ASRock has done something that is nothing short of impressive! The fact that they were able to build an X99 motherboard in the Mini-ITX form factor and still have many features you find on full-sized ATX motherboard should be applauded. This form factor opens up a lot of possibilities, but it also has its drawbacks as well.
The most obvious drawback when it comes to performance is that you are limited to a dual-channel memory setup and only a single PCI-Express slot. Now if you are able to get past those two things the only other drawback is the included CPU cooler. To be fair this cooler was never designed for desktop use, it is a server cooler so in that environment sound really does not matter. Well let’s just say it is the loudest CPU cooler I’ve ever had on our test bench, at maximum speed you need headphones on! The performance of the cooler will work if you are running your CPU cooler at stock speeds, but if you plan to do any overclocking you will need to get an aftermarket cooler that works with the board’s narrow-ILM socket. ASRock does include a watercooling adapter that works with Cooler Master Seidon 120V / 120 coolers and we have seen this board being used with a few different Corsair all-in-one’s as well. Asetek, who is the maker of many of the all-in-ones out there does sell a narrow-ILM adapter as well.
Typically when we see Mini-ITX motherboards they skimp on the features, but ASRock did not do that with the X99E-ITX/ac! It is packed with features, some of which you won’t even find on other X99 motherboards! To start out with you have the included 802.11ac WiFi + Bluetooth module. This will give you connectivity pretty much anywhere! Next you have both an M.2 slot and a SATA Express slot. Not only that, the M.2 slot is an Ultra M.2 slot (Gen3 x4) giving you 32 Gb/s of bandwidth. ASRock has also outfitted this motherboard with two USB 3.1 (Type A) slots, so it is ready for pretty much anything. On top of all of that ASRock uses their Super Alloy design on this motherboard that takes advantage of premium 60A power chokes, premium memory alloy chokes, Fairchild 60A Dual Cool DrMOS MOSFETs, and Nichicon 12K platinum caps.
The board layout worked quite well for us, although some people might have an issue with the 24pin ATX power connection being at the top of the board, rather than on the far end. When working with the board nothing seemed too cramped and as I mentioned earlier the CPU cooler was quite easy to install.
When thinking about the possibilities of builds with this board there really is a lot you could do. The two best build that comes to mind are a tiny encoding machine of course taking advantage of the power of a Haswell-E processor. The second is a badass LAN box outfitted with lets say a GeForce GTX Titan X. Not only will the system be small, but you have the best performing single-slot card on the market for all of your gaming needs.
Right now this motherboard is selling for $249.99 at my favorite online retailer. This price seems just about right for what you are getting in such a small form factor. Overall ThinkComputers gives the ASRock X99E-ITX Motherboard a 9 out of 10 score and our Recommended Award as it is the only X99 Mini-ITX motherboard out there! Just be sure to get an aftermarket cooler!
– X99 in the Mini-ITX form factor!
– SATA Express and Ultra M.2 support
– WiFi + Bluetooth module
– USB 3.1 (Type A)
– Solid performance
– Limited to dual-channel memory
– CPU cooler is loud and does not perform that well