Internal Storage

 IMG_3863IMG_3832

(8) on ASRock vs (6) SATA 6gb/s ports on MSI (one disabled if mSATA in use), ’nuff said.

IMG_4663

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.

 

Expansion slots

IMG_4674IMG_4669

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.

 

Overclocking features

IMG_4665IMG_3836

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.

IMG_3879 IMG_3849

MSI at 8-phases and ASRock at 12-phases (note: not an accurate measure of peak output or characteristics).

IMG_3886 IMG_3850

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.

IMG_3883 IMG_4680

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.

 

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