Z68 Extreme4 Overview
One the Z68 Extreme4 ASRock has gone with a black PCB with blue and white accents. The cooling components are a dark grey. All in all the board goes together pretty well, ASRock has never been that flashy with their motherboard designs.
Starting at the CPU socket we can see that it is pretty open, which will allow for a pretty easy installation of your CPU cooler. ASRock uses their Digi Power, Advanced V8 Power Phase Design with the Z68 Extreme4. By adopting digital pulse-width modulation (PWM), the ASRock motherboard can provide CPU Vcore voltage more efficiently and smoothly. Compared to analog PWM, digital PWM can optimize the CPU power solution and provide a proper and stable Vcore for the processor. Towards the top left of the board you have your CPU power connection and a 3pin fan connector. On the opposite side you have a 4pin CPU fan connector and another 3pin fan connector. As far as cooling goes there are 2 large heatsinks that are connected by a heatpipe.
There are 4 DDR3 slots that support 1066, 1333, 1600, 1866 and 2133MHz memory. The slots are setup in dual channel and are color-coded blue and white. Next to the DDR slots is the 24pin motherboard power connector, a 4pin fan connector and a clear CMOS jumper.
This board has 8 SATA ports, 4 are SATA 3GB/s and a colored blue, 4 are SATA 6GB/s and are colored white. The 4 blue ports and the 2 white ports closest to the blue ports are controlled by the Z68 chipset. The last 2 white ports labeled “M1” and “M2” are controlled by the Marvell SE9120 controller.
Moving down towards the bottom of the board you have power and reset buttons, which are awesome if have this board on a test bench or are troubleshooting. Going across the bottom of the board from right to left you have LED header, chassis headers, speaker header, USB 3.0 header, 3 USB 2.0 headers, firewire, Infared, floppy connector, COM1 and HD audio headers.
As far as expansion slots go you have 3 PCI-Express 2.0 x 16, 2 PCI-Express x1 and 2 PCI. The top 2 PCI-E slots will run a 16x with just one card installed. If you fill up both slots they will run at 8x. If you throw a third card in the bottom slot will run a 4x. Above the expansion slots are 2 3pin fan connectors and a molex connector to power the PCI-E lanes. It is recommended that you use this molex connector if you are running 2 PCI-E cards that draw 200W or more each. Looking at the connections on the back of the board from left to right you have 2 USB 2.0 ports, PS/2 port, VGA, DVI, DisplayPort, HDMI, Clear CMOS button, 2 more USB 2.0 ports, firewire port, eSATA 3 port, Gigabit Ethernet port, 2 USB 3.0 ports and 7.1 channel audio.