Saturday, June 13, 2015

Asrock 970M Pro3 Review

A truly pure black motherboard, that is a rarity in and of itself.


- Richtek RT8871A 4+1 phase controller
- 4 true phases
- Unlabeled MOSFETs, probably rated for 30A.
- Unlabeled inductors
- Miniscule heatsink
- Unkown minimum to 500KHz max
- 1 true phase
- Same MOSFETs as CPU core - Has a heatsink
- Unknown minimum to 500KHz
- 2 true phases
- Same MOSFETs as CPU core - No heatsink
- Unknown minimum to unknown maximum KHz

Verdict: 6/10
This board doesn’t officially support the 9000 series of FX CPUs. The fact that none of the components making up the VRM phases are from name brands is concerning. However, the BIOS does limit you to only using safe voltages from which I calculated that the VRM is most likely built for 120A on the core and 30A on the NB. Honestly this board annoys me because building a small high current VRM is not hard. The only obstacle is the expense, and considering how many AM3+ boards cost more than this one I don't think that putting a 160A, 200A, or 240A VRM on this board would make it less desirable. However cheap the VRM may be, it holds voltage very well. The board doesn't support LLC, but at any core voltage while running IBT, I wasn’t getting more than 15mv of VDroop. This is better than what any other board I've used has ever managed.

- Max VCC: 1.55V
- Max VNB: 1.75V
- Max VDDR: 2.05V
- NB clock from 400 to 6300
- Full active core control (you can run 1 core per CU)
- XMP Support
- Missing sub timings
- No support for asymmetrical timings

Verdict: 5/10
Why Asrock why? Why do I have to scroll through a mile long voltage table to set a voltage when I have a perfectly functional keyboard. The voltage limits are low, as expected, but I’m not taking points for this. This is because higher voltages would most likely kill the VRM. The board also lacks LLC settings. This is not a bad thing because there is only a very slight VDroop of 15mv on all the VRMs. However the NB voltage is a mess, similarly to the A85X Extreme 6. The board defaults the NB voltage to 1.4V for whatever reason. This is way too high when stock NB voltage is 1.15V and AMD recommends not going over 1.35V on 32nm CPUs.

Testing Results:
The following hardware ran stable, using Intel Burn Test (IBT) for stress testing.
- RipjawsX 2x2GB 1600 7-8-7-24 1.6V/max clock: 1866mhz 8-9-8-25-1T 1.75V
- Max CPU clock 1.55V 4core: 4770mhz
CPU-Z validation stable.
-Max CPU clock 1.55V 8 core: 4500mhz
-Max FSB clock: 230mhz

Verdict: 5/10
The error recovery ability of this board is superb. It handles failed RAM settings with the utmost ease, and I only had to wipe the BIOS once throughout my testing. Unfortunately this board is awful at RAM overclocking. The kit of RAM I used on it today was my best RAM kit that usually sits inside my FX 6350 system, which runs at 2133 9-12-9-28-1T on 1.7V. Now I don't think this a problem with the board's capabilities. However, due to the missing settings you can't do anything when going outside of the XMP spec of your RAM. I'm pretty sure that a kit with a 2400mhz XMP profile would run 2400mhz without problems, but don’t expect to overclock RAM 200mhz above it’s advertised spec, The FSB was similarly painful. On my Sabertooth 990FX R2.0 and the ASUS A88X-PRO, I overclocked by turning down all the multipliers, then tried to boot with a higher FSB in increments of 10mhz. The 970m Pro3 however, refuses to work above 230mhz, no matter what I do.

Conclusion: 16/30 Points, 0.246pts/$
This board is the best MATX AM3+ board you can buy. Physically, this board is solid for basic overclocking. Except for some easily fixable BIOS quirks, I see no reason why you would pick any other board when building an MATX AM3+ system. The VRM can handle up to 120A, so it won't handle the FX 9000 series. This board will however, handle ALL FX CPUs overclocked up to 4.75Ghz on 1.525V. This means that if cooling on the VRM is sufficient, you can overclock on this board above 1.45v. Otherwise, you will need to stay under 1.45v or it will overheat and thermal throttle or even burn out. This board is very poor for RAM and FSB overclocking, so it's no good for benchmarking. Regardless, this board meets the needs of a daily gaming PC based on FX CPUs.

