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Seven $260-$320 X79 Express Motherboards, Reviewed

ASRock X79 Extreme6/GB

Performance enthusiasts often have multiple and conflicting needs, so ASRock targets the middle of that market by fitting its X79 Extreme6/GB with multiple and occasionally conflicting options. For example, on-board audio is available in addition to an included PCIe audio/network card.

Three add-on SATA, one eSATA, and internal/external FireWire ports that might be needed by video enthusiasts can be disabled by gaming enthusiasts, and the same goes for the two internal and four external USB 3.0 ports. Those features are all pretty much expected in high-end hardware though, so where’s the conflict?

Although the X79 Extreme6/GB’s Creative Core3D/Broadcom Gb Ethernet card is a huge part of its bundle, you can't use it with the motherboard’s other top feature, three-way SLI. It won’t even fit into the lone x1 slot with a double-slot graphics card installed. Instead, you have to populate an x16 slot with the little value-add. Even if we ignore the PCIe-based extra, we still have a motherboard worth $280 or so, which is priced right on that dot.

We count twelve voltage regulator phases, eight DRAM slots, and three-way SLI support with an extra space between the first and second card for improved GPU cooling, all indicating the X79 Extreme6/GB’s worth.

Persistent overclockers will love the X79 Extreme6/GB’s Port 80 diagnostics display (it even got us out of a couple jams during testing), while bench testers will value the included power and reset buttons. System integrators will find greater value in the USB 3.0 front-panel header that's placed well above the top graphics card, easily in reach.

Our only complaint is that the front-panel audio connector is shoved a little too far back along the X79 Extreme6/GB’s bottom edge, increasing the chance that a case’s front-panel cable might be too short to reach. You'll also want to choose a chassis with cable clearance behind the hard drive cage, since eight of the X79 Extreme6/GB’s nine internal ports point forward.

The X79 Extreme6/GB includes two- and three-way SLI bridges, six SATA cables, a 3.5” external-bay USB 3.0 adapter, and the PCIe x1 Game Blaster audio/network card.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • Crashman
    Update: C2 CPU is now here!
    Reply
  • jprahman
    So when will we see results with a C2?
    Reply
  • Crashman
    jprahmanSo when will we see results with a C2?It's going to take around a month to prepare another roundup...so I guess good news comes with bad news, sorry.
    Reply
  • amuffin
    :o foxconn boards are pretty good.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    amuffinfoxconn boards are pretty good.They've been making decent enthusiast boards on-and-off for a while.
    Reply
  • morne
    Quick coment on looks only (I know its specs that count not looks but oh well)
    ASRock X79 Extreme6/GB - very nice all black looks better than gigabytes atempt
    Asus P9X79 Pro - new baby blue they use on all the boards... not for me
    ECS X79R-AX - looks like my old pentium 2 board with the white slots
    Foxconn Quantumian-1 - i like i like gives a feeling of the ROG ASUS boards
    Gigabyte X79-UD3 - rip of from the ASRock X79 Extreme6/GB (lol) plus the southbridge heatsink looks old fasion and ugly.
    Intel DX79SI - now this board for me looks good actualy more than good looks the best :) must be the scull lol
    MSI X79A-GD65 8D - also very nice love the blue + Black.

    If you have one of the boards and i insulted it, wasnt the intention, just my view of the board>

    Reply
  • stingstang
    My only question is.. Why do you guys need 6 freaking $1050 processors? Good golly gosh!
    Reply
  • ubercake
    Great descriptive article.

    One thing I'm not sure of is the acceptance and actual usage of eSATA. While practical at some level, is anyone actually using this MB feature or is this one of those things the MB producers can skip out on like parallel and serial ports? I'm not sure enthusiasts are all that into using their eSATA ports?

    Personally, I think this is one of those money saving opportunities MB producers should consider.
    Reply
  • geekapproved
    After the X58 anal pounding, you would be a moron to buy a X79. It's life is predicted to be even shorter than X58.
    Reply
  • morne
    Actualy i agree with you ubercake, i have never used my E-sata, and with usb 3.0 out doubt anyone still uses E-sata if they have before.
    Reply