ASRock X58 Extreme3: An Enthusiast X58 Motherboard at a Budget Price?by Ian Cutress on June 2, 2010 4:10 PM EST
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ASRock's current X58 line-up consist of the SuperComputer ($275), Deluxe3 ($225), Deluxe, and the Extreme3's predecessor, the Extreme (AT review, $170). The Extreme3 is available today for $190. Other products in this price range that the Extreme3 is competing with are the Gigabyte EX58-UD3R at $189, the MSI Pro-E for $190, the MSI Pro-E USB3 for $200, and the Foxconn FlamingBlade at $180.
The ASRock X58 Extreme3 is available (at time of writing) for $189.99, one dollar above the EX58-UD3R. For your extra dollar, a plethora of extra features over the Gigabyte board are available on the ASRock board - a full set of 6 DIMM slots for DDR3 memory, USB3 compatibility, SATA 6Gb/s connectivity, three PCIe slots (x16, x16, x4), Power/Clear CMOS/Reset buttons, and support for DDR3 ECC memory. The main question is whether this board performs as well as the UD3R, given any of these extra features, or even above the ASRock Extreme, which is $20 cheaper.
What we want to see in a budget board is finesse and capability - a BIOS that works, compatibility with components, and something that runs happily above stock. While the best budget boards undoubtedly won't have all the bells and whistles of a premium enthusiast board, if it runs decent and we can play around without too many issues, and the price is right, then it will sell. Off the bat, the ASRock Extreme3 is a happy little runner, with a few issues. We've had this board running for a couple of weeks now, with an overclock, in a variety of situations, and it's a board worth considering if USB3 and SATA6Gb/s are two features you're dying to have with a Socket 1366 processor on a budget.
In this review, We’re pitting the Extreme3 against the board that has been the stalwart of my PC cavalcade - the Gigabyte EX58-UD3R, revision 1.0. The EX58-UD3R appeared on the market in Q4 2008, and is still one of the best budget X58 boards available in terms of capability and performance. ASRock have known their competition for over a year, so they have to show that their product can provide a distinct improvement over the competition. The marketed additions of USB3 and SATA 6Gb/s is a start, but ASRock is having trouble applying BIOS polish to the motherboard, which we will explain later.
People in the market for just such a board are interested in getting the most out of a Core i7 920 or i7 930 for as little cost as possible, to spend on other areas, such as graphics, memory, or a speedy SSD. So using a high end air cooler/low end water cooler, 3-6GB of memory, two mid-range DX11 GPUs in SLI/CFX, a small boot SSD and storage HDD would make a pretty neat enthusiast system on a relatively tight budget. So it would be nice to know if you've got a motherboard up to the task.
Our board arrived pre-flashed with the public v1.2 BIOS. On the first boot, after changing the processor voltage options, would not allow the changing of other voltage settings, such as ICH, IOH CSI and CPU PLL. These were changeable after a subsequent boot, however. Users who frequent BIOS options will be frustrated at ASRock's effort - some sections of the BIOS allow numbers to be typed in (such as BCLK), but others require using the +/- keys. Some options, on pressing enter, open out into a submenu whereby you can select the setting you want - however, most do not. This early BIOS version also gave trouble by refusing to wake out of C3 unless the C State Package Limit setting was moved from Auto to C3 - this is to some extent still an issue on the v1.6 BIOS (latest at time of writing).
Other than the fiddly BIOS options that could do with a little polish, the ASRock X58 Extreme3 is very well placed in terms of cost and performance in the X58 market.
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DJMiggy - Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - linkThanks Ian. This is great!
nvalhalla - Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - link(It might have been covered in the article, I didn't see it though. If so I apologize and feel free to yell at me.)
How many PCI-E lanes have been dedicated to the USB3 and SATA6 ports? If I'm buying this over another X58 board because of those 2 options, it's important to know whether they are running at the proper speed.
IanCutress - Thursday, June 3, 2010 - linkWe have got confirmation from ASRock, and they both use one lane each.
All the best,
jyqureshi - Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - linkWhen is Anandtech going to review Xeon server boards like this one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...
And it's not a matter of why I would need one, it's a matter of why not?
Anyway...it would be great to see a comparison of the popular server boards that can be used in a desktop configuration.
ekv - Thursday, June 3, 2010 - linkActually, the TYAN S7025WAGM2NR is a pretty decent board. Xeon 5500 series processors are reasonably priced. I would like to perform some comparisons tween this board and a couple Enthusiast boards. Very curious about price / perf. Gaming, general purpose AND server type workloads...
AdamK47 - Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - linkI don't understand why some motherboard makers put the PCI-E 1X slot below the primary PCI-E 16X slot. Put it above the 16X slot!
jonp - Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - linkWhat does "above" and "below" mean?
FormulaRedline - Thursday, June 3, 2010 - linkEssentially below means the 1X slot is blocked by a dual slot graphics card while above means the 1x can still be used.
FormulaRedline - Thursday, June 3, 2010 - linkJust to add: it is a bit strange as the predecessor, the ASRock X58 Extreme, does have a x1 slot on top. However, it just seems to be plain missing on this board (notice only 6 slots). Maybe to deal with the extra requirements of the USB 3.0 and SATA 6?
Fortunately, any x1 card can also be used in the x16/x8 slots.
lopri - Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - linkVery detailed and user-friendly review, thank you very much. I'd like a little more commet on the auxiliary fan, though. (The one for CPU power circuitry) If you could measure the temperature difference between on and off, as well as other vendors' passive designs.