x79 extreme11 ASRocks X79 Extreme11 has a very fitting name

We've seen a fair few motherboards during CeBIT, but none of them were as insane as ASRock's new X79 Extreme11, as the company appears to have gone out of its way to create the most feature packed motherboard you could imagine and then some.

We've seen a fair few motherboards during CeBIT, but none of them were as insane as ASRock's new X79 Extreme11, as the company appears to have gone out of its way to create the most feature packed motherboard you could imagine and then some.

Unlike Gigabyte that went with Intel's C606 chipset for its X79S-UD5, ASRock has stuck it out with the X79 chipset for the X79 Extreme11, but the company has still managed to add SAS support thanks to the inclusion of an LSI SAS2308 controller. The upside of this move means that you're looking at real hardware RAID support, something the Intel C606 doesn't offer. On top of that the LSI controller support SAS/SATA 6Gbps and it has its own memory for caching, something you only see on higher-end RAID cards these days. The downside is of course the extra cost, as LSI RAID cards with eight SAS ports are anything but cheap.

x79 extreme11 ASRocks X79 Extreme11 has a very fitting name

Just above the LSI controller and the chipset you'll see a pair of PLX PEX 8747 PCI Express 3.0 bridge chips which enables the board to offer full quad x16 PCI Express 3.0 support. The downside is that it makes for a really complex board design and there might be some potential issues with this kind of layout, least not by the fact that the PEX 8747 chips run quite hot. As such ASRock is working on a very large heatsink for the X79 Extreme 11 and this is also why the two x8 PCI Express slots are missing retention clips for add-in cards. The smaller chip between the PLX bridges appears to be some kind of power regulation IC.

x79 extreme11 2 ASRocks X79 Extreme11 has a very fitting name

At bottom left hand side corner you'll find another PLX bridge chip, this time a PCI Express 2.0 chip which handles the peripheral chipsets, as the LSI SAS controller is most likely using up a good four lanes of PCI Express bandwidth from the chipset. This means that peripheral chipsets like USB 3.0 etc. will  be going through the PLX bridge which could potentially lead to lower performance, but it's something that we'd have to test to be sure about.

x79 extreme11 3 ASRocks X79 Extreme11 has a very fitting name

Next to the PLX bridge is a Creative Sound Core3D which should be covered by a similar ”fake” heatsink as Creative uses on its latest sound cards. We also got some clarification from ASRock as to why its sound cards are limited to only certain motherboards and slots. If you had a look at the pictures of the Creative cards we posted some time back, you'll have noticed that Creative uses a pair of chips on its cards, whereas ASRock – as well as Gigabyte on its G1 series of boards – uses a single chip. The reason for this is that the Sound Core3D uses the same audio interface as the Intel HD audio codecs which isn't PCI Express and as such Creative is fitting a bridge chip on its cards that allow the Sound Core3D to work as a PCI Express device.

To keep with the theme of an all-out board ASRock has also kitted out the X79 Extreme11 with eight DIMM slots, a 16+2 PWM design, a pair of 8-pin 12V power connectors as well as a pair of Molex connectors for extra power to the PCI Express slots. You also get a pair of four port USB 3.0 host controllers from TI for a total of four rear ports and four ports via pin headers. The board also sports two eSATA ports and a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports.

x79 extreme11 4 ASRocks X79 Extreme11 has a very fitting name

What we're really wondering though is how much this board is going to cost and if there's anyone that'll be willing to pay for it. There's no doubt that ASRock has created an interesting conversation piece, but somehow we feel that they've gone too far with this board, as it's likely going to cost more than any sane person is going to be willing to pay for an X79 motherboard. We've got a lot more motherboards from CeBIT coming, so just bare with us for a little bit for some more previews of what to expect in the comming months.