ASRock’s Z77 Extreme9 gets official, priced

Z77 Extreme9 1 ASRocks Z77 Extreme9 gets official, priced

The first of the super-premium Z77 motherboards has arrived, ASRock's Z77 Extreme9 and it comes with a price to match. As loaded with features as this motherboard is, it looks like ASRock missed out on one must have feature for this segment – or at least so it appears – namely Thunderbolt.

The first of the super-premium Z77 motherboards has arrived, ASRock's Z77 Extreme9 and it comes with a price to match. As loaded with features as this motherboard is, it looks like ASRock missed out on one must have feature for this segment – or at least so it appears – namely Thunderbolt.

Despite this little miss on ASRock's behalf, the Z77 Extreme9 is loaded to the brim with features and it defiantly one ups MSI's recently announced Z77A-GD80 and Intel's DZ77RE-75K, at least as long as you don't need/want Thunderbolt connectivity. That said, we're still waiting for Asus' P8Z77-V Premium and whatever Gigabyte is working on that'll slot in above the Z77X-UD5H.

Z77 Extreme9 2 ASRocks Z77 Extreme9 gets official, priced

However, we're not here to talk about the competition right now, as it's time to take a closer look at the Z77 Extreme9. For starters, the board has no less than five x16 PCI Express 3.0 slots with the second slot being the main slot when a single card is being used. Thanks to a PCI Express bridge chip of some kind, the Z77 Extreme9 will also work in dual x6 or four x8 modes using slot one, three, five and seven, where one and three are used for dual x16 mode. The sixth x16 slot operates at PCI Express 2.0 speeds and offer four lanes of bandwidth. There's also a single x1 PCI Express 2.0 slot and a mini PCI Express slot that houses a dual-band combo 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 card.

The board also has the standard four SATA 3Gbps and two SATA 6Gbps ports via the chipset, but ASRock has added another four SATA 6Gbps ports via a pair of ASMedia ASM1061 controllers. The board also has headers for four front USB 3.0 ports via an Etron EJ188 host controller, six USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port and a serial port of all things. You also get features like a POST80 debug LED and a power and rest button.

Around the back of the board we have a PS/2 port, no less than eight USB 3.0 ports of which four are via a second Etron EJ188 host controller, two USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA port, a FireWire port, a pair if Gigabit Ethernet ports courtesy of a couple of Broadcom controllers, 7.1-channel audio with optical S/PDIF out, an HDMI port and a clear CMOS button.

Z77 Extreme9 1 ASRocks Z77 Extreme9 gets official, priced

An interesting addition is the bundled front USB 3.0 port drive bay module or Wi-SB Box as ASRock calls it. Not only is it home to two USB 3.0 ports, but it also houses the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antennas and a pair of LEDs to indicate that it's transmitting data. There's also space for a 2.5-inch drive to be mounted in the module.

On a whole, not a bad board, but the pricing is a bit off-putting, albeit not much more than other super-premium motherboards. In Europe the board is retailing for around €320 (US$410/S$520), or about €20 more than a Core i7-3770K. That said, Asus' P8Z77-V Premium has also found its way online and should retail for around €400 (US$515/S$650), or about as much as a cheap computer these days.

Source: ASRock

VR-Zone is a leading online technology news publication reporting on bleeding edge trends in PC and mobile gadgets, with in-depth reviews and commentaries.