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Exclusively for Digit-Life.com readers: ASRock 775Dual-915GL — another effort to crossbreed AGP with PCI-E

ASRock rolled out its initiative to crossbreed two popular graphics intefaces in a i915G-based motherboard named 775Dual-915GL.

This µATX board supports integrated graphics. And the most interesting feature is that BIOS allows all three graphics cards to function! (One in the Northbridge, another in the AGP slot and the last one in the PCI-E slot). Considering that modern cards support dual-monitor output, this configuration enables to watch 5(!) monitors at once! The company calls it "Surround Display".

There are 2 DIMM DDR SDRAM (333/400 MHz) memory sockets. Note the board doesn´t support DDR2. IDE/SATA is naturally supported (4 x SATA, 1 x IDE and 1 x Floppy). The peripherals include LAN and 8ch audio. Both on Realtek chips. So, the package is rather humble.

It´s interesting that the company claims this board can already work with Pentium 4 600 series:

Of course, PCI-E and AGP slots are of the primary interest here:

The AGP isn´t named "AGP", but "AGI". Despite the claims about almost fully-fledged AGP8x, we can see that the redesigned interface obtained some PCI-Express channels, leaving AGP incomplete and also making itself just x4 instead of x16.

I took two mid-end GeForce 6600 cards with same clock rates, but PCI-E and AGP interfaces, and tested them on ASRock 775Dual-915GL. Moreover, I compared the results to those obtained on i925-based board. The testbed was also based on 3,200 MHz CPU and 1 GB DDR400 memory (DDR2-533 on i925).

And here´s what I got:

You can see that both interfaces are crippled. Moreover, the board couldn´t recognize all the graphics cards. In such cases it used the integrated graphics that can´t be disabled.

The list of compatible graphics cards (promised to expand with time) is provided in the user´s manual and at the company website.

So is it really worth it? Hard to say. On the one hand, it´s a value product. You will hardly imagine a rich enthusiast with a good AGP card willing to move to PCI-E in several stages and to buy such a value product.

On the other hand, new BIOS versions and improved compatibility with more AGP cards will help this solution become more attractive.

Besides, this 2-5-monitor configuration is rather unique and even nForce4 SLI can only work with 4 displays (but the graphics suggested for it is still of a different level).

Therefore it´s hard for me to evaluate this product unambiguously, but I hope it will find its customers.

The actual announcement of this motherboard will sound at CEBIT 2005, so don´t miss it.

iXBT.com / Digit-Life.com thanks ASRock Moscow for this 775Dual-915GL sample.

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