ASRock Z87 Extreme3 £115

3rd Oct 2013 | 08:30

ASRock Z87 Extreme3

A budget Z87 motherboard that doesn't skimp on features

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

Like:

Good price; CrossFire and SLI support; Good performance; Good overclocking

Dislike:

Only 4 USB 3.0 ports; Not many extra features;

Cheap and slightly shonky, but quirky and intriguing mobos. That used to be Asrock's place in the world. These days, however, the manufacturer has gone a bit mainstream.

On the upside, that means a range of more straightforward models, including some high-end clobber. That said, old affinities die hard, and we're a little bit more comfortable with the prospect of the Z87 Extreme3, a bargain basement board with an Asrock badge than one of its closest competitors, such as the rather disappointing entry from Gigabyte, the lacklustre Z87-D3HP.

Physically, they're two peas in a pod. Both are based on very thin PCBs, with a sludgy colour and flimsy feel that give the unsavoury impression of being mashed up from recycled games cartridges from the 80s. Think cheap. Think commodity electronics banged out in big numbers in dingy factories.

No frills

Anyway, at this end of the market, you'd expect to miss out on a few conveniences, and that's certainly the case here. No LED debug display, no on-board power and rest switches, no fancy dual-BIOS toggles, no V-check points. Which, for the most part, is fine by us.

Such extras are nice to have, but ultimately aren't critical for extracting the best performance from your card. That said, there are a few so-called convenience features missing from the spec that might niggle some depending on your specific preferences.

There's no DisplayPort for the integrated graphics output, for instance, and the back panel is limited to just four USB 3.0 ports. That's pretty mean, but shaving off pennies in production costs is what it's all about at this price.

However, it's not all bad news. One feature you might not expect to find is support for Nvidia's SLI multi-GPU tech. You don't get it with the Gigabyte Z87-D3HP, but you do with this Asrock. Again, that sounds like a proposition that's frill-free but presents no barriers to max performance. Is that really the case? Kind of.

Benchmarks

In our stock-clocked benchmarks the Asrock doesn't exactly blow away all comers, but it knocks out in excess of eight points in Cinebench and beats about half the boards here in x264 HD video encoding. If there's a snag, it's gaming performance, but even here we're only talking about a single frame per second behind most other boards. In other words, you won't know the difference.

Multi-thread CPU performance
Cinebench 11.5: Index score: Higher is better

ASRock Z87 Extreme3: 8.03
Asus Sabertooth Z87: 8.34
Asus Z87-Pro: 8.05
Gigabyte Z87-D3HP: 8.06
Gigabyte Z87 G1.Sniper M5: 8.05
Intel DZ87KLT-75K: 8.11
MSI Z87-G43: 8.5
MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming: 8.48
MSI Z87 XPower: 8.5

Single-thread CPU performance
Cinebench 11.5: Index score: Higher is better

ASRock Z87 Extreme3: 1.75
Asus Sabertooth Z87: 1.75
Asus Z87-Pro: 1.76
Gigabyte Z87-D3HP: 1.75
Gigabyte Z87 G1.Sniper M5: 1.72
Intel DZ87KLT-75K: 1.77
MSI Z87-G43: 1.72
MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming: 1.71
MSI Z87 XPower: 1.72

Video encode performance
X264 4.0: Frames per second: Higher is better

ASRock Z87 Extreme3: 45.5
Asus Sabertooth Z87: 46.3
Asus Z87-Pro: 45.6
Gigabyte Z87-D3HP: 45.5
Gigabyte Z87 G1.Sniper M5: 45.5
Intel DZ87KLT-75K: 45.7
MSI Z87-G43: 45.7
MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming: 46.5
MSI Z87 XPower: 47.5

Memory bandwidth @ optimised defults
SiSoft Sandra: Gigabytes per second: Higher is better

ASRock Z87 Extreme3: 17.38
Asus Sabertooth Z87: 17.24
Asus Z87-Pro: 17.47
Gigabyte Z87-D3HP: 17.25
Gigabyte Z87 G1.Sniper M5: 17.45
Intel DZ87KLT-75K: 17.56
MSI Z87-G43: 17.32
MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming: 17.2
MSI Z87 XPower: 17.39

Gaming performance
Shogun: Total War 2: Frames per second: Higher is better

ASRock Z87 Extreme3: 38.4
Asus Sabertooth Z87: 39.4
Asus Z87-Pro: 38.1
Gigabyte Z87-D3HP: 34.5
Gigabyte Z87 G1.Sniper M5: 37.1
Intel DZ87KLT-75K: 37.9
MSI Z87-G43: 44.6
MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming: 38.9
MSI Z87 XPower: 39.5

Maximum overclock performance
4770K: Gigahertz: Higher is better

ASRock Z87 Extreme3: 4.7
Asus Sabertooth Z87: 4.7
Asus Z87-Pro: 4.7
Gigabyte Z87-D3HP: 4.0
Gigabyte Z87 G1.Sniper M5: 4.7
Intel DZ87KLT-75K: 4.5
MSI Z87-G43: 4.6
MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming: 4.6
MSI Z87 XPower: 4.7

As for overclocking, it's good news. The auto-overclocking feature is a bit of a busted flush because it boots at very high speeds but downclocks under load. However, force the multiplier settings and your reward will be an impressive overclock. For the record, we squeezed a solid 4.7GHz and over 10 points in Cinebench out of a 4770K. That annihilates the Gigabyte Z87-D3HP.

Verdict

The Extreme3 is a match for most of its competitors, including the monster (and very expensive) MSI Z87 Xpower. It even has a slight edge its closest rival, MSI's Z87-G43. By trimming back the inessentials and focusing on performance, the Extreme3 offers genuinely impressive value.

motherboards Z87 motherboards Haswell ASRock TRBC awardrecommended
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