Coming to the board itself now, ASRock uses a blue 6 layer PCB; not quite as bright blue as the GIGABYTE PCB, but still nice to have a bit of a different design now and then. The board is a full ATX design and follows the perfect layout with the 24-pin ATX power connector behind the four memory slots and the 4/8 pin power connector at the top left of the board just behind the PS/2 ports.
Progressing down the right hand edge of the board, the single IDE port controlled by the SB750 chip is located just below the memory slots on a horizontal axis, making it a bit of nightmare if you have a large graphics card to be installed and need to use the IDE port. It's not impossible, but it's a routing nightmare.
On the very bottom of the board are the SATA ports. There are five red ports and a orange port. All six ports are controlled by the SB750, but if you want to use the eSATA port on the rear of the board you need to bridge a cable from the orange port to another orange SATA port at the back of the rear I/O shield.
ASRock has kept the CPU area clean of high rise components, so those who want to use large aftermarket heatsinks can do so without worries. The CPU is given a 5 phase voltage regulation system which is comprised of all solid state capacitors and Iron Ferrite Chokes, giving it a cleaner voltage signal for overclocking as well as reducing leak current and reduction in heat generation.
The rear I/O ports are pretty well standard; we have three video out ports for the IGP which are CRT, DVI-I and HDMI. S/PDIF audio is handled through the Toslink audio port and analogue 7.1 audio through the six analogue ports. You can clearly see the eSATA port on the rear and the orange bridge port if you want to use it. It's not a switch over job; it's a manual setup.
Speaking of manual setups, ASRock doesn't make it any easier to setup Crossfire. Rather than digital switches to steal 8 lanes from the first PCIe x16 slot, you are given a paddle card like what was first used with the nForce 4 and SLI setups. The very same technique is needed here; one way gives you 16 lanes to the top x16 slot and one lane to the lower x16 slot and in the other direction you have eight lanes per slot. A third red x16 slot is provided which is x4 electrically and run off the SB750's four spare lanes with a single x1 slot at the top of the board and two PCI slots making up the compliment of expansion slots.
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