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  • CeriseCogburn - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - link

    They keep getting better.

    Their old board line ups had the most diverse setups and options with cpu sockets, chipsets, ram options, and the like, from P4 through core2 it was a wild assortment.
    They must have developed a lot of knowledge and attracted skill, and know we see it paying off.

    Are they not nearly or perhaps the most innovative.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - link

    About a decade ago most of the smaller boutique enthusiast mobo companies started going under. All of the large but poorly regarded budget mobo makers were able to snap up full teams of people who knew how to design good boards. While it's taken time to spread their knowledge company wide there aren't any true garbage mobos on the market like there used to be and even the traditional bottom end of the market companies are generally turning out high quality parts. Reply
  • Assimilator87 - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - link

    Man, I really miss Abit. Reply
  • IanCutress - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - link

    A lot of Abit went to Bitfenix. Now we get cases like the Prodigy to play with :) Reply
  • NichrolasHoult - Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - link

    Love my job, since I've been bringing in $5600… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I'm making it online(Click on menu Home)
    http://goo.gl/5AA22

    Happy New Year!
    Reply
  • vwgtiron - Thursday, January 17, 2013 - link

    I use to love me some Soyo motherboards. Then towards the end quality went off the end for AMD support anyways. Reply
  • Flunk - Thursday, January 17, 2013 - link

    I had a lot of trouble with a SOYO KT400 Dragon Ultra. That was a pricey board and it was so unstable (even at stock clocks) that I actually replaced it.. with an ABit AN7, which was such a good board that I got my 2500+ (1.83ghz) up to 2.4Ghz on a Thermaltake silent boost.

    Ah, memories. I miss those companies.

    I suppose ASUS is still around (and bigger than ever).
    Reply
  • Flunk - Thursday, January 17, 2013 - link

    As a follow up, I would say that boards are a lot more homogeneous now. You can get a good board easily, for cheap, but sometimes the pricey ones are no better than the cheap ones.

    The Gigabyte z68x-ud3h-b3 I have now is a really lousy board for overclocking. You can be stable for a week, then one day it refuses to post unless you reset stock settings. At which point you can set the same overclock again and it works fine. Lousy junk.
    Reply
  • charliem76 - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - link

    I saw that line and raised an eyebrow. Is that something you weren't supposed to mention? Between the articles and the podcast, I don't recall hearing anything about that.

    I did theorize that one could cram two 2.5" platter drives into the space filled by one 3.5" drive and have room left over for a RAID controller to feed into one SATA port. Or with the space of an optical drive, even more 2.5" drives.
    Reply
  • IanCutress - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - link

    The Mushkin 960GB Chronos is reported to have two 480GB SSDs inside with a RAID 0, and the already tested OWC Mercury Electra does as well:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6200/owc-mercury-ele...
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6599/mushkin-announc...

    Ian
    Reply
  • themossie - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - link

    Two SSDs using one SATA III connection will be severely bandwidth-constrained, a single SSD is already near the limits of SATA III (6 Gbps = ~600MB/sec max in practice). More SATA connections means much more available bandwidth...

    Get something like http://www.amazon.com/Silverstone-5-25-Inch-Conver... and roll the RAID yourself :-)

    The linked drive bay converter is really great - although I wouldn't trust it with four hard drives due to heat.
    Reply
  • ShieTar - Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - link

    Thats not exactly a new development, OCZ are selling their colossus line since 2009. You could still buy one, but I think it stopped making sense a while ago, as they are slower than most single SATA6G-SSDs.

    There are also several PCIe-based solutions with internal RAID-0 solutions available for at least two years now. I don't see why Ian should not mention them.
    Reply
  • Flunk - Thursday, January 17, 2013 - link

    If you really want that you need to get something like the OCZ Revodrive series. Multiple SSD controllers all hooked up to PCIe. SATA's just not fast enough. Reply
  • NitroWare - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - link

    Theres innovative for the sake of being the bleeding edge (eg ROG) and theres innovative for making features that a vendor assumes its customers want or commercialy driven. Asrock would go in the latter.

