ASRock 890GX Extreme3
With the testing wrapped up, it's now time to cut to the chase.
Our results generally suggest that the 890GX Extreme3 is a very good competitor to the previously reviewed M4A89GTD PRO motherboard. From our experience, the product was stable, sported a mature design and had a feature set that would satisfy most. On a number of levels, we consider it to be a very competent motherboard, but there are areas where it falls short.
The achilles heel of the ASRock 890GX is it's overclocking capability. With the latest BIOS, we struggled to break 300MHz HTT and with our particular processor, we couldn't quite reach it's maximum Northbridge Frequency either.
We do appreciate that most popular Phenom II processors are multiplier unlocked Black Editions and as such, this might be a gripe that won't apply to many of you. However, it should be mentioned that many who purchase sub £100 890GX motherboards are more likely to purchase the multiplier locked (but strong value for money) 1055T hex core over the more expensive 1090T Black Edition; this is where Base HTT overclocking capability becomes very important. Theoretically the ASRock could push a strong 1055T to the 4.0GHz ballpark, however it must be said that this isn't particularly reassuring when the equivalently priced M4A89GTD PRO achieved a superier 340MHz Base HTT in our tests. Interestingly, a base clock just short of 300MHz would have been commendable with previous generation 790GX/790FX boards yet today this is our complaint. Food for thought...
Furthermore, we felt that ASRock needs to work on this board's ability to recover from a sour overclock as for most of the part we were required to repeatedly cycle power or clear CMOS before it would successfully POST again. This doesn't even refer to overclocks which are completely unreasonable - all it took was +5/+10MHz over stable limits for an unrecoverable POST.
On the flipside, in some ways the 890GX Extreme3 sports a superior board layout to competitors such as the M4A89GTD PRO. Depending on the expansion slots that you use, you may find yourself with more usable connectors and also the sidemounted SATA ports are a nice touch. Further, the inclusion of a POST ID screen and onboard power/reset switches are features that are only found on more expensive boards. Our stance on the matter is that while many of these added features are great to have, they don't particularly compensate for the weaker overclock.
All in all, excellent work ASRock; this board is painfully close to being a winner, but it's not quite there yet.
- Excellent Feature Set
- Good board layout
- Does not OC as well as similarly priced competition