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ASRock M8 preview: sleek, portable gaming barebones

Building your own PC has its advantages. You are free to choose exactly those components you want, but sometimes it's difficult to know where to start with so many options out there. Well, look no further. The ASRock M8 is a good foundation for a system, especially if you don't mind spending a little extra money on style and design. It's fairly compact, yet has space for a pretty powerful gaming system, perfect for bringing along to LAN parties.

At first glance, the Asrock M8 looks like a very rugger chassis with metal handlebars in all four corners for lugging it around. It's a good thing too, as the barebone weighs in at 7.25 kg.

The M8 measures 37.2x12.3x40 cm and was designed by BMW DesignworksUSA in California, a team also responsible for the Level 10 from Thermaltake among other things. It's a pretty unique design, both inside and outside. The front features a round OLED screen with a dial around it. When you rotate it, you can flip through information such as the CPU load, LAN usage and so on, but it also serves as volume control, power management and even shows the date and time.

In front there's an SD card reader, two audio ports and four USB 3.0 ports. There's also room for a notebook optical drive. On the back you'll find four USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports, eSATA, DisplayPort and HDMI. There are plenty of audio ports, which consist of five jacks and one optical digital output. Ethernet is provided by an Intel gigabit adapter and you get both WiFi and Bluetooth. The motherboard features a MiniPCIe port connected to a dual-band AzureWave CE-123H module that provides 2x2 802.11ac and 802.11n (802.11ac of course only works on 5 GHz). The card also provides Bluetooth 4.0. You can read the rest of this preview on