat, unless you need dual 10 Gigabit LAN.

The Gigabyte Aorus Extreme is an ‘extremely’ well-built motherboard with all you’d expect from a professional-grade product – beefy VRMs, great features, ample extensibility, and so on.

It is also among the costlier TRX40 motherboard options out there.

Gigabyte TRX40 Aorus Extreme hero

Source: Gigabyte

One of my gripes with the Aorus Extreme is the lack of an x16/x16/x16 mode in case the fourth slot isn’t populated. However, you’re left with a rigid x16/x8/x16/x8 layout, much like the ASRock TRX40 Creator.

Gigabyte TRX40 Aorus Extreme top

Source: Gigabyte

In addition to the 4 M.2 connectors on the board, the Aorus Extreme also bundles in an Add-In Card that can house 4 additional M.2 devices if needed.

From a VRM point of view, you needn’t worry at all. The motherboard is more than capable of handling even a 64-core Threadripper (if/when the time comes), so the current Threadrippers aren’t an issue at all.

Gigabyte TRX40 Aorus Extreme io

Source: Gigabyte

When it comes to the rear panel I/O, Gigabyte can’t be beat. It houses 8 USB ports, with ALL of them supporting the latest USB standard (3.2 Gen 2).

But the real reason this motherboard deserves a special mention is the onboard LAN – dual 10G Intel LAN.

It has all the other bells and whistles we’d expect from a professional motherboard at this price point – Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 6, and a top-notch audio solution.

A small caveat with this motherboard is the unfortunately right-angled 24-pin motherboard power connector. With the power cables coming in from the right rather than from the top, your case will need additional side space to accommodate the thick cable.

Moreover, the board’s XL-ATX form factor isn’t standard, and finding cabinets could become a pain (see below).

Thunderbolt Support: Gigabyte TRX40 Designare (XL-ATX) ~ $630

Yes, it’s another Gigabyte motherboard.

For some reason, the Gigabyte TRX40 Designare is the ONLY TRX40 motherboard with a Thunderbolt header.

Since this motherboard is only recommended for those who absolutely NEED Thunderbolt, I won’t be going over the full motherboard specifications in great detail.

Gigabyte TRX40 Designare Box

Source: Gigaybte

Thunderbolt isn’t built-in and requires the use of an included add-in card – meaning one of your PCI-E x4 slots will be occupied by it.

Now, at first, this won’t seem like an issue. But take a closer look at the slot layout.

Gigabyte TRX40 Designare top

Source: Gigabyte

Notice anything? There’s no PCI-E x4 slot on the motherboard!

So, to use the Thunderbolt AIC, you’ll HAVE to sacrifice one of your full-length PCI-E x16 slots.

I’m still not sure if I missed something, but from the official specifications of both the motherboard and the card, that’s what it looks like.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, because even with an x4 slot in the middle, you wouldn’t be able to use a double-width GPU in the slot right after it. However, many professionals do use custom water cooling loops to get around this issue.

So, if you need Thunderbolt 3, you’re effectively stuck with a pricey 3-slot motherboard.

And if you don’t need Thunderbolt, well, you shouldn’t buy the Designare at all.

Gigabyte TRX40 Designare io

Source: Gigabyte

The TRX40 Designare does come with Dual Intel Gigabit LAN. However, the absence of even 2.5 GbE or 5 GbE LAN at this price point is quite strange.

I guess it speaks volumes to the cost of getting Thunderbolt 3 on the TRX40 platform. The rear panel is well-populated in general, plenty of USB slots.

However, Gigabyte decided to equip the motherboard with 2 USB 2.0 slots in addition to 6 latest-gen USB 3.2 Gen 2 slots.

The VRMs are solid and, like so many other TRX40 motherboards, are overbuilt to a good degree. It will be able to handle even the 64-core Threadripper (if supported by this chipset/socket) when it launches.

Final Thoughts

ASRock and Gigabyte have outdone themselves when it comes to TRX40 motherboards. (Yes, we did take a look at the offerings from Asus and MSI)

In fact, ASRock has done such a stellar job at offering value that it’s hard to recommend anything else unless you have a unique requirement like Thunderbolt or Dual 10G LAN.

Gigabyte did well to cover those bases to ensure that they have some unique offerings in their TRX40 motherboard lineup.

