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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  • 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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