ASRock E3V5 WS (Intel C232) Super Alloy Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging


Today’s motherboard review lands right in the middle of everything. Not because it’s all over the place, but because it has a lot of usage scenarios and support for pretty much any setup. You could use ASRock’s E5V5 WS motherboard in a gaming system as well as in a server setup as both of those setups are fully supported, but its real area of operation is to act as the base for a powerful workstation.

The ASRock E5V5 WS uses an LGA 1151 socket and the board is compatible with both E3-1200 v5 processors such as the one I’ll be using later on in this review, but it also supports normal 6th Generation Intel Core processors – so basically the entire Skylake and Skylake-S line-up. As backbone behind the CPU that you end up using is the Intel C232 chipset that is perfectly tuned for workstation environments and a motherboard like this. Memory wise you can use normal DDR4 DIMMs as well as ECC UDIMM memory modules with a speed of up to 2133 MHz in the four DIMM slots with 15μ gold contacts for a total of up to 64GB RAM.

The gold contacts in the memory slots aren’t the only quality feature in this motherboard. The E3V5 WS motherboard is part of ASRock’s Super Alloy series and comes with premium 50A power chokes and is made of a high-density glass fabric PCB. It also features ASRock’s full spike protection that protects from sudden surges, lightning, and electrostatic discharges (ESD).

The network connection isn’t controlled by the average low-performance controller either and we find an Intel PHY i219LM controller on this motherboard. The Gigabit Ethernet controller supports Wake-On-LAN, supports 802.3az energy efficient ethernet and PXE. The Ethernet controller is one of the parts that is protected by the Full Spike Protection. The second part with protection is the USB. The ASRock E35 WS features two USB 2.0 ports and four USB 3.0 ports on the rear panel and you can connect another four USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports via headers. All of these are protected by the ASRock Full Spike Protection. The audio is also protected by this and we find a 7.1 channel HD Audio controller, the Realtek ALC892. It features Blu-ray audio support and uses ELNA solid audio capacitors. Last but not least, you also find legacy PS2 connectors for both your mouse and keyboard.

 

Internally we find good expansion options too. Since we are dealing with an Intel-based motherboard, we also get IRST for RAID setups across the six SATA3 6 Gb/s connectors. Supported modes include the normal RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 modes.

There are two PCIe Gen3 x16 slots that support both Nvidia Quadro and AMD FirePro workstation graphics cards as well as consumer graphics cards. There is also full support for the use of AMD’s CrossfireX technology for multiple graphics card usage. As I mentioned earlier, you can make a great workstation with this motherboard. There are three more PCIe Gen3 x1 slots available for further expansion and neither of them will be blocked by the use of two-slot graphics cards. Even with a CrossfireX setup, you’ll still have access to the three x1 slots.

Quality hardware and components are just one side of the story, we also need a good BIOS and proper software to have the best experinece. The E3V5 WS comes with both of those features too. The UEFI BIOS has the easy EZ mode dashboard besides the advanced setup pages, which contains multiple readings of the system’s current status. You can check the most crucial information of your system, such as CPU speed, DRAM frequency, SATA information, fan speed, etc.

Even better, you can reach the tech support purely from the systems BIOS, as long as the system has an internet connection. You can also install LAN drivers onto your windows installation directly from the BIOS.

The ASRock OMG (Online Management Guard) technology allows you to establish an internet curfew or restrict internet access at specified times for your kids. Stay in control of their surfing times without yelling. This probably isn’t the most used function in a workstation system, but it could be used to shut down any connection attempts outside of office hours. Another useful feature is the USB Key function that can replace the password question when you log into windows. Do it by plugging a USB drive in instead.

The well-known ASRock XFast RAM and XFast LAN are also built into this motherboard. The XFast RAM feature allows you to fully utilize the memory space that otherwise can’t be accessed in 32-bit systems, among others. XFast LAN is a quality of service protocol that prioritizes the important traffic so you don’t have to wait for loading times. ASRock Live Update and APP Shop also help to make the maintenance easier.

