We strive to remain unbiased in our mainboard reviews so that our verdicts didn’t depend on whether the model is top-end or entry-level and whether its brand is well-recognized or not. If a loudly touted flagship product with a proper name turns out not as good as it seems, you will certainly learn about that from our review. And, on the contrary, we do not hold back our praise when we find a simple and unassuming model deliver outstanding performance at its default settings and in overclocked mode. That said, such situations are rather rare to see in practice. A mainboard manufacture can make its name known through an aggressive promo campaign with lots of marketing events but long-lasting fame, loyalty and even love on the side of end-users can only be won by consistently high product quality. The major mainboard makers have become such not through any trick of fate and they are not such because of their large turnover or extensive product range. These are all just the consequence of their products selling well. And they keep on confirming their leading position by releasing new mainboard series.
When you learn more and more mainboards, you get some subjective impression about products series from different brands. This impression changes with each new chipset generations as mainboard series may get better or worse. And, in our opinion, there are brands which don’t really get what they deserve. For example, Intel, being the major CPU and chipset developer, doesn’t enjoy a good reputation as a mainboard maker. In the past, the company’s products were poor indeed with dubious design solutions and limited functionality, but today's Intel mainboards are as good as any other. So there is no reason to base our opinion on what we had in the past. The current generation of mainboards based on Intel’s 8 series chipsets, has given birth to new mainboard series from all brands, and we’ll try to review them from scratch, without looking back at our earlier experience.
Well, while we don’t want to dwell upon past problems, we won't hesitate to give out our sincere praise. The trio of the major Taiwanese manufacturers, represented by ASUS, Gigabyte and Micro-Star, had felt at their ease until it was broken by an ambitious competitor. Last year, ASRock burst into the market with a whole bunch of mainboards based on Intel’s 7 series chipsets. The company rolled out a lot of models to anyone’s taste and requirements, from simple to extremely sophisticated ones. What surprised us the most, all of those models were good without any exceptions. Yes, there were certain downsides, but we could easily put up with them to enjoy the numerous advantages and unique features. That’s why we are so eager to test the ASRock Z87 Extreme4 mainboard which is based on Intel’s Z87 chipset. It is a midrange model. It is not as primitive as to repel you with a lack of certain indispensable capabilities, yet it is also not as complex as to be unwieldy and too expensive. In this review we will compare it with the ASUS Z87-K and Gigabyte GA-Z87X-D3H we tested earlier.