When discussing current Intel chipsets, the phrase "budget sector" is somewhat of an oxymoron. While there are a lot of choices in the $45 to $60 range for Core 2 Duo compatible boards, these are mainly based on older designs that do not offer anything in the way of additional features, extended overclocking, or performance oriented chipsets. This is not to say they are in any way bad, as our favorite Intel budget board in the lab is the VIA based ASRock 4CoreDual-VSTA, but rather these boards are targeted at an audience that is price sensitive or just looking for the best bang for the buck.

ASRock has built a very good reputation on offering these types of solutions. The performance oriented crowd will often snub these products due to their sometimes quirky nature but you cannot deny their value. In the case of the ASRock 4CoreDual-SATA2, this board allows you to move to the Core 2 Duo platform for a minimal cost. Besides offering good performance for a great price this board also provides the capability to utilize DDR memory and an AGP graphics card.

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We provided a series of reviews centered on the 775Dual-VSTA last year, which was the first board in the VIA PT880 based family of products from ASRock. That board was replaced by the 4CoreDual-VSTA last winter that brought with it a move from the PT880 Pro to the Ultra version of the chipset along with quad core compatibility. ASRock is now introducing the 4CoreDual-SATA2 board with the primary difference being a move from the VT8237A Southbridge to the VT8237S Southbridge that offers native SATA II compatibility.

Our article today is a first look at this new board to determine if there are any performance differences between it and the 4CoreDual-VSTA in a few benchmarks that are CPU and storage system sensitive. We are not providing a full review of the board and its various capabilities at this time; instead this is a sneak peek to answer numerous reader questions surrounding any differences between the two boards.

We will test DDR, AGP, and even quad core capabilities in our next article that will delve into the performance attributes of this board and several other new offerings from ASRock and others in the sub-$70 Intel market. While most people would not run a quad core processor in this board, it does have the capability and our Q6600 has been running stable now for a couple of weeks, though we have run across a couple of quirks that ASRock is working on. The reason we even mention this is that with Intel reducing the pricing on the Q6600 to the $260 range shortly, it might just mean the current users of the 4CoreDual series will want to upgrade CPUs without changing other components (yet). In the meantime, let's see if there are any initial differences between the two boards besides a new Southbridge.

Test Setup
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  • strafejumper - Friday, June 29, 2007 - link

    board is great if you are interested in a core 2 duo system on a budget
    i upgraded from AMD socket 754 system to ASROCK and e4300 for around $165
    can't beat the price for a c2d system - all my parts including power supply work with the board so i didn't have to "upgrade" from IDE HDD to SATA HDD or "upgrade" from IDE optical to SATA optical or "upgrade" from AGP to PCIE. I put upgrade in quotes becuase if i had spent money on 2 new SATA drives and the same graphics card except PCIE instead of AGP i don't think i would have ANY REAL performance gains and i would be out plenty of money!

    agree completely with the article i did a quake 4 benchmark at very CPU dependent settings and the c2d e4300 blew away my socket 754 3000+, and because this board supports the older (although not necessarily any slower) interfaces, i didn't have to spend much at all.
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Sunday, July 1, 2007 - link

    You should be able to set the FSB of the motherboard to 266, for an instant and easy overlock to 2.4 Ghz. The processor will easily run at that speed at stock voltage. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Friday, June 29, 2007 - link

    Lets not forget about product support; I have recently purchased an Asrock board, and noticed that while twiddling my thumbs waiting for driver/BIOS updates, the motherboard seemed to have some unusual behavior, and it was not a very stable, or overclockable board. A few more months of thumb twiddling, and I noticed that 'holding my breathe' may give better results towards recieving newer drivers, or BIOS updates. Plus, the one major issue I had with this board required me placing a phone call initially, and then the person I spoke with mroe than gladly gave me an email address to communicate wit him directly. The end result was that while he did seem to try very hard in solving my problem (simply trying to boot from a SATA drive . . .), I had to resort to trial and error to fix the problem myself.

    I have since ditched that motherbaord, and gave up on driver / BIOS updates, and could not be happier with my decission, except that I could have saved myself $70 usd by completely bypassing that utter complete waste of hardware known as an Asrock motherboard. Whats more, the replacement is an exceptional motherboard, with loads of features (for the price), and only cost $15 more than the Asrock board I bought.

    They say that hind sight is always 20/20, and in my case here, I would have to say that fore sight is as well (as I will never purchase another motherboard from Asrock again).
    Reply
  • ergenius - Sunday, May 2, 2021 - link

    14 years later this main board is selling around around at 3x (or more) the price for the rest of the "top" main boards it was compared to. It is harder and harder to find one and the price for it it's skyrocketing by the day. More many are still in perfect working conditions despite the original price...

    Why? Time proved you are lacking imagination when Asrock did not! Many collectors out-here use this MB to test a AGP-pciex GPUs, DDR-DDR2 and SATA-IDE hdd before using them to restore other systems. The fact you can do this with only one MB is still amassing 14 years later... and prove you where terribly wrong :)
    Reply
  • DeepThought86 - Friday, June 29, 2007 - link

    Why is it that when you guys test only Intel procs you do the multitasking tests, but when there is a mix of Intel/AMD this is conveniently dropped and only single program performance is measured?

    Very suspicious
    Reply
  • slatr - Friday, June 29, 2007 - link

    It would be great if you guys could benchmark Maya or 3DS Max. That would give us an idea of whether or not this board would be a good candidate for a cheap render box. Reply

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