ASRock 939SLI32-eSATA2: ULi Dual x16 SLI

by Gary Key on 3/2/2006 12:15 PM EST
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  • chesss - Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - link

    quote:

    . We also have to wonder about the inclusion of the AM2 CPU upgrade slot that seems more like a marketing gimmick than something that will be useful in the future.
    hmm I was hoping for a more definite answer from anandtech about this. Anybody else?
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - link

    What type of information are you looking for at this time? We have seen prototype AM2 daughter cards but have not been able to test a card yet due to ongoing engineering changes. Although the daughter card will have direct HT access through the M1695 chipset, we have to wonder how well ASRock will be able to optimize the DDR2 memory performance. The daughter card will also limit cooling options available for the CPU choice. The other variable will be cost and if you are upgrading to AM2 then the additional cost of a motherboard in this category should not be an issue. When all is said and done we still think this is a marketing driven feature and not a viable engineering solution for most users. Reply
  • itroxx - Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - link

    Hello everybody,

    I'am also looking for a new system for mainly video editing. Working with Premiere, MPEG2 encoding and DVD authoring. Thats why I found this review cause the AsRock seems the only board available with SATA2-Raid capabilities right now. But I am not sure about how much SATA2 drives can be attached. Is it possible to attach one SATA2 drive for the system and build a Raid0 of two more SATA2 drives? For what reason are the SATA connector on the rear panel?

    The components I've selected at this point are

    AMD Athlon64 X2 3800+ 2x2000MHz 2x512kB Box E4-Stepping
    Asrock 939SLI32-eSATA2 S939 ATX
    2x 1024 Corsair DDR400
    1x Samsung 80GB SATA2 (System)
    2x Samsung 250GB SATA2 (Raid0)
    256MB PCIe x16 ATI RADEON X1300 PRO

    What do you think of my selection? What type of power suply do I need?
    Is 400 Watt enough?

    thanks a lot and greetings from germany
    Daniel
    Reply
  • Redrider - Thursday, March 09, 2006 - link

    Although my expertise is much lower than most of the people on this forum, there are a few things I have gleaned from my experience and research. Here are a couple of suggestion:

    You want the best you can get for the money you spend so as for the processor (I am seriously considering an X2 3800+ myself) I would go for the http://www.amdcompare.com/us-en/desktop/details.as...">ADA3800DAA5CD
    which has the E6 stepping which is a newer revision based on http://www.techpowerup.com/articles/overclocking/2...">this article

    Also, I would boost your power supply. You are spending some serious cash and I don't think skimping on the PS is wise. 400W seems pretty small and I would go with big power overhead just to be sure.
    Reply
  • UJMA - Saturday, March 04, 2006 - link

    The people who invariably buy SLi enabled boards are gamers, and gamers love to OVERCLOCK! unfortunately Asrock have provided this board with a feeble set of voltage options, both the Vdimm & Vcore voltage options are pathetic. No problem, if you're handy with a soldering iron as I'm pretty sure some voltage mods will eventually show up for entusiasts. Probably a better option would be to wait for Epox to launch their new EP-9U1697 GLI mobo based on the same ULi M1697 chipset, you'll get SLi with better overclocking options for a similar outlay! Reply
  • Gary Key - Saturday, March 04, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Probably a better option would be to wait for Epox to launch their new EP-9U1697 GLI mobo based on the same ULi M1697 chipset, you'll get SLi with better overclocking options for a similar outlay!


    We just happen to have that board available for testing now. :)
    Reply
  • UJMA - Friday, March 24, 2006 - link

    2 great reviews on boards using the ULi M1697 chipset. In the red corner we have the Asrock 939SLI32-eSATA2, in the blue corner we have the EPoX EP-9U1697-GLi ... I'm going for the Epox board. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, March 04, 2006 - link

    Keep in mind the Epox is dual x8 using a single M1697 chipset, while the ASROCK is an amazing dual x16. If dual x8 is enough for you though, the Epox should be an interesting board. Reply
  • UJMA - Saturday, March 04, 2006 - link

    I was looking at the Epopx website specs ...