    Note their answer to Ian's question about the naming Unforuntly that mentalilty is prevalient with some vendors despite what they are told by media or testers.

    "I eagerly await a Z87 OC Formula which can build upon the additional features listed above. If, for a few more dollars, we got an included ASRock Game Blaster, 5 GHz WiFi or an mSATA for not much more on the price, then it will speak out to gamers and boutique system builders even more."

    Even if they put those features on that doesnt automatically put it at the top of the podium.

    They'd put them on and then ruin it with some feature they read on a forum or 'brainstormed'.

    Compare the Z68 and Z77 Fatalilty boards - the Z68 had an almost if not perfect rear IO backplane with its 2 HDMI ports, dual GBE, switches and abundance of USB ports. They went and added DVI to the Z77. Really ? OK Lucid Virtu/multiple displays but this is an enthusiast board not a H77.

    This is all Intel's 'idea' and they didnt feel a need to put a DVI on theirs, their DZ77RE has a single rotated HDMI to save space and they fited what the enthusiast wants and needs, nothing more.

    They have alot of work to do on their UEFI (NTFS support, Automatic Fan Control, things that have been for granted on other brands), Their software (their fan control sw lacks error catching), production line QA and valdation lists are less comprehensive than GA/ASUS plus they need to answer customer tech support tickets or emails.

    Asrock Support once told me not to use Kingston Memory when I reported a non memory related problem (faulty board) as they didnt really validate that and 'had problems' with it, a company saying things like this is unacceptable for many reasons.

    Ian did not miss anything with this comprehenive review, although I am personally curious as to how sturdy their heatsink assembly is based on my experiences with their other modern boards.

    I really liked the Z68 Fatalilty despite its shortcomings, the old X58 Delux seemed to work well for many people and I guess we can say this one doesnt suck either. They are really trying but then they feel they need to bring back old ghosts from the past by toying with gimics like XFast RAM rather than concentrating on core hardware and software engineering.

    Have a look at their Q77 board, its a recycled H77 even still retaining their enthusiast livery and THX logo, OK then.

    Anyone remeber the X58 Supercomputer? NVIDIA professional certified. Yeah excactly. Funny how that went into the wind, perhaps the licensing was expensive but that was waters even ASUS didn't put their toes into.

    They know their place as a budget vendor and it shows, hence emphasis on innovations that dont cost them as much as major R&D.
    Reply
  • IanCutress - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - link

    Since I started reviewing I've never given a gold award to a motherboard (one to ROG as a brand), and I think in some 70 odd boards I've only given three or four silver awards. Gold needs to be perfect - BIOS, software, performance, easy of use, add-ins and price. Obviously there are things we can't test, like RMA or support.

    But ASRock did seem to use a different way of thinking on this board - whether that's the Nick Shih influence or not I'm not sure, I've only met him once in passing.

    Some boards that come out from vendors are designed for a specific customer in mind (Gigabyte H77N-WiFi) and are released to the public after the initial batch, whereas others ask users what they want. Like you, if I was given a pen and paper to design a motherboard, it would probably be very different to almost everything out there, based on what I think people needed. But compromise always comes in, and for example back panel connectors cost a fair bit, so a manufacturer might buy a thousand to keep the costs per unit down, or have a very good procurement offer for a certain type. If a designer wants something new on the rear IO, procurement might reject it for being too expensive, or it may not exist, or a manager might reject it for the BOM going over budget, or it may be rejected because a particular SI doesn't want it like that. Some model ranges are excluded from this, or someone like Intel has enough cash to do whatever they want.

    Major R&D doesn't make the money - the products do. In my ROG review and interviews with staff, I found out it's taken them 7 years to break even in terms of sales vs. R&D. Very few companies are willing to do that. But it is good to see a great package now and again, and we all hope it becomes a stepping stone for the future.

    Ian
    Reply
  • Kevin G - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - link

    Well at this juncture I think it is fair to ask, how would you define the perfect motherboard? If you were to design a board, what specs and layout would it have? Any standards you adhere to or absolutely want to ignore to get the ideal product? Anything innovative you want to see on a board that you haven't yet? What price would you sell it at considering its BOM? Reply
  • NitroWare - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - link

    You can easily test RMA and support.

