While AMD had only introduced its Socket AM2 late last month, they had accompanied the AM2 Athlon 64 and AM2 Athlon 64 X2 with AM2 compatible Semprons. With the availability of AM2 Semprons, it should make Socket AM2 the AMD choice for even budget PCs. As no new Chipset is required for operation, simply the new AM2 interface and DDR2 slots, manufacturers such as ASRock have been quick to revise their motherboard designs to bring fourth an entire selection of cheap motherboards. As we had seen when sampling the AM2 Sempron 3400+ last week, the Sempron Manila performance truly is not that bad either for the casual computer user. What does all this mean? You can build a new AMD AM2 setup for pretty darn cheap, considering a Sempron will only set you back about $100 USD and the ASRock AM2NF4G-SATA2 will sell for approximately $70.
To recap some of the AM2NF4G-SATA2 features, it uses the nForce 410 and GeForce 6100, is compliant with micro ATX specifications, and it offers the usual slew of ASRock innovations. When it came to the Linux compatibility when running Fedora Core 5, the IDE issue remained with the nForce 410, but other than that, it was smooth sailing. LM_Sensors had also worked well with the ASRock AM2 motherboard. When it comes to the Linux performance of the integrated GeForce 6100 video with the proprietary drivers, the performance is suitable for standard desktop use, but gamers should certainly look elsewhere.
Overall, ASRock has created a remarkable offering with the AM2NF4G-SATA2. The motherboard was delivered to market timely, it offers most of the bells and whistles that a casual budget computer user would be interested in, and is compatible with AMD's new Socket AM2. The only real downfalls with this product were the IDE compatibility problem we came across with the nForce 410, and the BIOS having problems when attempting to overclock the system. Other than that, ASRock has once again created another competitive budget motherboard.
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Phoronix Product Rating: 8 / 10