    "Two PCI Express (x16) connector compliant with PCI Express 1.0a"

    http://www.epox.com.tw/eng/products_content.php?ps...">http://www.epox.com.tw/eng/products_content.php?ps...
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Saturday, March 04, 2006 - link

    There are two physical x16 connectors on the Epox board but they are electrically x8 lanes in SLI mode. The ASRock 939SLI32 has the same physical x16 connectors but electrically they are x16 lanes in SLI mode. Reply
  • UJMA - Sunday, March 05, 2006 - link

    I see, I'm still interested to see how this Epox board overclocks, I look forward to the Anantech review. If its priced similar to the Asrock Sli but with better voltage options I will get one despite it being x8 x8 ... thanks for the info.

    Reply
  • UJMA - Saturday, March 04, 2006 - link

    fantastic!!! I rate Epox boards highly, I'm waiting for that particular board to make an appearance in the UK ... I look forward to your results! Reply
  • Redrider - Saturday, March 04, 2006 - link

    I am looking to build a system for my 15 year old son who does video editing as his system stressing function, not gaming. We do video editing on my own aging but still quite nice FIC AU13max, Athlon2500+, All-in-Wonder 9700pro, 1GB (2x 512)PC2700, system that I built 3 years ago (my only other previous build). I want to build a system that will be good for video editing primarily but provide for gaming should his gaming interest change from his Playstation2 to his PC. I would build my own system and pass my old system down to him like I did last time, but really like the DVR/home theater I have set up with my TV, JVC 9010VBK receiver, and AIW AGP card.

    Anyway, things sure have changed since my last build! I could use a bit of guidance. I am considering this board and would like advice on the least expensive (as a baseline, I will work my way up from there budgetarily) CPU, memory, video card, etcetera that would serve the aforementioned needs.

    To add a bit of complexity to my question (I hope this off topic diversion is ok) I had been considering a DFI LP UT NF4 Ultra-D mainly for the future potential if he gets into overclocking and such as well as the cool factor with a uv lighted case. Some reviews gave this poor marks for stability at the default settings which sent me looking elsewhere like here. Does the X2 support of the ASRock 939SLI32 warrant going with a dual core and this board for multitasking capability?

    Thanks for your assistance.
    Reply
  • dab - Saturday, March 04, 2006 - link

    my $.02
    I just RMA'd a defective Ultra-D. The power requirements are very high, as it is capable of severely overvolting your hardware. It is also a very advanced board and may be difficult to use in many situations. Read at dfi-street.com before purchasing system components if you're serious about this avenue.
    Perhaps he would be better off with a less demanding, more user friendly board like the Asrock board or an Asus offering.
    Reply
  • Redrider - Saturday, March 04, 2006 - link

    Thanks for the heads up. I was a bit apprehensive about the reviews referencing compatibility issues on the DFI. This ASRock seems interesting. Asus seems like people either love'm or hate'm. I tend away from mainstream as evidenced by my FIC Mobo which appears to be one of the last of the line. I guess I'll keep on looking to see what I come up with.

    If I go with the ASRock any component suggestions? Any other specific components that I should avoid?
    Reply
  • Live - Friday, March 03, 2006 - link

    Great to see the new way of presenting the gaming benchmarks. The "min" numbers are especially useful. Nice and easy to understand as well. Keep up the good work! I hope you will continue to use this in all your gaming benches. With the reports/speculation of Nvidias next high end offering being close to ATIs X1900XTX in the sense that it will beat it in some and loose in others this extra info might be the decisive factor. Reply
  • Missing Ghost - Thursday, March 02, 2006 - link

    I don't like it. The layout is not very good. The chipset heatsinks look crappy. It seems like the southbridge heatsink is too high and will be in the way of expansion cards. And why a 20 pin power connector? I want 24 pins, especially because this board supports sli. I think I can find better for this price, but maybe that's because I don't care about 16x pcie slots. Reply
  • kelim - Thursday, March 02, 2006 - link

