Last month we had EVGA’s X99 Micro gracing our centrefold, and we were excited about the prospect of getting X99/Haswell E power in a diminutive form factor PC. Sure, it was missing some of the features we’d like to see in a full X99 mobo, but space was at a premium so that’s forgivable. And then ASRock tipped up with its X99M Extreme4, which has soundly trounced EVGA’s micro effort. This is a bona fide X99 board with practically none of the compromises we saw in the X99 Micro, and some seriously impressive performance metrics to boot.
In fact, the price and performance of this board mean we wouldn’t be considering it for its mATX stature alone – we’d rather build a performance PC out of this than some of the full size boards we tested this month. If you wanted to fashion a checkbox with the desired X99 feature set, all you’d be leaving blank would be the bit by support for eight DIMM slots for your funky new DDR4 memory, and maybe the box by SATA Express.
If you’re being seriously picky and have a vast array of USB devices you need permanently plugged into your rig, then you could maybe have a whinge about the relative paucity of USB ports on the back panel too. Realistically those are minor niggles – if you can afford to populate all eight DDR4 DIMM slots in the full scale Asus X99 Deluxe then you can likely afford to buy a seriously high-priced motherboard too. And we’re yet to be convinced any one manufacturer is ever actually going to make a SATA Express drive either.
But the X99M Extreme4 has it where it counts, with multi-GPU support in two full x16 PCIe 3.0 slots, shielded onboard audio and that super-speedy M.2 x4 slot. The gaming performance of the ASRock board shows you’re not really leaving anything in those PCIe slots either; you’ll be squeezing near the maximum GPU juice out of your graphics cards. And the PCIe storage implementation is one of the quickest we’ve seen too. Both the ASRock boards in this test post the highest sequential read/write speeds we’ve seen, even if they’re a little more shy over their 4K random writes.
Where the X99M Extreme4 impresses even more is in overclocking prowess. This is one of the cheapest X99 boards we’ve tested in this issue or any other, and yet it’s still rocking a full 12-phase power design. That enabled us to get all the way up to 4.4GHz, and we can assume that’s the maximum our 5960X engineering sample is capable of without some LN2 sniffing.
Memory performance is the only place we’re not so impressed with the Extreme4. Standard 2,133MHz
performance is up there with the best, but the XMP of our high-end Corsair 2,800MHz RAM did nothing good for our board – we couldn’t even get it to boot. If you’re going for a low-price X99 to match your 5820K though, you’ll likely be happy with 2,133MHz memory and when we’re talking in chose terms, this ASRock board is possibly our favorite budget X99 of them all.