When ULi first unveiled their M1695 HyperTransport PCI Express Tunnel Chip, we were very impressed with its flexible options to deliver platform solutions from the mainstream to performance. ULi then released their single-chip PCI Express M1697 chipset that was all set to rival NVIDIA's nForce4 SLI in terms of features and performance. Of course, we all know the story of ULi being acquired by NVIDIA not long after, but ULi has since successfully carved a niche for themselves with mainstream players like EPoX, ASRock and even ABIT making ULi-based AMD solutions.
Till now, we've seen reference implementations of ULi's M1695 Triple Graphics Interface setup and the M1697 SLI alternative. Today however, we may have the ultimate ULi configuration that truly shows off the power of these chipsets. Much like how the nForce4 SLI X16 is a combination of the original nForce4 SLI and a PCI Express tunnel chip, ASRock has combined the ULi's M1695 with the single chip M1697 into one motherboard, creating a monster feature-rich PCI Express motherboard that is no less as exciting as your average top-of-the-line nForce4 SLI X16 solution and at a third of the price.
The ASRock 939SLI32-eSATA2 looks to be a very promising board, but true to ASRock's nature as a budget motherboard manufacturer, it comes with a frugal bundle of the basic necessities, including storage cables, driver CD and manual. Interestingly however, ASRock has also included an SLI bridge among the bundle advocating SLI support on the board, but we will go into more details in a later part of the review. Let's take a look at the motherboard features and specifications first.