ASRock formally introduced its X299E-ITX/ac motherboard at Computex earlier this year and attracted a lot of attention to the product that was (and still is) the only Mini-ITX mainboard for Intel’s Core i7 and Core i9 processors in LGA2066 packaging. ASRock had said that this week it has started shipments of the motherboard and it is now available from multiple retailers.

It is noteworthy that since Computex, ASRock has removed the support for the Kaby Lake-X CPUs and therefore the chips will not work on this motherboard. It is compatible only with Skylake-X processors, and enables a user to build a Mini-ITX PC with a CPU featuring up to 18 cores. Since such CPUs have a TDP of 165 W (often drawing more than this at load), and as it can be difficult to find a small cooler for such power, ASRock has worked with Bitspower to develop a custom water monoblock specifically for the X299E-ITX/ac. This monoblock is also being made available.

Despite its small size, the ASRock X299E-ITX/ac supports most of the benefits that Intel’s X299 platform has to offer: it has an advanced VRM with seven phases, 60 A inductors and 12K solid-state capacitors enabling CPU overclocking, it has four SO-DIMM DDR4 memory slots for full memory bandwidth support, one PCIe 3.0 x16 slot for graphics cards, and three M.2 slots for SSDs (PCIe 3.0 x4 or SATA).

Expandability does not end there - the X299E-ITX/ac carries six SATA 6 Gbps ports, a 2x2 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 4.2 module (based on an Intel controller), two GbE ports from Intel controllers, two USB 3.1 10 Gbps headers (a Type-A and a Type-C), six USB 3.0 connectors, a 7.1-channel audio sub-system enabled by the Realtek ALC1220 controller and so on.

ASRock's Mini-ITX Motherboard for Intel Core X-Series
CPU Support Intel Core i9
Intel Core i7

Skylake-X CPUs in LGA2066 form-factor
Graphics PCIe 3.0 x16
Chipset Intel X299
Memory Four DDR4 SO-DIMM slots
Ethernet 2 × Intel GbE controllers
Storage 6 × SATA 6 Gbps
3 × M.2 (PCIe 3.0 x4 or SATA)
Audio Realtek ALC1220
7.1 channel audio
USB 6 × USB 3.0 Type-A
1 × USB 3.1 Type-A
1 × USB 3.1 Type-C
Other I/O Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 4.2
Form-Factor Mini-ITX
Price at Launch $400 at Newegg
$400 ~ $500, depending on the region

In order to fit everything it wanted onto a Mini-ITX PCB, ASRock had to place the USB 3.1 controller, SATA ports and one M.2 slot on custom daughter-board modules - essentially going vertical when they ran out of horizontal space. Such modules add certain dimension-related limitations to the size of CPU coolers (it remains to be seen how higher-end M.2 SSDs perform when located near a CPU cooler) and that is a problem because all of the Core i7 or i9 processors supported by this motherboard have TDP of 140-165 W, and it is not easy to cool such chips down. In fact, when it comes to the X299E-ITX/ac, a custom liquid cooled setup could be the most optimal choice from performance and dimensions point of view (again, assuming that an appropriate chassis is used for the build).

Bitpower has developed a custom waterblock/monoblock specifically for the X299E-ITX/ac, with a product ID of BP-WBMASRX299EI. This monoblock features a copper base with a nickel finish with two G1/4" fittings and even RGB lighting. The waterblock is available directly from the manufacturer and it is compatible with standard pumps and tubings.

Speaking of availability, the ASRock X299E-ITX/ac is now available from Newegg for $400 (although it already looks to be sold out as we wrote this piece). In Europe, three stores are taking pre-orders and are charging from €424 to €461 ($502 to $546) per unit, so the motherboard is quite expensive, possibly because it is unique.

Related Reading

Source: ASRock

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  • Lukart - Friday, October 20, 2017 - link

    I have some clients with offices that only use small factor cases which means this fits them perfectly.
  • lazarpandar - Thursday, October 19, 2017 - link

    I agree, absurd. There are exactly zero use-cases for this thing.
  • damianrobertjones - Friday, October 20, 2017 - link

    Which has been proven wrong above your post. Maybe someone just likes it.
  • DanNeely - Thursday, October 19, 2017 - link

    Like it's predecessors for the last two LGA2011 sockets it's for someone who wants a crapton of CPU power in a small box but doesn't need multiple GPUs.

    This's ASRock's 3rd iteration of the concept, so there're clearly enough people who find the idea attractive for them to keep making them. At the same time the fact that no one else has made a similar product suggests that the niche is small enough that only getting half of the totals sales wouldn't be enough to cover R&D.
  • jrs77 - Thursday, October 19, 2017 - link

    Small form factor workstation.

    This is the single best solution for those of us, who only need as much CPU-power as possible, but could actually live with only an integrated graphic solution.

    I'm using an i7-5775C without a dedicated graphics card for example, as I only need the CPU for my workloads.
  • QinX - Thursday, October 19, 2017 - link

    Intel's HEDT platform doesn't have an iGPU, so that PCIe slot will have to have a GPU in it. Unless you go with bifurcation to split the lanes.
  • jrs77 - Thursday, October 19, 2017 - link

    I know that. It was just to clarify the idea of this board.

    Throw a single slot low-profile GPU on there and we're done without making the case any bigger.
  • 29a - Friday, October 20, 2017 - link

    The board being sold out seems to disagree with your conclusion.
  • romrunning - Friday, October 20, 2017 - link

    I am using two of ASRock Rack's mini-ITX Xeon motherboards as servers used in offsite locations. The smaller form-factor is much easier to transport & setup (especially with two in a HA setup), and it still has the horsepower to run my custom program & database svr.

    So this is an actual-use case for you.
  • 0x90 - Saturday, October 21, 2017 - link

    @shabby: software development, when you must often work out of town. Personally, with 50-odd projects to build, and even more third-party dependencies (some very large, think pixar usd), I cannot have enough cores. Nevermind that the software in question is a renderer, so a board like this (currently using the x99e-itx/ac with a 2697v3) with a tiny p1000 for cuda, along with a pok3r keyboard and an asus usb display in the backpack... and life is pretty good.

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