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.
MSI K8T Neo-FIS2R
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.
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.