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  • 457R4LDR34DKN07 - Saturday, May 24, 2014 - link

    The Gen2 M.2 x4 PCIe looks very impressive. Its too bad that Asrock did not include this in their mITX offering. Reply
  • 457R4LDR34DKN07 - Saturday, May 24, 2014 - link

    I mean Gen3 Reply
  • smoohta - Saturday, May 24, 2014 - link

    Regarding the Dolphin benchmark- you wrote:
    "Results are given in minutes, where the Wii itself scores 17.53; meaning that anything above this is faster than an actual Wii for processing Wii code, albeit emulated."

    This should read "... meaning that anything below this is faster than..." - right?
    Reply
  • Ian Cutress - Saturday, May 24, 2014 - link

    Bad choice of words - anything 'above on the graph' would be faster based on the orientation of results. I've updated it to remove the ambiguity. Thanks for pointing it out :)
    Ian
    Reply
  • r3loaded - Saturday, May 24, 2014 - link

    The overarching conclusion from this review - Intel needs to put far more PCIe 3..0 lanes on their CPUs and chipsets if we want motherboards where connectors don't play musical chairs with each other for bandwidth. Also, Samsung needs to make the XP941 a retail product right now! Reply
  • Tunnah - Saturday, May 24, 2014 - link

    I think the reasoning behind an either/or situation with M.2/SATAe is sound - the consumer most likely will not require 2 high end SSDs, and will go with one that is either M.2 or SATAe, the rest can be served via normal SATA ports.

    Also I think SATAe, while a great idea, will lose out to the convenience and capability of M.2; SATAe would have been great 2 years ago but now M.2 is here it is absolutely perfect for an OS drive, cutting down on not just size but cabling.
    Reply
  • SirKnobsworth - Sunday, May 25, 2014 - link

    Agreed about SATAe, especially since (a) SSDs don't really need that much circuit board area and (b) A RAID array of two SATA SSDs offers at least as much theoretical bandwidth as a SATAe while taking up the same amount of ports on your board. Reply
  • Babar Javied - Sunday, May 25, 2014 - link

    Exactly my thought. So why have SATAe???? Its great that it uses PCI but it doesn't really offer anything that we couldn't already do.

    As you've said, "A RAID array of two SATA SSDs offers at least as much theoretical bandwidth as a SATAe while taking up the same amount of ports on your board".

    There seems to be a lot of stupid decisions being made regarding ports. DDR4 is another example of a useless upgrade.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, May 27, 2014 - link

    "A RAID array of two SATA SSDs offers at least as much theoretical bandwidth" But your are losing random performance when going RAID and increase the chance of a disk failure. Why would you even compare them? Reply
  • Galatian - Saturday, May 24, 2014 - link

    Ian,

    Can you explain to me why no mainboard manufacturer is using 4 lanes from the chipsets PCIe 2.0? I mean that would be enough for the Samsung SSD and still has room left. I mean what do I gain from all those SATA and USB ports? Who is actually using all of them?

    Right now I have to choose between either a slow M.2 slot because they only allocate 2 lanes or I can go with ASRock which feels like overkill and takes away CPU PCIe lanes.
    Reply
  • peterfares - Saturday, May 24, 2014 - link

    It was stated in the article, using 4 lanes for M.2 from the chipset would leave too little lanes left for controllers and other onboard peripheral devices. Reply
  • SirKnobsworth - Sunday, May 25, 2014 - link

    The chipset allows up to 8 PCIe lanes. Maybe having 8 USB 3 ports and 10 SATA ports matters for some, but certainly not everyone. If you use 4 lanes for M.2 you can still have 4 additional lanes going to the NIC/x1 slots/whatever, 4 USB 3.0 ports, and 6 SATA ports, noting that FlexIO allows some flexibility in that arrangement. Reply
  • Galatian - Sunday, May 25, 2014 - link

    This! Thousand times this! I mean at least give the option. My PC if only a gaming machine. I have one SSD inside, one mouse, one keyboard and one XBox Controller receiver. I have no need for more ports. At least give me some option: as I said it's either this extreme or the other extreme, but nothing in between. Reply
  • isa - Sunday, May 25, 2014 - link

    But the article also said a reason was m.2 cards would mostly or only be offered in 2 channel flavors, and that makes no sense to me since I believe the z97 chipset supports 4 channels of PCIe 2.0 for m.2. I agree many would want 4 channels even if meant sacrificing a few usb ports or whatever, so I'd think the market would provide 4 channel m.2 cards to support those customers. Reply
  • Marlowe - Saturday, May 24, 2014 - link

    All new motherboards should have pcie x4 m.2 slots to be worthwile.. There are really no excuse not to. The x2 version is a too small upgrade from old SATA. Anyone who buys a new fast pcie ssd will need x4 to fully utilize it.

