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.

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  • kings121 - Sunday, November 30, 2008 - link

    hello can anyone tell me why the above mention grafic card cant work with the above mention motherboard?? or if it can....can someone tell me how to install the grafics card.........thanks

    waintin for a speedy reply
  • moobaaa - Tuesday, May 20, 2008 - link

    hello anyone home still waitin to see the updated article thxs maybe
  • ppppp - Wednesday, January 9, 2008 - link

    Hey guys,
    where is the updated review with the latest bios and Intel q6600 fsb you promised me some months ago?
  • kmmatney - Sunday, July 1, 2007 - link

    I recently upgraded one of my systems to an As-Rock board with an E4400. Overclocking wasn't too bad - it could easily run the E4400 at 2.8 Ghz. However the boartd had weird quirks. It would not read my SATA HDD, which was the biggest issue. It also has trouble cold-booting, and the computer must be booted twice to start. Also, there are random trouble with a few old games (such as Red Alert 2) which will often crash, but run fine on my other systems. It's OK for a spare computer, but I wouldn't use it for my main rig. Also, the automatic speed control for the cpu fan has never worked right on my motherboard.
  • ssiu - Friday, July 6, 2007 - link

    Is your board 4CoreDual-VSTA, or other ASRock boards? (I am planning to get the E4400 and 4CoreDual-VSTA and overclock too.) Does it have the same problems at stock speed and/or 266FSB (that's the first thing I'd want to check, to see if the problem is related to overclocking)?
  • vailr - Friday, June 29, 2007 - link

    Re: "System Platform Drivers Intel -".
    Shouldn't that be: VIA chipset drivers, instead of Intel?
    Might also mention whether Win98SE can be installed and run, when testing with DDR/AGP? For those gamers dual-booting into the older Windows version. Can Win98SE utilize all 4 cores of a Quad-core CPU? Or even both cores of a dual-core CPU?
  • mongo lloyd - Friday, June 29, 2007 - link

    Win9x has absolutely NO support for any kind of multiprocessor solution, neither dual/quad core, nor SMP.
  • vailr - Friday, June 29, 2007 - link

    Also, WinRar is currently at version 3.70:
  • SunAngel - Friday, June 29, 2007 - link

    ASRock has to joking. What tech person in their right mind is going to buy something half in the past and half in the future? The two SATA ports alone is enough to realize this thing will be outdated very quickly and you'll be buying another motherboard. I've seen some illogical products in my time. This may not be the worse concept of a motherboard for those not wanting to upgrade all their components, but there has definitely been some off-the-wall, fill-in-marketing-gap products out there (first thing comes to mind is the Intel Pentium D 805). Kudos to ASRock for taking advantage is cheapskates. Remember, it costs more in the long run doing the wrong thing (not upgrading) than doing the right thing (upgrading and moving forward with technology).
  • ssiu - Friday, July 6, 2007 - link

    This may not be the worse concept of a motherboard for those not wanting to upgrade all their components

    Exactly; this board is good for those who want to carry over their DDR memory and AGP adapter from their old system. And it (at least its predecessor) can overclock a E2140/E2160/E4300/E4400 about 50%. If one has no need to reuse the memory and AGP adapter then I agree there are better choices (e.g. ASRock 1333FSB motherboards if one still wants to go cheap).

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