07/29/2009 | 04:07 PM
The mainboard model name not always reveals clearly what the solution is capable of and how it positions among the similar solutions. For example, if one main board is called Asus P6T, and another - Asus P6T Deluxe, there are no questions here. Obviously, the “deluxe” mainboard is more advanced than the regular one. It is much harder to make the right choice if you have Asus M4A78-E and Asus M3A79-T. M4 seems to be better than M3, but 79 is a higher number than 78. Besides, it is fairly hard to decide between “E” and “T” models. And what would you say if we offered you to choose between ASRock X58 SuperComputer and ASRock X58 Extreme? Of course, the mainboard with the word “SuperComputer” in its model name should be exceptional, though the “Extreme” solution is can also hardly be considered common…
However, if we are talking about the ASRock mainboard from the last example, then we have an advantage over the others making the same choice. We have already reviewed ASRock X58 SuperComputer mainboard on our site a while back and we are very well familiar with the advantages and drawbacks of this specific model. As for ASRock X58 Extreme, we are going to talk about its features and peculiarities in our today’s review.
ASRock X58 Extreme mainboard ships in a small nice looking box. The front of the packaging is decorated with refreshed Intel Core i7 processor logos, a sticker indicating that the board is Windows 7 ready, Nvidia SLI and ATI CrossFireX technologies logotypes. Moreover, the box also tells us that the board uses 8-phase processor voltage regulator circuitry and is equipped with a Powered eSATA connector.
The back side of the box has a photo of ASRock X58 Extreme mainboard, its brief technical specifications in several different languages and some basic info about certain hardware and software peculiarities.
Inside the box we find an ASRock X58 Extreme mainboard, of course, as well as the following accessories:
Besides the drivers, the disk contains different documents in electronic form, such as full version of the user manual for ASRock X58 Extreme mainboard, information about Intel Matrix Storage Manager utility and RAID configuring, instructions for connecting up to six monitors. Besides ASRock’s brand name utilities, such as ASRock OC Tuner, ASRock IES (Intelligent Energy Saver) and ASRock Instant Boot, the disk also contains Adobe Reader, Microsoft DirectX 9.0c and Norton Internet Security software.
No wonder that ASRock X58 Extreme has a lot in common with ASRock X58 SuperComputer. However, at the same time we can’t say that these two mainboards have the same design: the new solution boasts a much better layout than its predecessor.
For example, the processor socket has been moved farther away from the top edge of the PCB, at about the same distance from the edge as on many other mainboards. It increases the chances of successful installation of most large processor coolers, the cooling system won’t hit against the system power supply unit or top of the system case, if the PSU is located at the bottom.
ASRock X58 Extreme was made with all newest components. In particular, the eight-phase processor voltage regulator circuitry uses solid-state capacitor and armoured ferrite core chokes. All aluminum heatsinks of the chipset cooling system are fastened with traditional but not very reliable plastic push-pins with springs. However, during work the heatpipes connecting the chipset North Bridge heatsink with the processor voltage regulator heatsink warmed up significantly, which indicates secure contact.
To build an ATI CrossFire or NVIDIA SLI graphics configurations you should use two blue PCI Express 2.0 x16 connectors in the first place. They work at full interface speed and have more space between them, so that even the largest graphics cards cooling systems could fit nicely. The third orange connector is also designed as a PCI Express x16, but the graphics card installed into it can only work as PCI Express 2.0 x4. Moreover, the board is also equipped with two PCI Express x1 and two PCI connectors.
In the lower right corner of the ASRock X58 Extreme mainboard you can notice Power On and Reset buttons together with a POST indicator. Just like ASRock X58 SuperComputer, this mainboard is equipped with a VIA VT6330 controller providing IEEE1394 (FireWire) and Parallel ATA support. It is a very smart solution because most users are more than happy with the functionality of the Intel ICH10R South Bridge that delivers support for six Serial ATA ports and RAID arrays. More SATA ports are rarely needed and even if they are available they are rarely used. However, ASRock X58 Extreme didn’t manage to do without additional SATA controllers. They had to integrate JMicron JMB360 controller that “transforms” one PCI Express lane into one SATA port in order to implement the Powered eSATAII/USB connector on the back of the board. It is a more economical solution than the one we saw on ASRock X58 SuperComputer where they integrated a JMicron JMB362 controller, but used only one SATA ports of the two it provided.
