ASRock 890GX Extreme 4 Motherboard


Product: ASRock 890GX Extreme 4 Motherboard
Provided By: ASRock
Price: Shop ASRock Motherboard Here



Today we are taking a look at yet another ASRock board - and this one is very similar in feature and basic function as the 890FX Deluxe4 we looked at recently.  The 890GX Extreme4 adds a few interesting features that make it stand out from the 890FX - including an integrated AMD HD 4290 graphics processor and more.  As we carry on, we'll take a closer look at this motherboard - with and without the integrated GPU enabled, and find out how well it handles a 6-Core Phenom II CPU as well as a fast SATA 3.0 SSD.  We'll push this board to as many limits as we can, but I know that the 6-Core CPU will likely limit our overclocking endeavors.


One thing that makes this board a little more "Extreme" is the ASRock True 333 feature set.  It supports USB3.0, SATA3 and eSATA3 as well as the integrated HD 4290, THX certified audio, four USB 3.0 ports, five SATA 3.0 ports and the handy Turbo UCC - a feature that allows you to unlock CPU cores from many Phenom II X3 Athlon II X2 and X3 CPUs.  This is a great and very simple way to possibly gain extra performance.

In The Box
In The Box



First Look:

The 890GX Extreme4 has a nice color scheme going on and it is perhaps one of the most attractive boards from ASRock that I've personally seen.  The colors are blue and white with a dark PCB that makes the colors of the slots and heatsinks "pop".  There are four PCIe 16x slots, a single PCIe 1x slot as well as three legacy PCI slots for your favorite TV Tuner, Soundcard and more.  This board features passive cooling - unlike the active solution found on the 890FX.  This may end up being problematic as this board has to cool off a GPU in addition to the main chipset and MOSFETs.  Take a closer look by clicking the image below.

 Board Profile


On the next page we'll take a closer look at the board before we take a look at the specs and features.


Closer Look:

If you're a stickler for passive cooling, you'll be happy to see that the 890GX Extreme 4 is all about noise-less cooling.  There are no fans mounted anywhere on the board and the VRMs and Northbridge are connected by a heatpipe in addition to the fins located on each of these areas.  This should provide adequate cooling, but if you plan on using this board for serious overclocking, you'll want to make sure that you have excellent case ventilation or a fan blowing on the motherboard as these components could get quite hot in a stuffy case.  With that said, we experience no issues with system stability - at least in regards to heat.




The rear I/O of the 890GX Extreme 4 has six USB ports - with only two of these being USB 3.0.  In addition to USB, there is also a PS/2 keyboard connector and VGA, DVI-D as well as HDMI video connectors.  To complete the external storage connection options, there is a Firewire connector as well as an eSATA 3 connector.  In amongst these are the 8-channel audio jacks, a CLR CMOS button and a 10/100/1000 network port.

Rear I/O
Rear I/O


As we carry on through the memory slots, we've got nothing too special to mention here.  They are placed far enough away from the CPU socket so as not to interfere with large heatsinks.  The CPU socket area is quite clear and shouldn't pose any issues with all but the largest low-profile heatsinks around.

CPU Socket
CPU Socket
PCIe Slots
PCIe Slots
SATA and More
SATA and More


There are a total of four PCIe slots - three of them are 16x length.  These long slots only run at 8x (top two) when used together - or 16x if the top one is used alone.  The bottom "16x" slot is stuck at 4x speed.  The double spacing is great for those that want to use multiple graphics cards as this gives them some room to breathe.  The bottom corner contains a bundle of SATA ports - all of which are SATA3(6Gbps) ports which gives you a lot of fast pots to keep you running Crucial's RealSSD drives at full speed.


The bottom edge of the board is quite interesting as it has extra USB headers, and extra Firewire header as well as the Diagnostic LED, power and reset buttons and more.  It also has ASRock's own USB3.0 header that can be used in conjunction with their front USB 3.0 panel to give you the fastest USB speeds possible - conveniently on the front of your PC.

Bottom Close
Bottom Close
Front USB 3.0 Header
Front USB 3.0 Header


On the next page we'll take a look at the motherboard specifications before we jump into testing. 

