Close up with the ASRock Z97 Extreme4
Taking our first look at the board, you can see we've got a black PCB along with blue highlights. You can see the heat sink setup and some markings, but overall there's nothing too major going on here that we haven't seen before.
As we move in closer to the board, you can see our expansion slot setup comes in the form of three PCIe x1 slots and three PCIe x16 slots. As for the PCIe x16 slots, these run in a very standard configuration. The bottom most slot runs at just 4x. If you're using a single video card, it will run at 16x. If you opt to make use of SLI or CrossFire, though, both cards will run at 8x.
Moving in between the bottom two PCIe x16 slots, you can see our M.2 socket, which supports up to 10GB/s. M.2 is the successor to mSATA, and while at the moment the adoption is quite low, the size and massive speed supported means that there's a clear market for it.
Moving to the bottom of the board, you can see a pretty standard setup with the normal array of headers, including fans, USB 2.0, and our main front panel headers. Across the bottom of the board, you can see we've also got an LED Debug screen to let us know about any problems during the boot process along with an onboard reset, power, and clear CMOS button.
As we turn the corner, you can see we've got a total of 9 SATA ports offered on the board. Eight of them are SATA3, with 6 running off the Intel Z97 chipset and the two furthest to the right running off the ASMedia ASM1061 controller. On the left side, you can see we've got one of the new SATA Express Connectors, which offers increased speed for devices supporting it. Unfortunately, those devices are a little few and far between at the moment.
Heading to the north end of the board, you can see our four DIMM slots supporting up to 32GB of DDR3, ranging in speeds from 1066MHz DDR to 3200MHz DDR via overclocking. Below our RAM slots, you can see our main 24-Pin ATX power connector, and next to that, you can see a USB 3.0 header.
Moving around to the CPU area, you can see our 8-Pin CPU power connector in the standard top right corner. Moving out a bit, we get a look at our socket area and the heat sink setup. The blue looks cool against the black, and you can see the overall setup isn't too fancy but looks like it's going to be more than capable enough. The area around the CPU socket, like most these days, is pretty clean looking.
Finishing our look at the motherboard, we move over to the I/O side of things. Starting from the left, you can see we've got a combo PS/2 port along with two USB 2.0 connectors above that. Video output is offered via 4 connectors: VGA, DVI-D, HDMI, and DisplayPort 1.2. Above the latter two video connectors, we've got 4 USB 3.0 ports running off the Intel Z97 controller.
Next to that, we have a further two USB 3.0 ports that run off the ASMedia ASM1042AE controller, and above that, we have a gigabit networking port via the Intel I218V chip. We finally finish up with five auxiliary ports and an optical port running off the Realtek ALC1150 HD Audio Codec.