Asrock Alive NF5 sSATA2

Beefy benchie belie barebones board

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Our Verdict

The layout is annoying but for a budget board it performs well


  • Great performance for a budget mobo


  • Poor board layout

AMD's Athlon chip sure makes life easy. By integrating many functions into the CPU die, there's a lot less to muck up.

Which perhaps explains why this socket-AM2 board delivers such convincing performance while Asrock's Intel LGA775 alternative chugs along at the back of the pack.

Based on Nvidia's poverty-spec Nforce 520 chipset, the Alive NF5 nevertheless puts in a performance that's within a gnat's nethers of the best Athlon mobos. Granted, the board layout is a pain, with the ATX power socket badly placed and the PCB quite shallow.

And the miserable pair of USB ports on the back panel is hardly the height of practicality (there are on-board headers to alleviate the problem). But if £45 is all you can afford, you won't be disappointed in performance terms.