Asrock X79 Extreme9 Socket 2011 Motherboard

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Posted by on Monday, March 19, 2012 - 2:43am

Asrock X79 Extreme9The X79 Extreme9 shares the spotlight with the newly released X79 Professional which is under the Fatal1ty line. The Extreme9 has the features and options that the hard-core overclocker and enthusiast will look for in a new board to play around with. It begins with the 16+2 power phase configuration along with high-end caps and full featured AXTU overclocking software. But the overclocker isn’t the only people Asrock is aiming the Extreme9 at. There are the gamers as well. But what is it in for them? Read on and find out.

Introduction to the Asrock X79 Extreme9 Socket 2011 Motherboard

It isn’t often that we review a motherboard containing a new chipset we get super excited about reviewing the next one. We recently reviewed our first Intel X79 motherboard which was the Gigabyte X79-UD3. A great motherboard with a lot of features for a small price, well concerning how much an X79 motherboard cost. Like I said normally we take on the next board with a lackluster attitude. Mostly because there is very little performance to be had within the same chipset. But when Clarinda from Asrock stated we would be receiving their top-end X79 board, we immediately got excited.

The X79 Extreme9 shares the spotlight with the newly released X79 Professional which is under the Fatal1ty line. The Extreme9 has the features and options that the hard-core overclocker and enthusiast will look for in a new board to play around with. It begins with the 16+2 power phase configuration along with high-end caps and full featured AXTU overclocking software. But the overclocker isn’t the only people Asrock is aiming the Extreme9 at. There are the gamers as well. But what is it in for them? Read on and find out.

Asrock’s take on the X79 Extreme9

The new 32nm architecture processor, codenamed Sandy Bridge-E, is aimed at unlocking the full potential of Intel’s PC. ASRock X79 Overclock KING Motherboard Series push Intel Core™ i7 processors to the limit, giving extreme value for overclockers.


Specifications

CPU

- Supports Intel® Core™ i7 processor family for the LGA 2011 Socket
- Digi Power Design
- Advanced 16 + 2 Power Phase Design
- Supports Intel® Turbo Boost 2.0 Technology
- Supports Hyper-Threading Technology
- Supports Untied Overclocking Technology

Chipset

- Intel® X79

Memory

- Quad Channel DDR3 memory technology
- 8 x DDR3 DIMM slots
- Supports DDR3 2400+(OC)/2133(OC)/1866(OC)/1600/1333/1066 non-ECC, un-buffered memory
- Supports DDR3 ECC, un-buffered memory with Intel® Workstation 1S Xeon processors E5 16xx/26xx/46xx series in socket LGA 2011
- Max. capacity of system memory: 64GB*
- Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) 1.3 / 1.2
*Due to the operating system limitation, the actual memory size may be less than 4GB for the reservation for system usage under Windows® 32-bit OS. For Windows® 64-bit OS with 64-bit CPU, there is no such limitation.

BIOS

- 64Mb AMI UEFI Legal BIOS with GUI support
- Supports "Plug and Play"
- ACPI 1.1 Compliance Wake Up Events
- Supports jumperfree
- SMBIOS 2.3.1 Support
- CPU, VCCSA, DRAM, VTT, CPU PLL, PCH1.1V, PCH1.5V Voltage Multi-adjustment

Audio, Video and Networking

Graphics

- n/a

Audio

- Supported by the bundled ASRock Game Blaster
- 7.1 CH HD Audio
- Creative Sound Core3D quad-core sound and voice processor
- Supports THX TruStudio™ PRO
- Supports CrystalVoice
- Supports EAX1.0 to EAX5.0

LAN

- PCIE x1 Gigabit LAN 10/100/1000 Mb/s
- Broadcom BCM57781
- Supports Wake-On-LAN
- Supports Energy Efficient Ethernet 802.3az
- Supports Dual LAN with Teaming function with the bundled ASRock Game Blaster
- Supports PXE