Besides, Powered eSATAII/USB the mainboard connector panel carries the following ports and connectors:
The components layout scheme from ASRock X58 Extreme user manual will give you a better idea of the location of major functional knots:
Once again we see a lot of similarities with the layout of ASRock X58 SuperComputer. For instance, the connectors for front panel buttons and indicators, IEEE1394 (FireWire) and USB are found in a very unusual spot: to the right of the memory DIMM slots. However, there are also a few changes for the better: fan connectors on ASRock X58 Extreme are no longer packed around the chipset North Bridge, but more or less evenly spread out around the sides of the mainboard PCB. Overall, the PCB design of ASRock X58 Extreme mainboard did retain certain unique traits but at the same time became more convenient and closer to classical or standard.
In conclusion to our layout discussion we would like to offer you a summary table with the technical specifications for ASRock X58 Extreme mainboard taken from the manufacturer web-site:
The only difference between ASRock X58 Extreme and its older sister that we found in the technical specs is the use of only one Gigabit network controller, while ASRock X58 SuperComputer had two of them.
ASRock X58 Extreme, just like its predecessor, uses a BIOS on AMI micro-code. The BIOS looks and functionality are very similar to what we already know from our ASRock X58 SuperComputer review. However, we also noticed a few evident improvements and a number of completely new functions in it.
After the “Main” section that has nothing special about it and reports the basic info about the current operational modes, we go straight to “Smart” section:
We would like to once again thank ASRock for making it possible to choose HDD operational modes quickly and easily and for giving us the ability to enable power-saving technologies in “Smart Settings” sub-section. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the use of optimized parameters didn’t cause failure to boot, like the one we observed on ASRock X58 SuperComputer. A couple of parameters from “EZ Overclocking” sub-section will allow you to increase the memory or processor frequency.
We have already seen all this when we talked about ASRock X58 SuperComputer mainboard. But it is for the first time that we come across the integrated utility for updating the BIOS called ASRock Instant Flash. It works in a very interesting and original way. The utility scans all connected storage devices and offers to update the BIOS only if it finds a suitable BIOS version for this specific mainboard. As a result of this truly innovative approach we no longer need to search for the necessary BIOS file on our own. We have never seen an implementation like that anywhere else. It is very convenient.
The BIOS updating procedure itself is pretty traditional:
Here I would also like to say that you can download a file for BIOS Updating from Windows from ASRock’s official web-site. Just extract files from the archive and launch Afuwin utility. After rebooting your system your mainboard will have an updated BIOS version. Also an extremely convenient feature.
The next section we would like to go to is called “Advanced” and it contains a few important sub-sections for proper system configuring.
“CPU Configuration” sub-section offers basic info about the processor and allows configuring different processor technologies.
ASRock X58 Extreme mainboard has its own sub-section with all meaningful parameters necessary for optimal system configuring – “Chipset Settings”.
The information strings show that this time the mainboard reads the info from the memory modules X.M.P. profiles absolutely correctly. “Overclock Mode” parameter can be set to Manual and this is when we get full access to frequencies adjustment. We can also set it to I.O.T. (Intelligent Overclocking Technology), which is ASRock’s own brand name version of automatic overclocking technology. When the processor is loaded with work, the base and PCI Express bus frequencies will increase by a certain value set within 0-10% interval. In other words, the base frequency may increase from 133 MHz to 146 MHz and so will all frequencies connected to it, such as CPU, memory and others. Besides that, “Overclock Mode” parameter may be set to “Optimized”, although we didn’t see any evident changes in this mode, there was no info about it in the manual that is why we had to figure it out ourselves. We are going to share our findings with you a little later in this article.
There are two more things that caught our attention. “Intelligent Energy Saver” parameter allows to enable all power-saving technologies related to the CPU and mainboard to be enabled right from the BIOS. In particular, when the load is low, the number of active phases in the processor voltage regulator circuitry will be reduced. There is a new parameter called “ASRock VDrop Control” that prevents the processor voltage from dropping under load. We can only enable this protection when “Intelligent Energy Saver” parameter is off.
