Asrock X58 Extreme3 Socket 1366 Motherboard

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Posted by on Thursday, April 29, 2010 - 9:15am

asrock x58 extreme3Feast your eyes on the new X58 Extreme3. It is an incredibly attractive motherboard, based on the high end X58 chipset from Intel. We read all the new specifications on the board like USB 3.0 and SATA 3.0. Impressive as those are, we could not get over the sheer good looks of the board. The combination of black PCB with blue and white slots and connections should make the motherboard a coveted component as many consumers are looking for a nice blacked out motherboard to go along with their new black interior laced case.

Introduction to the Asrock X58 Extreme3

Asrock has been one of the best friends of Pro-Clockers for a few years now. In that time, we will, occasionally, get a product from them that visually amazes us. Their first batch of motherboards were all teal in color and not too appealing, but their performance-vs-dollar was just plain incredible. It's been a pattern with them. Then, we began to see a change in their motherboards, aesthetically and in layout.

The first move pulled the aux 4-pin power plug away from the underside of the CPU socket, then we saw a change in colors on the motherboards. Gone was the teal PCB and in came the black. This received a standing ovation in our offices. It seemed as if it was a coming out party for Asrock in a market dominated by the likes of Gigabyte and ASUS. Along with the black PCB was still the rainbow of colors on the slots and plugs of the board. Not an eyesore, but it still left something to be desired.

Feast your eyes on the new X58 Extreme3. It is an incredibly attractive motherboard, based on the high end X58 chipset from Intel. We read all the new specifications on the board like USB 3.0 and SATA 3.0. Impressive as those are, we could not get over the sheer good looks of the board. The combination of black PCB with blue and white slots and connections should make the motherboard a coveted component as many consumers are looking for a nice blacked out motherboard to go along with their new black interior laced case.


Specifications

CPU - Intel® Socket 1366 Core™ i7 Processor Extreme Edition / Core™ i7 Processor Supports Intel® Dynamic Speed Technology
- System Bus up to 6400 MT/s; Intel® QuickPath Interconnect
- Advanced V8 Power Phase Design
- Supports Hyper-Threading Technology
- Supports Untied Overclocking Technology
- Supports EM64T CPU
Chipset - Northbridge: Intel® X58
- Southbridge: Intel® ICH10R
Memory - Triple Channel DDR3 memory technology
- 6 x DDR3 DIMM slots
- Supports DDR3 2000(OC)/1866(OC)/1600(OC)/1333(OC)/1066 ECC, un-buffered memory
- Supports DDR3 ECC, un-buffered memory with Intel® Workstation 1S Xeon® processors 3500 series
- Max. capacity of system memory: 24GB*
- Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)**

*Due to the operating system limitation, the actual memory size may be less than 4GB for the reservation for system usage under Windows® 32-bit OS. For Windows® 64-bit OS with 64-bit CPU, there is no such limitation.