Expansion / Connectivity

Slots

- 5 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots (PCIE1/PCIE2/PCIE4/PCIE5: x8/8/8/8 mode or x16/0/16/0 mode; PCIE6: x8 mode)
- 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 slot
- Supports AMD Quad CrossFireX™ , 3-Way CrossFireX™ and CrossFireX™
- Supports NVIDIA® Quad SLI™ , 3-Way SLI™ and SLI™

SATA3

- 2 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors by Intel® X79, support RAID (RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10 and Intel® Rapid Storage 3.0), NCQ, AHCI and "Hot Plug" functions
- 2 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors by Marvell SE9220, support RAID (RAID 0 and RAID 1), NCQ, AHCI and "Hot Plug" functions
- 4 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors by Marvell SE9172, support RAID (RAID 0 and RAID 1), NCQ, AHCI and "Hot Plug" functions

USB 3.0

- 4 x Rear USB 3.0 ports by TI, support USB 1.0/2.0/3.0 up to 5Gb/s
- 2 x Front USB 3.0 headers (support 4 USB 3.0 ports) by TI, support USB 1.0/2.0/3.0 up to 5Gb/s

Connector

- 4 x SATA2 3.0 Gb/s connectors, support RAID (RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10 and Intel® Rapid Storage 3.0), NCQ, AHCI and Hot Plug functions
- 8 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors
- 1 x IR header
- 1 x CIR header
- 1 x COM port header
- 1 x IEEE 1394 header
- 1 x Power LED header
- CPU/Chassis/Power/SB FAN connector
- 24 pin ATX power connector
- 2 x 8 pin 12V power connectors
- SLI/XFire power connector
- 3 x USB 2.0 headers (support 6 USB 2.0 ports)
- 2 x USB 3.0 headers (support 4 USB 3.0 ports)
- 1 x Dr. Debug with LED

Rear Panel I/O

I/O Panel
- 1 x PS/2 Keyboard Port
- 6 x Ready-to-Use USB 2.0 Ports
- 2 x eSATA3 Connectors
- 4 x Ready-to-Use USB 3.0 Ports
- 1 x RJ-45 LAN Port with LED (ACT/LINK LED and SPEED LED)
- 1 x IEEE 1394 Port
- 1 x Clear CMOS Switch with LED

Other Features / Miscellaneous

Unique Feature

- ASRock Extreme Tuning Utility (AXTU)
- ASRock Instant Boot
- ASRock Instant Flash
- ASRock APP Charger
- ASRock SmartView
- ASRock XFast USB
- ASRock XFast LAN
- ASRock XFast Charger
- ASRock XFast RAM
- ASRock X-FAN
- ASRock Crashless BIOS
- Hybrid Booster:
- CPU Frequency Stepless Control
- ASRock U-COP
- Boot Failure Guard (B.F.G.)
- Good Night LED

Smart Switch

- 1 x Power Switch with LED
- 1 x Reset Switch with LED
- 1 x Clear CMOS Switch with LED

Support CD

- Drivers, Utilities, AntiVirus Software (Trial Version), CyberLink MediaEspresso 6.5 Trial, ASRock Software Suite (ASRock MAGIX Multimedia Suite - OEM)

Accessories

- 1 x ASRock SLI_Bridge_2S Card
- 1 x ASRock 3-Way SLI-2S1S Bridge Card
- 1 x ASRock Game Blaster
- Quick Installation Guide, Support CD, I/O Shield
- 6 x SATA Data Cables (optional)
- 2 x SATA 1 to 1 Power Cables (optional)
- 1 x Front USB 3.0 Panel
- 4 x HDD Screws
- 6 x Chassis Screws
- 1 x Rear USB 3.0 Bracket

