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Asrock 890GX Extreme3 Socket AM3 Motherboard

Now that AMD has removed the ACC feature from the CPU that many companies have relied on to unlock the extra cores on these processors, it is up to the motherboard manufacturers to use their brains to come up with a way for consumers to get the ‘free CPU upgrade’. Asrock’s way of doing this is called UCC. This is a simple BIOS option, implemented into the board. The UCC allows the unlock of extra cores when the processor is capable.

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asrock 890gx extreme3

Now that AMD has removed the ACC feature from the CPU that many companies have relied on to unlock the extra cores on these processors, it is up to the motherboard manufacturers to use their brains to come up with a way for consumers to get the ‘free CPU upgrade’. Asrock’s way of doing this is called UCC. This is a simple BIOS option, implemented into the board. The UCC allows the unlock of extra cores when the processor is capable.

Introduction to the Asrock 890GX Extreme3

The Asrock 890GX Extreme 3 has been a motherboard many people have been looking forward to seeing for some time now. There are a few reasons why this is. Many will say it’s because of the new AMD 890GX chipset. Some will say it is one of the first 890GX chipset motherboards set to the standard ATX size. Yet, the biggest reason is the fact this is the first motherboard backed by the 890GX that supports the unlocking of cores on dual and triple core processors.

Now that AMD has removed the ACC feature from the CPU that many companies have relied on to unlock the extra cores on these processors, it is up to the motherboard manufacturers to use their brains to come up with a way for consumers to get the ‘free CPU upgrade’. Asrock’s way of doing this is called UCC. This is a simple BIOS option, implemented into the board. The UCC allows the unlock of extra cores when the processor is capable.

Specifications

CPU– Support for Socket AM3 processors: AMD Phenom™ II X4 / X3 / X2 (except 920 / 940) / Athlon II X4 / X3 / X2 / Sempron processors
– Six-Core CPU Ready
– Supports UCC feature (Unlock CPU Core)
– Advanced V8 + 2 Power Phase Design
– Supports CPU up to 140W
– Supports AMD’s Cool ‘n’ Quiet Technology
– FSB 2600 MHz (5.2 GT/s)
– Supports Untied Overclocking Technology
– Supports Hyper-Transport 3.0 (HT 3.0) Technology
Chipset– Northbridge: AMD 890GX
– Southbridge: AMD SB850
Memory– Dual Channel DDR3 memory technology
– 4 x DDR3 DIMM slots
– Supports DDR3 1800(OC)/1600(OC)/1333/1066/800 non-ECC, un-buffered memory
– Max. capacity of system memory: 16GB*

