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Asrock Z87 Professional
Like Gigabyte, Asrock has also been working hard on their Intel 8 series motherboards and today we are able to show off quite a bit of that hard work. Asrock offered us a massive range of Z87 motherboards to choose from, as well as some H87 boards.
The Z87 Professional first caught our eye as it includes a huge amount of special features, such as dual-stack MOSFETs, multi filter caps, hi-density power connector, 15u gold finger expansion slots, creative sound, 2oz copper PCB and much more.
The board itself also looks very impressive, featuring a black PCB with black and red connectors. This is a Fatal1ty series board, though Asrock don't throw that in your face too much and spoil the design.
Like the Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H the Asrock Z87 Professional also uses the Intel Z87 chipset and therefore many features do come as standard. Still there are a number of hardware and software features that have been added.
Features such as home cloud, which allows the user to power on and off their PC/monitor and take control of it from anywhere in the world remotely. HDMI-In is another interesting feature which allows the user to connect two different devices into a single display and toggle between them.
XSplit is a desktop application that allows multimedia broadcasting, live-streaming and recording a lot easier, this feature is however a paid service though Asrock are offering three months free to try it out.
On the hardware side of things the Z87 Professional features a pair of Intel Gigabit LAN controllers which includes the I217-V and the I2211-AT. The I217-V supports Intel Remote Wake Technology while they both support Wake-On-LAN, Energy Efficient Ethernet 802.3az, PXE and Teaming.
The standard six SATA 6Gb/s ports provided by the Z87 chipset have been expanded to a total of ten ports thanks to the inclusion of the ASMedia ASM1061 controller. This controller provides four extra SATA 6Gb/s ports suppoting NCQ, AHCI and "Hot Plug" functions. The fourth port connected to this controller is shared with a single eSATA port found on the I/O panel.
Asrock has also expanded the USB 3.0 support to include an additional two ports using an ASMedia hub. This means there are a total of eight USB 3.0 ports along with eight USB 2.0 ports.
For gamers the 7.1 channel HD audio support from the Creative Sound Core3D solution is no doubt going to be a highlight. This quad-core sound and voice processor supports SBX Pro Studio, CrystalVoice, Scout Mode and EAX1.0 to EAX5.0. On top of that there is also a PHA (Premium Headset Amplifier) which will improve headphone quality.
The board features three PCIe x16 slots, though only the primary uses full x16 bandwidth. Unlike the Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H the Asrock Z87 Professional only uses x8/x8 bandwidth when using two graphics cards opposed to x16/x8. However the Z87 Professional does support Quad Crossfire and 3-way CrossfireX, along with Quad SLI and 2-way SLI. Along with the three PCIe x16 slots there is a single PCIe x1 slot and two PCI slots.
Around the back we have four USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, five audio jacks and an optical port along with a PS/2 port, eSATA port, CMOS reset switch, dual LAN ports and two HDMI ports.