**Due to Intel® CPU spec definition, XMP DIMMs and DDR3 2000/1866/1600 are supported for one DIMM per channel only.

BIOS - 8Mb AMI Legal BIOS
- Supports "Plug and Play"
- ACPI 1.1 Compliance Wake Up Events
- Supports jumperfree
- SMBIOS 2.3.1 Support
- CPU, VCCM, IOH, ICH, VTT, IOH/ICH PCIE, CPU PLL, IOH CSI, VCORE Voltage Multi-adjustment
- Supports I. O. T. (Intelligent Overclocking Technology)
 Audio, Video and Networking
Graphics - n/a
Audio - 7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection
- DAC with 110dB dynamic range (VIA® VT2020 Audio Codec)
- Premium Blu-ray audio support
LAN - PCIE x1 Gigabit LAN 10/100/1000 Mb/s
- Realtek RTL8111DL
- Supports Wake-On-LAN
 Expansion / Connectivity
Slots - 2 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots (blue @ x16 mode)
- 1 x PCI Express x16 slot (white @ x4 mode) (Double-wide slot spacing between each PCI-E slot)
- 1 x PCI Express x1 slot
- 2 x PCI slots
- Supports ATI™ CrossFireX™ and Quad CrossFireX™
- Supports NVIDIA® SLI™ and Quad SLI™
Connector - 2 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors by Marvell SE9128, support hardware RAID (RAID 0 and RAID 1), NCQ, AHCI and "Hot Plug" functions (SATA3_2 connector is shared with eSATA3 port)
- 2 x USB 3.0 ports by NEC MPD720200, support USB 1.0/2.0/3.0 up to 5Gb/s
- 6 x SATAII 3.0 Gb/s connectors, support RAID (RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 10, RAID 5 and Intel® Matrix Storage), NCQ, AHCI and Hot Plug functions
- 2 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors
- 1 x ATA133 IDE connector (supports 2 x IDE devices)
- 1 x Floppy connector
- 1 x IR header
- 1 x COM port header
- 1 x HDMI_SPDIF header
- 1 x IEEE 1394 header
- 1 x TPM header
- 1 x Chassis Intrusion header
- 1 x Power LED header
- CPU/Chassis/NB/Power FAN connector
- 24 pin ATX power connector
- 8 pin 12V power connector
- CD in header
- Front panel audio connector
- 2 x USB 2.0 headers (support 4 USB 2.0 ports)
- 1 x Dr. Debug (7-Segment Debug LED)
Rear Panel I/O I/O Panel
- 1 x PS/2 Mouse Port
- 1 x PS/2 Keyboard Port
- 1 x Coaxial SPDIF Out Port
- 1 x Optical SPDIF Out Port
- 5 x Ready-to-Use USB 2.0 Ports
- 1 x Powered eSATAIII/USB 2.0 Connector
- 2 x Ready-to-Use USB 3.0 Ports
- 1 x RJ-45 LAN Port with LED (ACT/LINK LED and SPEED LED)
- 1 x IEEE 1394 Port
- 1 x Clear CMOS Switch with LED
- HD Audio Jack: Side Speaker / Rear Speaker / Central / Bass / Line in / Front Speaker / Microphone
 Other Features / Miscellaneous
Unique Feature - ASRock OC Tuner
- Intelligent Energy Saver
- Instant Boot
- ASRock Instant Flash
- ASRock OC DNA
- Hybrid Booster:
- CPU Frequency Stepless Control
- ASRock U-COP
- Boot Failure Guard (B.F.G.)
- Combo Cooler Option (C.C.O.)
- Good Night LED
Smart Switch - 1 x Power Switch with LED
- 1 x Reset Switch with LED
- 1 x Clear CMOS Switch with LED
Support CD - Drivers, Utilities, AntiVirus Software (Trial Version), ASRock Software Suite (CyberLink DVD Suite - OEM and Trial; Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi MB - Trial)
Accessories - 1 x ASRock SLI_Bridge_2S Card
- Quick Installation Guide, Support CD, I/O Shield
- Floppy/ATA 133 Cables
- 4 x SATA Data Cables (optional)
- 2 x SATA 1 to 1 Power Cables (optional)
Hardware Monitor - CPU Temperature Sensing
- Chassis Temperature Sensing
- CPU/Chassis/NB/Power Fan Tachometer
- CPU Quiet Fan
- CPU/Chassis Fan Multi-Speed Control
- CASE OPEN detection
- Voltage Monitoring: +12V, +5V, +3.3V, CPU Vcore
Form Factor - ATX Form Factor: 12.0-in x 9.6-in, 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm
- All Solid Capacitor design (100% Japan-made high-quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors)
OS - Microsoft® Windows® 7 / 7 64-bit / Vista™ / Vista™ 64-bit / XP / XP 64-bit compliant
Certifications - FCC, CE, WHQL
- ErP/EuP Ready (ErP/EuP ready power supply is required)

Features

  • Supports the Core i7 980X 6-Core CPU
  • ASRock DuraCap (2.5 x longer life time), 100% Japan-made high-quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors
  • Advanced V8 Power Phase Design
  • Supports Triple Channel DDR3 2000 (OC)
  • Supports ATI™ CrossFireX™ and Quad CrossFireX™
  • Supports NVIDIA® Quad SLI™ and SLI™
  • 1 x Powered eSATAIII/USB Connector, 2 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connector, 2 x USB 3.0 Ports
  • ErP/EuP Ready, Dr. Debug
  • Smart Swith Design : Power / Reset / Clear CMOS Switch with LED
  • Supports ASRock Instant Boot, Instant Flash, OC DNA, Multi-Speed Fan Control, OC Tuner, IES, Good Night LED
  • 7.1 CH HD Audio (VT2020 Audio Codec with QSound), SRN 110dB & Premium Blu-ray audio support
  • Combo Cooler Option (C.C.O.)

