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ASRock Z68 Pro3 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review

Want to jump on a Z68 board that doesn't carry a monster price tag? The Pro3 from ASRock could just be the ticket.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Sun, May 15 2011 9:08 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:30 PM CDT
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: ASRock

Introduction and Package

Introduction

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VIEW GALLERY - 26 IMAGES


Priced at $199.99, the ASRock Z68 Extreme4 is a very well-priced product for something that let us achieve over 5GHz from our 2600k. Compared to the competition, it's an aggressive price point, but there's no doubt that some people don't even need all the features that are on offer on the Z68 Extreme4.

For a whole $70 less you can pick up the ASRock Z68 Pro3 we're looking at today. At $129.99 it's one of the most aggressively priced Z68 boards on the market. Are you still getting a Z68 board that you will want, though?

Well, that's the question we're going to answer today. The Pro3 was one of the boards we looked at in our ASRock Z68 Pro3 and Extreme4 Preview, so for that reason we won't be looking at the bundle or board itself again. Instead we'll just get straight into the BIOS of the board before we look at our test system setup, overclocking potential and of course performance when compared to a couple of other boards including the Pro3s big brother, the Extreme4.

BIOS

BIOS

Not only is the ASRock Z68 Pro3 similar to other UEFI wielding ASRock boards, but it's near identical to that of the Extreme4 with only a few changes separating them.

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Of course, the first screen is going to be a little different as we have mention of the board being the Pro3. Apart from that the rest of the information is fairly standard.

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When we go to the OC Tweaker section the only part of the BIOS that differs is the lack of "Advanced Turbo 50" option. As for the rest, we've got our CPU settings, Voltage settings and the ability to save the BIOS. Going into DRAM Configuration also doesn't hold any surprises.

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As we move through the rest of the BIOS, it's all fairly self-explanatory with nothing too out of the ordinary being seen.

Test System Setup and Overclocking

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, G.Skill, Kingston, Mittoni and Corsair.

Looking at the test system setup, you're not going to see anything you haven't seen that wasn't already included in our recent motherboard reviews. Considering we already really know how the Z68 performs when compared to both the P67 and X58 platform, the main thing we want to find out today is, does saving $70 mean we lose performance?

Before we get into the performance side of things, though, let's check out the overclocking side.

Overclocking performance was strong achieving 4.92GHz on our 2600k. This is about 130MHz lower than what we achieved on the Z68 Extreme4.

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At a 50x multiplier and 100 / 101 BCLK we had some issues under Windows when we would get our benchmarks up and running. By moving back just a single multiplier, though, to 49x, we managed to achieve just over 4.9GHz and the board ran 100% stable.

Considering that 5GHz isn't achievable on all 2600k CPUs as it is, this is an alright overclock. People who opt for a cheaper board will also more than likely not be overclocking nearly as heavily.

Moving from the default 3.4GHz to 4GHz - 4.2GHz isn't going to be a problem and most people will be extremely happy with that as an everyday overclock.

Let's get started!

CPU Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA
Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com
Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com
Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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At stock both ASRock Z68 boards perform near identical to each other with very little separating them. The only time we see a bit of change is when we look at the overclocked results and that's of course because the Extreme4 is offering us a slightly higher overclock.

CPU Benchmarks Continued

HyperPi 0.99

Version and / or Patch Used: 0.99
Developer Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br
Product Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br
Download It Here

HyperPi is a front end for SuperPi that allows for multiple concurrent instances of SuperPi to be run on each core recognized by the system. It is very dependent on CPU to memory to HDD speed. The faster these components, the faster it is able to figure out the number Pi to the selected length.

For our testing we use the 32M run. This means that each of the four physical and four logical cores for the i7 and the four physical cores of the i5 is trying to calculate the number Pi out to 32 million decimal places. Each "run" is a comparative to ensure accuracy and any stability or performance issues in the loop mentioned above will cause errors in calculation.

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HyperPi also shows both Z68 boards performing extremely close together with again the only difference really being seen when we look at the overclock results.


