ASRock's M8: Build Your Own Compact Gaming Box
A number of Tom's Hardware editors are excited about the trend towards smaller, faster PCs after witnessing Chris Angelini’s love affair with Falcon Northwest's Tiki. At the same time, we still remember that expensive pre-built systems were outside of our budgets back when we actually had to pay for the latest hardware (Ed.: Hey, I paid for the Tiki with my own money). Sharp memories like those help us keep a proper perspective on the reasons enthusiasts like to build their own boxes.
ASRock thinks it has the perfect do-it-yourself solution in the M8 PC. But is this system really all that special? Isn’t it just another fancy case with conventional, standardized parts inside? Couldn’t we just buy a mini-ITX motherboard, an SFX power supply, and a slim gaming case of our choosing?
Designed with a riser to accommodate extra-large graphics cards, enclosures that leveraged this concept aren't very common any more. Maybe they were ahead of their time, or perhaps enthusiasts simply didn't "get it". But with compact towers introducing us to flagship-class hardware in ever-small spaces, ASRock sees this as the perfect time to re-introduce the concept to our do-it-yourself community.
Rather than forcing builders to figure out on their own (the hard way) that they need special cables to connect a standard board to a slim optical drive, the company even goes so far as to include the drive itself. And rather than watch us all argue over the various power supply form factors that erroneously get labeled microATX, ASRock installs a 450 W SFX unit at its own factory. And since ASRock just so happens to be a motherboard manufacturer, it ties everything together using an upgraded version of its Z87-ITX.
|ASRock M8 Barebones PC Configuration|
|Model||ASRock M8 miniITX Slim Tower|
|Expansion Slots||2 x full-height on riser card|
|Internal Bays||5 x 2.5", or 1 x 2.5" + 1 x 3.5"|
|Power Bay||SFX, front-mounted, internal extension cable|
|Optical Bay||5.25" slim, front-loading-only|
|Front Panel I/O||4 x USB 3.0, headset, flash media interface (SD/MMC/MS PRO)|
|Fans||2 x 70 mm bottom, 2 x 70 mm top|
|Dimensions||15.8" (H), 4.9" (W), 14.7" (D), 16.25 Pounds|
|Model||ASRock Z87-M8: LGA 1150, Intel Z87 Express|
|External Data||4 x USB 2.0, 4 x USB 3.0, eSATA, 1x gigabit Ethernet|
|External Audio||5 x Analog, 1 x S/PDIF|
|External Video||1 x DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI|
|Internal Ports||6 x SATA 6Gb/s (shared w/eSATA), 2 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0|
|Internal Slots||1 x PCIe x16, 1 x mini-PCIe (filled w/Wi-Fi), 2 x SO-DIMM|
|Maximum Memory||2 x DDR3 SO-DIMM (all standard speeds and capacities)|
|Gigabit Ethernet||Intel WGI217V PHY|
|Wireless Network||Broadcom BCM4352 802.11ac dual-band, 867 Mb/s|
|Audio Controller||Creative Sound Blaster Core3D|
|Optical Drive||Lite-On DC-8A2SH 8x DVD-RW (slot-loading)|
|Power Supply||FSP450-60GHS(85)-R: 450 W, dual eight-Pin PCIe, 80 PLUS Bronze|
|Cooling||4 x 70 mm 4000 RPM Fans|
|CPU, CPU Cooler, Hard Drives, RAM, Operating System And Peripherals Not Included|
If we subtract the cost of its expensive slot-loading optical drive and power supply, we end up paying $400 for a very nice compact motherboard and BMW-designed feature-packed case. Two hundred dollars each for a motherboard and case isn’t cheap, but it still pushes us towards a far less expensive build compared to the pre-configured systems we’ve recently tested. We'reready for a closer look!