AMD 890GX Chipset Features:

The AMD 890GX Chipset with ATI Radeon™ HD 4290 Graphics delivers the versatile HD visual experience.

The AMD 890GX Chipset with ATI Radeon™ HD 4290 Graphics enables an exceptionally power-efficient platform at an incredible value.  Bringing features and performance that enrich what you see and do, including next generation gaming and a superior HD video experience1, the ATI Radeon™ HD 4290 Graphics with AMD 890GX Chipset transforms your PC into a digital media powerhouse.

  • Versatility

    • Redefine the Way You Play
      Enjoy awesome gaming performance for the mainstream PC with stunning visual effects and dynamic interactivity with Microsoft® DirectX® 10.1 and support for high-end discrete ATI Radeon™ HD graphics
    • Accelerate Your Digital Life
      ATI Stream technology enables AMD graphics processors, working in concert with AMD Processors, to accelerate many applications beyond just graphics. This enables superior balanced platforms capable of running demanding computing tasks fast.
    • Designed for Microsoft® Windows® 7
      Get a smooth and amazingly visual PC experience for Microsoft® Windows® 7, with support for features such as “Aero Shake”, “Aero Glass”, “Transparent Windows” and more!5
  • Visual Experience
    • Get the Ultimate HD Experience1
      Let your desktop PC be the center of your entertainment lifestyle with full 1080p HD playback. Get dual-stream PiP (Picture in Picture) on Blu-ray™ 1.1 playback with multi-monitor capability and support for DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort outputs.1, 2, 3, 4
    • Enhanced DVD Upscaling1
      Watch standard DVD movies in near high-definition quality with DVD upscaling. The GPU uses post processing algorithms to enhance standard and low resolution videos and movies on your HD display.1 
    • HDMI
      Enjoy the latest audio technologies using HDMI v1.3 which includes xvYCC support to enable a wider range of color when connected to a capable HDTV.4 
  • Connectivity
    • Connect and Transfer
      Take advantage of advanced technology to accelerate your connectivity with SATA 6Gbps, Gigabit Ethernet, HyperTransport™ 3.0 technology, and PCI Express® Generation 2.0.


Graphics ATI Radeon™ HD 4290
DirectX 10.1
Up to 2 slots for Graphics Upgrade
CPU Compatibility AMD Athlon™, AMD Athlon™ II, AMD Phenom™, AMD Phenom™ II
Memory Support AM2+ socket motherboards support DDR2
AM3 socket motherboards support DDR3
PCI Express® PCI Express® 2.0
USB Up to 14 USB 2.0
SATA Supports SATA 6Gb/s devices* (when paired with a SB850)


ASRock 890GX Extreme 4 Features & Specs:

  • World's First AMD 890GX Motherboard Supporting Front USB3.0
  • ASRock DuraCap (2.5 longer life time), 100% Japan-made high-quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors
  • Phenom II X6 6-Core CPU Ready
  • Supports ASRock Turbo UCC
  • Supports ASRock UCC - Unlock CPU Core
  • Supports Dual Channel DDR3 1866(OC)
  • Supports ATI™ Quad CrossFireX™, 3-Way CrossFireX™, CrossFireX™ and Hybrid CrossFireX™
  • Integrated AMD Radeon HD 4290 graphics, DX10.1 Class iGPU, Shader Model 4.1
  • Multi VGA Output options: D-Sub, DVI-D and HDMI
  • 2 x Front USB 3.0 ports, 2 x Rear USB 3.0 ports, 5 x SATA3 connectors, 2 x IEEE 1394 ports
  • Dr. Debug, Smart Switch Design: Power/Reset/Clear CMOS Switch with LED
  • Supports ASRock Instant Boot, Instant Flash, OC Tuner, IES, OC DNA, Good Night LED, Multi-Speed Fan Control, AIWI, APP Charger
  • 7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection (Realtek ALC892 Audio Codec), THX TruStudio Pro™ and Premium Blu-ray audio support
  • ErP/EuP Ready
  • Free Software : CyberLink DVD Suite - OEM and Trial; THX TruStudio Pro™ - OEM




