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ASRock Z270 Extreme4 Motherboard Review

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Introduction

With transistors getting smaller and smaller and more and more difficult to produce in sufficient yields, Intel’s long running two step “Tick Tock” cadence is now being replaced with a 3 phase model of Process, Architecture, and Optimization. Intel’s Broadwell, while never fully released as a complete line of Desktop CPU’s, saw the Process shrink from 22nM to 14Nm with the Intel Core 5000 series CPU’s. The Architecture upgrade was done with Intel 6th Generation 6000 series CPU’s, and now we come to the 7th Generation CPU’s that target optimization. To take advantage of these optimizations, Intel has release the 200 series chipsets, and the top end enthusiast level version is the Intel Z270 Chipset found in the ASRock Z270 Extreme4 we have for review today.

The Z270 Extreme 4 is the mainstream level of ASRock’s Z270 series boards and is targeted at content creators, and other users looking for performance, reliability and connectivity without breaking the bank. Let’s see what optimizations have been made and what ASRock as managed to do with them!

ProClockers would like to thank ASRock for sending us a review sample of the Z270 Extreme4 to check out!

About ASRock

ASRock Inc. is established in 2002, specialized in the field of motherboards. ASRock strives to build up its own brand. With the 3C design concept, “Creativity, Consideration, Cost-effectiveness”, the company explores the limit of motherboards manufacturing while paying attention on the eco issue at the same time, developing products with the consideration of eco-friendly concept.

ASRock has been growing fast and become world third largest motherboard brand with headquarter in Taipei, Taiwan and branches in Europe and the USA. The young and vibrant company targets from mainstream to enthusiast MB segments for different kinds of users, owning reputation around the world market with its reliability and proficiency.

Features & Specifications

 

Product Specifications

Form FactorATX 12*9.6”
CPUSupports Intel 7th and 6th Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron Processors
ChipsetIntel Z270
Power Phase12 (Digi Power)
Caps12K Caps
Memory4 x DDR4 3866
Expansion Slots3 x PCIe 3.0 x16 (16/8/4)
3 x PCIe 3.0 x1
CFX/SLI3-Way CrossFireX, 2-Way SLI
Graphics OutputsHDMI, DVI-D, D-Sub
Audio7.1 CH ALC 1220 ( 5 + 1 Jacks), Purity Sound 4
LANIntel I219V GLAN
WLANn/a
M.22 x Ultra M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4 & SATA3)
1 x M.2 Key E for WiFi module
SATA8 x SATA3
USB2 x USB 3.1 (Rear Type-A + C)
8 x USB 3.0 (4 Front, 4 Rear)
6 x USB 2.0 (Front)
LEDOnboard *Picture for reference only LED + RGB Header

Features

Intel® Optane Memory Ready
Supports Intel® Optane™ memory technology and Intel® Optane™ storage technology that redefines a new standard of high performance and responsiveness.

M.2 Key E for WiFi
Besides the onboard LAN port, users may also choose 802.11ac wireless connections by M.2 (Key E) slot.

AURA RGB LED
Build your own colorful lighting system! AURA RGB LED and header allows users to connect LED strip and create their unique PC style easily.

Dual USB 3.1 (Type-A + Type-C)
This motherboard has a pair of onboard Type-A and Type-C USB 3.1 ports built on the rear i/o for supporting next generation USB 3.1 devices and to deliver up to 10 Gbps data transfer rates.

Water Pump Header
This is not only a standard CPU fan header, but also supports water pumps! This header provides a maximum of 1.5A power for supporting the most popular water pumps. User also can adjust the voltage of water pump to get higher cooling performance with lower noise.

Purity Sound 4
It’s time to enjoy the most purified audio performance with ultra high definition. Purity Sound4 is a combination of several hardware, software audio solutions. 7.1 CH HD audio with the latest Realtek ALC1220 audio codec, individual PCB layers for R/L audio channel, 120dB SNR DAC and other technologies to deliver the crispest sound effects.

