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ASRock Brings USB 3.1, Type-C Connector To X99, Z97 Extreme6 Motherboards

ASRock announced the launch of new motherboards that feature the USB 3.1 standard, with Type-A and Type-C connectors.

We've discussed the USB 3.1 standard and its associated Type-C connector before, and we've also looked at USB 3.1 performance.

The benefits of the Type-C connector are fairly obvious with the advantage that it is smaller, and also that the plug fits in either orientation, up or down. The advantage of USB 3.1 is a boost in speed, with some other changes, including power management and wider range of uses.

The new Type-C connector and USB 3.1 standard have already been finalized, and now OEMs are beginning to implement them. Although the standard has only recently been released, and as such widespread adoption is a ways off, ASRock is rushing to release the first motherboard in the world to feature both. While MSI's X99A Gaming 9 ACK got the USB 3.1 standard first, it did so using the older Type-A connector.

The new Type-C connector is really a revolutionary change in USB technology. Demand for smaller devices will make adoption of this smaller connector crucial in the future. The smaller Type-C connector will spread in usage until it eventually becomes the dominant USB standard in use, and appearing on desktop motherboards is the first step.

Those who purchase ASRock's X99 Extreme6/3.1 will get a single Type-C connector with USB 3.1 performance. The demands for real estate on motherboards is high, and the cost of hardware for the new standard is likely quite expensive at this time. The Z97 Extreme6/3.1 technically doesn't have any Type-C connectors on the motherboard, but it will have a 3.1 expansion card featuring a Type-C connector.

To help get around these limitations, ASRock is including a USB controller card with both products. The X99-based motherboard will include a controller card which features two USB 3.1-capable Type-A connectors. The Z97 board gets a similar card, but it trades a single Type-A connector for a Type-C connector.

Both motherboards have numerous other features that are common with the ASRock Extreme6 series, and other high-end motherboards. The real focus of these new boards is given away in the name, though; ASRock wanted to be the first to give users USB 3.1 with a Type-C connector.

Update, 2/19/15, 11am PST: Fixed typo.

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Michael Justin Allen Sexton is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers hardware component news, specializing in CPUs and motherboards.