At the end of last week, three members of Team KitGuru (myself included) found ourselves over in the Dutch city of Nijmegen. If you’ve never heard of the place, then rest assured – I hadn’t either. But in that city, nestled in an industrial estate, lies ASRock’s European HQ – including a warehouse filled to the rafters with boxes upon boxes of motherboards and other PC products.
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We were there thanks to Peter Fest, ASRock’s technical marketing specialist, who was keen to focus our attention on four key products for ASRock – the world’s only X299 Mini-ITX motherboard, the X399 (Threadripper) Taichi motherboard as well as the Z370 Extreme4.
The last product, however, was not a motherboard – it was a mini PC complete with GTX 1060 graphics. But we’ll get to that soon.
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Starting with the X399 Taichi motherboard, Peter described this one as a perfect balance of aesthetics, performance and value – making it seem a very attractive proposition. It obviously supports the latest Threadripper processors, socket TR4, but also boasts support for three Ultra M.2 slots, 11 power phases and four PCIe x16 slots – all capable of delivering the full 16 PCIe lanes. We actually have a full review of this motherboard coming soon, so stay tuned for that.
Next up, the ever popular ‘Extreme’ motherboard series – this time, the Z370 Extreme4. This motherboard is clearly befitting the ‘Extreme’ moniker given its support for DDR4 memory running at 4333+MHz, as well as its 12 power phases, 2 Ultra M.2s slots and support for eleven USB 3.1 ports. The first thing I noticed about the board, though, is how it sports a lovely two-tone grey/black colour scheme which looks very good to my eye, so perhaps this could be one for the extreme overclocker who has a soft-spot for good-looking pieces of kit.
After that, it was time to see the glorious X299E-ITX/ac – the world’s only Mini-ITX X299 motherboard. Here at KitGuru we loved the predecessor – the X99E-ITX/ac, giving it a whopping 9.5/10. As such, there was a lot of excitement to see the new model, and we were not disappointed.
One of the biggest features of the new board is support for quad-channel memory – something the original X99 board lacked. As it would be impossible to get four full-size DIMM slots on an ITX board, ASRock did something very smart and included 4 SODIMM slots instead, so the new board will take laptop memory modules which are a fair bit smaller.
That moved also allowed ASRock to use a standard LGA 2066 socket, whereas the X99 board used a narrow ILM socket. Essentially that means the X299-ITX/ac is compatible with standard coolers, as no narrow ILM mount is required. All in all, if you are looking for big power in a small form-factor, the X299E-ITX/ac is well worth a look.
Lastly, we got hands on with the DeskMini GTX/RX, something quite different in that it is not a motherboard at all, but a barebones mini PC kit. Most impressively, the DeskMini is just 2.7 litres in volume yet includes a GTX 1060 graphics chip in MXM format. The Micro STX format motherboard also uses the B250 chipset, meaning Intel’s 7th gen chips can be used as well. That means the DeskMini could be a very capable gaming PC, but in a tiny form-factor. With pricing set to be around £700-£750, that sounds quite appealing to me.
KitGuru says: It was great to visit ASRock and get hands-on with the company’s latest products. Stay tuned for our X399 Taichi review, as well as more motherboard/mini PC content coming soon.