CrossFire Xpress 1600 Motherboards: DFI, Asus, ECS
Asus A8R-MVP: BIOS & Overclocking
Unlike the other boards in this round-up, the Asus A8R-MVP is equipped with an AMI (American Megatrends, Inc.) BIOS. But like the others, it is relatively complete and easy to navigate. From within the BIOS users have the ability to configure, enable or disable all of the board's integrated peripherals, and monitor voltages and clock speeds. The A8R-MVP also has a very complete set of memory timing options that offer good flexibility for fine tuning memory performance.
The A8R-MVP's standard BIOS menu screens don't reveal anything out of the ordinary, but they will give you a "feel" for the general layout and organization of the options. Each individual screen has a host of menus that tunnel deeper and deeper as the options get more complex. Overall, it is very similar to the Award BIOS derivatives used on most other motherboards, but navigating through Asus' BIOS does take some getting used to if you've never experienced it before.
Because this board wasn't targeted strictly at hardcore overclockers and enthusiasts, Asus didn't go over to top with the A8R-MVP's overclocking options. That's not to say the A8R-MVP isn't well suited to overclocking, however. This motherboard still has a fair amount tweaking tools. There just aren't any over-the-top CPU core and chipset voltage options.
The Asus A8R-MVP gives users the ability to raise the HTT clock to speeds up to 400MHz in 1MHz increments and the PCIe clock up to 150MHz, also in 1MHz increments. CPU multipliers as low as 4x and as high as 25.5x are available as well. The CPU voltage can be altered in two ways, first by increasing it up to 1.55v in the appropriately labeled "Processor Voltage" menu, and then by bumping it up further using the VCore Over-Voltage option. Memory voltages as high as 3.2v are available. And PCI Express and HT voltages can all be increased as well. The HyperTransport clock speed and memory clock speeds can also be tuned independently. In fact, when using a Rev. E Athlon 64, the A8R-MVP is the only board in this round-up that gives users the ability to run their memory at a higher frequency than the HT clock.
To evaluate the Asus A8R-MVP's overclocking ability, we first bumped up the CPU and memory voltages to 1.55v and 2.9v respectively, and gave all of the other peripherals a .1v bump as well. Then we dropped the CPU multiplier and raised the HT clock speed until the test system was no longer stable. In the end, we hit a maximum stable HT clock speed of 298MHz -- the highest frequency in this round-up. The A8R-MVP actually booted with higher HT clock speeds, but we couldn't stabilize Windows until we dropped things back down to 298MHz. We also focused on overclocking the CPU itself and found that the A8R-MVP had no trouble hitting the same 2.7GHz+ speeds we had attained with this particular CPU when it was installed in the DFI RDX200 CF-DR.