ASRock X58 SuperComputer
Features and Layout
ASRock’s entry is likely the most distinct of today’s competitors, as it’s the only model to properly support four double-slot graphics cards. Support for the fourth card is, of course, dependent on the builder using a case with the appropriate additional space below the motherboard’s bottom edge.
Special features don’t end with the slot positions, as ASRock is also one of only two new products in today’s comparison to support pathway splitting among its PCI Express x16 slots. Electronic switches work via auto-detection to enable each secondary slot, borrowing eight pathways from the slot above it. Providing this feature on two sets of slots requires twice as many switches compared to the more expensive “3-way SLI” motherboards we’ve previously tested, and ASRock tops those by supporting 4-way in addition to 3-way configurations.
ASRock makes it easier for owners of top-panel-port cases to connect “front-panel” audio cables by placing the header forward of rear-panel jacks--a design we first saw on competing Gigabyte models. ASRock again goes a step farther by placing its front-panel USB, IEEE-1394, and LED/Switch headers above the center line of the X58 SuperComputer’s front edge. Conversely, the company also puts its floppy header in the dreaded bottom-rear corner, which should deter Windows XP users who might otherwise install AHCI or RAID drives the traditional way during OS installation.
Six SATA ports point forward from the X58 SuperComputer’s front edge, allowing the cables to fit easily under the leading edge of full-length expansion cards. Many newer ATX tower cases are designed to accommodate this feature, but buyers must still be aware of possible installation issue in order to select a proper enclosure.
Good power cable placement makes cable management almost ideal, but close proximity to the VRM heat sink makes grabbing and releasing the 8-pin EPS12V latch problematic when it comes time to take the system apart.
|ASRock X58 SuperComputer (Revision 1.04)|
|Northbridge||Intel X58 Express|
|Voltage Regulator||Eight Phases|
|133.3 MHz Base Clock||133.0 (-0.25%)|
|Clock Generator||ICS 9LPRS918JKLF|
|Connectors and Interfaces|
|Onboard||4 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (Pathways Shared in Pairs)|
|3 x PCI|
|2 x USB 2.0 2-port (9-pin) header|
|1 x USB 2.0 1-port (4-pin) header|
|1 x IEEE-1394 FireWire|
|1 x Serial Communications Port|
|1 x Floppy|
|1 x Ultra ATA (2 drives)|
|6 x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s|
|1 x Fan 4-pin (CPU)|
|4 x Fan 3-pins (Chassis, Power)|
|1 x Front Panel Audio connector|
|1 x CD-Audio In|
|1 x S/P-DIF Out|
|IO panel||2 x PS2 (keyboard and mouse)|
|2 x Digital Audio Out (Coaxial + Optical)|
|1 x External SATA (eSATA) connector|
|2 x RJ45 Ethernet|
|6 x USB 2.0|
|1 x IEEE-1394 FireWire|
|6 x Analog Audio Jacks (8-ch. out, 4-ch. in)|
|Mass Storage Controllers|
|Intel ICH10R||6 x SATA 3.0Gb/s (RAID 0, 1, 5, 10)|
|VIA VT6330 PCIe||1 x Ultra ATA-133 (2-drives)|
|2 x FireWire 400 (1x Internal, 1x I/O Panel)|
|JMicron JMB362 PCIe||1 x eSATA 3.0 Gb/s|
|2x Realtek RTL8111DL PCIe||Dual Gigabit LAN with Teaming|
|Realtek ALC890B HD Audio Codec||Eight-Channel (7.1 Surround) Output|
The ASRock X58 SuperComputer is the first X58 enthusiast motherboard we’ve seen to omit any internal power or reset buttons. This is a good way to reduce manufacturing cost, since the buttons normally become useless once the board is mounted in a system. We’re still certain a few bench testers will be disappointed.
Two Realtek RTL8111DL gigabit network controllers get more than enough bandwidth from their twin 2.5 Gb PCIe interfaces, while a similarly-sized ALC890B HD Audio codec is connected to the ICH10R’s digital audio interface.
A VIA VT6330 controller provides one Ultra ATA and two FireWire interfaces. This combination sounds odd at first, but it actually makes sense to combine several low-bandwidth interfaces on a single medium-bandwidth PCIe link.
A JMB362 controller supports the single eSATA port, its 2.5 Gb/s PCIe connection nearly as fast as the port’s rated 3.0 Gb/s maximum speed.
Check prices for ASRock's X58 Supercomputer