ASRock Z77 Extreme6/TB4 Motherboard Offers Thunderbolt with Discrete Graphics

Subject: Motherboards | December 11, 2012 - 10:34 PM |
Tagged: asrock, thunderbolt, Z77

Over the past 6 months or so we have seen most motherboard vendors release a Z77 option with support for the latest Thunderbolt connectivity option.  I did some initial testing on the ASUS P8Z77-V Premium motherboard and found that Thunderbolt was indeed impressive in terms of performance though it remained expensive and had a few hang ups. 

One of those was the need to use integrated graphics when utilizing the DisplayPort pass through of the connection.  Lucid was the first company to offer a solution thanks to their Virtu MVP software solution and GPU virtualization technology.  I tested that and it worked pretty well, allow us to utilize the power of your discrete GPU with a monitor connected through Thunderbolt on the motherboard.

Well ASRock has a new motherboard out, the Z77 Extreme6/TB4, that promises to allow you to use discrete graphics by simply utilizing a DisplayPort connection on the graphics card itself. 

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Besides offering a pair of Thunderbolt connections, the motherboard claims to be the "world's only Thunderbolt motherboard supporting discrete VGA card via Thunderbolt port."

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Essentially ASRock is taking the DP connection from the discrete graphics card, taking it into the motherboard through a DisplayPort input connection and then sending that back out the motherboard Thunderbolt header.  More than likely this is simple electrical pass through and there isn't much or any logic going on to "trick" the system.  It also raises concerns that the motherboard and display solution won't be officially approved by Intel.  (We are all, after all, still waiting to see the ASUS ThunderboltEX to hit the market...)

Hopefully we'll get one of these new boards in soon to see for ourselves!

Source: ASRock

ASRock Launches Extreme6/TB4 Motherboard With Two Thunderbolt Ports

Subject: Motherboards | October 29, 2012 - 11:24 AM |
Tagged: Z77, thunderbolt, motherboard, extreme6/tb4, asrock

Update: The specifications page is now live on the ASRock website.

Pegatron-owned motherboard company ASRock has launched a new Z77 motherboard with dual Thunderbolt ports dubbed the Extreme6/TB4. While all the nitty-gritty details are still up in the error due to an error on the ASRock site, we do have some information on the board worth sharing.

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The ASRock Extreme6/TB4 is based on the Z77 chipset, which supports socket 1155 processors (Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge). Further, the board has four DIMM slots for DDR3 memory running at up to 2800MHz. Additionally, the Extreme6/TB4 uses gold capicitors, digital power technology, and a 8+4 power phase. Quad SLI and CrossFireX multi-GPU technologies are also features.

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It features two PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (x16/x8 or x8/x8), two PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots, and two legacy PCI slots. For storage, the motherboard has four SATA III 6Gbps ports (RAID 0/1/5/10) and several USB headers.

Rear panel IO includes:

  • 1 x PS/2
  • 1 x eSATA
  • 1 x eSATA/USB
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1 x VGA
  • 2 x Thunderbolt
  • 5 x Analog audio jacks
  • 1 x S/PDIF optical audio port
  • 1 x HDMI

Thanks to the two Thunderbolt ports on the rear IO panel, the new ASRock motherboard can support up to 12 devices (with passthrough ports) and two DisplayPort displays. That's a lot of Thunderbolt gear!

Unfortunately, there is no word yet on pricing or when the motherboard will be available for purchase.

Read more about Intel’s Thunderbolt technology at PC Perspective.

Source: ASRock

Motherboard manufacturer merger mayhem

Subject: General Tech | September 28, 2012 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: purchase, merger, asus, asrock

The news from DigiTimes yesterday that Haswell will take even more features away from the motherboard and place them on the CPU signalled a problem for second and third tier manufacturers was worrying.  With less and less features being available for motherboard manufacturers to use to distinguish their products the market becomes less profitable for those boards which can't afford the additional costs incurred by including Thunderbolt or other high end features.  That could well spell the end of several current motherboard manufacturers.

If that wasn't enough to worry you about the possibility of having less choice in system parts in the future, how about the news coming out of SemiAccurate that ASUS is looking to purchase ASRock's motherboard business.  If that was to occur ASUS would own a huge portion of the first tier of motherboards and swamp Gigabyte with the volume they could produce.  At the same time they could leverage ASRock's lower cost motherboard business and compete with the second tier motherboard manufacturers.  With the competition being so fierce and the added features being so limited, at least for Intel boards, the third tier would not have a snowballs chance in the market and would collapse except for a few custom boards for niche markets.   Not the best news for enthusiasts or cost conscious consumers.