  • 120dB SNR DAC
  • AURA RGB LED
  • Gold Audio Header
  • TI® NE5532 Premium Headset Amplifier
  • Individual PCB Layers for R/L Audio Channel
  • Impedance Sensing on Front Out port
  • PCB Isolate Shielding
  • Pure Power-In
  • Nichicon Fine Gold Series Audio Caps
  • Gold Audio Jacks

Steel Slots
Adopts three PCIe Steel Slots, which are built with more solder points on the PCB for better performance and preventing any signal interference with graphics cards. Allows your graphics cards with enhanced signals and to be well-installed in the PCIe slots.

New UEFI Theme & EZ Mode
Fancy UEFI theme to match your unique taste of computing. EZ mode is a dashboard which contains multiple readings of the system’s current status.

ASRock OBR
With one simple click, users can easily backup and recover Windows operating system via ASRock OBR technology.

Z170 Extreme 4 to Z270 Extreme4 Differences:

  • More M.2 SSD Socket (1 → 2)
  • Intel Optane Ready
  • M.2 Key E For WiFi
  • Purity Sound 3 → Purity Sound 4
  • Aura RGB LED Lighting & LED Header
  • SLI HB Bridge Bundled
  • Steel Slots
  • Gold Front Panel Audio Header
  • Water Pump Header
  • Hi-Density ATX Power Connector

A Closer Look

As an update over the previous generation Z170 Extreme4, the ASRock Z270 Extreme4 features 3 M.2 Slots. 2 for storage and one for WiFi. The first Storage oriented Ultra M.2 slot can be seen here between the CPU Socket and the first PCIe X16 slot that is armored and supports drives up to 80mm in length. The PCIe armor, besides providing shielding for superior signal quality, also makes the PCIe slot nearly indestructible which should keep even the heaviest GPUs from doing any damage.

Also note here the ‘Flexible’ PCIe X1 slots on the board make return here from the previous Z170 Extreme4. They are notched to allow any card to be installed, although obviously they will only operate at PCIe 3.0 X1 speed.

The second Ultra M.2 Slot for storage is located on the bottom right corner of the board and extends between the 2nd and 3rd PCIe X16 slots. Unlike its shorter counterpart, this one supports up to 120mm long drives. Also in this corner is the dual BIOS chips and select jumper. Each BIOS has a corresponding LED to indicate which is in use. Front panel connections, a 4-pin fan header, TPM module connection and a Serial UART header. Extending off to the left are three headers for six USB 2.0 ports.

Moving up the right side we come to 8 SATA-III 6Gbps ports. The right most 6 ports can be used in RAID via Intel RST. Just above these are 2 front panel USB 3.0 headers for a total of 4 ports. Another 4-pin fan header hides near the ram slots as well.

It might support new CPU’s and have a new Chipset attached to it, but Intel’s LGA-1151 Socket hasn’t changed a bit. Same retention mechanism as before, and same cooling configuration. This board supports all current Intel Core series 6th Generation ‘Skylake’ CPU’s as well as upcoming 7th generation ‘Kaby Lake’ CPU’s.

The rear I/O panel has quite the array of connectivity. Under the white shroud covering most of the rear of the motherboard, two spots for WiFi Antennas are provided if you choose to install your own WiFi card. A Combination PS/2 port and Intel Gigabit Ethernet ports sit over a pair of USB 3.0 ports each. The usual 5 audio jacks and S/PDIF optical audio ports are present, connected to the Purity Sound 4 system provide most of your audio connections.

Two ASMedia provided USB 3.1 (gen 2) 10Gbps ports, one Type-A and one Type-C round out the rear USB ports. A DVI-D, HDMI 1.4b and oddly enough a D-Sub VGA port provide video connectivity. It’s a bit strange these days to see a VGA port instead of a much more common Display Port connection, but there are still plenty of analog monitors floating around out there and this is a mainstream targeted board.

After removing a few screws and removing the white shielding over the rear of the motherboard, we get a better look at a few things. On the very right here is the M.2 E-key slot for a PCIe Wifi module. Next to it is the ASMedia ASM1442K Chip that drives the HDMI 1.4b port on the rear I/O panel from the integrated graphics in the CPU (when applicable). The real star here is the ASMedia ASM2142 USB3.1 Controller on the left.

