X99 on mITX: ASRock X99E-itx/ac

Phuncz

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Apparently pigs can fly and hell has frozen over.
Copy-paste of the article, credit goes to Ian Cutress from Anandtech:

1ST REVIEW: http://www.techspot.com/review/992-asrock-x99e-itx-ac/

ASRock to Debut mini-ITX Haswell-E at CeBIT: X99E-ITX/ac with USB 3.1



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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Black5Lion

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Oh my god!
Unless someone comes out with a Skylake-E Mini-ITX with 4 SODIMMs, this is so going into my future A4-SFX :D
 

SaperPL

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It's nice that some company did it, maybe others will follow but I already see few problems with it.

Different than standard cooler mount is one, but there's also those sata connectors facing side of the board that won't be usable if the case hase a wall next to the motherboard like almost every its with PSU in front or the ones limited to short ITX cards.

Second thing is - I wonder if they could fit more ram with something like using SO-DIMM modules instead or using vertical "add-in" like card for mounting the RAM modules.
 

jb1

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Wow, never thought we would see something like this! Unfortunately it doesn't look like that cooler that ships with this would fit in the A4 SFX. Anyone know of any low profile lga2011 coolers that would fit with the narrow socket here and the a4?
 

ND40oz

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Second thing is - I wonder if they could fit more ram with something like using SO-DIMM modules instead or using vertical "add-in" like card for mounting the RAM modules.
I think the problem with SO-DIMMs is there aren't any DDR4 ones widely available yet, otherwise, with vertical SO-DIMM sockets they could have probably put 4 on there.
 

iFreilicht

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Holy crap what a beast of a board :eek:

Not only that the M.2 port has 4 lanes, but they also included USB3.1 and SATAe, this thing is top-notch. I wonder if ASUS will follow up with an X99 mITX board themselves.

Do we know how many PCIe lanes the SATAe port has?
 

SaperPL

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It looks to me like this cooler is about 45-48mm tall. That might fit into my case but fitting is not the same thing as cooling properly. Even if it did fit into A4, it would have the same problem with PSU wall blocking the fan.

By the way it would be nice if someone made a single PCI-E slot mATX board with X99 and 8 memory slots :)
 

Wizzard

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Man, that's an awesome board! I wish it did support quad channel, though.... Kind of a major advantage to 2011 v3(and what I was seeking in former 2011/1366 board - 3+ channel memory).

Would anybody consider external fans and a 1U/2U solid copper cooling solution?
 

theGryphon

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What would go nice with this board is a compatible AIO liquid cooler.

In any case, I applaud ASROCK for not sitting on their hands. They showed it was doable, unlike ASUS who kept saying impossible. Now to top this, another manufacturer would have to come up with a quad channel board. If anyone says "impossible" I'll slap them with this board :D
 

SaperPL

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I think quad channel is completely doable if the chipset were to go in the backpanel IO area. The cost would probably be in routing those signals from the chipset to pci-e around the ram slots and maybe additional pcb internal layer.
 

jb1

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I think quad channel is completely doable if the chipset were to go in the backpanel IO area. The cost would probably be in routing those signals from the chipset to pci-e around the ram slots and maybe additional pcb internal layer.
Are you suggesting behind the audio ports? This board looks pretty tight!
 

Zurec

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For liquid cooling, the ekwb supremacy with 2011 narrow ILM plate may fit. this may be an option for the Ncase M1. Then again, you have to have a cooling loop with a dedicated pump...

I wonder if there are any pump/cpu-block-combos compatible with 2011-3 narrow ILM out there...
 

EdZ

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An adapter plate for existing standard CLC blocks to narrow ILM should not be too tricky to create. AMD's mounting hole dimensions are close to narrow ILM (48x96 vs 56x94) that the zip-tie mounting method may work too.
 

Zurec

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I bought an M1 v2 last summer, and still haven't had time to decide the exact components for the build. I was nearly done with the choice though, but with the asrock x99 mitx a new competitor has stepped in...

A 5820k in a mini itx build would be pretty sick though, especially in a complete water cooling loop with a gpu integrated. But even if the apogee or h220 could be made to fit the narrow 2011-3, the limitation may finally be that 240mm Radiator.

Not sure if it would provide enough cooling surface to cool down 350+ W of TDP, as would be with an overclocked gtx 980 + i7-5820k...
 

dondan

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Let's crowd fund an A4-X99NarrowILM CPU cooler :p
No need because you can use a 1U Server heatsink with Narrow ILM (a socket-mounting standard) mointpoint (like many Dynatrons and supermicro Heatsinks have) and it will fit. Then you install a Noctua A9x14 on it and you can use it on the board in the DAN A4-SFX.

This will results in Systems like:

DAN A4-SFX
Octacore Xeon or I7
Nvidia TITAN X
ASRock X99E-itx/ac
16GB DDR4
...
 

vipz

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We won't know until it is officially announced but given that their X99 mATX boards support it, the chances are good.
 

