Often, I find myself just looking over a product for minutes on end before even looking over the documentation. I mean, who wants to look at that stuff? Anyway, while sitting here looking over a rather sharp motherboard, the word ASRock seemingly jumped out at me. It's nice to occasionally be surprised when opening a product box. Let's take a look at the ASRock X58 Extreme 3 motherboard and you'll understand the happy confusion.
Features and Specifications
What separates the Extreme 3 from any other X58 in the ASRock arsenal are the updates. This platform does away with all the add-on USB 3.0 and SATA3 expansion cards. Instead, all the latest expansion features are integrated so you don't have to worry about slot space.
The Extreme 3 also supports DDR3 2000MHz memory, overclocked of course. To support this the board also gets a number of component upgrades like DuraCap high quality solid state capacitors, and ASRock's V8 Power Phase design. Given the CPU Bus Clock needed to support 2000MHz triple channel memory, these boards need to have top notch components supporting it.
ASRock went with a VIA VT2020 7.1 channel HD codec for integrated audio. Typically, these codecs offer more than enough for those looking to save some money depending on driver support. Given that the board fully supports Blu-ray, we'll be the judge of that later on in audio testing.
OC DNA and OC Tuner software make a return giving enthusiasts what they want: Overclocking! The software has been updated since we last handled a performance ASRock motherboard, so we're hoping for a good experience. And, if something should go wrong, Instant Flash can patch or update the BIOS quickly.
What's In The Box?
The Xtreme 3 package contains the minimal amount of extras for getting the system up and running. Along with the documentation, manual, and reference guide, you'll find the software disc with the drivers and utilities. Included on the disc are OC DNA and OC Tuner for getting your OC on.
ASRock also includes four yellow SATA cables, blue flat floppy cable, blue flat ATA cable, SLI/Crossfire bridge, two 4-pin to SATA power cable adapters, and of course a color IO case shield. This should be more than enough cables for the average system. We're looking forward to the day all the legacy floppy and hard drive devices are removed from the boxes.
Here, we have the ASRock X58 Extreme 3in all its organized glory. Do you see any bright red, orange, or gold heat sinks? Pardon my bluntness, but the X58 Extreme 3 is an organized work of art compared to some of the others in the ASRock family. Everyone loves a motherboard with a decent color scheme. This time around, designers went with a white and blue on dark PCB for the theme. The gun metal silver Northbridge and PWM heat sinks further compliment the theme.
Looking over the layout, there really isn't much out of place other than the white SATA3 ports just above the first PCI Express slot and the white front panel (case) wire header which is next to the memory slots. While the header might not be of concern, we're curious why the SATA3 weren't just added to the other 90 degree SATA ports. At least both are accessible. Also, it's unfortunately not uncommon to see vendors still throwing in some legacy floppy and IDE ports. As far as we're concerned, X58 (and P55A/H55) are light years past the IDE era that it doesn't make much sense to continue to support them.