A Word on Cooling
The X570D4I-2T is one of the most densely packed motherboards I have personally encountered outside of a blade-style chassis, and apparently that component density did not leave many areas around the processor socket for traditional cooling configurations. As a result, ASRock Rack has implemented an extremely unusual configuration for mounting the heatsink. While the CPU socket itself is AM4, the mounting holes are designed with an Intel 1156 style cooler in mind. In addition to that, the motherboard includes an integrated, and non-removable, backplate on the socket, providing screw threading into those 1156-spaced mounting holes. Combined with extremely tight physical size restrictions so as not to collide with any surrounding surface components, finding a cooler that can operate on this motherboard is much more complicated than on normal system boards. To their credit, ASRock Rack provides a list of qualified compatible coolers, but then they immediately lose points because the list is only two entries long; one active cooler and one passive heatsink. Making things worse, the only active cooler on the list is both difficult to acquire in the USA and is likely extremely loud thanks to its 9000 RPM 60mm fan.
For our review, we elected to try and test compatibility with some more common coolers that looked like they might fit based on their physical dimensions. I picked out a Noctua DH-D9L and Patrick nominated the venerable Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition; unfortunately neither turned out to be compatible out of the box. However, in what Patrick lovingly referred to as the “Home Depot” solution, I was able to make both coolers work by threading some M3 screws up through the backplate to provide both the Noctua and the Cooler Master heatsinks something to mount onto. For the Noctua, I used 20mm M3 screws and the Cooler Master was able to attach using shorter 14mm screws.
In addition to the unique requirements for cooling the CPU, astute observers will notice that the X570 chipset lacks any form of active cooling that would normally be present on a desktop board equipped with that chip. Unfortunately, the X570 chipset definitely requires active cooling; my normal open-air test bench did not provide adequate airflow over the chipset heatsink which resulted in system freezes during the benchmarking process.
Pointing an 80mm fan at the chipset alleviated this issue, and ensuring there is adequate airflow over the chipset and VRMs will be crucial for anyone looking to deploy this board.
The system itself is set up for front to rear airflow as we would see in most server chassis. The X570, X550-T2, and VRM heatsinks are all oriented in this fashion, as are other components. When you construct a system around this platform, be mindful of airflow.
ASRock Rack X570D4I-2T Topology
We wanted to take a quick moment here to show the system topology. We described it in words above but seeing it helps. First, here is the block diagram:
One can clearly see the potential bandwidth contention problem caused by the single PCIe 4.0 x4 uplink between the X570 chipset and the CPU, since that same chipset provides multiple PCIe 4.0 and 3.0 x4 links on its own to various devices. Next up is the system topology:
Since this is based on Ryzen, it is a single NUMA node design. AMD EPYC 7001 8-core servers, such as those based on the AMD EPYC 7251 had four NUMA nodes which created a lot of inter-die traffic. With Ryzen, one does not have to worry about that on these lower-cost platforms.
Next, we are going to look at the CPU options, management, test configuration, and OS testing, before getting to performance and power consumption.