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A recent upgrade from the popular ASM1142 controller, the new ASM2142 connects to the system at PCIe 3.0 x2 speeds as opposed to the typical x1 speed for the best USB3.1 bandwidth on the market. Capable of 16Gb/s peak bandwidth, there is enough to run one port at a full 10gbps with plenty left over, or both ports at 8Gbps simultaneously.

Nestled out of the way under the M.2 E-key port behind the rear I/O Panel, the Realtek RTD2168 is providing the D-SUB (VGA) connector on the rear I/O panel since Intel no longer supports this legacy display output. If you choose to install a Wifi card, ASRock has provided space on the rear I/O panel for two antennas. If you have a higher end card with triple antennas, you might have to get a bit creative.

Once you have the system up and running, you have 3 independent RGB LED zones on the ASRock Z270 Extreme4. The first is the rear I/O Shield accent and the Purity Sound 4 Logo towards the bottom, however that one is likely to be covered up by your GPU(s) and not very visible.

The 2nd zone is an indirect glow out from under the Chipset heatsink on the bottom right corner of the board you can see here just peeking out from under the GPU in the top right of the this picture. The last zone is the 5050 compatible RGB header located along the bottom of the board next to the Thunderbolt headers. We have the short 3” Y-cables that come with the ram stretched here to the max to reach the Geil EvoX RGB modules, but you should be able to connect to most RGB devices on the market that support (+12V/G/R/B) 4 pin connections.

System Configuration & BIOS

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-6700K
  • Mobo: ASRock Z270 Extreme4
  • Ram: Geil EvoX RGB – 3000Mhz C15 2x16GB
  • GPU: Galax GTX 1070 HOF
  • Storage:
    • M.2: Plextor M8Pe 128GB
    • SATA: Sandisk Ultra Plus 256GB
    • RAID: 4x Corsair Force GT 240GB in RAID 0 (Intel RST)
    • USB: Corsair Flash Voyager GTX 128GB (UASP enabled USB SSD)

 

On your first entry into ASRock’s Extreme4 BIOS you are greeted with EZ Mode. From here you get a great rundown of installed/connected hardware, some simple status information such as temperatures and fans speeds, and some basic settings like RAID and XMP.

From the EZ Mode home screen you can select system browser from the Tools menu in the lower right corner. Here, each connected or installed device will light up its respected place on the board and you can hover over it to see further information for that component.

The Tools menu also includes the Fan-Tastic Tuning program for tuning all your system fans. You can also tie secondary fans such as the chassis fans to your CPU temps to spin then up at the same time, which is great for overclocking.

Pressing F6 from the EZ Mode page gets you to the advanced area of the UEFI BIOS. The main page by default only displays the information about CPU and Ram, but you can customize this by pressing F5. Nearly every other option in the advanced area like above has a QR code. If you can this code with your favorite barcode or QR app, you will be taken to a webpage with relevant information.

The OC Tweaker Tab is where most enthusiasts will spend their time in here. You get 5 profile slots for saving overlocking profiles, as well as the ability to save and back them up to/from disk. Most of your settings will fall under the 3 main areas, CPU, Memory and Voltages, and further settings can be found under those. There really isn’t anything new with the 7th Generation Intel Core CPU’s as far as overclocking goes, all the same settings and voltage rails can be found in the overclocking menu, so we won’t get too in depth here.

The Advanced Tab contains most of your non overclock related settings. Access to integrated devices such as storage, Thunderbolt, other storage ports, and USB settings for example.

Many users might skip over the Tools tab without so much as a second glance, but there is gold hidden here. Connecting an Ethernet cable to the board during this will gain you the ability to install raid drivers to a USB drive for ease of install of your favorite OS. You can also have the board track down the latest BIOS update ad flash itself. You ca eve go so far as to grab EVERY required driver for your upcoming OS install so you have the latest and greatest on hand before you even start installing an operating system. It’s well worth your time to poke around in this menu.

Nothing too out of the ordinary under the Hardware Monitor tab, although you don’t often find minor voltage rails internal to the CPU displayed, so that is nice. Temps, fan speeds and pretty well every single voltage in the system is displayed here so you can keep a close eye on everything all at once.

