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Thread: Asrock Z68 Extreme4 Review

  1. #1
    I am Xtreme Ket's Avatar
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    Asrock Z68 Extreme4 Review

    Asrock Z68 Extreme4 Review



    Introduction

    Many of you will probably be starting to become more familiar with Asrock. Not so long ago Asrock decided to delve into the Enthusiast arena offering some excellent choices such as the 890FX Deluxe3 and more recently the 890FX Deluxe5, P67 Extreme4 and P67 Extreme6. Today we will be looking at the latest offering from Asrock based on Intel’s Z68 chipset, the Z68 Extreme4.


    Specification

    Specs

    Once again as with the Asrock P67 Extreme4 we see the Z68 Extreme4 not holding back or pulling any punches with full support for the entire line up of Intel Socket 1155 CPUs, 8 phase power delivery, XMP support, fully featured UEFI, full support for Intel’s on-die IGP, Lucid Virtu and 1080p Blue-Ray playback to name but a few of this boards features.

    If you would like to learn more about the Asrock Z68 Extreme4 Asrock have even thoughtfully dedicated a small site where you can learn all about the board. You can visit that site Right Here.


    Z68 Extreme4 Gallery

    Taking a little creative license today I decided to head outdoors into the sunshine for the picture taking, let’s see what we have got.

    Packaging & Accessories



    Asrock are keeping with the familiar brushed steel look used with their P67 Extreme boards, and personally, I like it. It’s classy while remaining a little bit different and not being overstated and gaudy. Simple elegance, if you will. Let’s look at the rest of the gallery.



    Some might wonder why I included an image of the side of the box, the reason is simple, so people can rest assured their purchase is well protected.



    Here things get a little more interesting. Asrock have provided potential store buyers with all the information they should need to make an informed decision. There’s little in regard to marketing fluff with Asrock choosing to give potential buyers the information they need with a minimal of fuss, avoiding possible confusion for buyers.



    The accessories bundled with the Z68 Extreme4;

    Driver CD
    Trial version of Media Espresso 6.5
    IO plate
    4x SATA cables (2x in each bag)
    2x Molex to SATA splitters
    User manual
    Quick start guide
    Leaflet on X-Fast
    Dual GPU bridge
    Leaflet about installing HDDs larger than 2TB
    FDD cable
    3.5mm audio cable
    Rear USB 3.0 bracket
    2 Port Front panel USB 3.0 panel
    Also on the USB panel is a tray to attach a SSD drive to.

    That’s quite the selection of accessories! The inclusion of a front panel USB 3.0 panel is easily the star highlight, saving you a good £15-20 compared to if you were to buy a front panel separately.


    Mainboard protection & Close-ups



    Asrock have trumped their competition here in my opinion. It’s not often you see a board encased in foam protection AND a anti-static bag. Usually manufacturers tend to dump their product in the cheapest protective packaging they can so to see Asrock not cutting any corners here when trying to ensure the board reaches you in perfect condition is very nice to see.



    Another shot of the Z68 Extreme4, minus the anti-static bag this time.



    Here is the board herself. Sexy isn’t she? The blue, white and black colour scheme is a appealing one as again Asrock have gone for a simple approach that’s none the less elegant and would look beautiful no matter what colour LED fans or neon lights you might choose to pair it with.

    Getting past the aesthetics of the Z68 we start to notice some of the board’s other fine touches, Power and Reset buttons, a Clear CMOS button, LED debug display, excellent expansion slot layout and extraordinarily beefed looking MOSFET heatsinks. We’ll test just how well those MOSFET heatsinks and PCH heatsink can deal with heat output a little later.



    A typical good Z68 based IO panel with VGA, DVI, HDMI 1.4 and a convenient Clear CMOS button. The Display Port on this board can do 2560*1600 resolution.


    Misc

    For the more inquisitive of readers here are some close-ups of some of the Z68s more intimate parts.



