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Asrock X99E-ITX/ac Review: A uniquely capable Mini-ITX motherboard

By Steve ยท 32 replies
Apr 27, 2015
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  1. asrock x99e-itx review

    While other motherboard makers seem to be getting less creative with their designs, Asrock has shown it doesn't mind taking chances with its products. Proof of that is new new X99E-ITX/ac, the world's first and only Mini-ITX X99 motherboard, and first ever of its kind to feature an Intel Extreme-series chipset.

    Apart from being nearly impossible to design, there are obvious drawbacks to such a creation. In the case of the X99E-ITX/ac, it's limited to just two DIMM slots, eliminating the quad-channel feature of LGA2011-3 processors. Still, running a processor such as the Core i7-5960X in dual-channel doesn't exactly kill performance and users can still look forward to features such as Wireless AC, USB 3.1, SATA Express and M.2 support.

    Feature-wise, the Asrock X99E-ITX/ac isn't really missing anything. It delivers the performance of a full-sized EATX X99 board in a 170mm x 170mm package that still manages to carry enthusiast trappings.

    Read the complete review.

  2. SuperVeloce

    SuperVeloce TS Booster Posts: 133   +34

    Great design from Asrock. I hope they will do a quad channel design with mobile ddr4 ram sticks when they become available.
  3. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,454   +1,733

    I'm trying to picture someone who would spend a lot on such a "portable" desktop to carry around... and I just don't know who needs that...

    It won't suit gamers or professional graphics designers because you cannot fit in a decent video card in it, and for someone who writes some resource-hungry software, nobody really carries it around in a desktop these days.

    And if someone got enough money to buy such a desktop, he would have enough space to get a proper form-factor also, so anything can be added to it.

    So, really, who buys such devices?

    I can only understand going for a mini-ITX when it is cheap and you don't need much power. Otherwise, it doesn't make much sense.
    stewi0001 and BMfan like this.
  4. WangDangDoodle

    WangDangDoodle TS Addict Posts: 199   +71

    What's still missing the Mini-ITX department are good looking cases which resemble consoles (in shape). There are many good designs in the cube category, but there's too few like the one pictured in this article (which looks a lot like Valve's Steam Machine). There's also a lack of small form factor power supplies with enough wattage for a simple computer (I guess 450W or so would be good). I keep hoping we'll see some new standards for both computer cases and PSUs for the Mini-ITX enthusiasts.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  5. What are you talking about? Plenty of ITX case provide the size and needed thermals for cards all the way up to a Titan X. Look at Lian Li's offerings, silverstone... the case in this article, Ncase M1, SG05/6.

    I have a 4790k, 16GB of Ram, and a GTX 780 currently in a Ncase M1 case. My computer blows my friend's computers out of the water and they all have these monstrosities of a case.
    Steve and Whltng like this.
  6. You should take a look at the Ncase M1. Very small and very well designed mini-itx case. Not exactly console form factor, but you can install a 240mm radiator + a full length video card. And the most powerful sfx power supply currently is the silverstone sx 600g, with 600W at your disposal.
  7. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 633   +604

    There are MANY ITX cases with room for proper video cards, unles you consider the titan x or r9 295x2 to be non proper cards. cases like the ncase M1, the bitfenix prodigy, the cooler master elite 120, 130, and haf 915f, rosewill neutron, corsair graphite 380t, and many others can fit large GPUS and use mini ITX boards. many of these ITX cases are "proper" enough to hold multiple hard drives and ssds, many can hold an optical drive, many support water cooling, ece.

    so who buys these? well, anyone who wants a powerful machine that doesn't take up the space of a small room, or anyone who doesn't want a massive tower sitting next to them.
    Julio Franco and Steve like this.
  8. seefizzle

    seefizzle TS Evangelist Posts: 313   +169

    Me. I wanted a powerful but small computer and I had no need for a graphics card whatsoever. I built a computer for portable music production. Here's an album of pictures of the build. It's not quite completely done but it's really close. http://imgur.com/a/J9oNB

    Never doubt the desire for small. There's tons of stuff you can do with small. I built my rig with a asus board because it was the only board that would support the i7 4790 that I got. Now I'm kinda wishing I would have waited 2 moths and got this asrock board.

    My build:
    i7 4790
    16 gig ram
    2 x 256 gig solid state drive
    Asus Mini ITX board

    The other stuff is:
    Corsair K70 RGB keyboard
    Ableton Push Midi controller
    Akai APC mini
    Forcusrite 2i4 audio interface

    Julio Franco and Steve like this.
  9. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,446   +349

    Who would buy components like these? MEEEEEEEEEEEE~ (usually)

    I see why now. :) You know, I'm excited for this board because it proves that such features with the mini-ITX platform are not out of the realm of fantasy, but at the same time I don't see myself getting one. For one thing the non-standard cooling mount is somewhat of a turn off (though you guys pulled out the tools like I would have to MAKE it work). There is also the premium for the DDR4 memory and of course the 2011v3 socket processor that you have to contend with, which I won't take advantage of as I do very little heavy computational/rendering work anymore. On top of the premium for the parts you install with it, the board itself will likely have a significant premium on it, considering how much they actually stuffed on the thing ha ha... The later two reasons are probably my deciding factors against purchasing such a beast of a board.