Since all the TRX40 motherboards are quite well-built, you really can’t go wrong with whatever you pick. However, if you want the most for your money, the ASRock TRX40 Creator and Taichi are the best value options out there.

Bonus

What cases can I buy for an XL-ATX motherboard?

Most full tower cases ‘should’ support this form factor. However, to make things easier for you, here are a couple of recommendations:

Corsair 780T Corsair Graphite Series 780T
Phanteks Enthoo Pro 
Fractal Design Define XL R2 Fractal Design Define XL R2 

 

That’s about it! What Motherboard or PC-Parts are you thinking of buying?

Jerry James - post author

Hi, I’m Jerry – a Freelance Technical Content Writer and Strategist.
I’ve been building PCs for the past 15 years, and I’m not stopping anytime soon.
Feel free to comment and ask for my inputs on your PC builds; I’ll do my best to help out!

40
Comments

simon

hi Jerry

great article – im about to buy a threadripper setup and wanted to see your thought son my setup and most importantly, motherboard…..
Im a 3d visualiser and use 3ds max and corona – i do want to dabble into real time in the near future hence the 2080 card.

For the motherboard, i m not sure what to get, ive been told by the technician at the store that either an asrock TRX40 taichi or a Gigabyte Aorus Pro wifi TRX40… Im not sure if any newer recommendations have come out since your write up – any help at all would be much appreciated as its quiet a large investment for me.

Ryzen 3970
Noctua U14-S TR4-SP3
128 Gig Ram G.Skill F4-3200C
Samsung 970 Pro 1TB – (used for windows installation/programs and scene files – maybe some regular
use models and textures)
WD 10TB Ultrastar Secondary drive (for my 3D model assets) –
ASUS Rog strix GTX 2080S
Case Coolermaster MCB CM694
Power Supply – corsair CP-9020180 AU RM850X 80 plus

Thanks so much looking forward to your response.
Simon

Michael

I’ve heard that the chipset on ASRock TRX40 CREATOR will overheat when its little fan is covered by a GPU in the third PCIe slot. Do you think that would be less of a problem in Aorus Extreme?

Pringles

I am going around in circles between Ryzen 3950x vs Threadripper 3960/3070x!!!!
My main rendering software recently has been Keyshot which does both GPU and CPU. Thinking of adding Redshift or Vray too. So I am not sure if spending money on more cores is worth it or not?

A1- 3950x + 2 x 2070 = $830 + $1100= $1930

A2- 3950x + 1 x 2080 ti = $830 + $1300= $2130
__________________________________________

vs
__________________________________________

B1- 3960X + 2 x 2070.= $1483 + $1100= 2583

B2- 3960X + 2080Ti.= $1483 + $1300= 2783

I am lost!!!!! lol

Spikey

What about the msi creator?

Lucian Trofin

Hi Jerry
I need an advice for my Trx40 MB swap for my 3d work station
I’m gonna use 3960 and 4 x2080ti
I just had an bad experience with a fail Asrock trx40 Creator (no BT, no Wi-Fi. No save change in bios for some fan controls ,water cooler ctl , and no customer support from Asrock ) . so no more Asrock for me .

Now I’m in between between gigabite Aorus extreme vs Designare .
I don’t need thunderbolt And RGB unicorn , I just need fast GPU , CPU and network connection .
Both MB’s looks the same in specs ,but extreme have more Heat dissipation and future upgrade possible.
Is this something I should consider For trouble free when the price is around 300 euros more for extreme ?
Thank you

Dan

Don’t mean to piggy-back, but this weekend I just tried putting together my 3960x and Asrock Creator Mobo as well. Mine was dead on arrival, It shows no signs of taking power. I’m returning mine today, at first I was thinking of just re-ordering another, but to hear you also have a faulty one is concerning!

Lucian Trofin

Hi Dan
yep, I understand, everyone was talking about this asrock deal
I guess you did check the Memory placement according to manual :)) It happened to me too . I got so scared , electrococking a new MB on the new year event day .

Lucian Trofin

I mean , I always get a grounded anti static arm band and always touch a ground before doing anything there . It happened to me long time ago ones , and since then I’m scare about it every time doing work there .

