iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






ASRock A770CrossFire Motherboard

A Socket AM2+ board on the AMD770 + SB700 chipset.

December 15, 2008

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System monitoring (Winbond W83627EHG-A, in BIOS Setup)

  • Processor core voltage, +3.3, +12, +5 V
  • RPM of two fans
  • CPU and board temperatures (by the corresponding embedded sensors)
  • Quiet Fan -- automatic CPU fan speed control, a user can specify the target temperature and minimal fan speed (9 levels, but it depends on a given cooler whether full stop is possible or not). Fan control is supported only for 4-pin fans

Onboard ports, sockets, and connectors

  • Processor socket (Socket AM2, compatible with AM2+, officially supports AMD Phenoms X3/X4 and Athlons 64/X2/FX, Semprons with TDP up to 140 W, the list of models tested for compatibility is published on the official website)
  • 4 x DDR2 SDRAM DIMM (up to 16 GB of DDR2-400/533/667/800/1066, dual-channel mode)
  • 2 x PCIEx16 2.0 for graphics cards (CrossFire operates as x8+x8, the list of graphics cards tested for compatibility is published on the website)
  • 1 x PCIEx1 2.0
  • 3 x PCI
  • Power connectors: standard ATX 2.2 (24 pins), 8-pin EPS12V to power a processor (it's possible to use 20-pin and 4-pin connectors, but only if a computer uses relatively low-power components, for example, processors with TDP up to 95 W and graphics cards with on-board power connectors, and you plan no overclocking. There is also a 4-pin peripheral connector, which should be used if you install two graphics cards)
  • 1 x FDD
  • 1 x IDE (Parallel ATA) for two chipset-based ATA133 devices
  • 6 x chipset-based SATA-II (Serial ATA II) for six SATA300 devices, connected disks can form RAID 0, 1, and 0+1
  • 2 connectors for rear panel brackets with 4 x USB
  • WiFi-AP connector (this module is not included into the bundle), this connector can be also used for another USB port
  • 1 x CD/DVD audio connector
  • Connectors for analog audio ins and outs on the front panel
  • Connector for HDMI-S/PDIF input of a graphics card (for graphics cards without an integrated audio codec)s
  • Connector for a bracket with a COM port
  • DeskExpress Hot Plug Detection connector (this device comes with some motherboards for home media centers -- IR port and remote control)
  • Two fan headers supporting rpm control, the 4-pin CPU fan header supports smart fan control from BIOS

Back panel (left to right, blockwise)

  • PS/2 mouse and keyboard
  • 2 x S/PDIF Out (optical and coaxial)
  • 1 x eSATA II, 2 x USB
  • 2 x USB
  • 2 x USB and 1 x RJ-45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • Six analog audio jacks (Line-In, Front-Out, Mic-In, Side-Out, Center/Sub, Rear-Out)

Package contents

  • Package: standard box of the unique design for this motherboard
  • Documentation: User Manual in several languages
  • Cables: 1 x SATA with a power converter for one SATA device, 1 x ATA66, 1 x FDD, and an HDMI-SPDIF cable
  • Rear I/O shield
  • CD with drivers and proprietary utilities

The bundle of proprietary utilities includes OC Tuner for overclocking (much less functional than AMD OverDrive, which is supported by this motherboard, so you will hardly use the proprietary utility). The bundle also includes McAfee SecurityCenter. ASRock did not add utilities for automatic BIOS updates. But when you download a CD image from the official website, you get an executable file, which does everything automatically in Windows. So even an inexperienced user can update BIOS just as easily as with special utilities from other manufacturers.

Integrated controllers

  • Audio, based on the chipset support for HD Audio and Realtek ALC888 codec, 7.1 channel audio, front line-ins/outs and S/PDIF-Out
  • Gigabit Ethernet 10/100/1000 Mbps, based on Realtek RTL8111C controller connected to PCI Express

The integrated audio quality was tested in 16 bit 44 kHz mode using RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.0.5 and the ESI Juli@ sound card:

Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB: +0.01, -0.05 Excellent
Noise level, dB (A): -86.7 Good
Dynamic range, dB (A): 86.5 Good
THD, %: 0.0093 Very good
Harmonic distortion + noise, dB(A): -76.6 Average
Intermodulation distortion + Noise, %: 0.019 Very good
Channel crosstalk, dB: -90.1 Excellent
IMD at 10 kHz, %: 0.110 Average

General performance: Very good. Implementation of the analog outputs on this motherboard subjectively corresponds to an average level of motherboards with this popular codec. But unfortunately, objective tests demonstrate a tad higher level of intermodulations than usual. But we also have a reason to praise the integrated audio system of this motherboard: it offers two S/PDIF Outs on the rear panel, and the bundle includes a cable for a graphics card to output audio via HDMI, if a card lacks an integrated audio codec.

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Article navigation:

Page 1: Introduction, design

Page 2: Interfaces, package, controllers

Page 3: BIOS, performance, conclusions

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