ASRock X58 Extreme3 review
Posted by Hilbert Hagedoorn on: 06/01/2010 01:00 PM [ 0 comment(s) ]
The ASRock X58 Extreme3 is a downright interesting motherboard. It's the first board that brings X58 under 200 USD with such features as USB 3.0 and SATA3 (6G) integrated. Next to that, this board is just well thought through and we like that very much. The overall aesthetic design is nice, not brilliant but for the 165 EUR where this board shines are its features and baseline performance.
Though not an overclocker's dream as really, we got better results a bit more easily with say the Rampage III Extreme, the board does come with a sturdy tweaking feature set. Overclocking with this board however is much more difficult than with your average high-end board. That is your tradeoff. If you select CPU level up in an ASUS ROG BIOS and set it to 4 GHz, you know it's gonna work... when we did so with the ASRock X58 Extreme3, the board would not POST as all it did was apply a voltage tweak and brutally placed the base clock at 200 MHz without looking at factors like memory. From what we understand though, a new BIOS update fixed most of these nags.
Overclocking on the Extreme3 will be a tad more difficult, but don't get me wrong, it remains very possible. I mean we did get our Core i7 980X running at 4160 MHz in the end. Once we got that up and running, the PC remained stable and that's a testimony that the board can handle a lot, as we are talking about the most high-end consumer processor available on the market, the Core i7 980 Extreme.
Speaking of the Core i7 980X; our initial experience and introduction in-between the ASRock X58 Extreme3 and this processor was not perfect. At first boot (we cleared CMOS) the processor was recognized perfectly well, the system booted fine into Windows. But for our review policy the first validation step is to always start a Prime95 CPU stress test to verify overall stability and heat levels. Within a minute of stressing the PC with Prime95 the system crashed. After a reboot we checked temperatures, memory timings and everything, but could not find anything suspicious which puzzled us a little, then we noticed that the processor was receiving too little voltage, hovering at roughly a thousand millivolts. Once we increased that to 1.2v the system became absolutely stable and stunning.
Now the reason why the ASRock X58 Extreme3 crashed is because ASRock applies a teeny bit of a default baseCLK tweak at 140 MHz, it requires a little tiny bit extra voltage and since it's set up so marginally it made the system crash under hefty load. We certainly expect the next BIOS update to have fixed this, but it's not the kind of stuff you want to experience in a baseline configuration at all as it should work straight out of the box, plain and simple.
Other then this little quirk we have to acknowledge that what ASRock presents here is quite remarkable. The overall build quality is good, the performance is (thanks to that secret little baseline tweak) grand, the overclock options are very decent. The BIOS as well very much caters for the enthusiast end user, including extensive voltage and frequency ranges and profile save/load options.
So other then a few minor mishaps we can only be impressed as to what ASRock is offering here. This is grand value for money and you get to have the latest features, SATA3 and USB 3.0. Being built around the X58 you have plenty of bandwidth for your graphics cards, get triple channel memory support and can use the best Core i7 processors available on the market.
We do recommend this motherboard to the people out there with a bit of an understanding of CPU voltages and such. But if you do, you can gain massive performance from this motherboard that ranks fairly high in the enthusiast segment.
At 165 EUR / 189 USD the ASRock X58 Extreme3 offers incredible value, and as such comes recommended.
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If you want an X58 based platform and want to enjoy USB 3.0 and SATA3 6G, there really are no affordable alternatives on the market, until now that is. ASRock has released a new X58 motherboard. It's loaded with extra features yet comes with SATA3 and USB 3.0. It is up-to date, has some nice extras, and get this... will cost only 165 EUR or roughly 189 USD. That price alone sparked my interest for sure as this board would need to really blow if it's not worth that money. So today we'll have a look at the more budget conscious ASRock X58 Extreme3 motherboard.