ASRock X79 Extreme4 Motherboard Review Take Two

We’ve had some rough experiences with ASRock motherboards since we started reviewing this company's products. So in a HardOCP first, we pit two ASRock boards of the same model against each other and look at matters from another perspective. The perspective of quality and consistency.

Introduction

ASRock is brand we are getting more and more experience with all the time. To date we’ve covered four ASRock motherboards; two Z68 boards and two X79 boards. Interestingly enough we had problems of one kind or another out of all but one of these boards. The only one we did not have issues with was the ASRock X79 Extreme4. What’s even more interesting about that is the other three were procured from retail stock and the one we didn’t have issues with came from ASRock directly, as what would be seen as a "review sample." Even given the good results, we at HardOCP still had nagging reservations about actually recommending the board despite our very positive experiences with it. We started to wonder, could our good experiences have been a result of the manufacturer sending us a cherry picked sample? Given our general experiences with ASRock so far it seems like a valid question. Later that week Kyle bought another motherboard of the same model from Newegg, worked with it, and then sent it to me for further evaluation. It may seem odd to revisit a board that was pretty good, but again we are looking to ensure our original board wasn’t just a cherry picked sample.

We thought it might be interesting to see how two boards of the same model and specifications would perform pitted against one another. So far ASRock has some nice looking designs on paper, but we just have no confidence in the brand given what we’ve seen. 2 out of 4 boards definitely had hardware issues, and a 3rd was problematic if only slightly; the network controller was a bit flaky on that one. 3 out of 4 boards giving us issues is just not a good sign.

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Just to reiterate, the ASRock X79 Extreme4 is based off Intel’s X79 Express chipset. It is an LGA2011 socket board compatible with Sandy Bridge-E CPUs only at present. The board is a feature rich solution supporting 3-Way SLI and CrossfireX, quad-channel memory, 9 SATA ports, IEEE1394, USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, etc. Digital power management is used for the board’s CPU power phases as is pretty much standard these days. Though not the most feature rich thing I’ve seen, it is because this is somewhat of a mid-range offering for an LGA2011 board. At the time of this writing the ASRock X79 Extreme4 can be had for around $240.

I’ll go ahead and rehash the specifications for you, but you should really familiarize yourself with the original ASRock X79 Extreme4 article if you want more detailed information on the board and the original review. The purpose of this article is to check out ASRock’s QC consistency, and to verify that we weren’t being played with a cherry picked sample. Obviously two boards doesn’t necessarily make for a good sampling, but a consistent experience would go a long way toward giving us the confidence to recommend the award the board seemed to deserve the last time we looked at it. Rather than rehash the entire original article, we will just cover the specifics of this board. For BIOS and software coverage, as well as comparisons to other boards, I’d advise looking at the original article.

Main Specifications Overview:

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Detailed Specifications Overview:

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The reality of it is, that to compare two identical boards, one must do everything that was done to the original board to the second. So that’s what we’ve done here. So again, while this article won’t cover the BIOS and show a bunch of photos of the same board again and again, we did all the same benchmarks and used the same testing procedures we use on all our boards with both samples.

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In case you forgot what this board looks like, here you are.