ASUS M2R32-MVP vs ECS KA3 MVP Extreme: CrossFire Xpress 3200 Shootout
Features and Layout - ECS KA3 MVP Extreme
On the surface, the KA3 MVP Extreme is a sharp looking board. The board comes with ECS' customary purple PCB and brightly colored components, contrasting well for easy identification. At the heart of the board lies the CrossFire Xpress 3200 chipset which consists of the RD580 Northbridge and the SB600 Southbridge. The board supports all flavors of Socket AM2 processors, including AMD's Sempron, Athlon 64, Athlon 64 FX and Athlon 64 X2 processors. The board comes outfitted with four DIMM slots that are capable handling a 8GBs (support for up to 32GB is noted) of DDR2 memory in speeds of 400, 533, 667 and 800MHz DDR. The board comes with ample expansion options including dual PCI Express x16 slots that are CrossFire ready with a full 16 lanes each in CrossFire mode. Additionally, two standard PCI slots are provided for supporting leagacy PCI components. ECS also included a single PCI x1 slot which seemed a bit light and also brings into question the first layout concern. The KA3 MVP Extreme has an auxiliary power input next to the blue PCI Express x16 slot, bringing more power to the slots. However, this would have been an ideal place to add a second PCI Express x1 slot and the power connector simply moved back a few inches or mounted elsewhere on the board. Each PCI slot if flanked by LEDs that flash constantly when no hardware is installed and remains solid with a card installed in its respective slot.
The KA3 MVP Extreme comes with passive cooling on both the Northbridge and Southbridge, although the latter is more for style than for function. The main power connector is a 24-Pin connector, while the auxilary 12V ATX power is a 4-Pin header. For fan power, the board sports 3 headers, one for the CPU cooler while the remaining power two additional chassis fans. A fan assembly is also mounted between the CPU and rear console, helping to improve airflow around the CPU and surrounding power components.
The KA3 MVP Extreme comes with ample storage capabilities, offering a total of six SATA II connectors, four of which are driven by the SB600 Southbridge and the remaining two by an integrated JMicron JMB363 RAID controller. The SB600 supports RAID 0, 1, and 10 while adding an ATA 133 port to the mix as well. The JMicron controller adds another two ATA 133 ports and supports RAID 0, 1 and 0+1. The JMicron controller also brings Native Command Queuing support and drives the board's eSATA header. The rear console consists of two PS/2 ports, four USB 2.0 ports and a serial port. The KA3 MVP also comes with dual RJ-45 Ethernet ports, one driven by a Realtek controller that offers 10/100 Mbps and the other bringing Gigabit Ethernet to the mix with an integrated Agere LAN controller. Sadly, ECS opted not to offer dual Gigabit which has become much more common lately for higher-end boards. However, the rear IO panel donned both an Optical and Digital SPDIF connector, as well as analog input/outputs, which makes up the board's 8 Channel audio solution driven by a Realtek High Definition Audio CODEC.