ASRock 939Dual-SATA2: First Retail ULi PCIe/AGPby Wesley Fink on September 7, 2005 12:05 AM EST
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Final WordsAlmost everyone likes a story where the little guy wins - David beats Goliath. The little guy comes up with a unique and useful product or tops the Performance charts with a new chipset. Certainly, the ULi M1695/M1567 is just such a success story.
Many buyers were begging for a PCIe board that would also support AGP, without compromise. Lots of companies tried and the market ended up with a lot of compromised solutions that didn't catch on. It took ULi to finally build the chipset that made top-performing AGP on a PCIe board a reality.
More than that, the ULi M1695/M1567 chipset does not need to apologize to any other chipset in its performance. The ASRock 939Dual-SATA2 shows a retail product that is as good, or even better, than the ULi Reference Boards that excited those sites that actually bothered to look at the ULi chipset with an open mind.
The ASRock is clearly a value board, designed to sell for a low price, but even so, it provides all the features, including SATA2 with NCQ, that you would expect on an up-to-date A64 motherboard. The ASRock is by no means perfect. The layout will be a pain for some, the cold boot issues are annoying, LAN is 10/100 and not Gigabit, and there are no Firewire ports. But the ASRock does so much, so well that it is easy to forgive the warts when you consider the selling price. We sincerely hope that ASRock will invest a bit more time in refining the 939Dual-SATA2. With a refined BIOS and expanded memory voltage adjustments, this board could be a monster hit for ASRock. It will likely sell very well regardless, as many will also notice the slot for a future M2 expansion board.
UPDATE: ASRock has released BIOS 1.20 dated 9/02/05 which can be downloaded from their web site. Version 1.20 fixed the cold boot problems we experienced.
We like the ASRock and its implementation of the ULi chipset. It is an easy board to recommend - especially in the value and mid-range segments. We are still looking, however, for the ULi chipset from Abit or Gigabyte or Albatron or DFI - or even ASUS - that will really squeeze everything possible from the ULi chipset. Hopefully, such a board is just around the corner.
For now, if you have a top AGP video card that you are not ready to replace, then get an ASRock 939Dual - you will not be disappointed in performance and you can add PCIe whenever. Even if you don't care about AGP, the PCIe performance of the ASRock will not disappoint. ULi has brought a capable, competitive chipset to the AMD Socket 939 market. It is a fully competitive choice for any buyer, a must for AGP owners, and more is on the way from ULi. The ASRock is a very good value board and we are looking forward to what can be done with this chipset on a board aimed at the enthusiast.