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ASRock X79 Extreme4-M (Intel X79) Motherboard Review

We put our Extreme4 into the wash and it shrinks into the mATX based X79 Extreme4-M. Let's check out this new mATX board!
@TweakTown
Published Tue, Dec 20 2011 6:23 AM CST   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: ASRock

Introduction and Package

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VIEW GALLERY - 39 IMAGES

Recently we checked out the ASRock X79 Extreme4 which did a good job of impressing us with its strong performance and excellent price point. Jump forward just a little and we find ourselves looking at another motherboard following a similar naming scheme in the form of the ASRock X79 Extreme4-M.

If you've followed what goes on with the ASRock model numbers, you would know that the -M refers to the board using the mATX Format. The mATX boards from ASRock, though, don't only bring with it a smaller board, they also bring with it a cheaper price and at the time of writing the ASRock Extreme4-M is the cheapest X79 motherboard available at Newegg, coming in at $218.99 US.

It will be interesting to see how the cheapest X79 board performs today. Before we see how the X79 Extreme4-M performs, though, we need to check out the package and bundle to see what ASRock are offering us in that department; once we've done that we'll take a closer look at the board before we move into the BIOS.

Once we've done that we'll head into the testbed to see what we'll be testing today. From there we'll then get into the overclocking side of things to see how our mATX board handled our 3960X before we of course get into the performance of the ASRock X79 Extreme4.

The Package

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Checking out the box, you can see it's very similar to the X79 Extreme4 we looked at. The main difference is it's a bit smaller, though, since we're of course dealing with a small board. The back of the box continues to give us an absolute wealth of information.

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Moving inside the package is similar to its big brother, the X79 Extreme4. Saying that, we do have two less SATA cables along with the 3-Way SLI bridge not being included. Apart from that, we've got everything else you'll be used to seeing, including some paperwork, driver CD, two SATA cables, SLI bridge and I/O backplate.

The Motherboard

Moving onto the board, the first thing you'll notice is of course that square shape that's present from the mATX format. From the looks side of things, though, the design is very similar with the heavy black design and slight pieces of silver throughout it.

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Moving in closer, we can see our expansion slots; alongside the legacy PCI slot we've got three PCIe x16 slots. The middle one is hard wired to x8, while the two either side of it will run at x16 if you decide to make use of SLI or CrossFire. I would've probably preferred to see a PCIe x1 slot instead of the PCI slots. It's not a huge deal, though, as you can put a PCIe x1 or x4 card in the x16 slots, but you can't put an older legacy PCI card in any, so if you're using an older expansion card, the legacy PCI slot could be appreciated.

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Moving across the bottom of the board, we've got our HD Audio header, 1394 Firewire, Com1, Clear CMOS along with a power and reset button next to our LED debug meter. Finally, we finish off with our front port headers to complete the connectors across the bottom of the board.

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Turning the corner, you can see we've got six SATA ports on the left with our four black ones being SATA II and our two grey ones being SATA III. All six ports run off the Intel X79 chip. You can see we've got another SATA port in the top right corner; we'll cover that in the next page when we start to move to the top half of the motherboard.

The Motherboard Continued

Moving up to the top of the board, we can see on the far left we've got another SATA port present here that points upwards. This is also SATA III but doesn't run off the Intel X79 chip; instead it runs off the ASMedia ASM1061 controller. Just below that SATA port we can also see another USB 2.0 connector.

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Moving along a bit more, we've got a USB 3.0 connector along with our main 24-Pin ATX power connector. Along with these we've got three Fan headers and you can see the gold caps that ASRock have been using for a bit now.

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Moving around to the CPU area, you can see we've got our 8-Pin CPU power connector sitting towards the back of the board and we've got a total of four DDR3 DIMM slots supporting up to 32GB of 2400MHz RAM via overclocking. We also get a good look at the heatsink across the top of the board here and see that like most boards these days, the CPU area is pretty clean. The only other piece that stands out around here is the Molex connector that you can see sits above the top most PCIe x16 slot. You might want to use this if you decide to go for a high end SLI or CrossFire setup.

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Before we move onto the BIOS side of things, we check out the I/O which starts with two PS/2 ports on the left, clear CMOS button, Optical and S/PIDF ports along with two USB 3.0 ports running off the ASMedia ASM1042 controller. We've then got six USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit LAN via the Broadcom BCM57781 controller, Firewire and eSATA and six audio ports that run off the Realtek ALC898 HD codec.

BIOS

Moving into the BIOS, the design and options are identical to the non -M version of the board, so we've used those images again. The main thing we notice between previous versions of the UEFI is the overall upgraded look on the X79 boards which looks great. We've got a new color scheme going on and some fancy new logos across the top; the good thing is that nothing has changed wildly in options, though, and if you've used an ASRock UEFI BIOS in the past you shouldn't have any issue working through it.

