ASRock's X370 Taichi, meet AMD's new chipset

Subject: Motherboards | April 4, 2017 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: x370, asrock, X370 Taichi, amd, AM4

Morry just wrapped up a review of the ASUS Strix Z270E Gaming while Hardware Canucks have looked at a different motherboard, the ASRock X370 Taichi.  To some, the names might seem similar but they are very different motherboards, the Z270 is for Intel LGA1151 while the X370 is a brand new AMD AM4 board.  If you are just getting into building computers, make very sure you know what you are picking up!

ASRock have chosen a unique pattern to decorate the X370 Taichi and that is before you light up the RGB LEDs on the board.  This is the first AM4 board Hardware Canucks have seen and it introduces a new look to the UEFI as well as some physical changes to the layout compared to the previous generation of AMD motherboards.  Take look for yourself at one of the first reviews of an AM4 board from ASRock.

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"AMD's Ryzen processors may have found the ultimate motherboard with ASRock's X370 Taichi. From overclocking to stock performance and features, this board seems to have it all!"

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ASRock Announces H110-STX MXM Mini-STX Motherboard with MXM GPU Support

Subject: Motherboards | February 8, 2017 - 10:15 AM |
Tagged: small form factor, SFF, PCI-E 3.0, MXM, motherboard, mobile gpu, mini-stx, H110-STX-MXM, asrock

ASRock has announced a new mini-STX motherboard with an interesting twist, as the H110-STX MXM motherboard offers support for current MXM (version 3.0b, up to 120W) mobile graphics cards.

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Like the ECS H110 motherboard featured in our recent Mini-STX build, the ASRock H110-STX MXM is based on the LGA1151 socket (though CPU TDP was not in the source post), offers a pair a DDR SODIMM slots for up to 32GB of DDR4 notebook memory. Storage support is excellent with dual SATA ports and M.2 SSD support. Importantly, this ASRock board uses PCI Express 3.0 on both the MXM (PCIe 3.0 x16) and M.2 (PCIe 3.0 x4) slots. Display output capability is excellent as well, quoting the TechPowerUp post:

"Display connectivity includes one HDMI port that's wired to the CPU's onboard graphics, a second HDMI port wired to the MXM slot, a full-size DisplayPort wired to the MXM, and a Thunderbolt port with mini-DisplayPort wiring to the MXM."

There are some roadblocks to building up a gaming system with this motherboard, not the least of which is cost. Consider that compatible MXM 3.0b options (with a recent GPU) are hundreds of dollars from a place like Eurocom (a GTX 980M is around $800, for example). Naturally, if you had a damaged gaming notebook with a usable MXM GPU, this board might be a nice option for re-purposing that graphics card. Cooling for the MXM card is another issue, however, though harvesting an MXM card from a notebook could potentially allow implementing the existing thermal solution from the laptop.

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Look closely and you will see a Z270 product name in this ASRock photo

Update: We now have full specifications from ASRock's product page, which include:

  • Socket LGA1151 for Intel Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron (Kabylake)
  • Supports MXM Graphics Card (Type-B , Up to 120W)
  • Supports DDR4 2400MHz, 2 x SO-DIMM, up to 32GB system memory
  • 1 x HDMI (4K@60Hz), 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort, 1x Mini-DisplayPort
  • 3x USB3.0 Type-A, 1x Thunderbolt 3 with USB 3.1 Type-C
  • 1x M.2 (Key E), 2x M.2 (Key M)
  • 1x Intel i219V Gigabit LAN
  • DC 19V / 220W power input

Of note, the chipset is listed as Z270, though the product name and primary motherboard photo suggest H110. The H110-STX MXM is part of ASRocks industrial motherboard offerings (with signage and gaming the mentioned applications), and includes a 220W power supply. Pricing and availability were not mentioned.

Source: TechPowerUp

Pegatron passing much of its production to ASRock?

Subject: General Tech | January 17, 2017 - 01:03 PM |
Tagged: asrock, Pegatron, rumours

ASRock was hit hard by the downturn in PC sales over 2016, they shipped less than four million motherboards over the whole year.  The rumour over at DigiTimes is that thanks to the tiny profit margin garnered from orders by Asustek Computer and small white-box builders in China ASRock will no longer be bidding for work from those sources.  Instead their parent company, Pegatron, will be shifting most of their own motherboard and GPU design and production to ASRock along with the services they previously provided to system integrators.  This will shift their focus away from Apple, and should provide a boost to the overall business in addition to their new lines of Intel and AMD motherboards.

