Picking out a new motherboard can be a very difficult task. Choose the wrong
board and you could be plagued with compatibility problems, or worse yet have
bought into a dead end. With technology advancing as quickly as it does, this
can be a frightening issue for the average consumer who's not familiar with all
the ever-changing in's and out's.
Never fear though, ASRock has come to the rescue by
addressing one of the biggest problems
facing the computer hardware industry, the lack of flexibility. Rarely does
an entry level motherboard manufacturer reshape the motherboard landscape so drastically, but that is
potentially what ASRock is doing with the board on the test
Many of ASRock's motherboards are compatible with upcoming
CPU technologies through its yellow "Future CPU slots". Basically what one
would do is install a CPU socket daughter card and viola, the new technology is
now supported. This kind of upgradability greatly increases the appeal of ASRock's
value-oriented motherboards for the long-haul... as long as the daughter card materializes.
The brand spanking new ASRock 939SLI32-eSATA2 motherboard is one
of the future friendly motherboards, and it looks pretty sweet. Based around the
ULi M1695 Northbridge and ULi M1697 Southbridge, the ASRock 939SLI32-eSATA2
motherboard supports all current Socket 939 AMD Athlon64/X2/FX
processors. The four DDR DIMM slots can accommodate up to 4GB of PC3200
unbuffered non ECC memory.
The ASRock 939SLI32-eSATA2 motherboard comes
integrated with a PCI express x1 Gigabit NIC, a 5.1 channel audio codec, IEEE 1394a and the
ULi M1695 chipset even boasts nVIDIA SLI support! There are plenty of expansion
options thanks to the two PCI Express x16 slots, one PCI Express x4 for high
bandwidth devices and three PCI slots for legacy hardware. Socket AM2 support is
also available thanks to the "Future CPU" port when the "AM2CPU daughter board" is used.
All this with a retail price of $111 CDN ($95 USD/£54 GBP)!
The 939SLI32-eSATA2 motherboard is large and pretty busy; if
you have a tight cases take note of the 30.5 x 24.4 cm dimensions. The 939SLI32-eSATA2
is not the most user friendly, but for a motherboard that is just a bit over
$100 CDN it's easily overlooked.
The board uses a 20 pin main ATX
power connector so if you've got an older power supply kicking around you might be able
to use it, so long as there is enough juice on the 12V rail to feed an
Athlon64 processor. The motherboard also has a 4 pin ATX12V connector as well as a
molex connector just below the Future CPU port. The latter only needs to be plugged in
when dual videocards are installed.