    RMA - check what the procedure is in place is for certain regions, heck an eyeballing of newegg comments for bugs/ dud boards/vga doesn't go astray. Arrangements vary per region.

    Support - email their support or fill in a ticket with a non publication domain name.

    If you get an automated 'your ticket is in the queue' message - good
    If you get a human reply - better.
    If no reply within a certain time period or unacceptable facepalm answer - fail

    If a vendor has a online chat (Intel and Coolermaster do) do they know their own products? Does the vendor have a staffed forum?versus relying on a tech site for their forum?

    If someone has an issue, ameutuer or enthusiast they are going to google their problem after all.

    While I agree with you bout they thought different about this board. One cant helpt notice that someone handed them a ROG board and the breif was 'make our own version of this but dont copy it', thats not neccesarily bad though.

    If a vendor is playing supply channel/logistics games with their components and that ends up affecting an enthusiast or expensive board well thats not a positive is it. Their Z68 did have easy RAM clips for example and issues such as you described come into play

    One can say ASUS ROG was trying to win customers away from ASUS 'delux' or 'premium' boards where as ASR is just trying to win customers outright, or even a repeat buy.

    Dominic
    Reply
  • Assimilator87 - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - link

    Not sure if this is done in other reviews, but the majority of the conclusion was copied from the overview. Pretty lame to be honest. Reply
  • IanCutress - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - link

    It has been in a couple over the years. It is sometimes hard (and time consuming) to come up with 400-600 new words which essentially rewrite the overview to say the same thing in the conclusion but with a final statement. If it's severely an issue, I'll refrain from it in the future :)

    Ian
    Reply
  • cmdrdredd - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - link

    WHY!? This is clearly way over $180 and targeting the $300 boards like the Maximus V Formula from Asus. Does it beat that particular board? How about the $200 Maximus V Gene? We don't know because they were not included in any testing.

    This board is most definitely not meant to be compared to boards under $200 but boards over it's price point.
    Reply
  • IanCutress - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - link

    We haven't got around to testing those. I have the Z77 MPower and Z77X-UP7 in to test at the minute, and they will be reviewed in due course.

    Also, comparing against a board that I gave an award to is perfectly valid - it gives at least a standard and a comparison point. Over a certain price point, various groups of users will refuse to spend money on a motherboard unless there is a tangible benefit.

    Ian
    Reply
  • Paazel - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - link

    How can this board/company be awarded anything from this site? I thought you guys factor in post sale support/RMA procedure when reviewing boards?

    My Z68 board has been a nightmare, I upgraded to the newest BIOS and had installed Windows seven times before I realized that the board must be bad. It was a nightmare to get them to send a new BIOS (as the BIOS could not be rolled back). The forgot to ship it, then shipped it to my home rather than the location the computer was at. The BIOS didn't work so I had to RMA the board. ASRock does NOT do advance RMA at all (even if you secure it by credit card). How can this be OK for a silver award at all? Additionally the RMA procedure takes 5-7 business days to examine, upon which they send it out fedex ground. This is typically 2.5 weeks all said and done (I shipped via FedEx 2day). This is among the worst support possible, this should be factored in to all ASRock product reviews.
    Reply
  • threeclaws - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - link

    Customer Support should be a major factor in reviews but nobody is doing it. I was "chatting" with a reviewer on hardocp about this and he was saying it would be impossible to do it for every board but that maybe a yearly round up could be implemented. I hope hardocp does it because it will force sites like anandtech (and others) to follow suit whether they want to or not.

    With companies like Asus running around getting awards left and right, paired with the worst customer service in the industry (this seems fairly well known at this point) there will be no change unless major review sites start taking them to task over it.

    p.s. I haven't really experienced asrock customer support but am enjoying my z77 board from them.
    Reply
  • A5 - Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - link

    None of these companies have good support because they don't need it and the market has clearly shown that it doesn't really care about it. Most motherboards that go bad will do so within the return period. Reply
  • Voldenuit - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - link

    Dear Anandtech,

    Please stop wasting our time with $200 motherboard reviews.

