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


View All Comments

  • clyman - Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - link

    In my personal experience and from ASUS tech support, the safest way to update bios is by first downloading it. This mobo has an excellent update program in bios that only looks at local drives, not online. I found it quite simple at each bios update. Reply
  • silenceisgolden - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    Great job Ian, really looking forward to the super high end motherboard review as well! I'm curious though, did you use the VGA port at all in any of these reviews, and also when was the last time you used a VGA port? Reply
  • IanCutress - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    My Korean 1440p panels are all via DVI-D. But the VGA comes in use when you have to use a DVI-I to VGA converter for DVI-I cables. Otherwise you need a DVI-D cable. Reply
  • JeBarr - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    Great review Ian. I very much appreciate your taking the time to explain the PCIe slot assignment and repeating the less-than-x8-no-good-for-SLI truth that needs to spread far and wide.

    What I took away from this review when analysing my own usage patterns and component choices is that each of the boards in this review would be better suited to the mATX form factor. There is no point in purchasing these mid-high end boards for multi-GPU, multi-display configs. There are only a handful of full size z87 boards that in my opinion earn their full-size status.
  • Shadowmaster625 - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    If it has fully integrated voltage regulators then why in blazes does it still need $20 worth of components buried beneath $3 heatsinks surrounding the cpu socket? Yeah, that's what I thought.... Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    What FIVR means to Intel isn't quite what you think it means. What's on package is the collection of VRs needed to provide power to all the separate sections of the CPU and to vary them as the chip clocks itself up and down. The motherboard itself still needs to do the heavy lifting to convert the 12V from the PSU to the voltage used by the DRAM and to a single input voltage the that CPU converts to the other levels it uses internally (IIRC this is the full load core voltage).

    I believe the reason why those regulators can be squeezed into the package while the ones still on the mobo are much larger is that the uncore/cache have relatively low power levels and the lower core voltages are only used at low CPU loads and thus don't need to push nearly as high of a peak current level.
  • WeaselITB - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    Wonderful review, Ian. Any chance of a Z87 vs Z77 vs ... comparison chart? It seems like functionalities of the processor are highly publicized, and the individual motherboard reviews chart the differences between chipset models within that family, but I don't recall seeing a comparison between chipset families. I know the chipset seems to be taking a smaller and smaller role these days, but it would still be helpful to exactly see the differences between generations.

  • Kougar - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    The only downside for me is that it unfortunately does not work with Korean 1440p monitors (!), but Gigabyte is looking into this.

    It doesn't work with my 30" U3011 monitor either, yet another forum user with the same monitor didn't have any problem. Only difference was he used a Radeon and I use a GTX 480.
  • Creig - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    I only had time so far to skim this article, so I apologize if this question was already answered in the body. Is there any way to find out when each board starts shipping with the C2 stepping of the Z87 chipset? As some people are already aware, the C1 stepping has been shown to have issues with certain USB 3.0 controllers disconnecting when the computer awakes from sleep mode. The C2 stepping is apparently already shipping to manufacturers, but it would be handy to know a way to ensure that a person who orders a board in the near future receives the updated chipset. Reply
  • blackie333 - Friday, June 28, 2013 - link

    I'm not sure that C2 stepping shipping already started, according to public available plan from May only samples have been sent to manufacturers. Mass production of C2 should start on 1st of July and manufacturers should start receiving them from the 30th of July. Boards based on C2 stepping should be available for end users from middle August.
    But you maybe have some more actual/insider information.

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