While many motherboards go by impenetrable model numbers, this ASRock board is named after four of its major features. There’s support for Intel’s Penryn (45nm) CPUs, a 1600MHz front side bus, SLI for multi-graphics card configurations and a purported 110db signal-to-noise ratio from the integrated 7.1 audio.
These are all good things and are coupled with an unusually broad range of expansion options. You get four PCI Express slots of various speeds, plus three old-school PCI slots. The four SATA channels are coupled with two IDE channels. And on the back, alongside USB, FireWire and both coaxial and optical audio outputs, you’ll find parallel and serial ports.
The BIOS gives in-depth system information, including CPU stepping and cache configuration. You can change various internal frequencies, but you can’t change the CPU multiplier.
It’s also a shame that the board has just two fan headers and, despite the fast FSB, the top RAM speed is 800MHz. The main power input is stuck in a ridiculous location, too, sandwiched between the backplate and the CPU cooler. And, in our power tests, the ASRock was decidedly on the high side at 115W.
Despite these niggles, the ASRock remains a well-connected board. If you’re planning to bring components across from an older machine, it’s a great buy; it could also be the basis of an affordable gaming rig, as it’s this month’s cheapest SLI-capable board.
However, while the Penryn 1600SLI-110dB may be a good fit for specific roles, the typical home user will be as well off with a cheaper board. And while the ASRock has some hobbyist-friendly features, it’s overshadowed by the Labs-winning Gigabyte EP35C-DS3R.
This Review appeared in the August, 2008 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
Source: Copyright © PC Pro, Dennis Publishing