Some parameters have been singled out onto individual pages. One of them is DRAM Timing Control with the memory timings. Just like by Asus mainboards, the information string reports current timings settings and you can adjust each setting independently of the others.
All parameters related to voltage adjustment are also gathered on a separate page. By default, all parameters are set to Auto. You can set “CPU Voltage” to Manual and then choose the desired voltage setting. We have seen this before; however, this time “CPU Voltage” parameter has one new possible value: “Overdrive Offset”. When this mode is on, we do not set the processor core voltage directly, but simply add a certain value to the nominal setting. It is a very useful function, because in this case all Intel processor power-saving technologies keep working.
If the voltage setting is too high, the values will be highlighted red. However, the dangerous memory voltage is considered above 1.9 V and not above 1.65 V like on most other LGA1366 mainboards.
We are not going to dwell on other sub-sections in “Advanced” section and will move over to “H/W Monitor” section:
The functionality of this section is not very impressive: we only get two temperatures and one single CPU core voltage out of all the voltages that ASRock X58 Extreme can control. The good thing is that we can monitor rotation speed of all five fans connected to this mainboard and adjust the rotation speed of four of them. We can set constant rotation speed for three fans right from the BIOS and the rotation speed of the CPU fan can be set dependent on the temperature.
We are going to leave out the functionality of “Boot” and “Security” sections and will wind up our discussion of ASRock X58 Extreme BIOS functionality with the “Exit” section. Here you can save three full BIOS settings profiles. It is only a pity that we can’t assign our own names or descriptions to them, but it is still better than nothing.
Overall, the BIOS of ASRock X58 Extreme mainboard makes a very good impression, although there is still a lot of room for optimizations, such as making navigation over menus and sections even easier, BIOS functions even more informative and overall experience even more fun. For example, it would be more convenient if “Chipset Settings” section contained all and not almost all important parameters; if the changes that will take effect after the system reboot could display more clearly. Namely, when we use the BIOS functions related to automatic overclocking of the CPU or memory, we would love to see all changes that will occur with the frequencies and voltages before they kick in. At this point, most BIOS settings will remain at Auto. To find out the information we are looking for, we have to resort to “ASRock OC Tuner” utility, but it is not very convenient to work with, is not quite perfect and often makes mistakes.
At the same time, we can’t help pointing out a number of obvious changes for the better that have been introduced into the ASRock BIOS within a fairly short period of time, since we first met the first ASRock LGA1366 X58 SuperComputer mainboard. This gives us very good reasons to hope that the company will continue optimizing their BIOS and give ASRock X58 Extreme overall high score for the quality and functionality of their BIOS.
Before we move on to the results of our practical experiments, we have to add a few last strokes to the portrait of the ASRock X58 Extreme mainboard and ASRock Company that you might already have in front of your eyes. At first, I have to say that the quality of informational materials is quite standard, I would even say average, while the ASRock company web-sites are pretty informative. The mainboard is bundled with a thick paper manual. In fact, this is none other but brief assembly and installation instructions in several different languages. The CD disk contains the full version of the manual in English. It is also of rather average quality: not bad, but at the same time not excellent. It does cover all major topics, but we wish there were more detailed descriptions of certain features and peculiarities. For example, the manual mentions that “Overclock Mode” parameter can also be set to “Optimized”, but there is no information about the specifics of this operational mode and the possible consequences of enabling it.
During the discussion of ASRock X58 Extreme exterior design, we didn’t mention one drawback we found: there is not even one LED anywhere on the board. We can name several mainboards that use too many LEDs. Excessive illumination is in no way helpful, but on the contrary is very confusing and annoying that is why we have always considered the option to disable the onboard LEDs to be an advantage. However, I believe that there should be at least one LED signaling that the board receives power. But ASRock X58 Extreme has a very good excuse for that.
