The ASRock Rack W680D4U-2L2T/G5 is one of the really fun platforms from the company. With the latest generation of CPUs, we have not seen Intel have the same focus on its Xeon E line. Instead, ASRock Rack is taking advantage of Intel’s different strategy with the 12th/13th Gen Intel Core processors and turning the workstation-focused W680 chipset with DDR5 ECC UDIMM support, with 10Gbase-T into a server platform. That is the magic behind the W680D4U-2L2T/G5 that we will see in this review.
ASRock Rack W680D4U-2L2T/G5 Hardware Overview
The ASRock Rack W680D4U-2L2T/G5 is a mATX (9.6″ x 9.6″) platform for the LGA1700 socket. One of the big advantages of a mATX platform is that it fits in many chassis both server and pedestal/ tower.
The top of the motherboard is perhaps the most distinctive. Here we have an ATX 24-pin connector and two 8-pin connectors. We have four DDR5 memory UDIMM slots below those. Below the memory is the LGA1700 socket. To the left of the socket are the two Intel i210 NICs and the heatsink for the Intel X710 NIC. Something that is more unique here is that there are three fan headers to the left of the DIMM slots. Normally we see those on the right edge (there are four on the right edge too.) ASRock Rack seems to be contemplating some beefy coolers with this.
On the memory, because we have a W680 chipset, we get support for non-ECC or ECC DDR5 UDIMMs. In the DDR5 generation, UDIMMs and RDIMMs are not compatible. When many discuss server memory for higher-end AMD EPYC 9004 “Genoa” and 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable “Sapphire Rapids” they are referring to RDIMMs. This motherboard only supports UDIMMs. Here is a video on that:
Since Intel is pairing the W680 chipset with ECC UDIMM support with 12th Gen and 13th Gen Intel Core processors, we get something a bit different.
We can use standard Core CPUs and ECC UDIMMs on this platform instead of having to use a Xeon E-line as we did in the past. That is one of the biggest differences between this and the previous generations.
One may ask what is the difference between the ASRock Rack W680 platform and the consumer Z690 platforms other than ECC. A bit one is the airflow arrangement. The entire ASRock Rack W680 platform is set up for front-to-rear (server/workstation) chassis airflow, including the LGA1700 socket, DDR5 DIMM slots, SATA connectors, and more.
The PCIe situation is different from previous versions as well. The PCIe x16 slot is a PCIe Gen5 slot. The x4 slot is a PCIe Gen4 slot from the CPU that shares its lanes with one of the Oculink ports so you can choose slot or Oculink. The smallest slot is a PCIe Gen3 x1 slot to the PCH. This is one of the few motherboards one will see with three generations of PCIe slots next to one another.
The bottom left has the W680 chipset and four SATA connections. Perhaps the more interesting part of this is that we get a PCIe Gen3 M.2 slot from the PCH and then four Oculink ports. We already mentioned that one Oculink port shares its PCIe Gen4 lanes with the slot. Two of the others are PCIe Gen4 x4 and one is PCIe Gen4 x4 or 4x SATA III all from the W680 PCH.
On the rear of the motherboard, we get legacy VGA and serial ports. We also get a management port powered by the ASPEED AST2600 BMC. There are also two USB 3.2 Gen1 ports. Perhaps the most unique is that we get DisplayPort and HDMI ports because the Intel Core processors often have onboard graphics. This is the display output for those.
Perhaps the most interesting story though is the networking. We get two Intel i210 1GbE ports. Then on this platform, we get two 10Gbase-T ports from an Intel X710. That is a higher-end NIC than the X550 series so this is really nice. Having both 1GbE and 10GbE onboard will mean that many can use the PCIe Gen5 x16 slot for GPUs instead of for NICs.
This is a really interesting platform overall. Next, let us get to the management.