CPU - Support for Socket AM3 processors: AMD Phenom™ II X6 / X4 / X3 / X2 (except 920 / 940) / Athlon II X4 / X3 / X2 / Sempron processors
- Six-Core CPU Ready
- Supports UCC feature (Unlock CPU Core)
- Advanced V8 + 2 Power Phase Design
- Supports CPU up to 140W
- Supports AMD's Cool 'n' Quiet Technology
- FSB 2600 MHz (5.2 GT/s)
- Supports Untied Overclocking Technology
- Supports Hyper-Transport 3.0 (HT 3.0) Technology
Chipset - Northbridge: AMD 890GX
- Southbridge: AMD SB850
Memory - Dual Channel DDR3 memory technology
- 4 x DDR3 DIMM slots
- Supports DDR3 1866(OC)/1800(OC)/1600(OC)/1333/1066/800 non-ECC, un-buffered memory
- Max. capacity of system memory: 16GB

*Due to the operating system limitation, the actual memory size may be less than 4GB for the reservation for system usage under Windows® 32-bit OS. For Windows® 64-bit OS with 64-bit CPU, there is no such limitation.
- Supports "Plug and Play"
- ACPI 1.1 Compliance Wake Up Events
- Supports jumperfree
- SMBIOS 2.3.1 Support
- CPU, VCCM, NB, SB Voltage Multi-adjustment
 Audio, Video and Networking
Graphics - Integrated AMD Radeon HD 4290 graphics
- DX10.1 class iGPU, Shader Model 4.1
- Max. shared memory 512MB
- Built-in 128MB DDR3 1333/1200MHz SidePort Memory
- Multi VGA Output options: D-Sub, DVI-D and HDMI
- Supports HDMI Technology with max. resolution up to 1920x1200 (1080P)
- Supports Dual-link DVI with max. resolution up to 2560x1600 @ 75Hz
- Supports D-Sub with max. resolution up to 2048x1536 @ 85Hz
- Supports HDCP function with DVI and HDMI ports
- Supports Full HD 1080p Blu-ray (BD) / HD-DVD playback with DVI and HDMI ports
Audio - 7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection (Realtek ALC892 Audio Codec)
- Premium Blu-ray audio support
- Supports THX TruStudio Pro™
LAN - PCIE x1 Gigabit LAN 10/100/1000 Mb/s
- Realtek RTL8111E
- Supports Wake-On-LAN
- Supports LAN Cable Detection
- Supports Energy Efficient Ethernet 802.3az
 Expansion / Connectivity
Slots - 3 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots (PCIE2/PCIE3: single at x16 or dual at x8/x8 mode; PCIE4: x4 mode)
- 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 slot
- 3 x PCI slots
- Supports ATI™ Quad CrossFireX™, 3-Way CrossFireX™, CrossFireX™ and Hybrid CrossFireX™
SATA3 - 5 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors, support RAID (RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 10 and RAID 5), NCQ, AHCI and "Hot Plug" functions
USB 3.0 - 2 x Rear USB 3.0 ports by NEC UPD720200, support USB 1.0/2.0/3.0 up to 5Gb/s
- 1 x Front USB 3.0 header (supports 2 USB 3.0 ports) by NEC UPD720200, supports USB 1.0/2.0/3.0 up to 5Gb/s
Connector - 5 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors
- 1 x IR header
- 1 x COM port header
- 1 x IEEE 1394 header
- 1 x HDMI_SPDIF header
- 1 x Power LED header
- CPU/Chassis/Power FAN connector
- 24 pin ATX power connector
- 8 pin 12V power connector
- Front panel audio connector
- 3 x USB 2.0 headers (support 6 USB 2.0 ports)
- 1 x USB 3.0 header (supports 2 USB 3.0 ports)
- 1 x Dr. Debug (7-Segment Debug LED)
Rear Panel I/O I/O Panel
- 1 x PS/2 Keyboard Port
- 1 x VGA/D-Sub Port
- 1 x VGA/DVI-D Port
- 1 x HDMI Port
- 1 x Optical SPDIF Out Port
- 4 x Ready-to-Use USB 2.0 Ports
- 1 x eSATA3 Connector
- 2 x Ready-to-Use USB 3.0 Ports
- 1 x RJ-45 LAN Port with LED (ACT/LINK LED and SPEED LED)
- 1 x IEEE 1394 Port
- 1 x Clear CMOS Switch with LED
- HD Audio Jack: Rear Speaker / Central / Bass / Line in / Front Speaker / Microphone
 Other Features / Miscellaneous
Unique Feature - ASRock OC Tuner
- Intelligent Energy Saver
- Instant Boot
- ASRock Instant Flash
- ASRock APP Charger
- Hybrid Booster:
- CPU Frequency Stepless Control
- ASRock U-COP
- Boot Failure Guard (B.F.G.)
- Turbo 25 / Turbo 30 GPU Overclocking
- Turbo UCC
Smart Switch - 1 x Power Switch with LED
- 1 x Reset Switch with LED
- 1 x Clear CMOS Switch with LED
Support CD - Drivers, Utilities, AntiVirus Software (Trial Version), AMD OverDrive™ Utility, AMD Live! Explorer, AMD Fusion, ASRock Software Suite (CyberLink DVD Suite - OEM and Trial)
Accessories - Quick Installation Guide, Support CD, I/O Shield
- 4 x SATA Data Cables (optional)
- 2 x SATA 1 to 1 Power Cables (optional)
- 1 x Front USB 3.0 Panel
- 6 x Screws
Hardware Monitor - CPU Temperature Sensing
- Chassis Temperature Sensing
- CPU/Chassis/Power Fan Tachometer
- CPU Quiet Fan
- CPU/Chassis Fan Multi-Speed Control
- Voltage Monitoring: +12V, +5V, +3.3V, Vcore
Form Factor - ATX Form Factor: 12.0-in x 9.6-in, 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm
- All Solid Capacitor design (100% Japan-made high-quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors)
OS - Microsoft® Windows® 7 / 7 64-bit / Vista™ / Vista™ 64-bit / XP / XP 64-bit compliant
Certifications - FCC, CE, WHQL
- ErP/EuP Ready (ErP/EuP ready power supply is required)

