At $500+, Who Is It For?
Asrock's Z87 Extreme11/ac obviously isn't for everyone, but plenty of enthusiasts will appreciate what the board offers regardless of its price tag. I particularly like that it's loaded with SATA ports. There are too many $300 and even $400+ motherboards that don't offer enough SATA connectivity -- some of which are even limited to the Z87's stock offering of six ports.
The Extreme11/ac's LSI SAS-3 3008 controller supports RAID configurations of up to ten drives and we aren't aware of this existing on any other desktop motherboard. Extreme power users have plenty of high-speed, data-redundant SSD RAID options, and while some folks will argue that a 16-port PCIe SAS card is a better buy, they cost upwards of $300. That makes Asrock's $540 fee a little less ridiculous.
Having nearly two dozen SATA ports is far from the end of the Extreme11/ac's spec sheet, which also includes four-way GPU support, be it SLI or Crossfire. However, it's worth noting again that each card in a multi-GPU configuration (two, three or four cards) will be limited to x8 bandwidth instead of having full x16 speeds as you'd expect from an X79-based board, as that chipset simply has more PCIe lanes.
It's fair to say the Extreme11/ac's connectivity is solid across the board, from mSATA and Thunderbolt to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Along with the extra SATA ports, we're happy about its dual LAN controllers, which we'll always take over some Killer NIC nonsense. The premium audio hardware from Asrock and Realtek as well as the board's overall build quality and performance also help put its price into perspective.
I think if $540 seems tough to swallow then the Extreme11/ac is probably overkill for your needs -- in which case the Z87 Extreme3, 4, 6 or 9 may make more sense. That said, pricing aside, if I had the option to pick any Z87 motherboard available right now, the Extreme11/ac would be at the top of my list for being the most feature-packed, and that seems deserving of our outstanding award.
Pros: With 22 SATA ports, four-way GPU support and tons more, the Extreme11/ac is arguably the most featured-packed Z87 board you'll find today.
Cons: And that never comes cheap, so its $540 MSRP isn't necessarily unfair, especially when you realize a 16-port PCIe SAS card costs $300+ alone.
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