Specifications

The specifications are taken directly from the manufacturers product page and can as such be subject to changes in future revisions of the product.

Key Features:

  • ASRock Super Alloy
  • Server-Grade LAN chip support
  • Supports the Intel Xeon E3-1200 v5 Processor & 6th Generation Intel Core Processors (Socket 1151)
  • Supports DDR4 2133 & ECC UDIMM memory modules
  • 2 PCIe 3.0 x16 and 3 PCIe 3.0 x1
  • Supports AMD Quad CrossFireX
  • 7.1 CH HD Audio (Realtek ALC892 Audio Codec), ELNA Audio Caps
  • 6 SATA3 and 6 USB 3.0 (2 Front, 4 Rear)
  • Supports Full Spike Protection, ASRock Live Update & APP Shop
  • Microsoft Windows 10 64-bit, 8.1 64-bit, 7 32-bit, 7 64-bit, Server 2012 R2 64-bit, Server 2012 64-bit, and Server 2008 R2 64-bit support

Packaging and Accessories

A quality motherboard also deserves a great look package, and the E3V5 WS got that. The front makes no secret about the boards power.

On the rear of the box, you will find a detailed photo of the motherboard itself as well as feature highlights and specifications.

Inside the box is a user manual, a driver disk, two SATA cables, and an IO shield besides the motherboard itself.

MSI Announces Cubi 2 Plus Mini-PC

MSI announced a new addition to their lineup of mini-PCs with the release of the new MSI Cubi 2 Plus. The new Cubi 2 Plus is built on the same principle as other mini-PCs where modern technology meets a space-saving design. This is also a system that will speak equally to normal consumers like you and me as well as businesses that want the benefits from a powerful system without the size restraints.

This new generation Cubi comes with the new mini-STX motherboard form factor that is about 29% smaller than a mini-ITX motherboard and making it the smallest motherboard with a socket design available. This is a new thing for miniPCs and it will allow you to easily upgrade the CPU should it be needed. You are still limited to the Skylake-S processors, but that in return makes the Cubi 2 Plus a very energy-efficient device that and uses less power.

The Intel H110 chipset used will allow you to install up to 32GB DDR4 memory to run at speeds up to 2133MHz. Internally you can attach one M.2 SSD and one 2.5-inch SATA drive which should be plenty local storage. Externally the Cubi 2 Plus offers both USB 3.1 Type-C, USB 3.1, and USB 2.0 with super charger function. It has normal Gigabit Ethernet LAN powered by an Intel i219LM controller and dual-band wireless support via an M.2 adapter.

Overall, this is a system that seems to have it all and the only weak point, if you could call it that, is the use of Intel HD graphics. You still get support for dual-monitor setup through the HDMI and DisplayPort connectors.

The new MSI Cubi 2 Plus is scheduled to be globally available by the beginning of March 2016. Next to the normal Cubi 2 Plus there also will be a vPro edition with support for Intel’s® vPro technology. With all the security benefits it now also features Intel Unite. Intel Unite lets you easily set up meetings with colleagues that are all around the world and supports sharing up to 4 screens at the same time.

Feature Highlights

  • Windows 10 Home
  • DDR4 2133HMz up to 32GB
  • 6th Intel® Skylake-S power saving processor
  • Equipped with USB3.1 Gen1 type C
  • Maximum to 1 x M.2 SSD and 1 x 2.5” SATA HDD or SSD
  • Supports 4K ultra-high definition resolution
  • Supports Dual monitors
  • Special USB2.0 port on the top of the case with supercharger
  • Supports Microsoft DirectX 12
  • Support 802.11ac Combo Card
  • Support standard VESA-mount

