ASRock X299 Extreme4 Motherboard- Close Up

ASRock's X299 Extreme4 is a solid board on first inspection. The design and layout has been vastly improved by ASRock on their X299 series and Extreme4 carries everything you should expect of a high-end Intel HEDT motherboard. Being a standard ATX form factor motherboard, it can be noted that there are a lot of features crammed into this board. The color scheme isn't all bling bling and that's a good thing, rather than focusing on cosmetics, ASRock paid focus to what needed more attention and they got a lot right on this motherboard.

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The board uses the LGA 2066 socket to support Intel Core-X series processors. The socket is compatible with both Intel Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X processors. You can note that while the total pin count has increased, the socket dimensions remain largely similar to the previous LGA 2011 socket. The socket has a protective cover out of box which can easily be removed when installing the processor.

The motherboard packs a 11 Power phase design to power the socket. The motherboard is outfitted with premium 60A power chokes, premium memory alloy chokes and a dual-stack MOSFET (DSM) design that provides extreme lower Rds(on) 1.2 mΩ, so the power supply for the CPU Vcore is more efficient. ASRock is also using the finest Nichicon 12,000 hours rated black capacitors and a high density glass fabric PCB that allows protection against electrical shorts.

The CPU is supplied power through dual 8 pin power connectors. This will feed the CPU with up to 300 Watts of power. Most Intel CPU’s will be shipping with TDP’s of 140W but that changes when users overclock, that changes power limit based on applied voltages and clock speeds. This was a much needed change that was highlighted on the initial X299 motherboards that had stability and power issues when it came to supporting the higher-end Core-X processors.

The VRMs are cooled by an updated XXL Aluminum Alloy heatsink . The heatsink is colored silver and is very beefy and has a metallic silver "X299" logo etched in the middle. The heatsink is fitted with heatpipe design that ensures effective heat dissipation from the MOSFETs.

The motherboard has a total of eight DDR4 DIMM slots which can support up to 128 GB (Quad Channel) and 64 GB (Dual Channel) Non-ECC, un-buffered memory. These slots are rated to support XMP profiles up to 4200+ (O.C) MHz. Each slot is labeled, making it easier to install DIMMs in the proper orientation.

Expansion slots include three PCI-Express 3.0 x16, a single PCI-Express 3.0 x1 and dual M.2 slots. The board can support 2-Way multi-GPU (CrossfireX / SLI). The M.2 slots are rated to support NVMe PCI-e Gen3 x4 and Intel Optane series memory. Only a CPU that offers 44 lanes can deliver full x16 operation on two SLI or Crossfire configured discrete GPUs.

ASRock has featured their Steel Slot technology on the expansion slots. Not only do these slots offer a solid cover plate for high-end cards but it also prevents from any sort of signal interference. Such slots are ideal for modern generation of graphics cards such as the MSI GTX 1080 Ti Lightning X which takes up three slots and puts a lot of weight on the PCIe slot.

The supported types for the M.2 socket are 22110, 2280, 2260, 2242 and 2230. M.2 slots offer up to 32 GB/s link speed compared to just 6 GB/s on SATA 3 bus. All M.2 slots can operate at full x4 (32 GB/s) speeds, provided that enough PCIe lanes are available. Otherwise, users will have the choice to select from PCIe and SATA 3 modes.

A third M.2 slot can be found next to the audio jack and that operates as a WiFi E key port. It can support type 2230 WiFi and Bluetooth module and as such, ASRock provides a antenna bracket if you wish to run a WiFi module. It is a good functionality for users who want to use wireless options on this motherboard.

The X299 PCH is housed beneath a metallic heatsink with ASRock logo and label embedded on it. The heatsink is a edged block with various cuts in silver and white on top of it. The PCH heatsink also emits RGB LED which can be controlled manually through ASRock's RGB LED software.

Storage options include eight SATA III ports rated to operate at 6 GB/s. These can support 8 different storage devices at a single time. There is also a single U.2 port. The motherboard supports RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 configurations but to enable that, you have to buy a separate RAID key from Intel and supported only on Core i9 series processors that can address up to 20 bootable drives.

Following is a list of all internal connectors on the motherboard:

- 1 x Virtual RAID On CPU Header
- 1 x TPM Header
- 1 x Power LED and Speaker Header
- 2 x RGB LED Headers
- 1 x CPU Fan Connector (4-pin)
- 1 x CPU Optional/Water Pump Fan Connector (4-pin) (Smart Fan Speed Control)
- 2 x Chassis Fan Connectors (4-pin) (Smart Fan Speed Control)
- 1 x Chassis Optional/Water Pump Fan Connector (4-pin) (Smart Fan Speed Control)
- 1 x 24 pin ATX Power Connector (Hi-Density Power Connector)
- 2 x 8 pin 12V Power Connectors (Hi-Density Power Connector)
- 1 x Front Panel Audio Connector (15μ Gold Audio Connector)
- 1 x Thunderbolt AIC Connector (5-pin)
- 2 x USB 2.0 Headers (Support 4 USB 2.0 ports) (Supports ESD Protection)
- 1 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Header (Supports 2 USB 3.1 Gen1 ports) (Supports ESD Protection)
- 1 x Performance Mode / Easy OC Header

In terms of audio, the ASRock X299 Extreme4  is equipped with the latest Purity Sound 4 system that comes with the Realtek ALC1220 Audio Codec offering 7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection. Features of the Purity Sound 4 include Nichicon Fine Gold Series Audio Caps, 120dB SNR DAC with Differential Amplifier, TI NE5532 Premium Headset Amplifier for Front Panel Audio Connector (Supports up to 600 Ohm headsets), Pure Power-In, Direct Drive Technology, PCB Isolate Shielding , Impedance Sensing on Front Out port, Individual PCB Layers for R/L Audio Channel, Gold Audio Jacks and 15μ Gold Audio Connector.

The motherboard comes with a single USB 3.0 front panel header, dual USB 2.0 front panel headers and a RGB LED strip header. One interesting feature about this motherboard is that the CMOS battery isn't located in the center of the board but rather right below the 24-pin ATX power connector which is much more easier to access.

The I/O on the motherboard includes a PS/2 port, a PS/2 keyboard port, 1 Optical SPDIF port, 2 USB 2.0 ports, 2 USB 3.1 Gen2 (Type-A + Type-C) ports, 4 USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, 1 RJ-45 LAN port with LED, a Clear CMOS button and a HD audio jack. All USB ports come with ESD protection out of box.

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