Over the past several years, I've had the joy of playing with a few different pre-built systems from ASRock, most of which used a variety of high-end laptop-oriented parts. That part choice is one of those limiting expansion possibilities, though it also provides some fantastic power consumptions numbers; a worthy trade-off. However, as a gamer who is looking to upgrade continually in order to meet the needs of gaming titles as they are released, such systems are not exactly ideal. So how do we get the same sort of capability in a small form factor and with pre-tested and hand-picked parts that are known to work well together without sacrificing superb upgradability? ASRock's M8 barebones is the answer.
Featuring a sleek look and a host of features sure to appeal to the varying needs of today's gamer, the ASRock M8 barebones comes ready to fit most graphics cards, including such high-end cards as NVidia's GTX980 or AMD's R9 290X because of its surprisingly powerful 600W mini-PSU inside. Support for NVidia's TITAN GPUs, too? You bet. An Intel I7-4790K got your fancy or maybe that ultra-affordable Pentium G3258? Or maybe a XEON-based chip? Yes, you can use all of those as well. The huge possibilities provided for the installation of such parts is only limited by the fact that you're stuck with laptop SO-DIMM memory sticks. But don't let that dissuade you. Let me show you why...
ASROCK Z97 M8 Barebones
5th Generation Intel Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron Processors; New 4th and 4th Generation Intel Xeon/Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron
DDR3 1600/1333/1066 MHz, 2 x SO-DIMM, up to 16GB
7.1 HD audio with Creative Sound Core3D
Intel Gigabit LAN & 2T2R WiFi 802.11 ac + BT v4.0
Supports 3.5"HDD and 2.5" HDD/SSD
8 x USB 3.0 (4 front, 4 rear), 4 x USB2.0, 1 x eSATA2, 4 x USB 3.0, 1 x MIC, 1 x Headphone, 4-in-1 Card reader (SD3.0 / MMC / MS / MS PRO)