[section_title title=”Introduction & Closer Look”]
Introduction & Closer Look
In the world of motherboards, no company has made a bigger impact over the last decade than ASRock have. Established in 2002, they primarily specialise in motherboards but have dabbled in the art of mini PC’s although not anywhere near as successful or popular as their range of motherboards. From an extreme range which caters to everything to their gaming range which is endorsed by Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel, there is something in the range to appeal to your tastes; this includes overclocking with their popular OC series.
Considered the 3rd largest motherboard brand in the world and only forming 13 years ago, it shows the innovation and quality ASRock put into their products and I won’t hold nothing back in the fact I have been impressed with ASRock as a company and a brand; their products have had something unique to offer the market which adds to their appeal! Red and black, Yellow and black, blue and black, ASRock have boards to give your system a unique colour boost and with boards available on every AMD/Intel socket on the current market, let there be choice!
So on the menu for today is a nice plate of X99 which if you didn’t already know, is Intel’s socket LGA2011v3 socket. Yes today on the test bench is the ASRock X99 Extreme6/ac which puts emphasis on the mid-range with overclocking features, plenty of extra functions such as the ASRock cloud, features a Thunderbolt 2 ready port and comes with built-in Wi-Fi; this is in the shape of a dual band 802.11ac card with inclusive 2.4/5GHz support antennas. Not heard enough yet? Well let’s take a look at the board itself and show you what the ASRock X99 Extreme6/ac is packing….
Speaking of packing, the ASRock X99 Extreme6/ac comes in a relatively simply designed box with black as the predominant colour; this is complimented with gold faded trim and accents. The box contains plenty of information, especially on the back regarding some of the features including one which cannot be ignored which is the Super Alloy as ASRock like to call it. This essentially equates to having a larger surface heat sink to help dissipate heat and the use of super premium 60A power chokes in rebuttal of lesser quality 20A chokes; not complicated, basically the components are better than cheaper brands boards!
ASRock have included a super bundle of accessories with the Extreme6/ac which contains things like SATA cables, instruction manuals, and the Wi-Fi equipment to enable the ac, the ever present I/O shield and screws for securing mPCIe/M.2 compatible devices in place. Add in the complimentary SLI bridges for 2-3 way SLI and the jobs a good-un!
Taking a look at the board as a whole, it is nice to see ASRock keeping their Extreme range to a nice subtle blue and black colour scheme; red and black is ok, but EVERY brand seems to be following it religiously so a break from the norm is a nice one. That being said, the ASRock X99 Extreme6/ac has been equipped with the ability to run 3 way SLI and up to quad fire (AMD Crossfire with 4 cards); this shows what a feature packed board this is, especially for a sub £200 board, kind of like the MSI X99S Gaming 7 which I reviewed previously.
The X99 platform supports Intel Core i7 and Xeon processors of the socket LGA 2011-3 variety; this includes the 5820k, 5930k and the CPU featured in today’s review, the 5960x. With large surfaced heat sinks covering the MOSFETs and Southbridge, the Extreme6/ac should have plenty of grunt for our testing procedures and given that this board features a digital power design, I am expecting good things!
With 8 x DIMM slots suitable for DDR4 memory, the ASRock Extreme6/ac supports up to 128GB in total and features support for regular consumer non-ECC memory and ECC un-buffered memory when used in conjunction with a compatible Xeon CPU. The board requires 1 x 8pin 12v CPU power cable to power up the CPU socket area with the usual 24pin ATX motherboard power leaded required to power the majority of the board; nothing new here!
Equipped with 10 SATA3 6GB/s ports, there is masses of potential storage space is provided thanks to ASRock and with 1 x eSATA connector and 1 x Ultra M.2 socket featured on this board, there is plenty of storage options to suit everybody. These SATA ports support RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 with Intel Rapid Storage 13; plenty of ports on a sub £250 board, even if it is an enthusiast platform.
Providing the power to the board and accompanied by a digital phase design, the Extreme6/ac utilises a 12 power phase design with the board using Nichicon 12k platinum capacitors designed to provide optimal performance and untouchable reliability.
In terms of connections and ports available, the ASRock X99 Extreme6/ac features the following ports:
2 x USB 2.0 ports (further 4 supported via front panel connectors)
6 x USB 3.0 ports (further 4 supported via front panel connectors)
1 x PS/2 port (for keyboard or mouse)
1 x eSATA port
2 x RJ-45 LAN ports with LED’s
1 x Clear CMOS switch
HD audio jacks which include rear speaker, central, bass, line in, front speaker and microphone
1 x Optical SPDIF out port
It is worth noting that the rear USB 3.0 ports are separated by 2 x ASMedia controllers, 4 run on the ASM1074 hub and the remaining 2 run on the ASM1042 hub; both still feature ESD protection and neither sacrifice on the USB 3.0 connection quality.
Let’s take a look at the full specifications of the Extreme6/ac and then a look at some of the features ASRock have equipped it with…