Visual Inspection

The GIGABYTE MZ31-AR0 is an E-ATX motherboard designed for workstation and server environments. Rev 1.x is compatible with AMD's EPYC 7001 family of processors, and features a rotated LGA 4094 CPU socket which makes it suitable for 1U chassis types for airflow, although users can use it in with compatible chassis that support E-ATX form factors. It uses GIGABYTE's recognizable blue PCB, with black PCIe slots, white power inputs, and black and blue alternating memory slots.

Using an E-ATX sized PCB, this has allowed GIGABYTE to include plenty of expansion support. In the bottom left-hand corner there are seven PCIe expansions slots including five full-length PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, one full-length PCIe 3.0 x8 slot, and two half-length PCIe 3.0 x8 slots. The configuration used with all slots combined is x8/x16/x8/x16/x16/x8/x16, with GIGABYTE opting for single slot spacing between each slot.

Providing power to the board is a single 24-pin 12 V ATX power input, while the for CPU power is a pair of 8-pin 12 V ATX power inputs. Located around the board is plenty of headers and I/O. For cooling the MZ31-AR0 has two dedicated 4-pin CPU fan headers and five for chassis fans. A front panel header allows users to connect up power, HDD LED indicator and reset buttons for a chassis, while the board also includes a single TPM and COM2 header. For use in 1U or compatible server blades, the board includes a single HDD backplane header, a PMBus, and IPMB header, with a clear CMOS and BIOS recovery jumper.

Due to the E-ATX sized frame, GIGABYTE includes a total of sixteen memory slots which has support for up to 2 TB of LRDIMM and RDIMM ECC memory modules (Ian: I tried 2TB, it worked!). The GIGABYTE MZ31-AR0 has support for up to DDR4-2666 memory when used in a 1 DIMM per channel configuration, but DDR4-2400 and DDR4-2133 are also supported with this model. Due to the location of the PCIe 3.0 slots and the memory slots, there may be some incompatibility with larger expansion cards as our testbed NVIDIA GTX 1080 protrudes over the right-hand side memory slots. The only two slots not restricted are the two bottom PCIe 3.0 slots (x8/x16).

The board is well-equipped on storage with four SlimSAS ports with each port offering support for up to four SATA devices and drives. This gives a total of sixteen SATA slots, with assistance from a single PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot which supports up to M.2 2280 form factor drives.

Located in the top left-hand section near to the rear panel I/O is the Aspeed AST2500 remote management controller which is assisted by a rear panel Gigabit Ethernet port which allows BMC control from a network, and a single D-sub video output. Just above this is a silver cross-cross heatsink which keeps the Broadcom BCM57810S Ethernet controller cool. The Broadcom BCM 57810S provides two SPF+ 10 G Ethernet ports on the rear panel, although the ports do support Gigabit networks too.

As the GIGABYTE MZ31-AR0 is designed for workstation and server systems, the power delivery equipped is modest but effective in delivering enough power to support up to 32-core AMD EPYC processors. Its power delivery is using a simple 6-phase setup with no heatsink used, which means cooling it will rely on having adequate passive airflow in whichever chassis it is installed into.

On the rear panel is little in the way of USB support with two USB 3.1 G1 Type-A, and two USB 2.0 ports. This required us to use a USB hub to install our testbed operating system (Windows 10 1909) with a keyboard and mouse plugged in; shrewd users can do so while just using a keyboard or mouse. Also present is an ID button with an LED, one Gigabit Ethernet port for the BMC, two SFP+ 10 G Ethernet ports powered by a Broadcom BCM 57810S Ethernet controller. A solitary serial port and D-sub video output powered by the Aspeed AST2500 remote management controller finish off a basic, but effective rear I/O.

What's in The Box

Included in the retail packaging is two SlimSAS to SATA cables which gives users the ability to install up to eight SATA devices out of the box. Also present is an I/O shield and a quick start guide. When bought in bulk (10 units), each box comes with just an I/O shield.

  • 2 x SlimSAS cables (four SATA per cable)
  • Rear Panel I/O shield
  • Quick Start guide
GIGABYTE MZ31-AR0 Overview BIOS And Software
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  • xyvyx2 - Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - link

    physically the same, but not compatible :(
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socket_sTRX4
    Reply
  • Operandi - Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - link

    Looks like the perfect board for my home Pfsense build. In all seriousness though looks like a pretty baller single socket Epyc board if only I had something lined up that could use it. Reply
  • Deicidium369 - Sunday, April 12, 2020 - link

    a door stop would be an appropriate use for it - unlikely AMD would have the drivers ironed out. Reply
  • MenhirMike - Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - link

    Does anyone know if it's possible to use Unbuffered ECC RAM with EPYC? Thinking of upgrading from a Threadripper to an EPYC for a Server, but I don't want to rebuy RAM as I already got enough DDR4 ECC UDIMMs. Reply
  • Slash3 - Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - link

    Some Tyan boards seemingly support it from their spec sheets, but it's something that most reviews don't cover, unfortunately.

    Patrick at Serve the Home has also mentioned support on some older boards, but unfortunately he didn't mention any specific models in the one comment I was able to dig up on their forums.
    Reply
  • MenhirMike - Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - link

    Also, curious if the board supports bifurcation - the lack of M.2 Slots would make it perfect for e.g., an ASUS HYPER M.2 X16 or Supermicro AOC-SLG3-2M2 card, but for that it needs to support bifurcation of an x16 into 4x4 or an x8 into 2x4 slots. Reply
  • Slash3 - Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - link

    The Hyper M.2 is long enough that you wouldn't be able to insert the card into the first five slots, which is a bit of a bummer. I can't confirm bifurcation support but I'd be very surprised if it didn't have it. Reply
  • phoenix_rizzen - Thursday, March 26, 2020 - link

    We built our first iSCSI storage box around this motherboard. Have nothing but great experiences with it, and the IPMI implementation is light-years beyond what Supermicro supports (the GB IPMI is fully-web-enabled, using HTML5 KVM/console redirection, compared to the horrid Java implementation that Supermicro uses).

    The only downside if the SlimSAS connectors. It's very easy to find SlimSAS-to-SATA connectors (even comes with some in the box). Pain in the ass to find SlimSAS-to-SFF8084 connectors to connect to multi-lane, direct-attach backplanes! They exist, but nobody actually carries them (at least nobody that we could find in North America). Had to get them from a cable maker in China, which took the very slow boat to arrive.

    For our first build, I messed up the model number for the backplane, ending up with an SAS expander version, so we had to use an HBA anyway.

    For our second iSCSI storage server, we switched to the MZ01-CE0 motherboard. This includes 10GBase-T ports instead of SFP+. Other than that, it's virtually the same board. Got the right model backplane, and the SlimSAS-to-SFF8084 cables, giving 16 SATA connections direct off the motherboard.

    For our next ZFS storage server, we'll be using MZ01-CE0 in a 2U chassis, running the OS off the motherboard connectors, with LSI/Broadcom/whoever-they-are-now HBAs with external connectors going to multiple 45-bay storage chasssis. That setup works great with all the extra PCIe lanes. :)
    Reply
  • fazalmajid - Friday, March 27, 2020 - link

    What OS do you use for your ZFS/iSCSI servers? Reply
  • phoenix_rizzen - Saturday, March 28, 2020 - link

    FreeBSD Reply

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