ASRock X58 SuperComputer Motherboard
We've quite familiar with ASRock's line of high-performance, bargain priced motherboards. They typically have a fairly decent feature set, and in fact have more features than some of the more expensive competition. Today we are looking at their "SuperComputer" mainboard for the Core i7 platform. This of course is based on the X58 chipset from Intel and packs a whole lot of punch into an amazing package. If you are looking for a board that is built to handle some sweet overclocking and need room for a graphics card, or two, or three or four, you need to check out this board to see if it's the one for you. That's right, it has four PCIe 16x double-spaced slots for up to four GTX 285 or four HD 4890 Graphics Cards. Insane? I think so.
The ASRock X58 SuperComputer comes in a large flashy box that is very uncharacteristic of ASRock. There are a lot of goodies inside as well. Included in the box is the standard Rear I/O shield, manual, driver CD and Molex to SATA adapters. Also in the box are a big bundle of SATA cables, an IDE cable and a floppy cable. ASRock has also included the necessary triple-SLI bridge as well as both long and short two-card SLI bridges. They also throw in a couple of Crossfire bridges so that you can get your CrossfireX on as well. Even though the board supports Quad CrossfireX, the bridges included will only set you up for a three-way CrossfireX setup. It would have been nice if they'd included one more cable. You'll notice that there are no Rear IO brackets for additional Firewire, USB and such. If you want those, you'll have to rob some from another system or purchase them separately.
First Look at the Board:
This is only the second X58 board that I've got to spend some quality time with - the first being the EVGA X58 3x SLI that we reviewed back in March. ASRock has two X58 motherboards and the SuperComputer is the most expensive and feature backed board they offer.
The X58 SuperComputer comes with the standard six DDR3 slots that can handle up to 24GB of DDR3-2000 memory. Of course, you'd need a very fat wallet and some 4GB DIMMs that don't even exist yet. As previously mentioned, there are an amazing four PCIe 16x slots on board that can run at 16x/8x/8x/8x. What sets this board apart is that there is a double-wide space between each of these slots so double-slot coolers can work easily. There are also 3 PCI slots that won't be accessible if you use all of your graphics slots. ASRock has included 6 SATA ports for internal drives in addition to a powered eSATA port on the rear IO. If you want to add some extra USB ports, there are five more ports available through motherboard headers, as well as a pair of Firewire ports. With all the main layout being pretty good, I'm sad to see that there is no CMOS reset button (jumper only), or power and reset buttons. That's one thing that I loved about the EVGA board and this is definitely missed on this board.
The main 24-pin power connector is located along the right side of the motherboard - out of the way for the most part. This helps for cable management - especially on cases with bottom-mounted PSUs. The cooling solution appears a little weak on this board, but we never had any stability issues related to heat when overclocking. All chipsets and VRMs are a passively cooled and there is a heatpipe between the northbridge chipset and the VRMs up beside the CPU socket. The southbridge and northbridge chipsets are cooled independently. People who love passively cooled boards will be very happy and if you've got good case airflow I'm sure that you won't have any issues when pushing your system to the max. There are five available fan headers on this board and this gives flexibility for cooling solutions and many systems will be able to plug in all of the fans and control them through SMARTFan options in the BIOS.
The SATA connectors are all located at the bottom corner of the board and remain out of the way for long graphics cards thanks to the 90° angle of the main SATA block. There is an E-SATA connector on the rear I/O for a total of 7 SATA ports and this should be enough for most people. USB and Firewire headers are located in pretty obvious places, and they shouldn't interfere with large graphics cards and should be accessible even after you build out your system.
On the next page we'll take a closer look at the board before we take a look at the specs and features.