    Clearance around the CPU area is good, great news for large heatsinks! You will also notice two sets of holes, one set is for Socket 775 coolers and the other set is for Socket 1155 / 1156 coolers. Some may argue two sets of holes is a bad idea as it increases trace length and weakens the integrity of the board around the CPU socket area. With the latter of those points you might have a fair argument if you were to use a stock Intel cooler, but as anyone using a board like the Z68 Extreme4 isn’t going to be using the stock Intel cooler instead having a nice 3rd party cooler with a support bracket there’s no cause for concern. It’s also worth mentioning that unlike many other cooling designs the MOSFET heatsinks are held in place with screws and not pushpins. The MOSFET heatsinks also have little “guides” where the screws go which really help prevent board warping when tightening the screws.

    Don’t change this approach Asrock, you got it absolutely right.



    Here is the PCH (Platform Control Hub) heatsink. It’s unfortunate that it’s not a “real” heatsink with proper fins to dissipate heat but Asrock aren’t alone on this other manufacturers have done similar things. We will see just how this PCH heatsink does in the temperature test later on.



    This is the PLX chip. The chip adds extra PCI-E lanes ensuring bandwidth limitations doesn’t become a problem.



    Once again Asrock have opted to stay away from the NEC USB3 controller instead opting for the Etron EJ168A controller.



    Power and Reset buttons. Quality of the buttons is exactly what’s required, they are not flimsy and do the job they need to do nicely.



    This little LED display will certainly save a lot of time troubleshooting. I’ll take this opportunity to mention that the rather more expensive Asus P8Z68 Deluxe does not have any kind of debug display.



    Lastly, the Asmedia PCI-E to PCI bridge chip.


    The UEFI

    Just like with most P67 / Z68 boards, Asrock are using the new UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface). Think of the UEFI as the evolution to the legacy BIOS. It’s no more complicated to use and has some handy additions such as support for extremely large HDDs, the ability to use the mouse, screen capture (F12) and of course it’s much prettier to look at.

    As most UEFI pages will be more or less identical board to board we will focus on the only pages where things can vary; OC Tweaker.












    Test setup

    Today the test setup will be;

    Asrock Z68 Extreme4, UEFI 1.4
    Intel Core i5 2500K
    2x2GB PC12800 G.Skill Ripjaws 7-8-7-25 1T
    MSI GTX460 1GB 900 / 4300
    Xonar DX 7.1
    Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB 32MB cache
    850W Corsair HX
    Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit SP1

    Unlike many other reviews, testing will be conducted with the Z68 Extreme4 in a closed case environment to keep as close to real world conditions as possible.


    AIDA64 - Stock Performance

    Let’s see how the new Asrock Z68 Extreme4 stacks up against the Asrock P67 Extreme4.



    There’s really nothing to separate the boards here.



    Another tight duel with the Z68 just edging the P67.



    Another marginal win for Z68.



    There’s nothing between the chipsets here.



    The P67 takes a bit of a demolishing here. How much you will notice these gains in the real world is another matter though.



    Another remarkably close battle.



    All square.

    Well, after that bout the Z68 Extreme4 emerges the victor over the P67 Extreme4 but all of the tests are very tight with the exception of AES.


    Lucid Virtu technology

    Lucid Virtu is Lucidlogix’s answer to ever growing media performance demands and demands for a greener, less power consuming experience. The technology works on both integrated and discrete graphics. Quite possibly the biggest advantage for Virtu is when used on a Intel Z68 chipset with a i5 2500k or i7 2600k CPU for the ability to convert media files at blisteringly fast speed using the IGPU. Today we will test just how good the technology works converting a 1.7GB AVI media file with Media Espresso 6.5 to a Zune compatible format.



    So what can we learn about Virtu here? If you are considering a 2500k with a factory overclocked GTX460 the GTX460 will likely be faster. However, there are some footnotes that come with these results. A GTX460 @ 900 / 4300 is only 18 seconds faster than the IGPU, this stands to show how well the IGPU works when converting media. A standard GTX460 (675 / 3600) won’t stand a chance in hell of catching the IGPU. The final footnote is the time of 6:18 with the IGPU at stock frequencies, boards such as the Z68 Extreme4 allow you to overclock the IGPU within the UEFI, this would unquestionably slingshot the IGPU ahead of even the factory overclocked GTX460.


    Intel RST

    Intel RST (Rapid Response Technology), is the big caveat which Intel is hoping will make everybody upgrade from their P67 to a Z68. The question is though what kind of additional performance does it offer and is it worth it? Well to find that out there’s only one thing to do; break out the benchmarks



    Here are the results testing RST. Even though it was only an old 1.5TB HDD used with a SSD as you can see the performance improvements are really quite good and with better storage devices used with RST the performance will obviously go up.


