ASRock A55 Pro3 Reviewtacohunter52 - November 17, 2011
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The very first thing I noticed when I looked at the ASRock A55 Pro3 was that the cooling bracket around the socket was different. As opposed to the complete square, it only took up as much room as it needed, which I thought was pretty cool. Other than that, the layout looked pretty decent. Using the first PCIe x16 slot won't prevent you from using any other slot and the memory slots look like they are a decent distance away from the socket. The only thing I was worried about were the non right angle SATA connectors. Flipping the board over reveals a very bare backside. It also showed us that the board's chipset cooler was held on by pushpins, which is something I usually don't like to see.
When I looked at the Sapphire A75 Pure Platinum, I was fairly impressed with the amount of connections available to the user. When I look at the ASRock A55 Pro3's rear panel, I felt like something was missing. For display, you'll be able to utilize both an HDMI port and a VGA port. This should be ample for the users planning to use integrated graphics, but I guess I was expecting to see a DVI port as opposed to VGA. As for other ports, you'll be able to utilize two PS/2 ports, one for the mouse and one for the keyboard, as well as four USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports. Along with these, you'll also get your standard audio ports, an Ethernet jack, and an eSATA port. Obviously everything you need is there, but for some reason I still have that feeling that something more could have been located on the rear panel. However, looking at the bottom of the board made me much happier. All three of the USB headers, as well as the audio header, were located right at the edge of the board. This makes managing your wires much easier!
The remaining two sides of the board were much emptier. The right side featured the only two right angle SATA connectors. The good news is that these two connectors are SATA 3 connectors. The top of the board featured two fan connectors. One was a 4-pin fan connector for the CPU, while the other was a 3-pin connector for a case fan or a secondary CPU fan.
As usual, the ASRock A55 Pro3 draws its power from a 24-pin connector. This 24-pin connector is located right in front of the board's four DIMM slots. According to ASRock, these four DIMM slots are able to support DDR3 speeds of 2400MHz and higher. The standard however is DDR3 1333, so to reach these higher speeds, you'll need to do some overclocking. The A55 Pro3 uses an 8-pin auxiliary power connector, which was nice and close to the board's edge. Moving on to the socket, we can see that it uses the slightly different brackets. To the left of the CPU socket, we can see the board's power phase, which did not have a heat spreader. The board did however have mounting holes for a heat spreader. I guess if you really wanted one, you could mount one yourself.
As far as expansion slots go, the ASRock A55 Pro3 is equipped with two PCIe x16 slots and does support CrossFire. With that being said, the A55 chipset is aimed more for budget builds, so I don't expect too many people to be running a CrossFire setup with this hardware. Along with the two PCIe x16 slots are a PCIe x1 slot and three standard PCI slots. Behind the board's expansion slots are the remaining five SATA 2 connectors. Unfortunately, none of these connectors are right angled, which can cause some problems with wire management. Right above these connectors is the ASRock A55 Pro3's A55 chipset. It is covered by a blue/silver heat spreader that sports the ASRock logo.
Now that we've had a detailed look at the motherboard, let's move on to the BIOS!