ASRock 890GX Extreme 4 BIOS:

The motherboard BIOS is probably one of the most boring areas to look at if you're not an overclocker or enthusiast.  Mainstream users will probably want to skip down to the overclocking section to find out if this Extreme board is extremely easy to tweak.  For you hardcore users, check out the BIOS screenshots of the original 1.00 BIOS below.  Although this board has been out a little while, the latest BIOS is still the one that shipped with it, and to be honest, we had no issues at all.  SATA 3.0 and USB 3.0 seem to be nice and speedy as you'll see on the following pages.  We've included some of the BIOS screens below and you should find almost everything you're looking for.   Some sections like "Boot Order" have been left out as we simply can't handle that much excitement.  For now, the OCTweaker section and advanced BIOS settings will have to keep you happy - and tweaking your RAM, CPU and voltages until your heart's content. 

BIOS - OCTweaker 1
BIOS - OCTweaker 1
BIOS - OCTweaker 2
BIOS - OCTweaker 2
BIOS - OCTweaker 3
BIOS - OCTweaker 3
BIOS - OCTweaker Memory Timings
BIOS - OCTweaker Memory Timings


As you can see, there are a lot of settings to tweak, overclock and manually adjust almost every aspect of this board.  This is a far cry from the days of old, when only ultra-high-end boards had these features.  In terms of voltage adjustments, the 890GX has a wide range of available adjustments - most in small increments.  It is interesting to see that some of the incremental adjustments vary throughout the voltage range.

  • RAM Speed Selection - 800MHz to 1600MHz
  • RAM Voltage - 1.250v - 2.065v in 0.005v or 0.010v increments 
  • Sideport Clock Speed - 533MHz - 1700MHz
  • Sideport Voltage - 1.1v to 1.4v in 0.1v increments
  • HT Voltage - 1.2v to 1.8v in 0.1v increments
  • NB Voltage - 1.11v - 1.795v in 0.010v - 0.015v increments
  • SB Voltage - 1.1v - 1.4v in 0.1v increments
  • CPU VDDA Voltage - 2.56v or 2.7v
  • PCIe VDDA Voltage - 1.81v or 1.92v
  • CPU Voltage - 0.6v to 1.925v in 0.0125v increments
  • CPU NB Voltage - 0.6v to 1.925v in 0.0125v increments


