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
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54 Comments

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  • DigitalFreak - Friday, December 9, 2011 - link

    I wish PCI connectors on motherboards would die already, especially on the high end. Reply
  • futurepastnow - Friday, December 9, 2011 - link

    I agree with you, but I'm sure the three people who still use sound cards will be here shortly to tell you you're wrong. Reply
  • geniekid - Friday, December 9, 2011 - link

    I would be one of those people. If you're into amateur music production, you're probably going to need a sound card for various inputs/outputs, and a lot of the cheaper options there are going to be PCI.

    Also, my month-old built HTPC uses the PCI for a wireless network adapter.
    Reply
  • cjs150 - Friday, December 9, 2011 - link

    I rumaged around the various PCs I have and the best I come up with is a 6 year old RAID card (still a good one) and a 2 year old TV card

    So time for PCI to die

    Can I have a right angled 24 ATX socket as well
    Reply
  • somedude1234 - Friday, December 9, 2011 - link

    If you're purchasing a new motherboard and CPU, each of which is north of $200, does the additional cost burden of a PCIe sound card or WLAN card really make that big of a difference?

    I understand that every dollar saved somewhere can be used (more memory, bigger SSD, etc.), but PCIe sound cards and WLAN cards aren't exactly bank-breakers.

    I don't do any serious audio work, so are there any technical reasons (latency or otherwise) that make legacy PCI cards better than their PCIe counterparts?
    Reply
  • Spivonious - Friday, December 9, 2011 - link

    No technical reasons, but many audio production cards (i.e. not the latest Soundblaster) are still only available in a PCI format. Reply
  • Flunk - Friday, December 9, 2011 - link

    The latest soundblaster IS actually available in PCI-E. If the PCI slots went away everything would be available in PCI-E. There really is no reason anymore. Reply
  • Gnarr - Friday, December 9, 2011 - link

    no-one who's serious about music production uses a soundblaster.. Reply
  • g00ey - Saturday, December 10, 2011 - link

    That is not true at all, most serious brands of professional audio hardware Reply
  • g00ey - Saturday, December 10, 2011 - link

    That is not true at all, most serious brands of professional audio hardware such as RME, UAD, Apogee, or even AVID/Digidesign dominate their product lines with PCIe based expansion cards and not PCI.

    Also, there is a considerable variety of PCIe to PCI adapters and bridgeboards out there that makes it even less justifiable to put PCI slots on a modern motherboard.
    Reply

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