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ASRock Z68 Extreme4 Gen3 Motherboard Review
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Old 25th September 2011, 13:07   #11
ramon zarat
 
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I'm really glad you were able to run all the necessary tests to address those 2 concerns about the USB 3.0 controller and the on board video. It seem that at least some Extreme4 GEN3 currently available are not affected with the same issues reported around the web and work just fine, which is good news.

I wonder then if it could be related to a specific assembly line bug. I've heard some stories in the past where the performance/reliability of one board assembled in Taiwan was way better than the exact same board assembled in China. Quality control is not the same everywhere it seems! I would guess the sample you got actually came from Taiwan!

Anyway, thanks **A LOT** for taking the time to go to the bottom of this!

One last thing that may influence my final choice: SATA 3 performance. I came across the only other review of the Extreme4 GEN3 (From Bit-tech) and they've found SATA 3 performance for the Extreme4 GEN3 to be **WAY** below competition for both the Intel SATA 3 or the Marvell SE9120 SATA 3. I hope it's only a fluke or a bad test environment (bad driver, OS, SATA cables, etc...). I'm planning to buy a Crucial M4 128MB SSD drive as my boot drive and obviously would appreciate to get all the performance I can from such an expensive device.

The Marvell SE9120 is hooked to the system through a single PCI-e 2.0 lane, so I can understand the lower than expected performance: SATA 3 top out at 6Gb/s but a single PCI-e 2.0 lane only goes to 3.9Gb/s (500MB/s * 8 / 1024 = 3.9Gb/s) or only 65% of the expected bandwidth. The only way to choke the Marvel chip would be to hook 2 X SSD in RAID strip to rally get a bottleneck from the single PCI-e lane interface. It's either that or the Marvell chip is simply not performing at the same level as the Intel controller. Even with that limitations, not too many devices currently available on the market goes above 500MB/s anyway. On the other hand, it shouldn't happen at all when using the Intel SATA 3 ports which have full DMI bandwidth to the CPU.


Best regards,

Ramon
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Old 25th September 2011, 20:21   #12
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Originally Posted by ramon zarat View Post

Anyway, thanks **A LOT** for taking the time to go to the bottom of this!
You're welcome!
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Old 26th September 2011, 10:17   #13
Bludge
 
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Had to register just to post on the Asrock Z68 review, where Stefan did a great job of answering questions in the comments, and tested further to try and resolve/find issues...great job there!

cheers, from Brisbane, Australia
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Old 26th September 2011, 14:00   #14
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Originally Posted by Bludge View Post
Had to register just to post on the Asrock Z68 review, where Stefan did a great job of answering questions in the comments, and tested further to try and resolve/find issues...great job there!

cheers, from Brisbane, Australia
Many thanks for the appreciation!
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Old 15th October 2011, 22:34   #15
bat4
 
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Default EtronTech EJ168A USB 3.0 Host Controller

I have found an interesting review about this EtronTech USB 3.0 Host Controller:

hardcoreware.net/gigabyte-ga-z68a-d3h-b3-motherboard-review/9/

Quote:
"This board is the first time I have seen the Etron EJ168A controller, and I have to say, it sucks. All throughout testing, I would have problems transferring files to and from the test system, and completing benchmarks. It would transfer fine for a while, but would randomly get “stuck” running at 1 MB/s or so. It wasn’t actually crashing, it was just lagging really bad. This happened across various USB 3.0 devices (although never came up when I tried a USB 2.0 device in the port). I have tried the latest drivers from the website, but to no avail.

So it could be that I have a bum board here, or it could be that the Etron controller just isn’t ready for real world use just yet. Things may improve with drivers in a while, but for now, it is not usable."
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Old 22nd October 2011, 22:05   #16
ramon zarat
 
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That's exactly in line with what many others have been reporting in many forums. Not only this USB controller is systematically 15-30% slower than NEC/Renesas implementation in benchmark, but it's also buggy and unstable as hell.

What bothers me the most is that the latest Etron drivers, V0.105, has been available for a long time (way over a month) with no update since. Asrock BIOS 1.1 for the Exteme4 GEN3 has also been available for many weeks now. Despite both drivers and BIOS improvements list mention better USB experience and supposedly solving some of the issues, the fact is we are still a long way to call this solution "reliable" and "competitive". Lets hope both Etron and Asrock up their game really quick to put this embarrassing situation behind them.

The only sign of hope is that recently, some board seems to be somehow unaffected, like the one used by MadShrimp for their review. Then again, that board was supplied by Asrock themselves, so credibility wise, its not a very convincing argument.

Ramon
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Old 23rd October 2011, 16:02   #17
bat4
 
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Originally Posted by ramon zarat View Post
The only sign of hope is that recently, some board seems to be somehow unaffected, like the one used by MadShrimp for their review. Then again, that board was supplied by Asrock themselves, so credibility wise, its not a very convincing argument.Ramon
This Etron USB 3.0 implementation works correctly with particular type and brand of USB 3.0 devices. It happenned that Madshrimp has tested the USB 3.0 ports with that kind of device. May I suggest to test with an external HDD enclosure with JMicron JMS539 chipset and you will see the incompatibilities.

Tests shall include several types and brand of USB 3.0 devices, not only one.

In my view reviewers have a great responsibility when they recommend a product without extensively testing it.

The funny thing is that until driver version 0.101, using Windows 7 64, there were random BSOD pointing to the Etron driver, even when the USB 3.0 ports were not used. See this forum: sevenforums.com/crashes-debugging/154631-random-bsod-driving-me-crazy-8.html
It is a shame.
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Old 23rd October 2011, 22:54   #18
ramon zarat
 
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Originally Posted by bat4 View Post
This Etron USB 3.0 implementation works correctly with particular type and brand of USB 3.0 devices. It happenned that Madshrimp has tested the USB 3.0 ports with that kind of device. May I suggest to test with an external HDD enclosure with JMicron JMS539 chipset and you will see the incompatibilities.

Tests shall include several types and brand of USB 3.0 devices, not only one.

In my view reviewers have a great responsibility when they recommend a product without extensively testing it.

The funny thing is that until driver version 0.101, using Windows 7 64, there were random BSOD pointing to the Etron driver, even when the USB 3.0 ports were not used. See this forum: sevenforums.com/crashes-debugging/154631-random-bsod-driving-me-crazy-8.html
It is a shame.

Now that you mention it, I remember some complaints did in fact revolve around some specific external USB devices and JMicron was indeed involved.

And I agree on the part that hardware review site giving award to products should do thorough investigations.


Ramon
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