Basic Features: ASRock 939Dual-Sata2

 ASRock 939Dual-SATA2
CPU Interface Socket 939 Athlon 64
Future CPU Upgrade Slot for AMD M2
Chipset ULi M1695 Northbridge - ULi M1567 Southbridge
BUS Speeds 200 to 400Mhz in 1MHz Increments
PCIe Speeds 75-125MHz in 1MHz Increments
Selected Frequency, Synchronous or Asynchronous (Fixed) to CPU Speed
PCI/AGP Fixed at 33/66
Core Voltage Auto, 0.80V to 1.55V in 0.025V increments
CPU Clock Multiplier Auto, 4x-21x in 1X increments
HyperTransport Frequency 1000MHz (1GHz)
HyperTransport Multiplier Auto, 200, 400, 600, 800, 1000
DRAM Voltage Auto, Normal, High
HyperTransport Voltage NO Adjustments
Memory Slots Four 184-pin DDR DIMM Slots
Dual-Channel Configuration
Regular Unbuffered Memory to 4GB Total
Expansion Slots 1 PCIe x16
1 AGP 8X
1 PCIe x1
3 PCI Slots
Onboard SATA/RAID 2 SATA1 Drives by ULi M1567 (RAID 0, 1, JBOD)
1 Sata2 NCQ 3Gb/s Drive by JMicron JMB360
Onboard IDE/IDE RAID Two Standard ATA133/100/66 (4 drives)
Onboard USB 2.0/IEEE-1394 8 USB 2.0 ports supported by ULi M1567
No Firewire (Optional)
Onboard LAN 10/100 Ethernet by ULi & Realtek PNY
Onboard Audio AC '97 2.3 8-Channel by Realtek ALC850
BIOS AMI 8/12/2005

ASRock provides a decent selection of adjustments in the AMI BIOS. Almost everything the enthusiast needs to squeeze a bit more from the CPU is available in the BIOS options. This includes CPU ratios, CPU voltage adjustments, memory timing adjustments, CPU clock speed adjustments, and PCIe speed adjustment. There is even a crude, but effective option for memory voltage - which just offers normal, high and auto settings. Fortunately, the High setting must be around 2.8V, since it was effective with our standard Samsung TCCD test memory.

CPU voltage has a wide adjustment range down, but it's a bit lacking at the top. The 130nm Clawhammer stock is 1.5V, and 1.55V is the top option with this chip. Install a 90nm 4800+ X2, with a 1.35V default voltage, and the top voltage slides to 1.40V. This .05V voltage range at the top is not really adequate for many users. The wide 200 to 400 CPU speed range is plenty, as is the 75-125 PCIe range and asynchronous PCIe option.

The ASRock would move from adequate to outstanding with a few additions to the BIOS. The ULi chipset is too good not to offer a wide range of memory voltage adjustments. It would also be useful to have CPU voltage extend to at least 1.65 to 1.7V, even if this requires a ULi motherboard with the Asus brand instead of ASRock.

The good news is the limited DRAM "high" setting does work well with most common RAM. The ASRock also has no problem with Athlon x2, FX, or other Socket 939 CPUs.

We did find extremely irritating cold boot issues with the ASRock in our testing. Even at standard stock speeds and settings, the 939Dual often required several starts to boot. Perhaps this was due to some setting in BIOS, but we could never discover the source of the cold boot issue. Overclocking seemed about the same with cold boot issues as stock operations. This kind of problem is often fixable with a BIOS upgrade and we hope that ASRock will address the cold boot issues very soon. It's a shame to have a board this good plagued with annoying cold boot issues.

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.

Board Layout: ASRock 939Dual-Sata2 Overclocking: ASRock 939Dual-Sata2
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  • touchmyichi - Friday, September 9, 2005 - link

    think i'll have any luck w/ an XP-120? Reply
  • frodin - Thursday, September 8, 2005 - link

    Wesley: Did you try checking/ replacing the BIOS backup battery? I have started experiencing coldboot/BIOS issues myself (and actually only when my flat is really cold(!)), and I am running everything @ stock with 2x 512mb Crucial Ballistix ram. Everest reads the battery voltage as 0.3v /this could of course be wrong), I'll try and replace the battery with another one that I know works in another board. I am running the 1.10 (stock) BIOS.
    Just a thought.
    Reply
  • mindless1 - Monday, September 12, 2005 - link

    Everest's report is unquestionably wrong, you'd lose all your bios settings long before the battery dropped so far as 0.3V Reply
  • ceefka - Thursday, September 8, 2005 - link

    Now if ULi can include SATA II, NCQ and Gb LAN and someone makes a board with that chipset including 1394b (on a TI controller), I'd buy it. Reply
  • JustAnAverageGuy - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    Would have liked to see some Battlefield 2 benchmarks, but I agree with the poster above saying that having 5 or 6 boards with the same chipset (and same results) is a bit redundant.

    - JaAG
    Reply
  • Nighteye2 - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    Considering the cold boot issues increase with 4 DIMMs, could they be specific to the RAM? Could the board be more compatible with other brands of RAM?
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    The RAM used for testing is always specifed on our test setup page, and I also mentioned it several times in the article. It is our standard test memory, OCZ PC3200 Platinum Rev. 2, based on Samsung TCCD memory chips. Samsung TCCD is also available from many other Enthusiast memory companies like Corsair, Mushkin, G. Skill, Patriot, Geil, and many others. Reply
  • Nighteye2 - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    I know and read that. It's just that I've had an experience with RAM incompatibility myself. The RAM worked fine on other boards, without errors, yet gave several errors on the board I was using. Switching the RAM to another brand made the board work perfectly.

    It's been a while ago, so that's why I can't mention specifics, but not all boards are fully compatible with all sticks of RAM. Does ASRock recommend using RAM from several vendors, and if so, is the OCZ RAM on that list?
    Reply
  • OvErHeAtInG - Thursday, September 8, 2005 - link

    That's what I thought, it probably just doesn't like TCCD. Reply
  • WeaselBlade - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    Anyone have any idea whether it will be possible to run an agp/pcie crossfire setup, using a PCIE master card and AGP slave? Reply

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