ASRock Z170 Extreme4 Review

Test Results, Overclocking And Conclusion

Test System Configuration

We continue to use the test configuration from our initial Z170 round-up in the evaluation of concurrent samples.

Traditional "new on top" chart order gives way to "descending order of price" on this occasion, as the Z170 Extreme4 most closely matches the features and design of ASRock's own Z170 Extreme6. The search for value puts a target on the higher-priced board.

Comparison Motherboards

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Synthetic Benchmark Results

The Z170 Extreme4 takes a few small wins not because it's better, but because it comes factory-overclocked by just under 1 percent. That same slight overclock is likely to hurt the board a little in power readings, and we'll keep it in mind during future performance evaluations.

3D Game Benchmarks

That 0.9 percent overclock doesn't help the Z170 Extreme4 at all in games, even though the lower half of our game settings are designed to stress the CPU and/or memory.

Timed Benchmarks

The Z170 Extreme4's tiny default overclock defines tiny leads in Premiere, Blender and 7-Zip, but we don't see any true breakaway moments. A look at the combined scores might just show this board slower than its 0.9 percent error.

Power, Heat And Efficiency

The Z170 Extreme4's 0.9 percent overclock appears to cost buyers a few percent in power consumption, while producing an artificial performance advantage of only 1 percent above-average. It comes out 1.2 percent above-average in performance-per-watt, but that's mostly because another board skewed the average so far downward.

Heat was likely another factor in the Z170 Extreme4's efficiency reduction when compared to the Extreme6, as ASRock boasts higher-quality voltage regulator components for the Extreme6.

Overclocking

ASRock Z170 Extreme4 Frequency and Voltage settings
BIOSP1.80 (09/18/2015)
Base Clock90-600 MHz (62.5 kHz)
CPU Multiplier8x-120x (1x)
DRAM Data Rates800-4133 (100/133.3 MHz)
CPU Vcore0.90-1.52V (5 mV)
System Agent0.95-1.35V (10 mV)
CPU I/O0.85-1.25V (5 mV)
PCH Voltage0.90-1.30V (5 mV)
DRAM Voltage1.00-1.80V (5 mV)
CAS Latency4-31 Cycles
tRCD8-31 Cycles
tRP8-31 Cycles
tRAS28-63 Cycles

Equipped with one-less SATA controller than its Extreme6 sibling, the Z170 Extreme4's drastically lower price raises a few value questions. Some of those questions might be addressable by overclocking the unit, since both ASRock boards are designed for this purpose.

Both boards would get the CPU to 4.6 GHz, but the Z170 Extreme4 wouldn't hold a 1.30V CPU core under changing loads regardless of settings. Sticking to the "all boards get the same voltage limit" rule for the sake of fairness, the lower setting with a 1.30V peak resulted in a second-place maximum clock rate.

DRAM overclocking was far worse, with even the low-cost Z170-HD3 producing better results. Of course some of that could be due to the Extreme4 using more performance-oriented, rather than stability-oriented, timings.

A quick test at DDR4-2933 shows at least part of the reason why the Z170 Extreme4 came up shy in DRAM clock, as its DRAM performance at this relatively-moderate clock is excellent. That can only come from performance-oriented automatic adjustment, since I haven't set any of the timings manually. And, just between us reviewers and readers, 34GB/s is a higher bandwidth rating than many of the Z170 Extreme4's competitors have produced at DDR4-3200.

Conclusion

The overclocking results leave this editor in somewhat of a jam, since I was hoping to get Z170 Extreme4 results at least as good as the Z170 Extreme6. After all, the cheaper board has over a month's worth of additional firmware development. It looks like the hardware just isn't there, as ASRock really does promote the hidden value of the Extreme6's higher-priced voltage regulator.

If the comparison between the $146 Z170 Extreme4 and the $180 Z170 Extreme6 proves too difficult, perhaps it would be better to compare Gigabyte's Z170-HD3. It's a solid board for the low price of $115, but it also lacks any USB 3.1 controller, comes up a little short in CPU overclocking, and doesn't even have those little PCIe pathway switches needed to get eight of the CPU's lanes to a second graphics card. That combination of features is certainly worth $30, no?

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Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware, covering Cases, Cooling, Memory and Motherboards. Follow him on Twitter.

