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
POST A COMMENT

123 Comments

View All Comments

  • Vidmar - Wednesday, July 19, 2006 - link

    One thing that really bugs me about some of the MB manufactures is that some never state the exact number of PCIe lanes that are actually available on that second PCIe 16x slot. Some do some don’t. Some state it while in SLI/Crossfire mode but not when in non- SLI/Crossfire mode.

    Right now I’ve got an nForce 4 SLI board that has two PCIe 16x slots, but when in non-SLI mode they are at 16x and 2x respectively. When in SLI mode they are both at 8x respectively.

    The problem with this is that (at least on this board) you cannot install anything but a video card in the second PCIe 16x slot when in SLI mode.

    I’ve got an PCIe 8x SCSI raid card (LSI 320-2e) that I’m trying to use in the second PCIe slot at 8x, but this board won’t even acknowledge that its there while in SLI mode. And when running in non-SLI it only runs at 2x and becomes a bottleneck for this workstation.

    So if its possible to provide some details as to what exactly a board can do on the second PCIe 16x slot in both normal and SLI/Crossfire mode, that would be most helpful!

    For example on the ASUS P5W-DH Deluxe in your review it doesn’t state this information either way. But on the Intel 975XBX you do have that information.

    So what does the second PCIe slot run at in non-Crossfire mode on the ASUS P5W-DH Deluxe?

    Also do you happen to have a SCSI PCIe card you can test in the second slot (or any PCIe card for that matter) and see if the BIOS can recognize the card while in SLI/Crossfire mode? That too would be helpful for people who don’t care about multiple GPUs, but want to create large array workstations.

    Thanks!
    PS: nice article.
    Reply
  • supremelaw - Thursday, July 20, 2006 - link

    Excellent points! Constant change is here to stay :)

    On our ASUS P5WD2 Premium with i955X chipset,
    we are now faced with that very same problem:

    we don't need 2 video cards, because we do
    mostly database development. And, we want
    to dedicate the second "universal" x16 slot
    to a high-performance PCI-E RAID controller.

    (Santa Claus is going to bring me an x1900
    PCI-E video card anyway, and that should
    easily last me for another 20 years, min!)

    Our consultant highly recommends the Areca model,
    but it only performs best in x8 mode. On the
    other hand, our ASUS User Manual states that
    the second "universal" x16 slot can only run
    in x4 mode, maximum.

    That limitation was a single line of text
    in that User Manual, but it is not mentioned
    in any of the other specs for our motherboard.

    His recommendation: switch to a server motherboard,
    so we can use the Areca RAID 6 controller (not a bad
    idea, actually).

    So, I think we'll have to settle for the Promise
    PCI-E model EX8350, which is also limited to x4 mode,
    but it now supports RAID 6 too.

    It only took about 4 hours of research to confirm
    this limitation, however :)

    Such specs should be better documented, for sure!


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

    I find it weird that the pcie card does not work in 8x mode. I see no reason why it wouldn't work...the sli pcb that you flip around only redirects the lanes AFAIK. Reply
  • vhx - Wednesday, July 19, 2006 - link

    Too bad the motherboards cost more than a decent Conroe processor. Kind of sad to see the features lacking until you get into the $250 price ranges. You can spot an AMD AM2 motherboard with the same features for around $130ish, which makes this 975X chipset rediculously expensive compared to the newer AM2's. The TForce P965 looks like a great alternative for the price, although based on the 965P. Hmm upgrading to Conroe will be more expensive than I thought.... /sigh. What to do. Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, July 19, 2006 - link

    quote:

    What to do.


    Wait, that is right, wait until the motherboard suppliers are in full production in August. There will be a large variety of motherboards available by the end of August that will make up the $50~$150 range with chipsets from the 945P to nF570SLI being sold. We will also start seeing the G965 boards in late August for those that want a mATX form factor, decent graphics,and the ability to upgrade later. If you need a board now, it will cost you. ;-)
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, July 19, 2006 - link

    quote:

    If you need a board now, it will cost you.

    Not to mention getting the Core 2 CPUs. :) I would expect prices to drop significantly within a month or so.
    Reply
  • jonp - Saturday, July 22, 2006 - link

    Jarred,
    Please say more about your comment on pricing.
    http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=3377">http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=3377
    says:
    quote:

    Recently released Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme products will not be receiving any price cuts in the near future.

    Thanks, Jon
    Reply
  • multiblitz2 - Wednesday, July 19, 2006 - link

    I was waiting for the 965 as HDMI/HDCP-support is a must have for my new HTPC. Does 975 support this in the same way as the 965 ? Reply
  • araczynski - Wednesday, July 19, 2006 - link

    great article!

    looking forward to additional mobo's appearing (and more importantly - prices dropping) beforei build my next rig.

    i personally refuse to pay over $150 for ANY mobo, no matter the features. but i do realize that the initial price gouging is to milk the early adopters. i figure by early october prices should be just right for all the nice toys.
    Reply
  • araczynski - Wednesday, July 19, 2006 - link

    i know this is a dead horse, by why in the world can't these manufacturers make models that throw out some of these legacy 'extras' they keep putting on the boards?

    onboard sound, parallel ports, floppy connectors, etc...
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now