Desktop Llano Motherboards: The ASRock A75 Extreme6 Previewby Ian Cutress on June 14, 2011 12:00 AM EST
The usefulness of desktop Llano will depend on pricing relative to Intel's Core i3 series. We have a system here which excels in iGPU capability compared to Intel, but lacks serious CPU horsepower: it's more like a two legged horse—no matter which legs have been taken away, it's still going to move awkwardly.
Desktop Llano is going to have more success in mini-ITX format, if the iGPU can hold its weight in the standard video playback tests. In ATX or micro-ATX, people are going to be using their own discrete graphics solutions for the most part, and unless you're using a midrange 6xxx Northern Islands GPU to take advantage of the hybrid CrossFireX, you're always going to be lagging behind on CPU performance. So I look forward to examining any mini-ITX that are coming my way.
In terms of ASRock and the A75 Extreme6—it's rough, it needs a polish, but we didn't expect more than that. The DVI/USB issue on the back panel is frustrating, and the BIOS needs a distinct overhaul. But the placement of the numerous fan headers and abundance of SATA 6 Gbps and USB 3.0 are always welcome. There's a lot of PCI slots which makes me think that not a lot of imagination has gone into this, even if the chipset specifications say that up to 3 is possible—it reeks of 'it's in the specs, let's add it'.
There's room for improvement too—ASRock have started placing a new design of ferrite choke on their top models (similar to MSI's SFC), so it should slowly filter down. I was told that it doesn't cost much compared to the older design, and is far more efficient for heat and power delivery, so I'm surprised it's not on the Extreme6 model already.
Look out for a full review in the coming weeks.