Recently, ASRock announced that it would be displaying Extreme6 Z97 and X99 motherboards at CeBIT with USB 3.1, but it turns out that there is another board that we will be seeing – the X99E-ITX/ac.
What's interesting here is that a couple of months ago, when all the X99 motherboards were launching, I asked ASRock reps whether they were interested in making a Mini-ITX motherboard with the X99 chipset and LGA2011-3 socket. At the time, we were told that ASRock had been toying with the idea but wasn't sure whether it would be worth it, due to the limited market it had been addressing.
We wanted to see a "stupid powerful" system built with Mini-ITX, and thus we're glad to see the X99E-ITX/ac; it's delightfully ludicrous. Why? Because nobody has ever put an Extreme-series chipset on a Mini-ITX board, and what ASRock doing so is nothing short of impressive. Never before has Mini-ITX seen this kind of performance.
Naturally, however, when working on a Mini-ITX board, sacrifices must be made. The board, therefore, doesn't have the usual eight DDR4 memory slots we see on larger boards, and the storage connectivity is also more limited. On top of that, being a Mini-ITX board, it also has only a single PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot. For storage there are six SATA3 connectors, two of which can be used to make a single SATA-Express connector. We don't immediately see an M.2 connector, although it is possible that there is one on the backside of the board because there simply is no space on the front.
The board will also come with USB 3.1 and Wireless AC connectivity.
ASRock included a CPU cooler with the X99E-ITX/ac, which is a bit unconventional, but ASRock made the decision because of the space restraints. ASRock has had to use the narrow LGA2011-3 socket, which isn't compatible with standard LGA2011 CPU coolers, and there aren't really all that many coolers for the narrow socket on the consumer market. We fear, actually, that this may be the biggest sales killer of this board, as most interested folks are probably enthusiasts who are not interested in using sub-par, noisy cooling.
When the board will be available, exact tech specs, and pricing remain unknown, but we hope to find out more during CeBIT next week.