ASRock motherboards always have many more features than I can mention here in a review. But I always feel that I am selling the motherboard short without mentioning at least a few of them. I have mentioned many times before that ASRock B.F.G. (Boot Failure Guard) is an excellent crash-free BIOS. I also have sung praises of ASRock's OC Tuner, which is the only software overclocking utility that I've used that is stable enough to actually try. (though I always feel that overclocking in the BIOS is the best way to go) Both ASRock Instant Flash (flash BIOS via flash drive) and AFUWIN (flash BIOS in the Windows environment) work very well.
So I thought I'd mention three features of the M3A785GMH/128M that I've never mentioned before in other motherboard reviews.
First, this motherboard meets the standards of EUP 2.0. EUP, or Energy Using Product, is a standard set by the European Union for defining power consumption of completed electrical products. The EUP 2.0 standards require power usage of less than 0.5 watt while the device is in "off" mode. The current standard is 1 watt. You may or may not be aware of the ridiculous amount of energy that every electronic device in your house uses while "turned off" but still plugged in. Most devices are not actually "turned off", but in a standby state. Your television (CRT, LCD, or Plasma) uses a huge amount of power while turned off. Other devices are your home phone, your computer, your LCD monitor, your printer, your microwave, even many washers and dryers are using energy by just sitting there turned off but plugged in.
The European Union has addressed this and ASRock has not only met their current standard but their future standard that likely will stand for 20 or more years.
ASRock Instant Boot is a feature on later ASRock motherboards for speedily bringing the system from an "off" state to full operation mode. Some companies use Linux-based software to quickly bring the rig to a "running" state with limited usability. All computers using Vista have "Sleep mode" where the system reverts to a dormant state.but they usually take 30-45 seconds to be fully functional. (the rig I am currently writing this on takes an average of 40 seconds for the LAN to come online) Instant Boot uses the processor's S3 and S4 states to bring the system to a fully functional state in as little as three seconds.
Most current video cards give you the capability of playing Blu-ray video if you own a Blu-ray capable drive. But most motherboards do not have specific Blu-ray audio support, and will not allow the sound card to play the Blu-ray disk's 24-bit/192kHz audio. The audio will automatically be downgraded to 16-bit/48kHz CD quality audio, even though the motherboard has onboard 24-bit/192kHz HD Audio.
ASRock's Premium Blu-ray Audio support allows the motherboard's onboard HD audio to play Blu-ray disks the way they were intended, with full 24-bit/192kHz audio.
In the BIOS section I mentioned "EZ Overclocking" this is a very cool feature that makes overclocking a breeze. Hit "Enter", and you get a drop down menu with overclock settings by percent overclock. Choose how high you want to clock, hit enter, and the BIOS automatically chooses your tweaks for you. Of course, not all CPUs will overclock 50%, which is the max choice. Depending on the CPU, motherboard, and memory, anything over 20% is excellent, over 25% is a hope, and over 30% is a dream.
I first chose 20% which the system easily accepted. Next I chose 25%, which is just above 3.5gHz. The system POSTed but bluescreened before Windows finished launching.
The really cool thing about EZ Overclocking is that it allows for further tweaks after choosing your base settings. I went back into the BIOS, and cranked up the Vcore from 1.4v, the setting chosen by EZ Overclocking, to 1.425v. Everything launched just fine.
I played around with the settings for a while longer, but was unable to get a higher stable overclock at 1.425v, which happens to be AMD's max recommended Vcore. I opted to leave things there.
To change memory speed, go down near the bottom of the page. Memory speed is directly related to the CPU speed. The memory clock at my 3.5gHz overclock was DDR3-1666, and I know from previous attempts that the memory won't go quite that high. To get the memory to DDR3-1600, the HT needs to be set to 240. Of course you can use the various memory dividers to keep the memory below max speed while overclocking the CPU.
After the testing was done, I went back into the BIOS to set things back to stock clock. Once you've used the EZ Overclock, there is no 0% overclock to bring things back to normal. You have two choices.set each setting manually, or press F9 to reload BIOS defaults, which is the same thing as clearing the CMOS. Kind of a pain, but not too bad.
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