    I think you can install both Win 7 and Win 8 in UEFI mode.
    Reply
  • SirKnobsworth - Sunday, May 25, 2014 - link

    A few thoughts:

    - The SSD only supports PCIe 2.0, not 3.0, so the maximum theoretical bandwidth is 20 rather than 32 gbps. The actual performance is still far below that too though. To my knowledge there are not PCIe SSDs currently available that support gen 3, though I think OCZ will be shipping 2.0x8 SSDs soon.

    - Leaked roadmaps show that Intel will be increasing the number of PCIe lanes on the chipset rather than the processor - the chipsets accompanying Skylake should have 20 PCIe 3.0 lanes. If you want more lanes directly from the CPU then there's already an option - Intel's LGA2011 Enthusiast options have 40 PCIe 3.0 lanes from the CPU.
    Reply
  • ShieTar - Monday, May 26, 2014 - link

    Also, if the x2 port maxes out at 765 MBps of just below 6 Gbps, than we probably should not expect more than roughly 12 Gbps from the x4 port either. So the XP941 would be significantly closer to the interface maximum than the article suggests. Reply
  • Laststop311 - Thursday, May 29, 2014 - link

    A lot of people want to build mini itx form factor. LGA 2011 doesn;t exist and never will it's physically too large a socket. All the people like me have a great need for increased pci-e lanes from the cpu. Controllers degrade performance and add latency.

    At the same time for mini itx you can only fit one pci-e slot on there but it would be nice if we could keep it at 16x for when gpu's do start needing the extra bandwidth and still have 8x left over for 2 4x m2 slots. 24x pci-e 3.0 cpu lanes needs to be on their mainstream. That still leaves a whole 16x gap to the enthusiast and they can increase those by 8 too to 48 lanes and keep the separation the same. Then everyone can be happy.
    Reply
  • romrunning - Thursday, May 29, 2014 - link

    I will add my vote to wanting a mini-ITX board. To me, I really don't know anyone who is actually using 3 PCIe slots. However, I do know quite a few who are tired of the big towers.

    Also, where are these people who want a ton of SATA slots in a home PC?? The only chassis I know where I want that many ports is in a server, and there I'm getting space for 16-24 drives - not this Frankenstein of 10 SATA slots. People at home who need a lot of space (for work or pleasure) are getting a NAS, not trying to load out a machine with 6-10 drives.

    My picture of a great mini-ITX board - Z or H 9-series chipset, 4 x 6Gbps SATA ports supporting RAID 0/1/5/6, 2 x m.2 (x4) supporting RAID 0/1, no SATA Express (waste of space), 1x eSATA, 4-6 USB 3.0 ports, optional mSATA/PCIe slot for wireless add-on, and a single x16 PCIe 3.0 slot. Price it at $110-150, and I'd buy it in a heartbeat!
    Reply
  • Haravikk - Sunday, May 25, 2014 - link

    Once again I can't understand this over-subscription that results in complex balancing of which SATA ports are used. I mean really, how many people buying these types of motherboards actually need more than four SATA ports? How many actually need a full seven PCIe slots? Just compromise on one or both, and reallocate the bandwidth; juggling ports that work and don't isn't something a builder should have to worry about, it should just be a case of plugging stuff in anywhere that fits and then starting it up. Reply
  • R3MF - Sunday, May 25, 2014 - link

    Reducing GPU access to 8x PCIe 3.0 lanes wouldn't be a problem on Kaveri/FM2+ as they have 24x PCIe 3.0 from the APU.

    If only they'd release an X6 refresh of Kaveri...
    Reply
  • TelstarTOS - Sunday, May 25, 2014 - link

    "GIGABYTE originally had that issue with their Z87 1080p BIOS, but it is fixed for Z97."

    Gigabyte? ;)
    Reply
  • Ian Cutress - Sunday, May 25, 2014 - link

    Yup, GIGABYTE had the issue of having a full HD mode but it wasn't initiated by default, and they fixed it for Z97 such that I can boot into full HD mode directly. ASRock still required me to select the full HD mode from the 720p mode. Reply
  • isa - Sunday, May 25, 2014 - link

    I'm pretty sure the z97 chipset supports m.2 with 4 channels of PCIe 2.0, but this article states most or all upcoming m.2 implementations will be limited to just 2 channels of PCIe 2.0. Do I have my facts straight, and if so, why the 2 channel limit? I can speculate as well as anyone and thus I'm not interested in speculation, but please comment if you actually know. thanks! Reply
  • isa - Sunday, May 25, 2014 - link

