ASRock’s presence at Computex this year is interesting, to say the least. The company hasn’t made much noise about supporting Intel’s fifth-gen Broadwell processors, but they are looking more to the future, with reveals of their final designs for their Intel Skylake Z170 chipset motherboards and a gaming router that might give ASUS’s hardware a run for their money. Hit the jump for some pixel porn.
We’ll start off with the G10 Gaming Router first. This is ASRock’s first WiFi router and it will be an interesting one for sure. It has this whole angular chassis design going on, which ASRock claims improves signal quality, because there’s now more surface area for the signal to leave the chassis and bounce back through it. Connectivity is handled with an 802.11ac wireless module, which offers 4T4R compatibility. This essentially means that there are eight antennae, each one dedicated to either transmitting a signal or receiving one. This bi-directional capability is present in a lot of other ac routers, but it only has two-way support (which is also referred to as MIMO – Multi In, Multi Out). With the way that this technology works, you can have four 802.11n ac-compatible devices sending and receiving data at the same time.
I’m not sure how much this is going to impact most home networks that gamers use (wired Ethernet is magnitudes better in any case) but it is nice to have this option available. If the router is anything like ASUS’ hardware internally, there’s almost guaranteed to be a custom firmware made for it based on DD-WRT. The maximum bandwidth that the G10 can deliver to a client clocks in at 1.7Gib/s, or 210MiB/s of throughput, which is great for uses like Steam In-Home streaming and performing remote backups over WiFi (though, again, wired Cat5e is still better).
ASRock also unveiled their final designs for two of their upcoming Skylake motherboards, both based on the Z170 chipset that replaces Z97. The Z170 Gaming K6 is really good-looking, with lots of I/O shield all around the place, a giant heatsink for the chipset, connected heatpipes and heatsinks for the CPU power phases and the standard red and black colour scheme, which steals from both MSI and ASUS’ designs catered towards gamers. It appears to have a 8+2 power phase arrangement and a 8-pin EPS 12v connector, so it’ll naturally be a decent overclocker. There is SLI and Crossfire capability (the PCI-E arrangement in Skylake can split itself into a 8x-8x-4x arrangement) and there’s one Ultra M.2 slot for SSDs, powered by the last four open PCI-E 3.0 lanes running to the CPU. That means that you can either have a third GPU for three-way Crossfire, or you can have a two-way GPU setup and one M.2 SSD.
Connectivity wise, there appears to be two SATA Express connectors in black, four SATA 6GB/s ports in red and one front-panel USB 3.0 port. At the rear are no less than eight USB 3.0 ports, and I’m guessing that some of them are provided by an ASMedia chip hiding somewhere under the plastic shroud. Both this board and the Z170 Extreme7 have Purity Sound, the brand name for ASRock’s implementation of the Realtek ALC1150 audio chipset with a headphone amplifier, as well as a port 80 LED for diagnosing boot issues and power and reset buttons on the top-right corner. Both also appear to be compatible with DDR4 memory only, as there are no slots labeled to work with DDR3 memory modules.
The Extreme7 carries on ASRock’s semi-premium motherboard design and adds more insanity to it (seriously, there’s more stuff on this board than the Z97 Extreme9). It now has a black-and-gold colour scheme (changing from black and blue) and it adds on another front-panel USB 3.o connector, a further two M.2 slots (one from the chipset, another probably from an Asmedia SATA controller) and a mPCI-E port (probably leeched from the chipset as well), which will probably be useful for internal WiFi cards bundled with the board. There is also a fourth PCI-Express slot, which might be running at PCI-E 2.0 x4 speeds for PCI-E SSDs like Intel’s SSD750 family. Looking more closely at the I/O rear panel, you can see an open screw with solder joints surrounding it – I think this is open space for a WiFi antennae connector bracket, which might be sold separately by ASRock.
That’s all from these fellas for now. Computex continues!