Thoughts on ASRock Motherboards


My first “real” motherboard was the Abit NF7-s, back when Socket A ruled the OC scene. When that board was released, it had it all – the nForce2 chipset that allowed FSB to be unlocked from the processor clock, DDR 400 support, onboard SATA, a wealth of overclocking features that was unparalleled at the time, and a reputation for stability. Unfortunately, Abit failed to follow up the early NF7-s and their quality declined. It was time to search for a new manufacturer.

For me, that new manufacturer was ASRock and my relationship started in 2006 with the ASRock 939Dual-Sata2, a peculiar board that had an on-board Socket 939 with a provision for an AM2 add-in card. Adding to its peculiarity, the 939Dual also sported both the new-at-the-time PCI-e x16 slot and an 8x AGP slot. This was a selling point for me as I had an AGP All-in-wonder 9800 Pro at the time (it was installed in my NF7-s), but wanted to upgrade in the future. ASRock’s “everything but the kitchen sink” approach to motherboard design is clearly evident with the 939Dual and that trend has been seen through to their present day offerings. Do not let the budget price tag fool you – ASRock motherboards come fully loaded and ready to compete with boards twice their price.

After purchasing my first 939Dual-Sata2, I found it to be so good that I purchased two more for additional builds. Of those original three, I have one running in my media server today, one is in an old computer that is no longer actively used, and I sold the third computer to a friend. Then when I built a new Core2Quad based gaming computer for my brother, I again used an ASRock motherboard which is still running to this day. The list continues, from VMWare Servers, to Domain Controllers supporting non-profits, to custom gaming rigs, I have used dozens of ASRock motherboards with no DOAs and no failures to-date. They have been stable, economical, and feature packed.

My current system is using the ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3, but only the  Z68 Extreme 4 Gen3 is still available. Once again, I was impressed with all the board had to offer at such a modest price. The Extreme 3 came fully loaded twin PCI-e 3.0 x16 slots, UEFI BIOS, RAID support, SATA 3 support, Lucid Virtu support for ultra-fast media encoding, a stout voltage regulator, and a suite of ASRock utilities for overclocking and enhancing the end-user experience. On this board, I was able to overclock my Intel Core i5-2500K to 4.9 GHz on air. Impressive. Stability has been nothing short of perfect with uptime only limited by power outages.

Finally, when my father needed a system for his business, I turned to ASRock. Using my proven system as a blueprint, I selected the ASRock z77 EXTREME4 paired with the Intel Core i5-3570K. As a business system, stability and reliability must come first; the z77 Extreme4 has again proven itself to be rock solid. Per the usual, RAID support is included and this system includes two Seagate Barracuda 2 TB ST2000DM001 hard drives in RAID 1 (mirrored)  for data redundancy. A 256gb Samsung 840 Pro Series SSD was ordered to compliment the speed of the 3570k and is used as the OS and application drive. It should come as no surprise that the system has been nothing short of a complete success, meeting its goal of being rock solid while being exceedingly fast.

11/24/2014 Update

Just in time for Black Friday 2014, I am happy to announce that yet another ASRock motherboard has joined the family. This time it is the ASRock Z97 EXTREME4 that will compliment an Intel Core i5-4690K “Devil’s Canyon” processor. ASRock continues to impress, offering an Intel Gigabit NIC (network interface card for ethernet/network access), high quality PCB, 100% Japanese capacitors, stout cooling in stock form, excellent power regulation, and a built-in headphone amplifier complete with EMI shielding and a Texas Instruments (TI) op-amp among other top-tier features. Between a $20 mail in rebate and a $40 discount at MicroCenter, the Extreme4 rang in at less than $100, a steal for board of this quality! I cannot stress how amazing it is to see that ASRock is using Intel NICs rather than Broadcom or Realtek; Intel NICs are proven performers that will show a noticeable performance increase by both increasing network throughput and decreasing load on the CPU. Furthermore, the integrated headphone with TI op-amp is very exciting; according to ASRock, the amp is designed to work well when presented with loads up to 600 ohms of impedance. Other boards generally see performance issues even with 32 ohm headphones; the use of an external amplifier is required to observe better performance, specifically with bass reproduction. Once again, I highly recommend ASRock’s product line and a full review of the Z97 Extreme4 is forthcoming. For now, please support our site by purchasing through our Amazon links; it costs you nothing and we get a small commission that helps support our hosting costs. Thanks!