Motherboard Guide

ASRock 775XFire-eSATA2 review

ASRock 775XFire-eSATA2 (Intel 945PL Express + ATI CrossFire)

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Introduction

Introduction

In recent times, ASRock has been bringing some interesting motherboards into the market with cutting-edge technology, but still maintaining their credo for best cost/performance. In 2005, ASRock's 775i915P-SATA2 offered users a very compelling option for CrossFire performance in the midst of the many premium brands, but while its performance couldn't be doubted, its feature set was undeniably dated. ASRock has since updated its line-up and 2006 sees the entry of another mainstream CrossFire solution from ASRock, the 775XFire-eSATA2. This motherboard shares many similarities with the older 775i915P-SATA2, including conformity with RoHS manufacturing standards, but is now based on the newer Intel 945PL Express chipset, a significant, but minor upgrade which will ensure that ASRock can still maintain price competitiveness.

If you haven't noticed it yet, the 945PL Express is actually a scaled-down version of the 945P Express and in comparison, actually closer to the 915P Express in specifications. The 945PL can support all Intel LGA775 processors, including the new 65nm Preslers (Pentium D 9xx series), but it can only support up to 800MHz FSB. Its memory controller is also limited to DDR2-533 support with a 2GB maximum configurable limit. However, while the 945PL Express is limited, it is compatible with the full range of Intel's ICH7 family of Southbridges, thus giving it access to technologies that the 915P Express could not deliver. The following table lists down the major specification differences between Intel's mainstream chipset parts:

Chipset Features Comparison Table
Host Controller Intel 945P Express Intel 945PL Express Intel 915P Express
CPU Support
  • 65nm/90nm LGA775 processors
  • 1066/800/533 MHz
  • 65/90nm LGA775 processors
  • 800/533 MHz
  • 90nm LGA775 processors
  • 800/533 MHz
Memory Controller 82945P MCH 82945PL MCH 82915P MCH
Memory Support
  • 2 DIMMs/channel, 2 channels
  • DDR2 667/533/400
  • 4GB Max memory
  • 1 DIMMs/channel, 2 channels
  • DDR2 533/400
  • 2GB Max memory
  • 2 DIMMs/channel, 2 channels
  • DDR2 533/400
  • DDR 400/333
  • 4GB Max memory
IO Hub Controller Intel ICH7 Family (ICH7, ICH7R) Intel ICH7 Family (ICH7, ICH7R) Intel ICH6 Family (ICH6, ICH6R)
PCI Express
  • 6 lanes (ICH7R) / 4 lanes (ICH7)
  • 6 lanes (ICH7R) / 4 lanes (ICH7)
  • 4 lanes
Storage Interface
  • 4 SATA II 3Gbps
  • 1 Ultra ATA100
  • 4 SATA II 3Gbps
  • 1 Ultra ATA100
  • 4 SATA 1.5Gbps
  • 1 Ultra ATA100