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"Currently word has it that an offer has been made for Asrock, and Pegatron is essentially fine with the terms. This would take the #1 and #3 mobo makers and combine them, leaving the industry with one massive behemoth, one solid player, and a lot of minnows struggling to make waves. As of now, there is a first tier of Asus and Gigabyte, then Asrock, MSI, and ECS at less than half of that volume, plus a few niche players in the motherboard market."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: SemiAccurate

Upper Middle Class; ASRock's high end X79 and Z77 boards

Subject: Motherboards | June 12, 2012 - 06:27 PM |
Tagged: sandy bridge-e, Ivy Bridge, asrock, Fatal1ty X79 Champion, Z77 Extreme9

There is an ASRock two-fer over at Legion Hardware, with the $400 Fatal1ty X79 Champion for SandyBridge-E and the $350 Z77 Extreme9 for IvyBridge.  As you can tell by the prices, ASRock has come far from its roots as a less expensive choice for value conscious buyers and is now ready to compete with the established companies like ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI.  The X79 Champion carries a lot of extras, the Marvell SE9230 adds SATA 6Gbps ports and the SE9172 adds eSATA, as well you get USB 3.0 support from a TI TUSB7340 chip but all that comes at a cost, only a pair of full 16x PCI 3.0 ports.  The Z77 Extreme9 also features extras in the form of the PLX PEX 8747 PCIe 3.0 chip which allows dual GPUs at 16x or quad at 8x, an ASMedia ASM1061 6Gbps for extra SATA 6Gbps and a a wireless and Bluetooth module. 

Drop by Legion Hardware to see how they perform.

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"Overall we have been impressed by Asrock’s high-end offerings, as they really are top notch products. Asrock has continued to step up their game over the last few years and today we would have no problem purchasing one of their products over something from Asus or Gigabyte for example. The Fatal1ty X79 Champion and Z77 Extreme9 are more examples of why Asrock motherboards are worth checking out."

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A tour through the booths at Computex 2012

Subject: General Tech | June 6, 2012 - 01:08 PM |
Tagged: computex, computex 2012, nvidia, corsair, asrock

The Tech Report have been every bit as busy as Ryan, trying to get in as much of Computex as possible and post the sights to the web.  They dropped by Broadcom's booth to see new ARM based SoCs which will be used in the next generation of 802.11ac routers, taking wireless beyond gigabit speeds, with USB 3.0 added on for easy media distribution. They snapped a few pictures of the ASRock motherboards we saw earlier this week, including the dual Thunderbolt Z77 Extreme which features a DisplayPort in port to allow you to use a Thunderbolt display without needing Lucid's Virtu to translate.  They also saw Corsair's surprise new SSD controller from Link_A_Media Devices (LAMD), which will provide SATA 6Gbps and can use either ONFI or Toggle DDR NAND.  NVIDIA was showing off the new GT 640 which will use a 28nm Kepler chip sport 384 shader ALUs and cost under $100 and should bring a bit more power to low end machines, though don't expect a huge jump from the previous GTS450

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Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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ASRock Reveals New Technology Advances at COMPUTEX 2012

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | June 5, 2012 - 01:06 AM |
Tagged: Z77, x79, trinity, sandy bridge-e, PLX PEX 8747, Ivy Bridge, Intel, fm2, asrock, amd

Four new Intel motherboards from ASRock were revealed at Computex, the X79 Extreme11, Z77 Extreme9 and Z77 OC Formula.  All use their new XFast 555 Technology software for XFast RAM, XFast LAN and XFast USB which should at the very least allow you great control over all the frequencies on your motherboard. 

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The motherboard for power users supports Sandy Bridge E processors, the X79 Extreme11 sports PLX PEX 8747 bridges which means this motherboard can run multi-GPU 4-Way SLI/CrossFireX at PCIe Gen3 x16/x16/x16/x16 and puts EVGA's Classified SR-2 in serious trouble on the Leaderboard when released.  24 + 2 Power Phase Design, onboard Creative Sound Core3D and an LSI SAS2308 chip which gives you ten SATA3 connectors with 8 of the able to be set to SAS mode.

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The  Z77 Extreme9 also sports the PLX PEX 8747 bridge which allows a surprising full PCIe Gen3 x8/x8/x8/x8 quad GPU mode.  The included T2R Dual Band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n + BT v4.0 Module supports dual band WiFi and BlueTooth and combines with the Wi-SB BOX to provide better signal and an extra pair of USB 3.0 connectors.

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The Z77 OC Formula wants to step on ASUS' toes; while the score is impressive, the overclocks need a little work.  They don't say much about this board but from the preliminary testing it looks like great fun for the serious overclocker.

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Last but not least is the Z77 Extreme6/TB4 which features four channel Thunderbolt, for that you can read two Thunderbolt ports.  ASRock mentions that this "allows one port to be connected to the onboard graphics and the other one can be used for discrete graphics card." which could lead to all sorts of speculation.

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On the AMD side we have the ATX FM2A75 Pro4, and microATX FM2A75 Pro4-M and FM2A75M-DG which support Trinity processors but unfortunately we don't have much more than their names.  TechPowerUp did get some pictures of the boards recently.