If security is your thing, you can find all you need here. This is where you set up user and admin passwords for BIOS, as well as configuring Intel Secure Boot and Trusted Platform Technology if you install a module into the motherboard header for it.

Last stop on our BIOS tour is the Boot Tab. Here you can configure boot order and all other manner of boot settings. The Boot Failure Guard was a big help during the overclocking portion of this review as it was able to reset everything to default when we pushed something a little too far and created an unstable or unbootable config. Not having to do a CMOS reset to get out of a failed overclock is kind of nice.

Software & Utilities

The ASRock Extreme4 comes with a handful of software to enhance your experience. One of the first ones you should install is the ASRock App Shop. From here you can install all of the rest of the utilities for this setup as well as some handy things like Google Chrome.

The BIOS and Drivers tab is great way to make sure everything is installed and updated and will likely be your first stop on a clean install.

Your most used ASRock app will probably be the new Aura RGB LED app. Here you can change the colors and effects for each of the 3 lighting zones, Rear I/O area, Chipset Heatsink, and external 5050 compatible lighting products you can connect to the bottom header on board. It’s partially the translucent plastic used over the rear I/O area but it is very difficult with the color wheel above to get a good true Red, Blue, or Green that you get with only a single color active. I would really like to see ASRock add individual channel control in a future update.

If you have Fast Boot enabled and running on a compatible UEFI compliant operating system, your machine will boot so fast you don’t have a chance to get to the BIOS. With the Restart to UEFI tool, you can schedule the next reboot to take you there, or have it take you there immediately.

ASRock X-Fast LAN is another great app to have. It can prioritize traffic across your network connection giving your latency sensitive programs like games the highest priority while keeping streaming audio for example from slowing you down. For another example, you can watch an internet video while downloading a new game, and never have to worry about buffering by giving your video a higher priority.

Performance & Testing

Stock Performance Testing

All performance testing was done with the i7 6700K and default clocks with Turbo Boost left enabled for up to 4.2Ghz boost speeds. The Galax 1070 HOF was clocked at stock speeds, reaching a core boost speed of 2025Mhz and an effective memory speed of 8008MHz. The Geil EvoX ram was set to XMP Profile 1 (3000Mhz, 15-17-17-38 2T)

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Games where ran at a resolution of 1920 x 1080px with to maximum graphical settings applied with V-sync and MSAA always turned off.

General Performance

PassMark Performance Test 9

Fast, easy to use, PC speed testing and benchmarking. PassMark Performance Test allows you to objectively benchmark a PC using a variety of different speed tests and compare the results to other computers.

  • Find out if your PC is performing at its best.
  • Compare the performance of your machine to similar machines.
  • Measure the effect of configuration changes and upgrades.
  • Avoid paying big bucks for poor performance.
  • Make objective independent measurements on which to base your purchasing decision.
  • Use the advanced tests to create you own benchmark scenarios.

Thirty two standard benchmark tests are available in five test suites plus there are eight advanced testing windows for custom benchmarking. In addition to the standard tests, there are 5 summary results plus the overall “PassMark Rating” result. The benchmark results are presented as easy to read charts so that you don’t need to spend hours studying the number to know the result.

A major advantage is the support for built-in baseline results which allows you to compare computer systems (a baseline is a standard set of results from another computer). These baseline results can be used to determine how fast your computer is in comparison with other computer systems.

We can see this system is a beast, even at stock clocks, surpassing 99%+ of the rest of the systems tested.

NovaBench (3.0.4)

Novabench is a freeware benchmark test for Windows and macOS. It quickly tests your computer’s capabilities (CPU, Graphics, RAM, and Storage). Novabench has been trusted by millions since 2007. NovaBench tests the main components of your computer quickly. Testing only takes a few minutes, and produces detailed information and an overall system score.

CPU Tests
  • Floating Point – Tests CPU’s floating point arithmetic speed
  • Integer – Tests CPU’s integer arithmetic speed
  • MD5 Hashing – General CPU test
 GPU Test
  • 3D Graphics – Tests GPU with a heavily shader dependent 3D scene
 Hardware Tests
  • RAM Speed – Tests RAM read and write speed
  • Disk Write Speed – Test write speed of primary or selected storage device

NovaBench is quick, and produces a baseline score that is a sum of each individual section. This score works well to give you a quick black and white picture of what a system change or hardware upgrade has done to you, but since it does not provide a weighted score, it is hard to compare to other systems if they are not an exactly identical configuration.