    Can anyone confirm what (if any) Zalman HSFs are compatible with this motherboard? Reply
  • Gary Key - Friday, March 03, 2006 - link

    Zalman CNPS-9500 - Yes
    Zalman CNPS-7700 - No
    Zalman CNPS-7000 - I do not have this item but looking at the measurements it would be extremely close, taking the measurements off the 7700 unit in place it might fit but just as easily might not.
    Reply
  • kelim - Saturday, March 04, 2006 - link

    Thank you good sir. The 9500 is what I'll be coupling with this baby. Reply
  • Gary Key - Saturday, March 04, 2006 - link

    It works very well on this board with an Opteron. ;-) Reply
  • Kiste - Thursday, March 02, 2006 - link

    quote:

    The 1.31 driver release has now eliminated all stuttering in our current benchmarks while improving performance across the board except in Serious Sam II.


    In the past, Realtek has solved performance issues by reducing the number of buffers and disabling EAX effects without telling anyone. I hope someone will have a really good look at these integrated audio solutions one day, one that isn't just FPS and CPU utilization.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, March 02, 2006 - link

    quote:

    n the past, Realtek has solved performance issues by reducing the number of buffers and disabling EAX effects without telling anyone. I hope someone will have a really good look at these integrated audio solutions one day, one that isn't just FPS and CPU utilization.


    To date with the HD Codecs, Realtek has not decreased the buffers nor have we noticed changes in EAX2 output except for the positive. It is a very subjective area to comment on but in BF2 I like the sound quality of the 1.29 drivers better but Serious Sam II seems to have improved a great deal in the 1.30 and 1.31 drivers. While the on-board audio solutions are still lacking in most areas compared to the add-in solutions at least the manufacturers (board/chipset) are trying to improve quality in this area instead of pumping out the same old AC97 codecs. If it were not for the cost I think we would have seen several additional Audigy-SE solutions on the motherboards by now and even possibly an improved offering from Creative. While the A-SE is an older chipset it does offer better performance and audio quality in gaming than the current HD codecs from Realtek, C-Media, ADI, and SigmaTel. I really thought the VIA Envy24 series would have had greater market penetration on the motherboards but one can only speculate as to why this never happened. ;->
    Reply
  • tjpark1111 - Thursday, March 02, 2006 - link

    is it just me, or does this thing have a 20-pin power connector. ?!?!?!??!??? Reply
  • kelim - Thursday, March 02, 2006 - link

    Yes, the board does in fact use a 20-pin power connection. If you have a 24-pin PSU, this shouldn't be a problem, since most are 20+4-pin, meaning you can detach the extra 4 pins and only use the ones you need. Either that, or the uneeded pins will hang off the side. Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, March 02, 2006 - link

    You are correct, it is a 20-pin ATC connector as stated in the article. I was surprised also and did a double take after removing it from the box. :) Reply
  • dab - Thursday, March 02, 2006 - link

    It says that this motherboard supports ddr2,
    "(4) x DIMM, max. 4GB, DDR2 400/333/266, non-ECC, un-buffered memory..."

    Is this a joke? There's no 240pin slots on that board, only on the riser (which is not included). s939's IMC doesn't support this either..

    Am I mistaken?
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, March 02, 2006 - link

    quote:

    "(4) x DIMM, max. 4GB, DDR2 400/333/266, non-ECC, un-buffered memory..."


    I was just changing that to DDR, sorry about the mistake. The AM2 daughter card will have slots for DDR2 memory.
    Reply
  • Puddleglum - Thursday, March 02, 2006 - link

    The figure is noteworthy, but it's actually the only Firewire 800 test result I can find in AT's reviews. Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, March 02, 2006 - link

    quote:

    The figure is noteworthy, but it's actually the only Firewire 800 test result I can find in AT's reviews.


