I have to say that ASRock Z77 Extreme3 made a very good overall impression. It has a long list of indisputable advantages, such as thought-through design, high-quality electronic components, good functionality enhanced with a number of proprietary technologies, user-friendly BIOS and unique software included with the board. With so many great advantages, there are very few shortcomings, so we can easily remember them. They are not very convenient lock-latches on the graphics card slots and the rotation speed adjustment for the processor cooling fan. However, these are the comments that could be applied to quite a few ASRock mainboards, and not the concerns typical of this specific model. Today this is the junior mainboard model in the Z77 Extreme series, its price is quite low, but we do not see any signs of a cheap or sloppily made product. On the contrary, the board looks more expensive than it is actually priced, it is made just as thoroughly and neatly as the top ASRock mainboards with a much higher price tag.
We promised to tell you what the differences were between ASRock Z77 Extreme3 and ASRock Z77 Extreme4. First let’s remember what is missing on the Extreme3 mainboard. There are no additional SATA and USB 3.0 controllers, no buttons, no POST-code indicator, no eSATA port, no decorative plate on the chipset heatsink. And now let’s list all the differences. Instead of the premium “golden” capacitors it uses high-quality Japanese solid state caps. The processor voltage regulator circuitry is designed as 8+3 and not 8+4. Instead of the Broadcom network controller they used Realtek RTL8111E, and Realtek ALC898 codec was replaced with the ALC892 model. The PS/2 port is no longer universal and can only support keyboards. There are also a few additions: instead of one of the PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots, they offer a PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot that works at x4 maximum speed and expands the mainboard functionality in terms of supported AMD CrossFireX multi-card graphics configurations. That’s about all.
So, it looks like we didn’t ask the right questions in the beginning of our today’s review. We were wondering what features had been sacrificed and removed compared with the Extreme4 model. We have already described all the differences, but in reality ASRock Z77 Extreme3 is actually not a simplified modification of the ASRock Z77 Extreme4. ASRock Z77 Extreme3 is a fully functional model that uses to the fullest the functionality of the Intel Z77 Express chipset used in it. It hasn’t been limited or restricted in any way, it has a lot of advantages, just like other ASRock mainboards. However, its unique trump is that it doesn’t have any unnecessary or excessive features: no unnecessary additional controllers, no buttons, no decorative plates, but only everything a user needs for optimal work. If at some point you need IEEE1394 (FireWire), a second network card, eSATA port or something else, you won’t need to replace the mainboard, but just go and buy the necessary extras. This mainboard has very impressive expansion capabilities including two PCI Express 3.0/2.0 x16 slots, one PCI Express 2.0 x16 (x4) slot, one PCI Express 2.0 x1 and two PCI slots, not to mention numerous USB ports. But you are not paying for the features and functions that you don’t use, because there are none on this mainboard. At the same time, this mainboard doesn’t have any particular problems: this is a high-quality product, it works well, is user-friendly, energy-efficient, fast, overclocks processors and memory very well. Its functionality will be more than enough for the majority of users out there, so we have no concerns about its market success. Moreover, it would be our sincere pleasure to award ASRock Z77 Extreme3 our Recommended Buy title and stress that this simple, inexpensive and very good product can become an excellent choice for many of you.