Subject: Motherboards | February 14, 2016 - 10:02 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: mini ITX, FM2+, ddr3, asrock, A88X
ASRock's new A88M-ITX/ac is a tiny new motherboard sporting the FM2+ socket and A88X chipset for AMD APUs. This new board has an interesting design with two DDR3 memory slots set along the top of the board. The FM2+ socket and 5-phase VRM is placed in the center with the chipset and dual band 802.11ac Wi-Fi module sitting between the socket and a single PCI-E x16 slot along the bottom edge. Six SATA 6Gbps ports are nestled in the lower right corner. Power input includes a 24-pin ATX and 8-pin CPU which should help any overclocking should this be for a SFF gaming box.
Rear I/O on the A88M-ITX/ac includes:
- 1 x PS/2
- 4 x USB 2.0
- 3 x Video outputs
- 1 x DVI
- 1 x HDMI 1.4a
- 1 x VGA
- 2 x USB 3.0
- 1 x GbE (Realtek 8111GR)
- 3 x Analog Audio (Realtek ALC887 and ELNA audio caps)
This board is clad in black and silver except for the FCH which is copper. While the absence of HDMI 2.0 will be a turn off for those looking for a HTPC to drive a 4K big screen, it could still make for a small budget gaming build. It is nice to see more small form factor options for AMD builds!
Unfortunately, ASRock is not yet talking pricing or availability.
What would you use this Mini ITX AMD motherboard for?
Subject: Processors | February 7, 2016 - 02:00 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Skylake, overclocking, asrock, Intel, gskill
I recently came across a post at PC Gamer that looked at the extreme overclocking leaderboard of the Skylake-based Intel Core i7-6700K. Obviously, these competitions will probably never end as long as higher numbers are possible on parts that are interesting for one reason or another. Skylake is the new chip on the liquid nitrogen block. It cannot reach frequencies as high as its predecessors, but teams still compete to get as high as possible on that specific SKU.
The current world record for a single-threaded Intel Core i7-6700K is 7.02566 GHz, which is achieved with a voltage of 4.032V. For comparison, the i7-6700K is typically around 1.3V at load. This record was apparently set about a month ago, on January 11th.
This is obviously a huge increase, about three-fold more voltage for the extra 3 GHz. For comparison, the current world record over all known CPUs is the AMD FX-8370 with a clock of 8.72278 GHz. Many Pentium 4-era processors make up the top 15 places too, as those parts were designed for high clock rates with relatively low IPC.
The rest of the system used G.SKILL Ripjaws 4 DDR4 RAM, an ASRock Z170M OC Formula motherboard, and an Antec 1300W power supply. It used an NVIDIA GeForce GT 630 GPU, which offloaded graphics from the integrated chip, but otherwise interfered as little as possible. They also used Windows XP, because why not I guess? I assume that it does the least amount of work to boot, allowing a quicker verification, but that is only a guess.
Subject: Processors | February 5, 2016 - 04:44 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Intel, Skylake, overclocking, cpu, Non-K, BCLK, bios, SKY OC, asrock, Z170
ASRock's latest batch of motherboard BIOS updates remove the SKY OS function, which permitted overclocking of non-K Intel processors via BCLK (baseclock).
The news comes amid speculation that Intel had pressured motherboard vendors to remove such functionality. Intel's unlocked K parts (i5-6600K, i7-6700K) will once again be the only options for Skylake overclocking on Z170 on ASRock boards (assuming prior BIOS versions are no longer available), and with no Pentium G3258 this generation Intel is no longer a budget friendly option for enthusiasts looking to push their CPU past factory specs.
(Image credit: Hexus.net)
It sounds like now would be a good time to archive that SKY OS enabled BIOS update file if you've downloaded it - or simply refrain from this BIOS update. What remains to be seen of course is whether other vendors will follow suit and disable BCLK overclocking of non-K processors. This had become a popular feature on a number of Z170 motherboards on the market, but ASRock may have been in too weak a position to battle Intel on this issue.
Subject: Processors | December 11, 2015 - 07:08 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Skylake, overclocking, Intel, Core i3-6100, bios, BCLK, asrock
The days of Intel overclocking being limited to their more expensive unlocked parts appear to be over, as TechSpot has posted benchmarks from an overclocked Intel Core i3-6100 using a new (pre-release) BIOS update from ASRock.
