Many have been looking forward to the arrival of the first ULi chipset retail motherboards since our review of the ULi Reference boards. In the first Reference board review and the updated second ULi Reference, we found uncompromised performance with both the PCIe and AGP 8X graphics slots. This is very good news for owners of high-end AGP 8X graphics cards, since for the first time they can buy a board that will run their AGP at full speed now, with provisions for a PCIe video card upgrade in the future. Since we have found no real performance difference in PCIe and AGP cards of the same type, the ULi M1695/M1567 chipset provides fresh new options for many end users.

ASRock, the value line manufactured by Asus, has a long history with the ALi chipsets that were the forerunner of the current ULi chipsets, so it came as no surprise when ASRock was first to retail with the 939Dual-Sata2. Frankly, we really hoped to see a ULi board from Abit or another enthusiast brand (rather than a "value" brand) built around the ULi chipset. Some of these are coming, according to sources at ULi, but the shipping ASRock 939Dual-Sata2 is starting to appear in markets around the world. As you will see in our closer look, the ASRock is much better than we expected, and it adds a couple of features for the future that weren't even on the ULi Reference boards.

Board Layout: ASRock 939Dual-Sata2
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  • Furen - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    Well, there are no master cards to test this on but I think HKPC did this and it worked ok (with a hacked driver, most likely). Performance wasnt that hot, though.
  • murak - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    I have had this mobo for like 2 days and I am VERY happy with it! It was the only way for my unlocked 6800LE to come along to the 939 platform (and not be crippled in the process) Currently running my 3200+ @ 10x240=2400mhz 1.45v wich was way more than I expected. Corsair XL @ 2-2-2-5 (will change the last to 10, tnx Anandtech!) dualchannel @ "High" memvolt.

    I have flashed the new 1.20 BIOS and have had NO stability issues (as with my last Asrock board, a K7S8X) Time will tell if the quality is good enough. 7.1 surround and SATA II with NRQ is a nice bonus for me wich I will use in time.

    At this time I can´t see a better "bang-per-buck"-board. Nice one Asrock/ULi!

  • WT - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    Thanks for the detailed post, Wes ! It stands to reason that any vendor that wants to stay in business will 'follow the leader' and use those same optimized enhancements to make their product a better buy. Like you said, no one had heard of DFI 3 years ago, and Abit and Asus were everyones top choice. With bad news from the Abit camp lately, I would not be surprised to see them fold like a bad poker hand. I wouldn't <i>LIKE</i> it, but this is a tough industry to make a go of it too. I'm currently happy as a clam with my Soltek NF3 board, but this Asrock board is my #1 choice when my next upgrade comes along.
  • FriedRiceBob - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    I liked this article, this is type of board that I'm contemplating for an upgrade.

    However, I would like to see, for a more fully rounded comparison, a benchmark of an equivalent NF3 939 AGP system, and maybe a KT800, included in the results. Am I the only one that seems to think that inlcuding a multitude (6 actually) of similarly (within 2fps) performing NF4 boards to be bordering on pointless?

    I know that NF4 is the current de-facto standard, but it would be interresting to have these other results included.
  • KayKay - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    How is it that every motherboard reviewed since the beginning of this year seems to have better and better overclocking results? i just find it hard to believe that boards from sapphire, jetway and ASRock seem to outperform boards from EPox DFI etcetc.
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    We are told by industry analysts the DFI nForce4 boards are now the top seller among all Socket 939 boards. Since no one had heard of DFI 2 or 3 years ago in the AMD market, other manufacturers have been paying attention to what got DFI to this sales level. There are many clever overclocking tricks used on the DFI boards and we are told other mfgs have been x-raying the board and trying to do even better in performance in their new chipsets and boards.

    ATI had a pretty basic Rx480 motherboard in August 04, but they devoted a whole development team at targeting the enthusiast. We suspect that Jetway, ULi and other recent great overclockers did not get to these OC levels by accident.
  • Furen - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    Well, AMD's integrated northbridge seems to help out a lot since chipset manufacturers dont have to deal with the mem controller. Also, most of the new chipsets have been aimed at the "enthusiast" market so of course they all overclock better than the old via chipsets.
  • Tetsuro - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    For those that like this board so much, one bad bios flash and bye-bye mobo...Asrock doesn't support bios boot block recovery. They use 2 phase power regulators instead of the industry standard of 3 and there is no voltage adjustment regardless of what is claimed. Asrock cuts alot of corners resulting in horrible quality mobos. Even ECS is a lot better lately.
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    As we reported in the review, this board is 3-phase and not 2-phase as you state. Please look carefully at the board pictures.

    There is no doubt ASRock is a value brand built down to a price point, and that means corners are cut. However, the value component is sometimes a much cheaper chipset. We report what we find in our tests, and you are certainly right to point out the potential downsides of buying a value motherboard.
  • Calin - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    The board might be value in everything, but certainly isn't in performance. And the fact that it overclocks so well could suggest it is thought out well, and that stability (at least for the board brand new) is not at all a problem

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