ASRock 775Dual-VSTA
Basic Features


ASRock 775Dual-VSTA
Market Segment: Budget/Entry Level
CPU Interface: Socket T (Socket 775)
CPU Support: LGA775-based Pentium 4, Pentium D, Core 2 Duo, Celeron D, Pentium XE
Chipset: VIA PT880 Pro + VT8237A
Thermal Design: 4-phase power
Passive Northbridge Cooling
Bus Speed Support: 1066/800/533MHz
Bus Speeds: 90 to 340 in 1MHz Increments
Memory Ratios: DDR2 - Auto, 533, 667
DDR- Auto, 266,333,400
PCIe Speeds: Auto, 90MHz~170MHz
PCI: Auto, 33.33MHz to 37.50MHz
CPU Voltage: Default
CPU Clock Multiplier: Auto, Fixed to Stock Multiplier
DRAM Voltage: Auto, High, Normal, Low
DRAM Timing Control: Auto, 12 Options
V-Link: Fast, Normal
Memory Slots: Two 240-pin DDR2 DIMM Slots
Regular Unbuffered Memory to 2GB Total
Two 184-pin DDR DIMM Slots
Regular Unbuffered Memory to 2GB Total
Expansion Slots: 1 - PCIe X16 (X4 GPU)
1 - AGP 3.0 (4x or 8x)
4 - PCI Slots 2.3
Onboard SATA/RAID: 2 SATA 1.5Gbps Ports - VIA 8237A
(RAID 0,1,JBOD)
Onboard IDE: 2 Standard ATA133/100/66/33 Port (4 drives)
VIA 8237A
Onboard USB 2.0/IEEE-1394: 8 USB 2.0 Ports - 4 I/O Panel 4 Headers
No Firewire Support
Onboard LAN: 10/100 FAST Ethernet Controller
VIA VT6103
Onboard Audio: Realtek ALC888 HD-Audio 8-channel CODEC
Power Connectors: ATX 20-pin, 4-Pin 12V Molex
I/O Panel: 1 x Serial
1 x LPT
1 x PS/2 Keyboard
1 x PS/2 Mouse
1 x RJ45
4 x USB 2.0/1.1
8-Channel Audio I/O
BIOS Revision: AMI 1.3

The ASRock 775Dual-VSTA is a very unusual board at a low entry price of $55. It is true that ASRock sometimes marches to the beat of different drummer, and the 775Dual-VSTA is certainly evidence of that. If nothing else, you can say they offer some very uniquely configured boards that offer very good quality for the money. This board features the VIA PT880 Pro Northbridge and VT8237A Southbridge with VRM and BIOS updates that now fully support Core 2 Duo. This is a board that you really want to dislike from a performance viewpoint, but you have to like it from an upgradeability perspective. Well, at least for those users who want to bring along their DDR and AGP cards while buying an E6300 CPU as an example.

Click to enlarge

The board is laid out nicely and certainly caters to those who value IDE and PCI devices. The VT8237A only supports two SATA 1.5Gbps drives but the board does support four IDE devices. The overall feature set of the VIA chipset is the same as the Biostar PT880 Pro board we reviewed a few months back.

Basic Performance

The performance was not as bad with a Core 2 Duo as we had expected. In fact, in almost all of our benchmarks the board was at least in shouting distance of the other contestants. We actually found the DDR2 memory performance to be very competitive with the other boards, although support is limited to DDR2-533 and DDR2-667. We just received an updated BIOS that allows greater DDR support and improved timings. We will provide these performance results when we compare the board to an Intel 865 based board that supports Core 2 Duo in the near future.

The other potential issue is a PCIe graphics slot that only supports X4 operation. This proved to be an issue in benchmarks that tend to stress the GPU interface. Although ASRock only lists official PCIe support for video cards such as the NVIDIA 6600/6800GT or ATI X700 range, we had no difficulties running our ATI X1900XTX or EVGA 7900GTX in the board - though we never quite trusted it due to power delivery concerns. The board on a couple of occasions while overclocking completed a brown out while either GPU was being stressed in 3DMark06. In the end, you are paying around $55 for a board that can handle your older or newest peripherals and still provide a decent level of performance. We have to hand it to ASRock on fulfilling these requirements with a stable board, but we look forward to their Intel based value boards which should be arriving shortly.

