ASRock K8 Upgrade 760GX Motherboard Review
Features & Design
Features & Design
The K8 Upgrade 760GX is very similar in features as the other SiS 760GX we reviewed here on PC Perspective not long ago, but the major difference here is that the K8 Upgrade 760GX also supports Socket 939. Since there is only a Socket 754 onboard, upgrading to Socket 939 is done through a special slot where you install an ASRock adapter and the S939 CPU.
The upgrade slot can be seen in the image above and looks like a yellow AGP slot but is offset to avoid any careless video card installations. The upgrade adapter itself is a small card with a socket and four DIMMs for a maximum capacity of 4GB and includes Dual-Channel support. Though ASRock did not provide us with one, the upgrade adapter can be found here. The process of upgrading involves installing the adapter with the CPU and RAM, and flipping jumpers on the motherboard.
There are a few banks of jumpers that need to get switched to complete the upgrade process. These jumpers are difficult to access and ASRock tries to alleviate this problem by providing a little tool (like a hook) to help. The task is slow and annoying - the tool does not help much, and the jumpers are hard to remove by hand. This is probably the poorest jumper design I've seen in all boards I've reviewed, but hopefully you won't have to do this often. I really hope that ASRock would improve their design by using a single jumper or by going jumperless.
Rows of jumpers switch Socket 754 to Socket 939. Two jumpers (blue) are crammed right
up against the upgrade slot (yellow). Good luck trying to switch those!
Going beyond the upgradability of the board, the K8 Upgrade is micro ATX and has decent SiS integrated video thanks to the SiS 760GX chipset. The integrated video only supports DirectX 8.1 and uses memory allocated from your main system RAM (more on this in the BIOS section). You won't be playing much games on this, but it's great to be able to use the board without having to buy a seperate adapter.
As to be expected, the design of K8 Upgrade 760GX is fairly cramped. Big capacitors press right up against the socket clip making large heatsinks a problem to install. The 12V power connector is also tucked in amoung these capacitors making installation a bit of a pain.
Capacitors cram right up against the socket. Large heatsinks need not apply.
The heatsink retention bracket around the socket is riveted in place with plastic pins. So if you have a heatsink that requires a special bracket, the only way to remove the factory bracket is by cutting the rivets off. It if because of this I could not test the installation of the Zalman CNPS7700-Cu heatsink. Even if I could swap retention brackets, those capacitors will get in the way anyway.
For drive connectivity, there is RAID 0, 1 and JBOD on two SATA connections, two IDE channels, and a floppy. There is a RTL8201BL 10/100 megabit LAN chip and C-Media CMI9761A 5.1 channel audio.
A bit of an oddity on this board. Unlike all other boards I've reviewed that use a two position / 3-pin design for resetting the CMOS, this board uses only two pins and no jumper (see image below). In order to clear the CMOS, you need to short the pins using a screwdriver or using a spare jumper if you have one (ASRock does not provide an extra jumper for this).
Two pins and no jumper for clearing the CMOS.
On the back I/O, you will see astounding support for six USB 2.0 connections (there are also two onboard headers), the VGA output for the integrated video, and three jack-sensing audio plugs. Of course there are legacy connections for those of you not quite ready to move onto USB. ;-)
Notable: Six USB 2.0 ports and VGA output.
It's worth mentioning that the K8 Upgrade 760GX has only two fan headers onboard.