Tuesday, June 4th 2013
Premium socket LGA1150 motherboards shipping with Thunderbolt connectivity hardly surprise us, yet ASRock managed to do so, with a nifty little addition to its functionality. The company's Thunderbolt-equipped motherboards, namely Z87-Extreme4 TB4, Z87-Extreme9/ac and Z87-Extreme11/ac, feature a full-size DisplayPort input in addition to two Thunderbolt ports that each double up as mini-DisplayPort outputs wired to the processor's integrated graphics. This allows you to install a discrete graphics card of your choice, wire its DisplayPort output to the board's input, and get its digital display output relayed through the Thunderbolt ports, using which you can daisy-chain your high-resolution display with other high-bandwidth devices. On its specs sheets, ASRock is dubbing this implementation as an "experimental feature," and isn't making a song-and-dance about it. In any case, it sure gives ASRock a sharp edge over Thunderbolt-equipped motherboards from other brands, and in our opinion, is the best implementation of Thunderbolt to date.