ASRock Z87 Extreme6/AC Conclusion

Everyone has their own ideas as to what constitutes a perfect motherboard.  My first question is usually ‘what price band are we talking about?’, as that would define the level of ‘extras’ above the base model.  When I first looked at the unassuming ASRock Z87 Extreme6/AC, the main feature for me was the 802.11ac dual band WiFi module on board.  Having had the time to test the Extreme6/AC, it is clear to me now that the board is so much more than just the AC.

Now when I started to prepare this review, I was circling around the main motherboard manufacturers asking for their $200 motherboards – something around this mark, perhaps up to 10% above and below this mark, whatever in this price bracket the manufacturer believes will be its best seller.  It is a value that tends to be popular enough for enthusiasts going for new builds, and I like the fact it contrasts many of the super high-end value reviews we see at launch day.  This price band gives the manufacturer the option of one or two SKUs to send me – either something lower which may attract more users, or at the high end to expose the feature set.  I am glad each manufacturer sent me something different (mid-range, gaming-range) – ASRock went in at the high end of my request with the Extreme6/AC at $220 (-$20 instant rebate in June for NA), but I am glad they did.

For that $200/$220, we get ten SATA 6 Gbps ports, eight USB 3.0 ports, 802.11ac dual band WiFi, Realtek ALC1150 audio, DVI-I, dual Intel NICs, HDMI-In and x8/x4/x4 PCIe.  Ding ding, we have a connectivity winner.  This product is hitting an obscene price point compared to the motherboards around it, and could very well be this generations Z77X-UD5H, which we rated highly for similar reasons.  Of course with all this onboard, something has to give – as a result we do not get a black coating covering the traces on board, the CPU VRM heatsinks are a little small, most of the fan headers are 3-pin and there are no voltage check points or similar for overclockers.

There is always room for improvement, and the main goal from ASRock should be to improve their software.  It gets an upgrade from Z77 for Z87, but the simple things like correct spelling should be sorted before a reviewer gets hands on a motherboard.

In terms of performance the Extreme6/AC comes with MultiCore Turbo as standard, giving that extra boost over motherboards that do not have it.  Against the boards that do, the ASRock seems to have good efficiency, and the x8/x4/x4 does help against the x8/x8+x4 setups in tri-GPU mode.  The XFast software helps the Extreme6/AC generate new records in USB performance, both for USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, and Windows 7 POST times fall under 12 seconds which is always good.  The only two downsides for performance come at the expense of DPC Latency which is quite high for Z87 (314 microseconds), and there is no good software to accurately monitor the CPU voltage on the motherboard.

Nevertheless, the ASRock Z87 Extreme6/AC is a great motherboard to play with, especially in connectivity alone.  Other manufacturers will have a big challenge to offer something at this price point with more functionality.  ASRock have truly hit the nail on the head, and if I were buying a motherboard today, as an 802.11ac WiFi user, the Extreme6/AC would be on the short list.  For these reasons, I feel no shame in offering the ASRock Z87 Extreme6/AC our Editor’s Choice Silver Award.  The Extreme6/AC is an exciting play by ASRock that the competition will struggle to match.

ASRock Z87 Extreme6/AC
AnandTech Editor’s Choice Silver Award

MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming Conclusion ASUS Z87-Pro Conclusion – Silver Award
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  • Rob94hawk - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    The MSI Gaming board would not do 2560x1440 off the DVI-D port. Reply
  • Aikouka - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    One thing to note is that ASRock does have a version of the Extreme6 that does NOT have 802.11ac built in. I think it's about $20 cheaper.

    I thought about going with the Extreme6 when I built a Haswell machine, but I figured that some of those features would go unused. Unused chips that aren't disabled still need to be initialized during POST, so I get an increased POST time and spend more money. :P I went with the Extreme4, and honestly... I wish that I hadn't. The UEFI BIOS on my system is so flaky that it randomly hard locks a few seconds after the GUI appears. I don't know if it's a bad board, a bad batch, or an issue with that model, because I'm not the only one with that issue. I've seen other reports on the Anandtech forums and a quick Google search turns up results on other forums and in the Newegg reviews. I'm assuming that the Extreme6 did not have this problem?
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    Check your BIOS; you should be able to disable unused controllers to boost post time. This shortened my i7-920/930 post times from ~30s to ~20s. Reply
  • Aikouka - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    Oh, I know. I just figured that it wasn't worth spending more on a board just to disable the unused controllers. Although, then I ran into the Extreme4's BIOS problem, and I wish I would have spent a little more! =P Reply
  • James5mith - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    Since when is $200 a "reasonable price bracket"? In my mind $50-$100 = budget. $100-$160 = mainstream. $160+ is enthusiast pricing. It is not reasonable at all. Reply
  • WeaselITB - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    $200 is a reasonable price bracket for the enthusiast chipset family that they're reviewing. If you're looking for lower price, check out the lower families, such as H87 for the mainstream segment. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Friday, June 28, 2013 - link

    A solid Zx7 board without any BS used to be around 100€ (-> 100$ without VAT for you). Now that parts of the voltage supply have transitioned into the CPU the boards should not become any more expensive.

    I may be enthusiastic about tweaking my PC for efficiency and value, but I'm certainly not enthusiastic about paying big bucks for my toys.
    Reply
  • crimson117 - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    Ian, this line/paragraph sounds a bit too much like it was lifted from marketing materials: "Whenever a user considers purchasing an ASUS motherboard they know that it is built to perform and has a great feature set" Reply
  • IanCutress - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    Haha I can assure you those are my words, although it does sound generic given that I was meant to be referring to the board in the review. Perhaps a bit subjective for a review, but I had a good experience with the board and that filtered through. Changed it a little...

    -Ian
    Reply
  • snakyjake - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    I've had an ASUS mother board for years, and the EZ-Update never downloaded updates from the Internet. It never was able to connect with any of the update servers. I always had to go to the Asus website and download the updates, and then update the BIOS from disk.

    I do wish the ASUS software was all integrated, and not separate programs on my system tray.
    Reply

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