When the Asus A8R-MVP landed on our doorstep, we were frankly a bit disappointed. Here was the first Asus board built with the ATI Crossfire AMD chipset and the first board to market that uses the ULi M1575 south bridge instead. If you recall from our launch review of the M1575, this ULi south bridge fully supports SATA2 and provides competitive USB performance - removing the few nagging issues with the excellent ATI Crossfire AMD chipset.

So, why were we disappointed? We really hoped that Asus would deliver a super high-end board, much like the Asus A8N32-SLI deluxe 8-phase that we recently reviewed. That kind of board could clearly show what the Crossfire AMD chipset was really capable of doing. Instead, we had a competent-appearing mainstream board that will likely sell in the $100 to $125 price range. Our first thoughts, naturally, were "ho-hum", a solid but unspectacular Crossfire AMD.

We even talked with Asus about why they didn't lavish their attentions on the A8R-MVP, and we were given perfectly reasonable explanations. With Dual x16 NVIDIA now available, Asus really believed that the ATI Crossfire AMD was better positioned as a mainstream product, and Asus would likely give "top-end treatment" to the upcoming RD580 ATI Dual x16 Crossfire chipset for AMD. We couldn't argue with the Asus logic, but it did not stop our disappointment that maybe this board could have had it all for those looking for an ATI chipset solution for Athlon 64 Socket 939.

If we always went with our assumptions, there would be no reason at all to test motherboards, and thankfully, our first opinions are often proven wrong in the actual testing. As we began benchmarking the A8R-MVP, we realized that our assumptions were completely wrong and this board might prove to be the board many have been waiting for. It turns out that there is absolutely nothing missing from the feature set of the A8R-MVP except the high price, and we think that you will enjoy our journey with this board.

We also had a few shocks in other areas. Our first attempts at overclocking were pretty average, but as we persevered, we had another assumption shoved back in our face.


Click to enlarge.

This isn't a mistake. This is a screen capture of the Asus A8R-MVP after running 2 days at 325x9 - the highest overclock that we have ever achieved with our standard OCZ PC3200 Platinum Rev.2 memory and our 4000+ CPU. We actually reached even higher overclocks, but 325 was completely stable with air cooling.

Now that you know that this average-priced motherboard turned out to be anything but average in performance, join us as we take a closer look at the motherboard that may turn out to be the value-priced rocket everyone is looking for.

Asus A8R-MVP: Board Layout
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  • Wesley Fink - Friday, December 09, 2005 - link

    The PCIe giagbit cards should deliver the same performance as on-board PCIe Gigabit Ethernet. They generally use the same chips as on-board or variants f those chips. You can use the x1 PCIe slot with Crossfire IF your cards are single width. If the video cards are double width the PCIe x1 is blocked.

    We have a Syskonnect PCIe Gigabit Ethernet card and it uses the Marvel 88E8052 chip.
    Reply
  • Ryan Norton - Monday, December 05, 2005 - link

    ...just wrote them basically begging for availibility info on this board. Anand's article has gotten me very very hyped for this product as a cheap SLI replacement for my MSI Neo4 Ultra -- HALF the price of an A8N32 seems like it can't be beat. For all that's worth, however, I still haven't found a single user experience with this board -- have the lucky people who have it (if there are any) forgotten about the internet? Reply
  • imaheadcase - Thursday, December 08, 2005 - link

    It is now in stock at newegg Reply
  • YellowWing - Monday, November 28, 2005 - link

    This board looks good for a HTPC, but I have one question about the HD audio, you do not mention if this board will do a real time encode of Dolby Digital on that coaxial SPDIF port. My minimum requirements for a HTPC main board include passive cooling and Dolby Digital out either optical or coaxial to connect with my home theater receiver. I would appreciate a standard line in each motherboard review that makes the Dolby Digital out capability of each main board clear.

    Keep up the great work.
    Reply
  • imaheadcase - Monday, November 28, 2005 - link

    Man all these sweet deals at newegg but don't have this board yet :( Reply
  • ElFenix - Saturday, November 26, 2005 - link

    thanks for all the updates, wes! Reply
  • rjm55 - Friday, November 25, 2005 - link

    This looks like the perfect Socket 939 board. It's fast, passive-cooling, great overclocker, and cheap!! Even uses the ATI chipset and is built by the biggest board maker in the world, so how could I go wrong. Just put 2 on order at Buy.com. At $105 each they seemed like a perfect board for some Christmas builds. Reply
  • Zebo - Saturday, November 26, 2005 - link

    Is'nt most of chipset in AMD CPU these days? I would'nt worry about that. Reply
  • xsilver - Thursday, November 24, 2005 - link

    does asus ship this board with overclocking software for overclocking while booted in windows? what other mobo companies offer this? (I find this feature very handy on my abit)
    its most convienient to boot up and surf and run stock speeds and then overclock to play a game and then change back when you're finished

    I know utilities like rmclock and cpucool can do this but they dont work for all mobo's
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, November 24, 2005 - link

    Yes, Asus includes some very good windows-based OC software with the A8R-MVP. AI Booster allows the control of OC in windows, and PC Probe 2 allows fan control and voltage/temperature monitoring. AMDZone descibes these software utilities in their A8R-MVP preview at http://www.amdzone.com/modules.php?op=modload&...">http://www.amdzone.com/modules.php?op=m...q=viewar... Reply

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