Wraith Ripper PCIe Issue – GPU case mod – fix

Wraith Ripper PCIe Issue - GPU case mod/fix

Introduction – The Problem

Last week, AMD launched their Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX, a monstrous processor with 32-cores 64-threads and AMD’s Ryzen 2nd Generation CPU architecture. Alongside this processor came a new semi-reference heatsink from Cooler Master called the Wraith Ripper, an attractive CPU cooler which proved capable of cooling all of the 2990WX’s cores with relative ease at stock settings (see our Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX/2950X review for thermal results).

While using Cooler Master’s Wraith Ripper, we quickly discovered that the heatsink covered the first PCIe x16 slot on our, ASUS ROG Zenith X399 Extreme motherboard, preventing us from using the motherboard’s primary PCIe slot.  

This issue will present itself on X399 motherboards that feature a top PCIe x16 slot and have a TR4 socket that is positioned beside the slot without a finger-width gap between. This means that Cooler Master’s Wraith Ripper heatsink is not fully compatible with all TR4/X399 motherboards. It will fit and cool your CPU, but it may clash with the PCIe layout of specific board designs.  

In this article, and its associated video, we will discuss this issue and how we worked around it to create an attractive TR4 system. While this may not be the most pragmatic solution for PC builders, especially the workstation crowd, we hope that our thoughts and ideas will provide you with some simple modding ideas and encourage you to customise your system with unique changes and add-ons. 

Wraith Ripper PCIe Issue - GPU case mod/fix

(Can you see the problem?)

The Consequences 

With the ROG Zenith Extreme X399 motherboard features four PCIe 16x slots, two of which offer sixteen lanes of PCIe 3.0 while the other two offer connected devices up to eight lanes of PCIe 3.0 connectivity.

Moving from the top slot to the bottom, the Zenith’s PCIe x16 slot can offer a 16x/8x/16x/8x PCIe configuration. The consequence of this is that while using the Cooler Master Wraith Ripper, the only PCIe 16x slot that we can use is the 3rd slot, as it is the only remaining slot that retains a full sixteen lanes of PCIe connectivity. Looking at the picture below, we can see that this solution is far from attractive. There is a reason why the top PCIe slot is reserved for graphics cards on most motherboards. 

While the practical solution to this problem is to use a different motherboard, invest in an alternative cooling solution or make do with 3rd slot GPU mounting, we at OC3D believe that we can be a little more creative than that. On the next page, we will detail a novel solution that will enable Zenith/Wraith Ripper users to have an attractive system, despite the blockage of the board’s top PCIe slot.  

Wraith Ripper PCIe Issue - GPU case mod/fix (Ugly, am I right?)