Image credit: TechSpot
"In overclocking circles it was recently noted that BCLK (base clock) overclocking might become a possibility in Skylake processors. Last night Asrock contacted us with an updated BIOS that enabled this. We jumped at the opportunity and have already tested and benched a Core i3-6100 Skylake CPU with a 1GHz overclock (4.7GHz) on air cooling."
The 1.0 GHz overclock was achieved with a 127 MHz base clock on the i3 processor, with a vcore of ~1.36v. Apparently the ASRock motherboard requires the processor's graphics portion to be disabled for overclocking with this method, and TechSpot used an NVIDIA GTX 960 for test system. The results were impressive, as you might imagine.
The following is a small sampling of the benchmark results available from the sourced TechSpot article:
Image credit: TechSpot
Image credit: TechSpot
The overclocked i3-6100 was able to come very close to the multi-threaded performance of the stock AMD FX-8320E (8-core) processor in Cinebench, with double the per-thread performance. Results from their Handbrake encode test were even better, with the overclocked i3-6100 essentially matching the performance of the Core i5-4430 processor tested.
Gaming was underwhelming, with very similar performance from the GTX 960 from all CPUs at the settings tested.
Image credit: TechSpot
So what did the article say about this new overclocking-friendly BIOS availability? "We are told this updated BIOS for their Z170 motherboards will be available to owners very soon." It will be interesting to see if other vendors offer the same, as there are results out there using a SuperMicro board as well.
Subject: Motherboards | September 28, 2015 - 05:23 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, mini ITX, M.2, LGA 1151, Intel Skylake, asrock
ASRock (the Taiwan-based manufacturer currently owned by Pegatron) recently revealed its take on miniature Skylake motherboards with the Mini ITX form factor Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac.
The new SFF motherboard uses an 8-layer PCB with high quality Nichicon capacitors and the company’s Digi Power 8-phase power delivery feeding the LGA 1151 socket. The board has a red and black aesthetic with red VRM and Z170 chipset heatsinks, memory slots, and PCI-E slot adding a bit of flair to the otherwise all-black PCB and connectors. Very little space is wasted on this board save for the top edge. To the right of the CPU socket are two DDR4 memory slots (maximum 32GB at 4,000 MHz) and a single SATA Express connector. The Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac further features four SATA III 6 Gbps (in addition to the two ports used for SATA Express) ports.
Expansion slots include a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, a M.2 slot with four lanes of PCI-E 3.0 mounted on the underside of the board, and a half-size Mini PCI-E slot that is used for the pre-installed 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 card
ASRock is using an Intel Gigabit Ethernet NIC, a 2x2 MU-MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi radio, and Realtek ALC1150 audio codec on this board. Keeping in line with the “Fatal1ty” theme, the board supports, using software, and adjustable USB polling rate on a certain rear port from 1 Hz up to 1,000 Hz with the default being 500 Hz.
On the back of the motherboard, it provides the following I/O options:
- 1 x PS/2
- 5 x USB 3.0
- 1 x USB 3.0 “Fatal1ty Mouse Port” (adjustable polling rate up to 1,000 Hz)
- 2 x USB 3.1 (one Type-A and one Type-C)
- Video outputs:
- 2 x HDMI (4K@60Hz)
- 1 x DisplayPort 1.2
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
- 3 x Analog audio ports
- 1 x Optical audio output
This board looks to be a solid base for a tiny gaming system (perhaps paired with the R9 Nano in a svelte living room friendly chassis even without going in for the Fatal1ty gamer-centric branding, if that's your thing. I am expecting this board to be priced competitively with or to come in slightly less than the Asus Mini ITX Z170 motherboard I wrote about yesterday. The audio and overclocking potential, at least in theory and bare specifications, appear to be a bit cut back on this board in comparison, but in exchange for that it's (hopefully slightly cheaper while still giving you most of the essentials. We'll have to wait for actual reviews where they are both put to the test to see for certain though!
