Computex 2014 - ASRock

In our initial Z97 coverage, we looked at ASRock's Fatal1ty Z97 Killer. However, until now we haven't had much more information about the rest of the company's 9-Series motherboards. ASRock's Z97 and H97 motherboards come in three ranges: Fatal1ty (for gaming red colour scheme), OC Formula (for overclocking, yellow) and Pro/Extreme (standard series, blue). The company is using oversized and brightly coloured heatsinks with each range, and they contrast nicely with the new Sapphire black PCBs.

Computex 2014 - Day 2 Computex 2014 - ASRock
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ASRock was keen to emphasise the quality of its Super Alloy components. These include dual-stack CPU MOSFETs and NexFET DRAM MOSFETs, both of which are designed to be cooler and more efficient than typical MOSFETs. In fact, ASRock claims that its dual-stack MOSFETs run cooler than those of any other motherboard maker. Meanwhile, the NexFET DRAM MOSFETs are available on all of ASRock's 9-Series motherboards, including lower end H97 ones.

Super Alloy also refers to ASRock's Premium Alloy chokes, which are able to handle more current and are again designed to be more efficient. Finally, Super Alloy encompasses ASRock's power delivery capacitors, which have a lifespan rating of 12,000 hours – 20 percent more than the 10K caps that most other brands use and the highest currently used in the industry.

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As you're surely aware by now, the big new addition to the 9-Series boards is support for PCI-E storage via M.2 and SATA Express. However, ASRock's take on M.2 differs from other manufacturers', and a number of its boards will feature what ASRock terms Ultra M.2. Instead of using two PCI-E 2.0 lanes for a maximum bandwidth of 10Gbps, ASRock has tapped into the CPU-controlled PCI-E 3.0 lanes for its Ultra M.2 sockets and is using four rather than two, which grants it a maximum bandwidth of 32Gbps. Presumably this will mean a reduction in the PCI-E 3.0 bandwidth available to the graphics hardware. The socket ASRock uses also supports all M.2 form factors (30mm, 42mm, 60mm, 80mm and 110mm), which we haven't seen from anyone else. On certain higher end motherboards, ASRock will also be offering two SATA Express connectors rather than the usual one.

A software feature ASRock has added for 9-Series motherboards is called HDD Saver. A 4-pin header provides power for up to two HDDs, and users can turn them on and off in the software, giving them a basic means of privacy as well as saving energy and prolonging HDD life, though the benefits are likely to be minor in each case.

A number of ASRock gaming motherboards feature the Atheros Killer E2200 LAN connection, and ASRock is also promoting its ASRock Cloud feature, allowing you to connect to your PC using mobile devices and tablets. Purity Sound 2 is the company's higher end sound solution that uses Nichicon FG Series audio capacitors, which are the highest end series available from the Japanese manufacturer. Even a number of its entry level boards use ELNA audio capacitors, the same as those on the Asus ROG motherboards.

Other features include a new Full HD UEFI mode, with colour schemes to match the motherboard series you're using. There's also the Windows based ASRock APP Shop, which aims to provide access a series of useful PC apps, including ASRock's own as well as third party ones, all in a convenient place.

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To tie in with the Intel Devil's Canyon launch, ASRock has just launched the Z97 OC Formula, designed to be the best partner for the new CPUs that ASRock offers. It has also launched two budget motherboards in connection with the Pentium Anniversary Edition CPU, namely the Z97 Anniversary and the Z97M Anniversary (the micro-ATX edition). ASRock described them as some of the most price aggressive motherboards on the market, but sadly didn't confirm actual pricing figures.

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ASRock also spoke of its M8 PC, which it launched last year. The mini-ITX chassis, which comes courtesy of BMW's design team, will now be sold separately. ASRock is also updating the M8 from the Z87 platform to Z97, bringing with it the 12K capacitors, Nichicon FG audio capacitors and a higher wattage SFX power supply, up from 450W to 600W, which means it can be used with the highest end single GPU cards available.

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Computex 2014 - Day 2 Computex 2014 - ASRock Computex 2014 - Day 2 Computex 2014 - ASRock
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We also caught a glimpse of these two ASRock X99 motherboards, though further details on these were not provided and it is not clear whether their specifications are finalised. The X99 chipset is Intel's upgrade to X79 which will support the next generation of Extreme Edition CPUs, including eight and six core models.
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