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ASRock X79 Extreme9 (Intel X79) Motherboard Review

We look at the new top dawg X79 motherboard from ASRock - the brand new ASRock X79 Extreme9. Let's check it out!
@TweakTown
Published Thu, Dec 22 2011 6:19 PM CST   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 96%Manufacturer: ASRock

Introduction and Package

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We've absolutely powered through a bunch of ASRock motherboards recently. First we checked out the ASRock X79 Extreme4 which came in at an awesome price point. From there we checked out the mATX version, the ASRock X79 Extreme4-M. Today, though, it's all about the new high end board from the guys at ASRock, the X79 Extreme9.

Everything about the X79 Extreme9 seems to be big and the big box is where we'll be starting today. Once we've done that we'll move inside the box to see what ASRock is offering us with the X79 Extreme9 before we move onto the motherboard.

Once we've done that we'll get into the BIOS to see how that looks before we check out the testbed, cover overclocking potential and finally see the performance the X79 Extreme9 has to offer us.

We've always been big fans of the ASRock boards and over years past they've gotten only better and better. The new Gen3 Z68 boards we saw launch not long ago also brought with them a refresh when it comes to the board design. We've seen that carry over to the new X79 boards and we hope that we can get some killer performance that's able to match the killer new look.

Before we get into all the fan stuff, though, we need to check out what's going on with the massive package that ASRock is offering us with their new high end board, the X79 Extreme9.

The Package

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We've got a big box on hand as we mentioned and moving through it, we've got an absolute wealth of information including an area that opens up and gives us a peak at the motherboard itself. We won't go into too much detail on that, though, as we'll be checking that out a lot closer in just a moment.

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Moving inside the package, we see a lot of the regulars, paperwork, driver CD, I/O back plate, six SATA cables, two Molex to SATA cables and a 3-Way SLI and normal SLI bridge.

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Along with all that, we've got the USB 3.0 add-on that we see on some of the higher end ASRock offerings. This can be installed in the front of the case or via the bracket you can install it at the back.

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Along with all this, we've also got the new ASRock Game Blaster included in the package which offers us four auxiliary ports, Gigabit LAN, Optical Out and S/PDIF Out. Sound is offered via the Creative Sound Core3D Quad Core processor while Gigabit LAN comes via the Broadcom BCM57781 chip.

This is a really strong bundle and is no doubt one of the better bundles we've seen from a company so far. Hopefully the board offers us performance that can match what we're seeing here.

The Motherboard

Moving onto the board, we can see a pretty slick looking setup with an almost all black setup going on across the whole board. We can see some active cooling over our X79 chip and a pretty mean looking heatsink around our RAM / CPU area. Let's move in a bit closer and see exactly what's going on in the expansion slot department.

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The first thing that has to be said is it's nice to see that ASRock have dropped the legacy PCI slot on its higher end board. Instead we've got a single PCIe x1 slot and five PCIe x16 slots which support up to three cards in SLI or CrossFireX. You can see by the pins that PCIe x16 1 and 3 are wired as x16, while the other three slots are only wired halfway up resulting in them running at x8.

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As we move across the bottom of the board, there's nothing too unusual going on with our 1394 Firewire header on the left followed with COM1, some USB 2.0 headers, front panel header, power and reset button, pair of fan headers and above that we can see our LED debug meter.

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Turning the corner, we can see an absolute massive amount of SATA ports with a total of 12 being present. On the far right we've got our four black SATA II ports that run off the X79 chipset while the two grey ones next to that are SATA III running off the X79 chip as well.

As for the last six ports, they're all SATA III as well with four running off the Marvell SA9172 controller and two running off the Marvell SE9220 controller. In the end, it all results in a massive amount of SATA III ports.

The Motherboard Continued

As we start to move to the top half of the board, there's nothing too different going on up this end of the board with our main 24 Pin ATX power connector present and above that you can see four DDR3 DIMM slots.

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The other main piece that stands out here sits just to the right with the two USB 3.0 headers present. Normally we see most companies only offer one, instead ASRock has offered us two here which is handy as if your case has USB 3.0 and you want to make use of the included USB 3.0 header, you don't have to decide which one to use.

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Looking across the top of the board, we can see that ASRock has opted to include two 8-Pin CPU connectors. This is going to be handy for people who are interested in really getting into the overclocking side of things.

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Moving out, we can see our eight DIMM slots that are present which support up to 64GB of 2400MHz DDR RAM via overclocking. We can also see how clean the CPU area is and we also get a really good look at the heatsink setup that's going on which looks fantastic.

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Finally, we finish up with the I/O side of things and it's actually pretty bare thanks to the inclusion of the Game Blaster card. In the end we only have a single PS/2 connector, six USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit LAN, Firewire, two eSATA and a clear CMOS button. You end up with a really clean setup with the audio connectors gone.

BIOS

Looking at the BIOS, we've got the refresh that was present on the X79 Extreme4 and Extreme4-M with a new color scheme and some new logos which really look fantastic. Moving your way through the BIOS, nothing has really changed when compared to the Extreme4 boards.

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As always, anything overclocking related is going to be in the OC Tweaker section and it's here you can play with your DRAM, Voltages, Multiplier and BCLK to name just a few things. You can see most of the key areas above as we work our way through it.

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As for the rest of the areas, it's all fairly self-explanatory with the images above really giving us a good idea of what exactly is going on; for that reason there's not much more that needs to be said.

