iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






ASRock 890GM Pro3 Motherboard

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  • CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 810
  • RAM: 2 x 2GB Apacer DDR3-1333 CL9 9-9-9-24-1T for Socket AM3 boards; 2 x 2GB GoodRAM PRO DDR2-1066 CL5 5-5-5-15-2T for Socket AM2+ boards
  • HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (SATA, 7200rpm)
  • Graphics card: ATI Radeon HD 4850, 512 MB GDDR3
  • PSU: AcBel ATX-550CA-AB8FB
  • OS: Windows Vista SP1 64-bit, Catalyst 9.2, latest chipset drivers


  • 7-Zip 4.65 x64
  • WinRAR 3.80
  • XviD 1.2.1
  • x264 r1129 x64
  • FarCry 2 (Ranch Medium)
  • Crysis (DX10, HOCbenchmark, VGA test, built-in demo)
  • Devil May Cry 4 (built-in benchmark)
  • World in Conlict (built-in benchmark)

To assess performance we measure time required to archive a 297MB set of 277 files of various types and convert a 636MB MPEG2 video using XviD and x264. We also measure frames per second in game demos. In FarCry 2 we run tests in 4 modes: low, medium, high and very high quality. The first three modes imply the aforesaid quality level, 1280x720 resolution, DX9 rendering, High Performance. The last mode implies: 1680x1050 resolution, Very High setting for both graphics and system, DX10 rendering. In Crysis we also use 4 modes at 1024x768 and 1280x1024 and run tests at Low and High quality in each mode. In Devil May Cry 4 we run two tests: 1280x720 (High DX9) and 1680x1050 (Super High DX10). In World in Conlict we run test in 4 modes: 1280x720 Low, 1280x720 Medium, 1680x1050 High, 1680x1050 Very High.

It's obvious which modes should be used with integrated graphics and which, with discrete graphics. Note that if a motherboard has no integrated graphics, performance tests are only used to check for serious layout or BIOS flaws and can be reduced to minimum. Vice versa, performance tests are indicative for motherboards with integrated graphics. And if a certain motherboard review lacks certain details, we might add respective test results to make up for it.

To assess capabilities of a motherboard and its BIOS, we overclock test CPUs (which ones depends on board's market segment) to a stable maximum with the help of Zalman CNPS9700 AM2 and Cooler Master Hyper Z600 coolers. At that we use all motherboard features, like CPU core voltage adjustments and, if needed, bus multiplier and clock adjustments (Hyper-Transport, CPU NB, etc.) For RAM we select a clock rate typical for this class of modules by adjusting its multiplier, or clock rate needed to maximize CPU core clock rate. The stability of an overclocked machine is assessed in Windows Vista with the help of AMD OverDrive stability test (all tests are run for 5 minutes). Note that since overclocking potential somewhat varies from one board to another, we are not focused on finding board's exact overclocking potential accurate to 1MHz. We just try to find out if a board hampers in CPU overclocking (due to insufficient voltage stabilizer power, etc.) and see how it performs in atypical modes, including automatic BIOS recovery in cases of overclocking issues (not requiring CMOS reset) and such.

Power consumption is assessed in the light-load mode (with text editor running) and in the heavy-load mode (FarCry 2, high quality, 1280x720). Processor's standard power-saving features are enabled. Also if a board has proprietary power-saving features, we examine their efficiency separately.

BIOS overclocking settings Availability Notes
Memory timings +  
Memory frequency + DDR3-800 to DDR3-1600
HT bus frequency (multiplier) +  
CPU reference frequency + 150 to 500 MHz
CPU multiplier + Cores and CPU NB
Core unlocking + In BIOS
CPU voltage + 0.6000 to 1.7500 V (CPU)
0.6000 to 1.7500 V (CPU NB)
Memory voltage + 1.30 to 2.05 V
Graphics core frequency + 350 to 2000 MHz
Graphics core voltage + 1.09 to 1.58 V
Video buffer frequency+ DDR3-533 to DDR3-1700 MHz
Video buffer voltage + 1.5 to 1.8 V
HT bus voltage + 1.20 to 1.30 V
Southbridge voltage + 1.10 to 1.20 V

The BIOS adjustment ranges of CPU voltage, as well as some other parameters, depend on the given processor. We publish the results of our AMD Phenom II X4 810. We used BIOS 1.6 released on June 30, 2010.

