iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






ASRock 890GX Extreme3 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 HD4850, 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 + 150MHz to 500MHz
CPU multiplier + Cores and CPU NB
Core unlocking + In BIOS
CPU voltage + 0.60V to 1.75V (CPU)
0.60V to 1.75V (CPU NB)
2.56V to 2.70V (CPU VDDA)
Memory voltage + 0.987V to 1.995V
Graphics core frequency + 350MHz to 2000MHz
Graphics core voltage + 1.108V to 1.794V
Video buffer frequency + DDR3-533 to DDR3-1700
Video buffer voltage + 1.5V to 1.8V
HT bus voltage + 1.20V to 1.82V
Southbridge voltage + 1.10V to 1.40V

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 1.8 released on April 28, 2010.

All overclocking options are neatly provided in a single section, along with the resulting frequency values to be set for the chosen combination of reference frequencies and multipliers. You can load overclocking presets based on desired core clock rate. Presets look reasonal enough. For example, the system will try to overclock an unlocked CPU by means of multiplier without changing its reference frequency. If it's a regular CPU, the system will adjust bus and memory multipliers. When it comes to voltages, the numbers are chosen with a bit of surplus, because the machine cannot consider the peculiarities of every specific CPU.

There are similar presets for the graphics core, along with increasing graphics core voltage. This procedure can be damaging, so you'll have to monitor chipset temperature and provide additional cooling if necessary. It's nice that presets are loaded into their respective fields, so you can browse and change them later.

Finally, there's a dynamic overclocking feature. You just choose a value from 4% to 20% and the reference frequency will be increased accordingly, when the CPU is under maximum load. When the load on CPU is lower, the reference frequency won't be changed. This feature works fine and it's logically combined with Cool'n'Quiet. You will like it, if you're into both high performance and saving power.

The feature that automatically loads default BIOS parameters has improved compared with previous ASRock motherboards we've tested. But it's still not perfect. Turning power on and off helps, because even a few hard resets may not be enough. By the way, you can set the number of automatic reboots in BIOS. It doesn't help much, though. Fortunately, you can save up to 3 user profiles, so CMOS being cleared shouldn't worry you.

CPU AMD Phenom II X4 965 3.4GHz AMD Phenom II X4 810 2.6GHz
CPU frequency, MHz 3900 3705
CPU reference frequency (multiplier), MHz 200 (x18.5) 285 (x13)
Core/CPU NB voltage (according to BIOS), V 1.49/1.35 1.48/1.30
CPU NB frequency (multiplier), MHz 2600 (x13) 2280 (x9)
HT bus frequency (multiplier), MHz 2000 (x10) 1995 (x7)
Memory frequency DDR3-1333 DDR3-1140
Notes Increase core and CPU NB multipliers Increase reference frequency, reduce CPU NB and HT bus multipliers

This is not a record, but it's a decent result. However, ASRock could've suprised us, especially considering the solid power circuitry. We didn't like that actual core and memory voltages were higher than values we set. So don't forget about monitoring, you may have to adjust values not to risk the motherboard.

Performance and efficiency

We compared ASRock 890GX Extreme3 with the previously tested ECS A890GXM-A based on the same chipset.

ATI Radeon HD 4850 ASRock 890GX Extreme3 ECS A890GXM-A
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec 2:23 2:20
Archiving with WinRAR, min:sec 1:17 1:15
HDPlay (DXVA Off/On), CPU load 26%/3% 26%/3%
Far Cry 2 (Very High @ 1680x1050), fps 60 55
World in Conflict (Very High @ 1680x1050), fps 29 30

Int. graphics ASRock 890GX Extreme3 ECS A890GXM-A
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec 2:21 2:19
Archiving with WinRAR, min:sec 1:17 1:17
HDPlay (DXVA Off/On), CPU load 30%/3% 29%/3%
Crysis (Low@1024x768), fps 36 36
World in Conflict (Low@1680x1050), fps 32 32
FarCry 2 (Low@1280x720), fps 35 34

Enclosure power consumption

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

AMD Phenom II X4 810 + ATI Radeon HD 4850 ASRock 890GX Extreme3 ECS A890GXM-A
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet On, W 88 71
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet Off, W 96 95
Far Cry 2, W 153-201 148-184

AMD Phenom II X4 810 + int. graphics ASRock 890GX Extreme3 ECS A890GXM-A
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet On, W 13 13
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet Off, W 37 28
Far Cry 2, W 64-81 64-84

ASRock 890GX Extreme3 consumed a bit more with a discrete graphics card. With integrated graphics, we could only see the difference with Cool'n'Quiet disabled. However, in real life there are not many reasons to disable that mode. Unless you don't care about power consumption at all. So we probably will replace testing in this mode with tests involving some other type of system load.


Without a doubt, this is a worthy representative of the AMD 890GX family. It has everything you need for an all-round configuration. And it's actually quite hard to name a specific target audience that could be more interested in ASRock 890GX Extreme3, especially considering its attractive price. Original features include a eSATA 6Gbps bracket in addition to the regular eSATA 3Gbps functionality, as well as well-developed semi-automatic overclocking features. On the downside, ASRock 890GX Extreme3 doesn't have a PATA port, even though it's a regular chipset feature that wouldn't have increased motherboard price.

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