A page on the English-language ASRock web-site devoted to ASRock X58 Extreme mainboard tells us that “X58 Extreme [is] Worldwide First EuP Ready Motherboard!”. Frankly speaking, I didn’t have any idea what that abbreviation stood for, so I googled “EuP” and the “readiness conditions” for it. Surprisingly, I found pretty detailed information on the matter… on ASRock’s official web-site. I should have paid more attention to beautiful multi-color links on the left-hand side (they looked so much like the ad-banners most users rarely notice) and to the logos of supported functions and technologies that go right after the brief description of mainboard features. By clicking on the icon I could open a brief description and the links on the left lead to individual pages each devoted to a specific feature or technology.
The page contains extensive info about the board. The menu in the upper left part of the site provides links to latest driver and BIOS updates, electronic version of the manual, CPU, memory and graphics card compatibility list. You won’t need to wander around the site looking for information and use the search function too many times, which is a great plus.
ASRock Company doesn’t have too many localized web-sites. Besides the English-language site, there are sites in China, Taiwan, France, Russia and a Spanish language Latin-American site. Only six sites are not too much, but if you think about it, they cover most of the world’s population. Moreover, they translated not only the basic stuff, but all the pages about functions and technologies, too. In my opinion, ASRocks efforts and commitment to ensure proper informational content of their web-sites and Internet deserve our ultimate gratitude.
In particular, going back to where we started this conversation. We can learn that “EuP” stands for “Energy Using Product”. This standard was developed by the European Union to define the power consumption of complete systems. Since the popularity of electronic equipment continues to increase over the next 20-30 years, the EU decided to introduce a new efficient strategy for regulating power consumption levels. To meet “EuP” standards the powered off system should consume less than 1 W of power. Of course, it is absolutely impossible to achieve this level of energy-efficiency without trying to save on everything, even the smallest things, like LEDs. That is why the absence of any LEDs on ASRock X58 Extreme mainboard looks quite explainable and justified from this standpoint.
All our tests were performed in the following system:
We used Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate x86 operating system with Service Pack 2, a set of chipset drivers version 18.104.22.1682, and ATI Catalyst 9.6 graphics card driver.
When powered up, ASRock X58 Extreme mainboard displays a startup screen with the info about available hot keys. By the way, ASRock mainboards are the only ones that allow choosing a picture from several preloaded into the BIOS. You can do it in the “Boot” section.
You can disable the startup image completely and then you will see pretty detailed boot-up status info on your screen. The only thing missing is probably the current memory frequency.
I really liked the fact that although they used an AMI BIOS, you can access the BIOS settings not only by pressing F2, but also by pressing a more common Del key.
When there is no load, Intel processor power-saving technologies lower the CPU voltage and multiplier.
We usually offer you a CPUID screenshot from Lavalys Eeverst utility, because it is very convenient to work with. The same screen shows almost all important CPU parameters, frequencies of different busses, mainboard model name, memory frequency and timings. This information is pretty sufficient for most systems, although the LGA1366 also need Uncore frequency that has some serious effect on performance comparable to the effect from the memory frequency and timings. However, today we will have to use CPU-Z utility, because Lavalys Everest CPUID for some reason refused to display the CPU Vcore, which is ultimately important for us.
Now we see that in idle mode processor Vcore drops below 1 V – it is a clear indication that ASRock’s brand name power-saving technologies are working perfectly. If we disable these technologies, the processor Vcore will be around 1.1 V, just like on other mainboards. Moreover, the number of active phases in the CPU voltage regulator circuitry also reduces, but we can see that only with ASRock IES (Intelligent Energy Saver) utility.
Unlike similar applications from other mainboard makers we have seen before, this utility doesn’t allow to configure any of the power-saving modes. Besides enabling and disabling power-saving technologies that can also be done without its immediate involvement right from the BIOS, this utility performs purely informational functions reporting the number of active processor voltage regulator phases, current CPU Vcore, amount of saved power, etc.
As for the memory, like on many other mainboards, it works at 1066 MHz with 8-8-8-20-1T timings by default. By the way, CPU-Z utility, unlike Lavalys Everest CPUID, shows the current UnCore bus frequency marking it as NB Frequency.
When the CPU gets loaded with work, its clock multiplier increases to 21 due to Intel Turbo Boost technology, and so does the CPU core voltage. However, we have already seen all that many times on other mainboards. This time, pay attention to the base frequency, that is for some reason increased to 136.3 MHz unlike the number we see in the CPU screenshot.