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  1. Hey thank you, I got this board and an FX 6300 PLEASE show me how to OC with this board I need some help...used the auto OC tools in bios and got it up to 4.0GHz but I would like to hit 4.2. Can you help a guy out?

    1. Sure thing. Should I do a video guide?

    2. I would really appreciate you quite a bit if you did that...I really like this board, even if its a little to late to the party if you know what I mean. Why the hell didn't they give this thing a better power phase design?

  2. Hey Bro, please let me know ASAP when you have that OC video ready I want to be one of the first to see it...if you don't want todo that you could always just do a written tutorial. BTW their are a lot of people talking about this board and wanting to know the best way to attempt OC'ing on it so you will be doing a public service! I've shared this review+site via google+

    1. Dude you gotta give me some time I was benching an FX 8320E on LN2 today and it took 6 hours with 3 hours of prep for it. I'll try get the video up tomorrow.

  3. Oh yea, don't get me wrong...I'm not trying to be a pain in the ass! I'm just excited to get my CPU properly OC'ed so just let me know when you have something ready. Thank you for your help!

    1. Any moron can overclock his cpu if he tries to learn about the board, bios and cpu. Get off your lazy rear end.

    2. While I agree was that delivery really necessary?

  4. 5.188GHz on this mobo with my 8370E :) Proof -
    140mm nzxt AIO and $5 fan for the VRMs - ASUS P/N:13G070341001 Good hunting party people!

    1. Nice chip my needs well og ver 1.5V to get even close to that clock.

  5. Poke. I've just validated the initial build of an FX-8320E on this board, using 2x4 Crucial Ballistix 1866. A Cooler Master GeminII S524 V2 has been employed to downdraft the VRM's (I can and will create ducting as necessary), and it's all in a good Fractal Design mATX case with a Corsair GS600 PS. My hope is to achieve the majority of the overclock before exceeding "stock" voltages with this chip, looking for solid 4.5Ghz and preferably 4.75 before thermodynamics interferes. If you still have this process planned/executed, the knowledge gained would be of relevance to me in real time. :-)

  6. anyone tried the new 1.30 bios? I am using this in a music production computer and after having to take the gpu out and clear the cmos a million times to get to the overclock i am at now (super low memory latency), well I guess what i'm asking is, what changed and how is it with oc stability? thanks, <fish<

    1. That Board is rid of it a while ago.....

  7. Oh yea, don't attempt to OC on that board it got a 4+1 power phase array, you'll only end up burning out the northbridge...

  8. Great board for the price and end of life use for FX line. Easily OCed a 8320e stable at 4.2 as my daily driver trying to push for a 5.0 for giggles.

    Sean the tools and exploit them before saying it's trash. I refuse to believe that this board is garbage, not due to personal bias but rather your uninformed opinion given the comments posted in previous months.

    In any event I know this is a old thread but, can be still found by google. As evidence by my posting here. I'd hate for someone to by pass this board because some other individual didn't receive a guide.

    1. hey bud how far did you go with the OC? intelburner just told me mine is unstable at 4.0 although i still have a 25degree gap between my tj i have a 212 evo pro 970 atx and 8320e 650gq psu 2x8gb EVGA 2400 r9 380 4gb hope u can help

    2. Hi grime. Sounds great! I've the same CPU/MB combo. Currently sitting at 4.0 GHz with 1,3125 +100mv offset. 1 hour prime blend without errors and 57c temp on cpu chipset max. Stock cooler fan blowing to vrm heatsink directly since I've an AIO watercooling kit for cpu. Would you mind to share your settings? 4,2 to me seems unreachable. Thanks!

  9. So do you think it is safe to overclock my FX-4350 to 4.75Ghz? Right now I am running 4.65Ghz at 1.3625v stable and my temps are ~43c on all cores, and 40c at TMPIN0
    I hear that since it only has 4+1 phase power, it is unsafe to overclock too much, but I can't find answers anywhere!
    (Just installed the corsair H60 cooler and it keeps my temps so low!)

