E8400 4x1GB 9x435 -
 
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E8400 2x2GB 9x435 -
 
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E8400 8GB 9x435 -
 
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E8400 8GB 9x333 -
 
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The first two screenshots show a final setting of 9x435FSB with the E8400 dual-core processor.  This results in a final CPU speed of 3.91GHz at 1.375V.  We utilized a 4x1GB and 2x2GB memory configuration at DDR2-1044 with 5-4-4-12 timings on 2.2V. This particular CPU is a recent retail purchase that will reach 4.1GHz with 1.3625V on an X48 board.   We could POST at 9x445 but Crysis reared its ugly head and prohibited us from running at a higher FSB rate even with reduced memory speeds or increased timings.  We had to set VTT to 1.375V, GTLRef to High, HT Link speed to 800MHz, and SPP voltage to 1.382V for stability. 
 
Unfortunately, we could not change the CPU multiplier with the current 1.00 BIOS so maximum FSB rates are not available.  However, we believe this board will probably do around 450FSB which is perfectly acceptable considering this FSB range usually maximizes performance with the right memory settings on this chipset.
 
Our 8GB memory configuration also resulted in a 9x435FSB setting with memory at DDR2-1044 at 5-5-4-15 timings on 2.2V.  We had to set VTT to 1.42V. GTLRef to High, HT Link speed to 600MHz, and SPP voltage to 1.382V.  We wish the BIOS had a 2.25V setting to ensure a little extra headroom for stability.  The next setting after 2.20V is 2.31V and is outside the voltage recommendations for this memory.  Our board operated fine but the increase in VTT voltage and decrease in HT link speeds were required to pass the benchmark test suite.  In the end, these settings and resulting performance on this chipset with 8GB installed is exceptional.  
 
Once again the board exhibited very good Vdroop levels with idle around -.01V raising to -.03V under load.  We have included a stock 9x333 screenshot as a reference point.  Memory timings and performance results at stock settings were equal between the 4GB and 8GB setups. 
 
Overall, the overclocking performance of this board with the E8400 and QX9650 is good, certainly not the best we have seen with the Intel chipsets, but perfectly acceptable given the board's target market.  In all cases, once the various voltage and memory timings were dialed in, the board proved to be extremely stable.  This is a very good indicator that ASRock can fine tune additional performance and hopefully address a few of our requests for improvements.  They have already responded with a new BIOS release that we are testing currently.
 
Quick Thoughts -
 
ASRock is one of those companies that people tend to either love or hate. A lot of people wouldn't even consider purchasing a budget oriented motherboard, choosing to live by the old adage "you get what you pay for". However, based on what we have seen out of ASRock in the past few months, we would not hesitate to recommend this board for someone looking for a solid gaming platform, especially if SLI is important. We say this without showing the rest of our cards on the table, but this board is already a diamond in the rough for those looking to marry an E8400 with a couple of 8800GT's. How it will fair in the end against the likes of the abit IP35-E and Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L is something we will answer shortly.

Get to the numbers aleady so I can go eat....
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  • Tuvoc - Sunday, February 17, 2008 - link

    Don't know why anandtech are so surprised about Penryn support on the 650 - there are other boards such as the ASUS P5N-E SLI that support it. On the other hand, whether the ASUS board is actually better than this AsRock is debatable.... Reply
  • Schugy - Saturday, February 16, 2008 - link

    Crysis is not the ugly game but it is the preferred benchmark to proof that your setup wasn't prime stable.
    I'm usually a SIS fanboy and I hope that ASRock will release new boards when SIS has new phenom chipsets.
    Too bad that all mainboard manufacturers sticked to the SIS761 in the past instead of advancing to the SIS771.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Saturday, February 16, 2008 - link

    In short, my systems MUST be as stable as possible, and I have not experienced stability past 3-5 day uptimes with any Asrock motherboard. Granted I did not exactly go out, and buy every single model from them and try each individual one. Instead, I bought one last year on recommendations from web sites(and I am thinking your site was one). Some of the staff here may remember some of the things I said about the board here, and probably also remember who my motherboard OEM of choice is.

    other considerations included system overclockability, support, and hassle free setup. The Asrock board I chose would not clock as high as my preferred brand motherboard would(yes, with the same CPU, and memory . . .two different CPUs in fact). I tried, and tried, but to no avail. The hassle free setup issue mainly involved setting up booting from SATA HDDs. I had to jump through hoops, call tech support, and in the end I found myself figuring it all out myself, because I seemingly knew more about the board than the tech rep I spoke to on the phone. I did document my findings on the web(ubuntu.org forums I think), so the problem should at least be google-able for a fix now. Software support for the board was non existant. NO BIOS updates, and no driver updates(drivers I can understand since it was an nVidia board, with ACL 888 audio).