Again, you can only really compare scores on NovaBench to similar systems, but this combination of hardware actually managed a higher overall score than our recent MSI X99A Tomahawk review with a Intel Core i7-5960X. The test systems had same GPU and SSD, even with 4 fewer cores. The difference here is mostly the 25% higher base clock speed. It also scored a significantly higher GPU 3D score with the same card at the same clocks.

CPU Performance Testing

CINEBENCH R15

CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer’s performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON’s award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Iron Man 3, Oblivion, Life of Pi or Prometheus and many more.

CINEBENCH is the perfect tool to compare CPU and graphics performance across various systems and platforms (Windows and OS X). And best of all: It’s completely free.”

A score of 867 cb is pretty typical of the 6700K and just edges out is prior generation counter parts.

7-Zip

The benchmark shows a rating in MIPS (million instructions per second). The rating value is calculated from the measured speed, and it is normalized with results of Intel Core 2 CPU with multi-threading option switched off. So if you have modern CPU from Intel or AMD, rating values in single-thread mode must be close to real CPU frequency. There are two tests, compression with LZMA method and decompression with LZMA method. Once the total passes reaches 20, the score is taken.

The i7-6700K scored a total rating of 26,665 Million Instructions per Second on the 7-Zip testing after 20 runs.

Y-Cruncher

Written by Alexander J. Lee “From a high-school project that went a little too far…” y-cruncher, (y for gamma) is a number crunching program that can compute various mathematical constants.

It was originally a small program specialized for computing the Euler-Mascheroni Constant. (Which uses gamma as its symbol, hence the name). It has since gained the ability to compute other constants.

It is the first of its kind that is multi-threaded and scalable to multi-core systems. Ever since its launch in 2009, it has become a common benchmarking and stress-testing application for overclockers and hardware enthusiasts.

We tested using the built in benchmarks to compute Pi to 1 Billion Digits.

Our i7-6700K calculated 1 Billion digits of Pi in 98.701 Seconds using all 4 cores.

Memory Performance Testing

AIDA64 Extreme Edition

AIDA64 implements a set of 64-bit benchmarks to measure how fast the computer performs various data processing tasks and mathematical calculations. Multi-threaded memory and cache benchmarks are available to analyze system RAM bandwidth and latency. Benchmark pages of AIDA64 Extreme provide several methods to measure system performance. These benchmarks are synthetic, so their results show only the theoretical (maximum) performance of the system.

CPU and FPU benchmarks of AIDA64 Extreme are built on the multi-threaded AIDA64 Benchmark Engine that supports up to 32 simultaneous processing threads. It also supports multi-processor, multi-core and Hyper Threading enabled systems.

Memory bandwidth benchmarks (Memory Read, Memory Write, and Memory Copy) measure the maximum achievable memory data transfer bandwidth. The code behind these benchmark methods are written in Assembly and they are extremely optimized for every popular AMD, Intel and VIA processor core variants by utilizing the appropriate x86/x64, x87, MMX, MMX+, 3DNow!, SSE, SSE2, SSE4.1, AVX, and AVX2 instruction set extension.

The Memory Latency benchmark measures the typical delay when the CPU reads data from system memory. Memory latency time means the penalty measured from the issuing of the read command until the data arrives to the integer registers of the CPU.

The Geil EvoX 3000Mhz ram scored nearly 42GB/s reads, 44GB/s writes, and 40GB/s copy speeds with a 50.1ns latency which is pretty good. Here you can also see the Internal Cache speeds and Latency of the CPU as well.

Game Testing

3DMark – Firestrike

“The new 3DMark includes everything you need to benchmark your hardware. With three all new tests you can bench everything from smartphones and tablets, to notebooks and home PCs, to the latest high-end, multi-GPU gaming desktops. And it’s not just for Windows. With 3DMark you can compare your scores with Android and iOS devices too. It’s the most powerful and flexible 3DMark we’ve ever created.

