The Z170 chipset landed recently and with it comes a slew of enticing motherboards. Many brands have done their best to diversify their lineups with unique features and aesthetics to compliment the new chipset and its rich connectivity. ASRock has launched three lines of Z170 motherboards (Gaming, Overclocking, and Extreme), and I took a look at one of their new gaming motherboards a week ago and today I get to look at what they have in store for their Extreme series motherboards. The Z170 chipset is loaded with 26x I/O ports which can be configured as USB 3.0, SATA6G, or PCI-E 3.0. Out of those 26 ports, six must be USB 3.0. Out of the remaining 20 ports, four can be allotted to more USB 3.0 or PCI-E. Out of those leftover 16 ports, there is support for a maximum of six SATA6G ports, which can be configured as SATA6G or PCI-E 3.0.
To take things to a new level, those 16 ports also support three sets of 4x PCI-E lanes with iRST support for M.2 slots which can be used in RAID (each M.2 slot must also have two SATA connections blended in). This means that there will be many motherboards with different configurations catering to the target users of each individual motherboard. With the Z170 chipset it will be harder than ever for manufacturers to differentiate themselves from one another, so let's see what ASRock brings to the table for the new chipset with the Z170 Extreme4 and Z170 Extreme4+.
The only real difference between the Z170 Extreme4 and Z170 Extreme4+ is the front panel USB 3.1 bay device, other than that the boards are identical. ASRock has decided to implement Intel's latest NIC, USB 3.1 type-A and type-C on both the back panel IO and the front panel bay for the Extreme4+. There are 6 SATA ports from Intel and also 3 SATA Express which use the SATA ports. A single Ultra M.2 slot shares one of the SATA Express/two of the SATA ports. ASRock has also provided their latest Purity Sound 3. There are 6 USB 3.0 on the back panel and two through an internal header.
At the time of writing, the Z170 Extreme4+ is $174 on Newegg and the Z170 Extreme4 is $155, which makes the front panel bay about $20, which isn't bad considering it contains another controller and there really aren't any other options for front panel USB 3.1. That being said, this is still one of the most affordable Z170 motherboards, but it does pack all of the Intel PCH features.
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- Page 1 [Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing]
- Page 2 [Packaging and the Z170 Extreme4/Extreme4+]
- Page 3 [Z170 Extreme4/Extreme4+ Circuit Analysis]
- Page 4 [Z170 Extreme4/Extreme4+ Circuit Analysis Continued]
- Page 5 [BIOS and Software]
- Page 6 [Test System Setup]
- Page 7 [Overclocking]
- Page 8 [CPU, Memory, and System Benchmarks]
- Page 9 [System IO Benchmarks]
- Page 10 [Thermal Imaging and Power Consumption]
- Page 11 [What's Hot, What's Not & Final Thoughts]