Hardware Monitor

- CPU Temperature Sensing
- Chassis Temperature Sensing
- CPU/Chassis/Power/SB Fan Tachometer
- CPU/Chassis Quiet Fan (Allow Chassis Fan Speed Auto-Adjust by CPU Temperature)
- CPU/Chassis/SB Fan Multi-Speed Control
- Voltage Monitoring: +12V, +5V, +3.3V, CPU Vcore

Form Factor

- ATX Form Factor: 12.0-in x 9.6-in, 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm
- Premium Gold Capacitor design (100% Japan-made high-quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors)

OS

- Microsoft® Windows® 7 / 7 64-bit / Vista™ / Vista™ 64-bit / XP / XP 64-bit compliant

Certifications

- FCC, CE, WHQL
- ErP/EuP Ready (ErP/EuP ready power supply is required)

Features

  • Premium Gold Caps (2.5 x longer life time), 100% Japan-made high-quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors
  • Intel® Core™ i7 processor family for the LGA 2011 Socket
  • Supports Quad Channel DDR3 2400+(OC), 8 DIMM slots, Max. capacity up to 64GB
  • Digi Power Design, Advanced 16 + 2 Power Phase Design
  • 5 x PCIe 3.0 x16 Slots, Supports AMD 3-Way CrossFireX™ and NVIDIA® 3-Way SLI™
  • Broadcom Dual LAN with Teaming Function
  • Supports ASRock X-FAN, XFast RAM, XFast LAN, XFast USB, XFast Charger, Graphical UEFI, UEFI System Browser, AXTU
  • Creative Sound Core3D 7.1 CH, Supports THX TruStudio PRO™
  • Free Bundle : ASRock Game Blaster, Front USB 3.0 Panel, CyberLink MediaEspresso 6.5 Trial, ASRock MAGIX Multimedia Suit

Closer look

Asrock has surprised us all over the past few years with the level of motherboards they have been manufacturing. No longer are they known for being OEM partners for people like HP and ACER. They are now known as a top tier motherboard maker producing some of the best boards out. Our review sample today is arguably the best we have seen from Asrock. The X79 Extreme9 is full of features from edge to edge. Its calling for all that believes they know about PC to give it a try.

The first thing to stand out about this new motherboard is the all black layout topped with gold caps and pretty impressive cooling sinks. All of which are indications that Asrock is serious about appearance as well a quality.

The begin the board has a total of eight DIMM slots for a max total of 64GB of DDR3 ram up to 2400MHz. We have seen a few motherboards based on the same Intel chipset with less slots but Asrock wanted to future proof this particular motherboard.

The Extreme9 is a gamers’ dream when it comes to the number of PCIe slots the board has. There are a grand total of five x16 length slots with all of them being PCIe 3.0. The board can afford to have this many slots due to the 40 available lanes from the chipset. A quad card setup would result to a x8/x8/x8/x8 configuration while a dual card setup would result in a x16/x16 (slot 1 and 3)configuration. Both AMD’s Crossfire and Nvidia’s SLI is supported.

Just like the P67 and Z68 before it, the X79 also supports only two SATA ports operating at SATA 600 speeds while four others maintain the SATA 300 protocol. If there are additional SATA ports onboard it would have to come from a third party controller. In this case there are six more SATA 600 ports provided by a Marvell 9172 (four ports) and 9220 (2 ports).

The make life easier on the bencher and open-air case users, Asrock placed on-board power/reset buttons. If you ever run into any motherboard issues there is a Dr. LED code display.

A feature that has long been forgotten on motherboards is active cooling. Since the release of reproduction motherboards using the X79 chipset, we have these on the newer boards. This small low profile 40mm fan can be controlled via the UEFI BIOS to the user’s liking. The rest of the cooling options find on the board is passive and used to cool the digital MOSFETS.

Speaking of MOSFETS, all the caps used on the Extreme9 are high quality Japanese units. The Extreme9 uses a 16+2 phase of clean power to the CPU voltage while the 2 memory voltage controller.

