Friday, April 25th 2014

ASRock 9-series Motherboard Lineup Detailed

With leading motherboard manufacturers ready with their socket LGA1150 motherboards based on Intel's upcoming Zx7 Express chipset, ASRock joined in to unveil its offerings. ASRock's lineup includes five models based on the chipset. The most affordable of the lot will be the Zx7-Extreme4. This board offers an impressive 12-phase CPU VRM, two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots (x8/x8 when both are populated), one PCI-Express 2.0 x16 (electrical x4), and three PCI-Express 2.0 x1. Its storage connectivity includes eight SATA 6 Gb/s ports, from which two can mod into a SATA-Express connection with the conveniently placed SATA-E driver port; and one M.2 slot. Other features include Intel-made gigabit Ethernet, ASRock Purity sound with audio-grade capacitors and ground-layer isolation, and dual-UEFI BIOS. To not step on Gigabyte-held patents, ASRock's dual-BIOS implementation isn't automated, and you have to manually toggle between the two EEPROMs using a 2-way switch.

Next up, is the Zx7-E ITX. This little bad-boy will be one of the most feature-rich mini-ITX motherboards. Its feature-set includes a 6-phase CPU VRM, two DDR3 DIMM slots, a single PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot, storage connectivity that includes six SATA 6 Gb/s, from which two mod-out to a SATA-Express port; six USB 3.0 ports, Intel-made gigabit Ethernet NIC, 8-channel HD audio with audio-grade capacitors, 802.11 ac + Bluetooth 4.0 WLAN, and display connectors that include one dual-link DVI, two HDMI, and one DisplayPort.
A notch above that, is the Zx7-Fatal1ty Killer. Geared for the crowd that thinks motherboards without a black and red color scheme can't play games, this board adds a few gamer-friendly features. To begin with, the LGA1150 socket is powered by a 10-phase VRM. It's wired to four DDR3 DIMM slots, and two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots (electrical x8/x8 when both are populated). Other expansion slots include two PCI-Express 2.0 x1, and two legacy PCI slots. ASRock's explanation for giving this board legacy PCI is that 10-year old PCI sound cards are still relevant today, because their output quality is still as good as it gets, even if their DSP features have become irrelevant. Storage connectivity that includes six SATA 6 Gb/s, from which two mod-out to a SATA-Express port; and an M.2, implemented in the same "superior" way as the rest of ASRock's lineup. You get the same 8-channel Purity audio as the Zx7-Extreme4, but the wired networking is care of a Killer E2200 NIC. Display connectivity includes dual-link DVI, D-Sub, and HDMI. Six USB 3.0 ports, and dual-UEFI BIOS make for the rest of it.
Moving on, the Zx7-Extreme6 is ASRock's most feature-rich offering in this lot. It features the same 12-phase CPU VRM as the Zx7-Extreme4, but the CPU is wired to three PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots, (electrical x16/NC/NC or x8/x8/NC or x8/x4/x4). Storage connectivity includes ten SATA 6 Gb/s ports, from which two mod out to give a SATA-Express port; and two M.2 slots, one of which is what ASRock likes to call Ultra M.2 which is basically electrical x4 PCIe, and wired to the CPU's PCIe root complex, rather than that of the PCH. For existing M.2 SSDs it should mean lower latencies, but it should also make the board ready for future M.2 specification that's physical-layer PCIe 2.0 x4. There's also an eSATA 6 Gb/s. Display outputs include dual-link DVI, DisplayPort, and HDMI. Other features include two gigabit Ethernet ports, both driven by Intel-made controllers, 8-channel Purity 2 audio, and of course, dual-UEFI BIOS.
The other high-end board from ASRock is geared toward professional/competitive overclockers, the Zx7 OC Formula. This board features a strong CPU VRM, which draws power from not one, but two 8-pin EPS connectors apart from the 24-pin ATX, conditioning it over 12 phases, with high-grade components. To stabilize add-on card power planes, this board also draws power optionally from a 4-pin Molex. The four DDR3 DIMM slots are powered by a 4-phase memory VRM. Voltage measurement points are given out for nearly all power domains that matter to overclockers. Storage connectivity is identical to that of the Zx7-Extreme4. The expansion area includes four PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots, from which we expect three to be wired out to the CPU, in the same manner as the Zx7-Extreme6, with the fourth slot being electrical x4, and wired to the PCH. Its only display output is an HDMI. Killer E2200 NIC, and Purity 2 audio make for the rest of its connectivity.
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21 Comments on ASRock 9-series Motherboard Lineup Detailed

#1
buildzoid
What is it with motherboard manufacturers and gold. Seriously give us a white mother board or just blocks of aluminium.
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#2
Villodre
I'm mildly curious as to why are the model numbers on the heatsinks edited out.
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#3
birdie
I'm firmly curious as to why Intel used a new naming for these barely new chipsets.

Z97 (H97) according to already known information is barely different than Z87 (H87).

