ASRock 939Dual-SATA2: First Retail ULi PCIe/AGPby Wesley Fink on September 7, 2005 12:05 AM EST
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Basic Features: 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
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|
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.