ASRock P67 3-Way Motherboard Roundup
The Extreme6 model is ASRock’s flagship P67 board, and gets the full treatment from package to layout to features and support software. As a result, we’ll look at the Extreme6 in far greater detail from here in the roundup.
The Extreme6 is a Socket 1155 board and the package again looks very similar but it’s darker than the tow budget boards, and also much larger. Some basic information adorns the front of the box, while the rear conveys plenty of information on the features and specifications of the Pro3 Extreme6. There’s also a flap on the box here on the Extreme6 that goes into further details about some of the features and specifications.
The features mentioned here instead focus heavily toward the enthusiast, including detailed information about the power design, front panel USB 3.0 connectors, Extreme Tuning overclocking software, THX audio, and the new UEFI BIOS.
The Extreme6 also gets extra visual flair with a front opening flap to describe more features, along with a clear plastic window that gives a nice view of the board itself. Inside this outer box are two individual boxes, one housing the board and the other containing the accessories.
The Extreme6’s accessories package is far more robust than the Transformer and Pro3. Included is the Installation Guide, UEFI BIOS guide, driver disk, SLI bridge, colour-coded I/O shield, IDE and SATA cables, Molex-to-SATA power cables, and a USB 3.0 front panel connector. This front panel USB 3.0 features a breakout design that can incorporate the installation of a 2.5" SSD drive into the front 3.5" bay panel. Very handy, very nice inclusion here by ASRock.
Upon removing the motherboard from the box, we see the design again continues the Pro3 and Transformer models’ aesthetics, although we get a proper black PCB here. Though the components are still blue and white, there’s more on the Extreme6 in the form of chunky grey heatsinks.
A quick overview of the Pro3 Extreme6 reveals the layout is very tidy, though it is far more cramped than the other two budget boards, which comes as no surprise since ASRock has packed a boatload of features into the Extreme6. Fan headers are laid out extremely well, covering every major board area and are grouped together in strategic places. The battery will still be blocked by a dual slot graphics card though.
There is one issue though: the "northbridge" heatsink extends too far downward and will block anything but the shortest device from being installed in the top PCI-E x1 slot, which means pretty much everything. PCI-E audio card? Don’t bother, put it in the bottom expansion slot. But what about going SLI/Crossfire and adding in another expansion device? Then forget about a discrete audio card, it probably won’t fit. Admittedly this scenario is unlikely, but tweaking the heatsink design would have avoided these potential problems to begin with.
The Extreme6 gets a bump to a 16+2 phase power design for maximum stability. There’s also a 4-pin Molex connector to the left of the CPU socket to provide additional power for heavy loads or overclocking. There is also passive cooling by means of three heatsinks and a continuous heatpipe throughout.
Off the corner of the upper CPU area is the 8-pin CPU power connector, nicely positioned directly at the edge of the board to avoid cable management problems.
To the right of the CPU area, we see the four DDR3 memory slots in dual-channel configuration. To the left and bottom of the DIMM slots are a total of four fan headers, a smart move for those who may be interested in water cooling and want to easily connect a trio of radiator fans. The motherboard’s 24-pin power connector is also located here, handily placed to suit top or bottom-mounted power supplies when installed in a case.
Moving to the lower half the the board, the Extreme6 features a total of ten SATA ports. The four blue ones are SATA II ports and support RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 configurations. The two right white ports are SATA III connectors that are provided by the P67 chipset, while the four left white ones are provided by the Marvell controller. ASRock recommends using the P67-based SATA III ports for maximum speed. All the ports are angled perpendicular to the board, thus avoiding any conflicts with long graphics cards and making tidy cable management much easier.
At the bottom right corner of the board is an LED readout display and Power/Reset buttons. There are also two more fan headers in the lower right corner of the board, well placed for full tower cases. Adjacent are the USB headers along the bottom-middle of the board. We also see the southbridge heatsink which is rather chunky and industrial-looking in design.
Moving to the expansion slots, the Extreme6 features three PCI-E 2.0 slots running in single x16 or x8/x8 configuration with the the bottom slot in x4. There’s double spacing between the top two graphics card slots, allowing for improved airflow between the cards if you go with a Crossfire or SLI setup. There are also two PCI-E x1 and one legacy PCI slot. As already mentioned, the top x1 slot is essentially useless due to the heatsink interference. This is disappointing because going with a multi-card setup then creates potential problems for other expansion devices such as audio or a PCI-E SSD such as the OCZ Revo X2, for example. So while the expansion layout is good, it’s hampered by the effective loss of a slot which could really put a damper on a setup with some high-end components.
Below the bottom expansion slot at the bottom of the board is a floppy header, which really seems like an afterthought and is likely inaccessible from a drive bay connection anyways. Not to mention we’re perplexed why a floppy would be included anyways; it’s dead tech. The front panel USB 3.0 header is also located at the bottom-middle of the board, which is inconvenient and restrictive, possibly even impossible to reach with the cable if using a full tower setup. ASRock should take a page from ASUS and locate the USB3.0 front panel connector on the right side of the board, more easily accessible to the front drive bay of a case.
The rear of the Extreme6 features an impressive array of ports, sporting separate PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, a bump up to four blue USB 3.0/2.0 ports (plus two for the front, a total of six on the Extreme6), five additional USB 2.0 ports, a Firewire port, eSATA/USB 2.0, Clear CMOS, optical and coaxial S/PDIF, and 7.1 channel analog audio. Also note the Extreme6 gets an upgrade with dual LAN ports.
Let’s install some hardware and see how things look.