If you could load a motherboard with absolute killer features, what would you include? Intel’s new X99 chipset opens the door a bit where, with the right X99 CPU, our PCIe lanes increase to 40 allowing us the leverage to stack our systems much more than we ever could have before. Can you imagine a triple SLI/Crossfire graphics card layout where each is running at PCI-Express X16? How about adding another card and creating a quad graphics card config where each card is using 16 lanes? Not many motherboard manufacturers reach for the stars with 16/16/16/16 but that doesn’t stop ASRock; two PLX PEX PCIe Gen 3 8747 bridges make this all possible.
What if we could look at storage? We reviewed the ASRock Z87 Extreme11a/c motherboard and that board had 16 SAS/SATA Ports, along with a LSI SAS 3008 PCI Express 3.0, 8-port, 12Gb/s SAS and SATA I/O controller and LSI 3x24R expander; allowing us a 12Gbps SAS RAID or 16 SATA RAID configuration. As much as we loved that set-up, we let ASRock know their inclusion of 2 x mSATA slots would have been easily topped with M.2, to which their Z97 release included an Ultra M.2 PCIe 3.0 X4 and M.2 PCIe 2.0 X4 slot. Now look closely at the newest X99 Extreme 11. This board is the board storage geeks dream of. Not only have we pushed our ports to 18 SATA ports of which four are once again capable of SAS 12Gbps RAID, but also, ASRock has implemented two Ultra M.2 PCIe 3.0 X3 and each is one day capable of seeing a high of 32GB/s transfer speed. Better yet, why not RAID two Samsung 512GB XP941 M.2 X4 SSDs?
The X99 Extreme11 motherboard is ASRock’s new flagship motherboard and supports Intel i7 and Zeon 18-Core processors, based on the LGA 2011-3 socket. Just as a bit of a reminder, the former 2011 based Intel processors will not fit into this socket. It is capable of accommodating up to 8 x DDR4 3200+(OC) RAM chips for a total of 128GB and supports DDR4 ECC UDIMM/RDIMM memory. It contains 5 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, along with two PLX 8747 bridges that make 4-way X16 SLI and CrossfireX possible.
Taking a closer look at storage, ASRock retained the LSI 3008 controller, however did away with the port multiplier as we now have now increased our number of Intel ports to 10, along with the 8 SAS/SATA ports. This makes RAID 0/1 combinations of 8 x 12Gbps SAS or 18 x 6Gbps SATA SSDs possible.
With respect to motherboard input, the ASRock X99 Extreme11 contains power and reset switches with LED, along with two PCIe power connectors on the board itself. Its IO panel contains 4 x SATA 2.0 USB, a PS/2 keyboard/mouse input, 4 x USB 3.0, 2 x Intel Gigabit Ethernet, as well as the typical audio ports. Something we learned with this board, as installation of Windows 8.1 was not possible with an Ethernet connection (drivers required), was that Win 8.1 doesn’t force a MS e-mail account on installation, speeding things up considerably. Who knew?
Motherboard build is something else that ASRock has paid close attention to and this is obvious in the ASRock Super Alloy package that includes very prominent XXL Aluminum Alloy Heatsinks, a Premium 60A Power Choke, a Premium Memory Alloy Choke, Ultra Dual-N MOSFET, along with Nichocon 12K Platinum Caps on a sapphire black PCB. All three heatsinks are connected by metal piping and you might notice the largest has active fan cooling. This particular heatsink encompasses the X99 chipset, LSI SAS 3008 controller, along with the two PLX PEX 8747 chips and still gets quite warm. Although not in any way a deal breaker, this fan is not as silent as we might like, sounds like a jet engine on system boot and is audible slightly above other fans in our system.
Last but not least, pricing had not been set for the X99 Extreme11 at the time of this report, but consider that it most likely will be commensurate with the components contained…a bit pricey.