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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  • Mr Perfect - Friday, June 28, 2013 - link

    I was wondering the same thing. If all shipping Haswell boards have the faulty USB3, then this is a non-starter. Reply
  • Avalon - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    Is it just me, or are these boards too expensive?

    The Asrock Z77 Extreme6 is $155 on Newegg, $169 w/Thunderbolt. Asrock Z87 Extreme6 is $220-$20 MIR.

    The Gigabyte Z77 UD3H is $140 on Newegg. Gigabyte Z87 UD3H is $180.

    You get a couple extra USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb slots and Haswell support, but I don't understand how that makes mid range boards at best command low high-end prices.
    Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Friday, June 28, 2013 - link

    My guess is it's just new vs old products at this point. The Z77 boards are old news and have had a year to fall in price. Meanwhile, the Z87s are shiny new toys that some people will pay a premium for. Reply
  • Rob94hawk - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    "As it stands the MSI BIOS looks like a higgledy-piggledy jumble to a new overclocker."

    Going from X38/775 to this I still haven't figured out what everything does.
    Reply
  • nsiboro - Friday, June 28, 2013 - link

    Ian, kindly provide info/links to ASUS Z87-Pro 3xxx series BIOS.
    The website product page (download) is only showing 1xxx series BIOS.

    Thanks.
    Reply
  • blackie333 - Friday, June 28, 2013 - link

    Could someone please check/confirm whether USB 3.0 S3 wakeup bug also affects devices connected via additional(ASMedia 1074) onboard USB 3.0 hub ports available on Asus Z87-PRO stepping C1 board?
    Some people are suggesting that only USB 3.0 ports directly connected to Z87 chipset are affected by the bug.
    Reply
  • chizow - Friday, June 28, 2013 - link

    The PCIe lane config was the biggest deciding factor for me. I will only ever run 2-way SLI, so I wanted to maintain x8/x8 config for my 2x primary GPUs but wanted the flexibility of that 3rd slot for a PCIe SSD or PCIe PhysX card.

    Only the Asus and Gigabyte options offered that lane config, from what I saw both the MSI and Asrock designs go with x8/x4/x4 3.0 rather than x8/x8 3.0 + x4 2.0

    The Gigabyte UD range was pretty vanilla, but I was OK with that, the Asus boards, although solid, offered a lot of features I would never need or use, like Wi-Fi.

    I ended up with the Gigabyte Z87X-UD4 as it was cheaper than the comparable Asus offering Z87-Pro by quite a bit.
    Reply
  • pandemonium - Saturday, June 29, 2013 - link

    I love the thoroughness of these articles. Excellent job, guys!

    "ASUS’ reasoning is such that some of the Haswell i7-4770K CPUs, the ones that only just get into this category, will throttle the CPU speed when using the default Intel CPU cooler when MCT is enabled."

    Who - buying a 4770K - will be using a stock cooler? What kind of rationality is that garbage? >.>
    Reply
  • blackie333 - Saturday, June 29, 2013 - link

    There can be some, maybe those waiting for a better cooler. But the question is why Intel is including cooler which isn't capable to cool the CPU and we still have to pay for it? It should be able to do it's job at least on default frequency.

    Anyway this problem is IMHO more an effect of Haswell heat transfer issue than poor quality of the stock cooler. If Intel could fix the CPU overheating issue the cooler should be good enough.
    Reply
  • ven - Sunday, June 30, 2013 - link

    why is that PCIe hub is present, many will prefer having a single device that will utilize all the bandwidth than having multiple devices choking with shared bandwidth, six SATA 6Gpbs is enough for most, with flex i/o and that hub removed gives x7 lanes and given this a Desktop board,msata will not be missed that much, so we can get tri-way SLI, i am little surprised that no manufactures choose this configuration. Reply

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