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HARDWARE

High End Motherboards Shootout New Socket, New Motherboards (Part 1) - ASROCK Z87 OC Formula, ASUS Maximus VI Extreme, ECS GANK Domination Z87H3-A2X Golden

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A round-up of five High-end Intel Z87 express-powered motherboards for has well processors.

ASROCK Z87 OC Formula

The ASRock Z87 OC Formula is touted as a board built for overclocking, with a power design system that features both air and liquid cooling options. ASRock goes with a 12-phase power design system that comprises premium alloy chokes, multi-stacked MOSFETs, and multiple filter capacitors; the board’s digital pulse wave modulation system also aims to ensure stable power supply to the CPU and memory modules. Speaking of cooling, there is a 40mm intake fan, nested in one of its VRM heatsinks, along with the added option for liquid cooling.

Description: ASROCK Z87 OC Formula motherboard

ASROCK Z87 OC Formula motherboard

The heatsinks are distinctively colored yellow-on-black, with gilded capacitors that add a nice finishing touch to the overall look. This board sports a trio of PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, with support for up to quad AMD CrossFire, or dual NVIDIA SLI configurations. Other expansion slots include a single PCIe 2.0 x 16, as well as a pair of PCIe 2.0 x 1 slots. ASRock also throws in one mini-PCIe slot. A notable feature is Purity Sound, powered by an on-board Realtek ALC1150 controller.

ASUS Maximus VI Extreme

The ASUS Maximus VI Extreme is the flagship Intel Z87 ATX-powered motherboard from the company’s Intel 8-series offerings. In terms of aesthetics, it sports the familiar red-and-black color scheme of the Republic of Gamers (ROG) series. A defining feature is the bundled OC Panel that packages real-time monitoring and overclocking capabilities into a sleek, transformable console. The console (installed into a spare 5.25-inch bay) can be likened to a customized Fluke digital multi-meter, with the capability to overclock and monitor the system at the same time. The OC Panel can also be used in a handheld configuration that allows for overclocking with more finesse. The motherboard’s power delivery system comprises of NexFET MOSFETs, BlackWing chokes, and 10K black metallic capacitors. It delivers an 8-phase power supply to the CPU; while the memory modules are fed 2-phase power. Near the DIMM slots are a slew of buttons and switches which enable an open workbench environment; perfect for the habitual tweaker.

Description: ASUS Maximus VI Extreme motherboard

ASUS Maximus VI Extreme motherboard

ECS GANK Domination Z87H3-A2X Golden

One of the more oddly-named motherboard we’ve come across, the ECS Gank Domination does stack up reasonably well compared to the competition in features, with one being the use of what ECS calls Durathon standard components. In particular, the board’s “super solid” capacitors are claimed to have a lifespan of 22 years, about seven times longer than the average. To add to durability, the board’s PCB has glass fabric weaved in, ostensibly to guard against warping under humidity and high temperatures.

Description: ECS GANK Domination Z87H3-A2X Golden motherboard

ECS GANK Domination Z87H3-A2X Golden motherboard

Interestingly, the chipset heatsink has a thermochromatic feature, turning red (from its original gold color) when the board heats up. This doubles up as a warning that the board is too hot to be handled with bare hands. Also, both the chipset and VRM’s heatsinks are connected via heatpipe, to help ensure even heat dissipation between both. In terms of aesthetics, the gilded MOSFET ICs’ heatsinks, chokes, and capacitors combine to create a rather striking look; even the CPU socket latch is not spared.

 

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