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On Board Peripherals

The Intel Z97 chipset is a single-chip solution, which is also known as a PCH (Platform Controller Hub). This chip has six SATA-600 ports, supporting RAID (0, 1, 10, and 5). The ASRock Z97 Extreme4 comes with two additional SATA-600 ports, controlled by an ASMedia ASM1061 chip (no RAID support). The SATA ports are installed on the motherboard edge and rotated 90°, so the installation of video cards will not block them.

Two of the available SATA-600 ports (the ones at the lower left) can be used as two standard SATA ports or as one SATA Express port. Unfortunately, the manufacturer used the same color for the eight ports, as shown in Figure 4.

ASRock Z97 Extreme4Figure 4: the six SATA-600 ports controlled by the chipset and the two SATA-600 ports controlled by the ASMedia chip

The Intel Z97 chipset supports 14 USB 2.0 ports and six USB 3.0 ports. The ASRock Z97 Extreme4 offers six USB 2.0 ports, two at the rear panel and four available through two headers located on the motherboard. There are eight USB 3.0 ports (six at the rear panel and two available through a header), six controlled by the chipset and two controlled by an ASMedia ASM1042AE chip.

The ASRock Z97 Extreme4 does not support FireWire or Thunderbolt ports.

This motherboard supports 7.1 audio format, i.e., eight channels. On this motherboard, the audio is generated by the chipset using the Realtek ALC1150 codec, which is an excellent audio codec, providing 115 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog outputs, 104 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog inputs, and up to 192 kHz sampling rate for both inputs and outputs, with 24-bit resolution. These specifications are good even for the user who wants to work professionally by capturing and editing analog audio (e.g., converting LPs to CDs or MP3, converting VHS to DVDs or any other digital format, etc.)

The codec chip is shielded against electromagnetic interference, and the audio interface is equipped with a TI NE5532 amplifier for the frontal headphone output. The analog audio outputs are independent only if you use a 5.1 analog speaker set. If you install a 7.1 analog speaker set, you will need to use the “line in” jack.

ASRock Z97 Extreme4Figure 5: Shielded audio codec

The portrayed motherboard has one Gigabit Ethernet port, controlled by the chipset with the help of an Intel i218V PHY chip.

In Figure 6, you can see the motherboard rear panel with a shared PS/2 keyboard/mouse connector, two USB 2.0 ports, DVI-I output, VGA (D-SUB) output, HDMI output, six USB 3.0 ports, DisplayPort output, Gigabit Ethernet port, optical SPDIF output, and the analog audio jacks.

ASRock Z97 Extreme4Figure 6: motherboard rear panel

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Rafael Otto Coelho is a physicist with a master’s degree in Education, and is a college professor in Brazil.