Everything Dual: 939Dual-SATA2 From ASRock
The ASRock 939Dual-SATA2 can already be had for just under $75 mail order, making it a real bargain compared to similarly-equipped products from AMD's current processor series. The main reason is that in addition to all of the usual ingredients, the board offers the possibility of implementing either an AGP or a PCI Express graphics card, both of which work without any performance losses. The foundation of the board is ULi's M1695 chipset, which drew our positive attention in an initial test.
While it's true that you can find the odd hybrid solution with both graphics interfaces on the market, they all have something in common: There's always a string attached, and it's usually in the area of performance. Although today you should be able to get along well with PCI Express, considering the large number of choices range now available, the majority of users are still running AGP-based systems. With a system upgrade in the wings - dual-core processors are currently the biggest temptation - many folks find it preferable to use that graphics card for a while longer. That's especially true given that it likely cost a pretty penny!
Furthermore, an AGP graphics card can continue to be used even after the purchase of a PCIe model. Although no 3D performance increase is possible, it is certainly true that more displays can be operated simultaneously. Note however that when using two TFT devices with DVI connections, you should use the respective DVI ports of the two graphics cards in order to preclude any quality losses due to dual transformation (from digital to analog and back to digital.)
The remaining equipment of the ASRock motherboard is from all appearances complete and leaves little to be desired. But since bargain motherboards often cut corners in one place or the other, we took the 939Dual-SATA2 into the THG lab for a proper test.