*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.
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, NB, SB Voltage Multi-adjustment
 Audio, Video and Networking
Graphics– Integrated AMD Radeon HD 4290 graphics
– DX10.1 class iGPU, Shader Model 4.1
– Max. shared memory 512MB
– Built-in 128MB DDR3 1333/1200MHz SidePort Memory
– Three VGA Output options: D-Sub, DVI-D and HDMI
– Supports HDMI Technology with max. resolution up to 1920×1200 (1080P)
– Supports Dual-link DVI with max. resolution up to 2560×1600 @ 75Hz
– Supports D-Sub with max. resolution up to 2048×1536 @ 85Hz
– Supports HDCP function with DVI and HDMI ports
– Supports Full HD 1080p Blu-ray (BD) / HD-DVD playback with DVI and HDMI ports
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 RTL8111E
– Supports Wake-On-LAN
– Supports LAN Cable Detection
 Expansion / Connectivity
Slots– 3 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots (blue: single at x16 or dual at x8/x8 mode; white: x4 mode)
– 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 slot
– 3 x PCI slots
– Supports ATI™ Quad CrossFireX™, 3-Way CrossFireX™, CrossFireX™ and Hybrid CrossFireX™
Connector– 2 x USB 3.0 ports by NEC MPD720200, support USB 1.0/2.0/3.0 up to 5Gb/s
– 6 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors, support RAID (RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 0+1 and RAID 5), NCQ, AHCI and “Hot Plug” functions
– 1 x eSATA3 6.0 Gb/s connector through the bundled eSATA3 bracket, supports NCQ, AHCI and “Hot Plug” functions
– 6 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors
– 1 x IR header
– 1 x COM port header
– 1 x IEEE 1394 header
– 1 x HDMI_SPDIF header
– 1 x Power LED header
– CPU/Chassis/Power FAN connector
– 24 pin ATX power connector
– 8 pin 12V power connector
– Front panel audio connector
– 4 x USB 2.0 headers (support 8 USB 2.0 ports)
– 1 x Dr. Debug (7-Segment Debug LED)
Rear Panel I/OI/O Panel
– 1 x PS/2 Keyboard Port
– 1 x VGA/D-Sub Port
– 1 x VGA/DVI-D Port
– 1 x HDMI Port
– 1 x Optical SPDIF Out Port
– 4 x Ready-to-Use USB 2.0 Ports
– 1 x eSATA2 Connector
– 1 x eSATA3 Connector through the Bundled eSATA3 Bracket
– 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: 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.)
– Turbo 25 / Turbo 30 GPU Overclocking
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), AMD OverDrive™ Utility, AMD Live! Explorer, AMD Fusion, ASRock Software Suite (CyberLink DVD Suite – OEM and Trial; Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi MB – Trial)
Accessories– Quick Installation Guide, Support CD, I/O Shield
– 4 x SATA Data Cables (optional)
– 1 x SATA 1 to 1 Power Cable (optional)
– 1 x eSATA3 bracket (optional)
Hardware Monitor– CPU Temperature Sensing
– Chassis Temperature Sensing
– CPU/Chassis/Power Fan Tachometer
– CPU Quiet Fan
– CPU/Chassis Fan Multi-Speed Control
– Voltage Monitoring: +12V, +5V, +3.3V, 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 Media Center / XP 64-bit compliant
Certifications– FCC, CE, WHQL
– ErP/EuP Ready (ErP/EuP ready power supply is required)
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Features

  • Phenom II X6 6-Core CPU Ready
  • Supports Exclusive ASRock UCC Chip – Unlock CPU Core feature
  • ASRock DuraCap (2.5 x longer life time), 100% Japan-made high-quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors
  • Advanced V8 + 2 Power Phase Design
  • Supports CPU up to 140W
  • Supports Dual Channel DDR3 1800(OC)
  • Integrated AMD Radeon HD 4290 graphics, DX10.1 Class iGPU, Shader Model 4.1, Max. shared memory 512MB
  • Built-in 128MB DDR3 1333/1200MHz SidePort Memory
  • Supports ATI™ Quad CrossFireX™, 3-Way CrossFireX™, CrossFireX™ and Hybrid CrossFireX™
  • Multi VGA Output options: D-Sub, DVI-D and HDMI
  • 1 x eSATA3 Connector, 6 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors, 2 x USB 3.0 ports, 2 x IEEE1394 ports
  • Smart Swith Design : 1 x Power Switch with LED, 1 x Reset Switch with LED, 1 x Clear CMOS Switch with LED
  • Dr. Debug (7-Segment Debug LED)
  • Supports ASRock Instant Boot, Instant Flash, OC DNA, OC Tuner, IES, Multi-Speed Fan Control
  • 7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection, DAC with 110dB dynamic range (VIA® VT2020 Audio Codec with QSound) , Premium Blu-ray audio support.
  • ErP/EuP Ready

AMD 890FX Chipset features

The AMD 890GX Chipset with ATI Radeon™ HD 4290 Graphics enables an exceptionally power-efficient platform at an incredible value.  Bringing features and performance that enrich what you see and do, including next generation gaming and a superior HD video experience1, the ATI Radeon™ HD 4290 Graphics with AMD 890GX Chipset transforms your PC into a digital media powerhouse.

