Board Layout: ASRock 939Dual-Sata2

The dual support for full PCIe x16 and AGP 8X will be the most important feature for many. Here, you can see the PCIe x16, PCIe x1, AGP 8X, and 3 standard PCI slots that are housed on the ASRock 939Dual. The slot to the very right is the "Future CPU" slot designed to accept the AMD M2 and possibly other future processors.

The slot is activated in a similar manner to SLI switching on the DFI nForce4 boards. That is, you have a number of jumpers to move to enable the "Future CPU" slot. Moving this many jumpers can be a chore, so ASRock includes a jumper tool in the standard accessories.

The ULi M1567 Southbridge does not support SATA2, though an upcoming M1575 Southbridge will support SATA2 with NCQ. ASRock provides the two SATA/SATA Raid connectors supported by M1567 plus a 3Gb SATA2 slot with NCQ supported by a JMicron JMB360 chip. This is certainly much more than what you would expect on a "value" board.

The 20-pin (not 24-pin) ATX connector and 4-pin 12v connector are located between the CPU socket and the IO ports on this 3-phase board. This is not the most ideal location, but with both connectors near the board edge, it works well.

The back IO ports are complete, including LAN - but it is ULi 10/100 and not Gigabit LAN. Firewire is rarely seen on value boards, so its absence is not a surprise. If Firewire is important to you, it can be added with a PCI card.

Value boards often present challenges in board layout to the end-user. Since the selling price is usually of foremost importance, the layout is often geared to efficient manufacturing more than end-user convenience.


Click to enlarge.

The ASRock 939Dual-SATA2 is generally well laid out. Some thought clearly went into connector placement, but there are a few glaring oversights. The floppy and IDE connectors were hard to work with in a mid-tower case in light of their bottom right location. A standard IDE cable would barely make it from a top-mounted optical drive to IDE2. The floppy at the center bottom is particularly troublesome if you still use a floppy drive. If you don't, then it's a moot point.

You can clearly see the Asus heritage in the fact that ASRock uses only passive heatsinks on the 939Dual. Certainly, this is the best solution where noise is a concern, but it does not always provide for the most efficient cooling. Our experience during testing and overclocking the ASRock was that the Northbridge became pretty warm, but not warm enough to cause a shutdown or reboot.

Index Basic Features: ASRock 939Dual-Sata2
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  • MADDIE - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    I purchased this board about two weeks ago, and have been happy ever since. I have not had any of the boot problems that anandtech had. When I get home I can check my BIOS version (that is, if anyone is interested) Reply
  • Pete84 - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    The new southbridge that ULi is going to release is supposedly a pin for pin replacement for the 1567, and as it'll have SATA-II and more advanced raid functions etc, IF I get a crossover board that'll be the one. Reply
  • Furen - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    I was under the impression that the new southbridge would be PCI-e only, though... Reply
  • Calin - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    I'd say the AGP/PCIe is in the northbridge, not in the southbridge. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    The PCIe is in the Northbridge on ULi chipsets, but the AGP is a M1567 Southbridge feature. If you combine a different Southbridge with the M1695 Northbridge you will not have AGP. You may want to take a closer look at the ULi chipset diagrams we published at http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2471&am...">http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2471&am... Reply
  • Fam Money - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    This is the best review of a product I've wanted to purchse, you tested everything I needed you to. The only downside is it came out 22 hours after I bought the mobo.;)

    I feel a lot better now about getting this board and buying another gig of Patriot XBLs for it.

    Thanks for the review.
    Reply
  • Furen - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    I've read that this motherboard only allows 1.55v on 130nm chips, 1.45v on single-core 90nm and 1.35v on dual-core. This is probably to protect the CPU's VRMs but it should be pointed out. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    We did check that an X2 operated on the ASRock, but we did not check to see if the voltage adjustments shifted. I tried a 4800+ x2 again, which has a default voltage of 1.35V, and the voltage adjustments now top out at 1.40v. It appears the slding voltage adjustments set themselves to .05v more than the voltage specification. A wider range at the top would definitely be better fro many users.

    I will add this information to the review.
    Reply
  • Sunrise089 - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    If they can fix their boot issues, this board is perfect for people like me who have a decent office computer (P4 2.0, 756 megs) and who would like to do a little gaming now, and more down the road. This board would allow me to take advantage of any great AGP deal that came along and add it to my current system, play some previous generation games, and then later keep my GPU and upgrade to a much desired A64 system when I have more time/money. Thanks ASRock Reply
  • Marlin1975 - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link

    Like I said. I have a asrock that has video problems and ram issues. I have talked to others with the same problem yet Asrock has done nothign and does not respond to anybody. So I would not buy it until you hear soemthing else or you will be like myself and other Asrock owners hopeing and waiting. Mind you the boards are cheap, but the basic stuff should still work Reply

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