ASRock is one of the earliest vendors to address the Small Form Factor (SFF) PC market, offering a number of custom sized motherboards based on the Vision / Core series unit notebook platform. After Skylake and Kaby Lake were phased out, the Beebox series was put into cold storage, so most of the time it lost its NUC bus. Since then, the industrial design and learnings from Beebox have been taken over by ASRock Industrial for systems serving the commercial and embedded markets.
After Kaby Lake, ASRock shifted its focus to Intel’s 5×5 mini-STX form factor introduced in 2015. Socketed processors could be installed, but the form factor could not support discrete GPU slots. Around the same time, Intel also started selling enthusiast NUCs with discrete notebook GPUs soldered to the motherboard/integrated into the package. ASRock has introduced multiple Intel and AMD based mini-STX DeskMini systems since his 2016, and has also created a micro-STX form factor that offers a socketed alternative to his enthusiastic NUC.
Intel’s next big boost to the NUC market is the arrival of Compute Elements and Extreme NUC, the latter of which supports user-swappable discrete GPUs. To provide an alternative in that segment, ASRock introduced his DeskMeet product line earlier last year, supporting PCIe x16 slots for installing socket processors and add-in cards. The review below provides an in-depth analysis of the DeskMeet B660’s features, performance, and value proposition. This is an 8L SFF PC based on the Intel B660 chipset, capable of supporting Alder Lake or Raptor Lake CPUs and select dual-slot GPUs.
Introduction and product impressions
Increased processor capabilities and power efficiency, coupled with innovative thermal solutions, are also enabling small form factor machines to enter a market previously reserved for power-hungry tower form factor machines. rice field. The majority of SFF and UCFF machines on the market are typically based on sub-45W processors, but there is a growing market (in the gaming and workstation space) for smaller systems that can accommodate socketed CPUs. ASRock’s DeskMini series of mini-STX and micro-STX machines are sky lake days. Coinciding with Intel’s Alder Lake launch, ASRock introduced a new option for consumers in a slightly larger form factor: the DeskMeet B660.
DeskMeet B660 focuses on the DIY market for games and esports systems. This segment has served as a growth vector for the otherwise moribund PC market for the past few years. Portable gaming PCs have the added advantage of being compact, making them suitable for use cases that traditional tower desktops can’t easily address. Compared with the DeskMini mini-STX series, the new system brings the following updates:
- PCIe 4.0 x16 slot allows installation of dual-slot discrete GPUs
- 4 full-length DDR4 DIMM slots for increased memory capacity
- Integrated PSU
The package contains the following components:
- ASRock B660-ITX motherboard (with associated cables, screws and I/O shield)
- 500W (80+ Bronze) ATX PSU
- Metal chassis (168mm x 219.3mm x 218.3mm) (with associated assembly aids)
- assembly instructions
A compact system with PCIe x16 slots and an integrated PSU can be achieved with a mini-ITX motherboard. Such standard boards are limited to two DIMM slots due to space constraints. To accommodate her two additional DIMM slots, ASRock chose a proprietary form factor. The company’s “Deep mini-ITX” board measures 210mm x 170mm (compared to his 170mm x 170mm for regular mini-ITX boards).
End users have the flexibility to choose their own CPU, storage device, RAM, and optional discrete GPU. However, space constraints impose some restrictions on these. Without PCIe add-on cards, the 8L system can support liquid cooling. You can use CPU coolers up to 54mm tall (anything taller than that will bump into the underside of the PSU). Processors with TDPs up to 65W are safe to use with air cooling. Some 125W TDP processors are supported, but must use liquid cooling (excludes the possibility of using PCIe add-on cards). You can use his F-series SKUs, but you’ll have to force install a video card, as the B660-ITX’s native display output requires a CPU with an integrated GPU.
