ASRock shows off four X79 motherboards

Hear that rumbling in the distance? That’s the sound of Intel’s upcoming Sandy Bridge-E processor, whose impending arrival has motherboard makers eager to show off their X79 wares. In the wee hours of this morning, an email hit my inbox with a stack of pictures detailing ASRock’s upcoming X79 mobos. We don’t have a list of specficiations or features to go along with the gallery, but we do have some high-res shots of no fewer than four different models. Let’s start with the X79 Extreme9, which looks to be the most exotic of the quartet:

This puppy has eight DIMM slots and five PCI Express x16 slots, although the spacing of the x16s won’t allow four double-wide graphics cards to be placed side by side. ASRock includes dual auxiliary 12V power connectors on the board, which packs an even dozen Serial ATA ports. Audio and at least some of the Extreme’s network connectivity is farmed out to a PCI Express x1 expansion card that appears to be powered by Creative’s new Core3D audio chip.

The Extreme9’s unique black-and-bling color scheme is consistent up and down ASRock’s X79 line. The capacitors look like little gold teeth protruding from the board.

ASRock ditches the add-in card and two DIMM slots on the Extreme7, which adds some old-school PCI connectivity to its five PCIe x16 slots. The board real estate freed up by removing a pair of DIMM slots leaves room for more extensive VRM cooling on this model. The cooler perched atop the chipset remains unchanged, however. We see the same heatsink pictured on all the boards, and I’m not crazy about the fact it includes a tiny fan. Ugh.

If you’re in the market for something less, er, extreme, the Extreme4 drops the number of DIMM slots to four and serves up only three PCIe x16 slots. At least the x16s are spaced to allow three-way double-wide configs. With seven slots in total, the Extreme4 actually has more expansion capacity than the other boards.

As one might expect, things like USB 3.0, FireWire, and external Serial ATA connectivity are standard on all the boards. Each model also gets a two-digit POST code display and a CMOS reset button in the rear cluster.

Want to cram Sandy Bridge-E into a microATX chassis? The Extreme4 M lops a couple of inches off the bottom of the standard Extreme4, losing expansion slots in the process. The micro board can still accommodate dual-double-wide graphics cards, and its four DIMM slots should hit all of SB-E’s available memory channels.

I’d love to be able to tell you when these boards will be available and how much they’ll cost, but that will have to wait for the X79’s official unveiling. In the meantime, you can hit the image gallery below for higher-resolution shots of ASRock’s incoming Sandy Bridge-E mobos.

Comments closed
    • LoneWolf15
    • 8 years ago

    Asrock’s engineering and design as of late has been top-notch.

    Unfortunately, their UEFI BIOS has been a little glitchy, and their US support department is sorely lacking. I sent my Z68 Extreme 4 Gen3 back on RMA, not because the board was defective in hardware, but because my problems (couldn’t recognize a PCIe card tested in three other mainboards far enough to install drivers despite trying multiple slots, onboard floppy controller was bootable but non-functioning in Windows) resulted in a flat “return the board” from Asrock from two different techs without the slightest attempt to help me troubleshoot or document a possible glitch. It could probably have been fixed with some BIOS work, but I couldn’t even get an indicator that they had passed my concerns on to engineering, or that there might be a fix on the way, and I was at the end of my return period. I got the distinct impression that the support techs wanted me off their ticket list ASAP, whether my issue was resolved or not.

    Their boards look great, and they’re getting the features that people want, and pricing them competitively. I hope they can do what needs to be done to ensure their BIOS engineering and their customer support matches what appear to be very promising products.

    • Bensam123
    • 8 years ago

    And there is Creative… I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of them in the motherboard segment, probably integrated as well. It’s quite sad that Creative isn’t going to tackle a EAX scheme anymore, it will be missed.

    • Chrispy_
    • 8 years ago

    I have to admit, I like the all-black colourscheme, but there’s a problem with that:

    In all likelihood, this will go into a case without a window.
    Most of those few that go into a case with a window, will then get buried under a desk
    The remainder that aren’t buried under a desk will be on display at LAN parties and exhibitions for minisule fractions of their useful lives.

    Out of the people who see those few that motherboards that make it into that infinitessimally small category, 95% of them won’t care, 3.9% of them will wonder why the heatsinks are covered up. 1% of them will laugh at the pathetic cooling system which mandates A FAN on a high end board in this era of silence and elaborate heatpipes.