    I know we only have it in a recent review and probably should drop it. I keep hoping Firewire 800 will be implemented on the higher end boards or those designed for HTPC life. :) However, it appears to be a dead-end option at this point and the technology itself seems to be going away without a fight.
    Reply
  • Zoomer - Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - link

    I believe it should be included to comparison's sake. And perhaps push manufacturers to adopt it.

    If new HD camcorders supports firewire 800, the market will be there right away. Too bad they aren't backward compatible.
    Reply
  • deathwalker - Thursday, March 02, 2006 - link

    At $85 I don't see how anyone could ask for much more in a motherboard...SLI/eSATA//8 channel sound/varity of Raid array choices. Can't hardly beat this for a basic and even higher platform. Kadoos to Asrock for a worthy effort. Before this thread is over someone will be slamming this mobo from some position other than one of using a rational approach for what you would be getting for $85 and they will be trying to compare it to a competetors $150 motherboard. AT..keep up the good work. Reply
  • Pete84 - Thursday, March 02, 2006 - link

    The Asrock AM2 riser has been spied.

    http://www.hkepc.com/bbs/blog.php?tid=558875&s...">http://www.hkepc.com/bbs/blog.php?tid=5...time=114...
    Reply
  • poohbear - Thursday, March 02, 2006 - link

    Just remember ASRock is a dodgy mobo company. In their Dualsata2 mobo they gave reviewers a bios that allowed em to overclock using the 300mhz cpu frequency then they cap it @ 274 in subsequent bios'. Meanwhile, us customers read the reviews and their site/manual which states it can support a 300cpu frequency only to find a a 274mhz cap. Very deceptive of em. The dual sata2 was the only mobo that provided native agp and pci-e, so ASRock got away w/ dodgy BS like that cause there was no other company offering the Uli1695 chipset.

    In this situation, there are a ton of other exceptional PCI-E mobos, especially w/ ATI's 580 just being released, so why even consider em?!
    Reply
  • sandorski - Thursday, March 02, 2006 - link

    that's not what happened. go back and re-read what that was about. Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, March 02, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Just remember ASRock is a dodgy mobo company. In their Dualsata2 mobo they gave reviewers a bios that allowed em to overclock using the 300mhz cpu frequency then they cap it @ 274 in subsequent bios'. Meanwhile, us customers read the reviews and their site/manual which states it can support a 300cpu frequency only to find a a 274mhz cap. Very deceptive of em. The dual sata2 was the only mobo that provided native agp and pci-e, so ASRock got away w/ dodgy BS like that cause there was no other company offering the Uli1695 chipset.


    I would not consider ASRock a dodgy motherboard company. We at times find the initial bios releases to contain performance enhancements or features that might not be available upon production release of the boards. We (along with others) provide feedback to the manufacturers about the stability, features, or performance during testing. At times this feedback will cause the manufacturer to change the bios features to improve stability or as in our Biostar NF4 article to improve performance also.

    We are taking a more serious stance with the motherboard companies in regards to their bios features before publishing an article. We could have published this article with the .17 bios release (not available) and shown additional voltage features along with improved performance as mentioned in the article. We waited until ASRock had the production release bios available before publishing our revised test results. We found the board to be better behaved with the release bios at the expense of performance. However, this the correct path as being able to score a few additional points in a benchmark or overclocking that extra bit is not important if the board produces BSOD results on a consistent basis. It also is not wise to release a bios with features the public will never see. I personally still have issues with Asus and the 0047 bios we tested on the P5N32-SLI board. Some of the features of that bios are still not available at this time and it is worrisome to publish an opinion about a board and not see the same level of performance or stability in the released product.