  • Versatility
    • Redefine the Way You Play
      Enjoy awesome gaming performance for the mainstream PC with stunning visual effects and dynamic interactivity with Microsoft® DirectX® 10.1 and support for high-end discrete ATI Radeon™ HD graphics
    • Accelerate Your Digital Life
      ATI Stream technology enables AMD graphics processors, working in concert with AMD Processors, to accelerate many applications beyond just graphics. This enables superior balanced platforms capable of running demanding computing tasks fast.
    • Designed for Microsoft® Windows® 7
      Get a smooth and amazingly visual PC experience for Microsoft® Windows® 7, with support for features such as “Aero Shake”, “Aero Glass”, “Transparent Windows” and more!5
  • Visual Experience
    • Get the Ultimate HD Experience1
      Let your desktop PC be the center of your entertainment lifestyle with full 1080p HD playback. Get dual-stream PiP (Picture in Picture) on Blu-ray™ 1.1 playback with multi-monitor capability and support for DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort outputs.1, 2, 3, 4
    • Enhanced DVD Upscaling1
      Watch standard DVD movies in near high-definition quality with DVD upscaling. The GPU uses post processing algorithms to enhance standard and low resolution videos and movies on your HD display.1
    • HDMI
      Enjoy the latest audio technologies using HDMI v1.3 which includes xvYCC support to enable a wider range of color when connected to a capable HDTV.4
  • Connectivity
    • Connect and Transfer
      Take advantage of advanced technology to accelerate your connectivity with SATA 6Gbps, Gigabit Ethernet, HyperTransport™ 3.0 technology, and PCI Express® Generation 2.0.
GraphicsATI Radeon™ HD 4290
DirectX 10.1
Up to 2 slots for Graphics Upgrade
CPU CompatibilityAMD Athlon™, AMD Athlon™ II, AMD Phenom™, AMD Phenom™ II
Memory SupportAM2+ socket motherboards support DDR2
AM3 socket motherboards support DDR3
PCI Express®PCI Express® 2.0
USBUp to 14 USB 2.0
SATASupports SATA 6Gb/s devices* (when paired with a SB850)

AMD 8xx Series Feature Comparsion

Feature Name870880G890GX890FX
PCI Express® Generation 2.01×161×161×16
Or
2×8
2×16
Or
4×8
ATI CrossFireX™ TechnologyYesYes
Microsoft® DirectX® 10.1YesYes
Unified Video Decoder(UVD)2YesYes
ATI Stream TechnologyYesYes
ATI PowerplayYesYes
Gigabit EthernetYesYesYesYes
SATA 6Gb/sYesAvailableYesYes

Closer look at the 890GX Extreme3

What we have here today is the growth of a good company. Asrock for so long has been known as a company who produced great budget motherboards that overclocked okay by today’s standards. Often their color schemes left a little to be desired. These characteristics are not at all bad as a greater number of people are looking for more for their dollar. Not everyone is into overclocking and not everyone is a color-matching diva.

To each their own, but there are a lot of people out there who do want these things. A good looking, still decently priced motherboard capable of taking a CPU to the next level should be on everyone’s wishlist. This is what we have with Asrock’s newest generation of motherboards. We first seen it in the X58 Extreme3 motherboard and next in the AMD equivalent the 890GX Extreme3.

The 890GX Extreme3 is based on the latest and greatest AMD 890GX chipset. With this comes the implementation of USB 3.0 and SATA III. Both features are now a reason why so many people are upgrading, even if they have a currently chipset.

The layout of the 890GX Extreme3 is clean, well arranged and looks good. Asrock went with a “today’s” look with minimalist of colors. This board has a nice combination of black, blue and white to draw attention to itself. These are backed by a black PCB background. The overall layout is not much different from their other AMD based motherboards, but the new color presentation makes all the difference.

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We begin with the expansion slots on the motherboard. These consist of three 16x length PCIe slots. This is evidence that triple and quad Crossfire is supported. Limited by the chipset and not Asrock, the PCIe slots are limited to 8x/8x when using Crossfire. If you do decide to use the white slot, 4x is the bandwidth. Between the larger 16x slots are standard PCI slots accounting for three more slots. When you are using a PCIe 1x device a single slot is available at the top of the slots.