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  • Giltintur
    According to ASRocks site, it seem that the z170 Extreme4 has is 10 phase...
    http://www.asrock.com/mb/compare.asp?SelectedModel=Z170+Extreme4&SelectedModel=Z97+Extreme4
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  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    According to ASRocks site, it seem that the z170 Extreme4 has is 10 phase...
    http://www.asrock.com/mb/compare.asp?SelectedModel=Z170+Extreme4&SelectedModel=Z97+Extreme4
    The picture from the top is a picture of the board that was tested, count them. It's probably 10+2, but since some companies don't specify the split for some products we usually list the total.
    1
  • Michael_189
    I own this motherboard and am very pleased with it's wealth of features for it's price, you may also find it now performs better with the latest bios updates which have been focused on Memory performance upgrades. Bios 2.40 and 2.60. I bought it as a replacement for a MSI Z170 Gaming 3 which went belly up after 3 months of use.
    0
  • blazorthon
    Wouldn't the lack of USB 2.0 ports potentially cause a compatibility problem with some computer mouses or keyboards?
    0
  • Michael_189
    Quote:
    Wouldn't the lack of USB 2.0 ports potentially cause a compatibility problem with some computer mouses or keyboards?

    Nope I'm using an old usb MS sidewinder keyboard and cheap logitech mouse and works perfectly remember for the most part USB3 has to be backwards compatible, thing they haven't mentioned in the article is that if you want to load Windows & you have to create a special boot-able version yourself
    1
  • Michael_189
    "if you want to load Windows & you have to create a special boot-able version yourself" sorry that's meant to be WINDOWS 7.
    0
  • Non-Euclidean
    Thank God it has the PS/2 port. I dont know what I would do with, err, without one.
    0
  • Non-Euclidean
    Thanks for the DVD/Update screenshots. Its a nice preview of what I will be expecting when my Fatality X99M Killer/3.1 arrives. (I had to put in the obligatory PS/2 connector remark before someone beat me to it).
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  • blazorthon
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Wouldn't the lack of USB 2.0 ports potentially cause a compatibility problem with some computer mouses or keyboards?

    Nope I'm using an old usb MS sidewinder keyboard and cheap logitech mouse and works perfectly remember for the most part USB3 has to be backwards compatible, thing they haven't mentioned in the article is that if you want to load Windows & you have to create a special boot-able version yourself


    Problem is that it's only for the most part. Most USB 3.0 ports are USB 3.0 or USB 2.0, but lack USB 1.0/1.1 support, which is supported by USB 2.0 ports. Some keyboards and mouses only support those older versions (especially cheap peripherals), but maybe ASRock wired both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 to the ports to fix this or something like that.
    0
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Wouldn't the lack of USB 2.0 ports potentially cause a compatibility problem with some computer mouses or keyboards?


    Nope I'm using an old usb MS sidewinder keyboard and cheap logitech mouse and works perfectly remember for the most part USB3 has to be backwards compatible, thing they haven't mentioned in the article is that if you want to load Windows & you have to create a special boot-able version yourself
    To be more specific, it depends on the controller. Legacy USB modes are supported by the chipset's controllers, but often not third-party controller. On some motherboards, whether or not it works depends on which port you plug your legacy peripherals into.

    This makes more sense when we remember that the USB 3.0 connector has separate USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 connections.
    0
  • yahyaelgayar
    how much?
    0
  • Max_x2
    Lol that seal of approval is like a participation trophy xD
    0
  • blazorthon
    Anonymous said:
    Lol that seal of approval is like a participation trophy xD


    Way I see it, if you happen to find the board much cheaper than it is intended to go for (maybe a friend trading it or something), then it is at least reliable enough to use instead of throwing it away. It's saying that it at least isn't garbage and will do the trick if you happen to have it :)
    0
  • Max_x2
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Lol that seal of approval is like a participation trophy xD


    Way I see it, if you happen to find the board much cheaper than it is intended to go for (maybe a friend trading it or something), then it is at least reliable enough to use instead of throwing it away. It's saying that it at least isn't garbage and will do the trick if you happen to have it :)


    And I totally agree. Go back about 6-7 years, and an Asrock boards wasn't something you'd recommend a good friend. Nowadays, I'd recommend that for my best pal. I'm quite a sucker for Asus boards, but almost bought an Asrock when I was in the market for the (then) newly released Haswells since they've been really well rated since 2010-ish.

