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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  • WatcherCK - Thursday, October 19, 2017 - link

    Feels like putting a Hellcat engine into a mini (the old school one as in the original Italian Job not those newer ones...) Good luck to you out there who can use this beast of a board.
  • jwcalla - Thursday, October 19, 2017 - link

    $400 for a motherboard that doesn't support ECC RAM. Gotta love Intel.
  • watzupken - Thursday, October 19, 2017 - link

    With such a big socket, it is great to see Asrock being able to cram it into an ITX form and yet still retaining so much features. But like some pointed out, it makes no sense to install a 18 core oven in an ITX form factor or even in an ITX case which will not be able to take the heat.
  • Barilla - Friday, October 20, 2017 - link

    There are cases like Ncase M1 for example that might not be the absolute smallest, but can take a 240mm AIO no problem (or even a custom loop if you're determined) and are still way smaller than any typical build.
    Also, some people like to build crazy machines just for the heck of it. Custom loop watercooling does not make sense from practical POV most of the time, but there are still many companies making watercooling parts.
    I really applaud ASRock for this board. This might not make sense to most people, but to some it will and those people are gonna love what they get.
  • prateekprakash - Friday, October 20, 2017 - link

    Are the m.2 slots connected to the CPU PCie lanes directly?
  • extide - Monday, October 23, 2017 - link

    I would hope so, as there is only one PCIe slot on there so you have CPU lanes to spare pretty much.
  • Valantar - Friday, October 20, 2017 - link

    Asus launches its AM4 ITX boards a full half year after the platform launces, cites "ITX design is difficult!"

    ASrock launces X299 ITX board within weeks of platform launch. Physically larger socket, more pins and thus more traces, double the memory channels, 3x the m.2 slots, >2x the power delivery requirements. STILL matches Asus' boards in terms of both internal and external I/O, even beating it in terms of audio. The board looks to be entirely reworked compared to previous generations, so little to no advantage from iterative design.

    I think we have a winner.

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