ASRock 890GM Pro3 has a very good set of overclocking settings, especially for a microATX board. Settings are conveniently grouped, too. Traditionally for ASRock motherboards, you can load overclocking presets based on the desired CPU clock rate. Necessary multipliers and voltages will be adjusted at that. There are similar presets for the graphics core, voltage adjustment included. Another available feature lets you dynamically overclock the processor, you simply select a 4% ~ 20% increment to be added to the reference clock rate under the maximum load (otherwise it will remain unchanged). This last feature is coupled with Cool'n'Quiet.

As for loading default parameters after unsuccessful overclocking attempts, a manual hard reset (or rather two resets in a row) remains the most reliable choice. However, you can keep up to 3 user profiles, so you can easily restore the parameters even after using the CMOS jumper.

CPU AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition 2.8 GHz AMD Phenom II X4 810 2.6 GHz
CPU frequency, MHz 3700 3380
CPU reference frequency (multiplier), MHz 200 (x18.5) 260 (x13)
Core/CPU NB voltage (according to BIOS), V 1.48/1.35 1.41/1.30
CPU NB frequency (multiplier), MHz 2600 (x13) 2340 (x9)
HT bus frequency (multiplier), MHz 2000 (x10) 2080 (x8)
Memory frequency DDR3-1333 DDR3-1040
Notes Increase core and CPU NB multipliers Increase reference frequency, reduce CPU NB and HT bus multipliers

Overclocking a regular CPU yielded mediocre results, while an unlocked processor was overclocked nicely for a motherboard of this class. Or even better, considering that we got the same result with the MSI 890GXM-G65 that had better power circuitry and cooling.

Performance and efficiency

We compared ASRock 890GM Pro3 with the previously tested MSI 890GXM-G65 on the same chipset and of the same form factor.

ATI Radeon HD 4850 ASRock 890GM Pro3 MSI 890GXM-G65
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec 2:22 2:18
Archiving with WinRAR, min:sec 1:16 1:15
HDPlay (DXVA Off/On), CPU load 26%/3% 26%/3%
FarCry 2 (Very High@1680x1050) 57 62
World in Conflict (Very High@1680x1050), fps 28 29

Int. graphics ASRock 890GM Pro3 MSI 890GXM-G65
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec 2:23 2:18
Archiving with WinRAR, min:sec 1:16 1:15
HDPlay (DXVA Off/On), CPU load 29%/3% 26%/3%
Crysis (Low@1024x768), fps 36 35
World in Conflict (Low@1680x1050), fps 32 32
FarCry 2 (Low@1280x720), fps 36 34

MSI 890GXM-G65 is slightly better in most tests. ASRock takes the formal lead in gaming tests when the integrated graphics is used.

Enclosure power consumption

We measured power consumption with the wattmeter built into the PSU.

AMD Phenom II X4 810 + Radeon HD4850 ASRock 890GM Pro3 MSI 890GXM-G65
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet On, W 79 61 (APS On)
66 (APS Off)
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet Off, W 91 83
Far Cry 2, W 144-180 143-196

AMD Phenom II X4 810 + int. graphics ASRock 890GM Pro3 MSI 890GXM-G65
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet On, W 28 15 (APS On)
18 (APS Off)
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet Off, W 40 35
Far Cry 2, W 64-79 69-81

MSI 890GXM-G65 has more efficient power circuitry that allows to reduce power consumption in the idle mode.


Compact motherboards based on feature-rich high-performance integrated chipsets are often the optimal choice for an affordable home PC. The integrated graphics core let you play games (on reduced settings, though), but you can also install an external graphics card. Just remember to provide enough enclosure space for additional cooling, because the PSU fan might just not be enough.

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Page 1: Introduction, design, features

Page 2: Overclocking, power consumption, efficiency

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