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[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

The new AMD 880G chipset is based on Radeon HD 4250 graphics engine, which is a slower version of the graphics engine used on AMD 890GX (Radeon HD 4290). This way 880G-based motherboards are cheaper than 890GX-based ones. Let’s take a look at ASRock 880GXH/USB3, which brings USB 3.0 ports.

In the table below we provide a comparison between AMD 880G and other chipsets with integrated graphics from AMD.

Chipset AMD 890GX AMD 880G AMD 785G AMD 780G AMD 760G AMD 790GX
GPU Clock 700 MHz 560 MHz 500 MHz 500 MHz 350 MHz 700 MHz
Graphics Processors 40 40 40 40 40 40
Engine HD 4290 HD 4250 HD 4200 HD 3200 3000 HD 3300
DirectX 10.1 10.1 10.1 10 10 10
PCI Express 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.0
South Bridge Chip SB850 SB710 SB710 SB700 SB710 SB750
USB 2.0 Ports 14 12 12 12 12 12
SATA-300 Ports None 6 6 6 6 6
SATA-600 Ports 6 None None None None None
RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 0, 1, 10 0, 1, 10 0, 1, 10 0, 1, 10 0, 1, 5, 10
ATA-133 Ports 1 (2 devices) 1 (2 devices) 1 (2 devices) 1 (2 devices) 1 (2 devices) 1 (2 devices)

Other chipsets with on-board video from AMD include AMD 690V, AMD 690G, AMD 740G and AMD 780V. AMD 690V, AMD 690G and AMD 740G are based on a DirectX 9 graphics engine, while AMD 780V is based on a DirectX 10 one. AMD 780V is based on Radeon HD 3100 engine, which runs at 400 MHz – clock is the main difference between HD 3100, HD 3200 and HD 3300 engines.

As you may know by now, on systems with integrated video the video memory is achieved by stealing part of the main RAM. Chipsets from AMD have a feature called SidePort, which is an optional memory chip soldered on the motherboard in order to increase video memory. The portrayed motherboard doesn’t have this feature.

Now let’s take an in-depth look at ASRock 880GXH/USB3 motherboard. [nextpage title=”The Motherboard”]

ASRock has four motherboard models based on AMD 880G chipset, 880G Extreme3, 880GXH/USB3, 880GMH/USB3 and 880GM-LE. In the table below we show the main differences between these four models.

  880G Extreme3 880GXH/USB3 880GMH/USB3 880GM-LE
Form Factor ATX ATX microATX microATX
Memory 4 sockets 4 sockets 4 sockets 2 sockets
PCI Express x16 slots Three One One One
PCI Express x1 slots One Two One One
PCI slots Three Three Two Two
South Bridge Chip SB850 SB710 SB710 SB710
SATA-300 None Five ports Five ports Six ports
SATA-600 Six ports None None None
eSATA None One eSATA-300 port One eSATA-300 port None
USB 2.0 12 ports 11 ports 11 ports 12 ports
USB 3.0 Two ports One port One port None
Audio Codec VIA VT2020 Realtek ALC892 Realtek ALC892 Realtek ALC662
Networking One Gigabit Ethernet port One Gigabit Ethernet port One Gigabit Ethernet port One Gigabit Ethernet port
SidePort Memory 128 MB No 128 MB No
Video Outputs VGA, DVI-D, HDMI VGA, DVI-D, HDMI VGA, DVI-D, HDMI VGA, DVI-D
Voltage Regulator 8+2 4+1 4+1 3+1

All of them use Japanese solid capacitors, which is great.

In Figure 1 you have an overall look at ASRock 880GXH/USB3. As you can see, it uses the standard ATX form factor.

ASRock 880GXH/USB3 motherboardFigure 1: ASRock 880GXH/USB3 motherboard.

[nextpage title=”Slots”]

AMD 880G north bridge chip has 22 PCI Express x1 lanes (the same number used on AMD 870 and AMD 890GX chipsets), with seven internal engines to control them (AMD 890GX has eight engines). ASRock 880GXH/USB3 comes with one PCI Express x16 slot, one PCI Express x1 slot and three standard PCI slots.

ASRock 880GXH/USB3 motherboardFigure 2: Slots.

[nextpage title=”Memory Support”]

AMD CPUs have an embedded memory controller, meaning that it is the processor, and not the chipset, that defines the memory technologies and the maximum amount of memory you can have. The motherboard, however, may have a limitation as to how much memory can be installed.

At the moment, the integrated memory controller of socket AM3 processors supports only DDR3 memories up to 1,333 MHz under dual-channel architecture, however ASRock says 880GXH/USB3 supports DDR3 memories up to 1,800 MHz through overclocking. The reviewed motherboard has four DDR3 sockets and since, at the moment, each DDR3 memory module can have up to 4 GB, you can have up to 16 GB with this motherboard.

