CrossFire Xpress 1600 Motherboards: DFI, Asus, ECS - HotHardware

CrossFire Xpress 1600 Motherboards: DFI, Asus, ECS

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Right from its inception, ATI knew they had to build a solid platform if their CrossFire multi-GPU technology was to gain mass acceptance.  NVIDIA already had the very popular nForce 4 SLI chipset in their repertoire, but ATI didn't have a direct competitor that also offered a pair PCI Express Graphics (PEG) slots.  In effort alleviate this situation, and get CrossFire into the hands of enthusiasts as quickly as possible, the Canadian based graphics giant reconfigured the PCI Express lanes on their existing Radeon Xpress 200 chipset to offer x8 electrical connections to a pair of PCI Express x16 slots.  Initially the chipset was still named the Radeon Xpress 200, but ATI has since re-branded the CrossFire capable version of the chipset the CrossFire Xpress 1600.

We're going to be looking at three motherboards in this round-up and showcase, that all feature the CrossFire Xpress 1600 chipset. Two of the boards couple the CrossFire Xpress 1600 northbridge with ATI's own SB450 southbridge, while the third forgoes the SB450 in favor of ULi's 1575.  We've covered the main features and technical specifications of the Radeon Xpress 200 / CrossFire Xpress 1600 a number of times in the past, but if you're unfamiliar with the technology please reference these two articles:

The first motherboard we're going to take a look at is DFI's LAN Party RDX200 CF-DR.  Like the other motherboards in DFI's LAN Party family of products, the RDX200 CF-DR is feature rich, and targeted squarely at enthusiasts and overclockers.  It's also equipped with a very complete accessory bundle and has a relatively unique layout.  Check it out.

   

DFI LANPARTY UT RDX200 CF-DR
Specifications & Features
CPU
AMD Athlon 64 X2 / Athlon 64 FX / Athlon 64 / Sempron
Socket 939

Chipset
ATI chipset


- Northbridge: ATI Radeon Xpress 200 CrossFire
- Southbridge: ATI SB450

Front Side Bus
2000MT/s HyperTransport interface

Memory
Four 184-pin DDR SDRAM DIMM sockets
Supports dual channel (128-bit wide) memory interface
Supports up to 4GB system memory
Supports PC2100 (DDR266), PC2700 (DDR333) and PC3200 (DDR400) DDR SDRAM DIMM

BIOS
Award BIOS
CMOS Reloaded
CPU/DRAM overclocking
CPU/DRAM/Chipset overvoltage
4Mbit flash memory

Power Management
Supports ACPI STR (Suspend to RAM) function
Wake-On-Events include:
- Wake-On-PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse
- Wake-On-USB Keyboard/Mouse
- Wake-On-Ring
- Wake-On-LAN
- RTC timer to power-on the system
AC power failure recovery

Hardware Monitor
Monitors CPU/system/chipset temperature
Monitors 12V/5V/3.3V/Vcore/Vbat/5Vsb/Vchipset/Vdram voltages
Monitors the speed of the CPU fan, Fan 2 and Fan 3 fan
CPU Overheat Protection function monitors CPU temperature during system boot-up

Audio
Karajan audio module
- Realtek ALC882 8-channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- 6 audio jacks
- 1 CD-in connector
- 1 front audio connector
True stereo line level outputs
S/PDIF-in/out interface

LAN
Dual Gigabit LAN - Marvell 88E8053 PCI Express and Marvell 88E8001 PCI LAN
Fully compliant to IEEE 802.3 (10BASE-T), 802.3u (100BASE-TX) and 802.3ab (1000BASE-T) standards

IDE
Supports two IDE connectors that allow connecting up to four UltraDMA 133Mbps hard drives


IEEE 1394
VIA VT6307
Supports two 100/200/400 Mb/sec ports

Serial ATA with RAID
Four Serial ATA ports supported by the ATI SB450 chip
- SATA speed up to 1.5Gb/s
- RAID 0 and RAID 1
Four Serial ATA ports supported by the Silicon Image Sil 3114 chip
- SATA speed up to 1.5Gb/s
- RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 0+1 and RAID 5

Rear Panel I/O Ports
1 mini-DIN-6 PS/2 mouse port
1 mini-DIN-6 PS/2 keyboard port
2 S/PDIF RCA jacks (S/PDIF-in and S/PDIF-out)
Karajan audio module (6 audio jacks)
1 IEEE 1394 port
2 RJ45 LAN ports
6 USB 2.0/1.1 ports

I/O Connectors
1 connector for 2 additional external USB 2.0/1.1 ports
1 connector for 1 external IEEE 1394 port
1 connector for 1 external serial port
1 connector for the Karajan audio module
1 front audio connector for external line-out and mic-in jacks (on the Karajan audio module)
1 CD-in internal audio connector (on the Karajan audio module)
1 S/PDIF connector for optical cable connection
1 IrDA connector
1 CIR connector
8 Serial ATA connectors
2 IDE connectors
1 floppy connector
1 24-pin ATX power connector
1 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
1 4-pin 5V/12V power connector (FDD-type)
1 front panel connector
5 fan connectors
4 diagnostic LEDs
EZ touch switches (power switch and reset switch)

Expansion Slots
2 PCI Express x16 slots
CrossFire mode - Each x16 slot operates at x8 bandwidth
Single VGA mode - PCIE1 slot operates at x16 bandwidth. PCIE3 slot operates at x1 bandwidth
1 PCI Express x1 slot
3 PCI slots

PCB
ATX form factor
24cm (9.45") x 30.5cm (12")

      

      

DFI includes a nice assortment of value added accessories with their RDX200 CF-DR motherboard.  Along with the motherboard itself, DFI throws in two rounded IDE cables, a rounded floppy cable, four SATA data cables and two Molex-to-SATA power adapters.  There was also a custom I/O shield bundled with the board, in addition to a fairly comprehensive User's Manual, a quick installation guide, and the obligatory driver CD and floppies.

The last major addition to the RDX200 CF-DR's bundle is DFI latest Karajan audio riser module.  This particular module houses Realtek's ALC882 8-channel High Definition Audio CODEC, 6 analog audio jacks, and a CD-in connector. Separating the audio chip from the rest of the board is meant to isolate it from board level electrical noise and interference, for improved audio quality.

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