(8) on ASRock vs (6) SATA 6gb/s ports on MSI (one disabled if mSATA in use), ’nuff said.
The ASRock Z87 Extreme4 also comes with two internal USB 3.0 headers (as opposed to one on MSI) and a nifty onboard USB3.0 connector.
MSI opted for a full seven slot PCIe layout, while ASRock used two of them for legacy PCI slots which can be useful for builders who have older sound cards and TV tuners. Both motherboards feature a similar graphics card slot retention lock, but ASRock’s version is much bigger and hence more convenient during expansion card removal.
MSI placed voltage check points near the ATX connector (puzzling since this board is definitely not suitable for competitive benchmarkers), but did not bother to include a PORT-80 diagnostic LED or onboard power/reset buttons, two things that the ASRock board has.
The Extreme4 also has dual BIOS flash ROM chips, which is useful in the event of a corrupt BIOS flash.
VRM (MOSFETs) – Information in this section is derived from sin0822’s VRM list.
MSI at 8-phases and ASRock at 12-phases (note: not an accurate measure of peak output or characteristics).
ASRock uses Intersil ISL9582 which a 6 phase Hybrid PWM doubled to 12, while MSI employs a basic uP1649 analog controller augmented by discrete doublers.
ASRock’s VRM implementation is more thorough and robust than MSI’s, which will come into play during heavy overclocking and long-term stability. Both implementations were cool to touch even under heavy CPU load, which makes them suitable for passive operation when water-cooling.