Fire Strike is a showcase DirectX 11 benchmark designed for today’s high-performance gaming PCs. It is our most ambitious and technical benchmark ever, featuring real-time graphics rendered with detail and complexity far beyond what is found in other benchmarks and games today”

Our tests setup scored 19,064 Graphics, 13,632 Physics score, and 7,534 points combined for an overall score of 15,718. This shows strong performance that is on the upper end of average for systems near this configuration, and should prove capable of playing any current games with maximum settings around the 1440p mark up to medium settings at 4K.

Metro: Last Light

“It Is the Year 2034. Beneath the ruins of post-apocalyptic Moscow, in the tunnels of the Metro, the remnants of mankind are besieged by deadly threats from outside – and within. Mutants stalk the catacombs beneath the desolate surface, and hunt a midst the poisoned skies above.”

Developed by 4A games and published by Deepsilver, Metro: Last Light uses the 4A game engine. At its highest settings, the 4A game engine is capable of bringing all but the most extreme gaming systems to their knees.

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3 Runs of the Metro: Last Light built in benchmark with the above settings. The results of the benchmark run are as follows:

  • Average Framerate: 118.68
  • Max. Framerate: 209.03
  • Min. Framerate: 29.99
 Thief

“Garrett, the Master Thief, steps out of the shadows into the City. In this treacherous place, where the Baron’s Watch spreads a rising tide of fear and oppression, his skills are the only things he can trust. Even the most cautious citizens and their best-guarded possessions are not safe from his reach.”

Thief was developed by Eidos-Montréal and published by SQUARE ENIX, Eidos Interactive. The newest game in our benchmark suite, Thief is also one of the most demanding and has the highest recommended system requirements. Those heavy requirements allow it to use the Unreal 3 game engine to great effect. It also features AMD’s Mantle API, as well as Microsoft’s common DirectX 11 API.

With a minimum FPS of nearly 100, this system has no issues holding a solid frame rate at 1080p, but the goal here was to test for bottlenecks rather than the capabilities of the GPU.

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is an open world action-adventure video game set within Tolkien’s legendarium, developed by Monolith Productions and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Officially announced in November 2013, it was released a year later in November 2014.

Here again in another title that can be rather demanding we see a minimum FPS of 93 while topping out at nearly 200 FPS.

Storage Testing

CrystalDiskMark 3.0

CrystalDiskMark is designed to quickly test the performance of your hard drives. Currently, the program allows to measure sequential and random read/write speeds.”

We’ll start out with testing the M.2 Slots on the board with our Plextor M8Pe 128GB drive. CrystalDisk Info reports the drive connected at PCIe 3.0 x4 in both slots, and scored 1.3GB/s reads and nearly 500MB/s writes which is the maximum capabilities of this particular drive in both slots. The CrystalDiskMark test show here is from the Lower slot, but the top one scored the exact same within a margin of error. We did not have two identical drives on hand to test M.2 RAID unfortunately.

ATTO Disk Benchmark

“As the industry’s leading provider of high-performance storage & network connectivity products, ATTO has created a widely-accepted Disk Benchmark freeware utility to help measure storage system performance. As one of the top tools utilized in the industry, Disk Benchmark identifies performance in hard drives, solid state drives, RAID arrays as well as connections to storage. Top drive manufacturers, like Hitachi, build and test every drive using the ATTO Disk Benchmark”

Our Plextor M8Pe drive scores nearly the exact same in ATTO. A peak read speed of about 1.3GB/s and about 500MB/s write speeds. With 32Gbps maximum bandwidth available on each M.2 Slot, the ASRock Z270 Extreme4 can handle drives much faster than this.

Next Up is USB Storage Testing. The Fastest drive we have on hand is Corsair’s Flash Voyager GTX 128GB UASP enabled USB SSD. Fully capable of saturating a 5Gbps USB 3.0 port, It is one of the fastest drives on the market at present.
ASRock uses the newer ASMedia 2142 USB 3.1 Gen 2 controller to feed the two 10gbps ports on the board. We see very slightly faster speeds via this controller over the Intel Chipset Provided USB 3.0 ports also on the rear I/O but the writes are slightly less stable. Our Corsair drive has slight bug causing a huge dip in read performance at the 64KB test block size, this is the drives fault and no indication of USB port issues.

