Now we make our way to the SATA ports. This is a huge story with this motherboard! There are 12 ports for all of the configurations of SATA devices that one could imagine.
It starts with four standard SATA2 ports.
There are also 2 SATA3 6Gb/s connector that are inherent to any X79 chipset and support RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10.
Where ASRock really went above and beyond is with the 2 extra SATA3 6Gb/s connector serviced by the Marvell SE9220 chip which will support RAID 0 and 1. The 9220 also has the option to use HyperDuo Plus Technology. This allows the user to use an SSD to cache the content on a connected HDD! This is a very useful tool much like Intels SRT.
To sweeten the deal even further they also threw in 4 more SATA3 6Gb/s ports! These come courtesy of the Marvell SE9172 controller which also supports RAID 0 and 1.
There is certainly a vast amount of storage functionality that can be leveraged with this board.
Finally we come to the XFan, which is a active cooling solution for the SouthBridge. This small fan allows for a small heatsink placed underneath it to deliver big on cooling. With multiple options for fan operation it can be configured to the users liking. There are options in the UEFI Bios to run it using either set values, or temperature curves for minimal noise. Using this device on the stock temperature curve it is rarely even turned on, unless the motherboard is under high load. We are testing in a bench configuration so your mileage may vary, as temperatures are typically higher in a case which may lead to the fan running more often. The fan is quiet and unobtrusive, which is very good as some 40mm fans tend to have a distinct whine. With this fan on top of a desk next to us during testing fan noise was not an issue.
ONTO THE BENCH….
Now all that is left is to get configured and set up for testing. We installed the motherboard into the acrylic Danger Den Torture Rack that has served us nicely for our test bench for quite a while now.
Utilizing some extensive water cooling is going to make cooling and dealing with heat a snap. This loop usually contains a RAID controller that is watercooled, RAM, and a fullboard block.
The new version will be stripped down, and we will be utilizing two loops. The first loop is configured with our modified Honda radiator and a MCP-655 pump, and this will be used for the GPUs only. The second loop consists of two KMP-400 pumps in serial connection, with reservoirs for each. A HeatKiller 3.0 CPU block with a 2011 socket mounting kit (only four slightly longer screws) will cool the i7-3930k, and then the water travels through a BIPS 240 radiator, on its way down under the desk to two MCR320 radiators.
Our PSU is a SilverStone ST1500 Fully Modular 1500 Watt Power Supply 1500W (Peak 1600W) 12v1320W/110A (Peak 120A) combined+3.3 5v 280W. This will more than handle the loads that we will be experiencing today.
The RAM we will be using is graciously provided by Crucial for this review. We are using 2 8 GB Ballistix Tactical kits, for a total of 16GB of DDR3 running at 1866. We will not be overclocking the RAM as for this chipset/processor combination there is not very big gains to be had in real life usage.
The Quad Channel bandwidth is more than sufficient even at stock settings. This kit runs with very good timings at 9-9-9-27, and even though these are two Dual Channel kits, a quick test reveals that they are in fact running at Quad Channel.
Now for some overclocking fun, to see what’s under the hood!