Asrock Z87 Extreme3 Review

Asrock Z87 Extreme3 Cheap and slightly shonky, but quirky and intriguing mobos. That used to be Asrock’s place in the world. These days, however, the manufacturer has gone a bit mainstream.

Asrock Z87 Extreme3 Review

On the upside, that means a range of more straightforward models, including some high-end clobber. That said, old affinities die hard, and we’re a little bit more comfortable with the prospect of this bargain basement board with an Asrock badge than one of its closest competitors, such as the rather disappointing entry from Gigabyte, the lacklustre Z87-D3HP.

Physically, they’re two peas in a pod. Both are based on very thin PCBs, with a sludgy colour and flimsy feel that give the unsavoury impression of being mashed up from recycled games cartridges from the 80s, or pressed peanut sweepings from the factory floor. Okay, the latter’s a bit of an exag geration, but you get the idea. Think cheap. Think commodity electronics banged out in big numbers in dingy factories.

Anyway, at this end of the market, you’d expect to miss out on a few frills, and that’s certainly the case here. LED debug display, on-board power and rest switches, fancy dual-BIOS tog gles, V-check points. No, no, no, and no. Which, for the most part, is fine by us. Kit like that is nice to have, but ultimately isn’t critical for extracting the best performance out of your card.

That said, there are a few so-called convenience features missing from the spec that might nig gle some depending on your specific preferences. There’s no DisplayPort for the integrated graphics output, for instance, and the back panel is limited to just four USB 3.0 ports. That’s pretty mean, but shaving off pennies in production costs is what it’s all about at this price.

However, it’s not all bad news. One feature you might not expect to find is support for Nvidia’s SLI multi-GPU tech. You don’t get it with the Gigabyte Z87-D3HP, but you do with this Asrock. Again, that sounds like a proposition that’s frill-free but presents no barriers to max performance. Is that really the case?

Kind of. In our stock-clocked benchmarks the Asrock doesn’t exactly blow away all comers, but it knocks out in excess of eight points in Cinebench and beats about half the boards here in x264 HD video encoding. If there’s a snag , it’s gaming performance, but even here we’re only talking about a single frame per second behind most other boards. In other words, you won’t know the difference.

As for overclocking , it’s good news. The auto-overclocking feature is a bit of a busted flush because it boots at very high speeds but downclocks under load, but force the multiplier settings and your reward will be an impressive overclock.

For the record, we squeezed a solid 4.7GHz and over 10 points in Cinebench out of a 4770K. That annihilates the Gigabyte Z87-D3HP. It’s as good as anything else on test this month, including the monster £350 MSI Z87 Xpower. Oh, and gives it a slight edge over the board that’s actually the closest rival, MSI’s Z87-GD43.

Asrock Z87 Extreme3 Specifications

  • A-Style : Home Cloud
  • Supports 4th Gen Intel® Core™ i7 / i5 / i3 / Xeon® / Pentium® / Celeron® in LGA1150 Package
  • Premium Gold Capacitor Design, Digi Power, 8 Power Phase Design
  • Supports Dual Channel DDR3 2933+(OC)
  • 2 x PCIe 3.0 x16, 1 x PCIe 2.0 x1
  • Supports AMD Quad CrossFireX™, CrossFireX
  • Supports NVIDIA® Quad SLI™ and SLI™
  • Multi VGA Output Options : DVI-D, D-Sub, HDMI
  • Intel® Gigabit LAN
  • 7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection (Realtek ALC892 Audio Codec)
  • 6 x SATA3, 6 x USB 3.0, 6 x USB 2.0
  • Supports A-Tuning, XFast 555, Easy Driver Installer, FAN-Tastic Tuning, USB Key