If you're planning to go the Ryzen Threadripper route with your new build, but haven't yet settled on a motherboard choice, Gigabyte has thrown yet another option onto the pile. While most Threadripper motherboards released up to this point are noteworthy in their own right, the new X399 DESIGNARE EX does manage to stand apart from the crowd.
First, let's start with the aesthetics, which are downright awesome on this motherboard. The vast majority of Threadripper boards released thus far have stuck to a very black or dark aesthetic, whereas with its DESIGNAIRE EX, Gigabyte lightens things up a bit. It gives us a nice blend of silver-on-black, with a splash of color added by way of RGB LED over the southbridge area.
Any Threadripper motherboard is pretty capable by default, and with its DESIGNAIRE EX, Gigabyte hasn't pulled any punches. There are niceties like front and rear USB 3.1 Type-C, dual Intel gigabit Ethernet, and dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi (+Bluetooth 4.2). For the fastest SSDs, there are three M.2 slots available, all of which include a "Thermal Guard" cover to improve temperatures (though its actual effect is hard to gauge, as sufficient airflow would be needed as well).
The audio jacks at the back are gold-plated, and shielding those as well as every other component on the I/O panel is a cover with aesthetics that match the rest of the board (a really nice touch, and a refreshing change from the standard mirror-finish I/O covers).
Being the top-end board that it is, 4-way GPU support is enabled here, and while that might sound like a niche feature on any motherboard nowadays, consider the fact that Threadripper is a workstation powerhouse, so it stands to reason that some will opt for quad-GPU for the sake of the compute capabilities. Fortunately, if you do have 4 GPUs installed, none of the other board features will be lost - the M.2 SSDs will simply be covered by the GPUs once they're installed.
The Gigabyte X399 DESIGNAIRE EX motherboard is available right now at Newegg priced at $399.