We've been raving about Sandy Bridge ITX boards such as the ASRock Z68M-ITX/HT since they first appeared and quite frankly we make no apologies for it. If you want to build a small, compact PC with plenty of grunt then now's the right time.
The boards even come with a x16 PCI-e slot so you can keep gaming. We tested ours with a trusty HD 6850 – it's quite a sight to see a graphics card looking bigger than the motherboard.
You may be of the opinion that a motherboard that measures 17cm square is just too small to be of much use, but one look at the following feature list might put an end to that.
You get two DDR3 DIMM slots supporting up to 16GB of 2133MHz (OC) RAM, integrated eight-channel audio, Gigabit Ethernet, a pair each of SATA 3Gbps and SATA 6Gbps ports, four USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports and the rear panel also holds the three output ports for the integrated video; DVI, VGA and HDMI.
You can tell ASRock has a pretty good idea where most of these boards will end up, because the company bundles a USB infrared dongle and a Windows MCE-compatible remote control in with the board.
Push the power
Overclocking isn't something a lot of the users of this board will be interested in – mostly because it will probably end up powering home theatre PCs and media systems. However, we gave it a go anyway.
There's not enough space on the board for one of the seriously big third-party coolers, so extreme overclocking is out, but we got our example to run an i7 2600K happily at 4GHz without experiencing any problems.
It may not be quite as feature-rich as some of its tiny competitors, but ASRock's offering is still one of the most powerful ITX boards that we've seen to date.
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