With the package out of the way, it's time to move onto the board itself to see what's going on. The first thing you notice is that it follows that very typical design we see from ASRock. For the most part there's nothing that really stands out massively when compared to other ASRock boards. In saying that, there are a few things that stand out when compared to other A75 motherboards.
As we move closer to the expansion side of things, this is what really stands out for us. It's not the fact that we've got three legacy PCI slots and a single PCI-E x1 slot, but the fact we've got three PCI-E x16 slots. At the moment we're seeing most companies are only opting to include a single PCI-E x16 slot instead of multiple when it comes to this new platform.
The setup holds no surprises. When you use a single card it's running at x16. Throw in two cards in CrossFire and they'll be both running at 8x. The third slot is like you'd expect; a x16 in physical form, but is only a x4 slot.
I think the main reason we don't see companies going for multiple PCI-E x16 slots is because it's not hard to find ourselves bottlenecked by the APU when using high end VGA setups. This means that using a high end CrossFire setup wouldn't hold the same value as it would on a more powerful platform.
In the end I have mixed feelings about the addition of multiple PCI-E x16 slots. I'm not sure how useful they're going to be for people. What's important to remember, though, is you can install x1 and x4 PCI-E cards in them, so I suppose in another sense it's giving you the most options.
Moving across to the bottom of the board, we've got (starting from the left) our HD Audio header, 1394 FireWire, HDMI S/PDIF, two USB 2.0 headers and a COM1 header. Next to and above this you can see we've got our debug LED reader and a power and reset button. Finally, we finish off with another USB 2.0 header and our front panel header.
Turning the corner, we can see a total of eight SATA III ports. Six aren't too much of a surprise with the first six starting from the left all running off the native A75 chipset that's present on the board. What does come as a surprise is the addition of another two running off the ASMedia ASM1061 controller, giving us a total of eight SATA III ports.
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