ASRock X99 Extreme 11 Review: The Most Extreme X99 Motherboard?

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Layout & Features

The ASRock X99 Extreme 11 is well laid out, with ample room between components for builders to work virtually unobstructed. At first glance the board is visually similar to the company’s Z97 Extreme 6 offering, reprising the cobalt blue-over-chrome coloring scheme. It may not be the most striking next to the green, red, yellow or orange coloring designs of many competing boards. Yet it again adds a bit of stylistic flare and contrasts well against the mobo’s sapphire black PCB.

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Atop the board we see ASRock is utilizing an XXL Aluminum Alloy Heatsink design, also found on the flagship Z97 board. Yet here are three in total, with the largest fighting against heat to the X99 chipset where a fan is also incorporated. More on that later. These massive heatsinks covering the MOSFETs and chipset areas of the motherboard, do an excellent job to route heat away from said components, for enhanced stability. We also see two heatpipes, plated in nickel, running from the top X99-labeled heatsink to the two others flanking it. The MOSFETs themselves are another innovation employed by ASRock. Like the aforementioned Z97, the X99 Extreme 11 also sports a Dual MOSFET design, which combines two silicon dies into one. The company assures the larger area of the combined dies will allow for increased power efficiency for the CPU Vcore.

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Below the main cobalt-colored heatsink we have the 2011-v3 socket. Our CPU rests here secured by the two retention bars. There is plenty of room around the socket to easily seat and secure our Corsair H100 AIO CPU water cooler. Bookending the CPU socket are the eight DDR4 memory slots—four on each side. You can outfit this behemoth with up to 128GB of DDR4 memory with supported frequencies reaching 3200MHz. If you’re intended use scenarios are more server-oriented, then ASRock has you covered there as well. The Extreme 11 supports DDR4 ECC/RDIMM memory modules when paired with Intel Xeon processors.

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Below the 2011-v3 socket X99 Extreme 11 has been granted five PCIe 3.0 x16 slots. The quantity and bandwidth available speaks volumes to extreme enthusiasts who crave uncompromised performance and ample room to comfortably slot four full-sized GPUs in a Quad SLI or CrossFire configuration. I reiterate: that’s support for four high performance video cards... GTX 980 or Quad Titan X SLI configurations anyone? Or maybe CrossFire dual AMD Radeon 295x2 are more your flavor? It’s all fair game on this board. The company’s use of two PLX PEX 8747 PCIe switch chips further cements this boards premium status, allowing four video cards—if capable--to reach their full x16 potential as long as the LSI controller is not in use. 

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Another high-end feature tempting enthusiasts is the motherboard’s two unique Ultra M.2 sockets, which are positioned in between the PCIe slots. One is seated underneath the top PCIe slot, while the other sits just above the bottom fifth PCIe slot. Where most Z97 boards feature Gen 2.0 /x2 slot, ours here are PCIe Gen 3.0 X4 slots able to hit transfer speed of 32GB/s. Good luck finding a drive touching those speeds. Regardless, these Gen 3.0 x4 Ultra M.2 slots support RAID configurations for supported SSDs. So prepare to hit the gas pedal if you can lay hands on these coveted drives. Note: speeds will be significantly reduced (2.8gb/s per drive) when running two independent M.2 x4 SSD drives. Alternatively, a 4-way SLI or CrossFire setup still leaves 8 PCIe lanes for the Ultra M.2 sockets to run twin M.2 x4 SSD drives.

Positioning and spacing are also worth noting. While we don’t have a supported M.2 PCIe SSD to test these lofty speeds, we do appreciate the thoughtful positioning. When slotted an M.2 drive sits flush against the slot and should not obstruct further slotting of GPUs in the surrounding PCIe slots.

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Along the right side of the board we have a familiar 24pin ATX power connector, which supplies the main juice to the board from the power supply. Moving down from there we have a pair of internal USB 3.0 connectors to increase our high speed connectivity options. Each USB 3.0 connector supports two USB 3.0 connections for a total of four possible USB 3.0 ports from the internal headers.

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Below this duo we have a veritable dreamland of SATA ports—18 SATA3 ports in all. Each port can hit speeds of 6gb/s. However, the eight furthest to left in the image above, are SAS-3 ports and are controlled by the LSI SAS 3008 controller supporting storage drive speeds up to 12gb/s.
  
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Lining the bottom from the left to right are a few other notable features and components. To the far left end is the front panel connector for your chassis’ front-facing 3.5mm audio jacks (headphone and mic), one of two PCIe on-board power connectors is to the right of that, followed by two USB 2.0 connectors sitting side by side and a pair of fan connectors—one 3-pin and a 4-pin. To the right of those is the BIOS toggle switch. Just above this is the LED indicator, which displays post codes for handy troubleshooting.

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The big standouts along the left side of the board are the Rear I/O panel and the board’s shiny Purity Sound 2 audio processor. The bling is from the EMI shielding covering the Realtek ALC1150 audio codec, which can dish out 7.1 channel HD audio. In games and media I found audio quality to be impressive and rich with deep bass levels that were far from muddy.

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Migrating to upper portion of the left side, the back I/O panel reveals a modest and sufficient compliment of connectivity options. The ASRock X99 Extreme 11 sports four Highspeed USB 3.0 ports, an Intel Dual LAN set for tethered network connectivity, four USB 2.0 ports, two eSATA ports, the Clear CMOS button to easily reset the board BIOS back to default settings and a PS2 mouse/keyboard connector. Notice the dearth of any DVI, HDMI or VGA display connectors. ASRock knows, if you're looking at the Extreme 11 then you undoubtedly have an after market GPU in mind. 

Finally, around the entire board we find, mostly 12K platinum Nichicon capacitors. The marketing hyperbole says these add much needed durability and can sustain 12,000 hours of extreme board temps reaching 105 degrees Celsius. Toasty. The board’s audio capacitors however, are Nichicon fine gold and are said to produce lower levels of noise. Surely, they are also helping to pad out that premium price tag.

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