ASRock has shared some pictures of the X99M Killer, the "world's first" Micro-ATX motherboard featuring the LGA2011-3 socket and X99 Express chipset, and it looks like a well-balanced board.
The X99M Killer comes with four DDR4 memory slots, which is four less than the full-size X99 ATX boards we've been seeing. Given the form factor, this isn’t surprising, and for most folks it's probably an acceptable compromise. For expansion, the motherboard has three PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots with support for SLI or CrossFire graphics card configurations. Storage connectivity is covered by ten SATA3 (6 GB/s) ports along with a single Ultra M.2 slot. The Ultra M.2 slot is driven by four PCI-Express 3.0 lanes, which is more than the two PCI-Express 2.0 lanes we find on most boards. Towards the center of the motherboard we can also see two removable chips next to a switch; we suspect that this is a dual-BIOS feature.
When we asked why ASRock was leaving out SATA-Express on its X99 boards, the answer we got was that there doesn’t appear to be enough SATA-Express devices out on the market. We can’t really fault ASRock for making this design choice, as we imagine that few people will miss the SATA-Express connectivity. We’re much happier to see the Ultra-M.2 slots on all its boards.
Rear I/O consists of two Fatality USB 2.0 peripheral ports, a single PS/2 port, two standard USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA port, four USB 3.0 ports, dual gigabit Ethernet ports (one from Intel and the other a Killer E2200), and analog HD audio, which is driven by the Purity Sound 2 hardware. Also present is an optical TOSLINK output.
The X99M Killer has all the storage connectivity, dedicated audio, and networking features of a full-size ATX board. The only real sacrifices that it makes are in memory, which won’t bother most folks, and expansion, although you can still run dual-GPU setups without any trouble. For most folks interested in the X99 platform, this board is a perfect combination of size and capabilities.
No word on pricing yet, though we expect the board to become available around the same time as the Haswell-E CPUs are to debut, which is rumored to be August 29.
Follow Niels Broekhuijsen @NBroekhuijsen. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.
My next PC will be small form factor.
If the VRMs were really moved onto the CPU die, for Haswell processors, then there would be no need for that heat-pipe VRM cooler that they are using around the CPU socket.
the voltage regulation modules were moved off the motherboard for haswell, and onto the cpu. this is a well known thing. however i suspect there is still some need for some type of VRMs on haswell motherboards, most of them at 3+1 setups... not sure how it works... but it certainly relieves a lot of stress off the motherboard. I suspect the giant heatpipe sinks are mostly for show.