ASRock 890FX Deluxe3
The only board in today’s roundup to include two USB 3.0 controllers, ASRock’s 890FX Deluxe3 provides users with twice the 5.0 Gb/s connectivity, in addition to a surprisingly large 10-phase CPU voltage regulator. Normally known as a value brand, a PCB designed to host only two high-end graphics cards is the 890FX Deluxe3’s biggest concession towards a lower price.
Gaming fanatics can still get their quad-GPU fix using two Radeon HD 5970 graphics cards in CrossFireX, and the triple-spaced x16 slots even allow improved airflow to the top card in this type of configuration. A third x16-length slot at the board’s bottom edge can still host a graphics card at reduced bandwidth, while its four PCIe 2.0 pathways are adequate for most desktop-expansion needs.
ASRock continues its northward trend for front-panel connections, placing the front-panel button connector, internal FireWire, and a dual-port USB 2.0 header just below the 24-pin ATX connection. This allows for easy cable reach for cases that have ports and buttons near the top, and builders with excess cable length can usually stuff it behind an adjacent drive cage. The front-panel audio connector is placed ahead of the rear-panel analog jacks for similar reasons.
The SB850’s six SATA 6Gb/s ports face forward, allowing cables to slip under the ends of extra-long graphics cards, while mandating that the builder choose a case that doesn’t block access to the motherboard’s front edge. Two additional SATA 6Gb/s ports are stuffed into the bottom-rear corner, but the second of these is shared with eSATA. Thus, while most SATA cables would be long enough to reach the lower drive bays of most tower cases, most builders will likely leave the added-in ports unused.
A CLR_CMOS jumper, port 80 diagnostics display, power, and reset buttons are located at the bottom-front corner, all handy for bench testing. Remaining connectors are conveniently placed for case mounting, with the exception of the rarely-used floppy header beneath the four-lane x16-length bottom slot.
The ASRock OC Tweaker menu provides convenient access to frequency and ratio controls, along with a few automatic overclocking modes that experienced users will likely avoid. Likely a carryover from its 890GX boards, 890FX core voltage is confusingly labeled “mGPU Voltage.”
Three custom BIOS configurations can be saved as user profiles.
The 890FX Deluxe3’s Memory Timing submenu includes a full range of controls with independent “automatic” settings for each timing.
Windows XP users who prefer AHCI mode will be happy to see that the 890FX Deluxe3 includes a floppy cable, which is necessary for loading drivers at the F6 prompt during setup. The installation kit is otherwise ordinary, including only four SATA cables.