ASRock M8 barebones rig marries Mini-ITX mobo with discrete desktop graphics

ASRock is best known for motherboards, but the firm also makes small-form-factor systems, including a new barebones gaming rig built with cooperation from BMW DesignworksUSA. The M8 assumes the name of an older BMW supercar prototype, but it's a decidedly different beast.

The M8's chassis is relatively compact, measuring 14.6" x 15.7" x 4.8". I dig the overall design, which is definitely more restrained than the BMW-designed Thermaltake Level 10 chassis we reviewed a while back. There are some nice little touches, too, such magnetic side panels and convenient carrying handles. Front-panel connectivity includes analog audio jacks, four USB 3.0 ports, and a memory card reader.

A novel A-Command OLED display sits at the center of the front panel. This display and its accompanying control knob can be used to adjust the system's volume, LEDs, and operating mode. Users can also view system stats like CPU and network utilization.

Internally, the M8 features a Z87-based Mini-ITX motherboard of ASRock's own design. The board has a Haswell-compatible socket, dual SO-DIMM slots, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Creative Core3D integrated audio. It also sports a PCI Express x16 slot that can accept dual-slot graphics cards up to 11.4" long. There's room for a reasonable amount of storage, too.

The system is powered by an included SFX PSU rated for 450W. On top of that, ASrock throws in a slim optical drive and four 70-mm fans. A CPU cooler doesn't appear to be included, though. Given the case's dimensions, you're going to need a low-profile heatsink.

ASRock's press release doesn't quote a price for the M8, but the system will be available "very soon." This thing could make a nice foundation for a small-form-factor gaming box—and maybe even a Steam machine.

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