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ASRock X79 Extreme4-M Review

ASRock X79 Extreme4-M Review

Manufacturer: ASRock
UK Price (as reviewed): £159.99 (inc VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $218.99(ex tax)

We consider LGA2011 to be aimed very much at the workstation market, and while we’ve seen some great micro-ATX motherboards in the past, given the heat that was produced by all the LGA2011 motherboards we've tested so far, we’d have concerns about installing an overclocked LGA2011 system in a small, cramped micro-ATX case.
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That hasn’t stopped ASRock rolling out the first LGA2011 micro-ATX motherboard, though, and like its bigger sibling, the X79 Extreme4, which we've also been playing with recently, the X79 Extreme4-M doesn’t shy away from making its presence known.

It’s undeniably a desirable little bunch of silicon that just screams ‘pocket rocket’ and like its larger sibling, it looks great, with a dark PCB filled with gold capacitors and menacing heatsinks.

Amazingly for a micro-ATX board, the Extreme4-M is also equipped with a Southbridge heatsink large enough to house its own fan. There are power and reset switches too, along with a POST code readout and CMOS clear switches.

It has two fewer SATA 6Gbps ports than the Extreme4 though – two provided by the Intel chipset and a third through an ASMedia ASM1061 controller. The Extreme4-M also sports two fewer USB 2 ports but still offers four USB 3 ports – two on the I/O panel and a further two via an on-board USB 3 header.

ASRock X79 Extreme4-M Review ASRock X79 Extreme4-M Review
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With less PCB real estate than a full-sized ATX board, however, the Extreme4-M understandably has fewer expansion slots than ATX-sized LGA2011 boards. These include three 16x PCI-E 3.0 slots, two of which offer the full 16x speed, while the third is limited to 8x. Sensibly, ASRock has also opted to include a PCI slot rather than a 1x PCI-E slot – they might be old, but they’re still useful and most of us at bit-tech still have PCI sound cards that we'd like to use.

Despite its diminutive size, the Extreme4-M still manages to cram in seven fan headers too – the same number as the Extreme4 – and the majority of the SATA ports and power connectors are located on the edge of the PCB too, making cable routeing a doddle.

ASRock X79 Extreme4-M Review ASRock X79 Extreme4-M Review
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The Extreme4-M has only four DIMM slots, though, and is limited to 32GB of DDR3 memory. This shouldn’t pose too much of an issue in the long run, and quad-channel support is still on the cards, but if you planned to upgrade to 32GB at some point, the Extreme4 will require the purchase of an eye-wateringly expensive 4 x 8GB set, whereas other motherboards will allow a second 4 x 4GB set to be used, which currently retail for less than £80.