Intel X58 specifications

Intel® QuickPath Interconnect (Intel® QPI) at 6.4 and 4.8 GT/s Intel’s latest system interconnect design increases bandwidth and lowers latency. Supports the Intel® Core™ i7-965 processor Extreme Edition, Intel® Core™ i7-940 processors and Intel® Core™ i7-920 processors.
PCI Express* 2.0 interface PCI Express 2.0 delivers up to 16GB/s bandwidth per port, double that of PCIe* 1.0. It provides leading-edge graphics performance and flexibility with support for dual x16 up to quad x8 graphic card configurations or any combinations in between.
Intel® High Definition Audio◊1 Integrated audio support enables premium digital sound and delivers advanced features such as multiple audio streams and jack re-tasking.
Intel® Matrix Storage technology◊2 With additional hard drives added, provides quicker access to digital photo, video and data files with RAID 0, 5, and 10, and greater data protection against a hard disk drive failure with RAID 1, 5, and 10. Support for external SATA (eSATA) enables the full SATA interface speed outside the chassis, up to 3 Gb/s.
Intel® Rapid Recover technology Intel's latest data protection technology provides a recovery point that can be used to quickly recover a system should a hard drive fail or if there is massive data corruption. The clone can also be mounted as a read-only volume to allow a user to recover individual files.
Intel® Turbo Memory◊3 Intel's innovative NAND cache designed to improve the responsiveness of applications, application load times, and system boot performance. Intel® Turbo Memory, paired with the Intel® X58 Express Chipset, also allows the user to easily control the applications or data in the cache using the new Intel® Turbo Memory Dashboard interface, boosting performance further.
Serial ATA (SATA) 3 Gb/s High-speed storage interface supports faster transfer rate for improved data access up to six SATA ports.
eSATA SATA interface designed for use with external SATA devices. It provides a link for 3 Gb/s data speeds to eliminate bottlenecks found with current external storage solutions.
SATA port disable Enables individual SATA ports to be enabled or disabled as needed. This feature provides added protection of data by preventing malicious removal or insertion of data through SATA ports. Especially targeted for eSATA ports.
USB port disable Enables individual USB ports to be enabled or disabled as needed. This feature provides added protection of data by preventing malicious removal or insertion of data through USB ports.

Closer look at the X58 Extreme3

We have covered the advantages of the Intel X58 chipset a few times in reviews for various motherboards, so we will not bore you with what we have already talked about before. We will tell you about what is new now and what makes this board a better choose than older motherboards out there. First of all, if you are one of the fortunate one that is able to fork out a $1000 you will be happy to know this motherboard supports the new Core i7 980X out of the box. No need for a secondary CPU; just to flash the BIOS in order to get it current for the latest and greatest.

Beside CPU support the new X58 Extreme3 offers the latest in USB 3.0 and SATA 3.0 support. We are seeing these features being the most wanted for those looking for a new board to build their new rig. The first thing Asrock advertises about the new board is that it will run your PCIe 16x, new USB and SATA at full speed. This is a must, if you want all that is coming to you in a motherboard today.

Before we get in to the layout of the motherboard, I would like to briefly look at a new application/feature from Asrock. The feature is called OC DNA. This is a clever way of sharing your stable overclock with your friends. I am sure there are times when you wanted to see just what BIOS settings others were using to get the overclock. Well with OC DNA all you simply have to do is open up the application, save your overclock settings. You than can send the profile created by the app to your friend. All he has to do is load the profile on their machine. All is fine. We have to show you nothing in the BIOS changed as the selected overclocking was done via a Windows-based app.

This is Asrock's second go-around with the X58 series. The first was a pretty colorful motherboard which had good performance numbers, but lacked visual appeal. This is not the case with the new Extreme 3 version. The Extreme 3 decor is dressed in white and blue on a black CG background. The change in colors make the motherboard more appealing to the masses. This is an area where we have seen Asrock progress in over the years. Definitely a far cry from the teal PCB from the early days.

Besides the colors of the slots and ports of the motherboard, another feature is active-cooled heat sinks. The area cooled is the CPU power regulators. Producing more heat than the North Bridge, the mosfets are supplied cool air by a small 40mm fan over top a suit of aluminum fins. Heat pipes mates the larger heat sink to the sink cooling the North Bridge.

The rest of the area surrounding the CPU socket is pretty empty. The bad news is, because of the height of the active-cooling heat sink, you are limited to the CPU air-coolers you can use. We tried using the new Thermaltake Frio and Cogage Arrow to no avail. Each of the cooler's second fan came in contact with the mosfet cooler. A lower profile cooler would have been a better solution.

Triple channel memory is a given on the X58 chipset, so here is why we have six DIMM slots. Totaling a max of 24 gigs of DDR3 2000MHz overclocked. One small aspect of the board I like was the front panel connectors are right beside the DIMM slots near the edge of the board. I am a fan of this as it eliminate the cluster created nearing a complete build.

