8th December 2007

Asrock launches Phenom compatible AM2 motherboard with AGP 8x and PCIe x16 slots

posted by Eric C. in Hardware, Motherboards |

Asrock has released some pretty unconventional motherboards in the past and they have a new model to add to that list, the ALiveDual-eSATA2. It’s a socket AM2 motherboard that’s supports Athlon 64, Athlon 64 x2 and Sempron, but more importantly it supports the Phenom x4, Phenom x2 and presumably Phenom x3. That’s not the surprising part though, the surprising part is that it has full speed graphics card slots for both AGP 8x and PCI Express x16. Asrock was able to do this by using two different motherboard chipsets, they used both an Nvidia M1695 (formerly a ULi chipset) for PCIe x16 and an Nvidia nForce3 250 for AGP 8x. The board supports up to 2GB per slot (8GB total) at DDR2-800 (PC2-6400), along with 667MHz and 533MHz. It’s unclear if the C-Media CM6501 audio chip is HD audio but is 7.1 channel and does use UAA architecture drivers, which is what Vista uses natively. It has two SATA1.5Gb/s ports from the Nvidia nForce3 250 chipset. The embedded SATA controllers being SATA1.5Gb/s, Asrock used a JMicron JMB363 chipset to give the board full SATA3.0Gb/s support for 2 ports, with one shared with an eSATA port on the I/O backplate. The JMicron chip supports RAID (RAID 0, RAID 1 and JBOD), NCQ, AHCI and “Hot Plug” functions. It even supports overclocking and has fixed clockspeeds for the AGP, PCIe and PCI to help keep it stable when overclocking.

Unfortunately, their is one ‘gotcha’ about this configuration. You can’t run an ATI AGP card in Vista with the Nforce 3 or Nforce 3 250. Nvidia’s AGP driver errors in Vista with an ATI AGP card. Click here to view Asrock’s info about installing drivers and ATI AGP card incompatibility. It was an odd choice to use the NF3 chipset when ULi had a southbridge that supported AGP 8x and worked with this Northbrige. Asrock even made two different socket 939 models with the ULi southbrige, 939Dual-SATA2 and 939Dual-VSTA. I highly doubt it was Arock’s choice to use the NF3 chipset, as they would have had to do less R&D cost to make an AM2 board based on the design they already had using the ULi M1695 boards with the ULi M1567 southbridge. Seeing as it has been almost a year since people found this problem, I wouldn’t hold your breath for a driver fix from Nvidia unfortunately.

According to Asrock’s page, “this model may not be sold worldwide.” Digitimes states that Asrock believes their is demand in Europe for this motherboard but doesn’t bring up any other regions.

For full specs, check out Asrock’s page on the ALiveDual-eSATA2 here.

asrock-alivedual-esata2.png
picture courtesy of Asrock

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