Review: ASRock BTC Pro Kit

BTC PRO Kit-1

In building out a large project to put some spare hardware back into some kind of use, I purchased this as part of an experiment to connect graphics cards to an old mainboard — specifically a GTX 660 into a mainboard with an nForce 500 SLI chipset, which is PCI-Express 1.0a, by the way. I’m not using this for mining, but distributed computing projects (i.e. BOINC, Folding@Home and the like).

And the kit worked as advertised.

A few things to keep in mind, though. First this operates off standard SATA III cables. The two that come with the kit are relatively short and flat. They’re about the same length as the ones that typically come with a mainboard, the ones you probably swap out not long after building your system because those cables are difficult to manage because they’re stiff and flat.

So you can substitute these for longer, more flexible cables if you want, but make sure that the cables you use are the exact same physical length. I had some problems initially switching cables until I realized the two cables I used had a length difference of about an inch. Sounds like that shouldn’t be a huge problem, but bear in mind that both cables are needed for the mainboard to properly communicate with the card, and the card is typically plugged directly into the slot.

Second, the power cable for this is non-standard. If you have the necessary electronics knowledge you can probably figure out which of the pins on the power cable corresponds to which voltage to have a different kind of power running to it if you desire, but for what I had planned that was a deal breaker.

Instead I’ve switched over to a USB 3.0-based PCI-Express extender for several reasons. The primary reason is that the extender I chose powers the end of the board that takes the expansion card with a standard 4-pin Molex connector, meaning it can be directly connected to a power supply instead of needing a power cable to be run from the 1x insert to the 16x card.

This worked as a proof of concept, though, and it’s worth recommending, especially since it has an actual brand name to it instead of being something generic branded like the USB 3.0 kit I bought.

Note: Image at top copyright ASRock, Inc. Used under “fair use” in accordance with 17 USC § 107 for the purposes of commentary and criticism.