You can load the four DIMM with up to four 4GB modules. Standard support for ram is 1333MHz of DDR3, but when overclocking 1800MHz is supported. To distinguish dual channel mode Asrock painted two slots white and two slots blue.

The 890GX Extreme3 has six onboard SATA plugs which has support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 0+1 and RAID 5. Another feature of SATA on this board is SATA III. This means you are able to take advantage of the 600MB transfer. Well, if you lucky. The boost you get is ideal for video streaming. Just below the SATA ports are a few things you would have not seen on older model Asrock, but are commonplace on their higher-end boards:  a LCD display for error indications and power and reset buttons.

Clearance around the CPU socket is plentiful. The only possible obstruction would be from the passive heat sink cooling the mosfets. We tried a few coolers on the board and did not have a single issue. The 890GX Extreme3 use a 8 (+2) phase power regulators to deliver clean and fresh voltage to the CPU. Asrock likes to advertise they use Japanese-made DuraCap for better reliably.

At the backend of the motherboard is the I/O area, which consists of a single PS/2 and three video ports: VGA, DVI and HDMI. The video is powered by an IGPU based on the Radeon HD 4290 and 128MB of SidePort memory. The integrated GPU and even add performance to an add-in card for hybrid Crossfire action. For those overclock sessions that don’t go quite so well there is a clear CMOS button located here as well. There are six USB ports with two of them being of the 3.0 standard. Gigabit LAN and audio ports complete the round-up of connections.

Testing Begins

Testing Hardware:

Motherboard: Asrock 890GX Extreme3
Processor: AMD Phenom II 965 Black
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

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

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 890GX Extreme3 and the AMD Phenom II 965

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We started the overclocking section using the Turbo 30 option. With option enabled you have the selections of a 20% or 30% performance increase. Not having much time to spend with the board we elected to go straight to the 30% option. This netted us an overclock to 4080MHz which is 680MHz more from the Phenom II 965 we were using. The system was rock stable.

There is much talk on the web about the overclocking ability of this board. Talk basically stating how surprise that a board from Asrock can overclock to such levels. Some extreme results can be seen here. Our results were not as extreme as we use simple forms of cooling. But we achieve 4220MHz which was about 80MHz more than what we got on the MSI 890GX-G65 using the same voltage and CPU adjustments.

Conclusion

The 890GX-Extreme3 is another fine from Asrock. Between this and the X58 Extreme3 we reviewed last week are fine example of what Asrock are capable of poutting out to the people. The 890GX Extreme3 offers something that many of 890GX model motherboards do and that is the full ATX size. Many feel they can’t get all they want in a mATX motherboard and the 890GX Extreme3 fools them in a way. It is full sized and still gives you an on-board IGP which is a standard feature of the smaller mainboards.

Another characteristic that allows the 890GX Extreme3 to stand out is the overall layout and color scheme. Asrock has come a long way in the visual aspect of their motherboards. Gone is the teal PCB in come the new classic black. Mixed with the blue and white slots and connectors one should not be afraid place this board in their new build with looking for something to match that black interior of the cage.

Overclocking this board was simple and fast. We wer allow to get an amazing 4220MHz from the AMD Phenom II 965 processor. This was an 800MHz increase over stock. We accomplished this using just a dump in CPU voltage, slight drop in the NB ratio and upping the CPU frequency. An imagine what could be done with more tweaks and new BIOS upgrades.

The 890GX Extreme give you a lot for a little for less than $130 you get a motherboard that offers USB 3.0, eSATA and SATA III. As well as a full size layout and integrated graphics. All these gives you the fastest in storage connectivity. As well as an record breaking motherboard.

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ProClockers was founded in 2004, and since then we have reviewed thousands of tech products, including motherboards, CPUs, graphics cards, PC cases, cooling solutions and more. Whilst many of the original products we reviewed back then have long bit the dust, we continue working hard to provide unbiased PC hardware and tech reviews.

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