    X-Fast USB technology

    X-Fast is Asrock developed to enhance USB transfer rates and times. We’ll test what kind of performance differences there are with and without this technology copying a total of 1.8GB of data consisting of smaller and larger files in the same transfer to a removable storage device from a WD Caviar Black.



    Despite the principle of X-Fast most likely being as simple as reducing latency the technology unquestionably works very well and as can be seen here works very well with larger transfers, not just smaller ones.


    MOSFET & PCH Heatsink Temperature Test

    Most of you probably aren’t used to seeing something like this in a review. The aim is very simple – to test manufacturers mainboard cooling to see who really has effective cooling and who just has heatsinks designed for “bling”, because as we all should know, you want something that’s effective at doing the job not just there for show.

    Testing is conducted using a temperature gun with laser pointer. The gun accuracy is +/- 2% so results are very precise.



    Temperatures here are not bad at all. However, the temperature measured for the PCH is disappointing. For a component that only operates with 1.051v and considering the side panel for the case was off to get these temperatures it’s quite easy to imagine the PCH heating up to 48-50c+ in a closed case which is quite hot given how little voltage the PCH uses.

    The only other thing to note is temperature differences between the side MOSFETs and top MOSFETs. It would seem the top MOSFETs are being worked harder.


    Overclocking

    Just like P67 Z68 supports Overclocking for enthusiasts. The challenger will be the Asrock P67 Extreme4.



    Here is the results. After no time at all I attained 4500MHz CPU @ 1.3v (load), 2133MHZ memory @ 1.65v, VTT @ 1.155v, CPU PLL @ 1.85v. Simply the most effortless overclock ever, it really doesn’t get any easier than this.

    I’ll also add the system remained entirely stable with 1.29v (load) as well when vcore was reduced. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to test how low I could get the voltage and remain stable, but sub 1.3v for 4.5GHz is deffinately very good for this chip. With nothing to seperate the Z68 and P67 in the OC department, lets put them head to head once more with the same OC settings.


    AIDA64 - OC Results



    As we see here both the Asrock P67 Extreme4 and Z68 Extreme4 have nothing to seperate them.



    The Z68 pulls off a win by the thinnest of margins.



    Again there is just a whisker in it with the Z68 oh so marginally coming in ahead of the P67.



    Another whisker win for the Z68.



    The first solid win for Z68 in the OC tests.



    A photo finish, but the Z68 picks up the win.



    Absolutely nothing to divide the two boards here, but that’s not something that can be considered a surprise given how close both performed through the Aida64 tests.


    Conclusion

    So it’s been a long day of testing and we’ve come to the end of testing an exciting new product from Asrock, but what should we be taking away with us? During my time in testing the Asrock Z68 Extreme4 proved itself to be very reliable, not once did it exhibit any early days teething problems due to the newness of the chipset and the performance is even a touch better than the already excellent performance of the P67 Extreme4. The UEFI of the Z68 is well laid out and I did not experience any bugs. The board itself has a exceptionally well thought out expansion slot arrangement, the MOSFET heatsinks are great, there’s plenty of SATA and USB ports, the board is gorgeous to look at, you get a Clear CMOS button, diagnostics LED, Power & Reset buttons on the board, and you are even given a 3.5” USB 3.0 bay. So, what’s not to like?

    Despite all the positives there are a few minor (and I do mean minor) niggling issues. I had to think really hard to find anything wrong with this board at all. Firstly, there is only one ROM chip. This isn’t normally going to be a big concern but let’s say you are updating the UEFI and you get a power cut, you are then going to have to try and source a new ROM chip pre-flashed with a UEFI for your board, this potential scenario could easily be avoided if the board had a backup ROM chip, or even if Asrock simply gave a spare pre-flashed ROM chip in the box. Secondly there is the PCH heatsink. While it looks flashy it’s just not very efficient. Give me a good old fashioned low profile finned heatsink with a large base area any day.

    Overall I have absolutely no hesitation of recommending the Z68 Extreme4 to anybody looking to build a new system regardless of if the user is an enthusiast looking to overclock or your average Joe looking for a solid, reliable system.

