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Pros: Fantastic looks and design, great build quality, full feature MB and I like all the little extras from ASRock. Easy to work on once you figure out the ‘rubiks cube’ design. So far I’m very impressed with the system performance – will post some numbers later. Great price and New Egg delivery (I purchase most of my PC parts from New Egg, A m a z o n and mod parts from f r o z e n cpu. I’m even thinking of buying a 2nd M8 to have as a spare or future game machine I like the size and design so much – no more full or mid-towers for me!! Great barebones system – I’ve been looking to build a small form factor / consol size PC for some time. I’ve been building, hacking and modding my own PC’s for years and have been really waiting for the right ‘console size’ case. When I read the review on this ASRock M-8 system at Maximum PC and other review sites I knew I had found my system!
Since the case design was done in collaboration with BMW Design this was additional ‘icing on the cake’ for me as I’m also a BMW owner / driver /racer and the BMW M8 from the mid 90’s is one of my favorite cars.
My first time using ASRock (they’re a spinoff of ASUS) and very pleased with their MB quality and the rest of the system build quality.
My build specs so far in addition to the M8 system specs on the ASRock site –
CPU - Intel i5 4670K Haswell
CPU cooler - Thermalright AXP-100
RAM – 16 GB (8x2) Corsair Vengeance (CMSX16GX3M2A1600C10)
SSD – Samsung 840 Pro - MZ-7PD256BW
HDD – Seagate Barracuda 2 GB - ST2000DM001
Video – EVGA GeForce GTX 760 4GB - 04G-P4-2768-KR
I’m doing my setup and test on my bench with an ASUS 24” HDMI monitor (VS247) monitor but will be moving it out to the game room and connect via HDMI to my 60” Hitachi big screen TV – why I chose the 4 GB EVGA video.
Cons: Heat and cooling system plus I have concerns on the 450 W power supply for long term reliability. I did my initial setup will all stock parts and settings – as ALL of the review sites have noted, the fans / cooling system is weak in removing heat and LOUD at high speed – ASRock engineers started out fine but must have run out of money or time to get it right.
This is a barebones system and the target market is enthusiasts – you know we’re going to run high end hardware that makes a lot of heat! I will run stock settings for now but plan to OC the CPU and video later. My first step was to tear down the case – here are my details. - For the side blowhole below - I ordered a number of items from f r o z e n cpu to test fit and decided to keep it simple and stay in line with the design lines of the case. I used just the FILTER from the ModRight FilterRight Square Design 120mm Red Aluminum Fan Filter - Part #: ffi-73 - I added a Thermalright AXP-100 CPU cooler – I run this at full speed in the BIOS – keeps the CPU cooler than the stock Intel cooler and quieter as well. So far with the above mods I’ve been able to lower temps roughly 20 deg C with the same low noise level as the stock setup and maintain the stock look.
Other Thoughts: All four stock fans are 70 x 10 mm - the fact that ASRock has them side by side to push / pull the air is just wrong do a smoke test to see the weak airflow! They also have too much restriction in fan grill / guards that really choke off the air flow and add to the noise factor. Great for the fancy key lock on top but not moving hot air out of the case!
Bottom fan mods - I kept the stock fans but flipped the one to push or blow air out - so now both bottom fans are blowing the hot air OUT of the case. I also removed the fine inside mesh fan screen attached to the bottom of the case that was really restricting air flow – just be careful when reassembling the system cables at the bottom to keep them away from the fan intakes as the fan blades are wide open – use ty-raps to dress cables out of the way. I did not modify the outer fan grill in the plastic bottom panel yet. I will keep that option open once I start to OC – I may also add thicker / taller rubber feet to allow more air to move out of the bottom of the case. Since my case will have both sides on when in use there should not be any issue with anything getting into the bottom fan blades. I run these fans at the performance mode setting in the BIOS.