AutoGK

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.55
Developer Homepage: http://www.autogk.me.uk/
Product Homepage: http://www.autogk.me.uk/
Download It Here

AutoGK stands for Auto Gordian Knot; it is a suite of transcoding tools that are compiled into an easy to install and use utility. It allows you to transcode non-protected DVDs and other media to Xvid or Divx format. For our testing purposes we use a non-DRM restricted movie that is roughly 2 hours in length. This is transcoded to a single Xvid AVI at 100% quality.

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When it came to encoding, the Pro3 was just a little slower, but nothing too major. The important thing to note is that "CPU Dependent" encoding is becoming less and less important, especially since the board carries Lucid Virtu support meaning we can use MediaEspresso to convert footage and make use of the Intel HD Graphics.

Storage Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA
Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com
Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com
Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Also carrying XFast USB support, we see that the performance from the Pro3 is strong and offers a nice boost over boards that don't offer this feature. As for hard drive performance, it lines up with the Extreme4 almost MB/s for MB/s.

Memory Benchmarks

Sisoft Sandra

Version and / or Patch Used: 2011
Developer Homepage: http://www.sisoftware.net
Product Homepage: http://www.sisoftware.net
Buy It Here

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Across the board we see memory performance is very similar between all motherboards here.


AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA
Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com
Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com
Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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AIDA64 gives us a better representation of memory performance with the Z68 offering that strong memory performance like the P67 chipset. The only time we again see the ASRock boards separated is when we throw overclocking performance into the mix.

Gaming Benchmarks

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/
Buy It Here




3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.rebellion.co.uk/
Product Homepage: http://www.sega.com/games/aliens-vs-predator/




Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

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When it comes down to 3D Performance you can see almost nothing separates our setups due to the CPU not being a limiting factor in the performance of our system.

Temperature and Power

Core Temperature

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Looking at the temperatures on offer from the Z68 Pro3, there's nothing here that would give you any concern with good idle and load numbers at stock speeds and when overclocked.


Power Draw Tests

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Power draw at stock lines up almost perfectly with the Extreme4. When overclocked the Pro3 is drawing slightly less, but of course its CPU speed isn't as high.

Z68 Specific Tests

Lucid Virtru

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Under MediaEspresso 6.5 you would expect the boards to all perform very similar to each other and they do. At stock when Hardware Decoding is on only four seconds separate the boards; overclocked we see only a two second difference.

Hardware decoding is a really nice feature and it's nice to move away from older programs like AutoGK which doesn't take advantage of these extra features that modern day chipsets and video cards can offer.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

From a features point of view the Pro3 is of course lacking slightly when compared to the Extreme4. Outside of the smaller bundle, the Pro3 doesn't offer SLI / CrossFire support, it lacks the Marvell SE9120 chip that pushes SATA3 from just the two Intel ones to a total of four and motherboard I/O connectivity is also a little less lacking.

It's those extras and a couple of others that make up the $70 price difference between the Pro3 and Extreme4. For some people, though, the extra $70 and features that the Extreme4 offer may not make it a better board. If you're not going for a multi-GPU setup, don't need more than two SATA3 ports and don't need connectivity like DisplayPort, 1394 FireWire and e-SATA at the back of your board, then they're features you're paying for and won't use.

That's where the main appeal to the Pro3 is. Out of the box it's going to offer pretty much identical performance to the Extreme4. Assuming both boards are overclocked to the same speed, you'll also see very little difference between the boards.

The Z68 Extreme4 from ASRock for $199.99 is a great board at a great price point, if you don't need all those extra features, though, and instead would prefer to save some money and perhaps throw that $70 into some more RAM or maybe even kick your VGA card up another model, the $129.99 Pro3 is a fantastic option.

Compared to boards priced at a higher price level, the Z68 Pro3 lacks some of the features that you'll see on them. Not everyone needs them, though, and the temptation to save a good chunk of change will be hard to resist, especially since out of the box performance is near identical when compared to more expensive offerings.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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