- Inexpensive, 2 x eSATA ports, compact size makes it suitable for a cramped case.
- Each full-size PCIe slot only runs in x8 mode, requires a PCIe Switch Card to run a full-size PCIe x16 slot, not enough supplied USB ports.
Even though this board is inexpensive and has two eSATA ports, it's still quite limited. It doesn't have a dedicated PCIe x16 graphics slot, or USB 2.0 ports attached. Consider this board only if you're on a tight budget and if you're not going to be using a lot of expansion cards and USB devices.
Price$ 135.00 (AUD)
The ASRock ALiveXFire-eSATA2 AMD-based board is inexpensive, and while it does have a limited supply of expansion options, it comes with some cool features, namely eSATA and ATI CrossFire support.
The board is based on the AMD 480X CrossFire chipset and installing it under Windows Vista was a cinch. We didn't even have to use the supplied driver CD as Vista detected all of the hardware components and installed them automatically. We only had to install our graphics card driver in order to get our system fully functional.
The board's AM2 CPU socket supports AMD Athlon 64 FX, Athlon 64 X2, Athlon 64 and Sempron processors. For our tests, we used an AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ CPU, 1GB of DDR2 800MHz RAM, a 150GB Western Digital Raptor hard drive and a GeForce 7600GT-based graphics card.
In WorldBench 6, the board recorded a score of 78, which is exactly what we were expecting, while 53min worth of WAV files took 1min 48sec to encode using Cdex. This indicates that the board isn't holding back the CPU at all. If you want more speed, the board's BIOS will allow you to tinker with the front side bus speed to get a higher CPU frequency. In 3DMark06, the 7600GT-based card scored 3076, which indicates reliability.
The board's layout is a little perplexing. It has two full-size PCIe slots, but both of them are only PCIe x8 slots. ASRock supplies a "PCIe Switch Card", which needs to be installed in the first PCIe slot in order to redirect its eight lanes down to the second slot. This needs to be done so that a single graphics card can run in PCIe x16 mode. PCIe x16 mode is necessary if you want to reap the performance benefits of high resolution and high detail games, using a single high-end graphics card, but either slot will run a graphics card just fine in x8 mode. In a dual-card CrossFire configuration, the "PCIe Switch Card" needs to be removed so that both graphics cards can be installed.
The "PCIe Switch Card" inhibits the board's expansion possibilities as it leaves only one PCIe x1 slot open when PCIe x16 mode is enabled on the other PCIe slots. The board already suffers from a shortage of fixed USB 2.0 ports (there are only two on the rear panel, and two available via an expansion bracket but there are four internal pin-headers) and lacks FireWire, so it's not the best board if you want to use a lot of expansion cards and peripheral devices.
As for the rest of the board's layout, we didn't have any problems installing our CPU or memory, there was adequate clearance around these slots, and the 20-pin power connector is located in a position that allows a 24-pin power cable to be installed. This is good news for newer power supplies as it means you won't have to purchase a 24-20-pin adapter cable.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Google Daydream VR headset
Huawei Mate 9
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Lexar® Portable SSD
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Acer Swift 7
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Surface Pro 4
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 2 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
- 3 Panasonic Blu-ray recorder PVR set-top box review
- 4 Garmin Fenix Chronos fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 5 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
Latest News Articles
- MIT researchers set out to create self-assembling chips
- Micron to ship Intel Optane competitor later this year
- Intel Optane Memory has a mission: Make hard drives faster than SSDs
- AMD busts Ryzen performance myths, clearing Windows 10 from blame
- Nvidia supercharges GeForce DirectX 12 performance with new Game Ready driver
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 phone: Full, in-depth review
- Subaru XV 2017 review
- LG G6: unboxing, hands on review and detail shots
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- CCNetwork and Cloud SMENSW
- FTPHP DeveloperNSW
- FTSenior C# Analyst Programmer, Product & MarketsNSW
- TPSenior Performance TesterQLD
- FTWeb Support LeadQLD
- FTApplication Support LeadQLD
- FTImplementation Consultant - SMSF SoftwareNSW
- FTSoftware Tech Lead - C++ Back Office Trading SystemsNSW
- CCProcurement OfficerQLD
- FTSAP Payroll and Time ConsultantVIC
- FTDatabase DeveloperACT
- FTJunior Wintel Systems AdministratorNSW
- FTSystem Engineer - Level 2NSW
- CCSenior Project ManagerNSW
- CCApplication Support Specialist- Bathurst or Port MacquarieNSW
- CCChange and Communications ManagerQLD
- TPBusiness Project Manager - DigitalNSW
- CCDomino SpecialistVIC
- FTField Services EngineerWA
- FTSolution Architect l MS Exchange, O365NSW
- FTSenior Infrastructure Business AnalystVIC
- FTDevops EngineerVIC
- FTSecurity Monitoring SpecialistVIC