BIOS - Advanced Chipset
BIOS - Advanced Chipset
BIOS - Advanced CPU
BIOS - Advanced CPU
BIOS - HWMonitor
BIOS - HWMonitor
BIOS - Boot
BIOS - Boot



Just as in all of our motherboard reviews, we tried to max out the bus and reduce the multiplier in order to achieve the highest bus possible.  I soon discovered 6-Core AMD Phenom II CPUs don't have a lot of overclocking headroom as the bus topped out somewhere between 225MHz and 232MHz.  We were able to run at 230MHz rock stable, but we didn't get a lot of extra performance with this setting.  With all cores enabled, we managed to hit just over 3.2GHz no matter how we sliced it.  We also took a screenshot of the integrated GPU as well.



On the next page we'll start testing out the board and dive into the HDD and Network subsystems before we get into overall performance testing. 


Test System Specs:

While we tried to come up with a similar system for comparing some of the performance on this board, we really had nothing that came close for a comparison.  Although we have recently reviewed the ASRock 890FX Deluxe 4, we have very different CPUs and GPUs in these systems.  Still, we will compare a few results - not so much to compare motherboard performance, but to compare system performance when comparing a quad-core Phenom II X4 965 with a Phenom II X6 1050T.  Other systems are included in tests such as direct CPU tests, network performance and others, but they are included for reference only.

ASRock 890GX Extreme 4
ASRock 890FX Deluxe 4
AMD Phenom II X6 1050T
AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE
ASRock 890GX Extreme 4
Radeon HD 5870 1GB
Hard Drives
Western Digital 300GB Raptor
Operating System
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GPU  Drivers
Catalyst 10.8 Drivers
Forceware 258.96 Drivers



Subsystem Tests - HDD:

We start off the subsystem testing with some HDD tests.  For the CrystalDiskMark test below we used the 128GB RealSSD from Crucial that is arguable one of the fastest SATA 3.0 around.  

CrystalMark - SATA 3


You'll notice that CrystalDiskMark shows pretty decent performance as it provides over 340MB/sec sequential read performance.  4K performance is very good on this drive as well as on this motherboard.  


Subsystem Tests - Network:

One area that we have started testing is network performance.  It is easy for a company to claim great networking features as many users never test them out and are puzzled when they can only transfer files at a mere 250Mbit/sec on their 1000Mbit/sec NIC.  We use iPerf for testing network performance and on this board we tested out both wired and wireless performance.



Subsystem Tests - Audio:

In the past, we've used RightMark Audio Analyzer to test audio performance, but we've had quite a few issues with it in Windows 7 lately so we've actually had to drop this test from the suite.  The 890GX Extreme 4 does feature a Realtek ALC892 Codec that supports THX TrueSudioPro, full digital audio and high quality and bitrate.  I had no issues with it, and when plugged into some expensive Axiom speakers, it sounded very good.



On the next page we'll cover some synthetic benchmarks relating to system performance and memory before we jump into real world tests and gaming.


Synthetic Performance:

To start things off we'll take a look at PCMark Vantage numbers.  We've only included stock vs. overclocked results as this test shows dramatic results by changing a single component in the system.  These numbers are for reference and if you have a similar system, please note the individual tests for better comparison results.



Overclocking 400MHz on this 6-Core CPU yielded some better results according to PCMark and we gained a generous improvement in everything other than "TV" performance.  I'm okay with that.


Next, we take a look at PMCore - a program that calculates prime numbers.  This program is multi-threaded and we used it to calculate 10,000 prime numbers.  The results below are in seconds.tenths.



PMCore shows interesting performance between the 3.4GHz Phenom II X4 system and the 2.8GHz Phenom II X6 system.  It is no surprise that the faster clocked chip takes single-thread performance, and it comes very close to matching performance when multi-threaded as well.  Each core on the ASRock 890FX board runs 600MHz faster than the CPU on the 890GX, but when overclocking the 890GX system, it beats out the 890FX by a large margin.

On the next page we'll carry on with some real-world application tests before we run a couple of gaming related tests with this motherboard.


