Asrock X99 E-ITX Review – Insanity, thy name is ASRock. We don’t think there’s been many companies out there who have thought to themselves: “You know what we need to do? A 2011 socket, ITX form-factor, go!”
The ASRock X99 E-ITX is nothing short of an engineering miracle, fitting an extreme edition processor into the ITX form factor represents a huge challenge. Considering the socket alone takes up a quarter of the entire PCB, ASRock has been left with little-to-no room to manoeuvre. So, has it delivered on the promise of an insanitypacked Mini-ITX powerhouse? Sort of…
The board follows the traditional blue design SKU of the latest ASRock boards. Granted, you won’t see much of it once you’ve slammed in a graphics card and two sticks of DDR4, but for what’s it worth, it’s not a bad-looking motherboard, at first… After you realise that you’re left with that awkward-looking small form-factor custom CPU leaf blower, or a Cooler Master Seidon 120MM all-in-one, you might be feeling a little differently on the subject.
Internally, for storage you have access to one Ultra M.2 PCIe, four SATA 6Gbps ports and a single SATA Express port, for the lucky few who have access to something that runs that. There is, of course, the standard USB 3.0 connector awkwardly positioned behind the PCIe slot. For cooling capacity, it’s the usual slim pickings you tend to find with ITX (though more than its Z97 little brother), with one CPU fan header and two chassis fan headers.
The rear I/O features four USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA connector, the usual 5.1 audio connectors plus TOSLink, PS2 Combo port, two Gigabit Ethernet connectors and last, but certainly not least, the two USB 3.1 Type A connectors for up to 10Gbps transfer speeds with the latest storage devices.
As far as performance goes, it’s as solid as the rest of them. Something ASRock boards are well known for is their potential to overclock, and this board is no exception. We achieved a stable 4.4GHz on our Core i7-5820K and it pushed out some impressive numbers, even giving the Sabertooth a run for its money.
So not cool
Unfortunately, this board has one major setback, and that stems from the design of the socket itself. Although it’s still reinforced with its own backplate, much like the other 2011 boards in the market, the mounting points don’t correspond to the traditional 2011 form.
This means you’re incredibly limited as to what coolers you can effectively use. You’re stuck with either ASRock’s included CPU heatsink (that although effective, sounds like a small hurricane, even on silent mode) or a Cooler Master Seidon 120mm or 240mm all-in-one liquid cooler with the included bracket. It’s less than appetising for water-cooling enthusiasts and other PC builders.
There’s no doubt the X99 E-ITX is an impressive piece of engineering from ASRock. If you’re looking to set up an insane home server build with a 2011 chip at its heart, this could be a solid candidate.
Otherwise, however, the placement of this board in the market is a tad confusing. It doesn’t really have the memory capacity or storage connectivity needed for a professional-grade workstation, nor is it entirely comparable to what you’d expect from high-grade gaming motherboards (because let’s face it, if you’re buying a 2011 socket to game on, you’ll probably be investing in more than one GPU anyway).
- Small form factor
- Impressive design
- Strong integrated cooling
- Limited choice of coolers
- No place in the market
- Not good looking
- CPU support Intel X99 / 2011
- Form factor E-ITX
- USB 3.1 support 2x USB 3.1 Type A
- M.2 support Ultra M.2 PCIe SSD