It is not a utility error, but the result of setting the “Overclock Mode” parameter to Optimized in the mainboard BIOS. If this parameter is set to Auto, the board will support standard 133 MHz frequency, while at the Optimized setting the board slightly increases the base speed, though not immediately, but only when the CPU gets loaded with work. The frequencies of other busses connected with the base frequency increase respectively: QPI, UnCore, memory bus.
This is not a serious increase, that poses no danger for the system operating in nominal mode, but we couldn’t understand why the “Optimized” mode wasn’t described anywhere in the user manual and other supporting documents for the board.
We decided to leave this “optimized” operational mode on for our ASRock X58 Extreme comparative performance tests, because this small speed increase was very unlikely to have a serious effect on the results. At this point we use the settings automatically set by the mainboard itself, and do not adjust anything. It is the exact mode that will be set when we select one of “Performance Defaults” parameters in “Smart Settings” sub-category of the BIOS. Besides, we are also familiar with a few other mainboards that slightly increase the nominal work frequencies without even asking and not only under workload, but at all times. Namely, a slight increase in the base frequency from 133 to 135 MHz in the nominal mode has always been the case on Gigabyte mainboards, such as Gigabyte GA-EX58-Extreme, which we chose to compete against ASRock X58 Extreme in our today’s test session.
As you can see, ASRock X58 Extreme doesn’t demonstrate an overwhelming superiority over the rival, but doesn’t fall behind it either. Both mainboards overall perform equally fast.
We measured the power consumption using Extech Power Analyzer 380803 device. This device was connected before the system PSU, i.e. it measured the power consumption of the entire system without the monitor, including the power losses that occur in the PSU itself. When we took the power readings in idle mode, the system was completely idle: there were even no requests sent to the hard drive at that time. We used LinX program to load the CPU. For more illustrative picture we created a graph showing the power consumption growth depending on the increase in CPU utilization as the number of active computational threads in LinX changed.
The efforts of ASRock engineers aimed at lowering their mainboard’s power consumption did pay off well. ASRock X58 Extreme consumed about the same amount of power as Gigabyte GA-EX58-Extreme mainboard, and the latter is one of the most energy-efficient LGA1366 mainboards we have tested so far. This way, in the nominal mode ASRock X58 Extreme performs just as good as its well-known competitor. However, the results of performance comparison during overclocking turned out completely different. But before we move on to the results, let’s discuss peculiarities of overclocking on ASRock X58 Extreme in detail.
We checked out overclocking potential of ASRock X58 Extreme mainboard following our standard procedure, however, it did prepare a few surprises for us. Let’s start with the fact that when the processor clock frequency multiplier is lowered to 12, the board could boot the operating system at the base frequency increased to 215 MHz, but we couldn’t pass the stability tests at this frequency despite all measures. AT 210 MHz frequency the board passed all stability tests with flying colors: it is a moderately good result, because most of the mainboards we tested so far, including ASRock X58 SuperComputer could remain stable at 215 MHz base frequency.
Although the information strings in the mainboard BIOS display the memory parameters recorded in the X.M.P. profiles absolutely correctly now, ASRock X58 Extreme refused to boot with the first profile. However, if we manually set 1867 MHz memory frequency and increased the voltages accordingly, the board copes perfectly fine with the high memory frequencies. This is a significant improvement compared with what we saw during our experiments with ASRock X58 SuperComputer. However, there still were a few things that slightly spoiled the joy from this achievement.
It took us a while before we managed to get the board to pass memory stability tests at 1867 MHz frequency. Increasing the memory timings and voltages didn’t help. In fact, it was at that particular moment that I noticed the peculiarities of ASRock X58 Extreme operation in Optimized mode. We didn’t really overclock the CPU, but simply increased the memory frequency of our Kingston HyperX DDR3-1866 KHX14900D3T1K3/3GX memory modules to their nominal value of 1867 MHz. That is why we left “Overclock Mode” parameter set to Optimized. However, the formerly safe minor increase in the CPU base frequency from 133 to 136.3 MHz this time caused the memory frequency to rise beyond 1900 MHz, and that is unattainably high for our memory modules. So, the key to success was not in finding the optimal increased voltage setting, but if making sure that “Overclock Mode” parameter is set to Auto. If they had included the description of the Optimized mode into the manual, I could have easily avoided all these complications.
