I always love to see interesting deviations to the norm when it comes to motherboards, and something such as a mini-ITX based extreme system has been at the top of my list for many years. We never saw a mini-ITX X79 system (the nearest was an extended mini-ITX from Shuttle) but now ASRock has gone head first into the X99 plus mini-ITX arena, showing their first model at CeBIT later this month.

The reason for mini-ITX on the extreme platform is usually for density, though there are a couple of compromises that have to be made. The socket is large, and supporting quad channel memory can be a challenge with SATA ports and 40 PCIe lanes in tow. As a result, ASRock’s X99E-ITX/ac only uses dual channel memory, and we get a single PCIe 3.0 x16 slot for add-in cards.

There is bundled dual-stream 802.11ac wifi, along with dual Intel network controllers and SATA Express. USB 3.1 is also supported through two Type-A ports, presumably using the ASMedia controller we previously tested on other motherboards. The box also mentions Ultra M.2, which means PCIe 3.0 x4 lanes for an M.2 slot and looking at the board it seems to be located between the socket and the SATA Express ports. With all those PCIe lanes to spare, it makes sense to use them in this fashion.

In order to save space, ASRock has used the narrow version of the LGA2011-3 socket (many thanks to liu_d for the spot), which we saw in the our MD60-SC0 review. This narrow socket is incompatible with regular LGA2011-3 coolers, and the number of narrow-ILM CPU coolers on the market is usually limited to servers or OEMs. It would also seem that ASRock is bundling a CPU cooler with the board in order to ensure this is not an issue for the user – this looks like a 2U server cooler, but should be sufficient for 140W CPUs as long as no serious overclocking takes place. These coolers can be loud, but ASRock’s software package comes with fan controller tools both in the BIOS and in software.

Pricing and release dates are not yet announced, but we will get one in for review as soon as we can. The dual channel memory restriction hopefully does not become too severe for performance, but we will run a full range of real world tests to confirm this.

Source: ASRock

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  • Dant2142 - Wednesday, March 18, 2015 - link

    While 4 SO-DIMM slots would make a lot more sense so you could retain quad channel memory... I don't believe anyone is manufacturing DDR4 SO-DIMMs right now, probably because no mobile platforms use it yet.
  • bunnyfubbles - Friday, March 13, 2015 - link

    or a 6 core...

    either way it makes sense for SFF builds whether it be gaming, workstation, or yes, even server. Even high end ITX builds can be built to fit easily into carry on luggage... and while Clevo can do quite a bit with DTRs, its still far short of HEDT, even when cut down like this.
  • Ian Cutress - Friday, March 13, 2015 - link

    If there's full Xeon support, there are 18-core possibilities.
  • bunnyfubbles - Friday, March 13, 2015 - link

    true, but i was thinking more in terms of as a consumer/prosumer option (hence X99 as opposed to C612), the 5820K is 6 core and price competitive with the 4 core 4790K, and a potentially far more enticing option for someone looking for some SFF power, or at least more than what the 4770K/4790K could provide.

    throwing an 18-core into a shoebox build would be a bit nuts :P
  • Samus - Monday, March 16, 2015 - link

    ITX is all about being NUTS!
  • TomWomack - Saturday, March 14, 2015 - link

    And the amusing thing is that Intel just launched Xeon-D, which is precisely a product for people who want eight Broadwell cores and a PCI slot, and want it to fit in a teeny box and use limited electricity.
  • romrunning - Monday, March 16, 2015 - link

    As someone who has built servers that have to be be portable since they are regular used at different locations, I can assure you I like having mini-ITX boards with the power of Xeons. I run virtualized servers, and I now have two host servers where previously I had one large server tower. I've saved myself room & still get the results I want.

    So just because you can't think of the usage scenario, it doesn't mean that no one has a use-case for a nice small Xeon server board (not Atom!)
  • Samus - Friday, March 13, 2015 - link

  • fingerstuckinceilingfan - Friday, March 13, 2015 - link

    *Chucks Rampage IV Gene and 4930K into the bin*
    But seriously,I would rather get a eurocom phanter instead of this board if portability is most important
  • CaedenV - Friday, March 13, 2015 - link

    Hmmm... so combination home server and wireless router? Not entirely sure what else it would be good for.

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