ASRock prepped for the release of Skylake by developing no less than fourteen Z170 motherboards across three of its product lines.
Leading the charge is ASRock's new flagship motherboard, the ASRock Z170 Extreme 7+, decked out with all the bells and whistles. Fitting with ASRock's typical strategy, this board features an abundance of connectivity options. In addition to the six SATA 6 Gb/s ports provided by the chipset are four more SATA 6 Gb/s connections supported by a third-party chipset. The board supports up to three individual SATA Express configurations, and for even more storage options, ASRock tacked on three M.2 slots and an mSATA port for ultra fast SSD connectivity.
For adding in extra peripherals, ASRock placed four PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots and two PCI-E 3.0 x1 headers. As a result, the motherboard is capable of supporting up to four Nvidia GPUs in SLI or three AMD GPUs in crossfire. It also features dual NICs.
The board supports up to four USB 3.1 ports. Two of these ports are on the back of the board, but ASRock also ships these boards with a front USB 3.1 panel, providing an additional two connectors split evenly between Type-A and Type-C. There is a small downside to the front panel in that it will use at least one of your SATA Express ports, but that is likely the reason why ASRock placed three SATA Express connectors on board, which is more than is common for this standard.
|ASRock Extreme Series|
|Board Name||Z170 Extreme 7+||Z170 Extreme 6+||Z170 Extreme 4+||Z170 Pro4||Z170 Pro4/ D3||Z170 Pro4S||Z170M Pro4||Z170M Pro4S||Z170M -ITX/ac|
|RAM Support||4x DDR4- 3600||4x DDR4- 3600||4x DDR4- 3200||4x DDR4- 3200||4x DDR3- 1866||4x DDR4- 3200||4x DDR4- 3200||4x DDR4- 3200||2x DDR4- 3500|
|Multi- GPU Support||3-Way CFX, Quad SLI||3-Way CFX, Quad SLI||3-Way CFX, Quad SLI||Quad CFX||Quad CFX||Quad CFX||Quad CFX||Quad CFX||No|
|SATA 6 Gb/s||10||8||6||6||6||6||6||6||4|
|LAN||Dual Intel LAN||Intel LAN||Intel LAN||Intel LAN||Realtek LAN||Intel LAN||Intel LAN||Intel LAN||Dual LAN (Intel + Realtek)|
|Audio||Purity Sound 3||Purity Sound 3||Purity Sound 3||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Hyper BCLK Engine||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|USB 3.1 Rear||Type A + C||Type A + C||Type A + C||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|USB 3.1 Front Panel||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||No|
Heading the Gaming series of motherboards is the ASRock Z170 Gaming K6+, which has the side effect of nostalgically reminding us of one of AMD's best products from days past. The motherboard is very similar to the Extreme 7+ board in that it shares a 12-phase Digi power design and supports ASRock's Purity Sound 3 technology. The board also wields the same USB 3.1 front panel, added with the two USB 3.1 ports in the back, for a total of four connectors.
As a lower end part however, it is only natural that some features are lost, and connectivity is hit the hardest by this. The board drops two SATA 6 Gb/s ports, two M.2 slots, one PCI-E x16 header, and the second NIC. Although the loss of the M.2 slots is a little tough to swallow, only users with extensive storage needs and those wanting quad-SLI will really be bothered by this change.
Finally, ASRock announced the Z170 OC Formula, which is both the head of the Formula series and the sole occupant. As the name suggests, this board is prioritized at overclocking above all else. The connectivity support is identical to the Extreme 7+ board, minus the dual NIC, with the biggest change between them being an additional four power phases. These additional phases should help the motherboard achieve higher clocks than the other boards, and it supports higher-clocked DDR4 memory, up to 4000 MHz.
|ASRock Gaming & Formula Series|
|Board Name||Z170 Gaming K6+||Z170 Gaming K4||Z170 Gaming K4/D3||Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac||Z170 OC Formula|
|RAM Support||4x DDR4-3600||4x DDR4-3600||4x DDR4-3600||2x DDR4-3600||4x DDR4-3600|
|Multi-GPU Support||3-Way CFX, Quad SLI||Quad CFX||Quad CFX||No||3-Way CFX, Quad SLI|
|SATA 6 Gb/s||8||6||6||6||10|
|LAN||Killer LAN||Killer LAN||Killer LAN||Intel LAN||Intel LAN|
|Audio||Purity Sound 3||Purity Sound 3||Purity Sound 3||N/A||Purity Sound 3|
|Hyper BCLK Engine||Yes||No||No||No||Yes|
|USB 3.1 Rear||Type A + C||Type A + C||Type A + C||No||Type A + C|
|USB 3.1 Front Panel Included||Yes||No||No||No||No|
The rest of the motherboards announced cover a wide price range and various parts of the market, with boards present in every form factor. Expect to see these boards arrive around the release of Intel's Skylake processors (the first of which we reviewed here).
Update, 8/6/15, 12:00pm PT: Fixed some minor details in the chart.