CHANG3D

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Argh, FU, ASRock! I didn't expect to be upgrading SO soon...

(Nah, I'll probably keep my money...)
 

bAMtan2

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PlayfulPhoenix

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What would go nice with this board is a compatible AIO liquid cooler.
No kidding.

In any case, I applaud ASROCK for not sitting on their hands. They showed it was doable, unlike ASUS who kept saying impossible. Now to top this, another manufacturer would have to come up with a quad channel board. If anyone says "impossible" I'll slap them with this board :D
My recollection was that ASUS didn't say it was *impossible*, so much as very expensive, which made it (in their mind) inviable to sell. A rep was on one of LTT's podcasts a while ago, and quoted a price in the vicinity of $500, if they were to sell one of these. Not so much because they'd be that costly to make, but because so few people would be interested that they'd have to compensate by charging more.

That's really the only thing I worry about - a board of that price would make little sense to all but those for whom money is no object. But in almost every other way, the specs look really great - the narrow socket is a bummer, but a minor compromise for what you can now do. The two memory slots are expected. And the board does most everything else right - you have the high-speed M.2 slot, USB 3.1, dual ethernet...

I'm still really surprised they're making this, and wonder if ASUS or someone else will respond with a competing board. What a great announcement - mITX now has considerably greater flexibility and choice coming up in the pipeline.
 

SaperPL

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Are you suggesting behind the audio ports? This board looks pretty tight!
My idea was something like this:



I know I'm not a motherboard system engineer and that's just idea of how it could be if wiring the pcb properly with multiple layers would be possible for this config.

It would let you have something like 120mm cooler on the cpu.
 
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jb1

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My idea was something like this:



I know I'm not a motherboard system engineer and that's just idea of how it could be if wiring the pcb properly with multiple layers would be possible for this config.

It would let you have something like 120mm cooler on the cpu.
Ah, I see. I'm also not a motherboard system engineer, but I think your design looks great ;)
 

SaperPL

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I think that today designing such a board is not a rocket science for the person designing the layout but rather for the coders making the CAD that is generating the wiring layout of PCB and checking if its correct/possible.

Would be nice if they did something like this.
 

iFreilicht

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@SaperPL Unless you're working in that field, I think you highly underestimate the work motherboard designers have to do, especially with mITX boards where space is highly limited.

Still, this is a pretty cool idea, but I have the feeling that motherboard manufacturers in the consumer market are often hesitant to not use up all the possible space on the back of the board. I love that ASrock is starting to breaking that tradition, though, and as your design shows, a lot can be done when you start to think outside of the box. Wouldn't the regular square ILM fit as well?
 

batmanwcm

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This is awesome. X99 in my favorite form factor. I was thinking that my next upgrade to X99 would mean that I would have to go M-ATX, but here we are. Thank you ASRock.
 

SaperPL

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@iFreilicht
You didn't get what I meant. The problem is with how things are designed nowadays.

PCB designs are mostly generated with algorithms and artificial intelligence. The designer places his components and inputs the connections but all the rest is done by the CAD. Then it's most likely reviewed and fixed at some points by generally algorithms tend to do a better job than humans.

That's because algorithm takes rules and iterates through every possibility or uses some rules to optimize the iteration but will do things that normally people wouldn't think of like dead end branches that are logically useless but electrically may create optimal parameters of whole circuit.

I think that because of this process there may be a lot of decision left for marketing staff instead of engineers and maybe there are some companies that don't really have a qualified design team but just the software bought from the bigger brothers.
 

CHANG3D

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My idea was something like this:

I know I'm not a motherboard system engineer and that's just idea of how it could be if wiring the pcb properly with multiple layers would be possible for this config.

It would let you have something like 120mm cooler on the cpu.
I can tell you why that might not work. Where are you putting the lanes required to get to the PCI-E from the CPU?
 

Vittra

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Asrock is pretty much the only manufacturer that bothered with C224/C226 mITX server boards so I'm not surprised they tackled a mITX X99.

It's certainly interesting but time for DDR4 SODIMMs to develop/mature is needed to get a proper 4channel setup going on one of these... though space is so tight I'm not sure that's even possible.
 

Black5Lion

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They should use the back of the motherboard more, I mean you could have 4 vertical SODIMMs on the top, and maybe 2-4 horizontally under the board. Not to mention... More m.2! :D
 

SaperPL

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They can't put ram under the motherboard because, I thinki, sodimm flat mount is thicker or almost as thicks as required clearance of atx standard and ram is not designed to be touching metal directly(which doesn't mean it would explode or something).
 

Black5Lion

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They can't put ram under the motherboard because, I thinki, sodimm flat mount is thicker or almost as thicks as required clearance of atx standard and ram is not designed to be touching metal directly(which doesn't mean it would explode or something).
That's disappointing :(
Maybe they could put the m.2 under the motherboard and a couple ram slots in it's place (between CPU and SATAe), but it might not fit :(
 
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