The ASRock Z87 Extreme4 doesn’t seem to differ much from our favorite ASRock mainboards based on the Intel Z77 Express chipset. Its packaging is designed in a different way but still has additional soft edging around the mainboard to protect it during transportation. It comes with similar accessories and features a user-friendly PCB design with top-quality components. Fully using all of the Intel Z87’s capabilities, it complements them with additional SATA and USB 3.0 ports. Thanks to the exclusive A-Style technologies set, it supports remote access (Home Cloud), enhances audio quality (Purity Sound) and allows to connect additional video sources to the monitor (HDMI-In). Like its predecessors, it has two connectors for CPU fans, 4-pin and 3-pin ones, so any CPU fan can be regulated irrespective of its connection type. The mainboard is equipped with two independent BIOS chips, but the active chip is selected with a not very convenient jumper rather than with a switch. The design of graphics slots latches has been modified, but they are still not very handy. The memory modules feature Distortion Free technology. So, all the innovations are actually highly positive, even though some are not implemented perfectly.
The updated UEFI BIOS of ASRock mainboards seems to be as good as before. It is user-friendly and provides enough options for system fine-tuning and overclocking. It is now easier to turn off audio notifications and choose the interface language. There is a helper telling you about the basic of using the BIOS. There are new Tools and flexible fan speed management. All of these innovations are great as well, though we did identify some concerns when we got down to actually testing the mainboard. BIOS parameters turned out to tied together in very sophisticated manner.
We didn’t have very high expectations of ASRock Z87 Extreme4, after all, it is a mainstream product. We just wanted it to be problem-free in nominal mode and be easy to work with during overclocking. Yes, it did prove up to our expectations in nominal mode delivering really high performance.
The exclusive power-saving technology that lowers CPU voltage is turned on by default, so the mainboard doesn’t let the CPU work as it is supposed to. Despite this, the Z87 Extreme4 turned out to be the least energy-efficient of the three mainboards we compared today.
Changing one BIOS options may change a few others automatically, which may lead to unpredictable results. It makes it harder to overclock and even to manually configure the system. So, we’d definitely recommend ASRock for building an LGA 1155 platform, but when it comes to LGA 1150, then this is not yet the case.
P.S.: Right after this review was written, the new BIOS version (P2.30) became available for the Z87 Extreme4 on the ASRock websites. All earlier versions, including version P1.90 we used for our testing, are not available anymore. This fact called for an additional test.
The description of the new version mentions two changes: increased stability and better overclockability. The Power Saving Mode parameter is now off by default. And when you overclock your CPU, the CPU fan regulation mode remains Standard instead of switching to Full Speed. That’s good, but the effect of turning off the exclusive power-saving technology remains the same: the memory voltage is increased to 1.6 volts. As for CPU overclocking, even though the CPU Fan 1 & 2 Setting remains at Standard Mode, the speed of the CPU fan is increased to its maximum and you have to change the value of that option for normal regulation. So, the mentioned changes do not really correct the errors but conceal them to some extent. We have to wait for more updates which we will check out with another ASRock mainboard. So stay tuned!