A Closer Look
The ASRock N7AD-SLI is typical of ASRock’s economy boards, being just over 8″ wide, rather than the normal 9.6″. There are six screw holes, and though the thought might be a little scary, I have had several motherboards of this size, and have never had any problem whatsoever. The color scheme is also typical ASRock, with color coding of most motherboard connectors.
The passive chipset cooler is rather small, but I have had other ASRock boards with the same cooler and it is effective if you have adequate case ventilation. Located around the CPU socket are several MOSFETs, ferrite chokes, and large capacitors, hoping to catch a little cooling from the CPU cooler. ASRock uses Japanese-made capacitors, well known as the best in the industry.
Something I didn’t notice until later, the CPU socket is located much closer to the edge of the motherboard than any other board I’ve seen. This will cause a problem as to be seen in the Installation section.
Unlike every other small-footprint ASRock motherboard I’ve seen though, it has the 24-pin connector on the edge of the board rather than near the motherboard’s power supply. But, a small-footprint motherboard usually has to make some kind of concessions for the size, and this board has the internal USB ports located between the I/O panel and the chipset cooler. This is definitely a bummer for cable management, but money is saved by not having to run traces to the traditional location of the internal USB ports.
As many other ASRock boards, there is an SATA port located behind the I/O panel for the eSATA port. To use eSATA, run an SATA cable from one orange SATA port to the other. The 4-pin Molex connector is to be used only when running multiple video cards.
The nForce 740i SLI chipset supports a pair of full PCI-E 2.0 ports, one at x16 and one at x8. There are also a pair of PCI-E x 1 slots and a pair of PCI slots. The board also has a connection for an ASRock WiFi module, but one is not included.
As all ASRock SLI and CrossFire boards, the circuitry for switching between one and two video cards is located on the ASRock Switch Card, which is in a slot similar to that of some laptop system memory. To run two video cards, turn the card around.
There are six SATA ports. The orange one is for connecting to the eSATA port, but can also be used for a regular hard drive.
The 740i SLI chipset supports up to 16 gigs of DDR2-800 memory. As I mentioned earlier, the 24-pin connector is located where it should be, on the edge of the board.
The I/O panel has a full complement of connectors, PS/2 mouse, PS/2 keyboard, 6 x USB, eSATA, IEEE 1394, optical and coaxial S/PDIF, and HD Audio.
The bundle includes drivers, manual, a pair of ASRock’s locking SATA cables, a Molex/SATA power adapter, and an SLI bridge.