Sadly, the ASRock Extreme6 isn't ready to overtake a mature Z87 chipset with the Samsung XP941 PCIe M.2 SSD in an adapter, but all is not lost. The Z97 chipset that's on the Extreme6 is new whereas the Z87 has undergone a number of BIOS revisions in the last year. The performance is still very close, and with some BIOS work, I'm sure ASRock will get the Extreme6 at least up to par with Z87.
Depending on what platform you're coming from, the Extreme6 can still be quite the value. At just $169.99 (Newegg), you get socket LGA1150 support with Ultra M.2. The Extreme6 will work with Broadwell, the successor to Haswell, in a year from now, and by that time, we might actually see some PCIe 3.0 based M.2 drives that take advantage of the massive 32Gb/s bandwidth available.
After going over the math, I can see why many users would choose to go with an Extreme6 over an adapter. The adapter we recommend costs AUD $61.99 from RamCity, but it's not the lowest priced model they sell. The low-cost version costs AUD $25.99. Tack on shipping and such and you have a decent amount of money. The Extreme6 is only $170, and it's a helluva motherboard for the money.
There are some setbacks, though. SLI with Ultra M.2 will not work, but that only affects a small number of people. We also found an issue with the Intel RST 13 driver and hardware that affects QD32 4k random reads. The issue only affects benchmarks since most users will never get to such a high queue depth under normal circumstances. The test above is with a SATA 6Gb/s drive and not the XP941.
Regardless of how you look at it, though, this is the only motherboard on the market at this time that supports M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4. Even if you only use a PCIe 2.0 x4 card like the Samsung XP941, this is the only game in town for direct support without an adapter. The Extreme6 also has a second M.2 slot, with 10Gb/s performance for drives like the Plextor M6e, and SATA Express for when a drive becomes available.
If I was shopping for a new motherboard right now, the Extreme6 is what I would buy just for the Ultra M.2 slot alone.
PRICING: You can find the ASRock Z97 Extreme6 for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.
United States: The ASRock Z97 Extreme6 retails for $178.12 at Amazon.
- Page 1 [Introduction & Specifications, Pricing and Availability]
- Page 2 [ASRock Extreme6]
- Page 3 [Test System Setup and ATTO Baseline Performance]
- Page 4 [Benchmarks – Sequential Performance]
- Page 5 [Benchmarks - Anvil Storage Utilities]
- Page 6 [Benchmarks - PCMark Vantage (Drives with Data Testing)]
- Page 7 [PCMark 8 Consistency Test]
- Page 8 [PCMark 8 Consistency Test - Continued]
- Page 9 [Final Thoughts]
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