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ASRock X99 Extreme11 Motherboard Review

As far as features go, ASRock crams almost everything that a performance computing enthusiast could ask for onto the X99 Extreme11. If you have demanding graphics, connectivity, or storage needs the X99 Extreme11 can tend to those requirements.

General performance of the X99 Extreme11 was positive. The board is able to hold its own and deliver promising results against competing parts. The same can be said for overclocking potential, especially in regards to the well-tuned frequency presets.

LSI’s SAS 3008 storage controller is one of the headline features for the X99 Extreme11. With support for up to eight SAS 12Gbps/SATA 6Gbps drives in RAID 0, 1, 1E, and 10, the solution could prove useful to content creators who desire in-system backup (not that we’re advising that as the best approach). I am surprised to see a lack of RAID 5/6 support, however.

Carrying on with connectivity, ASRock provides ample USB 3.0 ports, additional SATA 6Gbps links from the chipset, a pair of its excellent Ultra M.2 connectors (that can be used to RAID PCIe-fed M.2 SSDs), and dual Intel Gigabit NICs. The only interface that may be missed by some is Thunderbolt 2.

PCIe connectivity is the other main headline for ASRock’s X99 flagship. The motherboard equips two 48-lane PLX PEX8747 PCIe 3.0 switches to provide 4-way SLI and CrossFire, in addition to the aforementioned storage capabilities. And if full-blooded x16 lanes are your thing, four of the five plausible PCIe links downstream from PLX’s switch run at sixteen PCIe 3.0 lanes of bandwidth. That’s even with the 28-lane 5820K processor installed.

It must be highlighted that some latency-induced or bandwidth-overload performance penalties may be incurred by the pair of switches. Unfortunately we did not have the sheer quantity of identical hardware to test those scenarios by using 4-way SLI/CrossFire.

Layout of the motherboard is smart and is wisely optimised for a quartet of graphics cards. ASRock’s UEFI solution is a well-designed option that operated with perfect stability, despite currently being on the launch version.

ASRock tells us that the X99 Extreme11 will retail for around £530. X99 platform or not, that is a huge investment for a motherboard.

ASRock’s X99 Extreme11 is an effort from the vendor to show off its motherboard design capabilities. The board aims to offer the best of everything and spares no expense in doing so. While the market for a £530 motherboard is niche, we have to commend ASRock for its commitment to providing a premier solution for those with deep pockets and demanding requirements who simply want the best.

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Pros:

  • Supports 4-way SLI and CrossFire with x16 lanes.
  • LSI SAS 3008 storage controller with eight SAS 12Gbps/SATA 6Gbps ports and RAID support.
  • Dual 32Gbps Ultra M.2 connectors.
  • Very good UEFI implementation.
  • Strong power delivery system and good overclocking capacity.
  • Plenty of connectivity (eight USB 3.0, 10 X99 SATA 6Gbps, two eSATA 6Gbps, dual Intel NICs).
  • Positive general usage features – Purity Sound 2, HDD Saver.

Cons:

  • No Thunderbolt 2.
  • Chipset fan is audible.
  • Expensive (although possibly justifiable to some users).

KitGuru says: There’s no kill like overkill. ASRock takes pretty much every possible design feature that an enthusiast user with demanding requirements could wish for and consolidates them to form the X99 Extreme11.

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Rating: 9.0.

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