    All thanks must be given to Asrock for supplying the Z68 Extreme4.

    The Good

    - Clear CMOS button
    - Power & Reset buttons
    - Debug LED display
    - Plenty of SATA & USB ports
    - Great MOSFET heatsinks
    - Bug-free UEFI
    - Lucid Virtu
    - Overclocking is a doddle
    - Display Port can do 2560*1600 resolution

    The Bad

    - PCH heatsink
    - No dual ROM chips

    "Prowler"
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    Asrock Z77 thread! | Asrock Z77 Extreme6 Review | Asrock P67 Extreme4 Review | Asrock P67 Extreme4/6 Pro3 thread | Asrock Z68 Extreme4 thread | Asrock Z68 Extreme4 Review | Asrock Z68 Gen3 Thread | 8GB G-Skill review | TK 2.ZERO homepage | P5Q series mBIOS thread

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  2. #2
    I am Xtreme
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    good job man

  3. #3
    I am Xtreme Ket's Avatar
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    I should mention I've done a little testing with the newly released UEFI 1.5. Its a great UEFI, for me at the same voltages as for 4.5GHz I'm now running 4.7GHz I might even be able to go higher I haven't tested yet.

    "Prowler"
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    Asrock Z77 thread! | Asrock Z77 Extreme6 Review | Asrock P67 Extreme4 Review | Asrock P67 Extreme4/6 Pro3 thread | Asrock Z68 Extreme4 thread | Asrock Z68 Extreme4 Review | Asrock Z68 Gen3 Thread | 8GB G-Skill review | TK 2.ZERO homepage | P5Q series mBIOS thread

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  4. #4
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    great review m8
    just one question can you measure power draw on both mainboards?
    ---
    ---
    "Generally speaking, CMOS power consumption is the result of charging and discharging gate capacitors. The charge required to fully charge the gate grows with the voltage; charge times frequency is current. Voltage times current is power. So, as you raise the voltage, the current consumption grows linearly, and the power consumption quadratically, at a fixed frequency. Once you reach the frequency limit of the chip without raising the voltage, further frequency increases are normally proportional to voltage. In other words, once you have to start raising the voltage, power consumption tends to rise with the cube of frequency."
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  5. #5
    I am Xtreme Ket's Avatar
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    I would if I had the equipment to do so. Power draw between Z68 boards will be similar anyway, as will power draw between P67 boards.

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  6. #6
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    Fairly good review but two caveats.

    1. The scale of your graphics is absurd. If someone was to not look closely they would think one board was 3-5x faster than other other when in fact the difference was within the margin of error for the test.

    2. For your video conversions using the graphics processors you failed to mention that the video quality of the nvidia produced file was inferior to that of the Intel produced video. See bit.ly/fQEvGw for full explanation.

  7. #7
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    1. Thats why each result is accompanied by a comment, making it a non-issue.
    2. I didn't notice any quality difference when converting the AVI file to a Zune format.

    Seems to me like you didn't read the review fully and just glazed it over
    Last edited by Ket; 06-25-2011 at 02:08 AM.

    "Prowler"
    X470 Gaming Pro Carbon | R7 2700 @ 4GHz | 2x8GB G.Skill Ripjaws @ 3466MHz CL16 | RX580 8GB @ 1.43GH\8.6GHz w\ my own custom timings | Xonar DX 7.1 | 2TB Barracuda | 256GB & 512GB Asgard NVMe drives | 2x DVD & Blu-Ray opticals | EVGA Supernova 1000w G2

    Cooling:

    4x 120mm LED fans, 2x 140mm LED fans, 1x 200mm LED fan | Modified CoolerMaster Masterliquid 240

    Asrock Z77 thread! | Asrock Z77 Extreme6 Review | Asrock P67 Extreme4 Review | Asrock P67 Extreme4/6 Pro3 thread | Asrock Z68 Extreme4 thread | Asrock Z68 Extreme4 Review | Asrock Z68 Gen3 Thread | 8GB G-Skill review | TK 2.ZERO homepage | P5Q series mBIOS thread

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  8. #8
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    Nice review mate but i will agree with MaxxxRacer and his first comment about the scale of some of your graphics. The scale is very odd at least and reminds me the marketing tricks that companies use.
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  9. #9
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    Did coolermaster make the heatsinks?