Missing from the I/O of the board is the audio jacks we normally see here. This is because the audio is produced by a separate card. The card is a Creative Sound Core3D device. The card is rated at 102 dB SNR output and 101 SNB input with 192 kHZ sampling. Also serving as another LAN jack the card helps the board to support teaming which ideally two LAN jacks are working together for better throughput.

But to the I/O portion of the review, the board has a six USB 2.0 and four USB 3.0 ports. Additional storage can be added using the two eSATA and lone firewire controllers.

  • PS/2 (mouse/KB)
  • 10x USB ports (8x USB 2.0 & 2x USB3.0, PLX PEX8605)
  • 1x Firewire (VIA VT6315N)
  • 2x eSATA (Marvell 88SE9172)
  • 1x LAN port (Broadcom BCM57781)
  • 7.1 channel audio (Creative Sound)


Testing Setup

Test Hardware:
Motherboard: Asrock X79 Extreme9
Processor: Intel Core i7 3930K
Ram: Crucial Ballistix 16GB (XMP Profile 1)
Video Card: ASUS Nvidia GTX 560 Ti 448 Cores
HDD: Hitachi 1TB
Power: Thermaltake Tough Power XT 850 (Sponsored by Thermaltake)
Case: NA
Cooling: Scythe Yasya
OS: Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit
Thermal compound: Arctic Silver 5

Test Software:
wPrime
Futuremark PCMark Vantage
SiSoftware Sandra 2011
Super PI Modded 1.5
Geekbench 2.2.7
PiFast


Overclocking

Overclocking on the new X79 platform is slightly different from that of the previous P67/Z68 chipsets. Before the basics required you only access to the CPU ratio as a form of overclocking the processor. And if you were lucky a slight bump in BCLK was possible.

With the X79, not only do you have the ability to change CPU ratio but there are other possibilities to accomplish a good overclock. First new addition would be CPU BCLK is adjustable in block increments and then there is the dealing with the quad memory setup and its frequency settings.

 We took the route of the older chipset and adjusted the CPU ratio and CPU voltage to obtain the highest possible overclock. Memory frequency was lowered to a safety 1333MHz to eliminate it from being a reason for an unstable overclock. The highest voltage used was 1.45v due to using high-end air cooling. The use of custom water-cooling would allow us to higher the voltage but that is not the case here.

Overclocking Results

This is our second go around with X79 motherboards and the results are slightly better than our first motherboard. With the CPU voltage sitting at a comfortable everyday friendly 1.45v, we first up the CPU ratio to what we figured were a safe 45x. The system passed with flying colors. Next up was 46x and 47x, each passed with the same results. We tested 48x which resulted in a 50/50 chance the system booted into Windows. And when it did it either froze soon after or once we tried to open an application.

 


Results

wPrime
wPrime is a leading multithreaded benchmark for x86 processors that tests your processor performance by calculating square roots with a recursive call of Newton's method for estimating functions, with f(x)=x2-k, where k is the number we're sqrting, until Sgn(f(x)/f'(x)) does not equal that of the previous iteration, starting with an estimation of k/2. It then uses an iterative calling of the estimation method a set amount of times to increase the accuracy of the results. It then confirms that n(k)2=k to ensure the calculation was correct. It repeats this for all numbers from 1 to the requested maximum.

 

Futuremark PCMark Vantage
3DMark Vantage is a PC benchmark suite designed to test the DirectX10 performance of your graphics card. We’ve been making 3DMark for over 10 years, with each new edition using the latest 3D technology to determine real-world performance.

