Athlon64 Motherboard TripleThreat

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The Athlon64 TripleThreat - Page 7


By Jeff Bouton
October 26, 2003

Before we get started with our final thoughts, we want to reiterate that this is not a comparison review.  To compare these boards to each other as a whole would be unfair, especially to the Shuttle board which lacks the high-end bundles of the ASUS and MSI products.  Instead we can look at each board as being able to fill a specific niche, such as the MSI for user's who want it all, the ASUS for those focusing on excellent WiFi support and the Shuttle for those looking for a good board at a good price minus all the trimmings.  With that said, let's go ahead and pull together our thoughts and break it down for you.

- For users looking to get themselves a complete Athlon 64 system, the MSI K8T Neo-FIS2R fits the bill.  With a great collection of on-board components as well as an Athlon 64 3200+ included, this package is about as complete as it gets.  With excellent 6 channel audio, USB 2.0 and FireWire as well as GB LAN, the MSI K8T Neo-FIS2R brings as much features as you could ask for.  In the performance arena we were equally impressed with the MSI board.  While it was not the fastest of the three boards, the scores are high enough that the differences really do not matter.  In fact, the only real shortcoming of the package was the lack of a stick of high quality DDR RAM which would complete the picture nicely.

The MSI K8T Neo-FIS2R Early Bird kit retails in the $600 range.  When you factor in the cost of the processor averages in the $450 range, getting the rest of the package for $150 is awesome.  If you've been waiting to take the plunge into the world of the Athlon 64 and want to treat yourself right, this MSI K8T is a sweet deal.

We give the MSI K8T Neo-FIS2R a Hot Hardware Heat Meter Rating of a 9.5.


ASUS K8V Deluxe - If networking is your focus and you are looking for a great board to make the center piece of your home network, the ASUS K8V Deluxe has what it takes.  Not only does the board come with the same collection of on-board components as the MSI system, the system comes with 802.11B compliant WiFi card and antennae and all the necessary software to set up a quick network or configure the system as a robust access point for your network.  Even with WiFi included, ASUS included integrated Gb LAN to expand the systems functionality, the only thing better would be an 802.11G WiFi card for increased bandwidth.  And let's not overlook the inclusion of 256MB of Geil DDR433 RAM as a bonus.  All this for around $160, not bad.
From a performance perspective, the system was the leader in virtually all of the tests.  We also liked some of the extra, innovative features such as CrashFree BIOS2, ASUS Post Reporter, Instant Music and MyLog2.  ASUS not only tries to offer a complete motherboard with the features you expect, they also try to offer features you didn't know you could have.  The only disappointing part of the whole package was the board's inability to automatically recover from a lock up during overclocking as it says it can do.

We give the ASUS K8V Deluxe a Hot Hardware Heat Meter Rating of a 9.

Shuttle AN50R - If you're one who simply wants a good performing motherboard minus all the extras, the Shuttle AN50R might be what you are looking for.  Its performance rivaled that of the two K8T800 boards and even topped them in the Winstone tests.  nVidia's chipset has a lot of the same features the other boards as well, less the extra RAID controller.  The most disappointing issue was that even though the board came equipped with 6 channel audio, Shuttle did not include the extra brackets needed to attach to the Center Channel/Sub-woofer header for the full 6 channel experience.  Nonetheless, the system sports on-board USB and FireWire as well as SATA RAID and Dual Gb LAN.  While it lacks the luster of the flashy products, the Shuttle AN50R can compete on the same level of performance and provides all the necessary features to make it a stand-out product in its own right.

We give the Shuttle AN50R a Hot Hardware Heat Meter Rating of a 9.



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