Asus A8R32-MVP Deluxe w/ATI CrossFire Xpress 3200 Chipset

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May 19, 2006 by Devon Cooke

Asus A8R32-MVP Deluxe
CrossFire Xpress 3200 Socket 939 Motherboard
Street Price

The ASUS A8R32-MVP Deluxe is more or less an ATI-based equivalent of the super-high-end A8N32-SLI Deluxe. Both feature a stupendous amount of PCIe bandwidth, integrated everything, and passive cooling for the chipset.

Despite much hype around the efficiency of its 8-phase power regulation, the A8N32-SLI turned out to be a power-hungry motherboard. Passive cooling or not, it required 20~40W more power than other socket 939 motherboards we tested. The reason: An extra I/O chip designed specifically to provide extra PCIe bandwidth.

After this experience, we were leery about another high-bandwidth chipset board, but ATI's CrossFire Xpress 3200 chipset has gained a reputation for being a power miser, so we decided to give it a look.

Abstract gray-and-orange gives the retail box a sleek, street-racer look.

There are extra PCI brackets for two USB ports, two firewire ports (one 4-pin, one 6-pin), a game port, and a serial port.

A quick glance at the cooling system gave us reason to hope. Gone are the massive copper heatsinks and complex heatpipes from the A8N32-SLI. In their place are two passive heatsinks that are decidedly smaller, suggesting lower heat disspation.

Small, passive heatsinks.

Only a high-end board could make a full-ATX board look this cluttered.
Click image for a higher resolution view.

A complete list of features and specifications can be found on ASUS' web site. As can be expected of a high-end board, I/O connectors are plentiful. The board is so feature-rich that it would take several pages to describe them all in detail.

The big selling feature is the CrossFire Xpress 3200 chipset, which provides a total of 40 PCI Express lanes — enough to let both 16x slots run at their full bandwidth with a few more left over for peripherals. Only a CrossFire-based setup with twin graphics cards is likely to even approach this amount of bandwidth, and even then the advantage over a board with less bandwidth is quite small.

Two flavors of S/PDIF, eSATA and twin gigabit ethernet ports are highlights on the back panel.

Considering how challenging it is to cool a dual graphics setup quietly, few noise-conscious users are likely to want the A8R32-MVP for the extra PCI Express lanes. Some other features will have to justify it's top-of-the-line price. Some people will simply opt to go with a cheaper board, but there are enough unusual features that it may still be worth a look. For example:

  • An eSATA port that allows an external drive to run at full SATA speeds (although no power port or cable for such a drive is provided)
  • Two S/PDIF out ports, one optical and one coaxial
  • Dual gigabit ethernet ports
  • Voltage adjustments for just about everything

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