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ASRock Z68 Pro 3 review

An affordable Intel Z68 chipset motherboard has landed

ASRock z68 pro 3

It's not just a winner on price. At stock settings, benchmarks for the ASRock Z68 Pro 3 look good too. There's always going to be some slight variance when the Turbo mode of a second generation Core processor is turned on, but the fact that the ASRock motherboard tends towards the higher end of the score scale for similar systems is noteworthy nonetheless.

You also get a nice graphical UEFI BIOS, with decent overclocking tools built in. It's a board which will appeal to tuners as well as anyone who just wants to build and play straight out of the box.

One thing that was a bit confusing was that ASRock includes a piece of software called Xfast USB with the Z68 Pro 3, which is designed to accelerate data transfer to an external drive. We had varying levels of success with this.

It did help to increase benchmarks over rival Z68 boards – such as the Asus P8Z68V Pro – slightly when switched on, but with it off we found that performance over the USB 3.0 port was lower than the competition. Odd.

The driver disc is also terrible – the one touch install loaded us up with Creative drivers we didn't need, and left us to manually hunt down the Lucid software that we did need. That was on the disc, but buried in a sub folder marked "Beware of the leopard". It might as well have been, anyway.

But these aren't major complaints. The only real issue we have with the ASRock Z68 Pro 3 is that it has just one 16x lane PCIe slot on board. Which means no Crossfire or SLI graphics for cheap upgrades in the future. On the whole, however, multi-GPU setups can be more trouble than they're worth. But still it's nice to have the option all the same.

If you're prepared to forgo that, though, you won't find a better value Z68 motherboard out there than the ASRock Z68 Pro 3. For a low cost system that doesn't skimp on top end features, it's a must.

We liked

The thing that really stands out here is the price. It's got all the hugely desirable features of Intel Z68, including the ability to turn QuickSync on and off, and yet costs less than some low-end H67-based motherboards we've seen. The fact that overall performance is top of the class too is just the icing on the proverbial desert stuff.

We disliked

There are sacrifices to be made to keep the cost down. The software is a bit ropey and there are no overclocker-friendly extras such as power buttons on the PCB or a simple CMOS clear. Just one PCI-Express port should raise a flag about how you'll upgrade your GPU in a couple of years too.

Final word

A budget Z68 that may be basic but is a better performer than its predecessors.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDesktop Motherboard
Chipset ManufacturerIntel
Chipset ModelZ68 Express
Onboard VideoCPU Dependent Video
Number of PCI Express x16 Slots1
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Processor SocketSocket H2 LGA-1155
Brand NameASRock
Form FactorMicro ATX
Processor SupportedCore i5, Core i7, Core i3, Pentium Dual-core, Xeon Dual-Core
Total Processor Supported1
Maximum Memory32 GB
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityRoHS
64-bit ProcessingYes
Number of Memory Slots4
Number of PCI Slots1
Graphics Controller ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ModelHD Graphics 2000/3000
Graphics Controller Memory1.72 GB
Audio Channels7.1
Gigabit EthernetYes
Number of SATA Interfaces5
RAID SupportedYes
Number of Total Expansion Slots4
HDMIYes
DVIYes
Number of Network (RJ-45) Ports1
Network (RJ-45)Yes
DisplayPortYes
Total Number of USB Ports6
Number of USB 3.0 Ports2
PS/2 PortYes
Number of PS/2 Ports1
Total Number of Onboard USB Ports6
Number of Onboard USB 2.0 Ports6
PCI Express StandardPCI Express 2.0
Total Number of PCI Express Slots3
Memory Form FactorDIMM
Processor TechnologyTurbo Boost Technology 2.0, Hyper-Threading Technology, Enhanced SpeedStep Technology
Width243.8 mm
Depth243.8 mm
ManufacturerASRock, Inc
Product ModelZ68 Pro3-M
Product NameZ68 Pro3-M Desktop Motherboard
Controller TypeFloppy Controller, Serial ATA/300, Serial ATA/600
Manufacturer Part NumberZ68-PRO3-M
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.asrock.com
Marketing Information

ASRock Inc. is established in 2002, specialized in the field of motherboards. ASRock strives to build up its own brand. With the 3C design concept, "Creativity, Consideration, Cost-effectiveness", the company explores the limit of motherboards manufacturing while paying attention on the eco issue at the same time, developing products with the consideration of eco-friendly concept. ASRock has been growing fast and become world third largest motherboard brand with headquarter in Taipei, Taiwan and branches in Europe and the USA. The young and vibrant company targets from mainstream to enthusiast MB segments for different kinds of users, owning reputation around the world market with its reliability and proficiency.

Package Contents
  • Z68 Pro3-M Desktop Motherboard
  • Quick Installation Guide
  • Support CD
  • 1 x I/O Panel Shield