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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  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    SATA2 actually only increases the bandwidth from 1.5Gbps to 3.0Gbps. Since sustained transfer rates are still maxing out at around 100MBps (0.8Gbps), and that's only with RAID-0 and two drives... well, SATA2 isn't a huge deal. I don't recall seeing whether the ATI chipset supports NCQ, which is of course in a similar boat.

    USB2.0 performance is only really important if you use an external HDD. Most flash cards and other USB2.0 devices don't come anywhere near 60MBps, as Anand's USB Flash Drive article showed. USB2.0 video devices might also have trouble, though - not sure what the throughput on those is. 150Mbps should be enough, really. Isn't 1080i only a 20Mbps stream? (Or is it 20MBps?)
    Reply
  • haelduksf - Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - link

    Err...that's what I meant, 3 Gbps, not 300Mbps. in either case, it's quite useless, and will be for the forseeable future. Reply
  • erinlegault - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    I would have been nice if DFI would have used the ULI southbridge. Maybe DFI will include the ULI M1575 for the DFI LANParty UT RDX200 Expert motherboard (that's if they do the same as they've done with the NF4 board). Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    Anyone else think this board is a bit lacking feature wise for the $230 asking price? If you REALLY want Crossfire, then you'll need this board. Otherwise, the Nforce4 seems to be the better choice. I just can't believe that DFI is asking so much $$$ for this! Reply
  • mongoosesRawesome - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    price will likely come down pretty quickly. remember how much the nforce 4 sli boards were when they came out?

    I've also heard rumors that DFI is going to release a new board with an updated southbridge in a few weeks.
    Reply
  • bob661 - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    quote:

    price will likely come down pretty quickly.
    Only if people buy these things otherwise there would be no reason to lower prices.
    Reply
  • coomar - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    226-2-2-2-7-2T is going to be faster than 206-2-2-2-7-1T

    vdimm and vcore voltage choices were very impressive

    how good is azalia compared to good soundcards/ decoders?
    Reply
  • muffin - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    DFI was not the first! EQS have had a board on sale at overclock.co.uk for a couple of weeks now. Its the same as the (as yet unreleased) Sapphire board, made by the same people.

    Linky: http://www.overclock.co.uk/customer/product.php?pr...">http://www.overclock.co.uk/customer/product.php?pr...

    Its been on sale for a while guys, pay attention. Theres an Inquirer story about it too :/
    Reply
  • erinlegault - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    There is data for x850XT missing in the Half-Life 2, Wolfenstein, Aquamark and UT2004 Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    Due to time constraints we did not run a full set of Crossfire benchmarks. We were mainly trying to confirm Crossfire worked as it should on the DFI. We therefore ran those benches where more powerful video makes a difference and left out those where the video power makes little difference. You can find a full suite of Crossfire, 7800GTX, and other graphics benchches in our Crossfire Graphics launch reviews under the Video tab at the top of the page.

    We did intend to run Half Life 2 but our benchmarks no longer work with the new build Steam forces on you. We are in the process of updating the HL2 benchmark unless some of you tech wizards know of an HL2 benchmark that will definitely work with the new HL2 version.
    Reply

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