SFF Network ASRock Z270M-STX MXM Micro-STX Motherboard Pictured

Josh | NFC

Not From Concentrate
NFC Systems
Silver Supporter
Jun 12, 2015
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@ASRock System

Please...I'm begging you. DO IT. Bring this to the consumer market. If you have to sell them in boxes of 10 fine, but this is seriously my favorite motherboard concept I have ever seen.

Also, James, DO NOT LEAVE NEVADA until you have measurements of that board...I want to make a chassis for it so bad it hurts.
 

alamilla

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Feb 11, 2016
119
112
If anyone wants to start work on a case for this board that supports a 120/140 AIO + internal power supply I'm down!

;)
 

Necere

SFF Guru
NCASE
Feb 22, 2015
1,349
2,628
I hate to say it, but I don't see the STX form-factor being very useful for indie case designers. Neither the motherboards nor MXM cards are ever likely to be available to end-users to (easily, inexpensively) buy, and so unless you want to get into selling barebones systems, I just don't see their value to guys like us.
 

nix

Trash Compacter
Jan 5, 2017
39
39
I recently got rid of my Silverstone SG08 and Ncase M1, both were too large for my liking. I've been eying up the Zotac Zbox EN1060/1070 as a replacement. This ASRock offering is quite similar, both being 2.6L cases with MXM cards.

ASRock Pros:
  • More CPU choices, Zbox is limited to 6400T or 6700T (user replaced and voiding warranty)
  • More M.2 & SATA connectors
  • Thunderbolt
  • Better (non-laptop style) cooling
  • Potential for more case options

Zbox Pros:
  • Available with GTX 1070
  • More USB ports
  • Dual LAN ports
  • Available now
 
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3lfk1ng

King of Cable Management
Editorial Staff
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Jun 3, 2016
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Maybe we should start selling barebones SFF entry kits :)

An accidental omission on my part, something that is VERY important to mention for any gamers/ HTPC enthusiasts. The rig was DEAD SILENT (under 30DB @ 89c) during the FurMark benchmark.
There was no whining, no whirling, no whoosing.... just silence.

The stock Intel fan on the 7700k nearly touched the side panel ensuring that it constantly pulled in cool air from the outside of the case, all the time.
The HSF on the MXM GPU (complete with at least 2 heatpipes and roughly the length of the card) was just a hair deeper into the case and Mr. Chen reported that the GPU was getting temperatures typically seen when liquid cooling. Best of all, this custom HSF solution is 100% compatible with all MXM GPU's as they all have to meet the required MXM specs. So if you upgrade from a 460 to a 1060, you can swap the cooler and when bigger/better comes along, you can keep using the same cooler.
The final production model will come bundled with the MXM cooler.

Mr. Chen reported that in-early testing Asus's Z270 voltage regulators would drop the CPU clockspeed down to 3.1GHz under stress and also said that MSI would throttle all the way down to ~800Mhz. As a result, ASRock used a very fancy expensive undisclosed voltage regulation system (I'm not that smart) that has it's own heatsink on the topside and bottom side of the PCB to keep it cool. This allows for constant Intel Turboboost clocks without throttling since their was no need to throttle. However, this means that overclocking is not possible (as mentioned)

Mr. Chen, the creative genius and vice president of ASRock didn't seem as enthusiastic about it as I was but when the Cyberpower team walked into the room and they too were blown away and super excited about the possibilities.

"It slays the Alienwares Alpha"
"We would love to sell this, we can see a market for this"
"If your next revision makes it larger, don't revise it. The size needs to remain the same"

I really hope they sell a consumer and an enthusiast version. It was really something.
Yes, you read that right. Cyberpower may market it... according to ASRock, they want this product to be rebranded and sold under different names so there is a chance Cyberpower/ Origin may offer it as a SFF PC on their store at some point.

Oh, while I am on the subject of Cyberpower... they saw something at CES in regards to Ryzen, something we are not aware of. They were claiming that Ryzen will be their new flagship CPU offering. They spent a good 20 minutes talking about how awesome Ryzen was and how much they love the platform, practically pleading with ASRock to drop Intel and focus on AMD motherboards, haha.
Like I said, I'm not sure what they saw... but whatever it was, it made them super excited.

