ASRock fills the mini-PCIe slot of its high-end Z87E-ITX with Broadcom’s dual-band BCM4352 controller card, adding 802.11ac Wi-Fi with a peak data rate of 867 Mb/s and Bluetooth, in addition to Intel’s reputable gigabit Ethernet PHY for networking. The full set of six SATA ports is also available internally, though two of those ports are shared with other connectors.
One shared connection shows up on the I/O panel as eSATA, alongside DisplayPort and HDMI display outputs. DVI-I allows ASRock to get rid of the ancient VGA connector, while retaining compatibility through an included adapter block. The space that might have once been dedicated to VGA is now occupied by the wireless controller's antenna bracket.
The rear I/O panel also provides a CLR_CMOS button, four of the chipset’s six USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, five analog audio jacks, and optical audio ouput. ASRock expands multi-channel digital audio functionality to live streams by licensing DTS Connect capability for its Realtek ALC1150 codec.
The Z87E-ITX hides an mSATA interface under the circuit board to save space and confuse spectators. Could that system really be running with no visible hard drive or SSD? Crazy! That connector does steal one of the top-side SATA 6Gb/s ports when it's occupied, lowering the total number of unshared internal ports to four. Several competing boards are limited to four ports, period, with no other interfaces. So, ASRock can count this as a win.
As with SATA connectivity, the Z87 chipset is packed with more USB 2.0 ports than most manufacturers can fit onto such a small form factor. ASRock again does one better than most of its competitors by offering two internal headers, for a total of four front-panel USB 2.0 ports, in addition to the Z87E-ITX’s dual-port USB 3.0 header.
The Z87E-ITX’s CPU interface is positioned to the far right, putting more space between the CPU cooler and graphics card. Placing it there forced ASRock to move its eight-pin EPS12V connector to the left of the CPU’s input voltage regulator, where it could be unreachable under mid-sized coolers. Builders may be forced to attach this cable before installing a wide, low profile cooler.
Larger coolers might also overlap the last two SATA ports. Knowing that some folks won't be able to reach them, ASRock picked those ports to share with the mSATA and eSATA interfaces.
Four SATA cables, a DVI-I-to-VGA adapter, an I/O shield, and a dual-band antenna complete the Z87E-ITX hardware list.