The second problem revealed itself practically during the first ASRock X58 Extreme power-up, however, its consequences showed only at this point. I doubt that you have noticed it on your own, so I would like to draw your attention to the fact that we have slightly changed the configuration of our testbed. Instead of the Protechnic Electric MGA12012HB-O25 fan with 2500 RPM rotation speed that we have used on our Cooler Master GeminII CPU cooler so far, we started using Crown AGE12025F12J fan with maximum rotation speed of 2200 RPM.
This Protechnic Electric fan is a truly horrible device. It was initially installed into OCZ GameXStream OCZGXS700 power supply unit that we have in our system right now. However, many years ago we replaced it with a different fan, because this ill-balanced noisy fan created acoustically unbearable working conditions. It has been sitting idle in our lab since then until hot Intel Core i7 processors came out. It was noisy, but it was also very powerful at its 2500 RPM speed and coped perfectly with cooling overclocked processors. To ensure more or less acceptable working conditions, we had to switch it manually to 7 V power source, and eventually we got sick and tired of constant switching and unbearable noise. All contemporary mainboards can control the rotation speed of four-pin fans and we obviously need to have one.
120 mm fans are relatively quiet when working at <1000 RPM or slightly higher, that is why most PWM controlled fans support up to 1300 RPM rotation speed. It is fairly easy to find a 2000 RPM fan, but we wish we could get an even faster one. We did find it, but not in retail. It was a fan installed onto Vantec AeroFlow FX 120 (VAF-1225) processor cooler called Crown AGE12025F12J with maximum 2200 RPM rotation speed. It looks very beautiful. Its white plastic blades reflect the glow from the LEDs on the Antec Skeleton top fan, however, we are primarily interested in its performance and technical specs.
Since at that time we also had Asus rampage II Gene mainboard installed into our testbed, we tested this fan on that particular board for the very first time. The results after 25 runs of LinX utility on the Intel Core i7-920 processor overclocked to 3.8 GHz turned out quite good. With the old fan working at a constant speed of 2500 RPM the maximum temperatures of all four CPU cores were 80, 79, 78 and 75 °C respectively, while with the new fan supporting automatic rotation speed control and the maximum speed never exceeding 2200 RPM the temperatures were 81, 79, 79 and 75 °C.
Under heavy CPU load created by LinX utility, the fan rotation speed almost immediately increased to its maximum. Looks like Asus Rampage Gene II mainboard considers the cores temperatures, and most likely also the CPU current, to adjust the rotation speed of the CPU cooler fan accordingly. However, at first we had the impression that this rotation speed control feature didn’t work at all on ASRock X58 Extreme. We could change the fan rotation speed depending on the “Target Fan Speed” parameter setting, but it remained constant and didn’t increase any further when the CPU got loaded heavier and its temperature went up.
Things cleared up in a short while. The mainboard could in fact control the rotation speed of the CPU fan, we just had to wait a little longer, because it uses the thermal readings off the thermal diode beneath the processor socket. Depending on the conditions, such as room temperature, type and length of the CPU load, the difference between the actual temperature and the readings taken off the diode may drop down to 8 or increase up to 20 °C, but is about 15 °C on average. Under heavy load the processor core temperature increases almost momentarily, but the thermal diode warms up little by little. This increased delay between the temperature surge and the fan reaction makes it impossible to automatically adjust fan rotation speed during overclocking. Moreover, we couldn’t pass the tests even when the CPU wasn’t overclocked at all, but the memory frequency was increased to 1867 MHz. in this case we had to increase the UnCore voltage of the North bridge part integrated into the CPU, which increased the processor temperature and caused errors. If the fan rotation speed was at its maximum, the tests completed successfully. Unfortunately, it is only possible to use automatic fan rotation speed control on ASRock X58 Extreme mainboard in the nominal operational mode.
