ASRock X58 Extreme3 Board Tour
I am not quite sure what it is about the ASRock X58 Extreme3 system board that I like. I like it, though; to me it says that I’m here and here to play hard. It is just an overall good looking board. Is that a selling point to me? Not so much, but it doesn’t hurt. Enough of my ramblings about aesthetics, let’s take a closer look at the ASRock X58 Extreme3!
The Dimm slots above will support up to DDR3 2000 in triple channel as well as a maximum of 24GB of memory. Below the Dimms we have the 24 pin power, front panel connectors and a USB header. I have to admit that it took me a minute to find the front panel connect since it is all the way up here. I really like the placement of it though — much easier to hide the front panel wires when they aren’t stretching from the top of the case to the bottom of the board.
Here we have the IDE and six of the eight SATA ports. Just above the IDE is the CMOS battery as well as the jumper to clear the CMOS.
Rounding the corner of the ASRock X58 Extreme3 we have the Dr. Debug LED poster which comes in handy if the system ever fails to complete the post. Also we have integrated power and reset buttons and a USB header as well as a Firewire header for those of us that still use Firewire.
The floppy disk channel is placed at the back edge of the ASRock X58 Extreme3 and I’m not crazy about the placement of it. To be honest, though, I can’t remember the last time I needed to use a floppy disk for anything, so that’s really not a big deal to me. Next to the floppy we have our com port header and the TPM (trusted platform module) headers. On the right hand side of the PCI slot is the VIA (VT6038s) 1394 host controller.
The expansion slots consist of 3 PCIe x16 slots, 2 PCI slots and 1 PCIe x1 slot. The blue PCIe x16 slots both run at a full x16 while the white PCIe X16 slot runs at x4.
The rear I/O panel is chocked full of features. The important ones are the two blue USB ports under the Gigabit NIC, as they are the USB 3.0 ports. Also important is the E-SATA port. It, too, is powered and is also a SATA 3 port.
The clear CMOS is pretty much a must have on any “extreme” motherboard. It is much easier to reset your BIOS using this button over opening up the system and finding that little jumper that (if you are like me) slips out of my fingers more often than not.
A quick shot of the ATX 12V 8 pin connector.
A little bit of heatpipe cooling for the CPU power.
Now for quite possibly the most important feature of the ASRock X58 Extreme3, the CPU socket. It is a socket 1366 that supports all the Intel I7 processors, including the latest, the I7 980X
! If you noticed the double holes for the CPU cooler and wondered what that was all about, it’s actually a pretty cool little feature. The outside holes are for socket 1366 coolers, the inside holes are for socket 775 coolers. That little feature could save you ~$50-$100.00 if you are upgrading from an older socket 775 board and have a high end cooler that you would like to use.
Of course we can’t leave out the pair of SATA3 6Gb/s ports. The fact that they are right in the middle of the board may make cable management a little bit trickier. This is not a deal breaker for me, though. Time to fire up the ASRock X58 Extreme3 and take a peek into the BIOS.