Those who wondered how many more prototypes and market balloons they would have to endure before a retail ATI Crossfire AMD board appeared will be happy to know that this DFI is for real. While this exclusive AnandTech review posts, New Egg has DFI LANParty UT RDX200 boards for sale. Similar to their early scoop in the nForce4 market, DFI is also first to retail with a Crossfire AMD offering.

DFI produced what is arguably the most enthusiast-friendly board on the retail market when they launched the LANParty nForce4 series. They then shocked the conventional wisdom among computer manufacturers when their LANParty nForce4 boards became the best seller in a market crowded with nForce4 products. With firm credentials for leadership in the Enthusiast market, DFI set their sights on producing a similar "Gold Standard" motherboard based on the ATI Crossfire AMD chipset. The question on everyone's mind is, has DFI done it again?

To answer that question, we need to first consider the current market. Crossfire is mostly a dual-video idea that is just a promise until ATI has X1800XT Crossfire in the market. There are some X8xx owners who may buy a Crossfire board to upgrade their existing X8xx ATI video, but X850XT Crossfire is not even an option for new buyers. New buyers have no interest in a new system with Crossfire X850XT when they can choose a single card 7800GTX or X1800XT single card solution that will perform better. NVIDIA still has the advantage here, since today you can buy the ATI X1800XL, but the top-line X1800XT will not even hit the market until November 5th. The point of this is that while it is reassuring in the buying decision that ATI has an apparently competitive dual-video product to NVIDIA SLI, no one will buy an ATI Crossfire board today just because of Crossfire.

So, what will persuade buyers to go to an ATI chipset instead of the current NVIDIA nForce4? First, stock performance has to be at least as good as nForce4. Second, enthusiast features and performance must at least be as good as NVIDIA, but preferably even better. The AMD market is driven by computer enthusiasts and hobbyists, so if you satisfy them, the market will follow. Third, if performance and features are very close to NVIDIA, then value - bang for the buck - becomes a very important factor.

To DFI's credit, many of the features of their new RDX200 board seem to be geared toward an understanding of what it will take to succeed with their new ATI chipset motherboard. Crossfire dual-video is on the board, but the emphasis is on performance and features. DFI lavished all the adjustments and tweak options of their nForce4 board on the RDX200 and then went even further. Oscar Wu found out how to make 4DS DIMMs run at 1T Command Rate and launched that solution with this board. He also claims that he has a working CAS 1.5 on the ATI motherboard, and the options for CAS 1.0 and 1.5 are available in the BIOS. Memory voltage extends to 4.0V, so any memory is supported, but this is done without special jumpers or a heat-producing work-around.

DFI firmly believes that these new options, combined with a chipset designed for the enthusiast, will be enough to persuade many buyers to move to the RDX200. So the board is not a value board. This 6-layer design will set the buyer back over $200. Is DFI on target - does the LANParty UT RDX200 have what it takes to win in the market? We will try to answer that question in our closer look at performance, features, and overclocking abilities of the DFI LANParty UT RDX200.


DFI LANParty UT RDX200: Board Layout
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  • nsk - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    Having 8 SATA ports is very useful. kudos to DFI for putting that extra SiI chip. Reply
  • Diasper - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    What's good about this board IMO is the Azalia Audio and CPU utilisation - *very* impressive for on-board audio. Performance and options are of course very good as well although nothing worth paying significantly more for.

    However, just to point out one additional benefit of the board that you guys might not have realised yet is that it could very much make a quiet computer guy very happy as the active chipset cooler can very easily be replaced with a passive heatsink eg Zalman one. Trying that with many NF4 is impossible unless resorting to modding - with some coming up with some quite radical solutions. After all there's no point buying a nice and expensive case like the Antec P180 and then a quiet PSU ontop only to have a screaming NB fan in your NF4 - unless resorting to modding.

    However, as others have mentioned deal-breakers include poor USB performance and no SATA 2 and possibly cost althought we'll have to wait on that one.
    Reply
  • Azkarr - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    Well, it's on newegg now. $239? I think thats just about $50 too much for not having SATA II. Plus, none of the Crossfire cards except the XL are out, so I don't think there's a point to buying this board.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82...">Newegg
    Reply
  • Slaimus - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    Which sound driver was used to get such a low CPU usage score? Realtek or ATI? Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    We used the Realtek sound driver on the DFI CD with the board for testing. We did use the current 5.10 Catalyst drivers, however, instead of the Crossfire 5.8 drivers on the CD. Reply
  • nourdmrolNMT1 - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/motherboards/d...">http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/motherboards/d...

    WTF is up with the one SATA connector? sata7 specifically it looks completely off.
    Reply
  • emilyek - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    A clawhammer for overclocking?

    Also,

    A real test of the 1T/2T stuff would be gaming benchmarks for 2 x 1G @ 1T and 4 x 512 @ 2T. That's the test I want to see.
    Reply
  • ozzimark - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    this stands out at me.
    http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/dfi%20rdx200_10...">http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/dfi%20rdx200_10...

    that data is... somewhat useless for the top 5-9 boards, as it's obviously a cpu limitation. try oc'ing the htt/fsb with the fx-57 and watch the board break 400mhz
    Reply
  • Pete84 - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    Horrible!! The only things going for this board is that I. It has Crossfire and II. It has some nice memory capabilities and III. It has Azaliz.
    Pathetic USB performance, no SATA II!!! When even budget minded boards have SATA II and this one does not, now that is a serious lapse. Having a seperate raid controller with some SATA II ports would help this, especially so if it was on the PCI-E bus, but wow . . . and price at $230!!!
    Reply
  • haelduksf - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    I don't understand why SATA-II is such a big deal to so many people. NCQ has a negligable impact unless you're running a server (on a XFire motherboard...), and the 300MB/s transfer speed has no effect at any time with currently available harddrives. Reply

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