    I very much like the 6 SATA ports + M.2 (via 4 lane PCIe) where many ITX boards only offer 4 ports total (sometimes 4 + M.2). The Intel provided dual gigabit ethernet is a big plus especially of you are going to use link aggregation. That super fast AC wireless card is an added bonus to me, even though I'm usually hardwired. There's a lot to love about what they did on this board, though they've gotten close on some of the 1150 boards I've looked at recently.

    Impressive DYI seefizzle , though with a cabinet enclosure that large, you can hardly move the whole thing by yourself fully loaded I think... I like how you mounted the SSDs, nice touch.
    Steve likes this.
  10. seefizzle

    seefizzle TS Evangelist Posts: 313   +169

    Thanks. It has wheels. And I'm strong. It's 2 foot by 4 foot and weighs about 60lbs. It sits on this thing
  11. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,446   +349

    Oh that's not nearly as heavy as it looks, especially with wheels. That's totally doable then. That's a nice work table too, though the video is a little corny.
  12. People have already made the point that many mITX cases can in fact fit a full graphics card, that there are reasonable options for SFX power supplies on top of some mITX cases that accept regular PSUs as well, and that mITX cases do accept full-sized coolers and several storage items depending on the model.
    I'd go a step further and say that ATX is NOT a "proper" form facor by any means. For the enormous majority of people (people who use up to two GPUs, that is), ATX is nothing but a huge waste of space. If you're using two GPUs and custom liquid cooling loops, mATX is already enough for you. And if you're using a regular cooler and just one GPU, you should be looking at mITX (mATX if you want the possibility to expand in the future).
    Unless you're using three GPUs or something like eight drives or more, there's no reason whatsoever to buy an ATX case.
  13. ikesmasher

    ikesmasher TS Evangelist Posts: 2,863   +1,183

    There are several mini-ITX cases that support full size graphics cards nicely.
  14. Reviewers need to start docking points for not having faster LAN adapters. 1GB/e is so 2005.
  15. Camikazi

    Camikazi TS Evangelist Posts: 895   +264

    That is actually awesome, great job there.
  16. I like the 'Intel gigabit ethernet' sticker, I mean, why is it there at all? Gigabit ethernet has been standard on nearly all motherboards for years now, I don't think the controller being Intel would make anyone care less.
  17. Actually I would... Much more preferable to either Realtek or some other driver. I've generally had much more stability and interoperability, and there're enhanced features with Intel such as SR-IOV and DPDK in VMware.
    Julio Franco likes this.
  18. Agreed. Intel controllers will generally have the Proset driverset while allows for teaming, good offloading, as well as the aforementioned virtualization (Hyper-V as well as VMWare) features

    Although X99 ITX, I'm less sold on ;)
  19. Kevin82485

    Kevin82485 TS Booster Posts: 160   +41

    I think it would be very cool to have a tiny little desktop computer like this that you could put in your entertainment center and hook up to your TV for gaming. It would be just like having a console sized gaming box. Gaming is all I really use my desktop for anyway, otherwise I just use my laptop for standard computing/web browsing.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2015
  20. angerthosenear

    angerthosenear TS Rookie

    I've been eyeing this mobo since it was announced. Glad to see it reviewed so well.

    I'm guessing you are using the Silverstone 600W SFX PSU?

    The build you used in this review is scarily identical to my current parts list. Same case, psu, mobo, cpu, ram, ssd. But, where can a consumer get a hold of the PM951 SSD? I cannot find it anywhere, yet I see it often in reviews.

    I'm currently using a ML07 case with a 450W SFX, Asus Z97I with a 4770K, and am looking to move on up to the X99 world. Would you consider holding back for potential future miniITX boards with perhaps 4x SODIMM slots?
    Steve likes this.
  21. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,357   +1,516

    You can grab the SM951 here and yeah I was using the Silverstone 600w PSU...

  22. angerthosenear

    angerthosenear TS Rookie

    Oh perfect! Last time I checked Amazon I didn't see it. So was looking through other channels.

    Did you have any bad coil whine or a weird "bubbly" (no idea how to describe it) noise when you approached the PSU limit with your setup? I get super close to a 450W pull with my 4770K + 970.

    In your power consumption, is that the system minus GPU? I want to see how much overhead I'll have and can allot a GPU accordingly. In the SFX, both thermals and available power are a major consideration.

    Thank you for the reply,
    Steve likes this.
  23. WangDangDoodle

    WangDangDoodle TS Addict Posts: 199   +71

    You're not getting it. The Ncase M1 is a cube, which is what I don't want. I'm looking for something the lies flat and fits into TV/stereo furniture. Something more like HTPC cases, but with better design. I want it to look like a console. I'm talking Alienware Steam Machine type stuff, but customizable and upgradable.
    Steve likes this.
  24. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,446   +349

    https://www.techspot.com/review/930-lianli-pc-o5s/ XD

    There is also the Silverstone ML-07, RVZ-01, FTZ01, (all practically the same on the inside), and a number of other cases mentioned in the comments. :)
    WangDangDoodle and Steve like this.
  25. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,198   +593

    Excellent review @Steve, I was actually hoping to see you do one for this board as it had my interest the moment it was announced. I would love to pair one with a 5820k and see how well I could overclock it and cram a nice cooling solution in a small case.

    My imagination is going wild thinking about a 5820K on this @4.5ghz with something like an R9 295X2 in a small case with some custom cooling inside. Would be really funny at LAN parties and be pretty awesome on performance!
    Steve likes this.

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