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May 19, 2006 by Devon
Asus A8R32-MVP Deluxe
CrossFire Xpress 3200 Socket 939 Motherboard
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
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.
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
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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