The first and the second sockets are white, while the third and the fourth are blue. In order to achieve the maximum performance, you should install two or four memory modules to enable the dual-channel architecture. When only two modules are used, install them in sockets with the same color in order to enable this feature.

ASRock 880GXH/USB3 motherboardFigure 3: Memory modules. Install two or four modules for the best performance.

[nextpage title=”On-Board Peripherals”]

AMD 880G chipset is a dual-chip solution and we’ve already published all the main specs from this chipset on the first page of this article. ASRock 880GXH/USB3 uses the SB710 south bridge chip, but some other motherboards use the SB850 chip instead, which
provides SATA-600 ports and an additional RAID level (5).

ASRock 880GXH/USB3 motherboard comes with five SATA-300 ports, with the sixth port transformed into an eSATA-300 port. These ports support RAID 0, 1 and 10. The five internal ports are installed on one of the corners of this motherboard, so a video card won’t block them.

ASRock 880GXH/USB3 motherboardFigure 4: Location of the five SATA-300 ports.

This motherboard has one ATA-133 port and a floppy disk drive controller, which are features rare to be found on newer motherboards. Therefore if you need these features you may want to pick this motherboard.

From the 14 USB 2.0 ports supported by the chipset, ASRock 880GXH/USB3 offers 11 of them, five soldered on the rear panel and six available through three headers on the motherboard. This motherboard also has one USB 3.0 port, controlled by a Fresco Logic FL1000G chip. The big problem with this motherboard – and this is an unbelievable mistake done by ASRock – is that on the rear panel there are two blue USB ports, but only one of them is USB 3.0 (the bottom one; the top one is USB 2.0). It is simply impossible for the average user to get which of the two is the USB 3.0 port without looking at the manual (page 3).

No FireWire ports are provided.

Audio is generated by the chipset using a Realtek ALC892 codec, which presents eight channels. The chip manufacturer doesn’t not publish detailed technical information about this codec, so we can’t give an opinion regarding the audio section of this motherboard. An optical SPDIF output is available and you can add a coaxial SPDIF connector by installing an adapter on the “HDMI_SPDIF1” header available.

This motherboard provides shared 7.1 analog outputs, meaning that you will have to “kill” either the mic in or the line in jack if you install an analog 7.1 speaker set.

ASRock 880GXH/USB3 has one Gigabit Ethernet port, controlled by a Realtek RTL8111DL chip, which is connected to the system using a PCI Express x1 lane and thus not presenting any potential performance issues.

In Figure 5, you can see the motherboard rear panel with PS/2 keyboard connector, five USB 2.0 ports (the four black ones and the top blue one), VGA output, DVI-D output, HDMI output, eSATA-300 port, Gigabit Ethernet port, USB 3.0 port (the bottom blue one), optical SPDIF output and shared analog 7.1 audio outputs.

ASRock 880GXH/USB3 motherboardFigure 5: Motherboard rear panel.

As you can see, this motherboard comes with three video connectors, but only two of them can be used at the same time.

There is no mouse PS/2 connector so you have to use a USB mouse (or a wireless mouse with a USB receptor).

ASRock 880GXH/USB3 also has a legacy serial port available through a header labeled “COM1” near the last PCI slot. In order to use it you will need an I/O bracket that doesn’t come with the product.

This motherboard also has an infrared interface. If you want to use it you will need to buy the optical components and install them on the “IR1” header available.

[nextpage title=”Voltage Regulator”]

ASRock 880GXH/USB3 comes with a five-phase voltage regulator circuit. From the five available phases, four are used to generate the CPU main voltage (VDD, a.k.a. Vcore) while the other one is used to generate the VDDNB voltage (which feeds the integrated memory controller, the integrated HyperTransport bus controller and the integrated L3 memory cache). Thus this motherboard has a “4+1” configuration.

This motherboard comes with a passive heatsink installed on top of the transistors of the voltage regulator circuit. This motherboard uses only solid capacitors and ferrite chokes, which are better than iron chokes. Please read our Everything You Need to Know About the Motherboard Voltage Regulator tutorial for more information.

ASRock 880GXH/USB3 motherboardFigure 6: Voltage regulator circuit.

ASRock 880GXH/USB3 motherboardFigure 7: Voltage regulator circuit.

[nextpage title=”Overclocking Options”]

Like other recent models from ASRock, 880GXH/USB3 includes a core-unlocking feature (called “UCC” by the manufacturer) – which allows you to easily unlock hidden CPU cores (if your CPU has hidden cores, so this operation will not always work) – and an automatic overclocking feature called “Turbo 50,” which promises to increase the system 3D performance on 3DMark Vantage Entry test by 50%. This motherboard also has has a dynamic overclocking feature.