On another tangent, I learned that the highly coveted ASRock x99 2011-3 ITX board was EXTREMELY challenging to make and they absolutely loved making it. Unfortunately, due to that whole niche within a niche issue, the sales weren't that great. ASRock chaulks it up to the lack of big budget marketing in comparison to Asus/Gigabyte/MSI/ECS. They feel like they are the little guys in this space and most people tend to go for the big names- they aren't wrong but without our support, it will be hard for them to grow.
It's my hope that ASRock finds success in this market that they are clearly passionate about.

I asked them, "For a such a small company, it's clear that you love to push the boundaries and invest a lot into new and innovative ideas, why does ASRock do this?"
Mr. Chen replied, "To get noticed in this industry, you have to be innovative and different. You cannot build the same product as everyone else."

Anyway, it was a real pleasure meeting Nelson and Guang at ASRock. The whole team was extremely welcoming and hospitable; always quick to offer water and coffee- the two more important forms of sustenance. I thanked them often for their commitment to such a small industry and thanked them again for setting aside the time to talk with me.

They hope to see us again at Computex and when the time is right, perhaps we'll get some products for review!
 
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ASRock System

Trash Compacter
ASRock
Aug 29, 2016
38
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NCASE is a famous desktop chassis manufacturer in DIY market.
And thanks for your great feedback.

In fact, Micro STX is an open platform for small form factor enthusiast, give them more possibility to build their own system.
Indeed, there are so many choice of components already.
But if you don't want to compromise in size in standard (ITX) or proprietary (other desktop), Micro STX provides another chance.

We all know smaller PC size is market trend, but it's still difficult to push (or lead) customers to try this one.
That's why ASRock looks forward in professional small form factor media (like here).

Think about that"

ASRock Z270M-STX MXM has 3x M.2 PCIe Gen3 Slots + Thunderbolt 3 + MXM Slot + LGA1151 CPU Socket + 2x DDR4 SO-DIMM
All of them are in the similar size PCB as Mini ITX


Amazing, isn't it?

I hate to say it, but I don't see the STX form-factor being very useful for indie case designers. Neither the motherboards nor MXM cards are ever likely to be available to end-users to (easily, inexpensively) buy, and so unless you want to get into selling barebones systems, I just don't see their value to guys like us.
 

3lfk1ng

King of Cable Management
Editorial Staff
Gold Supporter
Jun 3, 2016
865
1,649
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Hey Nelson, is that you? It was real pleasure meeting you today, thank you so much for taking the time to meet with us, we really appreciate it!

I wanted to let you know that @Josh | NFC , creator of the NFC S4 Mini and @dondan creator of the Dan's Cases A4 have both expressed interest in making custom cases around the MXM format.
https://smallformfactor.net/forum/threads/asrock-show-off-micro-stx-system-with-mxm-tb3-ces-2017.1296/page-2

I think you have something really special on your hands. Keep up the good work!
 

IntoxicatedPuma

Customizer of Titles
Editorial Staff
Moderator
Silver Supporter
Feb 26, 2016
938
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robspc.tech
Asrock does some nice stuff, had the Z77E and loved the backside mSATA layout - wish more would do that!
X99E is also on my wish list but my wallet prevents it!
 

Necere

SFF Guru
NCASE
Feb 22, 2015
1,349
2,628
NCASE is a famous desktop chassis manufacturer in DIY market.
And thanks for your great feedback.

In fact, Micro STX is an open platform for small form factor enthusiast, give them more possibility to build their own system.
Indeed, there are so many choice of components already.
But if you don't want to compromise in size in standard (ITX) or proprietary (other desktop), Micro STX provides another chance.

We all know smaller PC size is market trend, but it's still difficult to push (or lead) customers to try this one.
That's why ASRock looks forward in professional small form factor media (like here).

Think about that"

ASRock Z270M-STX MXM has 3x M.2 PCIe Gen3 Slots + Thunderbolt 3 + MXM Slot + LGA1151 CPU Socket + 2x DDR4 SO-DIMM
All of them are in the similar size PCB as Mini ITX


Amazing, isn't it?
I don't know how famous we are, but thank you anyway :)

Don't get me wrong, it's an impressive technical achievement - it just may not make sense for us, given our limited resources. Some of the design features of STX and the essentially nonexistent aftermarket for MXM GPUs basically require that they be sold together with the chassis as a barebones system, and that entails a much greater support obligation on our part (+more things that can go wrong and potential risk). I'd love to see something like this take off as a new standard, with STX motherboards and MXM GPUs readily available, but that's not the case now, and likely won't be in the near term. I understand there's a chicken-and-egg problem here, but I'm afraid we'll have to hold off until we see some traction in the market. I can only hope that you and other established companies like Silverstone have some success with the form factor, and we do see some aftermarket develop in time.