    1. The board will throttle the CPU if the VRM gets too hot so it's not super risky to try more voltage. I would still stongly recommend that you try attach a fan to the VRM heatsink.

  10. No wonder why you receive countless of feedbacks. biostar usb 3.0 driver

  11. Hello I was just wondering what you set your cpu nb to sense it trys to stock 1.4, but stock should be 1.15 and never over 1.35.

    1. use 1.2-1.35V. More than that isn't particularly safe for FX CPUs

  12. Tricky MB, will self reboot if options aren't set tight. SATA ports are flimsy, ASRock must has been running low on whatever glue needed to secure these to the MB. Having built numerous computers, I've never seen this issue in the past, all it takes it just one removal & reconnection, the ports gets wobbly.

    If I could give the MN a '0', I would, this was advertised as the best upgrade for AMD mATX systems (AM3, AM3+ & probably backwards compatible with certain AMD CPU's. Not the case for me, and to show this is NOT a premium MB, only has a one year warranty, while my Z97 Extreme6 has a 3 year one, there has to be better choices for those who wants an AGCI capable (for SSDS's) & SATA-3, most are new 'old' stock & SATA-2.

    If possible, I recommend to go with a full sized ATX MB, where there's more choices.

  13. Just wanted to add that I am running my phenom ii x6 1405t at 240 fsb stable for a few months now. That seems to be about the best FSB that I can do. On 4 cores it ran at 250 FSB no problem but I didn't run any stability test.

    1. Good to hear it, if it weren't for the losse SATA ports (the sudden reboots were fixed with updated UEFI Firmware since I last posted), I'd recommend this MB w/out hesitation. Beware though, this isn't a MB that I'd want to run over 125W CPU's on. For compatible 95W models, it's perfect, if you get one w/out loose SATA ports.


  14. please please please. could you show exactly how to set up bios for the 4.2GHz FX-8300 .... please please :)

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I currently have a fx8320 to 4.5Ghz with this same motherboard and the ram memories to 2400mhz.


  15. hi, basic CPU clock has just turbo 3600GHz, but correctly it should be 4200, what is your view on.

  16. prosím Mr.Cleaner, apeluji na tvojí lidskost. Snažím se co můžu dostat do hlavy všechny ty kvanta informací o taktování ale už mi z toho jebne, byl bych strašně vděčnej za nějaký nasměrování.

    bios mám nejnovější, nejvyšší stabilní takt (taktuju jen na sudý frekvence) 4 GHz při 1.3375, 4.2 GHz, nedám ani s 1.4!!!!!! rád bych to cpu do budoucna ale pokud nedá 4.2.....tak.... Mam fx-8300

    šahám jen na volty a násobič, všechno ostatní jako Volty a freq HT NB, sem nechal jak se nastavilo po přepnutí na manual OC, a možná v tom je ten problém

    ja vim že tu každej noob škemrá o know-how, doufal sem že aspoň uděláš to video :/ můžu říct že nejsem línej, hledám pídim se, ale nikde sem nenašel takovej test jako od tebe.

  17. Any suggestions on how to attach a fan to the VRMs? I'm about to do a build with this board and a Phenom II B93 cpu and would like to overclock.

  18. Wish people would follow up on this post. Trying to swansong my 8350 by putting it in a thermatake v21 and add a aio cooler.

    So far its got
    32gb ram. Meant to be 1866mhz but only runs at 1600mhz.
    Rx480 8gb
    Getting the new case so i can use the crossfire on this.

    It seams a ok board the usb ports are junk as the wife is a camgirl who is getting a ryzen setup as soon as possible.

    They share the same bus for some reason so a pcie x1 card sorted this issue out.

    Thanks for the heads up on the northbridge but if someone could acrually show some setting that would be great.

    Its basically going to live out the rest of its life as a rts games pc.

    So some stable settings would be amazing.

    Has anyone crossfire this board?