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 any real detail on our testbed as all the information is shown above. As for the boards we use, we'll clearly see them as we look at our graphs. Instead we'll just get into the overclocking side of things to see just what kind of performance we could get out of the ASRock Extreme9, a board that ASRock is calling the "Overclock King".

What we found with both of our X79 Extreme4 and Extreme4-M boards was that they preferred to move with a higher multiplier and instead use a lower BCLK. So far, though, we've found our highest overclocking boards have preferred the higher BCLK, so the first thing we did was set our BCLK to 125 and fire up Windows.

It came as no surprise that we would get up and running with no issue here, so we headed back into the BIOS and started to mess around with the multiplier a bit. Hoping to get around the 38x / 39x mark, this would see us in Windows at 4.75GHz / 4.87 GHz.

Running fine at both those speeds in Windows, we went in for the illustrious 40x multiplier which with the 125 BCLK results in our system running at a solid 5GHz.

Legitimately, I found myself surprised that we were not only in Windows, but completing a HyperPI run at 5GHz. ASRock make some great boards and they've only gotten better over the last few years, but overclocking hasn't always been their strongest feature; instead it's been more about price, performance and features, and they're all great areas to excel at. But it seems with the new X79 Extreme9, ASRock are taking their boards to another level.

Before we settled on a flat 5GHz, we closed our eyes and tried a 41x multiplier, but it came as no shock that we couldn't get that up and running. We ended up moving back down to 40x and saw if we could get anything out of the BCLK.

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We eventually settled at a 40x multiplier and a 126 BCLK which brought our CPU in at 5040MHz or 5.04GHz as shown in our graphs today. This is an amazing overclock and should do an excellent job of yielding some strong performance over our stock settings. Along with the high CPU speed, you can see this also pushed our RAM up to 2016MHz DDR which is going to help boost overall performance a little bit as well.

With everything up and running, I think we can get into the benchmark side of things and see just what kind of performance we're able to get out of the ASRock X79 Extreme9 today.

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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Straight away we don't see much going on when it comes to stock performance with the X79 Extreme9 lining up just as we'd expect. Moving to over 5GHz, though, brings with it some great performance with a huge amount of time shaved off our HyperPi run.

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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PCMark 7 and MediaEspresso show typical performance at stock. You can see when we crank up the clock speed to over 5GHz, though, the kind of performance increase we see with a massive amount of time shaved off our movie encode.

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 the performance on our WD Passports, we can see that USB 2.0 performance is always strong on the ASRock offerings thanks to that XFast USB technology. As for USB 3.0, we see that it really lines up with all our other boards with very little difference between the USB 3.0 setups.

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 our SSD performance, we can see the X79 Extreme9 does an excellent job with strong performance out of our Corsair Force GT SATA III drive.

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 really nice boost in performance across all the tests as we move just over 2000MHz DDR and our CPU speed jumps to just over 5GHz. 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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In the video card benchmarking side of things we don't see anything out of the ordinary here. When overclocked we see a bit of a bump in performance when it comes to the 3DMark 11 Performance preset, but outside of that we can see our board lines up with our other Intel offerings.

Temperature and Power

Power Draw Tests

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Power Draw at stock sits a little higher on the X79 Extreme9 when compared to our other X79 boards here, but it's nothing too major. Cranking those volts up to achieve maximum OC brings with it a massive jump in power draw and shows us the importance of a good quality power supply.

Core Temperature

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Out of the box at stock the heat looks pretty good on the X79 Extreme9 and lines up with our other boards here. Overclocked, though, we can see it skyrocket and like other 5GHz clocks, we see it jump up to that 80c+ mark.

Final Thoughts

I'm a big fan of ASRock boards; they've always hit at an amazing price point, offered some good features and have always been strong in the overclock department. They've not been the strongest, but they've been at a level where considering what you pay, there's some excellent overclocking potential on offer.

The X79 Extreme9 breaks the mold, though, with amazing overclocking performance. Not only that, priced at $344.99 US it comes in cheaper than a good chunk of offerings from both ASUS and GIGABYTE. It would've been nice to see such a feature rich board offer us Quad VGA support; it's nothing too major, though, as the quad video card market continues to be quite limited. Of course, you've also got support for two Dual GPU cards.

ASRock have put together an amazing bundle here as well. Stepping away from that Realtek audio we're used to seeing, we've got a Creative based audio solution included in the box in a really neat looking little PCIe x1 card. Outside of that we've got our USB 3.0 adapter included in the box and all the other regular bits and pieces you'd expect to see.

In the looks department, though, the X79 Extreme9 does well with that very dark color scheme going on throughout the whole board with some silver highlights. Paired up with our H100 and Dominator RAM, you end up with just a mean looking system thanks to that design.

The other massive highlight would have to come in the form of the SATA ports. I know at launch we expected a lot more SATA ports to be present on the X79 chipset. ASRock has offered us a bucket load today via the addition of two extra Marvell controllers, so if you're looking for a board that can house a load of storage, this is one of the best options on the market at the moment thanks to its 12 SATA ports.

The ASRock X79 Extreme9 just simply performs above expectations, and it's not that we don't expect a lot out of a high end ASRock board, but I can tell you now, we didn't expect this.

The X79 Extreme9 shows us that ASRock can compete with the big boys when it comes to building a performance motherboard. The fact they're able to do this at a stronger price point than other companies, though, is what stands out the most. This is just a top offering from ASRock and does a good job of getting us excited about what ASRock will offer us in the future.

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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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