Asus A8R32-MVP Deluxe: ATI CrossFire Xpress 3200 Chipset Launched

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Gallery: Asus A8R32-MVP Deluxe

It seems that every square centimeter of real estate on the Asus A8R32-MVP Deluxe's PCB is outfitted with some sort of component. This is a feature rich motherboard, and as such it is equipped with a number of secondary controllers that supplement the features already offered by the CrossFire Xpress 3200 / ULi 1575 chipset.

      

Before we installed the A8R32-MVP Deluxe into our test system, we spent some time inspecting the board and its various functional blocks. Removing the heatsinks mounted to the northbridge and southbridge chips revealed that ATI's marketing team change their mind about their new chipset's branding midstream. As you can see, the die on the Northbridge has 'Radeon Xpress 300' etched into its surface, not CrossFire Xpress 3200. There was nothing out of the ordinary to report about the ULi southbridge, though.

         

Asus will be promoting the fact that the A8R32-MVP Deluxe's major components are 100% passively cooled. The FETs in the VRM, and the Northbridge and Southbridge chips are all adorned with aluminum heatsinks because there is no need for active cooling. Having just heatsinks on these parts means the A8R32-MVP Deluxe is completely silent, and doesn't generate any noise.

To make sure the included heatsinks were adequate, we monitored their temperatures throughout our testing and found that the Northbridge and VRM heatsinks never exceeded 112oF (44oC), and the Southbridge heatsink never got warmer than 99oF (37oC). So, as long as the board is installed in a case with adequate ventilation, the basic heatsinks on the A8R32-MVP Deluxe should be perfectly fine.

         

In general we found the design and layout of the A8R32-MVP Deluxe to be quite good. The board has three PCI expansion slots, a single PCI Express x1 slot, and of course a pair of PCI Express x16 PEG slots. The four DIMM slots are situated at the upper-right corner of the board, and behind those are its two standard IDE connectors and 24-Pin ATX power connector. A couple of inches further down along the front edge of the board are four is its 3.0Gb/s capable SATA / RAID ports (powered by the ULi southbridge), its single floppy connector and legacy Super-I/O IT8712F-A controller, and a cluster of various headers. The headers are all well labeled and color-coded, which made the A8R32-MVP a breeze to install.

         

Behind the CPU socket, the 12v ATX power connector and VRM heatsink are visible, along with a Silicon Image Si3132 SATA2 / RAID controller and its single, internal SATA connector. The placement of the Si3132 is peculiar, as is the fact that this RAID controller has only one internal connector. The Si3132 powered connector is situated in the board's I/O cluster. The rest of the I/O cluster consists of a pair of PS/2 ports, a parallel port, S/PDIF and optical audio outputs, six assorted analog audio jacks, four USB ports, and a pair of RJ-45 Ethernet jacks. Audio duties are handled by Realtek's HD ALC882 codec, and dual Gigabit LAN comes by way of a pair of Marvell chips, a PCIe based 88E8053 and a PCI based 88E8001. Although there are no ports in the I/O cluster, the A8R32-MVP Deluxe also features a Ti IEEE1394a controller for Firewire support. Its ports are included on a separate bracket pictured on the previous page.


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