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"For 2017, orders from SI clients and the launch of Intel's Kaby Lake platform are expected to boost the company's performance. The company has launched new Z270-based motherboards, looking to expand its presence in the mid-range to high-end sector. Motherboards using AMD's new chipsets are also expected to launch after March which should also benefit the company's profits."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: DigiTimes

ASRock's clean cut Z270 Extreme4

Subject: Motherboards | January 12, 2017 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: asrock, Z270 Extreme4, intel z270, atx

ASRock have changed in over the past couple of years from a choice of last resort for the budget conscious to creating some intriguing products.  Look at how clean the design of their Z270 Extreme4 is, with heatsinks covering the majority of the components and a nice silver and black colour scheme.  Aesthetics aside, it also has some nice features, such as a 1.5 amp water pump header, a pair of M.2 slots, USB 3.1 in both A and C flavours, three PCIe 3.0 16x slots of which two are reinforced metal and yes, it has Aura RGB LED controls.  TechPowerUp tested it with an i7-7700K, check out their results here.

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"It's Here! Our first look at Intel's Kaby Lake-supporting motherboards comes from none other than ASRock, with their white and black mainstream motherboard the ASRock Z270 Extreme4. With all the base features of Intel's latest, including a bit of ASRock's engineering magic thrown in, the ASRock Z270 Extreme4 is the perfect example of what you can expect from Intel's Kaby Lake platform."

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Source: TechPowerUp

ASRock Releases H110M-STX Mini-STX Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | July 28, 2016 - 10:04 AM |
Tagged: small form-factor, SFF, mini-stx, mini-pc, H110M-STX, asrock

The motherboard within ASRock's DeskMini mini-PC kit has been released as a standalone product, and this H110M-STX motherboard offers Intel processor support up to 65W in its 5" x 5" Mini-STX form-factor.

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Image credit: ASRock

Specifications from ASRock:

  • Supports LGA 1151 6th Generation Intel Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron Processors up to 65W TDP
  • Supports Dual-Channel DDR4 SO-DIMM 2133
  • Graphics output: D-Sub, HDMI, DisplayPort
  • ALC283 Audio Codec
  • 2x SATA3, 1 M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4)
  • 3x USB 3.0 (Type-A & Type-C from front I/O; 1 from rear I/O)
  • 3x USB 2.0 (2 from onboard header; 1 from rear I/O)
  • Intel Gigabit LAN
  • 1x M.2 (Key E for WiFi + BT module)

Like thin-Mini-ITX motherboards the H110M-STX requires an external 19v power adapter. ASRock recommends a 120W adapter for 65W CPUs, while 35W Intel CPU builds can manage with a 90W adapter.

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Image credit: ASRock

As to availability/price, this has yet to appear in the usual e-tail channels in the U.S., with no results currently on Amazon or Newegg. ASRock's larger H110-ITX board sells for $69.99, so this may give us an indication of where pricing might be - though the smaller STX form-factor could increase cost.

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Image credit: ASRock

A sub-mITX form-factor might seem a bit unnecessary, but the smaller board does provide builders with a way to create their own mini-PC boxes with upgradable processors. Naturally, one would need an enclosure for this tiny motherboard, and the only one I have seen thus far came from SilverStone's booth at CES - though ready availability for all products in this newest form-factor is still an issue.

Source: ASRock

ASRock Launches New Mini ITX Motherboard For AMD APUs

Subject: Motherboards | February 14, 2016 - 05:02 AM |
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.

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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?

Source: ASRock

Extreme Overclocking of Skylake (7.02566 GHz)

Subject: Processors | February 6, 2016 - 09:00 PM |
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.

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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.

Source: HWBot

ASRock Releases BIOS to Disable Non-K Skylake Overclocking

Subject: Processors | February 5, 2016 - 11:44 AM |
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).

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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.

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(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.

Source: Hexus

Overclocking Locked Intel Skylake CPUs Possible - i3 6100 Benchmarked

Subject: Processors | December 11, 2015 - 02:08 PM |
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.

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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:

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Image credit: TechSpot

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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.

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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.

Source: TechSpot

ASRock Scores a Fatal1ty With Its $200 Mini ITX Gaming Motherboard For Skylake CPUs

Subject: Motherboards | September 28, 2015 - 01:23 AM |
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.

ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming-ITX_ac.jpg

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

The ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming ITX/ac is available now for $185 at various online retailers (Amazon affiliate code – support PC Perspective when you shop at Amazon).

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).

Source: ASRock