Introduction and Closer Look
During Intel’s X99 launch in early September one motherboard vendor was noticeably absent from the scene – ASRock. While we’re not sure as to the exact reason for ASRock’s delayed entry, they are now out in full force with an extensive top-to-bottom X99 product stack. Their range of products for Intel’s High-End Desktop (HEDT) platform span the usual three product segmentations: the OC, Fatal1ty and Extreme series. Whichever ASRock motherboard series consumers choose they will be greeted with a very high-end system due to the nature of Intel ‘s X99 chipset and Haswell-E processors. However, each series has been tailored for a specific type of user. The OC series, themed black and yellow, targets the performance junkie and enthusiastic overclocker with beefed up power phases and handy overclocking tools and buttons. The Fatal1ty series, themed black and red, targets gamers with improved quality audio hardware and Killer networking. The Extreme series, themed black and blue, is umbrella group within which today’s motherboard rests. The Extreme series doesn’t target any particular type of user: it is ASRock’s solid all-round motherboard. Consumers struggling to grapple with what that means in practice should equate the ASRock Extreme series to ASUS’s Channel series, Gigabyte’s Ultra Durable series and MSI’s Classic series. On the test bench today is ASRock’s X99 Extreme6 which sits above the X99 Extreme3, X99 Extreme4 and X99M Extreme4 but below the X99 Extreme6/ac, X99 WS and X99 Extreme11.
At first glance the X99 Extreme6 offers a very broad feature set that doesn’t stand out for anything specific, which is what you’d expect for the all-round Extreme series. ASRock provide no additional SATA III 6Gbps ports above the ten already integrated into the Intel X99 chipset, they’ve also decided to side-step the inclusion of a SATA Express port, instead opting for an enhanced “Ultra” M.2 port with 32 Gbps capabilities: 320% more than the default 10 Gbps M.2 port. Two areas where the X99 Extreme6 shines are in power componentry and networking. The ASRock Extreme6 features 12K rated capacitors, a 12 phase design and 60 amp rated power chokes, which are of a solid alloy design. On the networking side dual Gigabit LAN is provided by Intel and Qualcomm controllers with optional AC WiFi made available with the X99 Extreme6/ac for those users who desire it. Users who choose the non-AC model will be left with an unpopulated mini PCIe slot that is capable of supporting a wide variety of wireless networking combo cards.
Packaging and Accessories
The ASRock X99 Extreme6 is certified for up to 3-Way SLI so inside the box you will find 2 and 3-way SLI bridges. Other accessories include four SATA 6Gbps cables, two screws (one for securing mPCIe cards and the other for securing M.2 devices), a variety of documentation, a driver & utility DVD, ASRock case sticker and a SATA power adapter for using ASRock’s HDD Saver technology.
A Closer Look
The blue and black colour scheme ASRock use on their Exreme series is a refreshing break from the red and black repetition that is becoming so common. Once upon a time blue was the in-fashion colour scheme used by ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI, for those of you who can remember as far back as Z77. Now, MSI and ASRock are the only vendors equipping Blue.
Moving down to the bottom of the motherboard we find, from left to right, front panel audio, a TPM header, a Thunderbolt header, a COM port, a clear CMOS jumper, a BIOS switch, dual USB 2.0 headers, two system fan headers, a power button, a reset button and the front panel connectors.
Along the right side of the motherboard we find a USB 2.o port, 24 pin power connector, a pair of USB 3.0 headers and a fan header.
Down by the PCH heatsink there’s a block of 10 SATA III 6Gbps ports and a debug LED.
The CPU socket area reveals an impressive 12 phase VRM for enhanced overclocking potential.
The PCIe configuration supports three-way on 40 lane CPUs and two-way on the 28 lane i7 5820K. An “Ultra” M.2 port and mini PCIe slot are provided for extra connectivity options. Helpfully there’s also supplementary molex power and double slot spacing for multi-GPU configs.
ASRock implement the shielded Realtek ALC1150 audio codec onto an isolated PCB with advanced audio capacitors, this forms their Purity Sound 2 package.
At the top of the motherboard we see a nickel plated heatpipe adjoining the two CPU VRM heatsinks. An 8 pin EPS tucks in behind the primary VRM heatsink along with a pair of CPU fan headers, one 3 pin and another 4.
The rear I/O offers a nice balance of connectivity: dual LAN, six USB 3.0 ports, eSATA, two USB 2.0 ports, a keyboard/mouse combo, six audio ports (5 analogue, 1 optical) and a clear CMOS button.
On the under-side we find easily serviceable screws which ensure that the heatsinks can easily be removed for water cooling.