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

    Thank you for the comments. Our focus on the first cooler roundup will be on units that cost under $25 but the Tuniq will be included as a reference point along with the retail Intel unit. Our follow up will include the high end air coolers and some water cooling units.

    The Tuniq is considered to be one of the best air coolers available at this time although we are starting to see this design being incorporated by other suppliers quickly.
    Reply
  • biggersteve - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    Hope you can get an Arctic Cooler Pro 7 into that cooler review. Quiet as a tomb and mighty cool. Reply
  • jonmcguffin - Thursday, July 20, 2006 - link

    A feature built into the Core 2 Duo processors is this new Digital Thermal Sensor that supposedly has the ability to provide much quicker and more accurate thermal information about each processor. The key with this though is that it requires support from the motherboard. Why did you guys not mention this feature in any of the motherboards you tested?

    My guess is that since the P965 was "built" for Core 2 Duo, my guess would be that it supports this feature while the older 975 does not. In going back and forth between pro's and con's of the P965, if this feature is in fact built into the chipset/motherboard, it is worth pointing out. I'm not really an overclocker though I do want to buy a system that will be rock solid in stability for many years to come. Quite PC's that are very reliable and stable are critical and this is a good feature.

    Also, you reviewed the Abit AB9 Pro motherboard a few weeks back but somehow it was left out of this overview. At $160 on the street, despite it's layout issue's, this looks to me like perhaps the best board right now for the guy who isn't rich and just wants a very solid Core 2 Duo mobo.

    Hope you get a chance to review and respond.

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

    Jon,

    The Gigabyte DQ6 actually has the ability to select readings from either sensor (Digital/Legacy) on the CPU in the power management settings. We will go over this in detail in our full review of the board or other Conroe capable boards in the future. These type of features along with audio and storage performance are not generally not reviewed in the guide articles but covered in the full product reviews.

    The Abit AB9-Pro is shaping up to be a very good mid-range board (prices around $142 already) once the bios is complete. We are due to receive bios B6 next week that is optimized for Conroe and allows full memory configuration from both a timing and ratio viewpoint. The board was not ready to be included in the buyers guide until Abit had a final bios to us. We will report the results as soon as we complete testing.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, July 20, 2006 - link

    We had planned to include the Abit AB9 in our roundup IF Abit got the memory issue fixed before the review. Unfortunately even the latest beta BIOS we received on Tuesday does not fix the issue. There is no means on the current Abit board to change memory speed or timings. It supposedly reads the SPD and boots at DDR2-533 5-5-5-15 with every dimm we tried. You can't run Value Ram at DDR2-800 for example or run DDR2-800 at rated speed. Or change timings to 3-2-3 at DDR-533 even if you know the ram can run at those timings. We did not think it fair to make a big deal of this in a review since Abit is supposedly working on it, but we see they are now also selling the board at some retailers and memory is still broken as far as we know.

    We consider this problem, if not fixed, to disqualify the Abit from consideration by any Enthusiast. We plan to do a full review of the Abit AB9 Pro if and when Abit fixes this major problem.
    Reply
  • supremelaw - Thursday, July 20, 2006 - link

    Jon,

    Why would more accurate thermal sensors
    have high priority, if the Conroe runs
    much cooler and more efficiently?

    Are you planning extreme O/C, perhaps?

    Wouldn't a superior HSF have higher priority?

    e.g.:
    http://www.supremelaw.org/systems/heatsinks/warnin...">http://www.supremelaw.org/systems/heatsinks/warnin...

    Just curious here.


    Sincerely yours,
    /s/ Paul Andrew Mitchell
    Webmaster, Supreme Law Library
    http://www.supremelaw.org/">http://www.supremelaw.org/
    Reply
  • falc0ne - Wednesday, July 19, 2006 - link

    The usual best from Anandtech..I was in a bit of fog if switching to conroe or not, but now I have a mutch more clearer picture. After the part2 of this suite, it will all be clear to me.
    P.S. Your articles on Nvidia's NForce 4 platform made me choose that platform and AMD64.

    My sincere thanks, I owe you a lot
    Reply
  • wackypete - Wednesday, July 19, 2006 - link

    Thanks for putting this article together. Your effort has not gone unnoticed. Reply
  • Howard - Wednesday, July 19, 2006 - link

    Anybody know what chips it uses? The 5-5-5-15 DDR2-667 variety, that is. Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, July 19, 2006 - link

    We still have additional memory selections from a variety of suppliers arriving for further memory reviews at this time. Reply

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