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ASRock Z87 Extreme6

Five Z87 Motherboards Under $220, Reviewed
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ASRock surprises Z87 Extreme6 buyers with dual network controllers and dual HDMI ports, in addition to DVI-I and DisplayPort. ASRock takes its network controllers upscale with Intel’s chipset-driven I217V PHY and PCIe-based I211AT parts, bringing with them Intel’s full set of management features and renowned response times.

The extra HDMI connector is neither an output nor a full-featured input, but instead a pass-through that can add a second device to a PC's single-port display. Though we liked this monitor-retasking feature in an all-in-one PC, its value on a motherboard that doesn’t have a dedicated display is less apparent.

Ten SATA ports that line the front panel are all SATA 6Gb/s-capable, including the four driven by a pair of PCIe x1 controllers. That interface limits those ports to 5.0 Gb/s per pair, and one of the ports must be left unoccupied to keep eSATA operational.

Placing four of the chipset’s USB 3.0 ports on the rear panel, ASRock adds a USB 3.0 hub to expand its front panel from single to twin dual-port headers. The four-port hub occupies only one of the chipset’s remaining two ports, so ASRock breaks the remaining port out as an internally-mounted external header. Think “USB drive on the motherboard”—with shades of first-generation ReadyBoost devices—but using the far-faster USB 3.0 interface. We have a few fast ones in mind that you'll see rounded-up in the next couple of days.

ASRock connects all three of its x16-length slots to the CPU’s PCIe 3.0 controller, dynamically changing between x16-x0-x0, x8-x8-x0, and x8-x4-x4 modes when cards are added. PCIe 3.0 mode offers twice the bandwidth of PCIe 2.0, circumventing our former criticism of four-lane graphics slots. The configuration also avoids the need to disable x1 slots or devices when adding a third card, though builders who prefer to put a slower device there might prefer not to share its bandwidth with graphics.

ASRock also dodges any complaint about blocked-off x1 slots beneath the main graphics card by instead putting a Mini PCIe slot there. Nearly any combination of graphics card and notebook-sized expansion card should fit simultaneously.

Power and reset buttons at the bottom-front corner assist bench testers like us, though these lose their usefulness once you button up your system's chassis. A dual-BIOS switch above those buttons makes it easy to get running after making a bad O/C setting, and the two ROMs above it are replaceable just in case you make a catastrophic mistake. A two-digit LED status display helps overclockers figure out which component they’ve pushed too far.

The engineers over at ASRock do a good job with this platform's layout, though a perfect design would require more space around the connectors. Caveats include a secondary USB 3.0 front-panel connector below the lowest graphics card slot that can’t be used when you have a graphics card installed, the internally-mounted external USB 3.0 port that likely suffers the same issue when installing long graphics cards, and a front-panel audio header that, by being located in the extreme bottom-rear corner, is unreachable by too-short cables that come with some cases. If you think that last problem is limited to old or cheap models, read all three parts of our recent 11-way case round-up.

The Z87 Extreme6 includes six SATA cables, an SLI bridge, and ASRock’s famous USB 3.0-to-3.5” bay adapter with integrated 2.5” SSD adapter tray.

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  • 0 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , June 4, 2013 2:09 AM
    Who did you get the CPU from? Given the Haswell launch article said they were unlikely to be able to hit 4.5GHz+, is this a cherry-picked chip from Intel?
    Could we see some MBs around the $130-$140 mark? They're the interesting ones IMO, and would toast most of these in terms of value.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , June 4, 2013 2:20 AM
    Quote:
    Who did you get the CPU from? Given the Haswell launch article said they were unlikely to be able to hit 4.5GHz+, is this a cherry-picked chip from Intel?
    Intel says it doesn't cherry-pick chips for reviewers...
  • 0 Hide
    Memnarchon , June 4, 2013 2:26 AM
    Thank you. I was looking forward for a review like this. I read some reviews and the o/c was varying from mobo to mobo lot. So if the same cpu was used, 4,3Ghz to 4,7Ghz is a lot of difference. Because if your cpu would o/c to 4,3Ghz most we would tell its a crap sample Haswell sucks on o/c etc etc, but if it was be able to clock to 4,7Ghz we would say its a nice sample.
  • 6 Hide
    cangelini , June 4, 2013 2:27 AM
    Quote:
    Who did you get the CPU from? Given the Haswell launch article said they were unlikely to be able to hit 4.5GHz+, is this a cherry-picked chip from Intel?
    Could we see some MBs around the $130-$140 mark? They're the interesting ones IMO, and would toast most of these in terms of value.

