CrossFire Xpress 1600 Motherboards: DFI, Asus, ECS

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Our Summary & Conclusion

Benchmark Summary: The DFI RDX200 CF-DR, Asus A8R-MVP and ECS KA1-MVP motherboards performed at near identical levels in all of the benchmarks we ran. Overall, it is impossible to declare any one CrossFire Xpress 1600 based motherboard "faster" than another.  Due to the fact that AMD's Athlon 64 processors feature an on-die memory controller, and we used the exact same CPU, memory and drives build up our test systems, similar performance was to be expected.

DFI RDX200 CF-DR:
DFI's CrossFire Xpress 1600 board was the first to hit the market. It's also unique in that it doesn't require a PCI Express terminator when a single video card is used, and it features handy on-board power and reset micro-switches. The RDX200 CF-DR is also a decent overclocker with an excellent BIOS and it's a solid performer as well.  But we think DFI made some questionable decisions during the design phase of this board.  The RDX200 CF-DR features ATI's much maligned SB450 southbridge which lacks any support for SATA 300MB/s transfers or NCQ, and has somewhat limited RAID functionality, not to mention inferior USB 2.0 performance.  To supplement the southbridge and incorporate these features, DFI could have used a PCI Express based secondary controller, but instead they opted for Silicon Image's PCI based SiI 3114. Lacking these features isn't necessarily a deal breaker, but the RDX200 CF-DR is also the most expensive motherboard in this round-up by a fair amount. At $165 to $195 on-line, we'd consider the DFI RDX200 CF-DR relatively expensive.  It's very complete accessory bundle does somewhat justify the board's higher price, however.  We're giving DFI's RDX200 CF-DR a 7.5 on the Heat Meter.

  • Good Layout
  • Competitive Performance
  • Decent Overclocker
  • Interesting Aesthetic
  • No Terminator Card
  • Great Bundle
  • Complete BIOS
  • Pricey
  • No 300MB/s SATA

 


Asus A8R-MVP:
The Asus A8R-MVP is an appealing CrossFire Xpress 1600 motherboard for a few reasons. For one, it does not feature the SB450 southbridge, foregoing ATI's chip for ULI's more feature-rich 1575. It's also a competent overclocker, with a Rev. E Athlon friendly BIOS that gives users the ability to run their memory at clock speeds higher than the reference HT clock. There are a couple of things about the A8R-MVP that may put off some enthusiasts though.  It's very "traditional" looking by today's standards with its plain PCB and coloring, it doesn't feature a secondary RAID controller, and its Gigabit Ethernet controller rides along on the pokey PCI bus. Asus hasn't marketed this board strictly to enthusiasts, however. The Asus A8R-MVP is more of a mainstream product and as such it features a mainstream price. The A8R-MVP can be had for less than $100 at multiple on-line resellers which makes it the least expensive board in this round-up.  With a price like that, most of the A8R-MVP's shortcomings can easily be overlooked.  We're giving the Asus A8R-MVP a solid 8 on the Heat Meter.

  • Great Price
  • Somewhat limited feature set
  • Good BIOS
  • ULI Southbridge - No SB450
  • Competent Overclocker
  • PCI Gigabit Ethernet Controller

 


ECS KA1 MVP:
ECS struck a good balance with the KA1 MVP.  Although the board features ATI's SB450 southbridge chip, just like DFI's RDX200 CF-DR, ECS incorporated a better assortment of secondary controllers to overcome the SB450's inherent deficiencies.  The KA1 MVP features one PCI Express based Gigabit Ethernet controller like the RDX200, but it also has a PCIe based SiI3132 SATA II RAID controller. The ECS KA1 MVP was a competitive performer and overclocker as well, and it includes an above average accessory bundle. It's not all good news for the KA1 MVP, however. The board's graphics retention clips were hard to work with (in fact, we removed them after trying to remove a Radeon 1900 XTX for the umpteenth time), and we're sure the board's lavender PCB won't be appealing to many of you. In the end though, at about $120 the ECS KA1 MVP is a relatively good value. None of the motherboards we looked at in this round-up are perfect, but for the money the ECS KA1 MVP seems to strike the best balance between affordability and features.  We're giving the ECS KA1 MVP an 8.5 on the Heat Meter.

  • Affordably Priced
  • Nice Assortment of Secondary Controllers
  • Good bundle
  • Competitive Performance
  • Decent Overclocker
  • Active VRM cooling
  • PCB Color
  • GFX Retention Mechanism
  • SATA Connector Placement

 

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