One of the PCI ports may have to be left alone and two SATA ports are above PCIeThough hardware makers have some leeway when choosing how to arrange the interfaces on a motherboard, some things always go in the same place. ASRock figured it would stick to the blueprint a bit less this time.
The motherboard in the press photos on the left is called A55 Pro and, being designed around the A55 chipset from Advanced Micro Devices, it features the FMI socket.
A low-cost ATX motherboard, it has six SATA 3.0 Gbps ports, two PCI Express x16 slots, three PCI Express x1 slots, plus a pair of legacy PCI slots.
Gigabit Ethernet, 5.1-channel audio, six USB 2.0 ports, and video outputs (D-Sub and DVI) complete the standard feature set.
That leaves ASRock exclusive-features (Instant Flash, XFast USB, XFast LAN, XFast RAM and APP Charger), plus UEFI BIOS, to set the motherboard apart from the other budget platforms on the market.
All in all, without a look at it, the ASRock A55 Pro doesn't sound all that odd. Nevertheless, there is one strange layout decision we need to point out.
Instead of keeping all SATA ports (for HDDs and SSDs) together, ASRock split them in two groups.
Four are near the edge, just behind the last PCI slot. Access to them will definitely be obstructed by any add-in card longer than the slot itself.
The other two are, strangely enough, above the top-most full-size PCI Express slot, almost next to the CPU socket. They should definitely be completely safe from add-in card obstruction, but the placement could still make the rest of the hardware installation awkward. Fortunately, SATA cables are more than long enough to deal with the situation.
ASRock's A55 Pro should start selling soon, in time for the holidays, if we were to guess. Sadly, the price has not been disclosed, so we cannot really know if it is as affordable as the company tries to make it sound.