ASRock Z68 Extreme 7 Gen 3 LGA 1155 Motherboard Review
Specifications, Packaging, Layout, Included Extras
Technical Specifications (taken from ASRock's website)
- Supports 2nd Generation Intel® Core™ i7 / i5 / i3 in LGA1155 Package
- Advanced V8 + 4 Power Phase Design
- Supports Intel® Turbo Boost 2.0 Technology
- Supports Intel® K-Series unlocked CPU
- Supports Hyper-Threading Technology
- Intel® Z68
- Dual Channel DDR3 memory technology
- 4 x DDR3 DIMM slots
- Supports DDR3 2133(OC)/1866(OC)/1600/1333/1066/800 non-ECC, un-buffered memory
- Max. capacity of system memory: 32GB*
- Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
- 64Mb AMI UEFI Legal BIOS with GUI support
- Supports "Plug and Play"
- ACPI 1.1 Compliance Wake Up Events
- Supports jumperfree
- SMBIOS 2.3.1 Support
- CPU Core, IGPU, DRAM, PCH, CPU PLL, VTT, VCCSA Voltage Multi-adjustment
- Supports Intel® HD Graphics Built-in Visuals : Intel® Quick Sync Video, Intel® InTru™ 3D, Intel® Clear Video HD Technology, Intel® HD Graphics 2000/3000, Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX)
- Pixel Shader 4.1, DirectX 11 with Intel® Ivy Bridge CPU, DirectX 10.1 with Intel® Sandy Bridge CPU
- Max. shared memory 1759MB
- Multi VGA Output options: D-Sub, DVI-D, HDMI and DisplayPort
- Supports HDMI 1.4a Technology with max. resolution up to 1920x1200 @ 60Hz
- Supports DVI with max. resolution up to 1920x1200 @ 60Hz
- Supports D-Sub with max. resolution up to 2048x1536 @ 75Hz
- Supports DisplayPort with max. resolution up to 2560x1600 @ 60Hz
- Supports Auto Lip Sync, Deep Color (12bpc), xvYCC and HBR (High Bit Rate Audio) with HDMI (Compliant HDMI monitor is required)
- Supports HDCP function with DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort ports
- Supports Full HD 1080p Blu-ray (BD) / HD-DVD playback with DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort ports
- 7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection (Realtek ALC892 Audio Codec)
- Premium Blu-ray audio support
- Supports THX TruStudio™
- PCIE x1 Gigabit LAN 10/100/1000 Mb/s
- Broadcom BCM57781
- Supports Wake-On-LAN
- Supports Energy Efficient Ethernet 802.3az
- Supports Dual LAN with Teaming function
- Supports PXE
Expansion / Connectivity
- 5 x PCI Express x16 slots (single at PCIE 3.0* x16 (PCIE2) mode, dual at PCIE 2.0 x16 (PCIE1) / PCIE 2.0 x16 (PCIE4) mode, or tripple at PCIE 2.0 x16 (PCIE1) / PCIE 2.0 x8 (PCIE4) / PCIE 2.0 x8 (PCIE6) mode; PCIE5: PCIE 2.0 x4 mode)
- 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 slot
- 1 x PCI slot
- Supports AMD Quad CrossFireX™ , 3-Way CrossFireX™ and CrossFireX™
- Supports NVIDIA® Quad SLI™ , 3-Way SLI™ and SLI™
* PCIE 3.0 is only supported with Intel® Ivy Bridge CPU. With Intel® Sandy Bridge CPU, it only supports PCIE 2.0.
- 2 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors by Intel® Z68, support RAID (RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 10, RAID 5, Intel® Rapid Storage and Intel® Smart Response Technology), NCQ, AHCI and "Hot Plug" functions
- 4 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors by ASMedia ASM1061, support NCQ, AHCI and "Hot Plug" functions (SATA3_A4 connector is shared with eSATA3 port)
- 4 x Rear USB 3.0 ports by ASMedia ASM1042, support USB 1.0/2.0/3.0 up to 5Gb/s
- 1 x Front USB 3.0 header (supports 2 USB 3.0 ports) by ASMedia ASM1042, supports USB 1.0/2.0/3.0 up to 5Gb/s
- 4 x SATA2 3.0 Gb/s connectors, support RAID (RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 10, RAID 5, Intel® Rapid Storage and Intel® Smart Response Technology), NCQ, AHCI and Hot Plug functions
- 6 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors
- 1 x IR header
- 1 x CIR header
- 1 x COM port header
- 1 x HDMI_SPDIF header
- 1 x IEEE 1394 header
- 1 x Power LED header
- CPU/Chassis/Power FAN connector
- 24 pin ATX power connector
- 8 pin 12V power connector
- SLI/XFire power connector
- Front panel audio connector
- 4 x USB 2.0 headers (support 8 USB 2.0 ports)
- 1 x USB 3.0 header (supports 2 USB 3.0 ports)
- 1 x Dr. Debug with LED
Rear I/O Panel
- 1 x D-Sub Port
- 1 x DVI-D Port
- 1 x HDMI Port
- 1 x DisplayPort
- 1 x Optical SPDIF Out Port
- 2 x Ready-to-Use USB 2.0 Ports
- 1 x eSATA3 Connector
- 4 x Ready-to-Use USB 3.0 Ports
- 2 x RJ-45 LAN Ports with LED (ACT/LINK LED and SPEED LED)
- 1 x IEEE 1394 Port
- 1 x Clear CMOS Switch with LED
- HD Audio Jack: Rear Speaker / Central / Bass / Line in / Front Speaker / Microphone
Other Features / Miscellaneous
- ASRock Extreme Tuning Utility (AXTU)
- ASRock Instant Boot
- ASRock Instant Flash
- ASRock APP Charger
- ASRock SmartView
- ASRock XFast USB
- ASRock XFast LAN
- ASRock XFast Charger
- Lucid Virtu
- ASRock On/Off Play Technology
- Hybrid Booster:
- CPU Frequency Stepless Control
- ASRock U-COP
- Boot Failure Guard (B.F.G.)