    Thank you,
    The Internet.
    Reply
  • Razorbak86 - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - link

    Dear Voldenuit, please stop trying to speak for "The Internet". tyvm

    Dear Ian, please continue with your motherboard reviews. I read almost every one, including those in the $200 price category. I suspect I am not alone, but I will not presume to speak for others.

    Best regards,

    Razorbak86
    Reply
  • vwgtiron - Thursday, January 17, 2013 - link

    I concur sir, I am all about bang for the buck. And as it is currently time for me to update my gaming rig well. I am trying to decide to pull the trigger or hold off 2 more months. But this motherboard for me hits the sweetspot and offers me a lot for my dollar, still allows me to add in a separate sound card if I deem so. Throw my intel NIC in and boom, cream machine.

    Also Ian I really like your reviews. Your getting better all the time. Thank you.
    Reply
  • A5 - Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - link

    What do you want instead?

    $80 motherboards are boring and $300+ motherboards are just stupid (so incredibly stupid).
    Reply
  • irsmurf - Thursday, January 17, 2013 - link

    I couldn't disagree more. $200 motherboards are the sweet spot between high performance and enthusiast / superfluous. Reply
  • iamkyle - Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - link

    Why haven't the award medals been updated? They still use the old Anandtech logo and style! Reply
  • irsmurf - Thursday, January 17, 2013 - link

    The medals are super janky. For having such a clean site, you'd think they could scrounge up $50 for those simple images. If he can't find them on these forums, There are a few talented artists on Something Awful's FS/FT forum. Reply
  • KPRage - Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - link

    Why isn't the Maximus V gene or, Extreme in the comparison list? Will this not be a more appropriate comparison to be made for an OC board?

    Thanks,
    KP
    Reply
  • zeehan - Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - link

    Forgive me if Im wrong guys, But the car certainly Looks like a Lamborghini Aventador to me :P Reply
  • Maraque - Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - link

    It is a Lamborghini Aventador. Reply
  • IanCutress - Friday, January 25, 2013 - link

    Changed. I recently watched the Top Gear USA + UK Aventador episodes again, and yup, it's that :) Reply
  • Olotila - Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - link

    I am considering buying this board or extreme6, and this one thing seems quite advanced technology ...

    How can you have raid of at least three disks if you have only two ports?
    "2 x SATA 6.0 Gbps (Chipset), RAID 0, 1, 5, 10"
    Reply
  • Kevin G - Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - link

    The RAID5 and 10 functionality are shared between the two 6 Gbit and four 3 Gbit SATA ports from the chipset. Thus you have a total of six ports to build a RAID5 or RAID10 array. Reply
  • Olotila - Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - link

    Ok so not very optimal for say four fast ssd's in raid 10, right? Darn. Reply
  • oiVoodsio - Thursday, January 17, 2013 - link

    The box art is not a Lambo of any sort, the murci has a flat bottom unlike the box. The box has more of the Ferrari Enzo look to the front spoilers. I'd say its a modified Enzo which was designed and inspired by F1 Racing. Reply
  • IanCutress - Friday, January 25, 2013 - link

    The headlights point towards Lamborghini, but the front intake and grills were confusing me and it's not standard. Turns out the only Lambo with that is the Aventador. Reply
  • kmmatney - Thursday, January 17, 2013 - link

    In the gaming benchmarks the ASRock Extreme4, $100 cheaper, gets the same result, even after the massive overclock on this board. While the overclocking is impressive, you can get a decent overclock with any cheap Z77 motherboard, and spend the difference in price on a better on a better video card, or the next grade of processor. Reply
  • Onus - Thursday, January 17, 2013 - link

    I'd like to pass along my own experience with ASRock Customer Support. Cutting to the chase, it was entirely positive. I had obtained the review sample of an ASRock board from another site, which meant there was no warranty coverage. Unfortunately, the board died in the middle of a game. CPU temps were good, and I'd not [yet] had any reason to OC. Although I'd kept it at stock, it was a mini-ITX in a PC-Q08R, and the presence of a HD7870 in the build may have allowed something on the board to overheat, despite the pair of case fans. Anyway, I initiated an RMA request, fully explaining this situation, not trying to avoid their $50 service fee for out-of-warranty products. All correspondence was by email, and was handled quickly, with same or next day (if late) responses. I did pay the fee, but the RMA was handled quickly, and the new board is now just waiting for a brain (I used the original i5-3570K CPU in another build). Reply
  • watersb - Thursday, January 17, 2013 - link

    Ian, you are a MOTHERBOARD MADMAN!!! I can't keep up, but I try anyway.

