With A fair amount of the new Z97 motherboards being shown already, fans of Intel's X99 enthusiast chipset may feel a bit cheated being left with nothing interesting to look at. As of Computex 2014, that's finally changed. ASrock recently showed their latest X99 board to press at Taipei's electronics and hardware tradeshow.
ASRock Extreme6 (Left) & Extreme4 (Right) X99 motherboards. Image source: VR-Zone.
Now, these units—the Extreme4 and Extreme6—aren't quite final versions of the X99 motherboards, but from what we've garnered, they're pretty close to complete. These motherboards now feature full SATA III, DDR4, M.2, native support for USB3.0, and 40xPCI-e lanes, which will benefit those looking to go 3-way SLI or Crossfire without heavy multiplexing. And the feature that's most worth being excited about will also be supported on these boards: DDR4. ASRock's Extreme4 and Extreme6 appear to both support dual-GPUs at x16 / x16 while only supporting three way at x16 / x16 / x8.
We can see that the Extreme4 features an x16 slot that is only wired for x1, while its larger brother, the Extreme6, simply features an x1 slot and moves the CMOS battery in the extra space. Interestingly, above the uppermost PCI-e slot we see a MOLEX connector for PCI-e power, which seems to be more common with newer motherboards. The Extreme6 also features a debug reader (seven segment display) that isn't found on the Extreme4, although there is a place for it on the Extreme4, so it may still be included.
An interesting feature on the Extreme6 is the inclusion of a USB port under the CPU socket, potentially useful for overclocking or troubleshooting. Although we'd imagine most users won't put this to use, for those who do it likely will be a large convenience.
The motherboards presently lack heatsinks for display purposes, revealing the 12-phase power design on both boards that will provide stable overclocking ability. The rear IO is fairly standard, although it should be noted that ASrock sprung for Intel Gigabit Ethernet - good choice by them. On their Extreme6, ASrock included their "ASrock Cloud feature," which makes remote mobile connection and file browsing a bit easier.
Both of those motherboards support ASrock's Purity Sound 2, ensuring good audio quality despite it being integrated.
If priced aggressively, ASrock could become the primary choice for 2011 enthusiasts given the featureset of these boards. Still, as we have not heard any word on pricing and have heard little about X99, we cannot comment on the value of these motherboards right now. From how ASrock usually price their boards, I expect they will price these motherboards fairly competitively.
- Michael "The Bear" Kerns.