Is Built in Support Better?
The discussion so far has revolved around add-on controllers, but these aren’t necessary with AMD boards, as the company’s own SB850 Southbridge natively supports SATA 6Gbps. The question we asked when starting this test was how well it supported the new storage standard, which it did reasonably well.
The speeds from the AMD boards (graphed in green) weren’t brilliant in the 4KB test, largely matching the speed of the Intel ICH10R Southbridge (or its P55 or H55 equivalent), while the add-on SATA 6Gbps chips were mostly faster.
However, in the 1MB and 4MB tests, the SB850 (green in the graphs) held its own against the Marvell-powered ports. The Asus Crosshair IV Formula managed a read speed of 334MB/sec in the 1MB test, which is the third highest speed we saw.
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The slowest SB850 board in the 1MB test was the Gigabyte GA-880GMA-UD2H, a cheap £75 micro-ATX board, which was only 13MB/sec slower than the premium Asus RoG board. AMD’s SB850 Southbridge is capable of fairly fast SATA 6Gbps speeds, so it’s no surprise that few manufacturers have opted to use add-on chips on their AMD motherboards.
If you’re perfectly happy with your motherboard but want to add a couple of SATA 6Gbps ports to your system, there’s a relatively cheap and brutally fast way to do so in the form of Highpoint’s Rocket 620 add-in card. This unassuming little card is home to the same Marvell 9128 controller that many Intel boards use.
However, as the card plugs into a PCI Express slot, it bypasses any Southbridge-related bottlenecks and can write and load data at breakneck speeds. In the 1MB and 4MB read tests, the Rocket 620 was 20MB/sec faster than any other SATA 6Gbps controller we tested.
Better still, it offered almost the same fast speed as any other controller on test when writing data. The Rocket 620 was 1MB/sec faster than the AMD ports in the 1MB write test and only 2MB/sec slower in the 4MB write test.
The ASRock uses two Marvel controllers but doesn't get the best out of either
It’s great to see that, for the most part, the SATA 6Gbps ports of motherboards aren’t merely tick-box additions. In every case bar the ASRock P55 Extreme4, the SATA 6Gbps ports delivered more performance than the SATA 3Gbps we tested. It’s also useful that you can add super-fast SATA 6Gbps ports to your PC simply and cheaply – the superb HighPoint Rocket 620 costs around £40 from Scan and Quiet PC.
As the ASRock’s SATA 6Gbps ports failed badly, we’ll continue to test the SATA 6Gpbs ports to monitor any change. You’ll also need to carry out some research before buying one (naturally, this is a not so subtle hint to keep reading the site).