 

SiSoftware Sandra 2011
We are pleased to announce the launch of SiSoftware Sandra 2011, the latest version of our award-winning utility, which includes remote analysis, benchmarking and diagnostic features for PCs, servers, mobile devices and networks.
At SiSoftware we strive to ensure that we give our users the best software experience. We observe the industry, try to predict where trends are going, but more than that: we also come up with new ideas on how to measure performance. SiSoftware works with all major hardware vendors to ensure we can accurately measure, report and present performance in the most accurate and informative way.
A year ago, SiSoftware released Sandra 2010 with full support for Windows 7; in the 18 months since the launch of Windows 7, more than ever before we have seen the line blur between PC and entertainment hubs. Two months ago we released a Blu-Ray benchmark, now we have added a brand-new Media Transcoding benchmark using the new Media Foundation of Windows 7. We have also added yet another benchmark (GP Cryptography) which allows direct comparison of CPU performance (using crypto instruction sets) and GPGPU/GPCPU/GPAPU performance.

 
CPU benchmarks


Ram benchmarks


Super PI Modded 1.5
In August 1995, the calculation of pi up to 4,294,960,000 decimal digits was succeeded by using a supercomputer at the University of Tokyo. The program was written by D.Takahashi in collaboration with Dr. Y.Kanada at the computer center. This record should be the current world record. (Details are shown in the windows help.) This record-breaking program was ported to personal computer environment such as Windows NT and Windows 95. In order to calculate 33.55 million digits, it takes within 3 days with a Pentium 90 MHz, 40 MB main memory and 340 MB available storage.

 

Geekbench 2.2.7
Geekbench provides a comprehensive set of benchmarks engineered to quickly and accurately measure processor and memory performance. Designed to make benchmarks easy to run and easy to understand, Geekbench takes the guesswork out of producing robust and reliable benchmark results.

 

PiFast
PiFast is an easy-to-use package written by Xavier Gourdon to compute p with a very large number of digits. PiFast is avalaible on several platforms, download it from here. PiFast can also compute E and a large family of user defined constants.

 


Conclusion

Asrock’s really want the world to see they are just as capable at making a good full featured overclockable motherboard just like the next guy. And in that effort they decided to give their flagship X79 motherboard the label of the Overclocking King. The previews and early images of the X79 Extreme9 did get people standing and noticing the motherboard. Many big forums had pages and pages of threads of members wanting to get their hands on the board.

Our test and results of the Extreme9 proves that it should be one of the top X79 motherboards on the market. It all starts with the sweet look and layout and ends with its overclocking ability.

Asrock has gone all out when it comes to the design of their high-end motherboards. The all-black PCB with the gold caps makes this motherboard a real look. Actually I would have to say it is one of the best looking motherboards I have seen from them as well as some of the other manufacturers.

There are just too many features of the motherboard to mention in the closing of this review. But there are just some that has to be talked about as they are new to many of us. First, there is the bump in memory capacity. Granted many of us do not need 64GB of ram but if you are a professional chances are you would fill all eight slots of this board. 8GB modules are vastly becoming available and the prices are dropping more and more everyday making the jump to atleast 32GB a possibility.

With the X79 chipset comes to advancement in the PCIe lanes and bridges. Now, we have 40 lanes to play with eliminating the starvation often giving to the PCIe slots and other components that requires them. And along with that the PCIe slots are upgraded to 3.0 allowing the user to get all the benefits of their video cards.

An added bonus with the Extreme9 is the addition of the Creative Sound add-in card. This will definitely be a big plus for the gamers and the audiophiles out there.

Lastly, we will talk about the overclocking abilities of the motherboard. The Extreme9 did take our Intel i7 3930K to another level compared to the cheaper Gigabyte X79-UD3. The 4700 MHz overclock was 100MHz more than what we achieve with the UD3 using the same amount of voltages. Our favorite method of overclocking is manually but for those that may not know as much can elect to go the automatic route using the settings in the BIOS. We found that using these setting upped the voltage too much for our liking. We were able to lower just the voltages and remained stable.

Looking online we found the Extreme9 going for approximately $350. This is not cheap by any means but it is about $50 cheaper than the ASUS Rampage IV Extreme and the Gigabyte X79 G1 Assassin. Making it attractive to the gamer and the hard-core overclocker.

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