The Extreme3 support multiple level of GPU configurations including dual, triple and quad Crossfire and SLI setups. With the right amount of spacing between the three PCIe 16x slots applying a multiple GPU setup is painless. Our only knock against the arrangement of PCIe slots is if you are in need of just one 1x PCIe slots you would be out of luck as a dual slot GPU would block the only one present on this board. A switch between the top 1x PCIe and the standard PCI would be nice. Note: When using all full length PCIe slots bandwidth remains 16x/16x/4x.

When it comes to storage connections the Extreme3 has a total of eight SATA connections. The first six as located at the lower corner of the board and are colored blue. These are regulated by the Intel Matrix and support Raids 0, 1, 10 and 5. And rated for SATA II compliance. One reason why the Extreme3 is labeled as so is because of SATA III support and this is provided via the two white SATA ports near the North Bridge. And supports Raid 0 and 1 and are control via the Marvel SE9128 controller.

Asrock labeled their on-board switches Smart Switches. Which simply are power, reset and CMOS buttons. The first two are located at the bottom of the motherboard while the latter is located in the rear I/O area. This is the best place for such a button. While in a case, you would not want to have remove the side panel every time to clear the CMOS. A LED display is also implement for post issues.

The last two reasons for the Extreme3 name is due to eSATA III and USB 3.0 implementation to the board. There is one powered eSATA port on the rear that is shared with the Marvel ones near the North Bridge. Because the controller only supports two ports only a combination of these can be used. The USB 3.0 ports are the ones in blue. HD audio, five more USB 2.0 and digital audio ports are present.


BIOS of the X58 Extreme3

System Overview. Here where you get a look at the overall aspects of the system. A small bug is present here as it reports only two of the six DIMM slots being used and reports triple channel mode. When indeed we population three of the six slots.

All overclocking is done within the OC Tweaker tab.

DIMM settings

Voltage settings.

Three user profiles.

Hardware monitor.


Testing Begins

Testing Hardware:

Motherboard: Asrock X58 Extreme3 Processor: Intel Core i7 920
Ram: OCZ DDR3 PC12800 4GB Dual-Channel
Video Card: XFX HD 4770
HDD: Seagate 7200.11
Power: Thermaltake Tough Power XT 1000 (Donated by Thermaltake for our test bench)
Case: Open Air
Cooling: Thermaltake Silent 1156
OS: Windows 7 64-bit

Competing Systems:

Motherboard: Asrock H55M Pro
Processor: Intel Core i3 540 @ 4GHz
Ram: OCZ DDR3 PC12800 4GB Dual-Channel (8-8-8-24)
Video Card: XFX HD 4770
HDD: Seagate 7200.11
Power: Thermaltake Tough Power XT 1000 (Donated by Thermaltake for our test bench)
Case: Open Air
Cooling: Thermaltake Silent 1156
OS: Windows 7 RC

Motherboard: Gigabyte P55A-UD6/ASUS P7P55D-E Deluxe
Processor: Intel Core i5 750
Ram: OCZ DDR3 PC12800 4GB Dual-Channel (8-8-8-24)
Video Card: Sapphire HD 5750 Video Card
HDD: Seagate 7200.11
Power: Thermaltake Tough Power XT 1000 (Donated by Thermaltake for our test bench)
Case: Open Air
Cooling: Thermaltake Silent 1156
OS: Windows 7 64-bit


Futuremark PCMark Vantage
3DMark Vantage is a PC benchmark suite designed to test the DirectX10 performance of your graphics card. We’ve been making 3DMark for over 10 years, with each new edition using the latest 3D technology to determine real-world performance.

Futuremark 3DVantage
3DMark Vantage is a PC benchmark suite designed to test the DirectX10 performance of your graphics card. We’ve been making 3DMark for over 10 years, with each new edition using the latest 3D technology to determine real-world performance.

A 3DMark score is an overall measure of your system’s 3D gaming capabilities, based on comprehensive real-time 3D graphics and processor tests. By comparing your score with those submitted by millions of other gamers you can see how your gaming rig performs, making it easier to choose the most effective upgrades or finding other ways to optimize your system.

3DMark is widely used by the PC industry, press and media as well as individual users and gamers, for comparing performance levels between whole systems or even specific components


SiSoftware Sandra Lite 2007 SP1
SiSoftware has announced the availability of Service Release 2 (SR2) for SiSoftware Sandra 2005, the latest version of its award-winning utility. The focus of this service release has been improved support, compatibility and reliability rather than new features. We have been working closely with more hardware vendors than before to be able to bring greater direct support of an increased market share of commodity and server technologies.