    Or got the ram over the 1600mhz mark?

    Hyper fury x. 4 x 8gb

    One set os one kit the other a different kit.

  19. Have seen better mATX as well as Full ATX MB's of this type. Something else annoying, the right side standoff holes on the MB are non-compliant on two different cases. Purchased a larger case so things wouldn't be cramped & running cooler & the same issue as the mint tower case it was installed in, no standoff holes for support of the right side of the MB.

    Next time I purchase an AM3/AM3+ MB, will go Full ATX & reap the benefits, a couple has M.2 ports, or supports booting from NVMe SSD connected to a PCIe port, though am certain that like this one, these are also PCie 2.0.

    However, over a year post purchase, for the price paid, am satisfied, since it's outlasted the warranty, though one thing to bear in mind. The other MB's I was referring to has 3 year warranties, and there's good reason as to why. This is a decent MB for a first time builder, someone on a budget, or restricted to an owned mini tower case that won't accept Full ATX MB's. Though had I checked more closely, the case I had would fit a Full ATX, though would had to have been careful, a very tight fit, and the HDD cages are riveted on, rather than screwed, which would make an easier install.

    The ASRock 970M Pro3 was a learning experience for me, and at $69.99, not a bad deal.


  20. Does anyone know if this MB supports booting from PCIe? I'd like to purchase a PCIe to mSATA adapter, and while I know that a bit of speed with be lost (maybe not, as the writes doesn't break the 500MB/sec mark.

    Anyone who has this MB & can answer this question, I'd very much appreciate it.;-)

    Now I'll share a piece of advice for those who has a large case & wants to install a Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO. First off, the CPU cooler, the plastic mounts (both of these secured by two screws each) has to be removed, and be careful, once that happens, be ready to catch the backplate. Store all of these in a ziplock bag, preferably in the MB box, so that none of these will be lost.

    After cleaning the CPU with 91% alcohol (or high proof vodka, what a waste of a drink:-)) use a can of compressed air to blow down the MB really good, there will be dust where those mounts were. Then using a coffee filter, clean the CPU again, no dust can be left on the surface.

    Now, find a YouTube video with good instructions, and the rest is easy to figure out. Because the upper replacement backplate bolts may be a bit too high for the opening in some cases, the MB will have to be partially removed (just enough to install the backplate) & make sure it's good & snug, there's a provided tool for this to tighten the nuts. Don't overdo it, the MB may crack.

    The rest was easy, after watching a YouTube video, the procedure was similar for an Intel i7-4770, though was able to reach everything w/out removing the MB (nor the backplate). This is where AMD differs. Make certain that the newly installed backplate isn't touching any of the case, if so, may have to use some metal cutters (wished I had one, would had saved me much trouble) or hacksaw to remove any metal that touches, though should be OK.

    At any rate, that's the hard part. I had to look at a half dozen YouTube videos to get this right, unfortunately, I didn't bookmark any. Just open the YouTube site & type in the search bar 'how to install a Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO in a AM3+/AM3 MB'. Ignore any that shows a different cooler.

    Had I known that the fan was going to be noisy, would had purchased the Noctua NH-Di5S, because it looks like I'm going to have to purchase the fan anyway, and the Noctua cooler is easy peasy to install, instructions so easy a teenager could do it. So the $29.99 I paid, plus $25 for a quality fan = almost the same price as a Noctua NH-D15S (maybe the same on promo), which is built for compatibility for these type of MB's.

    I never seem to learn these things, though one thing for sure, while the Hyper 212 EVO dropped temps to the sub-15C range at idle & sub-25C with Google Chrome & several pages open, the Noctua does the same & no fan replacement needed, and unlike that Cooler Master thermal paste, the Noctua paste is excellent. If they're standing behind their product for 6 years (versus 2 for the CM HYper 212), it has to be good! Actually have one installed in my best rig with a i7-4790K.

    Again, if anyone knows if the PCIe 2.0 x4 port is bootable, please leave in the comments. Thank You!


  21. is it possible to get a vrm meausurement??? I'm currently trying to find a waterblock for my board.