ASRock has announced one of the industry’s first Mini-ITX motherboards for Intel’s latest Core X processors in the LGA2066 packaging. The new X299E-ITX/ac is small, but it takes full advantage of Intel’s new X299 platform, offering support for all CPUs with up to 18 cores, quad-channel DDR4 memory on the higher-end CPUs, three PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots as well as everything that one might expect from a Mini-ITX board, including Wi-Fi.
Besides being a miniature motherboard for Intel Core Extreme processors, the most important aspect of the ASRock X299E-ITX/ac is support for quad-channel memory in this form-factor. The company’s previous-gen Intel X99-based Mini-ITX mainboard was feature-packed, but one of the things it missed was the quad-channel memory sub-system, which had an expected negative effect on performance in applications that require high memory bandwidth.
By contrast, the new unit has four SO-DIMM DDR4 memory slots and even supports DDR4 overclocking (assuming that there are SO-DIMMs that can be significantly overclocked). In fact, putting the Socket R along with a sophisticated VRM to support Kaby Lake-X and Skylake-X CPUs with TDP of up to 165W as well as four memory slots onto a small motherboard is a rather remarkable engineering achievement. Meanwhile, very tightly packed design of the X299E-ITX/ac may impose certain limitations on compatibility with large cooling systems.
Just like every other Mini-ITX motherboard around, the ASRock X299E-ITX/ac has only one PCIe 3.0 x16 slot for graphics cards. In the meantime, the X299E-ITX/ac is the first miniature mainboard to feature three M.2 slots (PCIe 3.0 x4 or SATA) for SSDs. In addition, the board carries six SATA 6 Gbps headers for builds that require multiple storage devices in drive form-factor.
As for connectivity, the X299E-ITX/ac comes with a 2x2 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 4.2 module (based on an Intel controller), two GbE ports (Intel controllers too), two USB 3.1 headers (Type-A and Type-C), six USB 3.0 connectors, 7.1-channel audio sub-system (enabled by the Realtek ALC1220 controller) and so on.
The ASRock X299E-ITC/ac will be available in the coming months for about $280 - $300, depending on the region and other factors. Such a price point is considerably higher than MSRPs of most Mini-ITX motherboards, but given the fact that this is a very high-end platform aimed at enthusiasts, it is not unusual. In fact, keep in mind that all Intel X299 motherboards have to support CPUs with extreme core-count and 165W TDP. Hence, they come with advanced VRM designs with high-endurance components that are usually pretty expensive. As a result, all Intel X299 platforms are going to be pretty expensive and the X299E-ITC/ac is not an exception. In fact, from many standpoint it may be considered as an entry-level X299 board simply because it does not provide opulence of its bigger brethren.
|ASRock's Mini-ITX Motherboard for Intel Core X-Series|
|CPU Support||Intel Core i9, Intel Core i7, Intel Core i5 CPUs in LGA2066 form-factor|
|Graphics||16 x PCIe 3.0|
|Memory||4 x DDR4 SO-DIMM slots|
|Ethernet||2 × Intel GbE controllers|
|Storage||6 × SATA 6 Gbps|
3 × M.2 (PCIe 3.0 x4 or SATA)
7.1 channel audio
|USB||6 × USB 3.0 Type-A|
1 × USB 3.1 Type-A
1 × USB 3.1 Type-C
|Other I/O||Dual band 802.11ac |
Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 4.2
|MSRP||$280 ~ $300|
This post was written by Anton Shilov.