Ultimate X79? Five £230+ LGA 2011 Motherboards, Reviewed

ASRock X79 Extreme9

The X79 Extreme9 uses eight memory slots, five graphics card slots with four-way SLI and CrossFireX support, oversized cooling, and Creative’s latest Core3D PCIe audio DSP in its latest push for premium motherboard market share.

Four front-panel and four rear-panel USB 3.0 ports compliment the twelve SATA and two eSATA ports to make this one of the most drive-focused designs we’ve seen, yet the audio/network combo card is the Extreme9’s biggest departure from ASRock norms.

Creative’s Sound Core3D PCIe module is combined with a Broadcom BCM57781 PCIe module on one PCB, complete with a shield running down the centre to prevent crosstalk, on a PCIe x1 card.

The need for an open PCI Express slot will restrict the user’s selection of graphics cards however, since some now use coolers that are more than two slots thick. Anyone who wants to use a pair of Asus Mars cards in conjunction with ASRock’s audio module, for example, will find that configuration impossible to accomplish, and even moving to a three-way graphics configuration with familiar dual-slot cards requires the use of an eight-slot case.

Most users will find it easy to get around the X79 Extreme9’s slot restrictions, and the remaining layout is almost perfect. Both USB 3.0 front-panel headers are situated well above the top graphics card, for instance, and all twelve internal SATA ports face forward to tuck their cables behind the drive cages of modern ATX performance chassis.

Realizing the limits most users will encounter with the X79 Extreme9’s slot layout, ASRock includes one three-way and one two-way SLI bridge. Unfortunately, they weren't included in our box, though Newegg’s photos clearly show that buyers will receive these parts.

Six SATA cables are adequate for most high-end builders, and ASRock even includes its famous USB 3.0 bay adapter and 2.5” SSD adapter tray.

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  • AndrewJacksonZA

    I think you're missing four tests that motherboards of thiscalibre price range might be used for: dual-SLI, dual-Crossfire, triple-SLI and triple-Crossfire using 590s and 6990s. Why am I suggesting this when you have GFX benchmarks at other places? To see the differences between each motherboard's implementation.

    Or am I not fully understanding how SLI and Crossfire are implemented?
  • CryptorX
    It all may seem pretty cool by now, after all this is the new high end platform... yeah right... the 1336 platform also seemed pretty cool when it came out, i spent a whole fortune upgrading to it, my triple channel ram kit alone cost me 210€, i was pretty sure i was investing in a "future proof" platform (upgradable for at least three years), that future was 5 months until it was discontinued... never again! That said, either this new socket drops prices drastically or AMD gets a new customer.
  • hipflask

    This issue is on more x79 boards. Gigabytes failing I.C's has just highlighted a problem that toms and everyone else that reviewed these boards should have known or found before end users started having throttling issues and failed boards.
    Brings the whole question of impartiality to mind