Below we list the main overclocking options present on ASRock 880GXH/USB3 (1.10 BIOS).

  • Dynamic overclocking: From 0% to 20% in 4% steps.
  • CPU base clock: From 150 MHz to 500 MHz in 1 MHz steps.
  • PCI Express clock: From 75 MHz to 250 MHz in 1 MHz steps.
  • CPU voltage: From 0.6000 V to 2.0000 V in 0.0125 V steps.
  • VTTNB (“NB”) voltage: From 0.6000 V to 2.0000 V in 0.0125 V steps.
  • Memory voltage: From 1.30 V to 2.05 V in 0.05 V steps.
  • Graphics engine (mGPU) voltage: From 1.09 V to 1.79 V in 0.1 V steps.

ASRock 880GXH/USB3 motherboardFigure 8: Overclocking menu.

ASRock 880GXH/USB3 motherboardFigure 9: Overclocking menu.

[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]

ASRock 880GXH/USB3 motherboard main features are:

  • Socket: AM3
  • Chipset: AMD 880G + SB710
  • Super I/O: Winbond W83627DHG
  • Parallel ATA: One ATA-133 port controlled by the chipset.
  • Serial ATA: Five SATA-300 ports controlled by the chipset (RAID 0, 1 and 10).
  • External SATA: One eSATA-300 port controlled by the chipset.
  • USB: 11 USB 2.0 ports, five soldered on the motherboard and six available through three headers on the motherboard. One USB 3.0 port controlled by a Fresco Logic FL1000G chip.
  • FireWire (IEEE 1394): None.
  • On-board video: Yes,
    Radeon HD 4250 engine running at 560 MHz (40 processing cores).
  • On-board audio: Produced by the chipset together with a Realtek ALC892 codec (eight channels, no further technical information available). On-board optical SPDIF output.
  • On-board LAN: One Gigabit Ethernet port controlled by a Realtek RTL8111DL chip, connected to the system through a PCI Express x1 lane.
  • Infrared interface: Yes.
  • Buzzer: No.
  • Power supply required: EPS12V
  • Slots: One PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot, two PCI Express x1 slots and three standard PCI slots.
  • Memory: Four DDR3-DIMM sockets (up to 16 GB up to DDR3-1800 through overclocking).
  • Fan connectors: One with four pins (PWM control) for the CPU, one with four pins (PWM control) for an auxiliary fan and three with three pins for auxiliary fans.
  • Number of CDs/DVDs provided: One.
  • Programs included: Cyberlink suite, motherboard drivers and utilities.
  • More Information: https://www.asrock.com
  • Average price in the US*: USD 100.00

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

ASRock 880GXH/USB3 has some advantages and some disadvantages over competing products. As advantages we have the ATX form factor (which some users prefer over the microATX form factor), core unlocking feature, automatic overclocking feature, the presence of an ATA-133 port, a floppy disk drive port and one USB 3.0 port.

As main disadvantages we have the use of SB710 south bridge chip instead of SB850 (translation: no SATA-600 ports) and the presence of one USB 2.0 port and one USB 3.0 port painted with the same color (blue), making it hard for the average user to know which one is the USB 3.0 port (which in our opinion is an inexcusable flaw).

However, at USD 100 we think it is too expensive for what it offers. The microATX version of this motherboard, called 880GMH/USB3 costs USD 85 and has the exact same specifications (the only difference between the two, besides the size, is the number of PCI Express x1 and standard PCI slots).

Therefore if you want a more affordable motherboard based on AMD 880G the smaller version of this motherboard is a better option.

If, however, you prefer SATA-600 ports over USB 3.0 ports, then a better option is Foxconn A88GM Deluxe. It is important to point out that models from ASRock have core unlocking and automatic overclocking, features not present on this model from Foxconn.

If you want to go cheap you can try ASRock 880GM-LE at USD 75, but we can’t recommend this other model because of the presence of only two memory sockets and the six-channel audio with shared jacks.

However, if you really want to save, you can buy a AMD 785G-based motherboard for USD 35 less – in fact we don’t think this huge price gap justifies the performance difference between AMD 785G- and AMD 880G-based motherboards. But in this case you won’t get a USB 3.0 port.

All options provided, the final decision is yours.

By the way, one constructive criticism to ASRock is to hire someone with a better knowledge of the English language to revise the text on their product box. Two examples of phrases written in “Engrish” are “World’s First AMD 880G Chipset Motherboard Supports Unlock CPU Core” (the correct form would be “World’s first motherboard based on AMD 880G chipset to support CPU core unlocking”) and “An user-friendly and united tool which allows you to overclock your hardware devices to get the best system performance” (the correct form would be “A user-friendly tool that allows you to overclock your hardware devices to get the best system performance”). Unfortunately this kind of problem happens a lot with several manufacturers.