Asrock Z77 Extreme6 Socket 1155 Motherboard

Posted by on Monday, April 9, 2012 - 3:21pm

Asrock Z77 Extreme6Asrock wants to remain in the mouths of buyers after the successful release of the X79 Extreme9. And in order to do you they would have to put out another great board. And we do believe they have done so with the upcoming Z77 Extreme6. Looking at it for the first time all I could think about was the X79. A awesome looking motherboard with features galore. But with all the new motherboards being released is this a keeper? We will see.

 

Introduction to the Asrock Z77 Extreme6 Socket 1155 Motherboard

Well the time has come. It is like Christmas time for many. Santa has delivered a brand new toy. In this case it is Christmas in April. Santa is Intel. And the elves are every motherboard manufacturer on the planet. The gifts contain motherboards with the brand new Panther Point Z77 chipset. Definitely just what the kiddies have been waiting for.

The new chipset brings new features and vast improvements of others. One of the featured improvements would be to the PCIe lanes as the new chipset has been upgraded to PCIe 3.0 compliances and speeds. But we are still limited to just sixteen of them. There are many more attributes we will talk about but figured I will just hit you with one for now.

Asrock wants to remain in the mouths of buyers after the successful release of the X79 Extreme9. And in order to do you they would have to put out another great board. And we do believe they have done so with the upcoming Z77 Extreme6. Looking at it for the first time all I could think about was the X79. A awesome looking motherboard with features galore. But with all the new motherboards being released is this a keeper? We will see.


Specifications

CPU

- Supports 3rd and 2nd Generation Intel® Core™ i7 / i5 / i3 in LGA1155 Package
- Digi Power Design
- 8 + 4 Power Phase Design
- Supports Intel® Turbo Boost 2.0 Technology
- Supports Intel® K-Series unlocked CPU
- Supports Hyper-Threading Technology

Chipset

- Intel® Z77
- Supports Intel® Rapid Start Technology and Smart Connect Technology
*Intel® Rapid Start Technology and Smart Connect Technology are only supported under Windows® 7 OS or later versions.

Memory

- Dual Channel DDR3 memory technology
- 4 x DDR3 DIMM slots
- Supports DDR3 2800+(OC)/2400(OC)/2133(OC)/1866(OC)/1600/1333/1066 non-ECC, un-buffered memory
- Max. capacity of system memory: 32GB*
- 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 Core, IGPU, DRAM, 1.8V PLL, VTT, VCCSA Voltage Multi-adjustment

Audio, Video and Networking

Graphics

- Supports Intel® HD Graphics Built-in Visuals : Intel® Quick Sync Video 2.0, Intel® InTru™ 3D, Intel® Clear Video HD Technology, Intel® Insider™, Intel® HD Graphics 2500/4000
- Pixel Shader 5.0, DirectX 11 with Intel® 22nm CPU. Pixel Shader 4.1, DirectX 10.1 with Intel® Sandy Bridge CPU.
- Max. shared memory 1760MB
- Multi VGA Output options: D-Sub, DVI-D, HDMI and DisplayPort
- Supports HDMI 1.4a Technology with max. resolution up to 1920x1200 @ 60Hz
- Supports DVI with max. resolution up to 1920x1200 @ 60Hz
- Supports D-Sub with max. resolution up to 2048x1536 @ 75Hz
- Supports DisplayPort with max. resolution up to 2560x1600 @ 60Hz
- Supports Auto Lip Sync, Deep Color (12bpc), xvYCC and HBR (High Bit Rate Audio) with HDMI (Compliant HDMI monitor is required)
- Supports HDCP function with DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort ports
- Supports Full HD 1080p Blu-ray (BD) / HD-DVD playback with DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort ports
*Intel® HD Graphics Built-in Visuals and the VGA outputs can be supported only with processors which are GPU integrated.

**Due to chipset limitation, the Blu-ray playback of Intel® HD Graphics is only supported under Windows® Vista™ and Windows® 7.

***Intel® InTru™ 3D is only supported under Windows® 7 and Windows® 7 x64.

Audio

- 7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection (Realtek ALC898 Audio Codec)
- Premium Blu-ray audio support
- Supports THX TruStudio™

LAN

- PCIE x1 Gigabit LAN 10/100/1000 Mb/s
- Broadcom BCM57781
- Supports Wake-On-LAN
- Supports Energy Efficient Ethernet 802.3az
- Supports PXE

Expansion / Connectivity

Slots

- 2 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots (PCIE2/PCIE4: single at x16 (PCIE2) / x8 (PCIE4) or dual at x8/x8 mode)
- 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (PCIE5: x4 mode)
- 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 slot
- 1 x mini-PCI Express slot
- 2 x PCI slots
- Supports AMD Quad CrossFireX™ , 3-Way CrossFireX™ and CrossFireX™
- Supports NVIDIA® Quad SLI™ and SLI™
*PCIe Gen3 is supported on 3rd Generation of Intel® Core™ i5 and Core™ i7 CPUs.