Overclocking

ASRock 775Dual-VSTA
Overclocking Testbed
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6700
Dual Core, 2.67GHz, 4MB Unified Cache
1066FSB, 10x Multiplier
CPU Voltage: 1.300V
Cooling: Tuniq Tower 120 Air Cooling
Power Supply: OCZ GameXStream 700W
Memory: Corsair Twin2X2048-PC2-8500C5 (2x1GB)
(Micron Memory Chips)
Hard Drive Hitachi 250GB 7200RPM SATA2 16MB Cache
Maximum OC:
(Standard Ratio)
297x10 (3-3-3-9)
2970MHz (+11%)

We did not expect much in the way of overclocking with this board and this is about what we got. However, the board did overclock further than we expected - a pleasant surprise - and we almost reached the 300FSB level with our test components. The board actually reached a 303FSB setting with an NVIDIA 6800 Ultra AGP card and some inexpensive DDR 333 memory. However, anything higher resulted in a no boot condition and clearing of the CMOS. In the end, you get what you pay for, although sometimes there is a surprise in the box of chocolates. We were surprised by this board, first for its ability to operate fine with a Core 2 Duo, and secondly that the general performance of the board was actually very good overall considering its heritage. It was kind of slow at times, but it still managed to consistently finish the race.

DFI Infinity 975X/G Test Setup
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  • Bochista - Thursday, July 20, 2006 - link

    With the release of new Quad SLI beta drivers I would like to know what board is compatible with both the Conroe & Quad SLI. Being CPU bound in graphics I think it would very interesting to see. The ASUS P5N32-SLI SE is not on the Quad-SLI list. The Asus P5N32-SLI Deluxe is not either.

    Bo
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, July 20, 2006 - link

    quote:

    The ASUS P5N32-SLI SE is not on the Quad-SLI list.


    It should be on the list shortly. This is the board that NVIDIA has been using to test and display Quad SLI on with Conroe. We also understand this board will probably make its way into several Quad SLI systems according to NVIDIA. It will be interesting to see how this board performs against the nF590 in a couple of weeks. ;-)
    Reply
  • jonmcguffin - Thursday, July 20, 2006 - link

    If Core 2 Duo is sucking up so much less energy, why have I not heard anything about the need to NOT buy the 500-650 watt power supplies. It would seem to me that a processor and mainboard that consumers so little power would not need anything more than a good 350 or 400 watt power supply, even in an SLI configuration.

    It would be nice to see something written up in your review that stated...

    Hey, these processors are going to require X amount of power on the lower end and X amount on the higher end. Given power supplies are typically only 75-80% efficient and leaving another 10-15% left over in overhead, you should be using power supplies with a watt rating of X.

    Jon
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, July 20, 2006 - link

    Jon,

    Anand went over the power requirements in the CPU review article. However, from a platform level the current 7900GTX and X1900XT cards in SLI or Crossfire will require a very good 500+ watt (on the edge with CrossFire) power supply with Conroe, AM2, or Netburst CPUs. In fact, we highly recommend and use 700+ watt machines in our systems to ensure proper power delivery when running SLI or CrossFire while overclocking. The power requirements of the next generation GPUs for SLI or CrossFire will require 700w power supplies and we generally will see 900+ watt supplies for those who expect to overclock both the CPU and GPU. While we have seen the CPUs reduce their power requirements over the last two years (except at the high end until Conroe, AM2 EE is great), the GPU requirements along with the platform chipsets (ATI RD580 is the exception currently) have sky rocketed. By the time you add a couple of large hard drives, optical drives, SLI or Crossfire, and a FX60 or 955XE, you are already limited by the typical 400~500 watt power supply. While Conroe will make a difference compared to most Netburst based CPUs and the upper end AM2 processor series, it is not enough to even think about dropping below 500w at this time. In my personal systems, the first item I budget for is a really good power supply, never skimp on proper rail voltages and quality, it is the basis for a trouble free system.

    Hope this helps....
    Reply
  • ninethirty - Friday, July 21, 2006 - link

    Would you guys mind doing some tests to back that up in Part 2? Reading SilentPCReview.com, there's some pretty convincing arguments that the need for higher wattage is overblown. And 900W+ is hard to believe...pretty soon you'll be talking about dedicated wall sockets.
    I think most folks are talking about one video card, not SLI. I'd like to issue a challenge: try a test with the Core 2 Duo, a Geforce 7600GT like in the "Building a Better Budget PC" article, and a 300W Seasonic PSU (or any 80% efficient, true-to-ratings). Then, see how it effects overclocking. That PSU can run an AMD64 x2 3800+ and a 7900GT, why couldn't it run the Core 2 Duo with voltage to spare?
    There, I've thrown in my gauntlet.
    Reply
  • jonmcguffin - Thursday, July 20, 2006 - link

    #1) Paul - My point in bringing up the Digital Thermal Sensor capability of the Core 2 Duo chip and it's "possible" support on the P965 was mainly just to show that there may in fact be certain features the P965 has that are superior to the 975X. Certainly not planning any extreme overclocking and a good HSF is certainly a priority, but still utilizing the Core 2 Duo chip to its fullest abilities is important to me and that means a motherboard that supports this Core 2 Duo feature. If P965 boards support this feature out of the box and the 975X boards don’t, it’s a factor that could play into my purchasing decision.