    Yes, the CPU comes from Intel. Almost certainly it was cherry-picked. But this is why we didn't rely on these CPUs for our launch coverage--it makes a lot more sense to go to a source with hundreds of boxed processors on the bench to get a real sense for what Haswell will do in the wild. At least for this round-up, the variable changing is the motherboard. So, we derive as much meaning as possible with a review sample that hits 4.7 GHz on one board and 4.5 GHz on another.
  • 0 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , June 4, 2013 2:38 AM
    Yeah - but if people think that their chip is going to hit 4.7 on a good board, then find they can't get 4.5, they can be upset.

    OTOH, the launch coverage said that was at 1.2V, while this is 1.3V, so I guess a few hundred MHz extra is reasonable.

    Lot more variation than on IB's review: http://media.bestofmicro.com/X/O/335580/original/image019.png
  • 0 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , June 4, 2013 2:46 AM
    Isn't there a flaw in the Z87 technology regarding sleep mode? Was it mentioned in the article? I didn't see it.
  • -1 Hide
    Jason Louie , June 4, 2013 2:46 AM
    do these board suffer from the rumoured usb3 sleep issue? or are they the fixed B3 steppings ?
  • 2 Hide
    Crashman , June 4, 2013 2:53 AM
    Quote:
    Isn't there a flaw in the Z87 technology regarding sleep mode? Was it mentioned in the article? I didn't see it.
    Did you read the Haswell review? All current boards are affected, no future boards will be, there's nothing to update here, and the flaw is virtually meaningless.
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/core-i7-4770k-haswell-review,3521-9.html

    If you have one of the affected drives and can't be bothered to reconnect it when it goes offline, wait a couple weeks and buy a board from the new batch.

    The differences between boards in today's review are overclocking, power consumption, and onboard features. None of those things will change with the new PCH batch, and firmware updates should improve both batches equally.



  • -3 Hide
    Jason Louie , June 4, 2013 3:36 AM
    do these board suffer from the rumoured usb3 sleep issue? or are they the fixed B3 steppings ?
  • -3 Hide
    sna , June 4, 2013 3:38 AM
    Hello,
    Can you guys please test 6 SSD in Raid 0 on these mobos ? this is the only Advantage of upgrading to a Haswell over ivy/sandy bridge.
  • 0 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , June 4, 2013 3:48 AM
    Quote:
    Hello,
    Can you guys please test 6 SSD in Raid 0 on these mobos ? this is the only Advantage of upgrading to a Haswell over ivy/sandy bridge.


    Haswell does have another pair of USB3.0 ports... I agree though, it's kind of disappointing.
  • 0 Hide
    Tedders , June 4, 2013 6:34 AM
    I bought the MSI board. The features looked good to me for what I wanted. I was really looking at the ASRock boards until I found that they only have a 1 year warranty.

