The board arrived in a handsome box that has a brushed metal motif. Upon opening the covering flap of the box you are greeted with a plastic covering that reveals the board underneath. On the flap to the left the features are listed. A quick click on the picture will bring it up full size.
Once the box is opened there are two trays. The top tray holds the motherboard, and the lower tray contains the accessories box. Nothing is as exciting as playing with new toys, and ASRock certainly does not disappoint with the large amount of accessories provided.
Once we get all of the bags unwrapped and the contents out, we can see that there are quite a few items. There are a few right angle sata cables among the 6 cables provided, and this is a nice touch considering that the board has typical right facing SATA ports. Also included are the manuals, installation CD, and a few Molex-to-SATA power connectors. A triple SLI and standard SLI bridge are included for larger GPU setups. The I/O backplate and a very attractive USB 3.0 bracket are included. The USB 3.0 accessory has two ports, and can be installed to either the front or rear of the case. Also included is the Game Blaster.
The Game Blaster is an extremely nice add-on to this board. ASRock including it, considering the price of the board, is just fantastic. One would truly not expect these types of high end goodies with a typical motherboard!
The Game Blaster is simple in its theory, and that is to provide the user with both a high-end soundcard and a Broadcom BCM57781 Gigabit LAN card on one small attractive PCI-E x1 device. The x1 consideration is important, as there is a slot specifically provided for this device on the board, even though it will function fine in any of the PCI-E slots.
The Broadcom LAN connection is in addition to the Gigabit LAN port already included on the motherboard. This particular port is for ultra-low latency connections. When used in conjunction with the onboard LAN these two ports can pull off some great teaming performance in a Dual LAN configuration. When utilized with the XFast LAN application that is included with the motherboard, there are some great optimizations and control that can be gained. We will go further in-depth on that feature on the following page.
Of particular interest are the four auxiliary audio ports for use with 7.1 surround sound systems, along with a S/PDIF and Optical Out. This card features the Sound Core3D high-performance quad-core sound and voice processor from Creative. Quite a bit to include on such a small card!
One of the key considerations with this motherboard are the Premium Japanese made caps used, and that is why they are highlighted in gold on the motherboard. A closer inspection of the Game Blaster after removal of the cover reveals that this approach was also taken with this device.
Above we can see the Premium Caps used with the Game Blaster. Below, for comparisons sake, we have a picture included of the Sound Blasters own Recon3D Fatal1ty Professional card.
Once can easily see that ASRock truly went the extra mile with their implementation of this device. Supporting THX TruStudio PRO, CrystalVoice, EAX 5.0 and Blu-ray Profile 2.0 Audio Decoder simply highlights the added value that the Game Blaster brings to the table with this motherboard.