SATA3

- 2 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors by Intel® Z77, support RAID (RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 10, RAID 5, Intel® Rapid Storage and Intel® Smart Response Technology), NCQ, AHCI and "Hot Plug" functions
- 2 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors by ASMedia ASM1061, support NCQ, AHCI and "Hot Plug" functions (SATA3_A2 connector is shared with eSATA3 port)

USB 3.0

- 2 x Rear USB 3.0 ports by Intel® Z77, support USB 1.0/2.0/3.0 up to 5Gb/s
- 2 x Rear USB 3.0 ports by Etron EJ168A, support USB 1.0/2.0/3.0 up to 5Gb/s
- 1 x Front USB 3.0 header by Intel® Z77 (supports 2 USB 3.0 ports), supports 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, Intel® Rapid Storage and Intel® Smart Response Technology), NCQ, AHCI and Hot Plug functions
- 4 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors
- 1 x Floppy connector
- 1 x IR header
- 1 x CIR header
- 1 x COM port header
- 1 x HDMI_SPDIF header
- 1 x IEEE 1394 header
- 1 x Power LED header
- CPU/Chassis/Power FAN connector
- 24 pin ATX power connector
- 8 pin 12V power connector
- SLI/XFire power connector
- Front panel audio connector
- 3 x USB 2.0 headers (support 6 USB 2.0 ports)
- 1 x USB 3.0 header (supports 2 USB 3.0 ports)
- 1 x Dr. Debug with LED

Rear Panel I/O

I/O Panel
- 1 x PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard Port
- 1 x D-Sub Port
- 1 x DVI-D Port
- 1 x HDMI Port
- 1 x DisplayPort
- 1 x Optical SPDIF Out Port
- 2 x Ready-to-Use USB 2.0 Ports
- 1 x eSATA3 Connector
- 4 x Ready-to-Use USB 3.0 Ports
- 1 x RJ-45 LAN Ports with LED (ACT/LINK LED and SPEED LED)
- 1 x IEEE 1394 Port
- 1 x Clear CMOS Switch with LED
- HD Audio Jack: Rear Speaker / Central / Bass / Line in / Front Speaker / Microphone

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 RAM
- ASRock Crashless BIOS
- ASRock OMG (Online Management Guard)
- ASRock Internet Flash
- Lucid Virtu Universal MVP
- Hybrid Booster:
- CPU Frequency Stepless Control
- ASRock U-COP
- Boot Failure Guard (B.F.G.)
- Combo Cooler Option (C.C.O.)
- Good Night LED
*Lucid Virtu Universal MVP can be supported only with processors which are GPU integrated.

**LucidLogix Virtu MVP is only supported under Windows® 7 OS or later versions.

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 MAGIX Multimedia Suite - OEM

Accessories

- 1 x ASRock SLI_Bridge_2S Card
- Quick Installation Guide, Support CD, I/O Shield
- 4 x SATA Data 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 Fan Tachometer
- CPU/Chassis Quiet Fan (Allow Chassis Fan Speed Auto-Adjust by CPU Temperature)
- CPU/Chassis 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
  • Digi Power Design, 8 + 4 Power Phase Design
  • Supports Dual Channel DDR3 2800+(OC)
  • 2 x PCIe 3.0 x16 Slots, 1 x mini-PCI Express slot
  • Supports AMD Quad CrossFireX™, CrossFireX™ and NVIDIA® Quad SLI™, SLI™
  • PCIE Gigabit LAN
  • Supports Intel® HD Graphics with Built-in Visuals
  • Multi VGA Output options: D-Sub, DVI-D, HDMI and DisplayPort
  • Combo Cooler Option (C.C.O.)
  • 7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection (Realtek ALC898 Audio Codec), Supports THX TruStudio™
  • Supports ASRock XFast RAM, XFast LAN, XFast USB, OMG, Internet Flash, UEFI System Browser
  • Supports Intel® Smart Connect, Intel® Rapid Start, Lucid Virtu Universal MVP
  • Free Bundle : 1 x Front USB 3.0 Panel, 1 x Rear USB 3.0 Bracket, CyberLink MediaEspresso 6.5 Trial, ASRock MAGIX Multimedia Suite

Closer look

Right off the bat Asrock is offering seven motherboards based off the Z77 chipset. Three under the Fatal1ty branding Pro, Pro-M and Performance, three within the Extreme series (6, 4 and 4-M) and a Pro-M. M in the title reflects the motherboard is mATX in size.

We will be taking a look at the Extreme6 which is looking to be the overclocking favorite of the series. And just like the Extreme9 we reviewed it also shared the new look in heat sinks, several PCIe 16x slots and a host of other features like gold Japanese caps and a power phase setup for good overclocks.