  10. #10
    I am Xtreme Ket's Avatar
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    @ Vivi, Probably just coincidence the HS looks similar to Coolermasters CPU cooler. I could always ask though if you are that curious

    @ mak1skav, Again, theres comments highlighting there is no difference for the few graphs that are kinda odd - Zlib and Latency. Just how the graphs come out when they were made in office. The rest of the graphs are fine and theres certainly been no favoritism taking place like some may try insinuating, I resent any such insinuations. Not that I'm accusing you of any such insinuations, just saying.
    Last edited by Ket; 06-25-2011 at 07:00 AM.

    "Prowler"
    X470 Gaming Pro Carbon | R7 2700 @ 4GHz | 2x8GB G.Skill Ripjaws @ 3466MHz CL16 | RX580 8GB @ 1.43GH\8.6GHz w\ my own custom timings | Xonar DX 7.1 | 2TB Barracuda | 256GB & 512GB Asgard NVMe drives | 2x DVD & Blu-Ray opticals | EVGA Supernova 1000w G2

    Cooling:

    4x 120mm LED fans, 2x 140mm LED fans, 1x 200mm LED fan | Modified CoolerMaster Masterliquid 240

    Asrock Z77 thread! | Asrock Z77 Extreme6 Review | Asrock P67 Extreme4 Review | Asrock P67 Extreme4/6 Pro3 thread | Asrock Z68 Extreme4 thread | Asrock Z68 Extreme4 Review | Asrock Z68 Gen3 Thread | 8GB G-Skill review | TK 2.ZERO homepage | P5Q series mBIOS thread

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  11. #11
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    Can you give us the settings you used to overclock? It would be beneficial for a lot of people, since it would be a good place to begin with.

  12. #12
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    great review! could you please also include:

    1) a photo of fully installed hardware. you have pretty standard parts and i'd like to get an idea of spacing with the cards installed. also would like to see how close the ram is to the cpu heatsink. are dimm slots far enough away so that ram with high spreaders/fins can work?
    2) related to that, what hsf did you use for the cpu?
    3) and related to that, a photo of the back of the mobo around the cpu. (to inspect for use of hsf/wb backplate)
    4) i can't quite tell, but are the screws for the mosfet heatsink easily removable? (to change for wb)
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    heat

  13. #13
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    And yes the screws are easy to remove.

    "Prowler"
    X470 Gaming Pro Carbon | R7 2700 @ 4GHz | 2x8GB G.Skill Ripjaws @ 3466MHz CL16 | RX580 8GB @ 1.43GH\8.6GHz w\ my own custom timings | Xonar DX 7.1 | 2TB Barracuda | 256GB & 512GB Asgard NVMe drives | 2x DVD & Blu-Ray opticals | EVGA Supernova 1000w G2

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    4x 120mm LED fans, 2x 140mm LED fans, 1x 200mm LED fan | Modified CoolerMaster Masterliquid 240

    Asrock Z77 thread! | Asrock Z77 Extreme6 Review | Asrock P67 Extreme4 Review | Asrock P67 Extreme4/6 Pro3 thread | Asrock Z68 Extreme4 thread | Asrock Z68 Extreme4 Review | Asrock Z68 Gen3 Thread | 8GB G-Skill review | TK 2.ZERO homepage | P5Q series mBIOS thread

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  14. #14
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    I like you're review Ket. I am buying this board; it seems like the best bang for the buck. I thought I would go with the Extreme6 P67 board, but hey I figure this board will now be receiving more support and it has a few more features, most of which I will not use... but hey it's "more future proof."

    I have to say the graphics charts could be confusing if you're skimming over it (I didn't, read the whole thing ). I thought it a bit odd reading your comment and looking back at the chart it seemed like a big difference; a closer look fixed that

    Hopefully I get a good chip. I'll be going with the 2500K.
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  15. #15
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    Nice work Ket, the scales of the graphs don't matter much as the appropriate comment is there... read it iso looking at the pictures :p

    Lol Vivi I had the same idea, that PCH heatsink looked sooo familiar :p
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  16. #16
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    @ Anusha; I'll be uploading the OC settings I'm using to the Z68 thread in a little bit.

