Articles: Mainboards
 

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There are several manufacturers who make special gaming mainboards. In our review series dedicated to LGA 1155 mainboards on Intel Z77 Express chipset we started with Gigabyte G1.Sniper 3, and a little later checked out ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 Professional. We didn’t do any direct comparison between the two products, because they were completely different and the only common features were the Intel Z77 Express chipset and the positioning for the gaming fans. However, it turned out that ASRock Z77 Extreme9 reminded us a lot of the Gigabyte G1.Sniper 3. Of course, these are two completely different mainboards, but they have so much in common that the side by side comparison makes a lot of sense in this case. Therefore, in our today’s review we are going to study the new ASRock Z77 Extreme9 and see how it compares against the same solutions implemented on Gigabyte G1.Sniper 3.

 

Packaging and Accessories

ASRock Z77 Extreme9 ships in a large box with a carry handle, just like the competitor:

The front cover attached with Velcro tabs can be flipped open to reveal a large clear window, which allows you to see the board without removing it from the box. The broadside and the back of the box offer brief descriptions of the mainboard features and peculiarities.

Inside the large external box there are two smaller internal ones. The top box additionally enforced with a frame made of porous material holds the mainboard, while the bottom box contains all numerous accessories:

  • Six Serial ATA cables with metal connector locks, half with L-shaped locks and another half – with straight ones;
  • Two power adapters for SATA devices;
  • Two short hard bridges for Nvidia SLI graphics configurations;
  • A long hard bridge for Nvidia SLI graphics configurations;
  • A hard bridge for 3-Way Nvidia SLI graphics configurations;
  • ASRock Wi-SB Box module with two antennas and two USB 3.0 ports, two slots for .5” drives and a set of retention screws;
  • I/O Shield for the back panel;
  • A brochure about the functionality of mainboard BIOS and accompanying software;
  • User manual in multiple languages;
  • DVD disk with software and drivers.

We are not going to compare the boxes here, all we have to say is that both of the boards are very securely packed to protect them against possible transportation mishaps. Direct comparison of the bundled accessories also doesn’t make much sense without speaking in detail about the mainboard features. For example, Gigabyte board comes with a kit including a bracket and cables for adding two eSATA ports to the back panel, while ASRock board doesn’t have anything like that. However, the thing is that Gigabyte mainboard doesn’t have any eSATA ports in the back that is why they needed a bracket, however, ASRock mainboard already has one eSATA port on the back panel by default. Gigabyte mainboard is bundled with a special module for the 3-inch bay bringing two USB 3.0 ports to the front of your system case and with a Gigabyte GC-WB300D PCIe Wi-Fi/Bluetooth card with two external antennas. However, ASRock mainboard has the same exact mini-PCIe card on Atheros AR5B22 already integrated onto it. It supports 802.11 a/b/g/n standards in the dual-band 2.4 and 5 GHz range and allows connecting Bluetooth 4.0 to it as well. The accessories bundle includes a large ASRock Wi-SB Box that goes into the 5-inch bay of the system case. It has two internal antennas, two USB 3.0 ports and two slots for 2.5” drives.

Both mainboards come with six Serial ATA cables with metal connector locks, half of which are L-shaped and another half – straight, but the ASRock mainboard has an additional pair of power adapters for SATA devices. Both mainboards have a sufficient number of bridges for different Nvidia SLI graphics configurations, but Gigabyte mainboard also comes with a flexible bridge for AMD 2-Way CrossFireX systems. Moreover, the owners of Gigabyte mainboard will also get a large colorful “G1-Killer” poster, a set of decals with the series logos, bullet holes and ammo and a Gigabyte logo sticker for the system case.

 
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