Features of the ASRock 939Dual-SATAII
ASRock for a value motherboard brand does make a very good attempt to layout their motherboards with a cleaner and more high-end layout - possibly a bit of the ASUS touch is rubbing off on the ASRock product. In the value system, you won't find cases full of fans and cooling devices, so a smooth layout is essential.
The placement of connectors is a mixed bag. The power connectors are located in the upper left of the board, away from the CPU, which is a good position considering the offset CPU socket and memory modules. The IDE and FDD connectors are located at the bottom of the board, IDE on the bottom right, and the FDD below the expansion slots.
Expansion slots are definitely one of the more interesting parts of this motherboard. In terms of primary expansion slots, there is a single PCI Express x16 slot for PCI-E graphics, one PCI-E x1 and three PCI slots make up the PCI development. Between the PCI-E slots and the PCI slots is a single AGP8x connector which is a true AGP8x slot with support for all AGP graphics cards, meaning it actually does run the full 8x AGP specification.
ULI's current Southbridge has an AGP controller built in, which means there is no bridging off PCI slots and no PCI bottlenecks when using AGP. To add another beauty to the pack, you can use the AGP and PCI-E graphics at the same time to give multiple monitor support, ideal for the user on a budget indeed or user looking to upgrade to a PCI Express graphics cards at a later time.
Now we get to something extra which is rather interesting and useful for future-proofing the motherboard even further. With AMD's open plans to start the move from Socket 939 to a new socket named M2 (to support a DDR-2 memory controller on the AMD64 processor die) ASRock has moved one step towards this.
The yellow style connector is what is known as the M2940 riser slot -a set of jumpers accompanies this and when the jumper blocks are set to the second position, the yellow slot becomes active. When Socket M2 processors become available from AMD, ASRock will release a riser board, with the Socket M2 and DDR-2 memory modules on the card. When inserted, the new M2 CPU will be the primary setup and the (older) onboard 939 setup will be disabled.
ULI's twin chip setup populates the ASRock 939Dual-SATA-II. This is the latest chipset from ULi with support for All AMD K8 CPU's as well as AGP and PCI-E on the same motherboard. Only passive cooling is needed on the Northbridge, as ULI's chip runs a lot cooler than others on the market.
The ULI Southbridge is somewhat behind in terms of media support. The current ULi chip only supports a 10/100 Fast Ethernet controller and a Realtek PHY is used for connection.
Another feature lacked by the ULI Southbridge at the moment is support for SATA-II. ASRock has managed to augment this by adding in a JMicron Single Port PCI-E based SATA-II controller chip which is a good inclusion.
In terms of overclocking there isn't much available. There are limited voltage options for CPU and memory. You can't push the CPU past 1.5v and memory past 2.8v.
There is no HT or PCI-E voltages, no divider locks of any type - this confirmed to us the state of the board... value orientated.
We did manage to push FSB to 219MHz with the current limitations, which is probably the most you can expect from a motherboard which is designed to be value orientated.
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