I could see it making sense for someone like @Josh | NFC, who not only custom designs cases, but also builds out full systems for his customers. But that's not our specialty, nor a market that we're interested in getting into at this point.
 

iFreilicht

FlexATX Authority
Feb 28, 2015
3,223
2,332
freilite.com
Don't get me wrong, it's an impressive technical achievement - it just may not make sense for us, given our limited resources.
I think the point is that it makes little sense YET. If ASRock and other companies continue to push for this, MXM and mSTX could become a real alternative to mITX. And as mentioned, you get a full system with dedicated GPU on the same space you'd normally use for an APU system. It's just too interesting of an idea to abandon just because it's not ready yet.

And yes, if you're just making cases, it's not a viable market to tap into right now, the demand simply isn't there, and a case for this form factor would hardly be sustainable unless it was priced ludicrously high, but I fully expect a "Premium" version of the deskMini from @Josh | NFC at some point. S2 DeskMini confirmed?
 

EdZ

Virtual Realist
Gold Supporter
May 11, 2015
1,578
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Selling MXM modules could be a lucrative business for ASRock. The consumer market for MXM module direct sales is currently massively undersupplied (if you want to buy an MXM module, you either buy a laptop with one in and remove it, or find someone else who has done so and buy it from them) though pretty small, mainly people with desktop-replacement laptops who want to upgrade. Laptop manufacturers are not inclined to service this market, as they'd rather sell a whole new laptop, but ASRock do not have any laptops (or any other lines using MXM) to cannibalise. If they can further drive demand by releasing a unique new platform ahead of any other manufacturer, they can position themselves as the seller of MXM modules to consumers and both corner and grow a new market for components that people are already used to paying a premium for. And if they're already buying MXM modules in bulk for pre-built systems, they have the volume to order a fraction extra for resale.
 

TheGooseIsHere

Average Stuffer
Dec 26, 2016
65
59
MXM is a standard for laptop graphics cards, right? Would the board come with or without a graphics card? If it was available with gtx 1070 or 1080 laptop versions, that would be pretty awesome. Although I imagine that would be quite a lot more expensive than the desktop version?
 

EdZ

Virtual Realist
Gold Supporter
May 11, 2015
1,578
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MXM is a standard for laptop graphics cards, right? Would the board come with or without a graphics card? If it was available with gtx 1070 or 1080 laptop versions, that would be pretty awesome. Although I imagine that would be quite a lot more expensive than the desktop version?
As per the ASRock post, the system will be available with the GTX 1060 or RX480/470/460 MXM modules. It will be limited to these due to the supplied PSU but should support larger MXM modules is you can provide your own power solution.

::EDIT:: Wrong GTX
 
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alamilla

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Feb 11, 2016
119
112
On another tangent, I learned that the highly coveted ASRock x99 2011-3 ITX board was EXTREMELY challenging to make and they absolutely loved making it. Unfortunately, due to that whole niche within a niche issue, the sales weren't that great.
This is really surprising to here.
Based off the many custom builds I saw and the fact that it was/is the only product of its kind, I was under the impression it had been a success.
I was always holding out for a refresh of that board which lost the SATA Express and gained Thunderbolt 3.
 
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BirdofPrey

Standards Guru
Sep 3, 2015
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MXM is a standard for laptop graphics cards, right? Would the board come with or without a graphics card? If it was available with gtx 1070 or 1080 laptop versions, that would be pretty awesome. Although I imagine that would be quite a lot more expensive than the desktop version?
MXM is a standard for laptop GPUs, yes, though much like SO-DIMM it doesn't necessarily have to stay that way.
According to ASrock's statements, they will be shipping with GPUs, but since MXM is standardized, you should be able to swap out for whatever GPU you want. The only real problem with that is that there are nearly no MXM resellers, so prices are outrageously high if you can actually find what you are looking for for sale. The actual production costs aren't really any higher than desktop GPUs, it's just that there's no real market for MXM at the moment; as @EdZ pointed out, laptop manufacturers would rather you upgrade bu buying a new laptop, so MXM is used for their convenience rather than the consumer's, and is sold as such: almost exclusively to OEMs.
 
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