ASRock P45X3 Deluxe Motherboard
While Core i7 and the upcoming Core i5 processor seem to be getting a lot of press, there is still a huge market for motherboards that people can actually afford. The ASRock P45X3 Deluxe motherboard is one of the latest boards from ASRock for the Intel Core 2 platform that features DDR3 and some high-end features that make it worth looking at. As is often the case with ASRock boards however, it has a few little annoyances as well. You can't have everything for $110 though. Let's see what you get for your money and if it is well spent on this motherboard.
While ASRock brags on the "Deluxe" status of this board, once you open the box you find that there is nothing super deluxe with the bundle. It is pretty standard for an ASRock board and includes SATA cables, IDE and Floppy cables as well as documentation, a driver CD and of course the rear I/O shield. There are no extra USB or Firewire brackets included and while the motherboard includes a COM port, there is no 9-pin serial cable either. This is not a big deal for most people at all but other "Deluxe" boards include these accessories.
First Look at the Board:
The P45 chipset from Intel isn't anything too incredible, and the layout of the board is pretty standard as well. As you can see below, ASRock has opted for extra cooling on the VRMs next to the CPU Socket. Passive cooling is the name of the game on this board and the Northbridge (P45) and Southbridge (ICH10) chipsets are passively cooled.
A couple of interesting things worth noting before we move on are the power and reset switches located at the bottom corner of the board. These have LED indicators adding to the slickness of this idea. The right-angled SATA ports are a nice touch as well and ensure that you can install large graphics cards without interfering with your HDD and ODD cables. The two PCIe 16x ports operate at 16x and 8x speed and can be used at 8x each when running CrossfireX.
Below the CrossfireX Switch-Card is a nice numeric display that shows error codes and helps you diagnose issues with your system. This can be especially helpful when overclocking. Other mentionable are onboard 7.1 audio, 8-phase voltage control for the CPU, as well as power-over-eSATA. If you have a speedy OCZ eSATA flash drive, this board is one of the few non-X58 motherboards that will let you unleash that particular beast.
On the next page we'll take a closer look at the board before we take a look at the specs and features.