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Motherboard ASRock Z87 Extreme6 (LGA1150 Platform) Review

Intel Z87 platform is masterfully penetrating into all global markets. ASRock is the company that has already managed to introduce a set of products based on this platform, including Z87 Extreme6 model. The very board is supposed to be an advanced solution for enthusiasts, containing all necessary for specific usage attributes: POST-indicator, a powerful VRM system with a massive heatsink, and a lot of other facilities mentioned below.

Design and Layout

ASRock Z87 Extreme6 is designed in ATX form-factor with 305x244 mm dimensions. Its top side accommodates a large number of components, while the reverse side revels in three driver-doublers (ISL6611A) of CPU power rails only. Intel Z87 chipset is cooled down by a voluminous heatsink. A couple of additional ASM1061 controllers are soldered right to the system logics; they allow for the usage of up to ten devices with SATA 6 Gb/sec connectivity interface. The board comes with an integrated Intel HD Graphics 4600 graphics core. USB 3.0 plugs have got an unusual localization: the first plug is located at the utmost-right part of the board, while the second one – at the bottom part.

The bottom-right corner boasts the availability of all components that directly interact with the board. Here one may find Power/Reset buttons, POST-indicator, which flashes on only during POST stage, USB socket of A type that backs USB Key technology, and a couple of independent EEPROM chips that contain a microcode with UEFI settings. The user is able to switch between these chips.

This motherboard model provides for the integration of 32 GB DDR3 memory that supports 1066-2933 (OC) MHz modules. Expansion slots configuration is typical for such type of products: one PCIe 2.0 x1, one mini-PCIe, three PCIe 3.0 x16, and two PCI slots. The layout also contains MOLEX socket that is used as a supplementary power source for PCIe devices. CPU power supply system counts twelve phases.

To continue, the localization of CPU cooler slots is probably the mere point for admonition. One three-contact and one four-contact slots are so closely set to the CPU socket that the user might find it difficult to install the cooler. Audio subsystem deserves an increased focus. It is based on Realtek ALC1150 controller and a pair of Texas Instruments NE5532 operating amplifiers, all covered by a screen shield. Network facilities are represented by two gigabit Ethernet ports, monitored by Intel I217V and Intel I211AT controllers.

VRM system is supervised by ISL6379 PWM-controller; it is accompanied by six ISL6611A driver-doublers (three drivers at each side of the board). Power elements are introduced by Dual-Stack transistors with a reduced resistance of the open channel. All of them are covered by a couple of heatsinks, which are interconnected by a heat pipe. Their dispersal area and heat capacity deserve a positive appraisal. The rear panel houses two HDMI sockets, one of which operates within A-Style concept. There are also DVI-I and DisplayPort video interfaces.

Delivery Kit

The nominal delivery kit of ASRock Z87 Extreme6 contains a variety of components that prove to be useful for PC enthusiasts. Here one will find a multilingual user’s guide, an UEFI guide, CD with software and drivers, a plug for the case, a dedicated bridge for the organization of SLI configurations with two graphics adapters, six SATA 6 Gb/sec cables (three of which have got L-like socket on one of the tips), a screw for the fixture of mini-PCIe devices, and a special kit for the USB 3.0 slots outside the chassis with the possibility of SSD (2.5-inch format) installation.

UEFI Facilities

UEFI features a traditional ‘cosmic’ design with a traditional arrangement of menu elements. The update of firmware might be realized via an onboard Internet Flash mechanism. UEFI boasts a number of sections with a lump of settings.

Advanced section is divided into three subsections: CPU Configuration, Chipset Configuration and Storage Configuration. The first one provides for the setup of active cores, for the switching of thermal throttling, and for the selection of power-saving modes. The second one provides for chipset, as well as northern bridge, settings. And the third one allows the user to switch the working mode to IDE.

Tool section. This section contains System Browser tool that is able to recognize various devices, including SATA connected ones. H/W Monitor tool allows for the monitoring over all key voltages and for the control of fan operation. Boot section houses Fast Boot mode that is initially disabled, while Compatibility Support Module is enabled. Security section allows activating all available security keys.

Finally, ASRock has taken care of entry-level enthusiasts by supplying them with a few system settings profiles, concentrated in Optimized CPU OC Settings block. Hence, the user is able to adjust CPU Ratio, CPU Cache Ratio, CPU multiplier, DRAM settings, and OC Tweaker Voltage settings.
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  • 18 July 2013, 18:35
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