    Sincere THANKS for these recent reviews. Wow.
    Reply
  • The Magpie - Friday, January 18, 2013 - link

    I like this board. In fact I like ASRock more and more. I remember the old days when their entire lineup was silly looking, bad performing boards. Those days are gone now and that is great. But that is not the point of this comment.

    The point is to say that I'm feeling a bit offended by having to read through the same bloody lines, once at the very beginning, and again at the very end of the article. Great technical knowledge Ian, but have some kind of respect for yourself and your work, and don't copy\paste the same lines from the first to the last page. What happened, ran out of things to say? Embarrassing and outrageous for someone who takes the time to read through your entire piece.
    Reply
  • waldojim42 - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    I see that you are finally testing for some idea of sound quality, and I am quite grateful, but why aren't we hammering on these companies over missing features here? I care about one thing and one thing only; Dolby Digital Live encoding. I don't see why I should be forced to by a $150 Creative labs POS just so I can use the fiber connection for my 5.1 audio.

    This is a feature that was available as far back as the Nvidia Nforce 2 for crying out loud! Why is this not standard on $200+ motherboards? It cannot be that difficult, and I am sure there are more than a few gamers out there that would be happy to see this.

    As of right now, the ONLY motherboard on my radar is the Gigabyte Sniper 3. Sadly, they used a Creative chipset to get the job done, but at least it is built into the board.

    Anand, could you possibly reach out to these manufacturers and get them to understand people want this? The worst part, is that it is quite obvious there is very little in licensing costs involved, if Creative is anything to go by ($5 to get DDL on your current product!) and that is money well spent.
    Reply
  • IanCutress - Friday, January 25, 2013 - link

    Would you be interested in B75 with a Creative chip? Drop me an email with specifics. I'm not an audio nut (tone deaf too), but I can pass on some info :)

    Ian
    Reply
  • jimmyzaas - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    I was very close to picking up the Z77 OC Formula. The only thing that I didn't like was that tiny fan for the VRM. I've had an Abit board before with the southbridge fan and about 2 years in, it started to get louder and louder until all you hear is grinding noise. Issue was that whole assembly was proprietary and replacing the fan means replacing the entire heatsink. Since then, I've vowed not to get any mobo that needed a fan of any kind.

    My question is.. do the VRMs get that hot that they require active cooling? I mean no other boards, including that monster Gigabyte UD7 needed fans? Or is it just for show.. if so, it is a retarded move. Second question, is it like a standard 40mm fan that can be replaced easily? If not, is the board still stable with NO fan attached.

    To the poster above wondering about the Sniper board.. I have it and that audio is the best I've ever had from a motherboard. I have a Gigabyte board with Realtek 889 audio and the Core3D just crushes it in every way. Now I haven't heard Realtek 898 on my sound system, so I can't compare.. but I'm really blown away by the sound. Not really impressed by Killer NIC though.
    Reply
  • IanCutress - Friday, January 25, 2013 - link

    The VRM fan is predominantly there in case (a) low air flow situation, like a closed-loop liquid cooler, or (b) hot ambient climate. You are perfectly justified in taking the connector out if neither of those apply to you. VRMs during normal stock usage are easily cooled by cross air flow, but as you start hitting 4.8 GHz+, they might start kicking out some heat if you are constantly hammering the CPU with loads. A small 40mm fan probably doesn't do much in that case, but it does something.

    With regard to the UP7, they use IR3550s, which are designed to pump out less heat for the same power - and there's 32 of them, so the heat generated is spread around such that the long extended heatsink can take care of everything.

    Ian
    Reply

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