Taking an overall look at the ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac motherboard, the first thing that strikes my eye is the lovely metallic finish on the heat sinks; it has been a while since I have seen blue heat sinks on a motherboard look so good! The other thing that is noticeable is the form factor (M-ITX), this literally means that this motherboard is designed for small cases or for those wishing to build small form factor PCs/HTPCs etc.
With the ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac being of the M-ITX form factor, this of course means there are only 2 x DIMM slots for your DDR3 memory. The motherboard itself supports memory speeds up to 3200 (when overclocked) meaning that this small board packs an almighty punch, especially for enthusiasts looking to make the most out of the performance available.
The motherboard comes equipped with 6 x SATA3 ports, 1 x SATA Express port and 1 x M2 PCI-E port for all your storage needs. The 6 x SATA 3 ports also support RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 configurations which is nice to see on such a small motherboard; good job ASRock.
Here we have the 4+2 power phase delivery caps that not only regulate power between the CPU/PSU, but it ensures that the power is delivered in a smooth and accurate fashion. Just above the power phases is the MOSFET heat sink which I mentioned earlier, has a nice metallic blue finish. Next to this is the 8pin 12v CPU power in, which delivers direct power to the CPU socket area from the power supply.
One thing with a lot of M-ITX motherboards is the BIOS battery placement. On the ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac motherboard, it is situated just to the right of the 2 x DIMM slots in the top right hand corner of the motherboard. This is out of the way and I actually think it is placed pretty smartly.
On the rear I/O of the motherboard, we have the following ports/connections:
4 x USB 3.0
2 x USB 2.0
1 x DisplayPort
1 x PS2 (keyboard + mouse) port
1 x DVI
1 x HDMI
1 x S/PDIF optical port
1 x CMOS reset button
1 x RJ45 Ethernet port
2 x Wi-Fi (ac) antenna ports
5 x 3.5mm audio jacks (7.1 audio)
This particular motherboard has a pretty wide range of ports available and in my opinion, every base is covered here; some might argue that there aren’t enough USB ports but I feel given that it is M-ITX, ASRock can be forgiven.