ASRock X79 Extreme4 (Intel X79) Motherboard Review

We look at our first ASRock X79 motherboard in the form of the brand new Extreme4. Let's find out what it's all about.
@TweakTown
Published Thu, Dec 15 2011 8:36 PM CST   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 91%Manufacturer: ASRock

Introduction and Package

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ASRock have actually come to the party a little later than we'd normally expect with the launch of the new X79 chipset from Intel. Usually being one of the first companies to have a mass of boards come our way, they instead started to trickle in a little after launch.

Just absolutely powering through the motherboards we have on offer today, we're going to look at the first of the three ASRock boards that we have currently sitting around us. Outside of the Extreme4 that we'll be looking at today, we also have the awesome looking Micro-ATX X79 Extreme4-M and the new ultra high end board from the company - the X79 Extreme9.

Today is all about the $234.99 US X79 Extreme4 and isn't just the cheapest X79 board we've looked at, but it's actually one of the cheapest X79 motherboards currently on the market period. What's that mean, though? Are we missing out on things we need when compared to some of the ASUS, GIGABYTE and MSI boards we've looked at? Maybe performance isn't as strong?

We'll find that out and more soon, but the first thing we need to do is get stuck into the package to see exactly what ASRock is offering inside the X79 Extreme4 box. Once that's done, we move onto the motherboard itself which will then of course lead us into the BIOS side of things.

From there we'll check out our testbed, have a look at the overclocking potential on the board and finally just see what kind of performance we're able to get out of this cheaper X79 option before we wrap everything up.

Well, that really covers everything we need to tell you for now, so with all that said and done, let's head into the package to see what's going on with the X79 Extreme4 bundle today.

The Package

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Looking at the box, there's nothing we haven't really seen before with that typical ASRock box design. The front gives us the model and the normal line-up of logos while the back gives us a run down on some of the exclusive ASRock features alongside the main layout and features that are on the motherboard.

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Looking at the bundle, it's not a massive one which comes as no surprise since we're dealing with the X79 Extreme4 and not one of the higher Extreme7 or Extreme9 models. We've got the normal line-up of paperwork, driver CD, four SATA cables, a three way and two way SLI bridge along with a typical I/O backplate.

The Motherboard

Getting into the board, you can see we've got this really dark color scheme that we've been seeing out of ASRock lately with a very black on black setup and some silver accents sitting in a few key areas. You get a good idea of what's going on with everything, but let's move in a bit closer and work our way around the board.

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Moving in closer, we can see what's going on in the expansion slot side of things with two older PCI Legacy slots, two PCIe 1x slots and three PCIe x16 slots that run x16 / x16 in a dual card setup and x16 / x8 / x8 if you opt for a three card one. I would've preferred to have seen the second card sit a little further down the board in a two card setup, but if you're using dual slot cards you will still have a single slot between the two which is better than them touching each other.

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Moving across the bottom of the board, we can see all our connecters which include HD Audio, Com1, 1394 FireWire, two USB 2.0, LED Debug reader, front panel connector along with a power and reset button to round the bottom off.

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Turning the corner, you can see we've got a CPU fan connector on each end with eight SATA connector ports in between them. We've got four SATA II ports that run off the Intel X79 chip which are black along with two SATA III ones that run off the same chip. The furthest two on the left are also SATA III and they run off the ASMedia ASM1042 controller.

The Motherboard Continued

Moving towards the top of the board, we've got the usual culprits present here with three fan connectors, our main 24pin ATX power connector along with a USB 3.0 header sitting towards the left.

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Along with all that, we've also got another SATA III port here that runs off the same ASMedia ASM1042 chip. This is actually a bit of a weird location as normally we see all our SATA ports quite bunched together. This works out a bit better, though, if you've got a front panel SATA port.

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Moving around to the CPU area, you can see we've got our 8-Pin CPU power connector in the back corner. We've got a pretty sharp looking heatsink here and either side of that we've got two DDR3 DIMM slots for a total of four supporting up to 32GB of RAM with speeds of up to 2400MHz DDR via overclocking.

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Finally, before we move onto the BIOS we quickly check out the I/O side of things which sees two PS/2 ports on the left, Clear CMOS button, Optical and S/PDIF ports, two USB 3.0 ports running off the running off the ASMedia ASM1042 controller, six USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit networking via the Broadcom BCM57781, Firewire, eSATA III and six auxiliary connectors running off the Realtek ALC898 Codec.