    Oh, and the remaining 0.1% of the people who see this insignificantly miniscule fraction of the Asrock X79 boards that might end up in a computer on display will have a [i<]nerdgasm[/i<] and initiate a display of nerdiness with the owner on a level that even I, as a certified geek/nerd and enthusiast, would find awkward 😛

    • Shark
    • 8 years ago

    PS/2 ports? Really?

      • ereetos
      • 8 years ago

      i love ps2 ports and i’ll never give up my IBM Model M keyboard 🙂

      • rechicero
      • 8 years ago

      Without PS/2 ports i wouldn’t be able to activate some of the most awesome features of the Microsoft Office Keyboard (like the scroll wheel) through macro programming. And there is zero alternatives for this awesome keyboard. So many multimedia crap, but this is the last and only keyboard thought for working. Of course, Microsoft won’t release drivers for this keyboard.

      • UberGerbil
      • 8 years ago

      Yes, really. I was just shopping for a motherboard and everything without a PS/2 port was immediately rejected from further consideration.

      • Krogoth
      • 8 years ago

      You mad bro?

      This is a workstation/server board. It will end-up in places were it will have to interface with devices that only use PS/2 or stuff that is even older.

        • Bensam123
        • 8 years ago

        I really can’t tell if that is sarcasm or you genuinely think this is meant for rackmount servers.

      • Bensam123
      • 8 years ago

      I agree as well. They don’t have a place on motherboards anymore. There is just a ultra tiny heavily entrenched group supports sporting them on the backplane still, as you can see based on the comments on here.

      • SomeOtherGeek
      • 8 years ago

      Yes, really! A hundred years from now, it will still be there, so live with it!

    • Duck
    • 8 years ago

    Taiwanese logic: Install VRM heatsinks. Cover them up.

      • Farting Bob
      • 8 years ago

      What i dont understand is the fan over the south bridge. They havent needed a fan for probably a decade, i doubt many people will be overvolting their southbridge, so why does it suddenly need a tiny, whiny fan on top?

        • Duck
        • 8 years ago

        To keep it cool enough. Those things are going to get hot.

          • dragosmp
          • 8 years ago

          Besides, if the fan is below some 1500RPM it can be quiet enough.

            • SomeOtherGeek
            • 8 years ago

            Until it starts wearing out. I’m deaf and I can hear them things dying!

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      But the covers look sooo cool! (no pun intended)

    • phez
    • 8 years ago

    4 memory channels + 6 dimm slots = ???

      • Waco
      • 8 years ago

      == slow access to one of the channels and not the other AFAIK.

      • Duck
      • 8 years ago

      Just imagine putting 6 dimms in a board with 8 slots. Or 3 dimms in Core i3 system. I expect it’s like that.

      • cmircea
      • 8 years ago

      Triple channel. 2011 will do single, dual, triple or quad channel, depending on the number of DIMMs installed.

      • dragosmp
      • 8 years ago

      Some boards can run in 2 modes: if only 4 out of 6 mem channels are populated they use Quad channel, if all 6 are taken they run 2x triple channel.

      • JMccovery
      • 8 years ago

      Two channels have 1 DIMM each the other two channels have 2 DIMMs each…

    • StuG
    • 8 years ago

    Why oh why put a fan on the southbridge? Not only will it be covered up by a graphics card which will make it run fast and die young, but it will get clogged with dust and die. Why not give me an over elaborate heat pipe scheme?

      • Arclight
      • 8 years ago

      That was my reaction too…..what could be so hot under that heat sink?

        • cmircea
        • 8 years ago

        The 30W or so northbridge, of course! This is 2011, not 1155!

          • StuG
          • 8 years ago

          Considering there are models that have passive cooling in this area, I still just don’t get it. I also think you mean southbridge right? ;D

            • crabjokeman
            • 8 years ago

            The NB and SB are combined on X79 into something called a PCH: [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platform_Controller_Hub[/url<] (just like the nvidia MCH on the nFurnace4 chips, which also ran hot and spawned a lot of mobos with fans.) Some models have passive cooling, but it seems mobo manufacturers would rather overdo cooling (and sell it as a cool "overclockability" feature).

      • Jambe
      • 8 years ago

      I can imagine the screeching whir now.

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