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Intel Core i7 3820 and ASrock Extreme4-M review

The ASRock X79 Extreme 4-M arrives in an attractive, dark ‘metallic’ style finished box.

The bundle includes a couple of SATA cables, a comprehensive user manual, driver and software disc, SLI bridge and I/O backplate.

The Extreme4-M may be small, but it is very menacing looking, finished in dark brown with black ports and silver accented heatsinks. It is actively cooled on the Southbridge, like other ‘full sized’ X79 boards we have reviewed recently. It is a Micro ATX board, measuring 9.6-in x 9.6-in, 24.4 cm x 24.4 cm.

There are a total of four DDR3 memory slots, for Quad Channel memory configurations. It supports speeds of 800/1066/1333/1600/1866/2133/2400mhz with a maximum capacity of 32GB. You would need to purchase 8GB DIMMS however, which are still very expensive. There is also full support for XMP 1.2 and 1.3 memory profiles.

The board is populated with Japanese made conductive polymer capacitors, these are premium gold caps. The 8 pin CPU power plug is very close to the memory slots, as shown above. It doesn’t cause any installation problems however.

Despite the small dimensions, the board literally crams in fan headers, seven in total, spread across the four corners of the PCB. This is the same as the Extreme 4 motherboard actually, which is impressive.

The board includes three 16x PCI-E 3.0 slots, two of which are 16x bandwidth rated. The third is limited to 8x. There is also a PCI slot at the bottom which may prove useful for people with older sound cards. It has full support for Quad CrossfireX and Quad Sli configurations.

The board has a total of 7 SATA ports. The four black ports are SATA 2 rated (3Gbps – Intel X79 chipset controlled). The three grey ports are SATA 3 rated (6GBps). One of the grey ports is vertically mounted for front panel chassis connection. The 2x grey SATA 3 connectors are controlled by the Intel X79 chipset (Raid 0, 1, 5 and 10 support) and the single connector is powered by the ASMedia ASM1061 processor.

At the bottom of the board is a diagnostic readout, and a power and reset button, for quick, easy access.

I/O Panel has the following ports:

  • 1 x PS/2 Mouse Port
  • 1 x PS/2 Keyboard Port
  • 1 x Coaxial SPDIF Out Port
  • 1 x Optical SPDIF Out Port
  • 6 x Ready-to-Use USB 2.0 Ports
  • 1 x eSATA3 Connector
  • 2 x Ready-to-Use USB 3.0 Ports
  • 1 x RJ-45 LAN Port with LED (ACT/LINK LED and SPEED LED)
  • 1 x IEEE 1394 Port
  • 1 x Clear CMOS Switch with LED
  • HD Audio Jack: Side Speaker / Rear Speaker / Central / Bass / Line in / Front Speaker / Microphone

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