    Why I said it was a consolation approval, is because of the conclusion... "Unremarkable, but there's not much in that price range, so we give it a seal of approval".
    0
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Lol that seal of approval is like a participation trophy xD


    Way I see it, if you happen to find the board much cheaper than it is intended to go for (maybe a friend trading it or something), then it is at least reliable enough to use instead of throwing it away. It's saying that it at least isn't garbage and will do the trick if you happen to have it :)


    And I totally agree. Go back about 6-7 years, and an Asrock boards wasn't something you'd recommend a good friend. Nowadays, I'd recommend that for my best pal. I'm quite a sucker for Asus boards, but almost bought an Asrock when I was in the market for the (then) newly released Haswells since they've been really well rated since 2010-ish.

    Why I said it was a consolation approval, is because of the conclusion... "Unremarkable, but there's not much in that price range, so we give it a seal of approval".
    Exactly. I'd recommend my closest friends to buy something at a different price (either higher or lower) rather than picking this one at this price.
    0
  • Max_x2
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Lol that seal of approval is like a participation trophy xD


    Way I see it, if you happen to find the board much cheaper than it is intended to go for (maybe a friend trading it or something), then it is at least reliable enough to use instead of throwing it away. It's saying that it at least isn't garbage and will do the trick if you happen to have it :)


    And I totally agree. Go back about 6-7 years, and an Asrock boards wasn't something you'd recommend a good friend. Nowadays, I'd recommend that for my best pal. I'm quite a sucker for Asus boards, but almost bought an Asrock when I was in the market for the (then) newly released Haswells since they've been really well rated since 2010-ish.

    Why I said it was a consolation approval, is because of the conclusion... "Unremarkable, but there's not much in that price range, so we give it a seal of approval".
    Exactly. I'd recommend my closest friends to buy something at a different price (either higher or lower) rather than picking this one at this price.


    You got it twisted. Nowadays, an Asrock is pretty much as good as an Asus. It just depends on which features you want.
    0
  • Michael_189
    I paid $240 AUD so it was very well priced when compared to other manufactures and what features they offered at the same price point.
    0
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:

    Why I said it was a consolation approval, is because of the conclusion... "Unremarkable, but there's not much in that price range, so we give it a seal of approval".
    Exactly. I'd recommend my closest friends to buy something at a different price (either higher or lower) rather than picking this one at this price.

    You got it twisted. Nowadays, an Asrock is pretty much as good as an Asus. It just depends on which features you want.
    Nope, read what I said, it didn't have anything to do with ASRock vs Asus. It's about this specific board's position in features and its standing in the overclocking comparison.
    1
  • Max_x2
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:

    Why I said it was a consolation approval, is because of the conclusion... "Unremarkable, but there's not much in that price range, so we give it a seal of approval".
    Exactly. I'd recommend my closest friends to buy something at a different price (either higher or lower) rather than picking this one at this price.

    You got it twisted. Nowadays, an Asrock is pretty much as good as an Asus. It just depends on which features you want.
    Nope, read what I said, it didn't have anything to do with ASRock vs Asus. It's about this specific board's position in features and its standing in the overclocking comparison.



    hehe my bad
    0
  • akula2
    Hey Crashman,

    Why not go for Asrock vs Asus board comparison series by picking a few categories such as:

    Extreme or Workstation class
    Gaming
    Budget or Executive class

    I also believe the motherboard testing methodology needs to be in more sync with the real world performance delivery. E.g.,

    a) PCIe lane(s) performance & bottlenecks
    b) USB 3.1 vs USB 3.0 or whatever
    c) Flash storage, say M.2 or NVMe performance.
    d) Onboard Video & cons. E.g., multiple display performance (fps) etc.
    e) Sound delivery and quality (noise etc)
    f) Advanced BIOS features such as RAMDisk results and so on.
    g) Video performance: Say, full HD streaming devices
    h) multiple PCI performance & cons: E.g., GPU + HDTV Tuner card.

    I've a few more to add here. I hope you'll add more real world numbers in the upcoming motherboard reviews.
    0