First of all, we are delighted to tell you that the Z77 does support the current Sandy Bridge processors i.e. 2700K, 2600K and so on down the line. But it also supports the soon to be here Ivy Bridge processors which we cannot discuss as of now. For those sitting on the P67 and Z68 chipsets may find it hard to upgrade to the Z77. Many may not find the new or updated featured worth the time and effect.

If you feel that you own a good enough cooler from your socket 775 days then you are in luck. Just like on the P67 and Z68 motherboards Asrock allows for a easy transaction to the new motherboard which will accommodate your older cooler. Asrock calls this feature Combo Cooler Option or C.C.O.

Look any great motherboard the PCIe slots are plentiful. And it has to be in order to be considered a gamers’ dream.  There are a lot of three of them on the Extreme6. When a single GPU is used you are blessed with a full x16 bandwidth. Once a second card is introduced the bandwidth becomes x8/x8. The last slot operated from the chipset at x4. Both SLI and Crossfire setups are supported.

Between the two top PCIe slots is an mSATA connector. This connector can be used for several different devices but we see it being used more for an mSATA connected solid state drive. And with that being said the user can take advantage of the cache feature of the chipset.

Just like the Z68 chipset, the Z77 only supports two SATA III and four SATA II ports. And additional ports will be motored along from a separate controller. The third and forth SATA III ports on the Extreme6 are supported by an ASMedia ASM1061 controller. Only the Intel-based ports support RAID in any form.

The Extreme6 supports 32GB through four DIMM supports. The current Sandy Bridge supports memory naively up to 1333MHz which the Ivy Bridge chips are rumored to be up to 1600MHz. The motherboard itself supports up to 2800MHz DDR3.

The Extreme uses a digital Digi Power Design phase power as they call it. The design is suppose to allow better and cleaner distribution of power to the CPU, memory and PCIe slots. The configuration is an 8+4 arrangement. This means eight phases dedicated to the CPU voltage while two are geared towards memory and the last two towards the slots of the motherboard.

The board offers an onboard power and reset switches but the CLR CMOS button is located on the rear I/O panel.

  • PS/2 (mouse/KB)
  • 6x USB ports (2x USB 2.0 & 4x USB3.0, Intel Z77 & Etron EJ168A)
  • 1x Firewire (VIA VT6315N)
  • 1x eSATA (Marvell 88SE9172)
  • 1x LAN port (Broadcom BCM57781)
  • 7.1 channel audio (Realtek ALC898)
  • 4x Graphic ports (DVI, VGA, HDMI, DisplayPort)
  • 1x CLR CMOS


Testing Setup

Test Hardware:
Motherboard: Asrock Z77 Extreme6
Processor: Intel Core i5 2500K
Ram: Crucial Ballistix 8GB (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

I cannot tell you just how an Ivy Bridge processor overclocks as I was not fortunate enough to receive one. And if I did I still couldn’t tell you as the official date have not arrived to tell that type of information. But I can tell you how the Sandy Bridge processor does it.

We all know that the Sandy Bridge has very little play when it comes to upping the BCLK frequency. This was something we knew about before the processor was even release. So, that being the case we have to rely on the changing of the CPU ratio and playing with the voltage to get the desired results we want. The results are also governed by Intel and your luck on CPU selection.

Overclocking Results

The overclocking aspect of the Extreme6 was okay but not great. With a bump in voltage to 1.45v in the BIOS we was only able to manage 4.5GHz when this particular CPU has done 4.7GHz in the past. The board does post at 4.6 but was unstable and at 4.7 we got on post at all. Maybe updates in the BIOS will allow for better overclocking in the future.

 


Conclusion

The Asrock Extreme6 is designed and aimed to the individual looking for something better than average but not quite super high end. The motherboard provides a lot of the look that we loved in the X79 Extreme9 which targets people looking for everything in a motherboard. The black and gold theme is great to the eyes, cooling is more than adequate for anyone looking to buy the board including overclockers and more than enough PCIe slot to build a gaming powerhouse.

With the help of the Z77 chipset the Extreme6 helps to support features than the Z68 and P67. Are the added features worthy of the upgrade from the previous Intel chipset? Honestly, that is totally up to the individual. Features like Intel Smart Connect Technology which allows the system to wake from a low power mode and update programs and return to the lesser mode. Or Intel Rapid Start Technology which allows the system to wake from a hibernate mode quicker than before.

The Extreme6 promises to be a pretty good motherboard. The overclocking abilities could use some help with new BIOSs. But overallwe were very pleased with the board. Reason being multiple GPU support, all the new features in the Z77 chipset is present and [retty damn well made.

Stay tuned for more from the Extreme6 in a few weeks ....

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