In The Box

As mentioned in the Extreme4-M section, if you remember the P67 Extreme4 by ASRock, for ~$160, we got a substantial haul in the box, including a front panel USB 3.0 panel and SSD holder.  Though compared to the X79 Extreme4-M, we get more in the box for our extra $10:

4 x SATA Cables
IO Panel
Driver CD
3 Slot SLI Bridge
Tri-SLI Bridge (3 slot, 2 slot – to fit this board)

I am a little disappointed to be honest, given ASRock’s previous tenacity when it comes to box bundling.

Board Features

ASRock X79 Extreme4
Size ATX
CPU Interface LGA2011
CPU Support Intel Second Generation Core i7 Sandy Bridge E
Chipset Intel X79
Base Clock Frequency 100.0 MHz
Core Voltage Default, 0.6 V to 1.7 V
CPU Clock Multiplier Auto, 12x to 60x
DRAM Voltage Auto, 1.207 V to 1.806 V
DRAM Command Rate Auto, 1N to 3N
Memory Slots Four DDR3 DIMM slots supporting up to 32 GB
Up to Quad Channel
Support for DDR3, 800-2400 MHz
Expansion Slots 2 x PCIe Gen 3 x16
1 x PCIe Gen 3 x8
2 x PCIe x1 2 x PCI
Onboard SATA/RAID 2 x SATA 6 Gbps, Support for RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
4 x SATA 3 Gbps, Support for RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
3 x SATA 6 Gbps (Controller)
Onboard 4 x SATA 3 Gbps (PCH)
5 x SATA 6 Gbps (2 PCH, 3 Controller)
6 x Fan Headers
1 x 4-pin Molex CFX/SLI Power Connector
1 x HDMI_SPDIF Header
1 x Front Panel Header
1 x Front Panel Audio Header
3 x USB 2.0 Headers
1 x USB 3.0 Header
1 x COM Header
1 x IEEE 1394a Header
Power / Reset / Clear CMOS Buttons + Debug LED
Onboard LAN Broadcom BCM57781 Gigabit LAN
Onboard Audio Realtek ALC898
7.1 Ch HD, Supports THX TruStudio
Power Connectors 1 x 24-pin ATX connector
1 x 8-pin 12V connector
1 x 4-pin Molex CFX/SLI Power Connector
Fan Headers 2 x CPU Fan Header
3 x Chassis Headers
1 x PWR Header
1 x SB Header (occupied)
IO Panel 1 x PS/2 Mouse Port
1 x PS/2 Keyboard Port
1 x Optical S/PDIF Out Port
1 x Coaxial S/PDIF Out Port
6 x USB 2.0
2 x USB 3.0
1 x eSATA 6 Gbps
1 x Gigabit Ethernet
1 x Firewire
1 x Clear CMOS
Audio Jacks
BIOS Version 1.5
Warranty Period 2 Years

ASRock are starting to use Broadcom NICs on their products.  As mentioned in the intro, it is nice to see a high end Realtek Audio Codec in there (ALC898).  On the flip side, with the 4-pin molex CFX/SLI power connector on board in an odd position, one has to wonder whether it is really needed when other boards do not require it.

Overclocking

At the time of testing, the latest BIOS available for the X79 Extreme4 is the 1.50 BIOS.  This, according to ASRock, affords a better overclocking experience.  The 1.50 was not available for the 4-M, so we may get different results here.

ASRock always like offering overclock presets, and the X79 Extreme4 is no different.  We can select between 4.0 GHz and 5.2 GHz in 200 MHz increments, however your mileage may vary depending on the CPU itself, and cooling.  I went straight in at the 4.8 GHz setting, not expecting any trouble.  However, while the board did POST, it did not want to load any OS – the screen would hang with a blinking carat, then after 20 seconds the whole board would reset.

On the 4.6 GHz setting, it all went swimmingly – the board booted without issue.  When running 3DPM (multi-threaded mode), we saw a constant 4.6 GHz in CPU-Z, although the CPU voltage was fairly alarming, running at 1.496 V at full load.  This is about 0.1 volts too much!!  From this, a temperature of 83 degrees Celsius was seen in 3DPM, on an open test bed with the Intel All-in-One Liquid cooler.  When running a thorough CPU and memory test using Blender, the board would declock the CPU to 3.3 GHz when the CPU hit 84 degrees Celsius, and stay there until the end of any CPU load, wholly negating any overclock.

When adjusting the settings manually, I used my common X79 overclock presets – CPU at 1.4 volts, Power Limits to 500W and Core Limits to 500A.  With this, I went straight in with a 46x multiplier (4.6 GHz) without issue.  During 3DPM-MT, the highest temperature seen was 76 degrees Celsius.  However, during the Blender test, due to the lower voltage compared to the auto settings in the previous paragraph, it took about 7 minutes to reach 84 degrees Celsius, and then the CPU backed off to 3.3 GHz.  I turned off CPU Thermal Throttling in the BIOS, and reran the test.  This time, at 85 degrees Celsius, the board decided to shut off completely, with no warning whatsoever.  This must be an ultimate temperature failsafe for the board, however it does leave us with what to suggest with an appropriate overclock.  With an ASRock it seems, it all depends on your cooling – our 4.6 GHz manual adjustment only hit the throttling after several minutes of 100% CPU, so could offer good speed in all but the most strenuous loads.

