Integrated Features & Overclocking
In our initial review of the new AMD Socket 939 Athlon 64s, we assumed that the pre-release motherboard we used for testing limited out overclocking performance. The board didn't have any multiplier adjustments and the PCI/AGP lock didn't seem to function properly. The A8V Deluxe has multiplier adjustments, and has automatic overclocking options built-in, however...
Unfortunately, even with a retail ready motherboard, that was obviously better equipped for overclocking, we were unable to push our particular Athlon 64 FX-53 much further than we were able to in our previous review. With the Asus A8V Deluxe, we first raised the multiplier until we found the maximum stable speed. We settled for a multiplier of 13, because at 13.5 the test system wasn't completely stable. Then we raised CPU core voltage to 1.65v (up from 1.5v) and begun increasing the speed of the motherboard's clock generator until the system became unstable. Ultimately, we able to hit a top speed of 2.64GHz (13 x 203MHz); and increase of about 12%.
Please note, that the VIA K8T800 Pro chipset is supposed to feature an AGP/PCI lock, but it isn't functioning properly at the present time. We've tested two different K8T800 Pro based motherboards from two different vendors so far, and neither has had a working AGP/PCI lock. Asus' specifications don't list the AGP/PCI lock as a feature, and their current BIOS doesn't even list the option, so we won't ding Asus too badly. If a tech savvy user buys an A8V based on VIA's documented specs of the K8T800 Pro alone, they'll be disappointed by the lack of an AGP/PCI lock, but if a user buys the board based on Asus' advertised specs, they'll get what they paid for. Hardcore overclockers will probably want to wait for future revisions of the A8V and / or K8T800 Pro to see if this issue can be resolved, however. Pushing the FSB too far without an AGP/PCI lock can cause instability with some devices. This didn't hurt sales of the original K8T800, but NVIDIA has had this feature with the nForce3 for some time.
Asus equipped the A8V Deluxe with a slew of useful features, including some that weren't available on the MSI MS-6702E that AMD shipped with their Socket 939 reference systems. If you're familiar with most modern laptops and other mobile / portable PCs, you've probably noticed that these systems can throttle the CPU's clock speed and fan speed. When the system is idle, clock speeds, CPU voltage and fan speeds are lowered. This makes the system run cooler and quieter, and it will require less power. AMD's newest Athlon 64s also have this ability. They call it their "Cool 'N Quiet" technology. With Cool 'N Quite enabled in the A8V's BIOS, our processor's speed and voltages were throttled based on the amount of load being placed on the processor. Asus has a custom utility available that showed the technology at work. We've posted a short video so you can see Cool 'N Quiet in action. We launched PCMark04 with Cool 'N Quiet enabled and the CPU throttled accordingly. (Note: All of our benchmarks were run with Cool 'N Quiet disabled)
Asus also put together a customer mixer and interface to compliment the on-board Realtek ALC850 audio codec. The ALC850 is Realtek's 8-Channel (7.1) audio engine, that has to ability to dynamically detect what type of device is plugged into each audio jack, which makes configuring a multi-speaker setup relatively easy. The A8V Deluxe is also equipped with coaxial and optical S/PDIF connectors for digital output. We briefly tested the audio output from the ALC850 and found it to be very good. It's not quite on the same level as an Audigy 2, but the A8V Deluxe's on-board audio should be adequate for most users.
Because the A8V Deluxe we tested was a "Wireless Edition", Asus bundled a PCI 802.11g WiFi card and external omni-directional antenna with the board. We tested wireless connectivity with a D-Link DI-624 and Linksys WRT54GS and experienced no problems whatsoever. Asus' drivers and proprietary software worked properly from the start. With Asus' WLAN software, the card can also be configured to act as an access point. Connect your broadband modem to the on-board LAN connector, then configure the wireless card to function like an AP, and wireless devices will be able to access the web through your machine, eliminating the need to purchase a separate router.