Cinebench 11.5:

It's no secret that 3D Rendering and modeling through programs like 3DStudioMax, Blender and others are very CPU intensive.  Of course with all the stream processors available in today's graphics cards, some of heavy workload is now being offloaded to the GPU, but a good 3D program can bring a system to its knees - especially when rendering lighting effects and very smooth models.  We've put the latest Cinebench 11.5 to the test and dropped the older versions as part of our updated motherboard testing suite.  This program lists results for the CPU as well as OpenGL performance which relies heavily on the graphics system.  We included both CPU and OpenGL tests from the 890FX Deluxe 4 motherboard (although only CPU results are really relevant) as well as integrated GPU tests from the 890GX motherboard - in addition to the Radeon HD 5870 results.



While the integrated HD 4290 is a workable GPU, it lacks when it come to GPU-assisted 3D-rendering.  the CPU is slightly faster.  Ouch.


Next up we look at a couple of conversion programs - DVDShrink and x.264HD.  Both of these programs support multi-core and while DVDShrink was ran only at stock speed, we pulled out the stops and ran x.264HD at both overclocked and stock speeds. 

DVD Shrink


DVDShrink is multi-threaded as is x.264HD.  We should see pretty good gains in the 6-Core CPU performance, and we certainly do in DVDShrink.  x.264HD still favors the Core i7 system running at insane 4.2GHz speeds.  it does beat out the Core i7 860 system though.



Gaming Performance:

As we fired up some gaming performance benchmarks, I struggled to find a good way to compare numbers with different platforms that BCCHardware has done in the past.  As it turns out, this was pretty much impossible with the huge difference in hardware.  We did include a simple 3DMark Vantage result however in order to sate your need for a gaming performance result on this board.  Again, results vary by hardware, but you can see how it performs with the hardware we posted earlier in this review.  Again, I included the results from the integrated HD 4290, but they aren't that impressive.



As you can see, overclocking yields a moderate increase here as well, but the bulk of the performance is from the HD 5870.

The original Far Cry games blew us away with its high detailed graphics, incredible field of view as well as amazing water effects.  Far Cry 2 has left me feeling a little disappointed with its overall look as the game has a much grittier look and feel.  That being said, it is still a popular game and it includes a very handy benchmarking tool.  We ran a couple of resolutions with two detail settings to get a feel at how the motherboard affects performance in the game.  



Once again, the results from FarCry 2 show that the integrated GPU is a little weak, but to be fair the game is very demanding.  Still, when compared to a real GPU, anyone who plays games will certainly want to pick up a graphics card better than the on-board, but at least it gets you in the game at lower resolutions.


Final Thoughts:

The ASRock 890GX Extreme 4 motherboard is very good choice for those of you looking to build a nice Phenom II system with tons of GPU and storage connections.  It is a nice update to the AMD AM3 motherboards from ASRock as it now incorporates USB 3.0, SATA 3.0 (6Gbps) and eSATA 3.0 (6Gbps).  It's nice to see that ASRock has included a special header and front-bracket to bring USB 3.0 to the front of your PC.  It offers the standard 4 slots for DDR3 up to 1600MHz (stock) and up to 1866 (overclocked).  Although the overclocking features look pretty robust, the end result is that it doesn't overclock very well - at especially with a Phenom II X6 CPU.  This is a bit of a disappointment and looking around the web, I see that other reviewers had similar results.  While it may not be geared for the tweaking segment of the enthusiast crowd, those looking for a motherboard with the latest features - including integrated Radeon Graphics, at a bargain price will have to look hard to find another board that can match the value.  There's no question that it is great value - it's top notch.


  • Fully loaded board with SATA & USB 3.0
  • 8-phase power regulation for the CPU
  • Silent cooling on Northbridge and CPU MOSFET
  • Supports CrossfireX and all manner of VGA, DVI-D and HDMI connections - on-board
  • 3x PCIe 16x slots for lots of expansion
  • Front USB 3.0 Bracket



  • Poor overclocking capabilities
  • No rear USB/eSATA/Firewire brackets.
  • SATA connectors are best mounted at 90° to the board so they don't interfere with long cards.




I'd like to thank ASRock for sending out this board for us to review.  Please post your comments in the forums at the link below.