    Edit: ASRock has a 3 year warranty as I see now. Still happy with my choice when looking around the interwebz and seeing how people seem to really like the MSI board.
  • 0 Hide
    vmem , June 4, 2013 8:47 AM
    ahh, the perfect review that I was looking for :) 
    now only 2 things left to do:
    1. wait a few months to wait for the C2-revision to proliforate so that I don't have weird USB3.0 annoyance
    2. wait for a review on the high-end: z87 delux, sniper, M-power max, ROG extreme etc. just to see whether it's worth the price difference (at least to me )

    UPDATE:
    well, was hoping for slightly more out of MSI's gaming board, but it seems it can't fully satisfy the overclocker in me. still a damn nice board though. all in all it looks like once again ASUS and ASrock come out as the top players for this range. looking forward to seeing if a ROG Extreme is what I ultimately need/want :D 
  • -8 Hide
    slomo4sho , June 4, 2013 9:41 AM
    Richland APUs were released and not a single article about it... Can you at least attempt to conceal the Intel bias on this site?
  • 2 Hide
    InvalidError , June 4, 2013 10:04 AM
    Quote:
    Can you guys please test 6 SSD in Raid 0 on these mobos ? this is the only Advantage of upgrading to a Haswell over ivy/sandy bridge.

    Since Haswell uses the same DMI2.0 bus between the CPU and chipset, total IO performance is capped to ~2GB/s... the equivalent of 4x USB3 ports or 3x SATA3 or one x4 PCIe 2.0 device.

    From what I read, the z77 and z87 chipsets are interchangeable - a motherboard manufacturer could pair z77 with Haswell or z87 with SB/IB if they wanted to. The main thing that prevented Intel from reusing LGA1155 is FIVR.
  • 1 Hide
    cangelini , June 4, 2013 10:32 AM
    Quote:
    Richland APUs were released and not a single article about it... Can you at least attempt to conceal the Intel bias on this site?

    This is simply not true. Desktop Richland has not yet launched. Desktop Richland drops into FM2, just like Trinity. So, when it does launch, we can revisit the FM2 market to see if there's a reason for another round-up. In the meantime here's a round-up of motherboards that'll support Richland: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/socket-fm2-motherboard-review,3337.html. Hope you enjoy!
    Chris
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , June 4, 2013 10:53 AM
    Quote:
    Hello,
    Can you guys please test 6 SSD in Raid 0 on these mobos ? this is the only Advantage of upgrading to a Haswell over ivy/sandy bridge.
    Check InvalidError's valid answer, this is also mentioned in the article. 6-way RAID 0 might be useful for HDD's (I'd go RAID 10), but SSD's will simply overwhelm the DMI.

    But most users (even in the enthusiast market) don't do that anyway. There are very few "storage enthusiasts" in the general "performance enthusiast" market. And for most of us, having more than two SATA 6Gb/s ports simply means our storage drives won't use up the SATA 6Gb/s port needed for our system drive.

    I'd still like to see our storage guy add this controller to his next big article :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , June 4, 2013 11:20 AM
    I agree with BigMack70; the new CPUs offer meaningless differences in actual use, but the motherboards certainly do, especially with their additional SATA 6Gb/s ports.
    It seems to me Asus teased something about a driver that would visually identify the location of sound sources on screen with [one of] their Z87 boards. Can you shed any light on this?
  • 0 Hide
    slomo4sho , June 4, 2013 11:26 AM
    Quote:

    This is simply not true. Desktop Richland has not yet launched. Desktop Richland drops into FM2, just like Trinity. So, when it does launch, we can revisit the FM2 market to see if there's a reason for another round-up. In the meantime here's a round-up of motherboards that'll support Richland: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/socket-fm2-motherboard-review,3337.html. Hope you enjoy!
    Chris


    I don't know who dropped the ball but the launch of Richland was today. It is available for sale on multiple retail sites including Newegg, Aria, and Microcenter.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , June 4, 2013 11:35 AM
    Quote:
    Richland APUs were released and not a single article about it... Can you at least attempt to conceal the Intel bias on this site?

    I didn't answer this earlier because I'm not a CPU editor. But since you're going on about bias, listen up: This was a motherboard review. Your comment has nothing to do with the topic, unless you can show me a new chipset upon which I can justify a roundup. Otherwise, the motherboard roundup you're requesting was published 8 months ago...http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/socket-fm2-motherboard-review,3337.html

    Now, if we can find a group of guys with a high interest in an FM2 update, that would create a market for the new motherboard article. Does anyone else want to chime in with their opinions on an FM2 update?
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