Lavalys Everest
Lavalys EVEREST Home Edition is freeware system information, system diagnostics and benchmarking solution for home PC users, based on the award-winning EVEREST Technology. It offers the world's most accurate system information and diagnostics capabilities, including online features, memory benchmarks, hardware monitoring, and low-level hardware information. EVEREST Home Edition is uniquely available for home users without any charges, based on the freeware license.


Maxon Cinebench
CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performance capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

Super PI Modded 1.5
In August 1995, the calculation of pi up to 4,294,960,000 decimal digits was succeeded by using a supercomputer at the University of Tokyo. The program was written by D.Takahashi in collaboration with Dr. Y.Kanada at the computer center. This record should be the current world record. (Details are shown in the windows help.) This record-breaking program was ported to personal computer environment such as Windows NT and Windows 95. In order to calculate 33.55 million digits, it takes within 3 days with a Pentium 90 MHz, 40 MB main memory and 340 MB available storage.


S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat
The events of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat unfold shortly after the end of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. Having discovered about the open path to the Zone center, the government decides to hold a large-scale military "Fairway" operation aimed to take the CNPP under control.

According to the operation's plan, the first military group is to conduct an air scouting of the territory to map out the detailed layouts of anomalous fields location. Thereafter, making use of the maps, the main military forces are to be dispatched.

Despite thorough preparations, the operation fails. Most of the avant-garde helicopters crash. In order to collect information on reasons behind the operation failure, Ukraine's Security Service send their agent into the Zone center.
From now on everything depends on the player.

Tech ARP x264 HD 3.15
Simply put, it is a reproducible measure of fast your machine can encode a short HD-quality video clip into a high quality x264 video file. It's nice because everyone running it will use the same video clip and software. The video encoder (x264.exe) reports a fairly accurate internal benchmark (in frames per second) for each pass of the video encode and it also uses multi-core processors very efficiently. All these factors make this an ideal benchmark to compare different processors and systems to each other.

HD Tune

HD Tune is a hard disk utility with many functions. It can be used to measure the drive's performance, scan for errors, check the health status (S.M.A.R.T.), securely erase all data and much more.


Overclocking the Asrock X58 Extreme3 and the Intel Core i7 920

The Extreme3 gives you a few ways to overclock your Core i7 processor. The first is a windows-based application called OC Tuner. This application gives you control of the CPU, DRAM, VTT, NB, PCI and SB voltages, frequencies and ratio. This is application is not linked to an embedded IC controller like we have seen on the ASUS P7P we reviewed last week. But nevertheless a good start for beginners and modest overclockers. One feature we did use was the EZ OC option in the BIOS. Simply select the CPU frequency you like the BIOS will select the proper voltages and other settings and then reboot. If all components are capable you have instant performance at the tip of your fingers. If this is not the case plan on using that clear CMOS button on the back. Using this feature we netter a stable 4GHz overclock without really going anything.

Relying on the good old BIOS way of overclocking we were able to get a very stable 4.2GHz from our i7 920 processor. This was done simply increasing the CPU voltage to 1.3 volts, turning off some other CPU features like VT and rising the BLK to 211.


Conclusion

The Asrock Extreme3 is a very solid motherboard with a solid price. For about $200, you can have a feature-rich motherboard with all the bells and whistles: good overclocking, USB 3.0 and SATA III. In this case, you really can't argue the fact that you get what you pay for. This motherboard has all the options of one that would cost well over $300 more.

The layout of the motherboard is visually stunning. The blue and white slots and connectors flow very well with the black PCB. Everything is nicely placed on the board. This includes fair distance between the two main 16c PCIe slots to the right angle SATA ports to the placement of the front panel pin-outs. This is another area in which Asrock as greatly improved. I remember the days when the aux power connector was placed right in the middle of the motherboard.

My only gripe against the Extreme3 is one of the unique of it. The active cooling on the power regulators is a great idea. And it comes in handy when cooling is an important as it is these days. But Asrock made the cooling system too tall making it problematic when trying to use some of the larger coolers like the Cogage Arrow and Thermaltake Frio.

Overclocking the Extreme3 is not the hardest thing I have ever done. Asrock makes it a point to make things user-friendly and the BIOS of this board is just that. We were able to eclipse 4.2GHz on good cooling and minor BIOS adjustments. I am sure with more time dedicated to the board we could have gotten more. If you are not into BIOS overclocking Asrock does have the OC Tuner which is Windows based. Or you can simple use the EZ OC function in the BIOS.

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