ASRock gets wacky with an X99 Mini-ITX mobo


— 6:00 AM on March 16, 2015

Intel's Haswell-E processor and its associated X99 chipset include everything (and the kitchen sink). As a result, X99 motherboards are usually ATX or E-ATX affairs packed to the gills with I/O ports, RAM slots, and expansion slots. It's a bit of a surprise, then, that ASRock is bringing Haswell-E to the Mini-ITX form factor with the X99E-ITX/ac. AnandTech reports that ASRock will announce the board at the upcoming CeBIT conference.

Due to Mini-ITX's limited real estate, ASRock forgoes a lot of the goodies available on full-sized X99 boards. Memory is limited to a pair of RAM slots in a dual-channel configuration, effectively leaving half of Haswell-E's quad-channel memory controller on the table. Despite the CPU's copious PCIe payload, expansion cards are limited to a single x16 slot. The board doesn't appear to tap into all of the chipset's I/O ports, either. Given the expense of Haswell-E CPUs, missing out on most of what makes the platform special seems like something of a waste.

Another potential issue is that the X99E-ITX/ac uses the narrow ILM version of the LGA 2011 socket, which isn't supported by typical aftermarket coolers. ASRock appears to include a tiny blower-style cooler, but server-style coolers like the one shown usually prioritize airflow over noise levels. Smaller Mini-ITX cases also aren't well-suited to Haswell-E's 140W TDP.

Details such as pricing and a release date haven't been announced, but ASRock is expected to share more information about the X99E-ITX/ac this week. We'll keep our ears open for more info.

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