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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.