BIOS

Getting into the BIOS, I found myself getting ready to type, "In typical ASRock fashion". You can see, though, if you've looked at previous ASRock UEFI BIOS versions you'll see we've got a nice fresh look from ASRock on the new X79 Extreme4 which looks fantastic. We've got a bit more color present, some fancy new logos; it's just a really nice improvement compared to the older one that while very good, did look quite bland.

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Of course, the overclocking side of things is all done in the "OC Tweaker" section and for the most part there's nothing too confusing going on. You'll probably want to head into the Voltage Configuration to do some fine tuning there, but for the most part there's nothing too crazy going on.

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Moving through the rest of the BIOS, there's nothing too out of the ordinary and everything is fairly self-explanatory, so let's move onto the testbed side of things and also see just what we could do in the overclocking side of things from the BIOS.

Test System Setup

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS, MSI, Western Digital and Corsair.

As usual, we won't go into too much detail on the testbed as everything is fairly well covered in the above image. What's not present there will be shown in the graphs when we start testing. So with that said, let's just get stuck straight into the overclocking side of things to see just how the X79 Extreme4 handled our Intel i7 3960X.

In typical fashion we'll head straight to the BCLK and bump that up to 125 after we've adjusted our voltages and hopefully get into Windows with no problem. Getting into Windows with no problems at all, we head back into the BIOS and start to mess around with our Multiplier.

We ended up getting around the 4.8GHz mark, but we'd see the system shut down while we did an encode under MediaEspresso. We worked our way back and at around 4.6GHz we continued to have a similar problem.

What we did was go back into the BIOS and change the focus from a higher BCLK and lower multiplier to a lower BCLK and higher multiplier. In the end you can see we finished up with our BCLK at 105 and our multiplier came in at 45x.

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As you can see above, this brings are CPU speed in at 4.72GHz which is higher than it was doing when we opted for the lower BCLK but higher multiplier. Considering the price point, this is a pretty impressive overclock and it should bring with it a decent performance increase.

Let's get started!

CPU Benchmarks

HyperPi 0.99

Version and / or Patch Used: 0.99

Developer Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br

Product Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br

Download It Here

HyperPi is a front end for SuperPi that allows for multiple concurrent instances of SuperPi to be run on each core recognized by the system. It is very dependent on CPU to memory to HDD speed. The faster these components, the faster it is able to figure out the number Pi to the selected length.

For our testing we use the 32M run. This means that each of the four physical and four logical cores for the i7 and the four physical cores of the i5 is trying to calculate the number Pi out to 32 million decimal places. Each "run" is a comparative to ensure accuracy and any stability or performance issues in the loop mentioned above will cause errors in calculation.

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AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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ASRock X79 Extreme4 (Intel X79) Motherboard Review 32 | TweakTown.com

Starting off under HyperPi and AIDA64, we can see that AIDA64 performance is strong as you'd expect. HyperPi performance seems to sit just a little back. Doing a couple of runs, the time was consistent, so we opened up CPU-Z and watched the CPU speed as we ran the test. It seems that the Turbo isn't as aggressive as the MSI and ASUS boards which tend to sit at 3.9GHz more often. Instead the ASRock board tended to sit around the 3.6GHz - 3.8GHz mark a lot more, resulting in our HyperPi score coming in a little lower. Just as you'd expect, though, when we increase the CPU speed, performance is increased in all our tests.

System Benchmarks

PCMark 7

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.04

Developer Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com

Buy It Here

PCMark 7 includes a range of tests that give different views of your system's performance. In the Advanced Edition you can choose which tests to run. The common use and hardware component tests are unavailable in the Basic Edition.

Overall system performance is measured by the PCMark test. This is the only test that returns an official PCMark score. The Lightweight test measures the system capabilities of entry-level systems and mobility platforms unable to run the PCMark test, but it does not generate a PCMark score. Common use performance is measured by the scenario tests - Entertainment, Creativity and Production - each of which results in a scenario score. Hardware component performance is measured by the hardware tests - Computation and Storage - each of which results in a hardware score.