For those curious, check out the manufacturer's page with photos and specifications as well as our previous coverage of the board from CES before we had the details on pricing and confirmation of 4K@60Hz HDMI and the Ultra M.2 slot support (and the user discussions).
Subject: Motherboards | July 17, 2015 - 09:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: X99, asrock, X99E-ITX/ac, mini-itx
This ASRock board will not be for everyone, many enthusiast who want to build an X99 system are not looking for a mini-ITX board but there are always some who want a lot of power in a small area. The form factor limits this board to a single PCIe 3.0 16x port but ASRock did manage to incorporate a half sized mini PCIe 1x slot as well. Storage options are impressive with a half dozen SATA 6Gbps ports, eSATA, a single SEx port and even a four lane M.2 port. The dozen assorted USB plugs include a pair which support USB 3.1, and there are two LAN ports, on a board this size there is a lot of potential for peripherals and exotic storage solutions. Of course overall performance is also key to deciding if this board is worth using and after reading the full review at [H]ard|OCP you will have no doubts this is an impressive motherboard.
"There is a small subset of computer enthusiasts that have been asking for an X99 option in the mini-ITX form factor. Ask and you shall receive, right? ASRock steps up to the plate to provide small form factor enthusiasts with just such a motherboard. We evaluate the X99E-ITX/ac and experience the good, the bad, and the ugly...if any."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- MSI X99A Gaming 9 ACK Motherboard Review @ Modders-Inc
- Asus TUF Sabertooth X99, Military Tough @ Bjorn3d
- ASUS X99 Sabertooth Motherboard Review @ Hardware Canucks
- ASUS Sabertooth X99 Review @ OCC
- ASRock X99 Extreme6/3.1 Motherboard @ Hardware Secrets
- BIOSTAR GAMING Z97X Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
- Asrock Z97 Extreme 4 Motherboard Review @ Modders-Inc
Subject: Motherboards | June 10, 2015 - 05:42 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Z170, Skylake, mini ITX, Intel Skylake, computex 2015, computex, asrock
ASRock had some nice looking motherboards on display at Computex, but one in particular caught my attention. The ASRock Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac is a Mini ITX motherboard ready to support Intel's upcoming Skylake processor, DDR4 memory, and a slew of speedy connectivity options.
The LGA 1151 socket is situated in the middle of the compact board and is surrounded by a 6+2 power phase, two DDR4 memory slots, the PCH with red heatsink and ASRock Gaming logo, a mini PCI-E slot with pre-installed 802.11ac Wi-Fi card, and a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot snuggled along the bottom edge. Storage support includes four SATA 3 ports and a single SATA Express port in the bottom right corner. Several websites are also reporting that this board has an Ultra M.2 port as well, which may be located on the underside of the board like existing Mini ITX motherboard implementations (for space reasons). Unfortunately, I was not able to dig up any photos of the back so we will have to wait for reviews to confirm this.
As far as external I/O, the motherboard has the following ports on the rear panel:
- 1 x PS/2
- 3 x Video outputs (two HDMI and one DisplayPort)
- 2 x USB 3.1
- 6 x USB 3.0
- 1 x Gigabit LAN (from Intel)
- 3 x Analog audio output
- 1 x Optical audio output
In all, this pint-size motherboard packs a punch and will make for a powerful small form factor gaming PC when paired with a Skylake CPU and dedicated graphics card! Of course, the all-important pricing and availability were not announced at the show.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 26, 2015 - 05:18 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, nuc, Intel, fanless, Cherry Trail, Braswell, asrock
Earlier this month, ASRock showed off a tiny fanless computer it is calling the Beebox. Powered by an Intel Braswell SoC, the new small form factor Beebox offers up a decent selection of I/O ports and general desktop performance while sipping power. The Beebox is approximately the size of Intel's NUC measuring 118.5mm x 110mm x 46mm x (4.67" x 4.33" x 1.81" -- WxDxH) and will come in three color options: black, gold, and white.
This compact PC has a fairly extensive set of ports on tap. The front panel includes a headphone jack, infrared port, one standard USB 3.0 port, and a USB 3.0 Type-C port which supports 5V/3A charging. The rear panel hosts the power jack, two HDMI outputs, one DisplayPort output, two USB 3.0 ports, a Realtek-powered Gigabit Ethernet port, and a Kensington lock slot. Not bad for a small form factor PC.