    Everyone else; Glad you liked the review and took the time to read it fully

    "Prowler"
    X470 Gaming Pro Carbon | R7 2700 @ 4GHz | 2x8GB G.Skill Ripjaws @ 3466MHz CL16 | RX580 8GB @ 1.43GH\8.6GHz w\ my own custom timings | Xonar DX 7.1 | 2TB Barracuda | 256GB & 512GB Asgard NVMe drives | 2x DVD & Blu-Ray opticals | EVGA Supernova 1000w G2

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    4x 120mm LED fans, 2x 140mm LED fans, 1x 200mm LED fan | Modified CoolerMaster Masterliquid 240

    Asrock Z77 thread! | Asrock Z77 Extreme6 Review | Asrock P67 Extreme4 Review | Asrock P67 Extreme4/6 Pro3 thread | Asrock Z68 Extreme4 thread | Asrock Z68 Extreme4 Review | Asrock Z68 Gen3 Thread | 8GB G-Skill review | TK 2.ZERO homepage | P5Q series mBIOS thread

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  17. #17
    I am Xtreme
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    The motherboard looks very interesting indeed and especially the price makes it even better choice.
    Intel Core i7 930 @ 4.1 GHz (196x21 - 1.28v)
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  18. #18
    I am Xtreme Ket's Avatar
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    The board is deffinately good. After looking at competing boards from Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, etc. For the price you can't beat the Z68 Extreme4. It just offers more of everything really. Most notably excellent support with frequent UEFI updates

    "Prowler"
    X470 Gaming Pro Carbon | R7 2700 @ 4GHz | 2x8GB G.Skill Ripjaws @ 3466MHz CL16 | RX580 8GB @ 1.43GH\8.6GHz w\ my own custom timings | Xonar DX 7.1 | 2TB Barracuda | 256GB & 512GB Asgard NVMe drives | 2x DVD & Blu-Ray opticals | EVGA Supernova 1000w G2

    Cooling:

    4x 120mm LED fans, 2x 140mm LED fans, 1x 200mm LED fan | Modified CoolerMaster Masterliquid 240

    Asrock Z77 thread! | Asrock Z77 Extreme6 Review | Asrock P67 Extreme4 Review | Asrock P67 Extreme4/6 Pro3 thread | Asrock Z68 Extreme4 thread | Asrock Z68 Extreme4 Review | Asrock Z68 Gen3 Thread | 8GB G-Skill review | TK 2.ZERO homepage | P5Q series mBIOS thread

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  19. #19
    Great review.

    I thought the zlib and latency graphs were jokes pointing at other reviews. Lol.

    I'm most likely going to be purchasing this board soon.

    Has anyone experienced any USB3 issues with this board similar to bat4's posts in the p67 extreme4 thread? http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/...4-review/page2
    Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P - Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 @ 3.3ghz w/ Thermalright SI-128

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  20. #20
    I am Xtreme Ket's Avatar
    Join Date
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    No. Since the Etron 1.1 driver (available from either the P67 or Z68 threads I made) its all been smooth sailing

    "Prowler"
    X470 Gaming Pro Carbon | R7 2700 @ 4GHz | 2x8GB G.Skill Ripjaws @ 3466MHz CL16 | RX580 8GB @ 1.43GH\8.6GHz w\ my own custom timings | Xonar DX 7.1 | 2TB Barracuda | 256GB & 512GB Asgard NVMe drives | 2x DVD & Blu-Ray opticals | EVGA Supernova 1000w G2

    Cooling:

    4x 120mm LED fans, 2x 140mm LED fans, 1x 200mm LED fan | Modified CoolerMaster Masterliquid 240

    Asrock Z77 thread! | Asrock Z77 Extreme6 Review | Asrock P67 Extreme4 Review | Asrock P67 Extreme4/6 Pro3 thread | Asrock Z68 Extreme4 thread | Asrock Z68 Extreme4 Review | Asrock Z68 Gen3 Thread | 8GB G-Skill review | TK 2.ZERO homepage | P5Q series mBIOS thread

    (\_/) This is Bunny.
    (+.+) Bunny is dead.
    (^ ^) Copy and paste Bunny into your sig to create an army of BUNNY ZOMBIE MINIONS!!!

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