TechSpot: Asrock Z87 Extreme11/ac review: 22 SATA ports, quad GPU support and more

Although Asrock's Z87 Extreme9/ac offers all the motherboard we need at $360, we're happy to see companies catering to enthusiasts who will take things further -- like $200 further. LGA2011 is known for such solutions, including Asus' $500 P9X79-E WAS or Asrock's own $600 X79 Extreme11. With that platform now a few years old, manufacturers are shifting their focus to LGA1150, which arrived this year alongside Haswell and is accompanied by the Z87 chipset, among other Lynx Point-based parts.

Some of you may question Asrock's platform choice anyway because Intel's most powerful desktop CPU (the Core i7-4960X) started shipping a few months ago on LGA2011. While there's no denying that hexa-core, dozen-threaded processor is an enthusiast's dream, at $1,000 that's precisely where it will remain for most. The chip is grossly overpriced and its aging platform doesn't exactly sweeten the deal. For a third of the cost, most folks are better off with the newer Core i7-4770K and LGA1150.

Sockets aside, Asrock's new Z87 Extreme11/ac may very well be the most extreme motherboard we've handled. It touts four-way GPU support, premium onboard audio that includes a headphone amp, dozens of ports, dual gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and -- unsurprisingly -- the largest price tag in its class, which includes the $430 Gigabyte Z87X-UD7, $410 MSI Z87 XPower, $400 Asus Maximus IV Extreme, $400 Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 and the $370 ECS L337 Gaming GANK Domination Z87H3-AX.

So, how exactly does a company justify $540 for a motherboard?

The board's PCI Express configuration seems like as good of a place as any to start and it features an ExpressLane PEX 8747 chip, which is a 48-lane, five-port, PCIe Gen 3 switch. The board has four PCIe x16 slots, though one bypasses the PEX 8747 and lets single-card setups connect directly to the CPU. Meanwhile, 3 and 4-way GPU configurations all receive x8 bandwidth. In addition to the Z87's six SATA 6Gb/s ports, Asrock has included an additional LSI SAS-3 3008 controller for another eight 12Gb/s ports which are then split and turned into 16 6Gb/s ports using a 3X24R expander.

Read: Asrock Z87 Extreme11/ac Review: The Making of a Unique Motherboard

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19 Comments

I cannot even begin to comprehend having 22 Hard drives in my home computer...


... aww crap, I need to change my boxers.

Grunt said,
I cannot even begin to comprehend having 22 Hard drives in my home computer...

... aww crap, I need to change my boxers.

Me either I only have 20 plus one SSD If I bough this board I could install another drive!

glen8 said,
This would be awesome for my home media server - those BD50s each disk space

4TB*22=88TB, i think you might just be able to store a few Blu-rays

InsaneNutter said,
4TB*22=88TB, i think you might just be able to store a few Blu-rays

You can store nearly 2000 full ISO backups of BD50 discs with that much storage.

The Dark Knight said,

You can store nearly 2000 full ISO backups of BD50 discs with that much storage.

and £2,750 to buy all the disks

And if we say on average each Blu-ray you backup costs £15, and you acquire / borrow 2000 Blu-rays to rip, that's £30,000 worth of movies for £2,750 (presuming you didn't buy any).

(Not that i'm saying you should do this!)

I honestly feel 22 ports is an absolute waste for a gaming class motherboard. Server, yes, but not here. I don't see any use for it other than bragging rights. 1 or 2 SSD's with a couple of 3TB HDD's itself is going to be enough for most gamers.

The Dark Knight said,
I honestly feel 22 ports is an absolute waste for a gaming class motherboard. Server, yes, but not here. I don't see any use for it other than bragging rights. 1 or 2 SSD's with a couple of 3TB HDD's itself is going to be enough for most gamers.

I'm not quite sure what I'd do with it. I have a small pile of old hard drives that have been replaced for larger capacity ones, and while one could use them with a motherboard such as this, it's way more efficient in terms of power, noise and heat to use fewer larger capacity drives, than more smaller capacity ones.

So I agree, it only makes sense if you need tons of storage but can't afford to pay top dollar for the hardware that's usually needed for it.

The absurd thing is that they went the SATA port route verses Mini-SAS connectors. I would buy this in a heartbeat if it had 4x MiniSAS plugs + 6 standard sata ports. 22 sata cables? A wiring nightmare!

IF I had the money this would be my next upgrade I wonder if they'll do an AMD AM3+ version just to add choice for consumers

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