It should have been called Z87a or even had the same monicker.
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#4
Dj-ElectriC
I'm sorry but these motherboards look friggin beautiful. Really diggin the design.
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#5
brunello
by: Villodre
I'm mildly curious as to why are the model numbers on the heatsinks edited out.
because these chipsets are not officially released yet
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#7
Debat0r
by: buildzoid
What is it with motherboard manufacturers and gold. Seriously give us a white mother board or just blocks of aluminium.
Although I agree with your point, it's yellow. And yellow can be badass, unlike gold.
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#8
mr2009
will it be waterproof?
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#9
Tartaros
Just offtopic, but is it my impression or did asrock switch the color patterns in ther mobos to the asus ones and viceversa?
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#10
Assimilator
by: Tartaros
Just offtopic, but is it my impression or did asrock switch the color patterns in ther mobos to the asus ones and viceversa?
Asus had the PCI/e slots in cyan/white, I prefer Asrock's use of black. The DIMM slots on the cyan boards should have grey latches IMO, and the cyan memory slots should be the same colour as the heatsinks.

If only Asrock would stop using Molex connectors for supplemental power! :(
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#11
MxPhenom 216
Corsair Fanboy
Not digging the look of these boards at all. The ones with the blue look like recent intel boards.
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#12
Jizzler
Good stuff. Hope their second wave includes an ITX that drops the WiFi/mPCIe and gains an M.2 slot.
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#13
cadaveca
My name is Dave
by: Jizzler
Good stuff. Hope their second wave includes an ITX that drops the WiFi/mPCIe and gains an M.2 slot.
Uh...I think you missed something...
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#14
Jizzler
by: cadaveca
Uh...I think you missed something...
It's not in the description and I looked at the photos for a connector? (all the other boards have at least one)

If you were talking about using an existing mPCIe SSD, I could, but all the half-height ones are small capacity.
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#15
evaseeker
by: Jizzler
It's not in the description and I looked at the photos for a connector? (all the other boards have at least one)

If you were talking about using an existing mPCIe SSD, I could, but all the half-height ones are small capacity.
it is missing from these board photos, look it up in other sites, you will see that it does have a m.2 at the back of the board also it does say m.2 in the itx Box:cool:
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#16
Static~Charge
by: birdie
I'm firmly curious as to why Intel used a new naming for these barely new chipsets.

Z97 (H97) according to already known information is barely different than Z87 (H87).

It should have been called Z87a or even had the same monicker.
Because the Z87 chipset doesn't support the upcoming Devil's Canyon processors. New CPU (sort of), new chipset (sort of).
Posted on Reply
#17
TheHunter
by: Static~Charge
Because the Z87 chipset doesn't support the upcoming Devil's Canyon processors. New CPU (sort of), new chipset (sort of).
Not really, Z97 is here many because of new sata express, tunderbolt and boot guard by all Z chipsets. The rest is the same like by Z87.

btw Z87 only needs a bios firmware update and its DC 4790k compatible

in Asrock's case
http://www.techpowerup.com/forums/threads/asrock-8-series-motherboards-support-new-4th-generation-intel-processors.199062/
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#18
Hood
Devil's Canyon better be one hell of a CPU if it's going to help sell these boards. The new board features are nice (SATA Express, M.2 socket), but if they don't really feel any faster to the user, why would anyone upgrade? Like all the latest chipsets, this one's incremental as hell. I can't believe a simple TIM change will alter the Haswell heat problem very much, so this is likely another marketing ploy, to try to keep the industry alive until something a bit more exciting comes along. I doubt it will make Ivy or even Sandy systems feel outdated enough to upgrade, and those needing new systems would be better served by waiting for Broadwell. I'll wait for reviews to confirm this, though - Intel may still surprise us...
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#19
NightHawk7870
Z97 killer Fatality looks the best out of all the boards. OC formula has too much yellow imo.
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#20
Jizzler
by: Hood
Devil's Canyon better be one hell of a CPU if it's going to help sell these boards. The new board features are nice (SATA Express, M.2 socket), but if they don't really feel any faster to the user, why would anyone upgrade? Like all the latest chipsets, this one's incremental as hell. I can't believe a simple TIM change will alter the Haswell heat problem very much, so this is likely another marketing ploy, to try to keep the industry alive until something a bit more exciting comes along. I doubt it will make Ivy or even Sandy systems feel outdated enough to upgrade, and those needing new systems would be better served by waiting for Broadwell. I'll wait for reviews to confirm this, though - Intel may still surprise us...
A surprise would be nice because support for SATAe/M.2 isn't all or nothing; there are already laptops and a couple desktop boards with these ports already (990FX, Z87). My guess is the support will be that PCIe storage devices will be recognized by RST (RAID member and RAID cache). A nice feature for some, but otherwise it's just like you said -- a positioned incremental update. Intel wants to snipe people like me who can upgrade to FX 8320/8350 or are already at that point.
Posted on Reply
#21
Hood
by: Jizzler
A surprise would be nice because support for SATAe/M.2 isn't all or nothing; there are already laptops and a couple desktop boards with these ports already (990FX, Z87). My guess is the support will be that PCIe storage devices will be recognized by RST (RAID member and RAID cache). A nice feature for some, but otherwise it's just like you said -- a positioned incremental update. Intel wants to snipe people like me who can upgrade to FX 8320/8350 or are already at that point.
At least we'll have lots of new hardware to read about while waiting for a worthwhile platform, and deciding to skip Haswell/Haswell Refresh altogether should be no problem. However, Intel has committed to appeasing the desktop enthusiast in the future, so the situation should improve by the time our rigs are feeling outdated, and AMD will hopefully have something competitive by then.
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