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ASRock P55 Extreme4 Motherboard Review (1156)

The Asrock P55 Extreme4 Motherboard arrives in a large blue box which details the main features on both the front and the back.

The bundle is extensive, there are 4 Sata cables, a USB 3.0 box for front panel fitting, an SLI connector, a driver/software DVD, a multilanguage manual and a bios manual.

The motherboard is safely packaged with a foam insert protecting it during shipping.

Intel sent us a Core i5 750 for the review today, a very capable, good value for money processor which has proven to overclock very easily to 3.8ghz+ (from 2.66ghz). As many of you will already know, socket 1156 processors have an integrated PCI Express 2.0 controller inside the processor. This controller supports one x16 lane or two x8 lanes.

The Asrock P55 Extreme4 has two PCI Express x16 slots and it supports both Crossfire X and SLI. This motherboard however doesn’t use a PCI Express chip which means potentially there is a possibility of dropped performance when utilising PCI Express 16x slots, USB 3.0 and Sata 600 ports simultaneously.

As the image above shows there are also three PCI Express x1 slots although you will lose one of these when you install a dual slot video card in the first x16 slot.

The P55 Extreme4 motherboard supports DDR3 up to 2600mhz via overclocking. The board has four DDR3 sockets each supporting 4GB modules, for a maximum installation of 16GB. The first and third sockets are white and the second and fourth are blue. ASrock instruct users to populate the white slots first, then the blue. We appreciate the fact they put a sticker over the slots so no confusion can occur.

There are six sata 300 ports with optional Raid support. Additionally we have support for 14 USB 2.0 ports which handle port disable. There is also a single ATA 133 connector which is rotated 90 degrees. This particular board provides all six SATA 300 ports with full support for Intel Matrix Storage which offers Raid 0, 1, 5 and 10 (blue ports above left). There are also four white SATA 600 ports (SATA 6Gbps) and each pair of these is controlled by a different chip. This is where is gets a little confusing however as there are various options offered here.

SATA 3_1 and SATA 3_2 are controlled by the Marvell 88SE9128 chip which provides support for Raid 0 and Raid 1. The other two SATA 3_3 and SATA 3_4 are controlled by the Marvell 88SE9120 chip which doesn’t offer Raid support. This obviously means if you are building a system with two SSD’s combined for maximum performance (RAID 0) then you must use the SATA 3_1 and SATA 3_2 ports. On the rear panel there is also an eSATA port, however if you use this, you can’t use the SATA 3_4 port. Thankfully all the sata ports have been placed where graphics cards will not block them when installed (take note Intel!).

An interesting option is the ability to install 775 coolers via a dual hole design on the PCB, which is a great idea for some people already with a high end cooler they don’t want to bin. They also support a floppy drive which many manufacturers are dropping. The 12 USB 2.0 ports are split into 6 via the rear panel and six available via three motherboard headers.

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