ASRock will be offering the Beebox in three configuration options including a barebones kit, a version with 32 GB internal storage, 2 GB of RAM, and Windows 10, and a Beebox SKU with 128 GB of internal storage and 4 GB of RAM (and no OS pre-installed). Each of the SKUs are powered by the same Intel Celeron N3000 Braswell SoC. From there, users can add a single 2.5" SATA drive and a Mini PCI-E card (although this slot is occupied by the included 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless module). The system uses two DDR3L SO-DIMMs and supports a maximum of 8 GB DDR3L at 1600 MHz.
The aspect that made the Beebox stand out to me was the inclusion of the Braswell-based Celeron N3000 processor. This 4W 14nm part features two Airmont CPU cores clocked at 1.04 GHz base and 2.08 GHz turbo paired with 2MB L2 cache and a Gen 8 Intel GPU clocked at up to 600 MHz. This is a desktop variant of the Cherry Trail chips being used in tablets, but it is the lowest TDP Braswell chip currently at a mere 4 watts. ASRock likely went with this chip to ensure they could passively cool it and still keep temperatures in check. As FanlessTech notes, the chassis ASRock is using leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to heat dissipation compared to other fanless cases on the market.
We will have to wait for reviews to see how well the Beebox and its Braswell processor perform, but so long as ASRock is able to keep thermals in check, the little PC should offer acceptable performance for general desktop tasks (browsing the internet, checking email, watching streaming videos, etc). Cherry Trail (and keep in mind Braswell is a higher power chip based on the same architectures) is promising noticeable improvements to graphics and at least slight improvements to CPU performance. According to ASRock, the Beebox is going to be priced aggressively at "very low" price points which should make it a good compromise between older Bay Trail-D systems and newer (and more expensive) Broadwell and Haswell systems.
The Beebox is slated for late June availability, with exact pricing to be announced at that time.
Subject: Motherboards | May 1, 2015 - 01:25 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: sodimm, quad-channel, mini-itx, EPC612D4I, ddr4, ASRock Rack, asrock
They finally did it! A new mini-ITX LGA 2011-3 has been announced by ASRock, the EPC612D4I, and this server-grade product will offer full quad-channel memory support with a switch to SoDIMM RAM.
Image credit: Tom’s IT Pro
While ASRock had previously released a mini-ITX X99 motherboard (the X99E-ITX/ac) there were concessions made based on the limitations of the form-factor, and the motherboard was limited to dual-channel memory with only two DDR4 DIMM slots. So for a full quad-channel experience it became obvious that a switch to SoDIMM’s would be required. So are there any DDR4 SoDIMMs available? They certainly aren’t cheap, but a quick search for the model number of this new board finds a page from Crucial for compatible DDR4 modules – at a cost of $555.99 for a massive 32GB (4x8GB) of 1.2V DDR4-2133 ECC memory.
Specs for the EPC612D4I from ASRock:
- LGA 2011 R3 Intel Xeon processor E5-1600/2600 v3 series
- 4x SO-DIMM slots, supports quad-channel DDR4 2133/1866 ECC
- 4x SATA 6Gb/s by C612
- 1x PCIe 3.0 x16
- Integrated IPMI 2.0 with KVM and Dedicated LAN (RTL8211E)
- Intel Dual GLAN (Intel i210 + Intel i217)
The new board was first reported by Tom's IT Pro and their article lists the retail price for the ASRock EPC612D4I at $265, which isn’t bad for a product like this. While definitely targeting the server market this could potentially be implemented for a very compact workstation setup (and allow creation of a PC to rival the diminutive Mac Pro, perhaps).
Subject: General Tech | March 19, 2015 - 10:12 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: Xeon D, X99, windows 10, video, usb 3.1, titan x, podcast, nvidia, msi, Intel, HSA 1.0, gtx titan x, gtc 2015, digits devbox, DIGITS, asrock
Join us this week as we the NVIDIA GTX TITAN X, News from GTC2015, Mini-ITX X99 motherboard and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano, and Morry Teitelman
Program length: 1:16:27