ASRock X58 Extreme6 and Intel Core i7-970 Review

1. Introduction3. Software / BIOS


ASRock X58 Extreme6 Motherboard Review featuring the Intel Core i7-970 Processor

ASRock X58 Extreme6 Motherboard

As with all of the ASRock boards we have reviewed the Extreme 6 uses a holographic style packaging. As well as this fancy design there is plenty of product information on the box and inside we find a large amount of bundled components. These include all the drive connectors we require for building a system, two SLI bridges (2-way and 3-way), several pieces of well written documentation and a USB bracket. This USB bracket adds two additional USB 3.0 ports to the Extreme6 and can be installed in a drive bay or PCI slot. ASRock also offer various trials on their software disc, including CyberLink DVD Suite.

The X58 Extreme6 uses the ATX form factor and is reasonably compact at 30.5×24.4cm. The Gigabyte X58A-UD9 for example is 34.5×26.2cm which restricts its case compatibility. The board uses an X58 Northbridge and supports all Core i7 CPU’s, including the high end 980X model with 6 cores. ASRock have designed the X58 Extreme6 to allow installation of six DDR3 modules in triple channel mode, up to a maximum capacity of 24GB and speeds reaching 2000MHz are officially supported as is X.M.P.

To cool the Northbridge and V8+2 power circuitry ASRock use a heatpipe cooler and a smaller passive cooler is attached to the ICH10R Southbridge. Cooling potential is increased further by the inclusion of Socket 775 mounting holes, meaning some users will be able to migrate their existing cooler to the new platform.

Down at the bottom left of the board we find the add-in card slots and ASRock use the following order. PCIe 16x, PCIe 1x, PCIe 1x, PCIe 16x, PCI, PCI, PCIe 8x. Two aspects worth noting are that when using three graphics cards the middle PCIe 16x slot becomes 8x speed and the three slots on this board have extra width between them which allows us the option of using triple slot GPU coolers.

Over at the right hand side of the board we find on-board buttons for power and reset which sit beside an LED display. This LED display assists with troubleshooting should the board fail to post and beside it are our six SATA 2 connectors. These use the ICH10R Southbridge and are capable of RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 operation. Further up the board are six additional SATA ports, two of these are SATA 6GB/s connectors and use the Marvell 9128 controller with support for AHCI and Raid 0/1. The other four SATA 3 connectors use the 9120 controller with IDE and AHCI modes available.

That is a serious amount of connectivity so far and we still have to look at external connectivity but before we do there is one other internal component of note. Sitting between the top two PCIe 16x slots is a PLX PEX8608 PCIe Gen2 switch. This chip adds an additional 8lanes of PCIe bandwidth to the Extreme6, allowing ASRock to add all of this connectivity.

On the back panel we find a Clear CMOS button and a large number of connectors which start on PS/2 then run through Optical/Coaxial out, 2x USB, Realtek 8111E GB Lan, 2x NEC USB 3.0, eSATA 3.0, 2x USB, Firewire, 2x NEC USB 3.0 to the 3.5mm audio sockets. These audio sockets run off the on-board Realtek ALC892 chipset which supports 7.1 channels as well as THX TruStudio Pro.

Key Feature Summary vs. Existing Boards

  ASRock X58
Extreme6
Asus Rampage Extreme Gigabyte
X58A-UD9
MSI
Big Bang
6 Core Support Yes Yes Yes Yes
Maximum Memory 24GB 24GB 24GB 24GB
Advertised Max Memory Speed 2000MHz 2200MHz 2200MHz 2133MHz
PCIe 16x Slots 2 2 4 2
USB 2 Ports 4 6 6 6
USB 3 Ports 6 2 2 2
SATA 2 Ports 6 7 8 6
SATA 3 Ports 6 (+1 eSATA) 2 2 2
GB LAN Ports 1 1 2 2
Active Cooling No Yes Yes No
3-Way Graphics Yes Yes (4-Way) Yes (4-Way) Yes
Dimensions 30.5×24.4cm 30.5×26.9cm 34.5×26.2cm 30.5×24.4cm

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