Dan

Yeah I checked ram and everything, I also wore ant-static gloves as well. I was on wood, and the mobo was on wood. It just would not light up or show any signs of taking power, it was SUCHHHH a let down 🙁

Kosice

Hey, can you list the components of you owned Threadripper setup ? B/c I’m in the market of the 3960X but not decided about the rest.
Not a gamer and doing lots of parallel builds, I’m looking for a GPU which can drive my 2K LCD. Will the soon coming 5600XT 7nm PCI 4th gen be appropriated with a TR processor ?

Spikey

What about the MSI TRX40 Creator board? how does this compare with the likes of the Asus TRX40 Extreme II and Gigabyte TRX40 Designare including any add ons? Aslo any other boards have the Thunderbolt headers and how does the Corsair Graphite Series 780T case compare to the Fractal Define XL R2.

Planing on a content creation system

Beaker

FYI the Aorus Extreme does have a Thunderbolt header and the Titan Ridge cards works fine in it.

Pringles

Hi,

First post, So let me start by saying, GREAT AND VERY HELPFULL WEBSITE!!!!!! From content and design point of view–> A1!

1- Do you think more MOBOs are coming start of next year for Threadripper 3960X+ series? I need to build new workstation between now and 3 months from now (depending on projects).

2- For large towers you seem to recommend “Fractal Define XL R2 (Full tower)” generally.
Google shows that this is like 6-7 year old case. Is there something better than this case out there? I do like simple clean aesthetics and not all the Christmas light RGB madness so XL-2 is fine for me but was just wondering 🙂

Btw I have a Silverstone TJ7 old case lying around

https://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=92&area=en#fgo-spec

You think I should use it for the build or maybe just go for Fractal XL R2? Spending $140 extra for XL-R2 is not an issue for me. The PC will most likely be built around 3960X. Unless 3970X falls in price in 3 months time!!!!!

3- Would Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3 be able to cool the threadripper 3960X to 3990X (if i can ever afford it)?

Thank you for your time.

Spikey

Hello Pringles. Not sure what you are planning to do with you work station but trying to work out the build for me has been a nightmare as looking to use it for editing, visual effects, 3D animation, modelling, paining, character, CAD and podcasting. Where the content creation bit wants a faster processor and less cores and the rendering and encoding is the opposite and some software demands Quadro and some Geforce cards.

Not sure on the coolers as trying to sort the our, you are aware of the Nocutra air cooler, many of the AIO water coolers try to fit a circular contact plate on a rectangular Hea spreader which is not ideal. Enermax AIO coolers seem to have an ideal hot plate but many reviews also mention how in a few months they tend to clock up, jam, leak and all sorts and that was both version 1 and 2. look it up. Dont know if that has been sorted yet.

The vectorworks forum seems good for advice even for non overworks advice.

What country are you in as that would help supplier suggestions. Also factor in how close the supplier is to you in regards issues like return and if in range to get on site warrantees.

it would help if you list your uses and software plans as different stuff different specs

Spikey

Also look up at the top of this thread new advice and updates form 16 jan like what cooler have been relisted

Spikey

Oh and pringles in regards to the Fractal design R2 case… they have released a not so boring black and a white and black one with a window

this is what I was planning though may just get the one iron wolf drive

and the reason for 2 ssd drives is one for programs one for work and that way if microsoft ball up an update etc your work is not fubarred and the 4tb drive can be a storage drive for whats not in use

1x Bullguard Internet Security – Free 90 Day Licence

1x Fractal Design Define R6 Case – White Tempered Glass

1x AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X CPU 24 Cores / 48 Threads 3.8 – 4.5GHz

2x 32GB Corsair Vengeance LPX Black DDR4 3200MHz AMD Ryzen Tuned Memory (2 x 16GB Sticks)

2x Seagate 4TB IronWolf Pro 7200RPM NAS Hard Disk

1x 24x DVD-RW Drive

1x Corsair HX1000 80 PLUS Platinum 1000W PSU

1x Windows 10 Pro for High End 64-bit

1x 5 Year Warranty 2 Years Collect and Return UK only*

1x Asus ROG Zenith II Extreme TRX40 Motherboard

1x Noctua NH-U14S TR4 SP3 CPU Cooler

2x 1TB Seagate Firecuda 520 M.2 PCIe Gen 4 Solid State Drives

1x NVIDIA Quadro RTX 4000 8GB Graphics Card

barath

Can you say anything about the active chipset cooling noise on these boards? Or is that neglegible when the cpu cooler is louder anyway? Looking to build as silent as possible