ASRock aims to differentiate itself from other vendors by offering a PCIe 3.0 x4 based M.2 controller on its 9-series motherboards.
ASRock has long been at the forefront of bringing emerging technologies to its motherboards before other vendors, and is continuing the trend with its latest line of products. ASRock’s new 9-series motherboards feature an Ultra M.2 connector that offers faster bandwidth, a full-HD UEFI BIOS, a cloud tunnelling service, better audio components and an overall improved build quality.
As is often the case with most manufacturers, ASRock is differentiating its offerings into three product lines: a gaming line with a red on black design scheme under the Fatal1ty series, an over overclocking line with a yellow and black color scheme and a mainstream series that offers a blue on black design. Compared to the last generation motherboards, ASRock has tweaked the design and layout of the board itself so that it looks better visually, and has also increased the size of the heatsink.
In broad strokes, all ASRock 9-series boards, irrelevant of the price tier or use case, will come improved components which increase stability and durability of the boards.
A major addition in the higher-end boards is a PCIe 3.0 x4 based M.2 controller that interfaces directly with the CPU. The x4 slot has the potential to offer higher bandwidth when seen against current PCIe 2 x2 M.2 slots.
ASRock claims that it is the only manufacturer using an M.2 controller built by Intel while other vendors are utilising a third party solution. In addition, the motherboards will be able to accommodate M.2 devices of all lengths: 30 mm, 42 mm, 60 mm, 80 mm and 110 mm. Considering that a lot of new M.2 based products are set to launch later this year, the fact that these boards accommodate all sizes of devices is a big advantage.
The vendor is also offering a new HDD saver technology through which you can power two HDDs or 5.25-inch ODDs directly from the motherboard, instead of having to connect to a power supply unit, as is normally the case. The vendor mentions that this feature allows for more security, as you can power off the HDDs when not in use, thereby hiding them from view in the file browser.
With the 9-series, ASRock is focusing its attention on software services as well, and has launched the ASRock Cloud service. The service allows you to connect to your machine remotely. Even if the system is switched off, you can issue a command to boot it up from a remote location. ASRock’s solution is a private cloud offering, which means that your data will still be located on your own machine.
It remains to be seen whether ASRock’s latest round of innovative technologies pay off, but what is clear is that the manufacturer is intent on acquiring a more considerable market share in the motherboard segment.