    To be clearer, I'd hope m.2 cards and sockets for any laptop to have 4 channels, since overall bandwidth issues with lots of ports that affect desktops just isn't an issue. Reply
  • SirKnobsworth - Sunday, May 25, 2014 - link

    I believe that the Z97 chipset only supports SSD caching on two lanes. Not that this matters all, or perhaps even most of the time, but maybe it was done just to avoid confusion. Reply
  • isa - Tuesday, May 27, 2014 - link

    OK, I looked up the z97 chipset specs in Intel's site, and I believe the answer is that the chipset provides 8 total PCIe 2.0 channels, and these can be assigned in any combo of 1x, 2x or 4x channel bundles as long as the total is 8 or less. So the chipset supports assigning 4 channels to the M.2 slot, and doing so leave 4 PCIe channels for other uses. I just hope laptop motherboard and firmware makers and M.2 PCIe card makers don't automatically limit themselves to M.2 2x implementations. I saw nothing in the Intel specs that required a RST (aka SSD caching) channel for each M.2 PCIe channel, nor do I know if Intel's use of RST effectively allows but cripples the performance of any M.2 PCIe channels over 2. I also don't know if one can disable RST and thus get the full benefit of 4 M.2 channels, motherboard and firmware permitting. It would be great if there was an Anandtech article going into this a bit more. Reply
  • heywoodmi - Sunday, May 25, 2014 - link

    Ian,
    You mentioned that default POST time was slow @ 20 seconds. Do you recall which controllers you had to disable to bring the POT times down to 7 seconds? I'm wondering if you also had to disable the M2 Ultra interface, because that seems to negate the unique characteristics of this motherboard. I'm looking to actually pair this up with a samsung XP941.
    Thanks
    Reply
  • 457R4LDR34DKN07 - Sunday, May 25, 2014 - link

    That seems unlikely as it does not use a controller and is directly connected to CPU. The only delay caused would be the UEFI firmware on the XP941 and motherboard Reply
  • Ian Cutress - Sunday, May 25, 2014 - link

    For my stripped POST times, I try to disable as much as I can, except the ports I need to boot (SATA, USB 2.0). This is based on a request I had a couple of years back. As you can't adjust the M2_1 (the M.2 x4) in the BIOS, it would have remained enabled, although I did not have the drive installed at the time.

    It is worth noting that 20 seconds is on the pre-release launch BIOS. ASRock is historically known for its fast POST times, so there might be BIOSes at a later date that optimise the default post process by adjusting certain options at default. Because so much can change in a BIOS (even basic performance), our reviews are essentially a snapshot in time of the life cycle of the product.
    Reply
  • Maiyr - Monday, May 26, 2014 - link

    So this M.2 stuff....

    Are we saying that I can buy one of these <A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Sub... M.2 MLC SSD</A>, plug it in, turn it on, and that the BIOS is going to recognize this as a drive I can then load my OS on?

    Maiyr
    Reply
  • Maiyr - Monday, May 26, 2014 - link

    rats, can't edit my own comment :(
    sorry about the atrocious link
    Reply
  • Maiyr - Monday, May 26, 2014 - link

    Nevermind, I read further and see that this is expected to be possible with newer UEFI's.

    Maiyr
    Reply
  • mars2k - Monday, May 26, 2014 - link

    Ok, I've seen XP941 512GB available for sale on the web. Are these different models than those used in this review? It would seem that drives are readily available Reply
  • kwrzesien - Tuesday, May 27, 2014 - link

    It would appear to be the same model based on the labels: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8... Reply
  • Mikuni - Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - link

    "Disk Health Report" tool is a total rip-off from CrystalDiskInfo, what a shame. Reply
  • Laststop311 - Thursday, May 29, 2014 - link

    Mini itx board with 2x pci-e 3.0 x4 m2 slots on the back and 1x pci-e 3.0 8x GPU slot would make for an amazingly compact build. This would be perfect for the ncase m1. By hiding away the storage in that case you can add extra fans and a larger radiator and keep the slim optical drive and not have to put the ssd there to keep max ventilation. Or can increase storage to 2x 512GB on back of mobo and 1TB 2.5" ssd in place of optical drive and keep max ventilation and 2TB of storage.

    I would be happy to be able to take out the hdd/ssd holder and replace my 120mm rad with 240mm rad. Since I need my optical drive I have to sacrifice some cpu cooling. A mini itx board like that would enable me a good 200-300 mhz increase to my oc.

    http://www.ncases.com/v2/m1.php

    Amazing case get in on the pre order while you can it's just a limited run being made.
    Reply
  • Antronman - Thursday, May 29, 2014 - link

    ASSRock sucks ass. Reply

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