Intel’s Haswell-E platform is almost ready to launch and a lot of manufacturers and component producers are gearing up for the biggest switch in the PC landscape since the launch of DDR3 back in 2007. Haswell-E will launch with the brand new X99 chipset and the reworked LGA2011-3 socket, designed to house the massive six, eight and eventually twelve-core chips that Intel will be peddling to enthusiasts, gamers and professionals looking for the ultimate in speed and power. Although most board manufacturers have managed to not have their final designs leak, ASRock forgot all about their need to keep secrets and revealed their boards a little early during a special conference in Taiwan.
The pictures were snapped by XFastest after the special presentation and show us the first-generation X99X K1ller, the X99 Extreme 4 and the Extreme 6. These boards were previously seen and pictured back at Computex 2014, but they were decked out in white, had no model numbers and weren’t even clad with heatsinks. This looks more substantial and better on the eyes.
The first of the trio is the X99X K1ller, shown above. It appears that manufacturers are again going to be using memory switches to allow for up to eight modules on a single PCB, although there’s no way of knowing how much latency this introduces to performance of the DDR4 modules. More than likely, there’s going to be a slight bit of latency involved. Zooming in we can see ten SATA 6GB/s ports, two front-panel USB 3.0 headers, a Ultra M.2 connector for SSDs and ASRock’s Purity Sound amplifier next to the Killer E2200 network chip.
The board is also limited to a 10+2 phase VRM design, whereas the older X79 Fatal1ty Champion had a 12+2 arrangement. There’s no space for mSATA or even SATA Express devices, which means that this is likely not their best offering in the X99 space.
For that, it’s likely that there’ll be something like a X99 Extreme 11 or perhaps a X99 OC Formula.
Next up is the X99 Extreme 4. This will be one of the more low-end boards on offer but it still packs in quite a few niceties. The improved audio is still there as is the Ultra M.2 connector. There’s still a port 80 debug LED, there are still ten SATA 6GB/s ports and still a pair of front-panel USB 3.0 connectors. It’s difficult to make out, but it appears that the VRM phases dips down to a 8+2 array. This won’t impede every day use much, but it will make overclocking to higher frequencies a bit more restricting.
It appears that ASRock is also going for a dual-BIOS setup. To the left of the CMOS battery are a pair of BIOS chips and this should allow most people to switch between the main profile as well as a default backup. Alternatively, this would allow one profile for daily use and one for overclocking the system to increase performance while gaming.
The Extreme 6 is a mix of the two boards, settling in for a more bland look without the frills of the K1ller. It rocks Intel Gigabit ethernet networking and the Purity Sound controller, but lacks any of the fancy heatsinks of the Extreme 4. The PCI-E layout changes as well, moving to four PCI-E 3.0 lanes, possibly capable of speeds of 8x/8x/8x and PCI-E 2.0 x4 respectively. If anyone wants pure x16 PCI-E 3.0 connectivitiy for four GPUs, you’d need to buy a board with a PEX PLX bridging chip in it.
ASRock has not made any price announcements yet, but Intel is expected to launch Haswell-E and X99 in September this year. We don’t have long to wait.