They are also showing the EN2C602-4L, E3C204-V, E3C204-4L and H77WS-DL server boards which come with a full suite of software to ensure an easy setup, an IPC motherboard for those small purpose-built applications and an intriguing HTPC box called the ASRock VisionX Series.  This is reputed to featuring Ivy Bridge, Radeon HD 7850M graphics and AMD HD3D Technology with dual band WiFi but might cost a bit more than the alternative, the ASRock MINI Series which has and AMD E2-1800 backed up by a Radeon HD7340.

visionx.jpg

Source: ASRock

Five X79 boards to choose from

Subject: Motherboards | January 23, 2012 - 05:22 PM |
Tagged: x79, asus, asrock, Intel, msi, ECS, lga2011, p9x79 deluxe, X79 Extreme9, X79R-AX, DX79SI, X79A-GD65(8D)

There are five usual suspects when discussing the X79 chipset, Asus's P9X79 Deluxe, the Asrock X79 Extreme9, ECS's X79R-AX, Intel's DX79SI and last but not least, MSI's X79A-GD65(8D).  While very similar overall, each board has distinct features that the companies have introduced as standard over the years, from ASUS' Q-LED to MSI's OC Genie.  TechSpot had their work cut out for them, the boards range in price by $100 and the board that they picked as the winner might just surprise you.

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"Those wanting to build the ultimate performance system will naturally turn to Intel’s new LGA2011 platform which recently made its debut with the Sandy Bridge-E processors. This highly refined architecture takes the original Sandy Bridge design and pumps it full of steroids, while adding a few new things. Moreover, the platform is expected to support enthusiast-level Ivy Bridge processors that are slated for release by the end of 2012, adding to the platform's longevity.

So if you're already spending $600+ on a processor alone, you'll want to make sure your motherboard is equally impressive. Today we are checking out five high-end X79 motherboards from Asus, Asrock, ECS, Intel and MSI."

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Source: TechSpot

Of ASRock's consistency and an Extreme X79 motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | January 13, 2012 - 03:21 PM |
Tagged: asrock, x79, X79 Extreme4, lga2011, sandy bridge-e

[H]ard|OCP starts out their review of the ASRock X79 Extreme4 with a tale of two motherboards and the quality issues that they discovered.   In part it is a warning and in part it offers contrast to the decent quality of the review model that they received.  The board did display a few minor problems during testing, which prompted [H] to caution anyone picking this or any other ASRock board that they may need to deal with the RMA process.  Assuming you get a working board the Extreme4 offers a great experience for you.  The two PCIe 16x slots and single 8x slot are all PCIe 2.0 which may disappoint some who plan on upgrading their CPU or installing a PCIe SSD card.  Apart from those two main issues, [H] were quite happy with this board.

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"After the last couple of ASRock boards, I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to see another one. The ASRock X79 Extreme4 not only surpassed my admittedly low expectations, but proved to be the exact opposite of the last two motherboards. Grab a sandwich and read on. You don’t want to miss this one."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Another Z68 motherboard from ASRock; boom or bust?

Subject: Motherboards | December 9, 2011 - 01:15 PM |
Tagged: asrock, z68, z68 pro3

Earlier in the month Steve reviewed the ASRock Z68 Extreme 7 Gen 3 motherboard and handed it a Silver Award.  This so called budget brand has been steadily improving over the years and the Extreme 7 was ahead of the curve.  Was that a one off success or can they match the performance of that board with the ASRock Z68 Pro3?  [H]ard|OCP just polished off a review of that board, much less intricate than the Extreme 7 but still based on the same chipset so it should be capable of similar performance.  Will this board live up to the quality we have seen recently or is this board bargain bin bound?  Read on and see.

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"It’s easy to get hung up on the high end boards. Despite the flare, the coverage, and the amazing features, the bulk of the population and even the bulk of the enthusiast community rarely buys such boards. It is with this in mind that we examine a budget solution in the form of the ASRock Z68 Pro3. Low budget, low expectations?"

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Source: [H]ard|OCP
Author:
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASRock

Introduction and Features

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASRock

Our test bench has seen a flood of Z68-based enthusiast motherboards this fall and ASRock added their flagship Z68 Extreme 7 Gen 3 board to the top of the pile for testing. The Extreme 7 Gen 3 pulls out all the stops for extreme enthusiasts and ultra overclockers by arming this board with next-gen PCI-E 3.0 support and an NVIDIA NF200 chip to allow users to run dual graphics cards at PCI-E x16/x16 mode and three graphics cards at x16/x8/x8 respectively.

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Courtesy of ASRock

This $275 board brings with it a lot of features that users have been begging for like a graphical Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), Intel's Smart Response techology, dual gigabit LAN capabilities, and support for six USB 3.0 and six SATA 3 devices. They also didn't skimp on the power components by adding premium gold caps that are made in Japan and considered by many to be luxury capacitors. 

Read our entire review of the ASRock Z68 Extreme 7 Gen 3 motherboard!