- Combo Cooler Option (C.C.O.)
- Good Night LED
- 1 x Power Switch with LED
- 1 x Reset Switch with LED
- 1 x Clear CMOS Switch with LED
- Drivers, Utilities, AntiVirus Software (Trial Version), CyberLink MediaEspresso 6.5 Trial, ASRock Software Suite (CyberLink DVD Suite - OEM and Trial; ASRock MAGIX Multimedia Suite - OEM)
- 1 x ASRock SLI_Bridge_2S Card
- Quick Installation Guide, Support CD, I/O Shield
- 6 x SATA Data Cables (optional)
- 2 x SATA 1 to 1 Power Cables (optional)
- 1 x 3.5mm Audio Cable (optional)
- 1 x Front USB 3.0 Panel
- 4 x HDD Screws
- 6 x Chassis Screws
- 1 x Rear USB 3.0 Bracket
- 1 x PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard + USB 2.0 Bracket
- ATX Form Factor: 12.0-in x 9.6-in, 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm
ASRock developed a catchy theme for its retail packaging they used with the Z68 Extreme 7 Gen 3. The brush metal graphics really pop and make the product name stand out quite a bit. They also added a few case badges to feature the board's Lucid Logix Virtu technology, XFastLAN, and PCI-E 3.0 support.
The front panel also opens up to give consumers a real look at the motherboard itself through a plastic window. They also provided more information about the board's PCI-E 3.0 support and NVIDIA NF200 chip. ASRock has definitely learned how to market a product better than in the past and their new marketing material was concise and easy to read as well.
The edginess of this motherboard really impressed me from the moment I removed it from the retail box. The odd shape of the heatsinks over the chipset and power components add another dimension to the PCB too. The black PCI slots and DIMMs also conform well to ASRock's intentions for creating a dark and subtle board that users we want for their next upgrade. Overall, the board is well organized and includes more PCI-E x16 slots than I've ever seen in an ATX form factor.
The back of the PCB is its usual dull self and includes a small aluminum plate behind the CPU socket.
The back I/O panel brings together plenty of support for modern and a couple legacy devices. It includes four USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, eSATA3, firewire 400, dual Gigabit LAN jacks, high definition audio jacks, and multiple display options including VGA, DVI-D, HDMI, and DisplayPort.
One of the key selling points of the Z68 Extreme 7 Gen 3 is the host of PCI-E lanes that it supports through the Z68 chipset and NVIDIA NF200 chip. This board includes five PCI-E x16 slots that can be configured in a variety of ways (single at PCIE 3.0 x16 (PCIE2) mode, dual at PCI-E 2.0 x16 (PCI-E1) / PCI-E 2.0 x16 (PCI-E4) mode, or tripple at PCIE 2.0 x16 (PCI-E1) / PCI-E 2.0 x8 (PCI-E4) / PCI-E 2.0 x8 (PCI-E6) mode; PCI-E5: PCI-E 2.0 x4 mode). ASRock also threw in one PCI-E x1 slot and a legacy PCI slot. This board supports quad NVIDIA SLI or AMD CrossfireX graphics card configurations making it truly an ultra enthusiast motherboard.
The bottom of the PCB has a high definition audio header for front panel audio support, HDMI_SPDIF header, two fan headers, firewire header, and a PS2 header.
ASRock also included a debug LED display, clear CMOS button, power/reset buttons, and support for four USB 2.0 devices. The front panel headers are not labeled very well so you will need to review the user manual to see where to plug in the front panel's power and reset buttons and LEDs.
This motherboard supports four SATA 2 3GB/s ports that also have RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 as well as Intel's Rapid Storage and Smart Response technologies. You'll also notice six additional SATA3 6GB/s ports to give users more than enough options for their SATA optical drives, hard drives, and solid state drives.
The board's Z68 chipset supports up to 32GBs of dual-channel DDR3 2133 (OC), 1866, 1600, 1333, 1066, or 800 un-buffered memory. This is pretty standard for all Z68-based motherboards.
The CPU socket is fenced off by high-quality power components and large aluminum heatsinks. The heatsink should provide enough clearance for third-party CPU coolers and other watercooling solutions. Those gold caps looks pretty snazzy too.
ASRock wanted consumers to make sure they were getting the most for their hard-earned dollars when they put together the list of accessories to go with the Z68 Extreme 7 Gen 3 motherboard. To start things off, they threw in six SATA 6GB/s data cables that are black like the PCB, PCI slots, and DIMMs.
Next, ASRock had to give users a couple dual and triple SLI bridges to help them set up their multi-GPU gaming systems.
This 3.5" device will add two more USB 3.0 ports to the front panel of a user's PC case. Who doesn't need a couple extra USB ports every now and then?
They also added an interesting PCI bracket that adds an additional PS2 keyboard/mouse port and two USB 2.0 ports. This accessory may come in handy for troubleshooting USB issues down the road.
There are also two SATA to molex power connectors, low-profile bracket for two additional USB ports, and a color-coded I/O back plate.
These user manuals on Virtu and ASRock's XFast USB should get new PC builders up to speed on these technologies.
As custom dictates, ASRock didn't skimp on providing a quick installation guide and a software setup guide. Both will come in handy for amateur builders and other users who are not familar with this chipset or board.
Last, but not least, we have a simple driver DVD with a funny "Intel-Intel" logo. Guess it makes it double awesome if you say it twice.