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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  • ozzimark - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    it's very very very dependant on the cpu. notice that they used the FX-57 for those tests, which is a cpu that typically has some of the best memory controllers around.
    Wesley, how do 4xDS sticks perform with the 4000+?
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    THe 4DSx1T worked fine on the 4000+. The key to this feature is the DRAM Drive Strength option in the BIOS. With older A64 drive strength needs to be set at 14 to 15. You can get things to work with a bit less DRAM Drive Strength with the newer controllers like those on the FX57.

    We mainly used the FX57 in the iT tests becuase it's fast, and the high stock test numbers made it easier to see the impact of the iT Command Rate on the various memory configurations.
    Reply
  • ozzimark - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    awesome, thanks Wesley. that's definitly a good thing to know Reply
  • mongoosesRawesome - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    depends on how high your memory will clock, and at what timings. Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    quote:

    Unless you have a 20” or larger LCD, or mainly play a title where the 7800GTX performs well at 1280x1024, the 7800GTX may be a wasted expense that will bring you little additional performance for what the 7800GTX costs.


    I'm trying to make sure I understand this quote, Wesley...at the end, were you trying to say that you get little additional performance with the 7800GTX when compared to the 7800GT?
    Reply
  • dornick - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    He means you're wasting your money to buy a 7800gtx and play games at those settings when there are plenty of cheaper cards out there that do the job just as well. Reply
  • j@cko - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    can i use nVidia SLI on ATi mobo? Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    Not yet. I have seen nVidia SLI running on the ATI Crossfire board but it required hacked video drivers. You will not see this option, or the reverse, until nVidia and ATI sanction this in their drivers. Reply

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