For memory overclock, we have several options (with a CPU frequency of 100 MHz), from DDR3-800 to DDR3-2400, going up in typical memory straps, as well as standard XMP.  At 1866 MHz and 2133 MHz, the board gave automatic subtimings of 9-11-9-28 2T.  At 2400 MHz, which did not work with the Extreme4-M, we had a completely stable system with the Extreme4, with automatic timings of 10-12-10-33 2T.  This was completely Blender stable.  Unfortunately, the system doesn’t offer further straps than this, so we had to bump the CPU bus frequency to see more.  At the 1.25x gear ratio (125 MHz on CPU, multiplier was lowered accordingly for the same CPU overall speed), the straps offer different values, including 2000 MHz, 2333 MHz, 2666 MHz and 3000 MHz.  At 2000 MHz, the memory defaulted to 11-11-11 which equates to JEDEC settings on the memory.  Thus at 2333 MHz, when the board didn’t boot, I assume it was trying to implement 9-11-9-28 2T, which for this kit is a no go.

An overall overclock of 4.6 GHz and DDR3-2400 (for all 16GB) is a respectable result, limited only by the cooling and the thermal throttling of the board.

ASRock X79 Extreme4 Overview and Visual Inspection BIOS and Software
POST A COMMENT

54 Comments

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  • LauRoman - Friday, December 9, 2011 - link

    Considering that inserting a pcie expansion card in a x16 (x8) slot could, on old chipsets/moterboards screw around with your 2/3/4 way sli/x-fire bandwith let's not kill it just yet. Reply
  • ckryan - Friday, December 9, 2011 - link


    Intel chipsets don't have native PCI support anymore. You have to use a PCIe to PCI PLX chip on the motherboard to get the support. That means you're giving up PCIe bandwidth (probably not a big deal), but also PCI support is spotty. I have one SB board (an Intel DP67BG) that doesn't really work with any PCI soundcard (they've not been able to fix this with UEFI updates).

    But at some point you just have to decide that you're going to not use PCI anymore, and people who refuse to replace their old busted sound card or bunk networking device are holding us all back. PCI is terrible, and I'd much have a PCIe x1 slot or no slot at all.

    Wireless adapters are just as cheap in PCIe x1 as PCI, and gigabit ethernet is hamstrung by PCI as it's just not very fast. Soundcards are available from Asus and Creative in PCIe for cheap. I've got a Asus Essence STX PCIe which was more expensive, but why the hell would you buy the PCI version (which was more expensive) in 2011?
    Reply
  • sylar365 - Friday, December 9, 2011 - link

    My "old, busted" soundcard.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

    Got something that sounds better without bloatware available in PCIe? Besides, most audio chips currently being produced and placed on PCIe sound cards still require a PLX chip in order to convert from the PCI standard to use the PCIe form factor.

    IMHO i wish they would kill PCI - AND THEN - make decent sound hardware available for PCIe slots. Admittedly there have been a couple of products in the past couple of months starting to emerge, but FFS it is time to go mainstream with some high quality PCIe sound hardware already!
    Reply
  • JonnyDough - Friday, December 9, 2011 - link

    Agreed. I have a Creative X-Fi myself, wish I'd gotten the HT Omega instead but it either wasn't out yet or I wasn't that informed on sound cards at the time. PCI slots are still very much needed. I have network cards both GB ethernet and wireless that utilize the old PCI slot too. Reply
  • yk - Friday, December 9, 2011 - link

    What about HT | OMEGA eClaro 7.1 Channels 24-bit 192KHz PCI Express x1 Interface Sound Card? Reply
  • Siorus - Monday, December 12, 2011 - link

    Useless. Only one socketed opamp and the surround channels look to be handled by JRC garbage (at least it's a step up from the tin-can-telephone-on-a-chip stuff that Creative dumps on people). I think one of the Asus Xonar PCI-E cards has swappable opamps for every channel but I'm not positive.

    Either way, until I can get that on a PCI-E card, I'll need to keep my PCI stuff.
    Reply
  • twoBitBasher - Friday, December 9, 2011 - link

    For now I'm still happy that Asrock is sticking with the PCI and the best part is that you can populate the whole board with dual slot graphics and still use the PCI! Most boards have already dumped PCI or implemented it so that if you go SLI or Xfire you are out of luck.

    Try to find decent cards with balanced 1/4" jack outputs and not go external!
    Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Friday, December 9, 2011 - link

    PCI is what makes a PC. There are hundreds of thousands of different PCI products, and most of them have no reason or need to be migrated to a different form factor. Reply
  • Chubblez - Friday, December 9, 2011 - link

    The same thing has been said about ISA, EISA, and VLB. Where are they now? Reply
  • JonnyDough - Friday, December 9, 2011 - link

    They are more dated. PCI came after, and is a variant of ISA. Things are shifting, but many would argue that the slot is still needed. Besides, its cheap as hell to add one. If anything needs to die its PS2. Reply

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