    In the end, I could have saved myself the cost of the board, by paying $20 more for the preferred brand. Being all for saving money, I dont really care whose brand I use, so long as that brand is reliable, and in my book, Asrock failed me on many fronts.

    IF you are the type who does not care if your hardware crashes your system every 3-5 days, then my problem is not your problem.
    Reply
  • Tuvoc - Sunday, February 17, 2008 - link

    My AsRock 939 Dual SATA II has run 24/7 for two and a half years now 24/7 mostly under full load, and not a single crash. So, AsRock boards can be good... But yes in general I do agree that you get what you pay for. I don't buy AsRock these days, they are too close in price to the other big name manufacturers. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Monday, February 18, 2008 - link

    Yeah, there are three parts I do not skimp on any more.

    1) motherboards
    2) memory
    3) Power supply

    Once in a while I TRY to use a lesser brand part in place of one of these three components, but I usually am disappointed. My post above was the most recent disappointment I have had. This however would be for my own personal systems. I have used cheap ECS branded(among other brands) motherboards for replacing the occasional system board for a customer, but I always tell them how I feel about these low cost parts, and let them make the choice. Some even work out well for a long period of time. I will not however play Russian roulette with my own system in such a fashion . . . at least, not without a backup system, and/or plan ; )

    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, February 18, 2008 - link

    All that and you didn't mention abit once!? You've come a long way, yyrkoon! ;)

    (As an aside, I loved the first three abit boards I bought, but then the company seemed to tank hard. Many other abit boards were not nearly as reliable, so I stopped buying them. IP35 seems like it may have regained some of their glory days, but I'm not in the market right now.)
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, February 19, 2008 - link

    Right now I own 3 ABIT boards(4 if you include the KT7A-RAID100 board that finally took a nose dive after 6-7 years. There are pictures of it on ABITs forums . . .) NF7-S2G, NF-M2 nView, and an IP35-E. All these boards have been reliable, but the original NF7-S2G I owned died prematurly due to a faulty keyboard connector(10 year old compaq presario keyboard I just hated getting rid of).

    Out of all of them, I think I would have to agree with you about the IP35 series boards. 100% rock solid, and EVERYTHING works. The NF-M2 nView board was very reliable(which replaced the Asrock board), but not everything worked. The board will lock up half he time during POST if you have a USB HDD powered on and connected, and the other half of the time, it would lock up on booting into WinXP with the USB HDD connected.

    I almost wish Asus could ship a board into our area without it showing up at the shop DoA, but unfortunately, that has not been the case, and we do not sell their boards any longer. I have been wanting to give Gigabyte a go, but you know how brand preference gets when you have been using the same brand for many years, and you have become accustomed to how that brand behaves/does things. We also have many Intel boards around here, as well as a few very old IWILL, MSI, DFI, and Tyan boards. Oh, and one dual PIII CPU Supermicro that serves duty as a web, ftp, and general purpose server( Debian ).
    Reply
  • Paracelsus - Sunday, February 17, 2008 - link

    Same here, I had my 939dual-sata2 running solidly for over a year, handling a 40% OC on a Venice Athlon 64. It also had both AGP/PCI-E, both used fine ;) and an optional riser card for AM2 CPUs + DDR2, which I haven't used but was benchmarked and found to work fine.

    Using an AliveXFire now, some decent overclocks this time round too.

    Only problem is CPU voltage maxed out at +0.05v for some reason, and RAM voltage only goes to 2.05v, which is lame and means I can't get much of a ram OC.

    But hey, both were £40/60 euro..
    Reply
  • lopri - Saturday, February 16, 2008 - link

    quote:

    We did use either x8 slot in single graphics card mode and they worked fine, in fact, more than fine as benchmark scores indicated a variation of less than 2% in gaming compared to the x16 slot with our 8800GTS-512.

    Is it possible for AT to probe this matter deeper in future article? Like,

    PCIe 1.0 @x16
    PCIe 1.0 @x8
    PCIe 2.0 @x16
    PCIe 2.0 @x8

    And how each configuration effects actual performance. Candidates on chipset parts would be 975X, X38, 680i/650i, 780i, etc. On GPU side AMD PCIe 1.0 GPU and PCIe 2.0 GPU, NV PCIe 1.0 GPU and PCIe 2.0 GPU. It's still a confusing matter and we haven't gotten a definite answer yet. I noticed almost ~10% performance drop from going to x8 on Bad Axe 2 with a HD 3850. I don't know if it's due to the bandwidth on the board, or HD 3850 being a PCIe 2.0 card.

    Excellent review as always. Interesting that the board has such a small vdrop. (did they hire a pre-DFI emploee)
    Reply
  • ssiu - Saturday, February 16, 2008 - link

    So this board has 1600 in its name and claims to be "Compatible with all FSB1600/1333/1066/800MHz CPUs" on its website, but is not 100% stable with quad core CPU at 1600FSB? Reply

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