Intel Skylake Series Prices Revealed

With the Intel Skylake-S series of processors is set to officially unveiled on 5th August, prices for each model have been leaked, and a cursory glance at the list below suggests a performance boost over the Intel Haswell Refresh for less money. An average of about 7% less:

Could we really be getting an upgrade on the Haswell Refresh at a reduced price? Well, it seems unlikely. It is to be assumed that the listed prices are merely wholesale figures, and that the retail cost will add at least another 25% to the price. Even taking into account an inevitable retail price increase, the Haswell Refresh equivalent of the top-listed Skylake-S, the Intel Core i7-6700K, is the Intel Core i7-4790K, which retails for around $350. A 25% hike on the i7-6700K puts it at approximately $400, which still seems reasonable for the impressive CPU.

The Skylake-S range of processors, described by Intel as its “most important chip architecture”, is set to be officially unveiled at Gamescom on 5th August, with the retail release expected to follow shortly after, expected to be before the end of August. The box art for the i7 6700K and i5 6600K has already been leaked after going on-sale early in Australia.

Image courtesy of VRWorld

Skylake May Bring Back BCLK Overclocking

According to a Chinese source, Intel may be bringing back BCLK overclocking for non-K series processors. The suggestion is that Z170 motherboards will allow the BCLK setting to be changed on non-K Skylake CPUs, allowing them to be overclocked. Another interesting tidbit is that Skylake may allow BCLK straps to be applied, meaning the BCLK can run independently of the PCIE, allowing for much great BCLK overclocking. As you can see in the image below, an i5 6400T is taken up to 2.8 Ghz (Stock 2.2 Ghz) via a BCLK boost to 133Mhz.

Older overclockers may remember the glory days of simply turning up the FSB to overclock budget chips to match much more expensive ones. There was no need for unlocked multipliers to let my lowly E5200 or E3300 gain a 1Ghz or so. That all changed eventually with the adoption of the QPI/DMI and when the PCIE bus became linked to the BCLK. If one pushed the BCLK too high, the system would become unstable as the PCIE bus could not be taken more than a little over 105Mhz over the base 100Mhz.

For both Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge, users were able to use Z68/Z77 motherboards to overclock their non-K CPUs a bit by turning up the turbo boost up 4 bins (400Mhz). Some motherboards were also able to overclock K series chips despite not being a Z series though Intel quickly clamped down on that. This change though might be here to stay as delinking the BCLK from the PCIE bus is more of an architectural change.

Given how BCLK straps have worked in the past, there likely only is an option for 133 and maybe a 166 Mhz. This in practice will mean an OC of 33-66%, with lower OCs being possible by lowering the multiplier while increasing the BCLK. Given how temperamental BCLK OC can be, it’ll be hard to judge how well this will work in the real world. Given that we only have a little more than a week left, Skylake may once again allow cheaper overclocking, with a Z170 board of course.

Thank you BenchLife for providing us with this information

Intel Skylake-S Samples Shipping to Partners

It has been a couple of months since we heard the last rumours about the second-generation 14nm manufacturing process from Intel in the form of Skylake. Now we’ve been presented with something that seems more real than just rumours, the first actual photograph of a sample sent out to motherboard manufacturers.

Skylake-S will be using an LGA 1151 socket and be paired with the Z170, H170, B150, Q150 and Q170 chipsets. The first two samples sent out are non-overclock version with 2.3GHz base and a boost to 2.9GHz on the first where the second sample has 2.2GHz base speed and a 2.4GHz boost. The first mentioned has integrated GT2 graphics while the second one doesn’t have Intel HD graphics on the chip.

The information at hand now suggests that the Skylake will support both DDR3 and DDR4 memory. It however looks like these two samples are using DDR4 ECC memory and hence suggesting that these are workstation processors. The TDP is 95W on the faster of the two and 80W on the smaller one without iGPU. Intel will officially be releasing the Greenlow platform in 2015, and the Skylake-S Z170 chips are part of this.

Thank you VRZone for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of VRZone