Closer Look: FM2A88X Extreme 6+
The ASRock FM2A88X Extreme6+ Motherboard box sports a giant A-Style logo on the front and not much else. The A-Style logo shows off a circle of icons representing each of the A-Style features. If you flip the box over, the back lays out those icons and tells you what they all represent. We’ll get into the details of the A-Style features a little later on. Inside the box you’ll find the motherboard, some SATA cables, and the I/O shield. That’s it, unless you count the driver disc and manuals. It is a little on the skimpy side. Not much to see here, so we’ll move on. As part of the ASRock Extreme series of motherboards, the FM2A88X Extreme6+ is almost completely black, highlighted only by the gold lettering on the heatsinks and gold plating on the capacitors. The thermal management on ASRock FM2A88X Extreme6+ is also pretty modest. There is small, rectangular heatsink covering the chipset. It is accented with the word ASROCK and some stylish grooves. The only other heatsink covers a portion of the CPU VRM components. It is also a small, slightly stylized heatsink, but it only covers about half of the VRM. That’s all there is for thermal management on the motherboard. The four DIMM slots on the ASRock FM2A88X Extreme6+ are not color-coordinated, seeing as they are all black, but they are clearly labeled. DDR3_A1 is the closest to the APU socket, followed by A2, then B1, and B2 is closest to the 24-pin power connector. The FM2A88X Extreme6+ is touted as supporting RAM speeds of up to 2600MHz+ when overclocking. The A88X chipset itself supports 2400MHz RAM when overclocked and using an FM2+ APU. FM2 APUs support speeds up to 1866MHz. The four DIMM slots support up to 64GB of memory.While the FM2A88X Extreme6+ seems to be a little light-featured, it does have potential, especially where the PCIe slots are concerned. Unlike the Gigabyte G1.Sniper A88X, which only has a single PCIe x16 and a PCIe x4 for GPU expansion, the ASRock FM2A88X Extreme6+ has three full PCIe slots. The first two are PCIe x16 and are PCIe 3.0 when using an FM2+ APU. The third is a PCIe 2.0 x4 slot. Using these three PCIe slots, you can have a dual-graphics configuration at x8 and x8 with the first two slots and you can throw in a third GPU at x4. Using R7 graphics with an FM2+ A10 APU, you apparently even have a Quad CrossFireX configuration, using the on-die GPU as the fourth GPU. I suppose you could use three discrete R5 GPUs with an FM2+ A8 APU.A couple of other handy features on the FM2A88X Extreme6+ motherboard are the onboard power and reset buttons and the BIOS selector switch. Since I test motherboards a lot, I am a huge fan of the onboard power and reset buttons. Any overclocker or enthusiast who spends a lot of time inside their system will appreciate those buttons. The BIOS selector switch allows you easily switch back and forth between the two BIOS chips. That is very useful if you contract a virus that infects the BIOS or, more likely, if you try out a bad overclock that would normally require you to reset the CMOS.The ASRock FM2A88X Extreme6+ is home to seven SATA 3.0 6Gb/s ports. Six of them are horizontal facing, allowing you to use them even while using a long video card. The seventh SATA 6GB/s port is a vertical port that sits next to the two BIOS chips. Seven should be plenty. I hardly ever find myself using more than three or four. The A88X chipsets support RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 configurations, though, so who knows.To round out our closer look, let’s take a gander at the I/O panel. The A88X Extreme6+ I/O starts off with its only two USB 2.0 ports. Those ports sit on top of a Legacy PS/2 port. I just can’t condone the use of PS/2 anymore. If 64-key rollover isn’t enough for you, you need to re-evaluate your gaming style. You could be so much more. Of course, the legacy hardware doesn’t stop there. Right next to the PS/2 port is a D-Sub port on top of a dual-link DVI-D port. On the FM2A88X Extreme6+, the D-Sub port seems to have a function, though. With an FM2+ APU, the DVI and HDMI port can be used simultaneously, albeit with some restrictions. Basically, the two monitors have to be identical for it to work. But you could have quad-monitor output without a discrete graphics card on the FM2A88X Extreme6+. Next to the VGA and DVI ports are the HDMI port and DisplayPort.What comes next is a little interesting. The Extreme6+ has an HDMI input port. That’s not something you see every day. This input is basically a pass-through to your HDMI connected display. This makes hooking your computer up to your TV a lot more convenient; or hooking up a gaming or other device to your computer monitor. Hook your PS4, Xbox One, tablet, phone, or whatever you’d like into the HDMI input and you can toggle your monitor between the input device. You can even use the device on the display with your computer off. Pretty convenient. Rounding out the I/O panel are four USB 3.0 ports (colored blue), an eSata port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and the audio ports, SPDIF and analog.