The first thing that catches your attention when you look at the motherboard is its tiny dimensions (mATX form factor, 229x244 mm) and an unusual set of slots. First of all, it has only two PCI slots, which is rather rare. Secondly, the AGP slot is placed near... another AGP slot! That's the innovatory idea introduced by ASRock designers. At first sight, this motherboard is equipped with unremarkable Socket 754. But in fact this product is notable for one feature that allows to install an additional Socket 939 board via the second AGP slot. Besides the socket, the additional board contains three DIMM slots connected to the integrated memory controller in AMD Athlon 64 processors, a separate power circuit and necessary logic (additional North Bridge) to enable the AGP slot on the main motherboard.
Brown AGP slot is the "real" one for a video card.
Yellow slot is actually used to connect a CPU Upgrade module.
All in all it's a good idea. Theoretically it can prolong the life-cycle of a motherboard. However, if you look at K8Upgrade-760GX as an assembly, that is with additional 939 CPU Board (unfortunately, we have seen it only on a photo, we haven't seen it in the flesh), the implementation of this ASRock idea does not seem that wonderful any more because of the three reasonable questions jumping to your mind. The first question is what PC case can accommodate such a construction. The second question: even if there are PC cases that can fit this product, won't there be problems with video card cooling? And the final question: taking into account the total weight of an additional motherboard, processor, memory modules, and, most importantly, CPU cooler – how well will the AGP slot and one rear panel screw manage to hold such a construction?
Except for these questions, the PCB layout is rather good. The 2-phase switching voltage regulator of the processor incorporates five 3300 uF capacitors and four 1500 uF capacitors. Another peculiarity of the K8Upgrade is an on-board graphics based on SiS760GX. But the time will show how necessary this integrated video is. What concerns the rest, the K8Upgrade possesses a standard set of functions.
System monitoring (Winbond W83697HF)
CPU voltage, +3.3 V, + 5 V, +12 V
RPM of 2 fans
Processor and motherboard temperatures
It supports automatic shutdown at overheating.
Onboard ports, sockets, and connectors
Processor socket (Socket 754, supports AMD Sempron and Athlon 64)
2 x DDR SDRAM DIMM (DDR 266/333/400 up to 2 GB)
1 x AGP (1.5 V) with a latch
ASRock Future CPU port (to connect an additional board with Socket 939)
2 x PCI (2.1)
Power connectors: standard ATX and 4-pin connector for 12 V
1 x FDD
2 x IDE (Parallel ATA 133, up to 4 devices)
2 x SATA (Serial ATA) supporting RAID 1, 0, JBOD, Hot Plug support
Connector for a bracket with two additional USB (2.0) ports
1 x CD/DVD audio connector
2 x fan connectors (both with RPM control)
Back panel (left to right, blockwise)
PS/2 mouse and keyboard
1 x LPT (ECP/EPP) and 1 x VGA port
2 x USB (2.0)
2 x USB (2.0) and RJ-45 (Fast Ethernet)
2 x USB (2.0)
3 x Audio (Line-in/Line-out(Speaker Out)/MIC)
Box: standard design box
Documentation: a motherboard guide in seven languages, a poster with brief instructions on installing SATA HDD
Cables: 1 x SATA, 1 x SATA with a power converter, 2 x ATA 66/100/133 and an FDD cable
ASRock I/O Plus (tm) Shield
Rear panel bracket with a COM port
CD with software
ASRock U-COP – protects a processor from overheating
An additional board with the 934 socket can be installed via ASRock Future CPU port
Boot Failure Guard (B.F.G.) – restores good settings after an overclocking failure
Supports Cool’n’Quiet from AMD.
6-channel audio, based on AC'97 CMedia CMI 9761A codec supporting 5.1 ch audio with front audio I/O jacks
LAN, based on the Realtek RTL8201 chip supporting 10/100 Mbit/sec (Fast Ethernet)
You can hardly expect extraordinary results from motherboards within this price range, but this is justified by the money spent on them. According to test results, ASRock K8Upgrade-760GX takes the second place among Socket 754 motherboards we have already reviewed using our new test method. But the advantage of Albatron Ultra-U Pro is certainly not that large to play a pivotal role in your choice. Nevertheless, if we look into the future, ASRock has a great potential of further usage due to its optional upgrade to Socket 939. K8Upgrade-760GX is a good low end product from ASRock, where designers (even if not very well) tried to implement an original idea, which allows to prolong the life-cycle of a motherboard. The product attracts attention with its small dimensions, integrated video Mirage2, and original upgrade technology.
The design of this model obviously deserves our "Original Design" award.