Our Intel Core i7-920 processor sample reaches optimal overclocking at 3.8 GHz frequency that can be achieved by increasing its base speed to 181 MHz. We usually don’t even have to bump up the processor core voltage, just make sure that it is protected against voltage drops under load. ASRock X58 Extreme mainboard has a new parameter called “ASRock VDrop Control”, but when we enabled it the processor core voltage increased slightly. We have already come across a situation like that before, and it can be resolved by disabling VDrop and increasing the processor Vcore a little bit to make up for the voltage drop under load. It is exactly the way we overcome the problem during our Asus Rampage Gene II tests: we only had to add 0.0125 V to the CPU core voltage. However, this fix didn’t work for ASRock X58 Extreme. We had to put up with excessive increase in the processor core voltage under load.
The last issue that we discovered during our overclocking experiments is problems with the memory. Most mainboards can ensure stable memory operation at 1810 MHz with 8-8-8-22-1T timings when their base frequency is increased to 181 MHz. ASRock X58 Extreme also conquered this frequency, but only with 9-9-9-24-1T timings.
As a result, Intel processor power-saving technologies did lower the CPU Vcore and multiplier in idle mode:
When the processor workload increased the clock frequency multiplier increased to 21 due to Intel Turbo Boost technology. In this case the CPU frequency rose to 3.8 GHz and the memory always remained at 1810 MHz with 9-9-9-24-1T timings. As you can see from the CPU-Z screenshot, under load processor Vcore is increased to 1.248 V (1.225 V being the nominal) because of the enabled “ASRock VDrop Control” function.
It is interesting that ASRock X58 SuperComputer mainboard demonstrated dynamic implementation of the Intel Turbo Boost technology. Processor clock multiplier increased to 21 only when the load was relatively low, otherwise it increased only to 20. ASRock X58 Extreme mainboard offers static implementation of Intel Turbo Boost technology: the CPU clock multiplier increases to 21 at all times, independent of the load level. As a result, we can sum up the results of our CPU overclocking on ASRock X58 Extreme mainboard as follows:
Just like during the performance comparison in the nominal mode, ASRock X58 Extreme will be competing against Gigabyte GA-EX58-Extreme:
It is not quite clear why ASRock X58 Extreme outperforms its rival in Custom PC Bench 2007 tests, for instance. Both mainboards worked in identical testing conditions, only memory timings on Gigabyte mainboard were a little better. Other than that, the results turned out quite predictable. In those applications that do not depend on the memory subsystem performance too much, both boards performed equally fast. Take, for example, Cinebench 10 and Fritz Chess Benchmark. In gaming tests ASRock X58 Extreme falls a little behind, though the difference is not critical - only 3-5 %.
The results of power consumption tests look worse for ASRock X58 Extreme, although in nominal mode it was just as energy-efficient as Gigabyte GA-EX58-Extreme.
In idle mode and under single-threaded load the power consumption of both mainboards is again at comparable levels. However, as the workload increases, so does the difference between the boards reaching 50 W maximum. It is a lot and I assume that ASRock X58 Extreme owes this high power consumption to increased CPU Vcore when “ASRock VDrop Control” function is enabled.
As you may remember, our review of ASRock X58 SuperComputer mainboard, which we mentioned in the beginning of our today’s article, was written in a slightly indulging tone. We discovered a number of issues with that mainboard, we didn’t keep quiet about them, but also didn’t really stress them too much. This time, things are completely different. ASRock X58 Extreme mainboard doesn’t need our help. Of course, it also has a few drawbacks of its own, but despite that the mainboard is of such quality that it will easily stand full-throttle comparison against any of the competitors in all aspects. Most importantly, ASRock X58 Extreme has one significant advantage over the rivals – the price. It is expected to retail at about $170, which is considerably lower than the price of most contemporary mainboards for Intel Core i7 processors. And the greatest thing is that by winning in price, you don’t really lose anything, you don’t sacrifice a thing on the functional or performance level - ASRock X58 Extreme mainboard will work perfectly fine in the nominal mode and will allow successful overclocking, if you decide to do it.
Those mainboards that we really like usually receive our Editor’s Choice award. This time, the situation is a little different. I personally would probably prefer some other model, but ASRock X58 Extreme has every right to claim our new title “X-bit Recommended Buy”.