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MediaEspresso

Version and / or Patch Used: 6.5

Developer Homepage: http://www.cyberlink.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.cyberlink.com/products/mediaespresso/overview_en_AU.html?fileName=overview&r=1

Buy It Here

MediaEspresso is a blazingly fast media universal converter that can transcode your videos, photos and music files and out put them to a huge range of portable devices including mobile phones, portable media players and even game consoles. With technologies like Smart Detect, Direct Sync and CyberLink's TrueTheater video enhancements, you can not only forget about complicated format, resolution and output settings, but your converted file will come out the other side looking better than when it went in!

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Looking at PCMark and MediaEspresso, we can see that performance between the MSI and ASRock X79 boards are very similar. Moving to 4.72GHz brings with it a really nice boost in performance which comes as no surprise.

USB 2.0 and 3.0 Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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While USB 3.0 performance across the board is pretty strong on all our boards, moving to USB 2.0 performance, though, you can see that XFast technology gives us a nice boost in performance.

SSD Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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HD Tune Pro

Version and / or Patch Used: 4.61

Developer Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Buy It Here

HD Tune Pro gives us accurate read, write and access time results and for the last couple of years has been gaining popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must have application for storage device testing.

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Checking out SSD performance, we can see across the board it's strong offering us a nice increase over the MSI board. Compared to our ASUS ones, it sits just a little behind with no major difference being present.

Memory Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Looking at memory performance, we can see that it lines up well with our other X79 boards. Overclocked, though, we see a nice boost in performance across all the tests. If you want to find out more about Quad Channel / Dual Channel memory performance, I'd recommend you read our Intel X79 Quad Channel and Z68 Dual Channel Memory Performance Analysis.

Gaming Benchmarks

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/

Buy It Here

3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com//

Product Homepage: http://www.thqnordic.com/

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig;[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

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Getting into the gaming side of things, you're not going to be shocked with the results. The 3DMark 11 Performance Preset sees a nice boost when overclocked, but apart from that we see our Intel setups sit pretty close to each other.

Temperature and Power

Power Draw Tests

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Looking at Power Draw, we can see it falls between the ASUS and MSI offering with it being closer to the MSI which draws less power. Overclocked as you'd expect brings with it more power draw, but as always, it's nothing too major.

Core Temperature

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Checking out the core temperature, the numbers are pretty good; the stock numbers line up with our other boards as you'd expect, but the overclocked numbers look strong with only 63c being seen at 4.72GHz.

Final Thoughts

I find myself really surprised with the performance of the ASRock X79 Extreme4 and only in the best possible way. Overclocked performance while done slightly differently with a lower BCLK and higher multiplier, we can see that it still helps manage achieve a really strong overclock in the end with that 4.72GHz result we managed to achieve.

At stock we saw under HyperPi and MediaEspresso the X79 Extreme4 fall a little behind the ASUS offering, but the main reason for that is the turbo speed is more forced on the ASUS board where on the ASRock offering we see the MHz just depend on how many cores are being used.

You can see this results in the ASRock offering draw less power and also run cooler and outside of just these two benchmarks, performance is pretty similar between the X79 motherboards. Overclocking, though, means that turbo isn't relevant anymore and we see the X79 Extreme4 perform extremely strong.

As for some of the features, we see some really nice ones on offer. XFast USB as usual does a good job of boosting our USB 2.0 performance, XFast Charger and XFast LAN also help boost performance in those areas while the new XFast RAM feature helps make use of all that extra RAM you have installed. While probably not as useful on a four DIMM board, X79 offerings with eight DIMM slots and 64GB of RAM could really make use of it.

Outside of that, the new Graphical UEFI looks great and the new colors and logos present are like a breath of fresh air as the other design while being very practical, was pretty bland to look at. Now we've got one that continues to be as practical, but just overall looks a bit nicer.

The price is the feature that stands out the most. Over at Newegg the X79 Extreme4 is the third cheapest X79 board at $234.99 US and you can see as we move our way through the tests, the price doesn't impact performance which is something we always love to see.

The ASRock Extreme4 is ultimately just a fantastic board for anyone who's looking for a board that comes in at an awesome price, but manages to not only look good, it offers us some great performance at the same time.

In typical fashion, the X79 Extreme4 is just another well priced ASRock board that offers us a strong feature set and some nice exclusive features that help make it stand out against some of the competition.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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