CrossFire Xpress 1600 Motherboards: DFI, Asus, ECS
LANPARTY UT RDX200 CF-DR: The Board
Just by looking at the RDX200 CF-DR, you can see that this board is a member of DFI's highly regarded "LAN Party" line of motherboards. It's built upon the company's traditional dark PCB and it features bright yellow and orange, UV reactive slots and connectors.
The overall layout of the board is generally good. There is ample room around the CPU socket to accommodate oversized, aftermarket coolers, and the ATX power connectors are both situated along the front edge of the board, just above the PATA IDE and floppy connectors. We should note that DFI recommends using an 8-pin 12v supplemental power feed with the RDX200 CF-DR, but a 4-pin feed will work fine as well. Unlike most other motherboards in its class, the RDX200 CF-DR's 4 DIMM slots are located just behind of the I/O backplane, where the CPU socket is usually located, but this shouldn't be an issue in any standard ATX case. Cases that feature a CPU cooling duct may not match up with the RDX200 CF-DR's CPU socket, however.
Another interesting aspect of the RDX200 CF-DR's layout is the positioning of the CrossFire Xpress 1600 northbridge and the SB450 southbridge. Both chips are located about an inch apart at one corner of the board, just behind the expansion slots. The northbridge is equipped with a low profile "mag-lev" active cooler, while the southbridge is adorned with a basic passive, aluminum heatsink. A few components in the VRM are also equipped with beefy, aluminum heatsinks as well.
The RDX200 CF-DR features a pair of PEG slots, a single PCI Express x1 slot, and three standard PCI slots. DFI did a good job positioning the slots because user's won't have to sacrifice any expansion when using a single dual-slot wide video card, but when a pair of dual-slot graphics cards are installed users will have to sacrifice a single PCI slot.
In addition to the four SATA ports powered by the SB450 southbridge, the RDX200 CF-DR features four more that are powered by a SiI 3114 RAID controller. Unfortunately, there is no support for Native Command Queuing or SATA 300MB/s transfers, and the SiI 3114 is a PCI device that will have to contend for bandwidth on the PCI bus. And just below the SB450 southbridge, you can see the board's handy integrated power and reset switches, and clearly color-coded and labeled front panel connectors.
The RDX200 CF-DR's external I/O backplane houses a pair of PS/2 ports (mouse and keyboard), coax S/PDIF inputs and outputs, a total of six USB 2.0 ports, a single Firewire port, and two RJ45 LAN jacks. One of those jacks is powered by a PCI Marvell 88E8001 Gigabit Ethernet controller, while the other is powered by a PCI Express Marvell 88E8053 chip. The gaping hole where serial and parallel ports are traditionally located is where the Karajan audio module, which features six analog audio connectors, gets installed.