ASRock provided DeskMeet B660 and its products as samples. AMD Radeon RX 6400 Challenger ITX video card and Intel Core i7-12700F Alder Lake-S processor. The following additional components were used to complete the build:
- silverstone Hydrogon H90 ARGB CPU cooler
- Mushkin Redline Frostbyte DDR4-3600 DIMMs (4x16GB)
- Mushkin Vortex Redline 2TB M.2 2280 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe SSD
Although the system is intended to be actively cooled, the DeskMeet B660 unit itself does not have a chassis-bundled fan. In most cases, the CPU cooler and video card cooler fans are sufficient. However, the side of the chassis closer to the PCIe slot can also be used to install a 120mm case cooler or liquid cooling radiator (up to 45mm thick). In such cases, the PCIe slot becomes unusable.
The full specifications of the review configuration are shown in the table below.
|Specifications of ASRock DeskMeet B660
|processor||Intel Core i7-12700F
Alderlake-S 8C+4c/20T, 1.6 – 4.9 GHz
Intel 7, 12MB L2 + 25MB L3, 65W
|memory||Mushkin Redline Frostbyte MRX4U360GKKP16G DDR4-3600 DIMM
16-19-19-39 @ 3600MHz (XMP 1.0)
|graphic||AMD Radeon RX 6400 (Navi 24) 4GB GDDR6
(768 SPs @ 2039MHz)
|disk drive)||Mushkin Vortex Redline MKNSSDVT2TB-D8
(2TB; M.2 2280 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe;)
(Micron 176L 3D TLC; InnoGrit IG5236 Controller)
|networking||1x GbE RJ-45 (Intel I219-V)|
|audio||Realtek ALC897 (3.5mm audio jack on front, line-in/speaker/mic jack on back)
Digital audio with bitstreaming support via HDMI and Display Port (via dGPU)
|video||1x HDMI 2.1 (up to 4Kp60, VRR and FRL)
1x Display Port 1.4a (both via dGPU)
|Other I/O ports||2x USB 2.0 Type-A (rear)
2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A (rear)
1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C (Front)
2x USB 2.0 Type-A (Front)
2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A (Front)
|operating system||Windows 11 Enterprise (22000.1335)|
|price||(Over-the-counter price on January 23rd2022)
US$191 (bare bone)
$863 USD (when configured, no OS)
|full spec||Specifications of ASRock DeskMeet B660|
Assembling the system
The DeskMeet package bundles the PSU and motherboard with proper padding inside the chassis. To assemble the system, remove his one screw from the bottom of the case and pull out the motherboard tray. One thing I like about it is that the front panel of the case is directly connected to the components on the motherboard. This eliminates the tangle of wires seen in his previous DeskMini system when separating the motherboard tray from the chassis. Motherboards are shipped installed in trays. The procedure for installing the CPU and cooler is the same as for any other board with the CPU installed in its socket.
You can install up to four DDR4 DIMMs in your system. The M.2 2230 slot can be used for a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo PCIe/USB card. The case has a suitable hole for the antenna. There are two M.2 2280 slots (one beside the PCIe slot and the other below) for installing NVMe SSDs. The next slot on the bottom is PCIe only, while the other slot can accommodate both NVMe and SATA SSDs. Unfortunately the documentation is not clear from the docs as to which of these slots are directly connected to the CPU. On other boards, slots that multiplex SATA and PCIe lanes usually come from the chipset (PCH), while pure PCIe lanes come from the CPU. Based on this assumption, we considered a system with the SSD mounted on the bottom.
The board contains 3 SATA ports. The case itself can accommodate either a 3.5″ HDD (in which case no PCIe add-in cards can be installed), or two 2.5″ drives (ruling out the possibility of dual-slot add-in cards). Single-slot cards will still work). Also, with such SATA drives, you won’t be able to install fans or water cooling radiators in your system.
Installing the GPU requires unlatching and tightening the screws after the add-in card is in place. The PSU is finally secured in place and all the necessary screws are on the back panel. The PSU isn’t modular, but the number of cables to run is minimal and cable management is less of an issue. It is possible to completely remove the motherboard and I/O shield from the tray, but I didn’t see the need during the assembly process.
In the next section, we’ll look at the BIOS options along with an analysis of the motherboard platform. Following that are several sections focusing on various performance aspects before concluding with an analysis of the system’s value proposition.