Top fan mods - I upgraded to a pair of 70 x 25’s - EVERCOOL EC7025SH12BP fans. I chose these as they are 4 wire and can be connected just like the stock ones so you can control the speed from the BIOS or software. I just piggy backed the 2 fan connectors with 3 stiff wire leads in the two fan connectors and hot glued them together - then plugged the one into the stock fan connector. Look at the original fans for knowing what wire colors to use so you get the same electrical connection to the MB. These new fans are thicker – move more air at lower / quieter speeds. Again I have both blowing OUT of the case. The fans mount in the stock location but I did not reuse the sliding metal grill / latch assembly that just chokes off air flow and adds to the noise factor- It does not fit the thicker fans - I did not plan to use the lock anyway as the magnets are very strong to hold the sides on and I don’t plan to carry the system to LAN parties. I did not modify the outer fan grill in the plastic top panel yet. I will keep that option open once I start to OC. I run these fans in the ‘standard mode’ in the BIOS moves a lot of air quietly!
Since I am blowing more air out I also need to have additional air coming in. the only place in the stock configuration for air to enter is the back panel – this needs to be supplemented with an air intake at the front or one of the sides. There is a hot spot inside the case right above the power supply where the hot PS air exits and meets up with the inner hot exhaust of the video board up top. In stock form the heat really builds up fast and stays hot in this area. I chose to put a blow hole in the CPU side window so cool air was coming into the CPU and PS –
Pros: See below
Cons: See below - Update - Nov 2013 - system still works but need to baby it or the voltage regs overheat. As long as system is on and all my case fans are blowing cool air over the board I can keep the MB temps down to below 100 deg F. However, after I shut down I have to turn off power supply to remove all power to MB otherwise the temps GO UP because the voltage reg design is junk. Needs constant air flow to stay cool! Never had a MB do this!
Other Thoughts: Update - Nov 2013 - system still works but need to baby it or the voltage regs overheat. As long as system is on and all my case fans are blowing cool air over the board I can keep the MB temps down to below 100 deg F. However, after I shut down I have to turn off power supply to remove all power to MB otherwise the temps GO UP because the voltage reg design is junk. Needs constant air flow to stay cool! Never had a MB do this!READ FULL REVIEW
Pros: Needed to replace my dying Win XP rig for some legacy apps - found this on sale for $100 w/rebate of $50 - for that price I went for it - great deal for a board that 1 year ago was leading edge. Initial setup was with $50 Sandy Bridge Celeron and 4 GB mem. Using Corsair XMS3 as listed on EVGA site - ran OK with Celeron as just a XP rig to keep some legacy apps and games going. But I got a great deal on an EVGA GTX550Ti video board for $60. Changed to 8 GB Kingston Hyper X on sale for $35 then decided to up it to a i5 proc 2500K on-sale so my son can play some of the newer games and not use my new Ivy Bridge rig. For about $325 using my original XP case, PS, drives, monitor, etc I now have a PC that can run most apps & newer games at high res and network for my son.
Cons: As others have reported - Voltage regs and components around the power connector run VERY hot - so hot they burned my finger! 95 - 110 F component external measured! Poor design! I build on a test stand and test everything B4 putting in case to check for problems and hot spots so I know how to cool case. I will add an extra fan to blow cool air to this area of MB and maybe drill some extra holes in MB tray right under power connector - maybe an extra fan on that side. So much for $50 deal!
Other Thoughts: There's a reason you see them on sale so low - they're dumping these for $50 - end of life and bad board design - hot voltage regs - see other reviews with voltage reg issues here and other sites. I figured if I can get 2-3 years out of it for XP it was worth it. I normally use ASUS, Gigabyte or Intel MBs. Will report back in 6 mos or so. I also had the problem with the fancy logo LED in the center of the board not working – had to swap the wires as there is no polarity markings – makes you wonder how a production worker would have a chance of getting it right. Works fine now. No more EVGA MBs for me!READ FULL REVIEW