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ASRock 775XFire-eSATA2/A/ASR i945PL Motherboard Review

ASRock 775XFire-eSATA2/A/ASR i945PL Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: ASRock (a division of ASUS) is one of the better known, having made made a mark for itself by serving up inexpensive motherboards with basic amenities and good build quality.
 80% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: ASrock Jun 27 2006   Colin Sun  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > ASrock 775XFire-eSATA2/A/ASR

A great value motherboard?

For a new company (even if it's a spin off) to break into the computer industry is difficult. ASRock has been able to do just that, and quite well by most accounts. ASRock motherboards are readily available from every major online retailer and motherboards like the 775XFire-ESATA2/A/ASR only enhance its reputation. With a retail price of $90 CDN ($78 US), the ASRock motherboard offers a heck of a value for those on a budget.

The ATX ASRock 775XFire-ESATA2/A/ASR is pretty straightforward to use although novice users might have difficulty installing the motherboard since it lacks adequate on-board labelling. Considering all the money one would save though, it shouldn't be a problem.

The ASRock 775XFire-ESATA2/A/ASR is a no frills board although it does support ATi's CrossFire technology which allows users to run two ATi videocards at the same time. That feature was not tested since we do not have any CrossFire videocards (Hello ATi?).

Probably the coolest feature of the ASRock motherboard is its eSATA2 support which allows Serial ATA devices to be connected externally. Compared to the USB/IEEE 1394 competition, Serial ATA blows both away in terms of bandwidth. It truly allows one to use a hard drive externally without worrying about speed or massive CPU utilization. With the ability to run even the OS hard drive externally, users who need absolute data security can place their hard drives in a safe or another secure area.

Experts Tip: Set CPU Fan Speeds in the BIOS

Modern Intel CPU fans can make quite a racket, but luckily most motherboards support fan throttling. The ASRock 775XFire-eSATA2/A/ASR motherboard supports this feature as well but unfortunately it is disabled by default. To turn on ASRock's CPU Quiet Fan option, users must enter the BIOS to change a couple of settings.

At system POST, press the F2 key to enter the BIOS. From there go to the "H/W Monitor" section and at the bottom of the screen is the "CPU Quiet Fan" option. Set it to "Enable". After that is done, change the "Target CPU Temperature" to the maximum temperature you would like your CPU to run at with the fan in quiet mode. Finally change the "Target Fan Speed" option to "Fast", that ensures that the fan operates at the fastest speed when the CPU is overheating. After that's done press F10 to save and exit from the BIOS. Now the CPU fan will throttle itself down and only increase fan speed when the motherboard senses the CPU is running too hot.

Comments and Feedback? Suggest a Tweak.

In terms of performance the benchmark numbers speak for themselves. The ASRock 775XFire-ESATA2/A/ASR kicks some major butt. In every benchmark that was run, the ASRock motherboard would come out in the top 3 and 3D results were even more impressive. Many of the 3D benchmarks had to be rerun several times to verify the outstanding results... Overclocking on the other hand was not ASRock's strong suit. A maximum speed of 232 MHz is not bad for a budget motherboard, but perhaps in the future ASRock can implement more detailed overclocking and voltage options in the BIOS.

Ultimately the ASRock 775XFire-ESATA2/A/ASR motherboard is a good match for anyone looking for an entry level socket 775 platform with a lot of power for office applications and content creation type work. The ability to attach Serial ATA devices externally and its excellent 3D performance just make the package sweeter.

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Contents of Article: ASrock 775XFire-eSATA2/A/ASR
 Pg 1.  ASRock 775XFire-eSATA2/A/ASR i945PL Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  ATX Motherboard Layout
 Pg 3.  eSATA2 Data Support
 Pg 4.  eSATA Hot Swapping and Intel ICH7R Chipset
 Pg 5.  Overclocking and BIOS Options
 Pg 6.  Benchmarks: SYSMark2004
 Pg 7.  Benchmarks: Winstone 2004, Winbench 99
 Pg 8.  Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra, Super Pi
 Pg 9.  Benchmarks: PCMark04, PCMark 05
 Pg 10.  Benchmarks: 3DMark2001, 3DMark05
 Pg 11.  Benchmarks: Comanche 4, X2: The Threat, UT2003
 Pg 12.  Benchmarks: UT2004, Doom 3
 Pg 13.  — A great value motherboard?

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