Last but certainly not least: testing the storage performance of the Onboard SATA Ports. Using Intel Rapid Storage, we tested a single Corsair Force GT 240GB SSD and in RAID-0 with two, three and four drives. Rather surprisingly, we see nearly perfect scaling up to 4 drives and landing right at the 2GB/s read speeds while a single drive scores about 550MB/s. Former Intel chipsets, including the most recent 100 Series usually top out at around 1.3 to 1.6GB/s or about 2.5 to 3x the speed of a single drive.

We see very similar scaling on the write side as well which also scales well to around the 1.95GB/s mark. Out of curiosity, we did dig out a fifth matching drive, but it turned in nearly the same results as 4 drives. 2GB a second out of an Intel Chipset RAID controller is spectacular! This is a VERY welcome surprise as a quartet of SATA SSD’s is still cheaper than many NVMe drives and can turn in similar sequential speeds.

Overclocking

Best overclock shown CPU-Z and GPU-Z is 5Ghz on the CPU, 2.1Ghz GPU core and 9Ghz Effective VRAM. The voltage is set to 1.445v in the BIOS for the CPU but shows as 1.488V once windows is loaded. This is pretty high to run any length of time, so we back the CPU down to the following for Benchmarking.

First Up, PassMark Performance Test 9.0.

PassMark is showing about 150 points higher overall with the overclocks. Since we were already scoring in the 99th percentile, it’s hard to see much difference here.

Cinebench R15

CineBench really shows a difference with an overclock, pulling a 19% boost in score from 867cb to 1031cb.

Y-Cruncher

With an 800 MHz overclock on the CPU, We shaved about 4 seconds or around 5% off our Pi Calculation, down from 98.701 Seconds.

FireStrike

Our Overclocks netted some decent increases. Graphics score improved from 19064 to 20619, or about an 8% increase. CPU Physics increased from 13632 to 15219 or 11.6% increase. Combined score went from 7534 to 8481, a 12.5% increase. Altogether, this nets a 9.6% increase from 15718 to 17235.

Thief

Thief see’s about a 7 FPS increase on the minimum and Maximum, but nearly 10FPS better on average.

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Shadow of Mordor doesn’t change much on minimum, up slightly from 93FPS, but average sees a better increase from 139FPS.

Final Thoughts & Conclusion

For a mid-range targeted motherboard, the ASRock Z270 Extreme4 packs some serious heat. Intel’s new Z270 chipset provides some serious storage performance and options including twin 32Gbps M.2 Slots. The included ASMedia 2142 controller provides the best USB 3.1 Gen 2 performance on the market when using multiple high end devices simultaneously. The latest RGB craze isn’t missed by ASRock, three independent RGB zones including one header for connecting your own colorful devices provide limitless customization. We do miss independent control of each color channel, but the color wheel selection provides more colors than you will know what to do with, and all 3 zones can be different colors, or even different effects.

Solid overclocking potential can bring some of that gaming oriented performance down to a more affordable level. Some less obvious flexibility really rounds out the feature list. Flexible PCIe X1 slots allow any expansion card to be installed, and a 3rd M.2 Slot under the Rear I/O cover as well as a bracket for dual antennas gives the end user a 5 minute upgrade to a WiFi capable system if the cables are a little out of reach. Dual BIOS’s can be a real life saver, but while we had zero issues, we do miss the 2 digit error readout found on may other ASRock boards. Overall we’re quite impressed with the Extreme4 and the new Intel Z270 chipset under the hood lends it great performance and a few extra I/O lanes that are put to good use, that’s why we are giving it the ProClockers Highly Recommended award. If you are in the market for LGA-1151 motherboard for your Skylake or new Kaby Lake CPU and don’t want to spend a fortune, the ASRock Z270 Extreme4 should be at the top of your list. Look for it from your favorite ASRock retailers soon.

Pros:

  • Three RGB zones
  • Dual turbo M.2 slots
  • Awesome SATA RAID performance
  • Dual BIOS

Cons:

  • Missing 2-digit error code readout.
  • RGB Control is only a color wheel.

 

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