    While there are other alternatives (excellent ones at that) I doubt you will find a board with this combination of performance and features for $85. If you are hard core overclocker this is not the board for you. If you like to casually overclock without pushing the boundaries then this board will suffice for a great number of people. It is all about choices and fortunately we will see some additional M1697 based boards before NVIDIA completes their assimilation of ULi. ;-)
    Reply
  • poohbear - Thursday, March 02, 2006 - link

    quote:

    We are taking a more serious stance with the motherboard companies in regards to their bios features before publishing an article.


    that's definetly good to hear. it's blatantly unacceptable when mobo manufacturers want to promote something that is'nt in their mobo so they can get good initial reviews and hence sell more, and then disable said feature when it becomes inconvenient to support. (the Dualsata2 still proports to support 300 cpu frequency both on ASRock's site and in their online manual, but it's simply not supported)
    Reply
  • nemesismk2 - Friday, March 03, 2006 - link

    You have said a couple of times that on the Asrock website it states that the Asrock 939 Dual Sata2 supports 300 Mhz CPU Frequency, can you tell me where because I can't find anywhere on http://www.asrock.com/product/939Dual-SATA2.htm">http://www.asrock.com/product/939Dual-SATA2.htm which confirms what you have been saying? Reply
  • nemesismk2 - Thursday, March 02, 2006 - link

    Asrock are NOT a dodgy company at all, they are just a company who supply good quality budget motherboards which are not designed for overclocking. Yes it was found that the motherboard could use 300mhz cpu frequency with an early bios but it was also found that the motherboard wasn't stable using that frequency so it was reduced for stability reasons. I've never had any stability problems with my Asrock 939 Dual Sata2 so their decision was correct for most users, good work Asrock! :) Reply
  • poohbear - Thursday, March 02, 2006 - link

    ppl w/ beta bios were running this mobo 350+ cpu frequency, so how can u say it's not stable? they're just not fixing it because, yes, they could care less about anybody who overclocks, but they shouldnt give the impression that this mobo supports something it doesnt. For all we know anandtechs overclock w/ this mobo might be completely misleading because ASRock might do the same thing and disable any such features when it's inconvenient for them to support em. Reply
  • Zoomer - Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - link

    This board would cannabilize sales of the premium SLI32 and xfire board that Asus sells for $150 IF it included voltage settings up to 2v vCore, 3.2v vMem, etc.

    They would be stupid to do it. These people will pay the $150 anyway if they don't have an easy (cheap) alternative. For the rest of us, we can get busy with a 2B pencil, solders or conductive ink. ;) And forgo the warranty on it, so if it goes boom in a year's time, you're on your own.

    Nice strategy. Would AT leak the beta bios for comparison's sake? (We'll smuggle it to xs or ocwb....:D)
    Reply
  • poohbear - Thursday, March 02, 2006 - link

    and for the record the dualsata2 is a very stable mobo @ stock settings, i have to give credit where it's due, but for overclocking this company's products shouldnt even be considered. Reply
  • sandorski - Thursday, March 02, 2006 - link

    It kinda sucks Nvidia bought out ULI, they were very innovative and really filled niche markets very well. Then again, perhaps Nvidia will let them continue doing interesting things there? Reply
  • Cygni - Thursday, March 02, 2006 - link

    Hard to argue with that... looks like ASRock/ULi has another mega seller on their hand with this baby. But I cant help but wish it had an AGP slot thrown in between the two PCI-Ex lanes, to allow an upgrade path. Thats probably the primary reason the ULi 1695 boards have been selling so well.

    The IDE and SATA performance numbers are really striking in contrast to Nvidia's. I hope we see the inclusion of ULi's storage controller in future Nvidia chipsets.

    All for $85... awesome.
    Reply
  • Furen - Thursday, March 02, 2006 - link

    If it had an AGP slot then it would have to use ULi's AGP tunnel + the 1697 instead of the 1695 + 1697, which would mean that it'd only have 16 PCI-e lanes for graphics. I suppose most of us wouldn't mind going for two 8x slots while in SLI but then most of us wouldn't really want SLI to begin with. Reply
  • JackPack - Thursday, March 02, 2006 - link

    Quality doesn't seem to be bad either. Panasonic and UCC caps in there. Reply

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