ASRock X79 Extreme4-M
ASRock is now recognized as one of the “Big Boys” when it comes to manufacturing quality motherboards, going head-to-head with the likes of ASUS and Gigabyte. ASRock has released several motherboards featuring the X79 Chipset, with the Extreme4-M occupying the micro-ATX form factor. The art of making a small board and still including as many of the performance features as possible is undoubtedly a challenge and we believe ASRock has done an admirable job here.
Aesthetically speaking, we think the Extreme4-M looks great with its black PCB and socket surrounded with flashes of Gold and Silver and attractively designed heatsinks. The motherboard is tidy, neatly laid out and high quality, not sporting any flashy gimmicks " weaponized" heatsinks, bullets, skulls or flames. The onboard features such as the power/reset buttons are easily identified and the clear CMOS button found on the I/O shield is illuminated, making it easy to find. The XFan on the Southbridge heatsink is virtually silent and only came on during full load stressing of the system. We would like to have seen a beefier VRM heatsink to help cooling which we believe would greatly help with higher frequency overclocks. And seeing three PCI-Express slots is nearly unheard of in a m-ATX board, so kudos to ASRock for pushing things here.
Furthermore, the X79 Extreme4-M comes with presets for auto overclocks available from 4.0GHz to 5.2GHz in 200MHz increments in Turbo Mode. This makes it extremely easily for novice users to quickly overclock their system without knowing anything too technical. As mentioned, we were able to achieve 5.0GHz but any heavy stressing with multiple cores caused the processor to throttle back to 3.9GHz. With the new X79 chipset you can use the Reference Core Ratio for 1.00x, 1.25x, and 1.67x settings which will allow users to further tweak the overall performance.
The graphical UEFI BIOS interface is visually appealing with colorful icons and allows for the use of your mouse as well as the keyboard to navigate. It’s easy to understand and navigate, and remember that the UEFI allows a 3TB bootable hard drive to be used.
The Extreme4-M is currently offered at $220, and we think this is a respectable price since the majority of the available X79 motherboards are priced much higher. If you’re looking to jump on the X79/LGA2011 bandwagon and want a solid, no-nonsense board that has doesn’t sacrifice features or performance for the smaller m-ATX form factor, then the ASRock X79 Extreme4-M is a great option.