ASRock Z77 Extreme4—Visual Inspection

ASRock are still insistent with bringing the black gold philosophy to its range, as seen here with the Z77 Extreme4 and later with the Z77 Extreme6. The main point you may immediately notice is the size and depth of the heatsinks covering up the power delivery—they are smaller than previous iterations of ASRock boards, and no longer connected via a heatpipe. This is indicative of quite a few boards we are looking at today, due to the low power requirements of the new processors and as a result, the lack of heat produced at stock voltage.

The socket area is relatively clean, especially to the south where we have no large intruding heatsink. The VRM heatsinks however do brush right up against the Intel specifications for the socket area, so you ultimately have only two directions (to the PCIe and towards the memory) in which to play around with big air coolers. The socket area is adorned with five fan headers—three along the top edge of the board and two chassis headers near the top PCIe x1 slot. The other header on board is along the bottom next to the two-digit debug.

The board is actually not a full ATX sized board—from left to right, it measures only 21.8 cm, rather than the standard ATX size of 24.4 cm. As a result this means ASRock do not have to deal with the far right holes in the motherboard for case mounting, and hence why the SATA ports in the bottom right are neatly tucked away. In this corner, we have the six SATA ports from the PCH (two SATA 6 Gbps, four SATA 3 Gbps) and another two from an ASMedia ASM1061 controller (SATA3_A1 is shared with an eSATA port, however). The internal USB 3.0 header is located nearer the 24-pin ATX power connector, perhaps indicating that is for both front case use and rear case use, taking up the space where the first PCIe x1 is.

The chipset heatsink is rather small, compared to Z68 and X79 boards, and is not connected via heatpipe to any other heatsink nearby. On the south side of the board are the standard array of audio and USB headers, along with a fan header and power/reset buttons. It is good also to see the two digit debug on the board as well.

The PCIe layout is indicative of what we will see on many Z77 boards this year, which do not use any form of PCIe lane expansion, such as a PLX chip. In this case, we have an x1, an x16 (x8 on dual card), a gap, a PCI, an x8, another PCI, and another x1. This is some smart thinking, as even with a dual GPU setup there is space for two single width PCIe x1 cards and a PCI card (which contrary to what some people think are still used in reasonable numbers).

Despite the stock image from ASRock looking a little bent on the back panel, we have a typical Z77 arrangement for IO. From left to right, a combination PS/2 port, two USB 3.0 ports (blue), a D-Sub output, a DVI-D output, HDMI, a clear CMOS button, two USB 2.0 ports (black), an eSATA port (red), gigabit Ethernet, two more USB 3.0 ports (blue), and a standard array of audio jacks featuring an optical SPDIF output.

Board Features

ASRock Z77 Extreme4
Size ATX
CPU Interface LGA-1155
Chipset Intel Z77
Power Delivery 8 + 4 Phase
Memory Slots Four DDR3 DIMM slots supporting up to 32 GB
Up to Dual Channel, 1066-2800 MHz
Video Outputs HDMI 1.4a, DVI-D, D-Sub
Onboard LAN Broadcom BCM57781
Onboard Audio Realtek ALC898
Expansion Slots 2 x PCIe x16 Gen3
2 x PCIe x1 Gen2
2 x PCI
Onboard SATA/RAID 2 x SATA 6 Gbps (PCH), Support for RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
2 x SATA 6 Gbps (ASMedia ASM1061)
4 x SATA 3 Gbps (PCH), Support for RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
USB Two USB 3.0 at rear (PCH)
Two USB 3.0 at rear (ASMedia 1042)
One USB 3.0 header (PCH)
Onboard 4 x SATA 6 Gbps
4 x SATA 3 Gbps
1 x IR Header
1 x CIR Header
1 x COM Header
1 x SPDIF Header
Power/Reset Buttons
Two Digit Debug LED
6 x Fan Headers
Front panel audio connector
3 x USB 2.0 headers (support 6 USB 2.0 ports)
1 x USB 3.0 header (supports 2 USB 3.0 ports)
Power Connectors 1 x 24-pin ATX connector
1 x 8-pin 12V connector
Fan Headers 2 x CPU Fan Header (one 4-pin, one 3-pin)
3 x CHA Fan Headers (one 4-pin, two 3-pin)
1 x PWR Fan Headers (3-pin)
IO Panel 1 x Combo PS/2 Port
1 x HDMI 1.4a
1 x DVI-D
1 x D-Sub
1 x Optical SPDIF
2 x USB 2.0
4 x USB 3.0
1 x eSATA 6 Gbps
1 x Gigabit Ethernet
1 x Clear CMOS
Audio Outputs
Warranty Period 3 years from date of purchase
Product Page Link

 

Rather than dump a Realtek NIC/Audio combination on this board, ASRock have gone for a Broadcom NIC. This means either they have struck a deal, or it works a lot better for their ASRock LAN software. ASRock are one of few motherboard manufacturers to state they support HDMI 1.4a on their website specifications as well. As one of the cheaper boards of this roundup, the Z77 Extreme4 actually comes away pretty well in terms of features.

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  • LancerVI - Sunday, April 08, 2012 - link

    They've yet to fail me. I think I may take the plunge with Ivy Bridge. My 920 X58 build has served me well, but I have the itch and I've avoided scratching it since late 2008. I don't think I can hold off any longer!!!

    I feel the need for a new build.....NOW!!!
    Reply
  • TrackSmart - Sunday, April 08, 2012 - link

    Ha ha. We all get the rational or irrational urge to upgrade, whether we 'need' it or not. I would never stop someone from enjoying a new build. But that being said, the core i7 920 still holds its own pretty well. However, I suppose quicksync alone could be worth the upgrade if it is a feature you use heavily. That is one area where the performance gains are just phenomenal. Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Sunday, April 08, 2012 - link

    Shoot, I'm still rolling with an E8400. You're 920 has some legs.

    Unless you have a killer app in Ivy Bridge, just sit on your Nahalem machine.
    Reply
  • LancerVI - Sunday, April 08, 2012 - link

    Believe me fellas. This is all irrational and I'm not ashamed to admit it! Reply
  • mgl888 - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    Like :)

    I'm torn between waiting for Haswell next or upgrading to Ivy Bridge now.
    I'm on a E7200. Hahaha
    Reply
  • Artifex28 - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    ...and I am burning this E6750. :D

    I give up. Time to upgrade. :)
    Reply
  • prophet001 - Monday, April 09, 2012 - link

    Hmm...

    Rockin the Core 2 on the 975x with an 8800 gtx here :D
    Reply
  • LancerVI - Monday, April 09, 2012 - link

    That's awesome! That's a great setup! The 8800GTX is on par, in my mind, with the 9700 Pro of yore. Reply
  • jbuiltman - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - link

    920 X58 being slow???? I have an AMD FX-60 Dual core with 2GB of DDR ram....That is slow.... :) Reply
  • LancerVI - Thursday, April 12, 2012 - link

    Who said anything about being slow?? All I'm saying is I haven't built a new machine since 2008 and I have the itch.

    I realize it's a slight up grade or maybe even considered a side-grade, but it's an itch. I'll probably wait unitl Ivy Bridge-E and then see.
    Reply

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