    #2) Thanks Gary & Wesley for the explanation on why you didn't include the AB9 Pro motherboard. That makes perfect sense. It seems to me this is the board to target but to be at this point in the game and NOT have a mature enough BIOS to manipulate RAM settings is a little concerning to me. This coupled with Abit's financial issue's in the past almost have me fearful of taking a chance on this board.

    I hope in your roundup article you will provide some insight into all this business with 12-phase power and solid state capacitors. What does this mean to the over clocker or the serious workstation user?

    Lastly.......

    Slightly off-topic here but PERHAPS something you two could include in your more extensive roundup of the next Core 2 Duo motherboards or maybe in a separate article.

    On-Board Audio……….

    This may be old hat to many here, but this is an issue that I haven't seen addressed anywhere recently. On-Board audio solutions have "evidently" been creaping up on SB products for sometime now. A better explanation as to the feature benefits of some of these on-board solutions (RealTek 882D, 882, 883, 885, 888, ADI, etc) and how they are implemented would be helpful.

    #1) Top of this list is the confusion regarding digital audio & HD Audio. Seems every mobo now includes either Optical or Coax digital out on their back plates. What does tihs mean to the gamer, the audio professional, audiophile, or just the everyday computer user who wants to hook up an external amp and some higher end speakers and listen to very high quality stereo music. What the heck is HD Audio and what does that mean? How does it apply to the various groups I mentioned above?

    #2 – If I’m going to use the digital out on my board, what difference does it make what onboard or offboard sound solution I use. If the computer is spitting out bit-by-bit digital audio data, isn’t a RealTek ALC650 digital out everybit as good as a Creative Labs SoundBlaster X-Fi Platinum Edition?

    #3 – What is the deal with all the new audio codec’s out and their supposed support for Dolby Digital. What does this mean to the consumer? I would imagine 90% of all computer users here and a similar vast majority elsewhere don’t use anything more than a simple 2.1 configuration or perhaps headphones. 7.1 or 7.2 sound is worthless. Does Dolby Digital provide any extra benefits to these 2.1 or headphone listeners? Does it play back my music from .MP3’s or iTunes sound any better?

    #4 – What really is EAX and is there that big of a difference between EAX 3.0 – EAX 5.0? And again, how does this relate to digital audio. If some external source is doing the audio conversion, do these technologies even matter?

    These may appear to be rather easy questions to answer, but the reality is that we’ve been bombarded so badly with marketing by Creative and others with audio that most of us really don’t know what the heck it is we’re buying.

    Personally, the quality of audio output is really important to me. I mostly listen to music and occasionally will play a few games. One BIG question for me is do I save $125 and go with on-board “digital” audio or not.

    Thanks!

    Jon
    Reply
  • Paladin165 - Thursday, July 20, 2006 - link

    7.2 sound?? Reply
  • ic144 - Thursday, July 20, 2006 - link

    Just by looking at this article, you can see how much attention is on Intel's Core 2 Duo. I don't remember so much attention was invested for the AMD Athlon64 FXs when they were launched. LOL. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, July 20, 2006 - link

    We looked back at the launch review of A64 on Sept. 23, 2003. As you can see for yourself at http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?...">http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?... the AMD won Business Winstone and the Intel 3.2 won the MMC Winstone. Gaming results were split, with A64 winning most and the Intel 3.2 winning Quake 3. A64 led in Workstation development and Intel in Encoding. In other words, A64 won by a small margin. The AMD lead grew over time and our coverage continued to grow.

    We can't remember the last time a new CPU was laucnched that was 20% to 30% faster than the competition in everything we tested. There are really no weaknesses we have found in Core 2 Duo performance. This is a once in a decade event. AMD has responded with massive price cuts that position their new CPUs much more in line with Core 2 Duo based on performance, but they really don't have an answer to conroe, since almost every Conroe chip is faster than the fastest A64. We wish AMD did have a quick fix, since competition is good for buyers.

    We are fans of performance at AT, and we have been very supportive of A64 as it took the performance lead and extended it over the past 2+ years. However, those who ignore the current Cnroe advantage are not looking at performance, they are speaking from emotion. Conroe performance can not be ignored or twisted with GPU-bound benchmarks to show show something that is simply not true. Things will likely shift again in the future - AMD has shown itself to be very resilient - and we will loudly proclaim AMD's lead if they regain the performance crown.
    Reply
  • MadBoris - Thursday, July 20, 2006 - link

    I owe Anandtech much, you guys have consistently provided excellent quality info for years.
    Thx for another great article, I'm looking forward to part two.

    You guys have peaked my curiosity on the tuniq tower. I didn't see it reviewed here yet. Is it that much better than the competition, it's definitely beastly looking?
    Reply

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