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March 6, 2013

First ASRock Socket LGA1150 Motherboards Shown Off at CeBIT

Here is the first selection of ASRock socket LGA1150 motherboards, pictured at the 2013 CeBIT expo being held in Hanover, Germany. Intel's 4th generation Core "Haswell" desktop processor family introduces the new 1150-pin LGA socket and Intel 8-series chipset, to form the platform. An upgrade to to "Haswell" processors should hence also involve buying new motherboards. Top-two motherboard manufacturers ASUS and GIGABYTE reportedly lack booths at CeBIT, leaving only the rest to show off their LGA1150 goods. This first compilation includes boards by ASRock and BIOSTAR. The boards are also a little rough on the edges, as their component/PCB color schemes, heatsinks, etc., haven't been finalized.

ASRock unveiled two LGA1150 motherboard models, the entry-level B85M, and the high-end Z87-Extreme6 (pictured in that order). The B85M, based on the chipset that succeeds today's small business-optimized B75 chipset, is a compact micro-ATX motherboard. It features just the two DDR3 DIMM slots, an expansion area with a PCI-Express 3.0 x16, a PCI-Express 2.0 x16 (electrical x4), and two legacy PCI slots. Connectivity includes six SATA 6 Gb/s ports, 8-channel HD audio, four USB 3.0 ports, gigabit Ethernet; DVI, D-Sub, and HDMI display outputs, legacy connections such as COM/LPT over headers, and PS/2 mouse/keyboard connectors.

Moving on, the Z87-Extreme6 is much better equipped, and could lead ASRock's first wave of LGA1150 motherboards. It uses a 10-phase VRM to power the CPU, four DDR3 DIMM slots, three PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots likely capable of x16/NC/NC or x8/x8/NC or x8/x4/x4; a PCI-Express 2.0 x1, an mPCIe, and two legacy PCI slots. The board features a total of eight internal SATA 6 Gb/s ports (six from the Z87 chipset, two by a third-party controller); and four USB 3.0 ports. Connectivity appears to include 8-channel HD audio, gigabit Ethernet, DVI, HDMI, and D-Sub display outputs. It's interesting to note on both ASRock boards that the PCH silicon appears smaller than what we're used to seeing on older 7-series chipset. Perhaps Intel finally got around to building PCH silicon on smaller silicon fab processes, such as 45 nm.