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As usual, the overclocking side of things can all be done in the OC Tweaker section and it's here you adjust CPU settings, voltages, memory speed and all those other overclocking related areas.

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Moving through the rest of the BIOS is the normal line-up of options in regards to the motherboards. There's not much else that needs to be said as we can really see everything in good detail in the above images.

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 always you can see our main testbed information in the above image, so there's no real need to go into too much detail; instead we'll just get into the overclocking side of things to see what the mATX X79 Extreme4-M is capable of.

The one thing we noticed on the X79 Extreme4 was while overclocking performance was strong, it preferred to run at a lower BCLK and instead opt for the higher multiplier. Going into the Extreme4-M BIOS, we found ourselves doing the same thing.

ASRock X79 Extreme4-M (Intel X79) Motherboard Review 01 | TweakTown.com

In the end we ended up in Windows running with a 43x Multiplier and 100 BCLK which brought our CPU clock in at 4.3GHz. We could actually get into Windows higher than this, as high as 4.6GHz actually, but we found under CPU intensive tasks the CPU clock would drop down for some reason.

Considering the mATX stature of the board, though, this isn't too bad an overclock at all and should bring with it a nice little performance increase over the stock numbers. Considering the size of the board, you could probably build yourself an awesome mATX system around it. We need to see what performance is like first, though.

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-M (Intel X79) Motherboard Review 32 | TweakTown.com

Looking at performance under HyperPI and AIDA64, we can see the mATX board does a good job with our 3960X and as you'd expect, we see a nice little boost in performance when we move to 4.3GHz on our 3960X.

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 MediaEspresso and PCMark 7 performance we can see that it lines up with our other X79 boards here, just as we'd expect. Overclocked we again see a boost in performance that yields some good numbers.

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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Looking at USB 2.0 and 3.0 performance, we can see a nice increase in performance when it comes to USB 2.0 thanks to that XFast technology. Looking at USB 3.0 performance, we can see no real change between all our setups which isn't anything new.

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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Looking at SSD performance we can see the numbers again come in very strong alongside our other ASRock offering and ASUS Z68 board.

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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Looking at video card performance, we can see that we don't have any surprises with performance lining up just as we'd expect. A slight bump in the Performance preset under 3DMark 11 when overclocked, but apart from that our Intel setups all line up fairly close to each other.

Temperature and Power

Power Draw Tests

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Looking at the power draw numbers, we can see the stock ones line up pretty close to our bigger X79 Extreme4. Moving to our overclocked ones, we do see a decent jump in power draw in both the idle and load area.

Core Temperature

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Temperature numbers at stock don't hold any surprises and we can see overclocked there's only a slight bump in the amount of extra heat being drawn. This is a lot to do with the fact that our overclock isn't quite as high as some of the others and in the end it results in just a small increase in overall temperature.

Final Thoughts

At $218.99 US the ASRock X79 Extreme4-M is the cheapest X79 motherboard on the market and while we do lose a little bit of overclocking headroom like we normally do when we move to a smaller board, the X79 Extreme4-M proves itself as a really capable board.

On the bundle side of things the X79 Extreme4-M comes in at a fairly standard level with not too much being seen; the features side of things are pretty strong, though, with the new XFast RAM technology along with the other XFast technology we see with ones like the XFast USB one giving us a clear boost in performance when it comes to testing.

On the overclocking side of things the X79 Extreme4-M didn't come in as strong as our larger Extreme4-M, but that doesn't come as much of a surprise as we always see mATX boards take an overclocking hit when compared to their larger ATX counterparts.

The price is probably the one piece of information that continues to stand out the most; that combined with the amount of power this board helps you achieve in a mATX case is just amazing. With one or two high end cards and a i7 3930K, you'd be able to build yourself an absolute beast of a system inside a mATX case.

Outside of the size, if you can fit a ATX sized motherboard in your case we'd recommend that you go with the X79 Extreme4 over this one. Considering it's only slightly more expensive than the X79 Extreme4-M and offers us better overclocking potential, it's the clear choice.

On the other hand, if you're dreaming about a performance system that fits in a mATX sized case, then you can't look past the X79 Extreme4-M that we have on hand today from ASRock.

Cheap isn't a word I thought I'd be sharing when it comes to the new Sandy Bridge-E platform, but at $218.99 US the ASRock X79 Extreme4-M isn't just a cheap motherboard that can give you some serious power, it's the cheapest motherboard currently being sold on Newegg at the moment for the new SB-E platform.

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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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